On the adventures and training of Cinnamon Snapdragon, a papillon destined for greatness.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Always food woes

Clearly the Prednisone has completely exited Dragon's system, as he is back to keeping himself lean and turning his nose up at his raw food (currently half his caloric intake). After this bag is finished, I'll probably go back to feeding him entirely with ZiwiPeak and Real Meat, two dehydrated foods that are not as processed as kibble and contain high quality ingredients. To all the people who are amazed at the amount of training I do with him every single day: the biggest reason for that is that it's the only way to reliably get him to eat! Actually, that reminds me to try putting his raw into a squeeze tube next, then using it during training.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weekly multi-sport recap

Dragon's bowels are normal again and he's back on his regular food. I still don't know what caused his illness last week but no more need to worry.

On Saturday morning we graduated from our Intro to Odor class. Dragon was introduced to odor early last year by his Auntie Miki, and at this point he's doing mostly unpaired hides. He was able to get some tougher hiding spots than the other students. He loves searching and during our first couple of runs each week he would just prance around the room in excitement before getting serious.

On Wednesday we went to a conformation drop-in, just for fun. The other attendants were experienced while I didn't really know what to do, and Dragon has never been taught to gait or stack like a show dog. However it was an opportunity to practice our own training among other dogs and people and lots of food on the floor. I kept up a high rate of reinforcement for walking at my side, doing stand-stays, and getting brief exams from the instructor. The instructor was supportive of me using the class to practice obedience stuff like heeling and the stand for exam, so I plan to drop in here and there.

Speaking of heeling, we have a 30 minute session scheduled with Denise Fenzi next week! Super excited; I haven't seen her in months due to my training budget going toward agility classes.

Today's agility lesson included our first rear cross work on obstacles. The sequence was a straight tunnel and then rear cross as the dog takes a jump. Somehow Dragon did this beautifully, turning confidently in the right direction, even though we'd never done it before! We also did front crosses with 2-3 jumps. I do much better if I practice without my dog first.

I used a relatively small amount of treats during class and mostly rewarded the sequences with tugging. Dragon was on fire and really eager to tug and wrestle. The instructor gave me some guidance with the tugging and a couple of times I was able to do two things I'd only dreamed of: just holding onto the toy and shaking it minimally while my dog happily tugged on his own, and using the tug as a transport back to our starting point (though I had to move slowly and stop here and there to let him dig in and tug). I was grinning like a fool.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sick puppy

Dragon's been constipated and then having diarrhea on and off for a couple of days. Today he turned up his nose at both of his regular foods, though he did eat some small treats. He threw up bile and mucus (fortunately that happened in the bathtub while I was washing his butt off). We skipped agility class and he slept most of the day. In the evening I made him a most delicious dinner of brown rice and boiled chicken.


His brother would have stolen it if I hadn't been there to intervene.



I hope this illness passes soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2 more collars

Just can't stop! It's too much fun!

Fun little collar.


My new favorite!

The angle here isn't the best because Tiny Dog was sleepy and didn't want to leave his bed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Agility class recap

So happy with how class went today. Dragon has finally been off the prednisone for a week now. His food drive is still good, but his play drive has increased as the steroids have been reduced. It was so easy to get him to wrestle and tug during class, and that kept things upbeat and exciting. He is happy to run to his crate whenever he's cued, but otherwise he wants to keep working and playing.

He does have a wee bit too much obstacle focus. He ran off a few times to take a tunnel and to the (lowered) teeter. It was very cute when he ran away from me to get on and tip the teeter. He stood on the edge and looked at me with a smiling face. I called him back and instead of jumping off, he ran back across the teeter and tipped it again.

When we were actually practicing the teeter he would slow down a couple of feet from the end, wait for it to tip, and then proceed to his target. Uh oh!! I started standing by the end, holding my hand out, and cuing him to do a hand touch. Then he would move all the way to the end.

I did some deceleration drills to get him paying attention to me again and not just running forward toward random obstacles, and that fixed up the issue.

We practiced front crosses with two jumps, open channel weaves (again with the x-pen), and contacts. On the dog walk I wanted more speed from him and so I put his crate on the down side and cued him to run into it ("naptime!"). It definitely helped! In fact, the first time he ran into his crate so fast that he smashed into the back side. I had one of other students record us and you can see the crate bounce up a bit as he hits it. The second time he definitely put on speed when I gave the cue halfway across, but once down he ran around his crate instead of into it. Who can blame him? Perhaps next time we can put a short, straight tunnel there instead.

Dog walk video:

It's hard to see since both times I'm directly in front of he camera, but he DOES speed up when he hears the cue.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Photo tutorial: making cotton collars

This is for a non-adjustable one, since Dragon is full grown and I know exactly what length of collar he needs. Once you understand these instructions, it's easy to make one that's adjustable; you just need some extra hardware.

His collars are made by sewing cotton fabric around a cotton strap. This is NOT as durable as sturdy ribbon sewn onto a nylon strap, and is also more complicated to make. However I like it because of the nearly endless range of color and pattern options on cotton prints, and Tiny Dog is not very hard on his clothes.

Sorry that some of the pictures are a wee bit blurry!

What you'll need:
Wonder tape (two-sided sticky fabric "tape" that can be sewn through without gunking up your needle), measuring tape, plastic or metal snap buckle (1 inch used here), seam rippers (probably), thread to complement or nicely contract your fabic, 1 inch cotton strap (I like to use white because cotton fabric is slightly porous and this keeps the colors nice and bright), D-ring (1 inch), big honkin' needle, cotton fabric (I suggest buying pre-cut quilting squares so you don't have to stand in line for the cutting table to get a tiny amount of fabric), and fabric scissors. Not pictured: a few pins, and a sewing machine.

