Archive for May, 2013

Wordless Wednesday – Thunderous Pet Portraits

May 29, 2013

I currently have three pet portraits going. Two are commission works and the other is one I asked to do because the photo was so inspiring. If you follow the dog blog of a three Chesapeake Bay Retrievers named after weather terminology and a large ship, then you know Go check out their site, then you will see why I was inspired to draw the following sketches:

Thunder Sketch One

Preliminary sketch of Thunder, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Thunder Sketch Two

My final sketch of Thunder before attempting to draw in color. (Can you hear AC/DCs song Thunderstruck playing in the background?)

Now check out the two commission pet portraits I am working on:

Photo Deuce the Cat

This is a photo of Deuce the cat.

Deuce Sketch One

The photo was at an angle I wasn’t happy with so I adjusted the angle and drew Deuce the cat from a more face-to-face angle.

Deuce the Cat Two

The final sketch of Deuce is complete. I may need more photos to get the cat stripes right when I draw this in color.

Photo of Dog Mos 2

This is a photo of Mos, a rescued dog with a sweet face.

Mos Sketch One

The preliminary sketch of Mos.

Final Mos Sketch.

This is the almost final sketch of Mos. I have another photo of Mos I can use to draw the ears better.

For more great pet photos, check out the Wordless Wednesday blog hop link below.

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Ten Dog Training Mistakes I Make

May 25, 2013
Pierson on a Leash with Look Command

Teaching the ‘look’ command to get my dog Pierson’s attention when we see other dogs.

I read a great article some time back from Modern Dog Magazine. It listed ten dog training mistakes that people make. These mistakes are easy to fall into, and oftentimes we don’t even realize we are doing them. But once you recognize them, you can easily remedy them. I have listed the top ten below and also noted how I personally make those mistakes with Maya and Pierson.

1. I don’t train my dogs often enough. I tend to get lazy in winter when it comes to walking the dogs. As a result, every spring I have to start over with how to walk on a leash without pulling and with dealing with leash reactiveness with other dogs.

2. I sometimes repeat commands. I’m not supposed to say ‘sit’ more than once. Maya and Pierson should sit immediately after I give them the command. Otherwise, they learn they don’t have to sit unless I say it more than once. Honestly, I don’t make this mistake often in regular circumstances. But when we are in public and their attention is diverted, I find that I repeat myself. To overcome this mistake, I really need to work with Maya and Pierson regularly and in various situations – not just at home where it is quiet.

3. My training sessions run too long or too short. Actually, I think we’re fine on this. Our training sessions are generally short, but frequent. I make sure all training sessions end with success and I don’t drag out training to the point where it is no longer fun. Three sessions a day each lasting three minutes has worked perfectly for Maya and Pierson.

4. My dogs’ obedience behaviors are not generalized to varying conditions. This is what I meant when I talked about how I have to repeat commands in public situations.

5. I rely too much on treats and not enough on praise. Actually, this is another one that I don’t really have trouble with. Both Maya and Pierson have a number of commands they obey without having to be bribed with treats. For example, they obey the ‘play dead’ trick specifically for the belly rubs. Also, Pierson’s ‘speak’ command was taught exclusively for a praise reward.

6. I use too much emotion. No, I don’t get irritated or angry during training sessions. But sometimes I can go over the top with praise, especially in the beginning stages of training. Sometimes, this excites Maya to the point that she is no longer able to focus.

7. I am reactive, not proactive. I should have been working with Maya and Pierson on their leash walking and leash reactiveness before I started having problems. I should have been worked on their training at home before slowly introducing them to public situations. Since I didn’t, bad habits developed and now I have to work harder to overcome difficult behaviors.

8. I am inconsistent. This goes hand-in-hand with number one where I don’t train my dogs often enough. When I am teaching a new command and trick, I am generally consistent to the point that they master it. Then I follow up every now and then to make sure they still remember. But I have not applied that same consistency with leash walking and leash reactiveness.

9. I lack confidence. Actually, I don’t think this one applies to me. I think I am pretty good at training when I put my effort into it. I know my own shortcomings, with the biggest being that I put off working on training aspects that I find the most difficult and time consuming (leash walking and leash reactiveness).

10. I don’t train to the individual dog. Actually, I don’t make this mistake either. At least I don’t any more. I used to train Sephi and Maya together. But after I got Pierson, I realized that training them to walk on a leash properly was a lot more difficult if I walked them both at the same time. So now, I walk them each separately. If I take them out to a public setting, I seldom take both of them at the same time. Even with fun training, I try to keep them separate. When I was teaching Pierson agility, I had Maya sit and stay while I worked with him for a minute or so. Then I had Pierson sit and stay while I worked with Maya on different tricks. This technique works really well since both got to practice their sit and stay in a situation where it was very tempting not to stay.

