Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Games

Games we can play!

Basket Game

1.  Get a basket, trash can, traffic cone, laundry basket, jump wing, etc.
Stand right next to an object and mark “yes” for your dog going around either direction.  Try to not use too much luring or help.  We like if they can try to figure out what to do to get the reward.  Do this until you don’t have to help and they are going side to side around the object.  Always mark “yes” and reward/praise and celebrate!!

2. Step back about 1 foot and line up the dog on your side in an informal ‘heel’.  Step toward the object, use the dog-side hand and ‘bowl’ them toward the side to go around the object. 
*dog on left – step with left foot, use left hand, go around from left to right or clockwise. 
*dog on right – step right foot, use right hand, go around from right to left or counter-clockwise

3.  Step back another foot and continue with same as step 2.  You can start dropping the treat on the floor as the dog circles to encourage them to race (or chase) back.  I use a toy and toss or roll it behind me after they circle.  Encourages fun and drive. 

Remember: Mark, Reward, Celebrate

4.  Continue moving away and adding distance.  Always step once, if you need to make a ‘bigger’ step or multiple steps because they won’t circle, go back to step 2.  In other words, you progressed too fast for your dog. 

5.  Add a second circle around the object. 
Move back up to the object, send your dog around and as they complete, send them around again with a hand gesture.  (usually the same gesture as sending the first time)
On the second time around, back up to encourage speed and chasing you.  Use your dog’s natural instinct of chasing to encourage excitement and play.  Practice both directions.

6.  Back up 1 step and ask for two circles.  Practice both sides and CELEBRATE with your dog!  Continue adding distance and play. 

7. Movement from you in opposite direction. 
As your dog is circling, you begin to walk backwards while sending them to the object.  Your movement away shouldn’t change the game for your dog.  Start with moving at the end of the circle, one step at a time.  As they get better, you move sooner and sooner.  If you can’t get them to circle, then back up, you missed a step in your game and they need more practice. 

Sometimes we get stuck on the idea of the finished product.  Don’t focus on getting to the last step, instead focus on what your dog understands.  Take all the time you need at each step before moving on so there aren’t in ‘holes’ in their learning.  If you find you aren’t getting what you want 10 out of 10 tries (1 practice session), then you moved too fast and they are missing a piece of the game.  Start back at the beginning.  If your dog isn’t having fun, getting excited and getting faster each time you play, then change your approach mentally.  Maybe you are the one not making it fun J  MARK, REWARD, CELEBRATE

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"My child doesn't need 'kisses' from your dog"

"My child doesn't need 'kisses' from your dog"

Food for thought:
I went to a dog show a few weekends ago with Gabby, my 14 month old daughter, and no dogs.  I went to watch some of my students compete and show my support.  I knew it would be tough to watch my child around all those dogs in their territory and run a dog, so I didn't even attempt to show. is a scenario that happened:

Gabby was in her stroller and we were watching the dogs run.  A woman, unknown to me, came up with her two goldens.  One was older and they both seemed very nice.  She asked me if my daughter could meet the dogs.  I said, "sure" and then watched them interact.   Gabby didn't really care as she meets and greets many dogs on a daily basis in our lives.  The woman really wanted Gabby to get excited so she started tapping the tray on the stroller to get the dogs to look up and focus on Gabby.  I couldn't figure out what she was trying to get out the situation but then realized she wanted them to give my daughter 'kisses'.   At that moment, one of the dogs started in for the big lick.  Gabby still wasn't even looking at them as she was watching the action on the course.  I stuck my hand right between that dog's kiss and my child's face.  I politely said, "oh, we don't need kisses from the doggie".  She pulled her dogs back and said in a slightly annoyed tone, "if there's no food or kisses, then we aren't interested."  She walked away with her two sweet dogs. 

Hmmmm....I thought about this for a while.  After being a dog trainer for many years before becoming a parent, I was constantly annoyed with the lack of instruction from other parents when having their children meet dogs.   It is a huge problem and the dog always gets blamed for the parent's lack of knowledge on animal behavior.  I have some amazing stories to tell of my dogs and parents bringing their kids up to them to meet and how they (the parents) behaved with their kids.  In this situation, it never occured to me that the dog owners can be just as bad.  Why would any dog owner ask their dog to get into a child's face, especially a strangers child?   My logical thinking brain can only assume that she thought I was a spectator there with my young child and wanted to help show they were a friendly bunch and give a good experience to my child.  I don't assume the worst in people but it made me realize it's not always the parent but probaby equally the dog owner. 

