Diversity on the Farm, Classes are ON – and Commando Crawl

                Welcome to Peaceable Paws!


Not only are they ON… the response has been terrific!!! Our Basic Good Manners and Puppy Classes are all full, and Beyond Good Manners is just one shy of full. We do still have room in the Brain Candy Workshop in August, (8/15-16) if you are looking for a fun getaway weekend with your dog. We are experimenting with the new outdoor format – where to put chairs and canopies, how many barriers we need, and how to weight them properly with sandbags so they don’t blow over. We normally have access to tethers indoors (with eye bolts screwed into walls) – and with no place to tether outdoors we will be trying out these Pet N’ Place pet anchors. They are like sandbags only cuter:

         We’ll let you know if they work!Here’s how the barnyard looks with chairs set up for orientation (no dogs at orientation except Stillwell, Layne’s demo dog):

     Stillwell, waiting for class to start…

The real test comes next week, when everyone brings their dogs for the first time. Reports to come!!!


With all the focus on diversity in our society these days I happened to pause this week to marvel at the diversity of species here on the farm.

Yellow Shafted Flicker: It started with a Yellow-Shafted Flicker that flashed his brilliant underwings as he flew across the driveway in front of me. I’d seen lots of Red-Shafted Flickers in California, and birds here that I *thought* were Flickers, but this is the first time one of them confirmed for me so clearly by showing me his bright golden feathers.

Not my photo, got it off the Internet – I wasn’t anywhere near quick enough – and my camera’s not this good!

Black Snake!: Yesterday afternoon I heard frenzied barking in the back yard and ran out to investigate. Sunny and Kai were courageously holding a five-foot black snake at bay. Kai came when I called him, but Sunny wasn’t giving it up – I had to pick him up and carry him into the house.

Mr. Snake was quite happy to leave the yard at top speed as soon as I got the dogs out of his face.

Those Baby Wrens: Our five baby Carolina Wrens fledged from their horse boot – and four of them survived the launch. The dogs got one of them in the indoor arena before I realized they were flitting around on the ground (sniff!). I quickly ran the dogs to the house, came back and got a few blurry photos, and by the time I was done with barn chores the four survivors had exited the arena with mom-wren (I saw them in a tree behind the barn later that day).

Worried mom, watching over her just-fledged babies on the arena floor

Gaining some altitude…

I really need a better camera…

Itty Bitty Toads: Every summer we have a few toads that hang out in our barn. I’m always worried they will get stepped on by the horses, but they usually survive. Some years we have a Big Daddy Toad – so far this year it’s only bee Itty Bitty Toads.

       Itty Bitty Toad

Fireflies!!: Bringing the dogs in from their Last Call bathroom trip last night, I got to see the first fireflies of the season, sparkling in the darkness of our back yard. I love fireflies – there is something magical about them. I grew up with them in the Midwest, missed them during my 20-plus years in California, and am delighted that they are quite plentiful here on the farm every year.

Plants and Flowers

Of course, there’s always an amazing array of plants and flowers sprouting up. My nemesis – Poison Ivy – Good ol’ “Leaflets three, let it be…” I get it bad, Paul doesn’t get it at all.

Poison Ivy – run away fast!

And then flowers – tall spikes of grey-green Mullein, the wildflower seeds I planted are finally starting to bloom!! and the Tiger Lily is a non-native volunteer in the back yard.

We also have pig melons growing again on the manure pile. Here’s how it works: Pig eats melons, poops out melon seeds. Poop gets scooped up and dumped on the manure pile. Seeds grow into plants and Voila! – pig melons!! Paul says if people pay a lot of money for coffee beans that have passed through monkeys, maybe there’s a hot market for pig melons…

Some melons from past years…


Finally – some dog training fun:


This is another of my favorite tricks to teach – it’s easy for most dogs

Pure Shaping: Have your dog lie down in front of you. Watch for any small movement forward – leaning, small paw movements. Click and treat. If you don’t get forward movement click sideways paw movement at first. You’ll get more random paw movements and some will eventually be forward. This is a fun way to teach it if you’re into shaping. If not, it’s perfectly fine to lure shape it:

Lure Shaping:  Ask your dog to lie down facing you, and hold a treat in front of his nose.  Keeping the treat just an inch or two above the ground, back up a step and very slowly move the treat toward you.  As your dog strains to follow the treat he should drag himself forward a tiny bit.  Click! and reward.  Keep repeating the sequence until he creeps farther and farther forward.  If he jumps up to follow the treat you may have moved it too far, or too fast.  Slow down, and remember to click! and reward tiny bits of the “crawl” so your dog can figure out how to do the right thing.

The Number One Biggest Mistake most people make when training their dogs is trying to go too fast – asking for too much too soon.  Ask for small behaviors so your dog can win.  As long as he keeps winning he will be more willing to keep trying. As my trainer-friend Laura Glaser-Harrington says, “Think crockpot, not microwave!”

Next Step: Once your dog is confidently crawling longer distances you can fade the lure and minimize the hand motion, and put the behavior on a verbal “crawl” cue or a barely noticeable hand signal. For more training fun – teach him to crawl next to you as you crawl! A fun move for Canine Musical Freestyle…

That’s it for now… You all stay safe and well – just because things are opening back up doesn’t mean it’s over… Masks are good…

Come train with us!!!

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