Saturday, July 31, 2010

Barbie does 'Roll Over'

I emailed Desma (the dog trainer) and told her that if she saw the trainer who remembered 'Barbed Wire' again, he should search 'Barbed Wire' and 'greyhound' on youtube and she will blow his mind. Apparently he was shocked that anyone would take a greyhound to obedience class.

I better start working on her repertoire!

Blog Hop!

Barbie is currently flaked out on the couch after class. One of my friends came along to class to work as a distracting influence. We went out to the carpark to play some 'games' but Barbie didn't think sitting on the ashphalt was much of a game!

The trainer, watching her sniff a 'trail' in the doggie daycare place told me that I should join Trackwest I checked out their website and they seem like a really friendly and inclusive bunch. Not only that, but they track in the pine plantation very close to my house!

How versatile can a greyhound be? :) I think Bender also may like to have a go at tracking. So at the end of our obedience course, I think I'm going to join up. If anything she will love being up in the bush, and Bender can come when Nic is home.

While it's Saturday, I've decided to join the blog hop again. Here it is!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Training Update

I think Barbie is starting to understand 'roll over' but I don't think it's her favorite trick. 'Paw' has also turned into 'flail your legs around like a dieing cockroach'.

Here is a really crappy video of 'commando'.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Silly things that I am teaching Barbie

Barbie does all kinds of strange contortions on the ground in an effort to avoid getting up and repositioning herself. Last night, I started teaching her to go 'commando' and crawl across the floor to me by getting her to lie down, and then holding a treat a bit further out of reach than usual. Lo and behold, she crawled to it. I think she'll figure this out quickly.

I tried to get her to sit and then 'shake' but putting my hand out for the shake, apparently looks too much like my 'down' signal and she lies down. Will have to rethink that one.

The next silly thing I started with last night is 'spin'. I just lure her round in a circle with the treat. Bender has mastered this with me standing close to him but I want them to do it when I'm further away as well.

When I first got Barbie, she would lie on her bed, and if she was excited when you came up she would roll on her side and stick her paw out at you. I said 'paw' and praised her back then, so now she things 'paw' means lie on your side on the ground. I want to progress from this to 'bang' (play dead) eventually I want to do that trick that people usually teach their chihuahuas, I make 'gun fingers' and go 'bang' and she 'plays dead'. Not sure if I'm going to get the effect because she will probably be too leisurely in going down.

From that I will go to 'roll over'. Oh that is going to be funny.

I'm also working on 'through' which means go through a hula hoop. She won't do this without a treat, even if it is on the ground. Ideally I want both dogs to be in a down-stay, and be able to call each one through the hoop individually. They both need work on their 'stays' to do this though. Barbie's stay is very shaky at the moment but we will get there!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This was her favorite game as a kitten. Our new bath tub is not really deep enough for the kitty toy skate bowl game.

Un-spoiling the Animals

For the last 5 days I have been unrelenting. The animals are not allowed to come into the bedroom and lie in the bed with us. The dogs have 'got it' and are no longer making pests of themselves in the morning. Barbie asked to go out for her poo at 6:45am and then didn't bother us when I went back to bed. The cats still keep trying. Nic didn't shut them away last night and both Mittens and Froufrou had a go at waking us up! Froufrou is the worst because she doesn't give up and she claws at the carpet. Laundry for kitties!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Frou Frou loves the Tour de France

Frou Frou's favorite show is the SBS TV coverage of the Tour De France.

Frou says congratulations to Alberto Contador for winning the Tour, and is sad that there is no more cycling for her to watch!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bender and Barbie visit Bells Rapids

Today we noticed that they were testing all the boats for the Avon Descent, and we decided to go and check the water levels up at Bell's Rapids. Barbie had never really been on a rocky cross country walk before but she was quite confident on the rocks, like a little mountain goat!

Bender: We are going somewhere new today, but why is it so far?

Barbie: Look at all the interesting big furry animals out of the window!

Bender: That was a big hill! Can I has nap now?

