Tag Archives: chihuahua

Dog Show Season

I’m well-known as a bad blogger during dog show season.  My mind is occupied with ring training, travel plans, and ribbons.  This year has been a nice quiet year (mostly by choice).  We’ve scaled back quite a bit, and I’ve only accepted a very few dogs for training or handling.  We hit two shows in April, and two in May, but are only planning on one for each remaining month.  It’s just been too long away from home when I have a wee girlie (who’s now 22 months old) waiting for my return.

In a couple of weeks we head off to Nanaimo.  We’ll be flying to this show, which will be a new experience for me.  Normally my assistant, Jewles, and I drive everywhere.  This one is a 20 hour drive, and I’m only taking two client dogs – so it’s looking like flying will be the most cost effective way to get there and back.  Wish us luck.  🙂

Here are some candids of Sunny (Hileigh’s Blazing Sunshine) and I in the ring at a few different shows, and one of him relaxing in one of our many hotel rooms with Jewles.

Sunny in the ring at his first show, in Battleford Saskatchewan

Sunny in the ring at his first show, in Battleford Saskatchewan

Sunny at the HCKOC show in Saskatoon, SK

Sunny at the HCKOC show in Saskatoon, SK

Sunny, self-stacked, in the group ring in Regina, SK.

Sunny, self-stacked, in the group ring in Regina, SK.

Enjoying some off time at the Tropical Inn with Jewles.

Enjoying some off time at the Tropical Inn with Jewles.

Sunny is now sitting on eight points, and has already earned his first major – all as a Junior Puppy.  Also accompanying us to this next show will be Claire, a lovely black and tan girl who has earned four points being owner handled.  Wish us all luck as we head off to B.C. in June.


Beverly Hills Chihuahua (or) Chihuahuas are Small but Mighty!

As a dog lover in general, and a Chihuahua fancier in particular, you knew I’d eventually have to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Well… not much I can say about this stinker of a movie except PEEEE-U. Wow. It was really THAT bad. I thought, if nothing else, it should be cute. But no. I can’t even say that about it. The story was lame, the acting was bad, the voice overs were dull, the CGI was horrible. Aye Chihuahua!

The only redeeming part of this movie, was the scene in the Aztec ruins. “Small but Mighty”. I’ve been saying it for years.

Chihuahuas are not the yippy, shaking, fufu dogs that some people seem determined to turn them into. They are a lot of dog. They are incredibly intelligent, and run circles around any novice human cohabitants. There is a reason people talk about them as if they are “bad dogs” – it’s because the outsmart their people on a regular basis. Love, love, love these dogs. They are MY breed… but they are SOOOO not for a novice dog person. They really do require someone who knows dogs, understands dog language, and can give them the credit they are due.

I’m a Chihuahua lover, and like any devotee of a particular breed, I’m the first in line to tell you all the reasons a Chihuahua is the wrong breed for you. Still sticking around after that long list? Then maybe you might be ready for one.

Click the following link for an FAQ on the Chihuahua – http://www.noselicks.com/pb/wp_9f6619e0/wp_9f6619e0.html

Or visit my site devoted to these incredible little dogs – http://www.chihuahualovers.com/

Is This a Hint?

Not too long ago I was sitting on the couch in the living room with my baby girl Lily-Ann.  She was having a bit of quiet time.  She was by my side, my arm around her, her head on one of my legs, having a nice cuddle

Normally I insist Roo stay in which ever room I happen to be in.  She’s an adolescent Chihuahua, and as such, is prone to mischief.  However, this afternoon I was rather lax.  I was enjoying the cuddle time with Lily, and so allowed Roo to wander a bit.

Roo had been out of my sight for a couple of minutes – it really hadn’t been long or I’d have called her.  She was being nice and quiet, which should have been my first tip-off.  Whenever a toddler or puppy is out of sight and quiet, a person should ALWAYS check in on them.