My 'take away' thought to you:  Don't be afraid to speak up and control the situation if you aren't comfortable.  I wasn't afraid to stop the kisses even though my animal behavior knowledge told me the dogs were fine and safe, but I wasn't comfortable with them kissing Gabby.   If you are the owner of a dog that likes kids, think about how you can appropriately use your dog to educate children and parents in situations like those.

Gabby's waking up, gotta go.....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And winter continues....with sunshine and warmer temps

      The winter continues on with cold temps and light snows.  It's funny when you go outside and 13 degrees feels like a heat wave!   Without the wind and the sun shining, it isn't too bad.  I took advantage of that to take Gabby out to the world and do chores with me.  She loved it!  She tried running in her little boots and did pretty well but when she would fall down, it was like the classic movie A Christmas Story.  She couldn't get up because of being all bundled up, but I got some cute photos of her.

She is also wearing a beautiful hat made from the fleece of one of our rams, spun by Tiffany at Woodspryte Farms and knitted by one of my agility students, Carol.  A gorgeous brown finnsheep with soft wool.

      The weather has also taken its toll on our water hydrant.  We have many barns and water in each barn but the main animal barn is the fartherest out and that hydrant finally froze up.  The hydrant leaked and we figured it was just time before the water running down the pipe and into the ground would freeze.  Now, we bucket water from another barn for the sheep, cows, llamas, mini horse, cat, and birds.  It's not as bad as it seems.  We have two troughs in each pasture and take one day each week to make multiple trips to fill all four troughs.  Then, as the week progresses, we move the tank heaters to each trough as they get low.  

     We have enlisted the help of one of our dogs to make this process easier.  Bubba, our chocolate lab, a big strong dog that loves to work and frankly, can use the job, pulls the sled with the buckets of water from the front of the farm, to the back barn.  He seems to enjoy it and wags his tail the whole time.  I walk beside or behind him so he doesn't take off running and tip the sled and all the water.  Such a good dog.  Gabby enjoyed walking around with Bubba also and my back loved not lifting and carry those five gallon buckets.

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     Lessons are booming, despite the winter cold, and I have sold most of the extra lambs and sheep.  We are down to our core flock of 16, 8 of which are ewes to lamb in April.  A nice, easy number to handle this year.  5 of the flock are lambs that are growing like crazy and will be heading out to get training for dog herding lessons this summer.  3 rams are staying and will be used in the future to maintain colors and unrelated genetics.  It's always hard to keep a small number but yet have unrelated sheep.  We are looking forward to the ducks laying eggs again and all the pastures are sure to turn green soon.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mother Nature!!

     Farm and Winter

     The weather still isn't letting up and I think it's here to stay!  I have some more beautiful photos of the farm animals thanks to my wonderful student and her ability to stand in the cold and take some great photos!
" Mini is always looking for a handout!"

 "The sheep, llamas, and cow don't come out often but if you call with a bucket of grain.."

 "This little 4 month badgerface ewe lamb standing next to her mother will be getting a new home this weekend"

 "My husband's 'Cowbella' never misses a meal"

     The winter is taking a toll on everyone.  Our animals are cold one day and comfortable the next.  I've been washing horse blankets and sheep coats to keep any manure and wetness off the furry kids.  We did loose one adolescent sheep.  Not sure what happened, I think kicked or trauma internally of some kind and then the cold didn't help the situation.  After two days of not eating and not showing any interest in food or water after all the usual help we can give, my compassionate husband took it upon himself to end his suffering.  It's a hard part of farm life to choose to take a life.  It seems especially hard while I'm growing life inside me right now but I know from many years of experience, he was not going to come out of this happy and healthy.   I'm not sure I could make those decisions by myself so I am grateful for my husband although it really bothers him.  I also think it's important to share that this does happen and it's not something to be hidden.  I am very honest with anyone that asks about sickness, accidents, and just basic bad luck.  It's unrealistic to think everything is always 'peachy keen' when raising animals.  