Even though I think I am relatively good at dog training, I am far from perfect. I am like a lot of other people out there with dogs in that I make mistakes too. It’s okay if we make mistakes, so long as we try to learn from them. What about you? Do you make any of these training mistakes with your dogs? Don’t be afraid to speak up. No one here will criticize you. 🙂

Top ten mistakes borrowed from the Modern Dog Magazine. Click for more info.

Wordless Wednesday – Missouri Farm in Spring

May 22, 2013

We went to visit my mom in Missouri this past weekend. When I say we, I mean my husband and I. Maya and Pierson stayed with our friends since my mom’s dog Solo and my dog Pierson do not like other dogs. My husband and I went to help out for a few days, as well as to celebrate my mom making a full recovery from lung cancer. Here are some photos from our trip:

My mom is great with gardens. Me, not so much.

My mom is great with gardens. Me, not so much.

Pixie the Chicken

My parent’s chickens. One is named Pixie, but I don’t remember the names of the others.

Callie Bunny Rabbit

My mom’s bunny rabbit, Callie. I just love the color of her fur.

Solo the Border Collie Mix

My mom and Solo. Solo is a Border Collie mix and loves her life on the farm.

Turtle Crossing Road

There were a lot of turtles trying to cross the road on Saturday morning. I wonder where they were going?

Waterfall Onondaga Cave

We visited the Onondaga Cave State Park and saw this beautiful small waterfall.

Goats and Kids

These are my parent’s neighbor’s kids. Sandy, my mom’s goat, is in there too. They love to be petted.

Rocky the Dog

My parent’s dog Rocky takes a break inside the house with the a/c. He’s 10 now and likes to take it easy.

For more fun pet photos, check out the Wordless Wednesday blog hop below:

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Fit Dog Friday – Pierson’s Agility

May 17, 2013

I love teaching my dogs tricks. Pierson is especially fun to teach because he is so eager and so smart. Don’t get me wrong, Maya is eager and smart too. But Pierson has much better focus. He also has a lot more energy and needs regular physical and mental stimulation. So what better way to give him both than to give him ‘work’ to do.

I’ve thought about disc dog, but he is reluctant to catch the frisbee in his mouth. He is also not very good at bringing the frisbee back after I throw it. He wants to run away with it and chew on it. So I considered agility instead. Last year, I taught him how to jump through a hula hoop. It was a bit difficult at first because he was scared to jump through. But once he learned the hoop was nothing to be frightened of, his jumping skills took off.

Then over the winter I taught him how to weave through poles. I only had three poles so there were only two weaves, but he caught on to the concept rather quickly.

Then I saw the Kyjen dog agility starter kit online at a reasonable price and just had to get it. It came with one high jump, six weave poles, and a tunnel. Pierson took to the high jump right away. It was just like jumping through a hoop. He did well on the weave poles too, but he tends to miss some of the weaves.

Because it took so long for him not to be scared of the hula hoop, I thought the tunnel would take a long time. But he learned the command ‘tunnel’ after just two days. The following video was made after just under two weeks of playing with our new dog agility starter kit.

Although Pierson really seems to love this sport, I don’t think we will be doing any competitions. For one thing, I am not big on competitions. I’d rather keep the exercise fun rather than make it a chore. For another, Pierson does not like other dogs. I can imagine that trying to get him to do agility when there are other dogs around to distract him would be quite difficult.

No, we will stick to the starter kit in the back yard. Perhaps I will add some other agility stuff later. But overall, we will just keep dog agility fun.

Have you done agility with your dog? Any training tips?

Sort of Wordless Wednesday – Walking to Help Leash Reactive Dogs

May 15, 2013

Pierson is very leash reactive when he sees other dogs. He probably wasn’t properly socialized when he was young and I have not done a good job of consistently working with his socialization skills. But now that the weather is getting nice, I intend to do better. Recently, we joined a dog walking group that specifically gets together to work with our dogs’ behavior. I say gets together but in reality, we have to walk a distance apart.

Dog Pierson in Group Walk

I’m working on Pierson’s dog aggression by going on group walks with other dog owners.

Some dogs are doing really well and can now walk with other dogs without much trouble. Pierson is doing better, but as you can see from the photo he still has to stay a distance away. We can get a few feet closer than this before Pierson starts going crazy. Over time, I expect we will be able to get closer and closer. I’ll keep you posted on his progress.