Well, Roo came bounding into the living room where Lily-Ann and I were cuddled up.   She pounced onto the side of my lap that was unoccupied, and dropped my clicker on my leg.  Think she was hinting at something?

So, our tiny “she-chi” had to get my treat bag from off the counter in the kitchen, then fish the clicker out of the pocket before bringing it to me.  Smart little bugger.  Obviously our ten minutes of clicker time earlier this afternoon hadn’t been enough.  Little fart cracks me up.

After inspecting the counter and the treat bag, which was then resting on the floor.  I have no idea how she got up at it.  Dinky little thing is a half a foot at the shoulder (guessing), and there are no chairs or stools near by.  Yet there’s the treat bag on the floor.  Sans clicker.

Guess I should go cut up some more treats.  😉

Itty Bits & Nico’s Necklaces

Itty Bits - a new etsy shop

Itty Bits - a new etsy shop

I’d like to take a moment to invite you to my new etsy shop.  Eventually it will host a plethora of products for babies, toddlers, and small dogs – your itty bitty family members.  Currently there are six listings for Nico’s Necklaces.

Nico’s Necklaces are something I’ve been working on for some time.  I started a few years ago working with leather and beads, while pretty, the leather had safety limitations.  Then, a couple months before Nico (my heart dog) passed on, I struck upon the idea of using elastic cord.  It worked perfectly!  Beautiful, and safe!  Unfortunately Nico never got the opportunity to wear the finished version.  He left for the Rainbow Bridge while I was working on his.  You can read Nico’s story at http://www.chihuahualovers.com.  I named the necklaces, designed to allow small dogs to safely wear tags without fear of getting caught and choking, after Nico – as he was the reason I designed them in the first place.

I do hope you’ll stop by Itty Bits and have a look around.  Nico’s Necklaces were born out of a need for a safe way to identify small dogs, and born out of my love for my own Chihuahua and heart dog.  I’m proud to finally be able to offer them to you.


Continuing with Sit… two steps forward, one step back

Training sessions like today are why I always remind my students not to get too wrapped up in how their dog is coming along (in regards to the training). Things may be going along better than you could have hoped, and then it feels like you’re going backwards. Not every dog learns everything at the same pace as every other dog, and like us, dogs have off days too. It’s important not to get frustrated. No matter how things are going, stay upbeat, and just have fun being with your dog.

As you know, things were going swimmingly with Roo. Her first training sessions exceeded my expectations. She’s such a quick learner, and I love working with her. She’s a total hoot.

It’s been a few days since I was last able to devote some real time to working with Roo. I’d been busy with Green Party business (planning and hosting an Energy Policy Forum) that finally wrapped up last night. I was so happy to have some time to really work with my wee girl again.

Today we had a major set back. Roo was so giddy and happy to be clicking with me, that she had next to no focus. She was jumping all over the place, couldn’t hold a sit for more than a moment, spent half her time sniffing the ground. It would have been really easy to get frustrated or fed-up… but you know what? This wasn’t her fault. I hadn’t given her as much time from me as she needed, so she had all sorts of pent up energy. So we put away the clicker, and just had a crazy game of Chihuahua-style wrestling (and a whole lot of laughs).

Roo needed a chance to just be a goofy puppy with me. One-on-one. With nothing else competing for my attention. It was a good reminder for me. It’s easy to get caught up with how well your dog is doing when everything seems to be going right… but the whole reason we do any of this is because of how wonderful it is to spend time with our furry family members. Sometimes one step back can be a lot more fun than another step forward.


Training Sit – Correct Position

Today Roo and I continued working on “sit”.  While yesterday I clicked for any and all sits, any distance from me, facing any direction, today we “upped the stakes”.  Because we are preparing for obedience competition, “sit” is not just a bum on the floor, it also requires a certain position in relation to the handler.  Today we began working towards proper position.