Kids and Dogs

     On a different subject, I'd like to write a little about Dogs and Kids.  It's so common and I have many students that have dogs being introduced to babies or living with young children, I think it's something to discuss.  Whether you are having children of your own or grandchildren now, I think this is a subject to always have in mind.  I have the point of view from having only dogs for most of my late teens, 20's, and early 30's with no kids.  These four leggeds were my kids and my life revolved around them.  Now, with an almost 14 month old and 8 months pregnant, my perspective has changed.  I still love and respect my dogs but they did take a back seat to raising a baby for a while.  We are now coming to the challenges of a toddler and adult dogs.  Gabby, our daughter, is walking, baby talking, chasing the dog, feeding the dog, hugging the dog, and loving the dog so it's very important to teach all parties involved how to properly exist with each other.  

     My husband and I agree that no matter what, the dogs are NEVER TRUSTED in regards to the human babies.  Both are only predictable as long as your are supervising.  What this means to us, is if we are not in the room, the dogs and baby are not left alone with each other.  I don't care how great your dog is and how respectful your child is, never leave them unattended.  It's as simple as bring the baby or the dog with you.  We have a baby gate in our entrance and the dogs easily go in there when not being watched. 

 "All dogs will bite in the right situation"

      Now, look at this photo....

    This is my daughter, Gabby, and Tweed, our 8 year old border collie.  Out of all our dogs, he was the most distant dog for young toddlers.  He is now our best babysitter.  I wanted to show this picture to tell what I see from his behavior.  His ears are back and his body is a little tense.  This tells me he is tolerating this behavior but not exactly happy about it at the same time.  I'm carefully watching him and what he is trying to say through body language.  (plus I know his history with Gabby)

     Now in this photo, you can see some changes that made me think, I will let him choose to stay or not and let Gabby have a little fun.  He stretched out his front leg, relaxed his torso, and you can't tell but wagged the tip of his tail in a gesture I know says, "I'm happy and calm"  Some things you can't tell from a photo and if one of my dogs was uncomfortable with the situation, I wouldn't take the time to take a photo before showing Gabby that's not how we act around a dog, lol.  So, you won't see any bad photos here for that reason.  Tweed has an area to go to if he needs to get away from Gabby and has a signal he gives me to say, "I've had enough and I want a break".   He simply leaves the room and I've worked with Gabby "leave the dog alone, he needs to go rest".   I missed the shot of her getting off him and gently petting his neck before hugging with her head on his back.  I still teach her not to play around his face and mouth, although, gentle, he still has those teeth and it only takes once.  

     If you have a nervous dog and exploring toddler, try letting the dog out around the baby when they are strapped to their high chair and eating.  Food gets dropped, the dog eats it, a great association for the dog, and then put up the furry kid before letting down your baby.  Always allow your dog to retreat without being followed by child.  Behind a baby gate is a wonderful location.  The dog can come up and sniff on their own terms or can sit back at a comfortable distance without being corner by a child.   

Stay warm and settle in while trying to accept winter is here to stay...  
Try trick training with your dogs, maybe my next blog will be out indoor training for cabin fever!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oh, The Weather Outside it Frightful...

     The weather continues to blow outside but we are enjoying ourselves with inside activities.   I took Tweed to a USDAA agility trial and even at 30 weeks pregnant, I had a great time!  This is his first trial in this venue and he qualified 3 for 3 starters runs.  We only went one day as that was all I could run at this time.  I've included a short video of our day. 

     We also have some great new agility students that started last week.  Looks like we will have some new competitors and agility enthusiasts this Spring.  Two students went to the trial with me and did really well for their first time in USDAA.  One of my new students is a photographer and came out to take some photos of the animals in the snow.

