Monday, July 26, 2010

Table Manners

As a Shiba Inu, I am very good at Shiba Mind Control with my humans. Being an ancient breed, I am also a zen master when I need to be. Therefore, I do not need to "beg" for food when my people are eating something tasty. I patiently wait, using Shiba Mind Control and my zen techniques and good things come my way. Most of the time. 

Starving. Plz feed me. on Twitpic
"You want to feed the dog...he's starving"

The other day, we were at a cafe and I was sitting there on the sidewalk being a zen master and this lady walks by and says "what a patient dog". Yup. That's me!

I have noticed sometimes I need to get pretty close to my people for Shiba Mind Control to work. This means I sit next to them on the couch and look at their plate, then look at them - CLEARLY communicating what they are suppose to do. At times, their food seems to have some sort of anti-dog weapon called: "too spicy" and they are able to resist my charm and mind control. However, being a zen master, I know this builds up good food karma for the next time!

"You are getting sleepy and want to feed the dog...yesss...feed the dog...."

Woof! Wishing all my fur-iends good food karma!

-- Posted by Zen Master Zuko

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Weekend

Yeah! It is the weekend and both my people are here! Best...ever.

Last weekend mom walked in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This "walk" (no dogs allowed - whatever) stopped in MY park! There were people everywhere on my potty-spots. It was super weird. I had to check out the quieter areas and of course, I was admired by all.

Checkin' things out at MY park

Then mom came up and she went and put PINK beads on me. Not funny at all, but I still posed for a picture with her 'cause she was doing a good thing, walking 26.2 miles to raise money for breast cancer research and stuff.

 Mom wuz pretty tired at this point - 20 miles walked!

This weekend it's been all about me (as it should be). We went to dinner last night up on Fillmore Street and had some yummy cornbread and a little bit of braised beef. My people keep drinking these things called "martinis" and won't share.

This morning the mailman came by early (I like the mailman - mail tastes good when I shred it) and there was a package for me! My Shibal Inu cards came - now I can really tell folks how I feel by sending them a nice card. Woof! Or maybe I'll eat them. No, that would be bad. I'll eat the Chinese food delivery menus that get stuck on our door instead.

 Me, in a pensive moment, contemplating what I shall write.

After that excitement, we went shopping for people food and then went to the pet store. They love me there 'cause I'm so awesome and well-behaved. I thought about pee-ing on a certain spot to stamp out the smell of another dog's pee but dad reminded me of my manners. They bought some more Primal nuggets for me, some treats and a new toy.


I'm working hard on killing that sheep toy.

Rumor has it tonight is a "cookout" which means "hamburger for the dog" as far as I can understand.

See - it really IS all about ME!

-- Posted by Prince Zuko

Monday, July 12, 2010

Loose Leash Walking: A Theoretical Approach

I knowingly violate one of the main tenets of Cesar Millan's theory. I do not have Zuko walk next to me or behind me. Part of this is a conscious decision, part of it is the evolution of a theory.

First off - having Zuko next to me or behind me means I can't always see what he's up to. As many Shiba owners will know, this is VERY important. If he is in front of me, I can always keep my eye on him.

Me being awesome at the park on Twitpic
My typical view of Zuko

The second thing is part of the evolution as a first-time Shiba owner. Shiba's are fast and curious little monsters.. errr... I mean dogs. Zuko trots much faster than I can walk. He also is very curious and wants to sniff every single blade of grass in the park. So - the way things go is like this:
  1. I use a flexi-lead.
  2. Zuko trots ahead of me and commences massive sniffing. 
  3. As I draw even with him, he darts ahead of me again. 
  4. And commences more massive sniffing. 
  5. Repeat 2-4 until you are exhausted. 
Of course, we live in San Francisco in a busy area with lots of cars, bikes, buses, scooters and you name it. So I also have commands like "walk" and "keep going" for times when the flexi-leash is shortened and his job is to walk with me and not obsessively sniff everything in sight. This includes not sniffing every dog we pass. 

I do believe in what I call an active walk. I'm basically ordering Zuko around the whole time. "Stop" and "wait" at every curb. "OK" when I let the flexi run out or when I've decided he is allowed to sniff another dog and "keep going" when I want him to ignore the dog.  "Let's go" when he is tired and gets into super-Shiba-obsessive-sniffing-mode and "this way" when he decides to take a path other than the one I want to travel.

