Mustard and "Catch-Up"

cabana standing in a field of mustard plants, growing up to her chest height, you can't see anything else but the little yellow mustard flowers with green leaves
In our neck of the woods, January is quite beautiful. The winter rain makes the fields turn lush green, though they're dry and brown in the summer--sort of the opposite of most of the U.S. Wild mustard plants take over, turning whole landscapes into yellow carpets. Although it's a weed, it's such a pretty weed that nearby Napa Valley even celebrates with their annual Mustard Festival, attracting visitors from all over the world.

I feel so blessed everyday to live in this area. So much in fact, that it actually makes it a bit hard to travel to other places because there are few areas more lovely and with better weather than we have here. Plus, my bed has the perfect soft/firm combination--I really miss that when I have to sleep somewhere else.

closer shot of cabana in the mustardTo catch you all up on the past few days, I've decided to take a break on the dog parks for a little while. I do think it was helping quite a bit with Cabana's dog distraction, and she sure loved every minute of playtime. But...I'm tired of having a dirty dog! Cabana is drawn to the mud like...velcro to the other side of velcro. For the next couple weeks, I'm switching gears to work diligently with Cabana on recall.
When we've got a strong recall, maybe I'll even be able to call her away from the mud puddles before she steps paw in them.

Armed with my long lead (thank you, Bethany, for your comment about this; our dog training instructor also confirmed your advice) and my Bil-Jac Liver Treats (thank you, Ally, liver brings Cabana around much better than chicken jerky and kibble), we stop a few times on our morning walks. I let her go with "go play", let her sniff and meander, then call her back at random intervals. If she doesn't respond, she gets a little pull back to me, and I greet her heartily with happy praise and a tiny morsel of liver treat.

It's a little cumbersome and tangly, though, with grass and paws getting in the way of the long lead. And even with the liver, Cabana isn't exactly dashing back to me. We've only got one day of practice under our belts, though, so I know I need to take it slowly. My tendency is to expect too much, too quickly. I know, I know, patience, patience, hurry up, I need patience....

Ally, Teddy and Kira  – (January 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM)  

Oh man, you sound like me! I like to work with Teddy on his recall, but I tend to slack off on it. I detest working with Kira on her recall because she's just not so bright so I don't. I think, once you find that patience, can ya send some north? ;-) Sometimes it takes some figuring out to find out what your dog's most motivating reward is, at this point for Cabana is wandering and mud, you need to find a reward that's more enjoyable than mud. Does she like tug? Rather, does she goes crazy for tug? You can try different types/flavors of treats too, although I'd start with buying sample sizes if you can find them to find her most motivating currency. Try different things, when you hit her sweet spot, you'll know :-D Keep up the good work (unlike me, I've missed two days of walks already from exhaustion. I think I'll take it a week at a time *grin*)

Katrin  – (January 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM)  

Oh one dog treat I use that all my students refer to as 'doggie crack' (ie the dogs go BONKERS over it) is Natural Balance Roll or Red Barn Roll. It comes in many flavors- lamb, duck, turkey, chicken, beef. And you cut it up, keep some in the fridge for recent use and freeze the rest for future use. It keeps in the fridge for about a week and the freezer about a year. It works very well for those dogs that don't seem turned on by many other treats or find other things way more interesting and distracting.

Becky  – (January 8, 2010 at 6:43 PM)  

Your weather is so delightful -- I would love a January like that. We are buried in cold and snow.

Cassie (and Poppy the Puppy)  – (January 8, 2010 at 9:48 PM)  

LOVE all our mustard!!! Let me know where you found unfenced mustard! I have to get my kiddos in the middle of it!

Another great treat to use is made by Feed This - local company with all natural ingredients (and REALLY great eggs! ;) ) They are meaty and moist, easy to break into smaller pieces. You can get them at the local feed store and the local froo-froo dog store just down from the feed store.

Carrie and Waffle  – (January 9, 2010 at 12:35 AM)  

OMG liver is doggy crack! Waffle gets a wiff and the drool runs like water! yeah even her recall is better with liver treats

OSU 98  – (January 9, 2010 at 5:27 PM)  

Even at 8 yrs old, Chelsie still sometimes "forgets" her recall. Usually a change in tone an volume produces the desired behavior. If I have to walk over to her when she "forgets", I make her sit, an we practice "come" all the way into the garage...typically ending with a scolding "you need to come when your mom calls you". Yeah one ear and out the other, most of the time...don't forget about puppy push ups for you to regain control when she ignores you and give her the opportunity to get praise for goo behavior.

MAX  – (January 10, 2010 at 9:12 AM)  

Hey there Cabana's mom,
...and thanks for the visit to our blog. It's always nice to meet new friends.
You have an awesome blog! We love your pictures (especially the 'muddy' ones of C!). We are rather pleased to see that Cabana will be yours for a lifetime (and not just the year). What an awesome committment you guys took on though - we are in awe!
We laughed at the cowpat and barbed wire just reminds us that we actually do need to allow our pups that opportunity just to be dogs!
Good luck with all your training. You really seem a wonderful doggie-owner.

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (January 10, 2010 at 11:37 AM)  

Thanks for visiting us as well, Max! I've heard our climate and terrain are similar to South Africa, as they are both wine growing regions. Hope to get to visit your vineyards and cow pastures someday!

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