     I am now 10 weeks away from my due date for second baby and things are ready around here for now.  I have organized the nursery and newborn supplies along with the guest quarters for my family to come and stay and visit.  Just trying to keep up the exercise and movement so I don't get to uncomfortable with the big belly.  Delivery of our new surprise can't come soon enough!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Storm January 2014

Our weather has really come flying in with lots of snow and soon to follow lots of cold!  We ended up with between 15" and 20" of snow with drifting.  The animals are doing just fine and I must say, although a long tired walk for me to the barn, I made it there and back.  It seemed so far away when I was only half-way!

I was surprised at the depth of snow all the way down the road to the barn and actually walked along the fence line for support.  

The wind chill was about -20 degrees but the actual temp was 8 degrees.  Not too bad yet, but the cold is still to come. 

Our pigs were snowed into their shelter but they didn't seem to mind as I took them breakfast in bed. 

The horses got extra hay and didn't seem to care that they were outside as they have the option of being in or out.

Then, my hard working husband came home from 24 hours of plowing and started in on our house and all the neighbors.

I will get more photos tomorrow of the plowing to see the actual beauty of the snow, although the temperature is suppose to drop again tonight. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A long blog to catch up and head into the New Year!!


      It's a new year and so much is happening but mostly because I haven't written in many many months...almost a year.  So, part of my personal goals for 2014 is to be more organized in my own life.  This includes the home, finances, and of course my business which has grown and grown.  

     Just in case you aren't interested in the history and just want to look at pictures, I'm including the days fun here at the beginning and you can read the rest if you want.  

As of 1pm, we had 8 inches of snow and it's still coming down hard!

Cowbella and the rams, eating breakfast in the snow

Our girl, Cowbella.

Introduced the mini horse to the rams and Cowbella this morning and they keep running laps but not too stressed out.  In between laps they grab a mouthful of hay.

Gabby's mini horse, Minnie or Louie

Norman, the bull calf, enjoying the indoor breakfast

Tweed is still up for moving sheep, just open the gate

 Now for all the details!


House and Home
     The first project I took on this month is get the house in order a little better.  We celebrated our little girl, Gabrielle, on her first birthday in early December
 and now will be expecting our second child March 31.  Therefore, I felt the nesting instinct kick in and got to organizing.  I cleaned out Gabby's closet and boxed up outgrown clothes, newborn items, and moved furniture around.  The new one will stay in our master bedroom for as long as possible but then the two kids will have to share a room for a while.  We do have another bedroom but I feel it's very important to keep a guest room available for family and friends.  When people come to stay I want them to have a nice room with a huge comfy bed and their own bathroom.  Maybe they will come back and help with the kids more often; hidden agenda on my part.

     I then attacked the guest room closet and room.  The hallway to the guest area including the guest room itself had become the catch all space for our many many started and not finished home improvement projects.   All the work tools and items for those projects are now organized neatly into the hall closet and the guest room and bathroom has become exactly what it was intended to be, the guest area.  It's complete with king size bed, closet space, and linen closet and shelves empty in the bathroom.   

     I am also working on helping my husband get the home projects done that were started 6 months -1 year ago.  We are putting up new drywall to replace the bad patch jobs done by the previous owner and finishing the counters in the kitchen that were made from scratch.  It's getting there even if slow going.  


     Three things I don't usually discuss with too many people are religion, politics, and personal finances.  I feel these are areas that most people have strong feelings and opinions about and can easily destroy relationships so I usually just talk to a few people and usually when I need help.  But, I have decided I am proud of my financial changes and feel like I'm finally taking charge so I want to brag!  With the introduction of debit cards, autopay, and the ease of buying on credit, checkbook balancing had become a thing of my past.  My shopping usually began with me standing in the store, checking my apps to see what account had what balance to then buy what I needed for the trip.  Now, I know this is not a great way to go but I also know, I am not in the minority of this practice.   So, I decided to sit down every night and get online and balance my checkbook, do the books for the business, and plan ahead for the upcoming shopping necessities.  So far, it's working and I'm very happy about this.  I have always planned for retirement and follow the pay yourself first adage but didn't work on the present.   My business has expanded into a number of animals and lessons have taken off and therefore, I want to make sure Borderhauss Kennels at least pays for itself and hopefully pays for the farm.  I know it's not costing me money but it'd be nice to make some.  

