Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hard Habits to Break

A quote I've heard a few times this summer at seminars goes something like "the thing you hate most about a current dog is usually the thing that will never be a problem with a new dog".  This is very true of Riley and Stella.  Riley can be a total ass when asked to give up something he loves (ball, golf ball, tugging etc.) but Stella has a beautiful retrieve to my hand and a gentle mouth.  Some of that is her genetics but it also something that was a priority in early puppy training. 

So that proves that change is possible so then why the heck do we carry over so many other bad habits!

I went to two wonderful seminars this summer and came out full of excitement and all sorts of new ideas and plans to work with Stella.   I wish it was easier to translate all of that into actual working with my dog!  I did pick up a few new good habits from seminar information but I've been reminded the past few weeks that seminars aren't a substitute for the regular hard work.   I have neglected some training lately so have started back to  working a bit of heeling and various related positions and have noticed how much my bad habits are screwing up my dog.  When I used to heel with Riley he is a very big prescence so I could easily feel where he was in relation to me.  I still had a bad habit of looking at him and dropping that inside shoulder back but was mostly able to get away with it due to his size.  Stella is so much lighter and smaller so I have a much harder time "feeling" when she is in perfect position.  She has been working to give me eye contact but I drop that same damn shoulder to look at Stella and so now she is heeling farther back than I would like.   Sigh .... back to using a target stick to get her a bit more forward and perhaps a giant thumb tack that pokes me when I drop my shoulder and screw up my part of the equation. 

In Riley news we got back the test results for degenerative myelopathy and the results were NORMAL.  Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!  We are definately not out of the woods yet though.  I sought a second opinion this week from a vet that specializes in lameness and does chiro, accupuncture, laser therapy etc.  He agrees that there is something neurological going on and actually suspects Wobblers syndrome.  We are now proceeding with an MRI and surgery is looking more likely.  The vet thinks we are still fairly early stages of whatever is happening but I can also see his condition slowly getting worse so hopefully we will have answers and a plan soon.

We have had fabulous weather lately.  Here are a few pics of the dogs enjoying a romp this past weekend.  Riley is now back to leash walks until we know what is happening but it was good to see him so happy.


  1. Hooray for the normal test result. Fingers crossed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan soon.

  2. Thrilled to hear about Riley's results re: DM. Hoping you get more good news. You're right about old habits - very hard to break. Easier if you have someone else to 'remind' you of them or to watch what you're doing. Maybe you need something like a neck brace that won't allow you to twist. LOL. Hugs to the dogs!!

  3. Riley - you do look really happy in the photo. :-) I hope the MRI helps your peoples find some answers as to what is troubling you lately. Sometimes it would be helpful if we could talk, wouldn't it?