I bought the D-rings at my local fabric store. They also had the buckles (called "parachute buckles") but they only had ugly ones and not in fun colors. I recommend ordering buckles from Creative Designworks. This amazing site is just for people who want to make their own collars and leashes, and they also have rings and snap hooks of all different sizes and colors, chain martingale loops, colored nylon straps, slides for making adjustable collars, and more.

A word of warning about the plastic buckles: they are VERY loud when they snap shut. Dragon always gets a treat when I buckle or unbuckle them, and so he comes running over when he sees me pull out a collar. A more sensitive dog might be frightened by it.

Step 1: Put on some good music. I recommend Cher.

2. Measure your dog's neck. Or if he's making frightened faces at you...

2b. Measure the length of a collar that's already fitted to him. Here the buckles are the same size, so I can just measure the length between them (10 inches). If you're using different sized buckles, you'll have to do some maths.

3. Cut a length of cotton strap that is the collar length (10 inches) plus about 5 inches extra. Add more extra if you want the D-ring to be far away from the buckle. I cut just 14 inches because I've made a bunch of collars for Dragon already and I'm positive that it will be the right length.

4. Lay out the back side of your cotton print and cut out a rectangular piece that is:
(a) about three times the width of your cotton strap (3 inches), and
(b) the length of your cotton strap plus 2 inches (16 inches total)

5. Lay the strap over the fabric rectangle and place a strip of wonder tape going all the way across the top edge of the strap. Peel off the backing of the wonder tape.

6. Fold the top edge of the fabric onto the wonder tape and press down. You'll want to also use two very small pieces of tape to secure the fabric on either end of the strap.

7. Another strip of wonder tape along the bottom edge of the strap.

8. Fold the bottom part of the fabric over the strap. There will be a bunch of extra sticking out over the top. Make sure that you pull it evenly as you're pressing it down over the wonder tape. The side of the strap/fabric combo that's down on the table will be the outside of the collar.

9. Cotton fabrics hold onto creases well. That's a downside if you didn't take your clothes out of the dryer quickly enough, but an upside for this project. Take the extra fabric that's sticking out over the top and fold it underneath, so that the fraying edge is hidden. Press down with your fingers to create a crease.

10. You can see the crease here. Pull it up enough to put yet another strip of wonder tape underneath, and then you'll press your folded fabric over the tape. We need this much wonder tape in order to keep the fabric secured in place. Otherwise it'd get stretched this way and that and you'd end up with something crooked or bunched going through the machine.

11. This is what your collar now looks like. The cotton strap is completely covered, and two of the fraying edges of the fabric are hidden/protected.

12. Time to get the last two edges. Put a piece of wonder tape right before where the cotton strap ends. Take the inch of fabric sticking out past the edge and fold it in inwards.

13. Roll it forward and secure on the tape. Do the same to the other side.

14. Now we have a no-sew collar! But it will start to come apart if you don't quickly sew it down, so let's get to the next step!

15. Start sewing along one of the folded over edges.

16. When you get to the corner, pivot the collar so you're sewing toward the very end. Pivot again along the very edge of the collar. Then pivot, sew down the length of the collar, and do the same spiral to secure the other end.

17. It should look like this: every fold is secured, with a minimal amount of sewing. That makes it more pretty.

18. Pull the thread through to the underside of the collar. Tie the two ends together.

19. Thread both pieces through your large needle, and pull the needle between the fabric and the strap.

20. Pull the thread taut and snip it right where it comes out of the fabric.

21. My camera did a great macro zoom on the wrong part of the collar. Anyway, the above technique completely hides the knot and thread ends, and protects them from wear. That's a pro tip, right there.

22. Oh look, it's coming together! Pull your collar through the D-ring and strap pieces. If you're picky like me, decide which way the collar should orient and which side you want the D-ring to be on before you sew anything down. I want the seam on the collar to be on the bottom so it's less visible, and the D-ring to be on Dragon's right side so that when he's heeling the leash clip doesn't hit against the buckle.

23. Adjust the length and pin everything in place. Here you can see that if you want the D-ring to be secured farther away from the buckle, you need extra length. I don't do that because it makes the collar bulkier and less soft and pliable where there are two layers.

24. If you have a very calm dog who will hold still, you can double check the fit at this point. Don't poke him with the pins.

25. Sew the layers together.

26. Almost done! Tie off the threads using the same method shown above.

27. Ta-da! You have a complete custom collar!

28. Put it on the dog and take lots of pictures.

I am aware that the 1 inch buckle is kind of huge on Tiny Dog. I wanted a wide collar that would be easy to get ahold of for attaching and unattaching the leash during competition. It's fitted quite loosely on his neck so that he can still bend his head and neck downwards..

The plan had been to make him "a" show collar, since his regular collar is teeny tiny and buried underneath his neck fur. But then I couldn't choose between all the awesome fabrics...

I bought tiny leash clips and made 2 matching, lightweight, 4 foot show leads.

And one more ultra-thin, ultra-light, 4 foot show lead.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful! If you decide to make any collars, please post photos! And feel free to link to this post if you're inclined to share it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Collar parade

Made by me:

Aqua plants.

Yellow diamonds.

Green lines and swirls.

Pink vines and flowers.

Black and grey swirly lines.

Dinosaur skeletons!!

Reflective orange.

NOT made my me, purchased from WoofWare:

Red flowers and ladybugs.

Purple hearts and flowers.

Next post I will have a tutorial about making collars from cotton prints.