Archive for the 'Products – Dog Toys' Category

#ADBC Raffle Winners!


Yesterday, I assigned a number to all the bloggers who contributed a post to the 10th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. (I just gave out numbers from one through thirteen based on what order they posted their blog entry in the comments and edited the comments to include that number.)

Then, last night, I asked random sequence generator to put the numbers 1 through 13 into random order to choose our winners. Here’s the result:

At the top, in large letters, it says Below that in purple is "Random Sequence Generator." Below that it says, "Here is your sequence," and below that is a column of numbers in this order: 13, 9, 8, 2, 12, 7, 10, 6, 3, 1, 5, 4, 11. Below that it says, "Timestamp: 2013-01031 09:21:06 UTC"

Click to embiggen.

The screen shot above is my proof that the giveaway was not rigged. Heh heh heh.

Here’s the order with the names added:

  1. Frida Writes (13)
  2. Martha (9)
  3. Ms. Pawpower (8)
  4. Starre (2)
  5. Sharon (12)
  6. Ro (7)
  7. KHills (10)
  8. Brooke (6)
  9. Flo (3)
  10. Cyndy (1)
  11. L-Squared (5)
  12. Karyn (4)
  13. Patti (11)

Here are the items for raffle:

  • Natural & Unscented Personal Care Travel Kit & Eco Tote (US & Canada) Claimed by Ro!
  • Natural & Fragrance-Free Body Care Bag (US & Canada) Claimed by Starre!
  • Staples Easy Button (US & Canada) Claimed by PawPower!
  • Deer antler dog chew (US & Canada)  Claimed by Martha!
  • A pair of Bark’n Boots (International)  Claimed by Frida Writes!
  • A dog bow tie (continental US only) Claimed by Sharon!
  • I Love My Service Dog cap (International)

To get more details about what each prize includes, plus links and photos, please see the #ADBC 10 Swag post. Since there are seven prizes, we can have seven winners! Here’s how we’ll do it….

The first place winner, Frida Writes, gets first pick. (Congratulations!) Please comment below about which item you want, and the person who donated it will get in touch for your mailing address. Then the second place winner, Martha, gets her pick, and so on. This will be easiest if each winner puts their pick in the comment section below so that everyone can follow along in order. If commenting here is a PITA for you, please tweet me at @aftergadget with your preference.

Note: Some items have geographic restrictions on shipping, so if you live outside the continental United States, please pick accordingly. Also, if you don’t want any of the prizes available to you, please let me know so the next person in the sequence can be given the option.

Happy raffling!

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD

Updated: #ADBC 10 Swag!

As I mentioned in the call for posts for the tenth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (ADBC), there will be a raffle this time. Anyone who submits a post will be entered. The drawing will take place after the carnival goes up.

Since there will be several items, there will be multiple winners — chosen by The person whose number comes up first gets to choose their prize, and the second will choose from the remaining swag, etc., until everyone who’s a winner has a chance to choose. (And if you don’t want anything, of course, you can pass.)

Here’s what’s available for the giveaway so far:

Clear cellophane bag tied with a straw bow with many small bottles in it, sitting on a folded tote bag. Barnum rests his chin on the bed just behind the items.

Dog not included.

  • Ecological Personal Care Travel Kit (Unscented): Includes fragrance-free and nontoxic shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, liquid soap, and bar soap. PLUS brand new large eco cotton tote bag from Earth Justice. (Tote says, “Earth Justice: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer.”) (Won by Ro!)
Cellophane bag with three bottles, folded cloth, soap, tied with straw ribbon. Barnum rests his chin on the bed next to the gift bag.

A gift bag is always more enticing if there’s a cute dog next to it.

  •  Naturally Safer & Fragrance-Free Body Care Bag. Includes deodorant spray, an organic cotton spa cloth, a bar of castile soap, and a bottle of Kiss My Face Olive & Aloe Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin (fragrance-free), packaged in an organic cotton reusable lunch bag. (Won by Starre!)
Round raised bright red button says "Easy" in white letters on the top. The base is metal and says, "Staples" on one side.

Ah, dog training. Such a serious pursuit….

  • Staples Easy Button (because it’s so fun to teach your dog a trick using this prop). You can actually use it for a service skill or house manners, too. (I taught Barnum to stomp the button to indicate he needed to go out.) (Won by Ms. Pawpower!)
Piece of deer antler in its packaging.

