• Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    by David Allen
  • Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    by Robert F. Mager
  • The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    by Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart

    This book includes super helpful graphs describing 56 common dog breeds in terms of 13 traits, including playfulness.

  • Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    by Carol Lea Benjamin

    My favorite book on dog training.

Thoughts on instructional design, my dog, and life


Charley Wags

Charley seems to wag his tail a lot more than Lina. What does that mean, in dog speak? There are lots of different tail wags, actually. There’s a flag. Lina will sort of flag her tail when she wants to get a male dog’s attention. She also has a slow wave when she’s taunting one of our other dogs. Charley has a wag that’s somehow different. It reminds me of the wags of other breeds, like maybe a lab. It seems out of character for the Poodle breed to wag so much. Maybe Charley’s still getting settled in and is so happy to see the same faces come back after we’ve been away. It could be the adult version of what we see puppies do when they wag so hard their entire back ends move. The other possibility is that Charley is again different than any of our other dogs. It seems incredible that we could have five Standard Poodles in our life so far and each of them is completely different than each of the others in their temperament and behavior. I expect such uniqueness in humans, but for some reason it surprises me in dogs.

My breeder mentioned a new book, The Genius of Dogs. I think I’ll look into it. My knowledge of dog behavior comes mostly from my archaeologist dad, and I’m sure it predates at least some of the science in this latest book.


Charley Gets Chipped

Charley and his new familyI’m not sure when we started getting our dogs chipped. It could’ve been when we got Cientos, our first dog directly from Blue Skies. I can imagine our breeder suggesting it.

When we were “growing coat” on Cientos, to show him in the conformation ring, we had to keep collars to a minimum. Knowing there was another way to identify him if he got lost gave me a good feeling, even back then when one reader couldn’t read another manufacturers’s chip. The pet tracking industry has come a long way since then.

So, once our two week trial period was over, I had our vet come over, check Charley out, add him to his records, and chip him. I also got him a handsome collar with human-readable identification that doesn’t clink.

We have officially welcomed Charley to the family.


Playing on All Fours

Charley in a play bow (image courtesy Michael J. Gerald-Yamasaki)

I like to get on all fours and play with Charley. I grab at his paws, or hoard one of his toys, keeping it between my hands and turning my rear to him. Having a dog breed that plays, I’ve discovered, is important to me.

I tried tickling my trainer’s dog’s toes once, a beautiful black German Shepherd girl. She had just the lightest dusting of gold fur between her toes. She didn’t pull her paws back, play snap at me, or anything. She didn’t react at all, except to look at me like I was an imbecile.

My uncle has a gorgeous yellow Lab, a sweet, loving dog, but he won’t play with me either.

I love having dogs that play, and the Poodle breed is particularly noted for that.




Fireworks over Clock Tower (courtesy roberttphoto.com)Charley seems oblivious to fireworks. We brought Charley home in mid-December. When New Year’s came around, I was careful to watch him, in case he reacted poorly to fireworks.

Cientos did not like fireworks. He would tremble all over, lean up against me, pace. I knew he would be more comfortable in his crate, but if I didn’t crate him before the first firework, I couldn’t get him in the crate. Sometimes he heard a firework before I did, then we were in for an uncomfortable few hours.

So, I watched Charley. He didn’t react at all. Completely calm. I assume he noticed the noise, but I could detect no reaction at all. The cool part is that Lina, taking her cue from him, was pretty calm too. In the past, she would get anxious, not so much for herself, but because Cientos was anxious. Of course, we still kept the pooches inside. I don’t want them to get hit by a stray rocket.

So, pretty easy this New Year’s. Sometimes, there’s no problem to solve.


Clicker Training

A clickerI tried a little clicker training a couple of years ago with Cientos. We were starting the go out for the directed jump. He responded pretty well in the end, but it’s quite a tricky technique. You have to get the timing just right and I found I was so poised to click the instant my dog got it right, my finger sometimes pressed before I could retract the anticipation. If you click when the dog is in fact not doing what you want, you’ve taken at least two steps back. Nothing you most likely can’t correct, especially if you goof only once, but I find it harrowing.

When I’m not working my dog, I’m often working at the computer. Sometimes I get so involved, so focused and frustrated, I don’t see the bigger picture. “Just step away from the computer.” I know from experience if you just get up, take your hands off the keyboard, walk downstairs, you can kick yourself out of the cycle. With the clicker training, I was trying to get Cientos to make even the slightest movement towards the small plastic disk I was using as a go out target, and he just kept looking at me like “what do you want, Mom?” mixed with “this is stupid.” I had to let it go. I walked over to my bag and put the disk away, and I watched the others in class of for a bit. I tried it again the next week. Cientos happened to make a slight move toward the disk, and off we went. A combination of clicker training and shaping.

I have a feeling Charley will respond well to clicker training, but I’m not ready to try it yet, not until I know him better.