Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Callie’s soccer skills improve (an update)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Callie is almost ten-months old now, and she still loves to play soccer. Since her first day at our house, when she invited me to play, soccer has been one of her favorite activities. She asks to play every chance she gets. Here she is, as a puppy, trying to get some game going: Now, she's grown even more fearless, and she loves to jump high in the air for the ball. After all, her dad is an agility champ; here are some photos of Cutter, the #2 ranked Golden Retriever in Canada for 2007. And, since we're equal opportunity bloggers, here are some photos of Callie's mom, Goodtime Saltwater Taffy (Taffy for short). Callie loves to run and jump and intercept the soccer ball in mid-air. And she's not afraid of trying a header once in a while. Sometimes the ball hits her on the nose & makes a loud "BONK," but she doesn't seem to mind. Here's some video of Callie, at age ten months, playing soccer.

New Addition to the All-Animal Soccer Team

Friday, October 19th, 2007
Maja the dog has been added to the My Doggie Says... all-animal soccer team. To see the entire team, including the elephant that plays soccer, click the link in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

How Do You Calm a Puppy?

Friday, October 19th, 2007
I wish I knew the answer to this question. I'm sure part of the answer is, "If you wanted a calm dog, why did you get a puppy?" Well, I know that puppies are puppies. They are wonderful, furry, energetic little bundles of energy that eat and drink and grow and give enormous pleasure to their people. Of course, we're talking about Callie here. And I know that the number one way to calm a dog is to make sure it gets plenty of exercise -- which Callie does. She goes for a three-mile walk almost every morning. And I try to play soccer with her a few times a week. She's improved since this video was taken, but it gives you the idea. Callie, at nine months, isn't going to be the same mellow dog that Jamie was when she was ten years old. But every month, she get a little calmer, a little more relaxed. Instead of bouncing off six walls at a time, she only bounces off of four walls. And she does have moments of extreme mellowness -- especially when she lies down with her "stinky" -- her little, stuffed puppy security object. This usually happens later in the evening, when Callie is starting to think about going to bed. At some point in the evening, Callie does calm down if she has one of her favorite toys to nibble on. I'm trying to make sure he has a good toy when the time comes to settle down. So I don't have any delusions that this energetic and wonderful puppy is going to become "an old mellow dog" any time soon. I'm just wondering if there are some things I can do to help her calm down a little more at times. I have a lot to learn about this, so I've been doing a little research, and it turns out there are some things you can do to help a dog calm down. Here's an interesting article on titled "How to Calm Down a Playful Large Dog." Callie's not a large dog yet, but if it works for a large dog, maybe it will work for a middle-sized one. This article describes a four-step process consisting of energetic play, stopping the play, kneeling close to your dog and making body contact to soothe it, and eventually getting your dog to lie all the way down, quietly. OK. That sounds like it's worth a try. And then here's an article, from, that describes a type of massage for dogs called T-touch. You massage the dog's skin in slow circular movements from head to tail. This also sounds like it's worth a try. Finally, you can't search the Internet for information about dog calming without running across the work of Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian author, who has done a lot of research on the signals that dogs send each other. She believes that dogs, when they lived in packs, had a lot of signals for maintaining the peace within the pack. This includes signals for calming each other down, avoiding aggression, etc. Here, from, is a good description of her work. This is something I want to learn more about, so I promise to read some of her books and review them here. More recently, Turid Rugaas has been experimenting with whether or not humans can use the same signals to communicate with dogs. More to come, here, I guess. But one of the most interesting possibilities, which we can all try, is yawning. Yawning? Yep. Actually, since I first read about this, I've tried to pay attention to Callie's yawning. It turns out that dogs, in their pack environment, use yawning as a way to reduce stress and calm each other. So when your dog yawns, there a good chance it's feeling some stress. This morning, Barbara was working with Callie on one of her puppy kindergarten exercises ("sit/stay"). Callie was doing a good job, but right in the middle of the drill, she yawned a big yawn. This doesn't mean she was bored; it means she was feeling some stress. Anyway, one theory is that you can help your dog calm down, or reduce stress, by yawning. A little game of soccer, followed by calm body contact, a little T-touch massage, lots of yawning, and I should be ready for a good night's sleep. I hope it works for Callie, too!