On top of the world! on Twitpic
Good dog!

How well does it all work? Well... I think right now I'd give Zuko a "B" on his walking. He knows when I say "let's go" he needs to get a move on and about 90% of the time he does - but sometimes he gets a nasty leash pull because he is determined to sniff dog poop for an hour. I don't hesitate - he has a few seconds to respond or I pull the leash and repeat the command. Rarely do I actually have to drag him away. Unless....


... There are other dogs. He loves dogs. Loves, loves, loves them. This is great in a Shiba, but also a real pain in the arse when you are trying to get a power walk done so you can make that 8am conference call for work. I am constantly working on this one - in theory, he should only be allowed to sniff another dog only if I allow it. However,  when other owners have their dogs off leash in an on-leash park, this just fails. It is a huge frustration because it not only sabotages my training with him but also gives Zuko the opportunity to get growly with dogs. So many of these running-free dogs will come bounding up to Zuko with some fairly dominant body postures - and all Shiba owners know a Shiba just does not stand for that. So what to do?

Zuko will often stare down these dogs before they even get to him (this goes back to the idea that having him in front of me means I can see what he is doing). He's clearly sending signals ahead of the confrontation, so I will step in between him and the other dog to break his line of sight and shorten the flexi-leash. If the dog makes it to us, I keep moving with Zuko, using the "keep going" command and "leave it". If it gets ugly, I usually end up dragging Zuko away and / or getting between him and the other dog. Unfortunately, the other dog's owner rarely shows any effort to restrain, train or command their dog. Half the time I can't even see the damn owner anywhere.


One training method I hear that is successful for many owners is to treat the dog as you walk - whenever your dog comes back willing, walks next to you, looks at you, etc - give them food. Problem: food aggression in busy parks in San Francisco. We've had a few problems where another dog (who is off-leash, of course) decides to fight Zuko for the treat. For recall, I have no other option but to use food and I do - but then I usually have a pack of dogs following me everywhere until the other owners figure it out and call off their dogs. On the walks, I stick to repetition, repetition, repetition to get Zuko into the right habits.

Finally, we have a fun little game we play on walks. I give the command "wait", shorten the leash, then say "ready". The "ready" command alerts him there are birds nearby. He finds them and as soon as he sees them I give the "OK" command and relax the flexi - and he's off!! I run with him as he chases the birds but to this day he still hasn't caught one. ;-) I really don't know what I would do if he DID catch one!

So - what works for other Shiba owners?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Classify this under "Odd Shiba Behaviors"... I came across another Shiba owner's post who said their dog did the same thing. Regretfully, I can't find it to link to it! (UPDATE: Thank you Anonymous for posting the "Crying Cookie" link!)

Somewhere around five months, Zuko decided it was too much effort to chew treats. Basically, once his adult teeth were in, he'd chew on chew toys, but not treats. If the biscuit or cookie is too big, he'll just carry it around and WHINE. I use to give him chicken jerky treats and he'd devour them. Now he carries them around in his mouth and cries. It is so funny - not sure how / why he decided we would do anything about this (cause we don't) but it doesn't stop him from trying. Now I give him jerky treats as we leave the house. Strange: we return and they have been eaten. ;-)

Will you please break up this squirrel cookie into bit size chunks for me?

Little help here? *crying*

-- Posted by Zuko's mean horrible mom who won't chew his food for him or at least break it into bite size chunks.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trust Expanded: Ft. Funston

This morning I starved Zuko. At least, that is what he seemed to think. We BOTH skipped breakfast and went to the Great Ft. Funston. Dog-lovers in San Francisco swear by this place. Dogs can't escape. It goes on forever. Riiiiiiight....

Joined by my friend and her dog, we went this morning. Since Zuko had been denied breakfast, he was very interested in the cheese I had. I dropped his leash and let him run .... and he came back every time.

Consider me impressed. I am so happy I have a cheese-motivated Shiba.

-- Posted by the cheese-provider, Zuko's mom

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trust Earned

I've mentioned in other blog posts (and Zuko bitterly tweets about it) that I do not trust him off leash. He's a Shiba and not even two years old yet. In San Francisco, we don't have alot of good areas to practice recall in the open - Ft. Funston is considered Dog Heaven but it is just that: many dogs, many distractions. Not a good place to start! We've done some practice at a fenced-in dog park in Corona Heights and he's been pretty solid there, but... well, it has a fence and isn't really very big. At home, I practice nearly every day when I'm working from home. I pick up a treat (usually cheese) while he is sleeping and call him to me. However, I don't fully trust he'll come back if there are better things to be doing.