Teaching the 'look' command to get my dog Pierson's attention when we see other dogs.

Teaching the ‘look’ command to get my dog Pierson’s attention when we see other dogs.

This past Saturday, I took Maya on the group walk. We decided to walk downtown and this would be too much for Pierson. Maya has her issues too, but with excitability, so I took her instead. If I had taken Pierson, we would not have been able to visit this nice dog barktique.

Welcome Sign for Lucky Dogs Bakery

Dogs welcome to the Lucky Dogs Bakery and Barktique.

Maya Gets Treats at Bakery

Treats are being passed around at the Lucky Dogs Bakery and Barktique.

Maya at Dog Bakery 1

Maya and others in the Lucky Paws Bakery and Barktique in Downtown Lawrence.

Small Dog Walking Group

Our dog walking group is still small. Thanks to lots of practice, these dogs are not as leash reactive as they used to be.

For more Wordless Wednesday pet photos, check out the blog hop link below.

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Top 10 Things My Dogs Do to Make me Smile

May 11, 2013

Every day is a joy with Maya & Pierson. And it’s the little things they do that bring it. In no particular order, here are a few of the cute things they do:

1. The breakfast dance and howl – Maya sit and stay while I fill up their food bowls. But before we get to the sit command, there is the dance. Pierson sometimes adds a cute howl, too.

2. Random spin – This is the very first thing they do when it comes to breakfast, dinner, or treats. I don’t even need to say ‘spin’ or ‘turn around’ any more. Ever since I taught them this trick, they do it automatically when they know its eating time.

Yay! Maya & Pierson have mastered synchronized spinning!

Yay! Maya & Pierson have mastered synchronized spinning!

3. Play – Playing with them or Maya and Pierson playing with each other is very entertaining. There is nothing especially cute about the way they play. They play like any other dogs. But when I see them having so much fun, I can’t help but to be happy too.

Dogs Playing in Sprinkler

At first, Pierson was afraid of the sprinkler. But after seeing Maya have so much fun in it, he decided to get in on the action.

4. Cuddle – My dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture. So cuddle time is extra special. Maya is an especially good cuddler.

Maya and I on Porch Swing

Maya and I enjoy cuddle time on the porch swing.

5. Sleep on their backs – It’s so funny how Maya and Pierson can sleep in such odd positions on their back. It makes me laugh every time.

Lab Sleeping on Back

Maya really loves to sleep on her back.

Pierson Sleeping on his Back

Pierson loves to sleep on his back up against this wall.

6. Eagerness to learn cute dog tricks – Teaching Maya and Pierson tricks is so much fun because they are so eager. The attentive looks on their faces as I hold the treat and get ready to give a command is priceless.

Dog Tricks for Treats

Maya & Pierson love doing dog tricks for treats.

7. Maya’s heavy sigh – Actually, it’s more like a sigh and grunt combined. I can’t even describe it properly, but it’s cute.

8. Lay at my feet – Both Maya and Pierson want to lay under my desk when I work. It’s funny when they try to compete for the spot.

9. Maya when she gets excited – Maya got a compliment the other day. Someone told me, “That has got to be the happiest dog I have ever seen.” And it’s true. Maya is always up for an adventure and it shows on her face, in the way she walks, and in the way she whines with excitement.

10. Pierson’s fuzzy feet – The hair between Pierson’s toes stick up and make his feet look oddly shaped. They make me laugh every time. And it’s not just Pierson’s fuzzy feet, it’s all Maya & Pierson’s doggy parts. It’s the way Maya’s lip sometimes curls, the way she investigates everything with her brown nose, the way her ears flop around when she runs. It’s the way Pierson carries his tail when he walks (or prances), the way his eyes seem to lighten when he looks at me, the way his fluffy butt looks like big gray bloomers, and the way his body is white with black spots while his legs are black with white spots.

Pierson's Fuzzy Feet

I did share this photo before, but I couldn’t resist sharing the photo of Pierson’s cute fuzzy spotted feet again.

What cute things does your best friend do to make you smile?

Wordless Wednesday – Pierson’s Dog Agility Starter Kit

May 8, 2013
The Kyjen Dog Agility Starter Kit

Pierson’s new dog toy – The Kyjen Dog Agility Starter Kit

I just got this dog agility starter kit from Kyjen! It is relatively inexpensive and the pieces show that in the quality. But it really is perfect for a beginner like Pierson. It includes a tunnel, the weave poles, and a pole for him to jump over. Here are some pictures of him using it:

My Aussie Dog Pierson Considering Jump

Pierson already knows the ‘over’ command from last summer when he learned to jump through a hula hoop.

