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Ziggy Tails: New tools for the training toolbox S1 E4

Challenges accepted. Last week I will admit was brutal, but I didn't give up. I didn't even waiver. I admitted to being discouraged in last week's blog, but it gave me a chance to reflect and realize I am not as smart as I tell myself I am.

We all need help at times and sometimes the hardest thing in life is admitting to yourself you cannot do it alone. So, that's when I look up and ask God, "What now? I got myself into this mess, please help me fix it." And ten times out of ten, He reminds me I can't do it alone. Most of those times He is all the help I need. Other times, He nudges me towards others who can help.

Thank you to Nick, my current trainer at NoXcusesK9 for adding tools to my training toolbox. It has been amazing how the few new tricks of the trade I was not doing and or doing wrong has changed mine and Ziggy's behavior in one short week. Woo Hoo and Hallelujah? This puppy ride is one great rollercoaster. I don't really mind.

Not only did the advice from Nick make for some quick positive adjustments, I also joined several Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) FaceBook groups and sought advice there. What would we ever do without FB? Seeking the advice of others who have successfully done what it is one hopes to accomplish is always worth doing.

Ziggy and I have been having a great time. He is learning his boundaries and I am thoroughly enjoying watching him grow, explore, and have fun doing what puppies do. Some of his favorite activities this week have been exploring every inch of the shore line after our hikes up back. He hasn't ventured into the lake yet. I don't blame him, it is cold. I am just waiting for him to tumble in as he scrambles the rocks. I am quite impressed with his navigating skills. He is so curious and fearless. The vet and trainer assure me he will become fearful at different times so the more exposure he has to new things now continues to increase his confidence.

Another of his favorite things to do is Frisbee. When I pull that toy out, I have his full attention. He has even started bringing it back to me, at least until he is tired or a Robin lands a few yards away from him. His other favorite toy is a soccer ball or the large exercise ball. Those are his herding balls. With those, he can do what he was bred to do - herd. Our lawn is quite sloped and he does a pretty good job already at keeping it on the flat part. It is amazing to see his little mind and body work to keep the cow-ball where he wants it to go. Then after a good romp in the yard playing frisbee and herding, we head inside for a nipping and biting free time. He is exhausted from doing is "job" and ignores us other than lying next to us or at least where he can see us. Soon, he drifts off to sleep. Sometimes I join him, but usually that's when I am free to write or do some other chore that has been neglected.

Thinking of neglect, my poor floors. I know they are in rough shape, but I didn't realize just how bad until watching all the video and seeing all the pictures we are taking of Ziggy. Oh, well! They are just floors and can be swept and redone at a later time. We have come so far in the materialistic way. We used to have the attitude everything has to be just so, but life is too short to fret about such things. Yes, I like it when our place is clean, organized, and nicely decorated, but there are so many other important things to do in life - like visit neighbors, lend a hand to a charity, be with family, climb a mountain, swim in a lake, take a hike, and raise a puppy just to name a few.

So the floors, toilets, windows, dust, and anything else not urgent will have to wait. Puppy training takes a priority in our life right now. At our first lesson with Nick this week. We went over ways to help introduce new experiences to Ziggy that might be fearful and other skills needed to build a foundation for future learning. After a long ride in the car, a few errands, then an hour of lessons, Ziggy was tuckered out. He even tried to crawl into my bag at the end of the lesson. He didn't quite fit.

This week the bouts of biting were minimal. Only one accident on the floor, and that's about it for negative stuff. One really cute thing he did was the day he went for a ride with Bruce and Stephen. I stayed home - Ziggy free - to present a Zoom author talk hosted by the Guildford Library. That made the first time Ziggy and I had been apart since bringing him home. When they returned, I went out into the garage to meet them. Stephen came in first leaving the garage door open. Bruce and Ziggy were still outside. When little Mr. Zigg heard my voice, he came running in to greet me with wild excitement, wiggly tail, and puppy kisses. Awe, he missed me! And this week I was so afraid he was hating me because I was being more stern with him as directed by the trainer, breeder and other ACD owners. It's kind of like raising kids, they respect you more when you give them boundaries.

Another amazing thing I have noticed about this breed is his awareness. He notices everything. We hike the same place each morning, each week we just add a little more distance. Some of it is through the woods and a short section is on a quiet section of camp road. One day there was a new piece of litter - a face mask - hanging on a low branch by the side of the road. Right away he had to check it out. He also loves poop, gross, I know! There were two old piles left by some wild critter that he just can't resist. After the third day of trying to use them as a training situation and "leave-it" failed to work, I threw the crap into the woods to eliminate (no pun) further temptations. Today on our way out he passed right by those spots on the camp road. I forgot about them. On the return he went and investigated in to the woods just off the road. Would you know, he found one of those turds. YUCK!!! It looked like a burnt hot dog and I had to pull it out of his mouth. No puppy kisses today.

The other fascinating awareness skill he demonstrated was yesterday. He was sleeping right behind me in the kitchen while I did dishes. He was zonked. I even dropped a cast iron pan in the sink and he didn't even flinch. I figured it was safe to leave him just while I went upstairs to do a different task. He can't be left alone. I crept ever so slowly away. I even glanced back to make sure he was sleeping before I went up the stairs. I proceeded. When I got out of sight, I heard the jingle of his collar and tags. I returned to see him at the bottom of the steps waiting for me to return. How did he do that?

This forth week with Ziggy in our lives was quite enjoyable, no tears shed. This was a good week. I am sure there are more challenges to come, after-all we are still working on the potty training. But it is a simple reminder that when things are tough, don't stop, keep going. When things are great, remember, that too shall pass. Life is fluid, good and not so good, ebb and flow like the tide, just enjoy the ride.

Happy Hiking,


Click here for this week's video montage.


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