Dogs (including Callie) like to drink cold, running water

Thursday, October 18th, 2007
One of the fun things about watching a puppy grow up is that you see their raw instincts, unspoiled by human influence, learned behaviors, etc. The point of "My Doggie Says... Messages from Jamie" is that you can get much closer to your dog by observing its behavior and learning to decode its messages. I'm finding that it's easier, in some ways, to understand Callie's (now nine months old) messages, because they are so clear and based mostly on her natural instincts. Callie has made it clear, from the time she was about four months old, that she prefers fresh, cold water over water that has been sitting in a bowl. How does she express this? Sometimes when I walk her outside for a pee break, she stops at the metal water bowl in the kitchen for a drink. Even though she always has a water bowl in her crate. Her message is, "This water seems fresher and clearer to me." After all, dogs are ancestors of wolves, who roamed the forests and learned the hard way that cool water from a babbling brook is better and healthier than water from a warm stagnate pool. When we interrupt our morning jog for a water stop, Callie prefers to drink water being poured into her water dish, rather than drinking from the dish. Here's a short video that shows 1) Callie drinking water as it's being poured into her water dish and 2) Callie drinking from a water fountain on the path to her boat dock at Lake Arrowhead. And here, on the same subject, is an explanation of why dogs like to drink from a toilet bowl. There are a number of dog and cat "running water" drinking dishes and fountains on the market, to satisfy our pets' instincts for fresh water. Based on Callie's polite requests, I change the water in her crate frequently, so that she always has fresh, cool water to drink. And she shows her appreciation by sending me a big doggie "Thank You."

It’s OK for a dog to be afraid sometimes

Friday, September 28th, 2007
One of "Jamie's Rules" from "My Doggie Says...Messages from Jamie: How a dog named Jamie 'talks' to her people," is "It's OK to be afraid sometimes." You can see some other "Jamie's Rules" here. After I finished writing My Doggie Says..., I went back through Jamie's "messages," asking myself, "What do Jamie's communications tell me about her philosophy of life?" Each of Jamie's Rules is based on some of Jamie's messages. Jamie, at age 10 1/2, when the book was written, had worked her way through some, but not all of her fears. But Callie, as an eight-month-old puppy, is still working her way through a lot of fears. Jamie's greatest fear, as an adult dog, was thunder storms. When I was writing My Doggie Says..., we had a huge thunder storm, and Jamie absolutely freaked out. She ran outside, and then raced back inside to avoid the heavy downpour of rain. She jumped up on the bed. Then she jumped down and tried to dig a hole in the carpet. She was just miserable. We solved the problem by going into the den, closing all the windows & doors and turning the TV volume up to drown out the sound of the thunder. Callie, though, as a puppy, is still working through a lot of different fears. It's fascinating to watch her do this. When she confronts something she doesn't understand, she stops and watches closely and tries to figure out what's happening. You can just see the "wheels going around" in her mind as she tries to understand. In these situations, I am always careful to let her have time to deal with her fears. Here's a fun little video clip of Callie when she was learning to swim. You see her being afraid of the (very small) waves, pawing at them to size them up. Then she tries a second time to reach out to the toy she's retrieving. But then, instead of swimming to the toy, she grabs the rope and pulls the toy ashore. Now, of course, she's pretty much past this fear, and she jumps right in to swim. Almost every time I take Callie outside to pee, she stops to figure out what's going on. The other day, there were lots of sounds -- several birds chirping and squawking, a car driving down the street, the sound of workmen hammering a few doors away, and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. It took Callie a minute or so of standing quietly and letting her senses work to process all of this and get comfortable proceeding to the side yard. Last weekend, at Lake Arrowhead, Callie and I went out in the dark for a little pee walk. Through the dark night, Callie saw the outline of a toppled-over trash can. At first, she didn't know what she was seeing. She stopped cold and just looked. And then, interestingly, she pulled me toward the can, overcoming any fear she had and moving in to check it all out. Another time, at a fundraising event at Lake Arrowhead, Callie stopped for several minutes to figure out a chamber music quartet. And another time, we went for a walk in the night, and the full moon was casting strong shadows on the street. Callie stopped for a minute to get comfortable with the moon shadows. So, it's OK for dogs to be afraid sometimes, and your dog will appreciate it if you help it -- or at least give it time -- to overcome its fears.

