(Above: Picture of Ms. Tess having a puppy free romp!)

AKC sent me their pupdate e-mail that Riggs is now 10 months old. I can’t believe how much time has gone by! He’s still very much a puppy and will continue to be for another few years I think, but he is getting better and better everyday so that’s a win!

He’s certainly still a talker, he’s gotten slightly better (maybe just my imagination) at not whining when he hears the alarm go off in the morning. But he talks to me when he thinks he needs some attention, and likes to howl for his breakfast if he feels the girls at the kennel (when he stays for a visit) aren’t feeding him fast enough. But he’ll also walk around and howl or whine at me if he feels he isn’t getting the attention he deserves. He’s got quite the howl when he wants to pull it out!

I’ve really noticed how much his leash walking has improved when he’s out with Tess. I don’t think we’ve had a morning walk this week where he has tried to play with her on leash while we’re crossing a street or while I’m picking up poop – so I’ll take that as a win! He is still quite talented at the full body tackle when he gets over excited.AND.JUST.CAN’T.HELP.IT!!!! He still loves to eat everything and anything he can find while on the walk: tissues, rabbit poop, sticks, and gloves are just some of his favourites.

I’ve got him going to day care about twice a month to help me run some errands, and keep him well socialized. It’s been a god send! And Tess has certainly enjoyed having some alone time for fun romps (see photo above!) or just to tag along in the car without having to share the backseat. I still can’t believe how well they have been getting along. Tess has even been playing with him lately – never thought I’d see that!

Riggs just wrapped up his last disc dog class before Christmas break, and he did so great. Really loves playing the game, and is showing lots of drive. I just have to not wreck that! We had such a great session and learnt a lot, looking forward to starting up with that again in the new year.

I am trying to decide on our classes for next term, he could move into Level 2 agility now but I think we might redo Level 1 just because the scheduling works better for me…or maybe just stick with disc this next term…decisions decisions.

Overall, he’s still his goofy, bratty, puppy self – exactly what I would expect!


Tricky Dogs

I’ve been wanting to complete Tess’ Trick Dog Titles for some time. She was recognized with Do More With Your Dog to the Advanced Level, but I wanted to complete her titles. With DMWYD she would need her Expert & Champion Titles, however I wanted to train the Expert Level tricks that we were missing to get the Champion Title…if you’re going for the Champion why not train the Expert tricks that’ll help you!

But we were struggling with some of the requirements. DMWYD’s champion level is quite challenging and requires a certain number of specific skills to prove proficiency to pass. We were really struggling with the Mouth Target requirements (two of either: hold an object, retrieve to hand, pull a rope) and Distance Work. So we’ve been picking away at it but were really struggling with a few of them.

However, in 2017 the AKC announced its recognition of DMWYD Titles and it’s own Trick Dog program. Instead of the Expert and Champion level they offer a Performer title, and it looked like we could do it!!! The requirements were a little different, we needed to complete two intermediate and two advanced tricks, with a total of ten tricks to pass. Without the distance work requirement we could do it! AKC would be grandfathering any prior DMWYD titles to the end of 2017, so I wanted to submit her DMWYD titles at the same time as I submitted the Performer video for assessment. So we’re hitting crunch time here in December!

For the earlier tricks I could video each trick individually, and just mix one video together, but understandably for the performer you can’t do that. It needs to be continuous video of all the tricks, preferably in a performance/story (I wasn’t that creative and didn’t do one…sorry!). There were a few different tricks we could do and I wasn’t quite sure how to piece together our routine. I had an agility component, I thought about using some Rally skills, retrieval, then more “tricks”. I tried pulling out what I thought would be a good routine, and we tested it out! Flop! I wasn’t quiet sure what AKC was looking for (I’ve since found the evaluator guideline to be helpful) so we had more tricks than we needed. We only needed ten total and I know there are way more than that in our first attempt. My thinking was that it was better to include a couple extra rather than have to re-do it if they didn’t pass one trick. I have no idea if they would do that, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt!

I did the agility component first thinking it might pep her up, but when we encountered videoing issues and had to re-do the agility part a few times, she lost her zest quickly. So that was a mistake I fixed on the final submission. I used her glow tennis balls for the “catch” trick which was a little too much…she loves these! So fixed that, used regular tennis balls next time. Didn’t realize I hadn’t worked “Crawl” with her in a long time, oops looks like she forgot that trick. I was using the frisbee for one of Riggs’ tricks so I used that for Tess as well, and should have known better. Despite the video she really doesn’t like frisbee (as much as other games) so I should have used another toy for “fetch”. It was good to go through the trial run and finesse our routine to figure out what would work best for the submission.

There were a few little hiccups with AKC with the new program (and being out of country didn’t help), but I just got word that Tess did indeed pass, so YAY!

Tess loves training for tricks so I’m sure we will keep it up, and I have a little fun project in mind for it; but I’m so relieved to have finished the title program. It seems silly but I felt I really needed to do it for her.

Tess’ Performer video submission

And Mr. Riggs!