Barbie: I'm HOT. I want to go back down to the WATER!



Barbie: that was fun. Time for naps!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Obedience Class

It's a small class, there are three other dogs in the class, but there were only two others today.

Barbie was a little hesitant when I lead her into Billy's Daycare for Dogs. It smelled like so many different dogs, and she was sniffing and her rear end was quivering a little. On the way in she saw the treats display and mouthed one of the plastic covered goodie bags. I got her attention and we made our way in. The trainer, Desma, greeted us.

The other two dogs there today were much younger than Barbie. When Desma spoke to us about various things, the two younger dogs whined and barked. They were like 'WHYYYYYYY AREN'T WE DOING ANYTHING!>!??'

Barbie just stood and sniffed around quietly.

The first thing we did was the 'sit' game to see how many times we could get the dogs to sit in 60 seconds. Barbie sat 11 times, then we had to do it without saying 'sit' - she did it 14 times. She was pretty attentive. Then we did doggie 'pushups' - the others took their dogs into a down from a sit - but I took Barbie from a stand to a down and back again, just to help safeguard against her melting from a 'sit' into a 'down'. She was a bit hesitant to lie down at first but she did it willingly after the first one.

She learned 'wait' at the gate (simulating a front door) a lot quicker than the puppies, though she wasn't so good at looking at me without prompting.

The last activity we did was 'leave it' but Barbie wasn't particularly interested in any of the 'objects' I had to get her to 'leave it'. I think I am going to have to train 'leave it' with food. I don't think there will be any intermediate items.

Her recall was good with people distractions, but I didn't try it with dog distractions, though she wasn't overly interested in the dogs present.

Apparently next week we will work on 'give' (though with Bender, I use 'ta'). I think with Barbie, instead, I will ask for advice on how to get her to hold objects in her mouth. I don't think she is going to hold on to anything long enough for me to use 'ta' unless it is a food item!

An hour in a training class was also evidently too much for Barbie despite fairly lengthy breaks between activities. The other two dogs were still working, but Barbie spaced out. Then she started walking backwards with that spaced out look on her face. I regained her attention a few times but I didn't try to do anything with her after that. When we got home she was just exhausted. I have never really trained her more than 5 minutes at a time so I think it was a bit much for her!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Perils of Spoiling your Dogs

It's been a cold winter. There have been a lot of clear, dry days with very low minimum temperatures. This means that Bender wants nothing more to be under the covers in bed with me, and Barbie wants to be curled up at the end of the bed against my legs, and Froufrou wants to be curled up against my chest and Mittens wants to be somewhere where the other animals aren't touching her...


Anyway, Barbie asks to go out, usually in the early morning, around 5 by whining. After I let her out and she does her poo, I usually let them into the bedroom. Barbie is too smart for her own good. She cried at 2am this morning. I let her out. She did her poo, then I shut the bedroom door. For what seemed like hours after that she sooked and carried on. Pretty sure she just wanted to be curled up on the bed. She also peed on the carpet at some point!

So, it's been decided. No fur kids in the bed. At all. The cats were causing trouble before, and then it was Bender knocking on the door, and now Barbie. No more. They need to earn the privilege back.

The second thing I've decided - Barbie is going to be crate trained (or re-crate-trained since she lived in one before). I believe its the only way she is going to be completely housebroken. We got some new Kongs today (cos there's no way the old ones are going in the freezer), and I am ordering a crate. If we do it right, Bender is going to want a crate of his own. It may be good for Barbie because she will be able to eat pigs ears without Bender the bully taking them off her and burying them.

Just so this post isn't one big long whinge though, Barbie and Bender have discovered a new game to play together. I spent a bit of time teaching Barbie to play 'tug' with her stuffies, and when Nic got home last night she sent me a picture of the dogs playing tug of war with a flat soccer ball. They were both playing fair even though Barbie does not have the bite pressure or pulling strength that Bender has. So cute! I need to get them some proper tug toys!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Greyhound Muzzle Law - National Roundup

Whether or not a greyhound is required to wear a muzzle in public is different depending what state of Australia you live in. Here is the round up.