My Aussie Dog Pierson Jumping

After a few tries, Pierson understands the ‘over’ command in relation to the agility pole.

My Aussie Dog Pierson and the Agility Tunnel

Pierson is not sure about the agility tunnel. I have him sit at the end, and place a treat on the other end in order to coax him through.

Dog Pierson Walks into Agility Tunnel

Pierson sees the treat and cautiously approaches through the agility tunnel.

Pierson in the Agility Tunnel

Almost there…

Pierson Makes it Through the Agility Tunnel

Through! Getting Pierson to go through the agility tunnel was easier than I thought it would be!!!

I did not set up the weave poles yet. It is still too muddy out. But Pierson has been working on the weave command. For now, we are doing each of the sections of the agility course separately. When he has all the commands down, I will start running him through the course. Hopefully, I will have a video for you in a month or two.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. I bought the Kyjen dog agility starter kit on my own, just for my boy Pierson. You can find one for your dog on my Amazon a-store HERE.

For more great pet photos, check out the Wordless Wednesday blog hop link below or you can find it on our other blog,, where I’m showing a cute photo of a Dachshund named Daffy in her new Thundershirt.


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Pierson Speaks

May 4, 2013

What is the easiest dog trick to teach to an Australian Shepherd mix? ‘Speak!’ Why? Because Aussies are already yappers. It was just a matter of finding things that triggered Pierson’s barking and saying the command to speak just before the trigger. Since it was too difficult to get someone to walk by my house or make a noise outside in order to get Pierson to bark, I found another trigger. Pierson also barks when he is happy. Meal time is one example. Another is when I blow in his face during playtime.

I discovered this while I was playing with Maya. In order to keep Pierson from interfering, because he can be a jealous bully when I play with Maya, I would blow in his face to keep him away. Pierson took the face blowing as part of the game. He got so excited about this game that he started barking.

So after playing with Maya, I decided to see if I could purposely provoke him to bark bu blowing in his face. After just a couple of tries, it worked. I’d say ‘speak’, then blow in his face. If he barked, he got lots of praise. I must have done this five times before I decided to just say the command without blowing in his face. To my delight, it worked!

I did three sessions of this, each less than 5 minutes long. By the third session, I was only saying the command. No face blowing. I did another short training session the next day to refresh his memory. Now, a week or so later, he confidently knows the command and is more than happy to bark. The real dog trick will be to get him to stop. 😉

This is a blog hop! For more great pet blogs, click the link below.

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Wordless Wednesday – Strange Spring

May 1, 2013

The weather has been crazy. Last week we had snow. Yesterday and the day before were really nice (in the 80s). Tomorrow we are going to have snow again! It’s crazy I tell you.

Since I missed last Wordless Wednesday, here are some photos from the past 10 days or so.

My Dog Maya and Tulips

Maya looks Pretty by the blooming Tulips.

Snow in Kansas April 23

No lie. It snowed at our house on April 23rd, 2013. This is highly unusual in NE Kansas.

Tulips and Snow

I was really worried about what the snow would do to our beautiful tulips.

Blooming Tulips

Despite the recent snow, our colorful Tulips are still blooming beautifully.

Maya Yellow Ball 4

Maya, do you want to play fetch with this big yellow beach ball?

Maya Yellow Ball 1

Maya will jump to try to catch this yellow ball, but it is too big so it bounces off her nose. She loves the game, nonetheless.

Maya Yellow Ball 2

Here comes the big yellow ball, Maya. Are you going to get it?

Maya Yellow Ball 3

Get that big yellow ball, Maya!

Pierson Kong Flyer 1

Pierson doesn’t like the beach ball. He’s scared of it for some reason. But he loves to play with his Kong Flyer.

Aussie Mix Pierson and Kong Flyer

More of my adorable dog Pierson with his Kong Flyer.

Pierson Kong Flyer 3

I can’t get enough of the Pierson cuteness with his Kong Flyer.

Pierson Running after Kong Flyer

Just look at the fluffy fur fly! Pierson can’t catch the Kong Flyer in the air yet.

Pierson Kong Flyer 5

It looks like he might catch the flyer this time, but no. Pierson waits for the Kong Flyer to land on the ground before he gets it.

For more fun Wordless Wednesday pet photos, check out the link to the blog hop below. You can also access the blog hop on my other blog, where I am showing photos of an adorable GoldenDoodle named Spud.


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