I haven’t really been focusing on the trick stuff with him, but with the grandfather program with the AKC I wanted to do it before the end of the year. I think there are plus’ and minus’ to each program; but I like that the DMWYD program recognizes a larger variety of tricks at the entry levels, so it was a little better for us to do the Intermediate Title under the DMWYD umbrella.

I videoed his Intermediate submission and he passed!

Riggs ITD

He was so full of beans that night! I should have started with the frisbee and tug tricks in hindsight, but I was worried he’d be a little too pumped for the rest of the submission. Who knows! Anyway, he did it!

I’m a little afraid to say it out loud, but I think we are going to try to get his AKC Advanced and Performer this year as well if I can manage it! There is no real reason to get it before the end of the year, but I guess I’m looking forward to the challenge…I have a whole week for him to learn the tricks, that should be enough right?


I’ve been really behind on my posts lately, too many things going on I guess!

The dogs an I attended our first Rally Obedience Trial on November 18th & 19th. Riggs and I had just completed our first Rally class, and the training center was hosting their first CARO trial so I figured what the heck!

My original plan was to enter both dogs in one novice class just to get our feet wet and give it a try, but my friend Jade (owner of Where’s Your Sit? dog training) and our trial host convinced me to sign up for at a second day as well. And I’m so pleased that she did!

She kindly planned for Mr. Riggs to have his run first – which was good since I haven’t benched him much in the car and wasn’t sure how good he’d be without letting off some steam first! Our course Saturday morning was fair but challenging. I was relieved to see so many signs where we could stop and reward the dogs (even though I messed that part up), but there were some signs we hadn’t yet practiced in class, and a few details I didn’t know about. In class the most signs we’ve done in a practice course has been about 6-8 and Riggs has been doing very well with them. He still needs the treats for motivation or to keep from jumping on me during our “fast pace” sign; but overall with very little experience I’ve been super pleased with how he has done.

Needless to say it was a big jump from 8 signs in a course, to 22. I tried to get him through the course properly, but about half way through gave up and we FEO’d using treats to regain our focus and complete the course. As it turned out I wouldn’t have passed anyway due to my mistakes, but I thought he did just great for where he is at in his training. The training hall where the trial took place wasn’t huge, so even with everyone being very mindful and considerate there was a fair bit of commotion with dogs being benched and people waiting their turn. I was very pleased with how attentive he remained, how happy he was to work, and how much he tried for me. So it was a real positive for both of us. Looking at our score sheet our deductions all made sense, and should be pretty easy to correct for next time. Him maturing a bit will help a lot as well!

My biggest mistake (which I made in Tess’ run as well) was giving treats at the wrong time. I’m sure my instructor told me multiple times, but it hadn’t quite sunk into my brain. We can only offer rewards at the end of stationary signs, I decided I could treat anytime the dog was sitting or laying down. NOT ALLOWED 🙂 So live and learn!

Tess was in the same class as Riggs, so ran the same course. We had just started a new round of classes, so I took her to a grand total of one class two days before the trial! I have done lots of heeling training games with her to help with her reactivity and a lot of “front” work as well. So I was reasonably confident she could do those parts, though it would be a longer duration than we normally do. But I had only practiced some of the signs with her, and only once in the class/trial environment. So I wasn’t sure how she’d do. Heel, Sit, Down – nope never did it; Sit, Pivot, Sit – no again; Spiral/Weave while heeling – nope, nope, nope; Sit, Side Step, Sit – ah what’s that? Poor dog!

She was fabulous! Again with the reward thing I messed us up right out of the gate, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with how she did. Jade was kind enough to take a video for me. I loved how happy she was the whole time we worked!

All in all I was really pleased with both dogs. We hadn’t practiced enough and I made some silly mistakes, but it was a really positive experience for all of us, and the training facility did an awesome job organizing and putting on the trial.

Sunday afternoon we competed again. Again, luckily Riggs went first! We had a different judge for the afternoon trial, so the course was a little different. I thought the signs were a little easier for us…more what we have practiced in class, and it flowed a little more; but the downside of that (for us) was that there weren’t as many opportunities to reward. I knew with Riggs I’d have very little chance of getting him through all the signs with so few rewards in between. The jump from 8-22 would just be more than his little brain could take. So I decided to FEO with him right off the hop. He did awesome! Was such a little star, doing everything just as he would in class and tail wagging the whole time. Not that the day before was bad, but this was just icing on the cake and really allowed him to be successful.

I was really on the fence for what to do with Tess, my inclination was to FEO with her as well, but Jade convinced me (I’m sensing a theme here!) to try to show normally and be ready to FEO if I needed to. She was right again! I got about half way through the course correctly, but Tess was just a little too interested in the signs and started knocking them over and generally just being distracted by them. So I pulled out the treats and finished the rest of the course. She was incredible! I’m sure we made all kinds of mistakes and still have a lot of polishing to do, but with her limited practice I couldn’t have been more thrilled with her. Looking at the score card (outside of the knocked signs) we only had a few deductions over the whole course. So I’m pretty excited about that, once she gets a little less interested in the signs I think we’ll be set! Can’t wait for the next trial to start to pick up some Q’s!!!