Farm and Business

     I would never be able to live here on this farm let alone keep it running if not for my husband.  He tirelessly works everyday to keep it going.  After working his own business all day, he comes home and splits wood for the stove or moves a big load to the deck for me to use in the wood stove.  He plows the snow out of the way, fixes electrical, hangs stall doors, catches sheep, fixes fencing, replaces well pumps for water in the barns, adds hydrants out in pastures, cuts and bales hay, repairs vehicles, tills the garden, and all with a smile and usually before I even know it needs to be fixed.  There is so much more he does and I try to appreciate it every day.  He probably won't read this but I will make sure to tell him each night, thank you.  

     My dog classes are booming, I've added 20 new students that keep returning so I must be doing something right for them.  They are fun, positive, and love to learn.  So, really I'm the lucky one in this situation.  Without them, I would never be able to stay home and be with Gabby all day and do what I love, thank you, my students.    

     The part of the business that is also growing is the number of animals we have and the new property we acquired adjacent to our land.  My mother and stepfather were kind enough and so helpful to purchase the 10 acres with barn next door and draw up a contract to purchase from them.  So, our little farm has doubled in land to 20 acres and 5 big barns.  It's really limitless to what we can do if we organize and be business savy.  I try to only keep animals that offer an income or a benefit to us.  That being said, I do have my favorites and a few are definitely pets at they have no job.  I need to talk to them about getting out and getting jobs.  

     The flock of sheep is around 20, and I do admit to not knowing the exact number out there.  I know when someone is missing but just don't count all the time.  They come and go so fast sometimes and I tend to look at them from a business stand point.  This means, when I look at a sheep, it is in my mind staying because of good quality breeding traits, staying because they might become good school sheep for herding lessons, or not staying and waiting to sell.  So, it's not a head count but more of a money making perspective.  We were lucky enough (again, my husband) to turn the new 10 acres into hay and therefore, food is not a problem this winter.   The llamas go with the sheep and keep them safe from coyotes so in that sense they save us money of loosing lambs and expensive sheep to predators.  Due to our new human baby coming I planned for late April/May lambs this season. 

    We have some animals here that are going to feed us.  It isn't an easy thing to do, raise an animal, watch them grow, become attached, and know their fate.  However, with all the additives and unknown products being injected into commerical meat, I feel much more comfortable knowing exactly where our meat starts, eats, and ends up.  We have control over the whole process.  We have four pigs that my husband purchased.  Every summer we have a pig roast party and we just plain like pork.  We have two cows, one heifer and one bull.  The bull, Norman, will grow up and breed our heifer before going to the freezer but again, beef is a huge bill in our house at the grocery and we will have our own grass fed, no hormones or antibiotics in our beef.  Cowbella, our heifer will stay here to produce the calves and possible provide milk for us.  I will have to see how far I get into making cheese, butter, yogurt, and milking in general.  

     We have a pair of turkeys we kept back this winter.   Normally, I buy the chicks, raise them, and butcher for the holidays usually giving away the birds to family and friends but this year, we kept two for breeding.  I know it might be another summer before they start laying as turkeys need to grow up a lot before laying eggs but the plan is to incubate our own baby turkeys.  

     We also have the runner ducks.  These ducks are great for herding dogs at they flock together and I have had them for years.  They are funny, eat lots of bugs, and are fairly easy keepers.  I have one hen that sits on a nest and hatches her own babies so that also makes things easier for me.  We use the eggs for eating and giving to my in-laws.  I keep a rare color and any extra babies born that I don't need for the flock are usually sold within a week of hatching.  That's their job here on the farm.  I have also used them for herding demonstration with a good friend of mine and they bring in a little cash that way.  

     We have three horses.  They are pets and only cost us money, haha.  Our most recent addition is Minni, or Louie, as my husband calls her.  She is a two year 36 inch mini that will hopefully become Gabby's first pony.  She is doing well living with all the strange animals but is friendly and sweet.  Currently, in this snow, Minnie and Cowbella and running around the pasture.  They will get really tired in all this snow.  

Now that everyone is all caught, my goal is to keep this blog updated more often rather than a once every 6 months review.  It's still snowing as we are expected to get around 12 inches but I think it will be more.  

Laura, Paul, Gabby and unborn baby.