It is ONLY those greyhounds adopted as pets from GAP, and wearing the green GAP identification collar, that are exempt from being muzzled in public. ALL other greyhounds, whether they are current or retired racing greyhounds or greyhounds adopted as pets privately or from a shelter or rescue group, MUST by law be muzzled in public.

Reference GAP Victoria


Despite the fact that GAP greyhounds are not racing anymore, it is currently still law that they wear a muzzle in a public place unless they are wearing their GAP approved green collar. The person responsible for the dog can be fined if they are unmuzzled and not wearing the green collar that clearly identifies the dog as having been through the GAP program.

Reference GAP Queensland

New South Wales

One of the main stumbling blocks that exists for the Greyhound Adoption Program in NSW is the requirement that our beautiful dogs be muzzled in public places. The negative effect of this stipulation of the Companion Animals Act is twofold:

It has caused the completely erroneous perception to become entrenched, in the minds of the general public, that Greyhounds are dangerous and aggressive.

In itself, the legal requirement that they be muzzled in public, discourages a lot of people who would otherwise be keen to adopt one of these gentle and aristocratic dogs.

We strongly believe that this legislation is misguided - not to say draconian - in that it, quite unjustifiably, discriminates against Greyhounds. (The only other breed which is specified in the CAA is the Pit Bull Terrier). It should be noteworthy that the Greyhound does not rate a mention in any published statistics of dog bites, despite the fact that far more Greyhounds are whelped each year than any other breed.

Furthermore Australia is the only country, with the sole exception of Northern Ireland, which requires Greyhounds to be muzzled when they are off the track.

Happily, Victoria amended its legislation in 1999 to allow GAP Greyhounds to be exempt from wearing muzzles. Since that time, the number of retired Greyhounds adopted in Victoria has increased more than threefold.

GAP NSW has been actively campaigning to get the current legislation amended to allow Greyhounds, who have been through the GAP program, to be exempt from wearing muzzles.

Reference GAP NSW


Please also be aware that although we are trying to change the situation, the current dog act also requires greyhounds to be muzzled and on a lead when in public. We have been strongly lobbying for the Greyhounds who go through the training in the Greyhound Adoption Program Tasmania Inc. to be allowed to go un-muzzled in public as we believe the dogs have been temperament tested and are well socialised.

Reference GAP Tasmania

Northern Territory

I couldn't find any definitive references except for a discussion on Dogs Online - I believe the NT laws are the same as WA & NSW.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT fixed their muzzle laws at the same time as Queensland did. Same deal with a green collar program.

Reference GAP NSW

South Australia

Under new law, GAP dogs in South Australia no longer need to wear a muzzle in public after they have passed their appropriate assessment by the Cat and Management Board. Once they have passed they will be issued with an identification number and a Green GAP collar. Fosterers are to ensure that all dogs currently in foster need to wear their muzzle until they have passed their assessment and have the appropriate authority to be unmuzzled.

Reference - GAPSA

Western Australia

According to a law introduced in Australia in 1927 Greyhounds must always wear a muzzle when in a public place. Initially the muzzle was introduced on the race track to prevent these valuable animals from injuring themselves during the general excitement at the track and their high spirited racing. We have been lobbying to have companion greyhounds made exempt from this law, as is the case in Victoria, because they are such a friendly, affectionate and loving breed and when wearing a muzzle people often incorrectly assume the opposite.

Reference GAP WA

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spooky Dog Enemy #1

(image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Transperth trains!

Sometimes on our walks, Ms Barbie gets spooked. When she is spooked, she stares off into the distance and just stops. It's like she goes somewhere else in her head, and she is mostly nonresponsive to verbal encouragement. Usually if I touch her she snaps out of it.