A big thanks to Jade and the whole High Tails Pet Resort team for putting on such a great trial, and always being so welcoming and encouraging to all competitors! And thank you to Megan Crane our amazing rally instructor for all the tips and help preparing us for the trial!


The tired dogs (ready to be home) after a weekend of Rally 🙂


Weekend Fun


Riggs had a fun day at daycare on Friday, so Tess got a special stuffy toy all to herself, and some mum time. Which I think she thoroughly enjoyed. The house was sure quiet without the pupster though.

Today I booked the dogs to go out to Wet Noses again, I haven’t had them out since the spring. There was a coyote hanging out a few feet off the fence last time, and Riggs was pretty little then. With the roads being a little worse this last week or so, it was nicer to drive a little closer to home rather than head out to Water Valley.

Great time had by all!

9 Month Pupdate


A quick update on some of our challenges of puppyhood.

Riggs training is going pretty well, in classes he is doing excellent. At home I can see a big difference too, he is much calmer when I prep his food. He is dealing with his frustration levels better, not trying to eat cabinet door knobs, the floor or jump up as much. Jumping on counters is still an issue, but he’s doing it less and less.

He is still jumping on people to say hi, I’m pleased he is such a social butterfly, so I don’t want to punish him for do it. Just show him what he should be doing. It’s improving, but a slow process.

He’s gotten better when leash walking with Tess, he’s trying not to play as much on the leash or antagonize Tess. He’s still walking pretty well on his own in the city. I took him out to Bragg Creek for a muddy walk down an old fire road, and he was a nightmare! I came back with paw prints up the back and front of my jacket. All the excitement and smells were a little much for him. I took him off leash for a short stretch (I’m not 100% confident in our recall if someone were to come running or biking down the trail) he had a blast, and is perfecting his full body slam!

He’s been about the same in the car. He’s a bit better to stay in the back seat now, still fairly vocal in his displeasure of being relegated to the back seat (not that he fits in the front anymore!). I’ve been working on having him get in the car more willingly, that’s one area I have seen some improvement. I think a big part is still his hind end awareness, he’s pretty willing to get the front feet on the bench seat in the back, but not sure enough in where his back feet are to hop in on his own. At least with the front feet in, I can lift the back end up. Seems silly, when he is more than capable of jumping that height when it’s his own choosing. But I don’t want to force him if he isn’t comfortable.

He’s still acting as my back up alarm clock in the mornings, making sure I don’t hit snooze when he hears it go off! No progress there.

He’s had a couple scratches and scabs on one of his elbows, so I’ve been treating that for a couple weeks. The first one is basically better now, but a few other spots have appeared. Initially I thought it was pressure sores, but they aren’t quite in the right spot for that. We popped into the vets this morning, so a new plan with a special shampoo and some topical cream. Hope that does the trick and he can quit wearing his t-shirt soon. I’ll be happy to quit the doctoring in the morning too!

Back to School


After some “time off” in the summer, it’s back to classes. I can’t believe we’ve already been through one session of classes. Tess is already in her second round of agility; she’s feeling much better and we’re getting some speed back in class. We have a different instructor this fall, and Tess it’s giving me some different things to work on, and really helping Tess with her motivation.

Riggs just wrapped up his Agility Level 1 class, after doing pre-agility earlier in the spring/summer. He did really well, is super confident, loves his hot dogs in class! And I really enjoyed the classes the instructor has put together. We’ve been using really low jumps and equipment to introduce the dogs, and working on some foundational work for front and rear crosses, etc. Last weekend was the last class for him. He’s still figuring out where his back feet are, so I don’t want to push him up into the next level yet. So we’re going to jump streams and join a disc dog class. We did a drop in class in June (I think) and he really seems to enjoy disk, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Hope we can enter a few trials once I remember what it’s all about!

Riggs also just finished his first Rally Obedience class (me too!). I was hoping to alternate dogs each week for this class, but the format worked out a little better to bring him, it was a little too many dogs working at the same time for Tess to thrive. I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed this class, and Riggs is super attentive when we’re working, he still thinks class time should be play time, so keeping focus in between exercises is still a challenge! I’m not sure we’re ready but I’ve signed both dogs up for a Rally trial in a couple weeks, so we’ll see how we do. We’ve signed up for the next level of classes, so I hope to alternate dogs for this one.

It sounds like there is also the possibility of continuing with our barn hunt classes, with an indoor venue. Hoping that that works out and we can keep playing with that as well. Tess has really been enjoying and excelling at it, it’s so great to see her having fun and working on her own. It’s been interesting seeing Riggs’ reaction, he’s doing really well with it, but with all the obedience and sport type classes he’s really looking for me to tell him what to do. With some more exposure to it, I’m sure we’ll see him start to work more on his own. For the other sports it’s a good thing and something I’ve really tried to reinforce since bringing him home, but it’s not working out great for barn hunt!