Initially, I clicked and treated for any sit, then slowly became more discriminating.  Instead of clicking for a sit five feet from me, I’d place her treat (post click) near my feet.  This required her to come in close to retrieve it before I’d ask for another sit.  After a few repeats she was sitting nice and close.  Then it became a matter of shaping her direction.  So not only did she have to come in nice and close to earn a click, she also had to direct her body towards me.

Remember, when working with your own dog, you may or may not be able to move quickly through this.  Some dogs pick up on some concepts quickly, while others take time.  If it takes four or five sessions to get proper placement, that’s okay.  Roo picked up on this quickly, but may not be so quick to grasp other skills.

Here’s a quick photograph of her sitting in excellent position for “sit”.

Roo, the Chihuahua puppy, in proper "sit" position.

Roo, the Chihuahua puppy, in proper "sit" position.

As you can see, this session I worked in bare feet.  Being so tiny Roo is often cautious around feet…  so getting in nice and close required a big leap on her part (and I gave her a nice big “jackpot” of treats the first time she did it).  Next time I will wear socks, and then sandals, then sneakers, and then I’ll likely try boots as well.  Slowly upping the criterion for the click, and building her confidence in the process.

For more information on beginning to click with your dog, or your toy breed dog in particular, visit me at http://www.noselicks.com/

Teaching “Sit”

I began clicking with our Chihuahua puppy Roo a couple of days ago. Today was our third session. Previously we introduced the clicker, and then worked on eye contact. Today we began with “sit”. Which made me think… perhaps a quick post or two on the basics might be useful.

I believe very strongly in free shaping. What this refers to is one of many processes by which you can introduce a cue or designate a behavior as desired. Free shaping is allowing the dog to offer actions or responses to the situation then labeling certain actions as positive. It is 100% hands off, and allows you and your dog to problem solve together. It’s really a wonderful, wonderful way to build confidence and trust in one another.

In teaching “sit”, we are giving a label to a behavior the dog already performs naturally. To free shape a sit, we are going to sit back with our clicker and treats, and watch. Eventually your dog is going to sit down. Likely when they get bored of trying to get your attention. Some dogs will wander around for some time, others will sit fairly quickly – be patient.

As soon as your dog sits down, click and offer them a treat. Repeat.

Initially your dog will have to get up out of the sit to come and get the treat from you. Soon enough though, you’ll find him sitting right in front of you immediately after taking the previous treat. To get your dog out of the sit position, so you can get him to repeat it (instead of maintaining it) toss the treat a couple of feet away. Make sure he sees you do so, so that he can find it quickly.

Roo began offering the sit quickly after only a few repetitions, but many dogs will take longer. Don’t fret. Some pick up on certain behaviors quickly and others more slowly – this is not an indication of their intelligence or your ability as a trainer. Just keep at it, and you’ll both have it down pat soon enough.

When you are about 90% certain your dog will perform the desired behavior, add the cue (in this case, “sit”). Say it right before that bum hits the floor. Then click and treat as earlier. After a few repeats your dog will begin associating this word with the behavior.

Throughout your training sessions do your best to refrain from talking to your dog. Let the clicker be your voice, communicating your pleasure with his behavior. It’s faster and more efficient than we could be without it. Save your verbal praise, pets, pats, and cuddles for after the session. Also, keep your rate of reinforcement high. The more often and quicker you are able to reward your dog, the better. If you aren’t clicking soon enough when first introducing a behavior your dog may get frustrated and give up.

Today, Roo and I only worked for about four minutes (after the first time she offered the sit). She’s a high energy six month old puppy with a limited attention span… it’s far better to stop before she begins to wander. We were able to introduce the cue in this time frame, and had about ten repetitions afterwards. If we were to work in another room next time, I would not expect her to know what the cue meant – despite excellent performance today. A different room, different distractions, all communicate different things to your dog. So next time, we’ll work somewhere else, or we’ll work with me standing rather than sitting. By slowly changing the environment, yet requiring the same behavior she will eventually understand that “sit” means sit – regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.

So keep at it, and have fun. Free shaping is a great way to train with your dog – and you’ll likely learn as much as they do in the process.