Often I can't see or hear what it is that has spooked her. There is this one corner on the way home where she is often spooked. I haven't figured out what she dislikes about this corner. Sometimes it's seeing people in the shadows of a house nearby.

There is one thing I know that she doesn't like though, and that is trains! Which is a problem because we live perhaps 800 metres from the train line. We have stopped crossing the train line regularly because Barbie hates the trains. Some days are better than others. To date I had been dealing with it by getting her to run. It seems nothing is too scary if we are moving quick enough and she likes it when I pick up the pace a little.

The trainer we are starting with on Saturday, Desma, recommended we go to a distance that Barbie can cope with (though she can be a little wary) and then give her very yummy treats while the train is going past. Now that I have been risking the fine and walk her in the neighbourhood without her muzzle, this is a feasible proposal. I have real trouble giving her treats with her 'cage' on because I have to poke them through the holes, and she tries to 'help' by flicking her head back, which sometimes results in the treat being knocked out of my hand and onto the ground where she can't get it! I am also limited in the kind of treats I can give her - I use the flat dried meat kind so that I can poke it through but I can't really give her chunky bits of cheese or chicken or anything. It just doesn't work!

The trainer has a problem with the muzzle laws too, so that is good. The first couple of sessions are on private property at the daycare place so she told me not to even bring it. I said 'it will be in the car incase we wanna go for a walk...' because I don't know what the City of Belmont rangers are like. I have heard from another greyhound owner that the City of Bayswater rangers don't enforce it.

This also presents issues if I'm going to train her up for obedience and agility and jumping. She would probably be OK doing obedience muzzled but I don't think she's going to appreciate that thing on her face if she's jumping or doing tunnels! If the trials are at public parks though she is legally required to wear that thing. Argh. Well it's all the more evidence for a change in the law, or at least soemthing like a 'green collar program' where GAP greyhounds get tested on their prey responses and general citizenship so that they can win the right to be in public without it.

I mean really for me, privately, it's a calculated risk - $100 fine or not. But if trainers or other organisations are involved I'm not sure it will be so easy.

At the Million Paws Walk there were a helluvalot of GAP dogs, and the Coordinator, Kerry, told us to 'free' our hounds, so we did. Mass civil disobedience unmuzzling all of them. All GAP dogs are certified small-dog-safe before they are adopted out, so she was obviously confident in their testing procedures. And of course, there were no issues despite the hundreds of dogs of all sizes there on the day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I realised that I probably need to do an introductory post, in honour of the bloghop! I have had a few new visitors.

So here are the furkids:

FrouFrou - 4 years - Female Domestic Short Hair

Little Froufrou came from a car wrecking yard in my hometown. My dad was working there at the time, and there were a lot of stray cats there. He had already taken a few home. Frou was born in a wrecked car, her mother a very small and shy tortishell and her dad a large and feral silver tabby. I believe Frou was the only survivor of the litter, and she turned out to be very friendly indeed. She used to beg for scraps from the boys who worked there, and she would sit on my dad's desk and purr. I took her home in anticipation of getting a new puppy and wanting to have them grow up together. She was around 6 months old. When I got her into the house, it totally blew her mind. She didn't know what a roof was! She hid, then she escaped out into the backyard. She hid up a tree for days until she eventually decided to give house life a go.

Froufrou's favorite hobbies are - fighting with her sister Mittens, smooching and cuddling humans, sitting on top of Bender and washing Bender's face for him. Oh and eating. Frou loves eating. She 'sits' on command - she learned to sit the same time I taught Bender.

Bender - 4 years - male bitsa

Bender came to me at about 6 weeks old. He was found, along with his siblings, in a rubbish bin, and a friend of mine was bottle feeding them. She really wanted some of them to be 'city dogs' and so when I said I would take him she was overjoyed. I wasn't picky - I didn't meet the puppies. I told her I wanted the biggest boy.

She delivered him to my house and he was so tiny he could share a shoebox with a teddy bear. Now he is 28kgs of pure muscle.