Callie goes to puppy kindergarten (Video Part 2)

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
Part 2 of the video starts with Callie working on "leave it." The idea is to get her to "let go" of an object, or just drop it. Here she gets rewarded with a "click" and a "treat" when she looks away from the hand holding a treat. The next lesson is "stay." Ultimately, "stay" means "remain in place until I say OK." Here, the idea is to simply get her to stay in place as Barbara moves a step or two either backwards or sideways. Callie's puppy kindergarten instructor is Ethel Mercer of the Lomita Obedience Training Club. The fourth exercise is "take and give." The idea is to get Callie to "take" an object (in this case, a really appealling doggie bone) but also to "give" it up on command. So she is rewarded (click and treat) when she lets go of the doggie bone. The last lesson helps Callie learn not to jump up on people (which she has a tendency to do). We're having to work a lot on this. The idea is that when she jumps up on any of us, we turn our backs and refuse to make eye contact (in wolf pack style). But we come back quickly and reward her (click and treat) for not jumping up the second time. Callie's a frisky, eight-month-old puppy, but she's learning her lessons. She works hard in class, and with a little reinforcement during the week we see lots of progress.

Callie goes to puppy kindergarten (Video Part 1)

Friday, September 21st, 2007
Yesterday was Callie's third session at Puppy Kindergarten. She goes to the Lomita Obedience Training Club classes, and her teacher is Ethel Mercer, one of the people who wrote a pre-publication review for "My Doggie Says... Messages from Jamie." In these segments, Callie (and Barbara) work on "sit," "recalls," and "sit when distracted." This is clicker training, so the trainer is being trained just as much as the dog. The clicker is used to reinforce positive behavior and to say "a treat is on the way." So the trick is to give a command, get the desired response from Callie, "click," and then give a treat. When you're holding a leash, a clicker, and puppy treats all at the same time, it's a challenge to keep it all coordinated. You'll see that Callie has some good success. But she's still a puppy, and she bounces around a lot. She doesn't always stay focused. But it's fun to watch her progress. She did a couple of good "sits" when she was being distracted. This is good discipline for a puppy to learn. Sometimes they have to obey commands when things are confusing. Hope you enjoy the video. Sorry about the noise in the background; you'll see the lawnmower going back and forth. In case you can't play the video, here's some alternative entertainment on Ramblings of a Pheasant Plucker. It's called "Dog Logic." It's a collection of twelve fun "dog sayings." Example: "If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise."

How to teach your dog to swim — Callie progress report with video

Thursday, July 19th, 2007
Vacation is over now, and I'm back in the movie production business. 🙂 Anyway, I've had a chance to edit some of the video clips from Callie's swimming lessons. These clips were taken near the shoreline of Lake Arrowhead in California. In the earlier ones, Callie is on a leash. There's a reason for this. Lake Arrowhead is a big lake, with lots of boat traffic, including some water skiers. So we wanted to keep Callie out of the boat traffic until we're absolutely certain she will come when we call her. In the first few clips, you'll see Callie just trying out her newly found swimming skills. These were taken on about day-three of her swimming lessons. On the first few days, she got over her fear of the small waves and found the courage to take her first few doggie paddles. This seemed pretty easy once she learned that she could float. In one clip, she retrieves a wooden stick, instead of her fancy "floppy disc." Probably forgivable for a six-month old puppy. The music you hear in the background is The Noisy Neighbors band, playing on a floating barge. The last few clips show Callie retrieving her "floppy" without a leash. At this point, we trusted her to return to shore, and we had enough people to chase her down if she decided to swim too far. These clips were taken around days four through ten of her "swimming lessons." Why "teach" a dog to swim, you ask? Isn't that a little like teaching a bird to fly? Well, not really. Not all dogs are able to swim right away. And if a dog has a bad experience in the water, it might get spooked about swimming and decide it's a bad idea. So the game plan here was to give Callie a good experience, under controlled conditions. We'll work our way up to letting her swim close to our boat dock in the open lake -- once we're certain that she will come when we call her. For some great articles on teaching your dog to swim, see Catherine Forsythe's three-part series on the Dog Reader. Coming soon, some Callie-playing-soccer video!