Last weekend a good friend invited us to her cottage up in the mountains around Napa Valley. Their dog, Millie, got along super with Zuko and Zuko was being a perfect gentleman. The cottage is on a good piece of land but closed in by deer fencing. We put a long leash on Zuko...and then set him free.

He was a very good dog. Mostly. In general he stuck pretty close to the people (who had food) and to Millie.  On one occasion he decided to go up the driveway and the gate up that way was open since people were coming in and out during the day. He got a little stubborn but when I showed up with cheese, he responded instantly to a "here" command and came back.

Want proof? :-) I recorded some recall and free-running Zuko video so even I would have proof that it all really happened!

#teamshiba Anipal World Cup Update!

Hai there everyone! Prince Zuko reporting in on the exciting events of the Anipal World Cup! There has been lots of activity, so let's get right to it...

On June 22nd we took on #teamfox. They were sneaky and tried to "blend in" but we were smarter than that! @_Tar0_ scored a goal early on for #teamshiba and brought the crowd to their feet! Their spazzy fox tricks didn't manage to score them a goal and @hoshishiba brought the fancy footwork and scored another goal for #teamshiba!  Final score: 5-3.

Next up: After a rest day, on June 24th we challenged #teamakita. You know, these guys tried to pull out the "cute puppy" factor but we were way ahead of them on that front! Early on @SeattleShibaInu busted out the moves with the "keep-away" strategy. With the score standing at 1-0 for #teamshiba, @iamkaiju brings out the Shiba Mind Control and scores another goal for #teamshiba! #teamakita tries the cute puppy tactic once again, only to blocked by @_tar0_. 

Guard dog / goalie @WalkingYuki eventually was so bored with #teamakita's lack of game, that she fell asleep guarding the ball! I really thought #teamakita would represent much better than this, but the game ended with a final score of 3-1! Woof!!!

Monday, June 28th brought the much anticipated match-up between #teamshiba and #teamdingo. Early in the game @SeattleShibaInu makes a move and scores the first goal for #teamshiba! With the score standing at 2-0, a penalty is called when a false dingo enters the fieldAlas, the dingos block the penalty shot by a spinning-technique save. Then using superior Shiba Mind Control, @iamkaiju uses time travel and brings snow to the field to cool things down in this hot weather AND scores a goal! 3-0 in favor of #teamshiba. 

Due to our awesomeness, @hoshishiba (while recovering from surgery) secured a major sponsor for #teamshiba. Otousan is my hero! Yeah! Finally, #teamshiba finishes off #teamdingo, 4-0. Woof!! 

#teamchow walked onto the field to face #teamshiba on Tuesday, June 29th. #teamchow gets the ball and while they may be cute, they showed signs of fear when near the ball. Mastering their fear quickly they score the first goal! When a second goal is scored, #teamshiba rallies with @keido bringing the full force of Shiba awesomeness to the field! Score stands at 1-2, with #teamchow leading! Due to the threat from @keido, #teamchow puts in their best goalie, hoping to stop the Shibas from scoring any more!  

Later, during a message from our sponsor, @_tar0_sneaks past #teamchow's goalie and jumps through the goal with the ball! #teamshiba has tied the game, 2-2 .. but @iamkaiju manages to get the ball AND confuse the field with snow - AND HE SCORES! 3-2 in favor of #teamshiba with just seconds left in the game. #teamchow makes one last attempt to score. Blocked by @keido, the buzzer sounds and it is another victory for #teamshiba! I celebrate with some victory zoomies around the field! ZOOOMIES!!  

The action hasn't ended: Thursday's match is against #teampoodle. I hear this one will be curly. I mean crazy. Hee-hee-hee. 

DON'T FORGET: We have a logo and t-shirts and stuff - and the proceeds go to NYC Shiba Rescue. You can buy a shirt here. Buy stuff and help Shibas!

WANT TO PLAY? Follow the #teamshiba tag on Twitter, post a picture of you being awesome with a ball (of any kind) and score points or block the opposing team! We do take days off, so follow the #teamshiba to know what is going on!

For more details, here is my original blog post. 

-- Prince Zuko!