Bender's favorite past time is fetching his ball. He will swim for his ball, and run and jump very hard. He also loves walks and cuddles and having his face washed by Froufrou.

Mittens - 2 years - Female Domestic Long/Med hair

We had been to the local Greyhound track, and got home fairly late. As we walked in the front door I heard a tortured mewing sound. I could not tell if it was a baby or a cat at first, then I realised it was a kitten. I followed the sound in the front yard, and saw her, a tiny, dirty, wet kitten screaming her lungs out. I think she was the runt of the litter and left behind by her mother. I crouched down and called to her and she came running straight to me. We put her in the bathroom with food and water and she cleaned herself up. Little did we know that she has always had great pride in her cleanliness and appearance.

We put posters up everywhere and I rang every vet and organisation that I could think of but we couldn't find anyone missing her. She was quite aloof and hated to be held. Despite her breathtaking good looks we couldn't find anyone who wanted to take her. So we kept her.

She is a playful and delightful cat, who accepts affection on her own terms.

Her favorite hobbies are attacking Froufrou, sneaking into my bedroom at night for a snuggle, watching people shower, and headbutting the dogs.

Barbie (Barbed Wire) - 2 years - Female Greyhound

Bender needed a friend, and we had bought a house so there was no more negotiating with landlords about being allowed to have pets. I had always loved greyhounds, so I put in an application to the local Greyhounds as Pets. They sent an email saying that it may be quite a wait until the right dog is found for us, but then a few days later I got a phone call about Barbie. We took Bender up to her foster home for them to meet. I sat down on the dog bed, and Barbie, who was a little unsure of new people, came up behind me and started nuzzling me with her nose. Her foster mother was like 'that'd be right, I feed you and look after you and you go and nuzzle up to a stranger!'

Barbie passed the test of coping with Bender and his limited social skills (he missed out on learning that stuff from his mother), and so we took her home. She was a little over interested in the cats at first, but Mittens is very territorial and quickly put her in her place. Now she gets along really well with the cats although she still won't let Froufrou lick her face!

Barbie's favorite things are eating, learning new tricks, running and sleeping!

Blog Hop

I've decided to participate in this, it's hosted by numerous blogs that I follow, and it changes every week. If you are visiting, add your blog to the list!

Impressing people

Barbie's recall is coming along nicely with adhoc training at the dog park. People are impressed the way she responds and then comes in like a missile! It is actually easier to recall her than my other dog (except when she is chasing someone), and my recall signal is my hand up in the air (with treat in it). With her excellent vision she can spot me very easily from quite a long way away.

Can't wait til classes start on Saturday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Obedience School

Well, I have found an obedience class that is offered indoors on private property with a trainer who has sighthound experience. She is going to ring me sometime this week to organise our initial consultation to make sure that Barbie will fit in with the class. The maximum class size is 6 dogs, so it should be a good number for her to deal with in terms of distraction. The class is being offered at Billy's Daycare for Dogs, and I'm hoping to build on my relationship with the owner of the business, because maybe she would be interested in holding agility type classes as well.

The challenge of owning a greyhound in Perth is that there are a very limited number of fully fenced dog parks available. Barbie & I are urbanites, we live in a villa with a 150sqm backyard so there is no room for agility equipment and not enough room for Barbie to get up to full pace. I'm very aware of the fact that Barbie needs to run. She loves to get up to top speed and she is also little more than a pup. If I can get her one or two free running sessions a week, she is happy. She is pretty good with other dogs, even if she does chase them she is not as rough as she used to be, and shows some sense of fairness, slowing down for other dogs so they think they can catch her before sprinting off. We frequent the dog park at Whiteman Park most often, and we sometimes go to the dog park in Ellenbrook. These places are preferred because Bender is welcome. Sometimes we go to the Greyhounds as Pets organised playgroups but mostly they are a long drive, and Bender, being a non-greyhound, is not allowed to come.

Then we do our daily 30 minute walk, and it seems to keep her wonderful muscles in good condition. When I get back running, Barbie will be my running companion 3 times a week. Bender is less focussed and does a lot of hard starts and stops so I'm not sure how often he will get to run with us. I think Barbie could be a very good jumper. She may even be willing to tackle agility obstacles if there is enough food involved. The only obstacle is finding somewhere to train safely while her recall is not yet 100%. She has to earn my trust and there is going to have to be a lot of training and proofing before that happens.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Medium Prey Drive

Princess Barbie does not always share nicely with the other animals. She snarls and snaps when she does not want them to join her on her bed. But if the cat is already there... she will curl up beside her and be polite. We are working on her sharing issues.

While Barbie is completely safe with her own two cats, I will always be cautious with new introductions. She has shown some interest in the neighbourhood cats who tend to streak across the road in front of us while we are out walking.

What Happens when Bed Fluffing Becomes an Obsession

Excuse the bald thighs, this photo was taken in her first month with us. She has significantly better coverage now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greyhound Converts

(Bender and Barbie enjoying the fenced dog park at Whiteman Park)

Every time we take Barbie for a run up at the fenced dog park in Ellenbrook, she wins at least one admirer. Yesterday was no different.

The park was half-submerged with recent rains and this seemed to impress Barbie, as she started running laps straight away. Around, and around, up and back. Really turning on the afterburners when she was running in a straight line.

There was a woman there with a very shy Ridgeback, who stood behind her with his tail between his legs. I heard her saying to the people around her 'wow, look at that greyhound go!'

When I was on the other side of the park, babysitting Barbie because there was a weirdly aggressive chihuahua in the park which kept drawing her attention, apparently the lady ran through the standard questions about greys. Maybe, one day, she will get one of her own. I like taking Barbie out. It plants the seeds of thought in stranger's heads and hopefully one more greyhound will be rescued from the track ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Obedience and stuff

I have found an obedience club that I'm going to join. I think that I want to focus on Barbie first, since she needs it more. She's still not much more than a puppy - she turns 3 in September.

Barbie does have a few vices that I'm still working on. She thinks everyone at the dog park should enjoy being 'prey'. When I first got her she chased with such intensity that she actually caused a staffy to run into one of the fences. She doesn't chase like she used to though, as I have supervised her closely since then, especially with new dogs, small dogs, young dogs, and any dog that whines or squeals. If I feel she is getting a little too intense I can usually collar her without too much effort - but I rarely have to intervene these days. There is only one gate, and everytime a dog comes or goes she is there, waiting. I will be there too, with my fingers in her collar until I can determine her reaction to the dog. If she wants to chase, but it is scared, I just have to touch her on the collar again and redirect her and she goes on her merry way.

The other is, well, a problem with most of the dogs that come to Whiteman Park. Not very reliable recall. Her recall at home is almost perfect, and I'm working it at the park. I trust her with other dogs now, and I bring treats to the park. If I see her just looking around and not particularly focussed on anything, I will call her, and she will come.

She also is really cool when she is ready to go home. The last three times we have been there, I have gotten her leash out of my pocket and held it up - she has seen it - and come trotting up to me! I am definately rewarding *that* behaviour with food. The advantage of her being a sighthound is that she picks up visual cues from far away better than Bender does.

I really want to teach her to heel, not so much because she pulls on the lead (she doesn't), but so that she doesn't lag behind, and meander all over the path in front of me. I really want her to be my running companion, and as I have had some fitness setbacks it will be easy for her to build up her fitness with me. I don't think I'll do upwards of 5k with her but building up to 5k should be a good foundation for fitness. I have seen far too many overweight greyhounds at the GAP playgroup and I am determined that Barbie will not become one of them. I would also like to try her with jumping and other agility obstacles once I have gotten a reliable and proofed recall out of her. The problem with the Northern Suburbs club is that it's held in a fenceless park so until I trust her, she can only work on the lead or a line. We will see how we go at first and then if the fenceless park becomes an issue I will have to look around for other places to train. There is another club but it's a very long way from my house.
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