Nom nom nom…

  • A deer antler by American Antler Dog Chews. All-natural, cruelty free (deer shed their antlers seasonally), full of minerals, long-lasting chew. (Size medium.) (Won by Martha!)
Dark brown chocolate Lab Guide Dog Jack wearing his rusty-orange crocheted bow tie around his neck.

It makes me even more distinguished.

  • dog bow tie, generously donated (and crocheted) by L-Squared — in the color and size of your choice! Guide dog Jack is good enough to model a bow tie, above. Picture by L-Squared. (Won by Sharon!)

7 photos of the hats from all angles to show all the details. The center picture shows Guide Dog Jack, a chocolate Lab, modeling the hat.

  • “I Love My Service Dog” baseball cap. A tan baseball cap made by Raspberry Fields and donated to me by L-Squared, who also took the pics above. (That’s Guide Dog Jack modeling, again.) Embroidered on the front is “I love my” in blue script. Below that is a paw print with brown toes and a red heart center. At the bottom in blue all capital letters is “service dog.”

Meanwhile, you still have plenty of time to get your post written and submitted. (And if you have trouble meeting the deadline, please get in touch.)

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD

Barnum Assists with Post-Party Payback

I had a birthday a couple of days ago. A few friends came over for latkes, cake, and a game of poker. I had a lot of fun, and I knew I was overexerting, using pain and migraine meds to keep me going when I should have been in bed. But I was having such a good time.

You see, I live in the House of Capricorn. Barnum, Betsy, and I were all born in the latter half of December, and all on or around major holidays. I don’t post anywhere on the internet when my birthday actually is, for identity theft protection, but because our birthdays fall on or near major holidays, we often don’t hold our celebrations on the actual day. So, it remains to be seen when we’ll hold Betsy’s and Barnum’s parties.

Anyway, I woke up yesterday in immobilizing pain throughout my body and no ability to speak, which are two of the more common “crash” symptoms for me (along with exhaustion, nausea, brain fog, weakness, blah blah blah). Barnum was a bit of a challenge during some of it, because he needed some activity, but fortunately the new IQ Treat Ball I’d gotten for him kept him busy, playing doggy nose soccer.

Two hard plastic balls, one blue, one orange. Each has a transparent hemisphere and then a divider inside with an opaque hemisphere below. There is a hole in the divider that can be adjusted in size, and the transparent hemishere has one hole in it as well.

Can be made difficult or moderately easy to get treats out, depending on how you adjust the size of the inner hole, and how big your treats are. I usually set it to moderately difficult.

(This was definitely a good pick and has confirmed my decision of putting dog puzzles on his birthday wish list.) I am not doing so fabulous today, either. These are the kinds of days when every little movement or expenditure of energy is a big deal. So, these are the days when I get to assess how my working partnership with Barnum is going. Our progress report is that we have made a lot of progress, and we still have a long way to go.

When I can’t speak, I get to test his understanding of signed cues. Most cues he seems to know, and others he’s a bit unsure of.

He has also helped several times with transfers to and from the toilet; he is very solid on this skill. That’s an important one, especially when I am between PCA shifts.

An even more important skill — one that I will use constantly once he knows it, and which I’m already using every day, at least — is shutting my bedroom door. He is extremely comfortable and enthusiastic with this skill when I’m in my p-chair, but becomes hesitant when I ask him to do it from bed. This is because we once had an unfortunate coinciding of my saying the cue from bed at the exact moment that he somehow managed (I still don’t know how he did this), to swing the door and himself in such a way that the door came from behind and smacked him in the butt.

Be that as it shouldn’t be, Barnum easily and enthusiastically shuts the door on cue most of the time, but if I’m in bed, and he’s not “in the groove,” I have to shape it with a few clicks and treats for him to have the confidence to finish the task. But we’re on our way to him shutting it with gusto when I’m in bed, as well.

He also has retrieved a couple of items I’ve dropped (a pen, a clicker, and a walkie-talkie), turned on the bathroom light, and alerted me to the oven timer going off. Yes, we still have a ways to go, but on the hard days, every little bit counts.

And now, a nap.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT and nose-footballer

Signal Boost: Auction to Sponsor Guide Dog Puppy

The generous and talented L-Squared of the blog, Dog’s Eye View, has been trying to raise money to sponsor a puppy for Guide Dogs of America, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization through which she received her current guide dog, Jack.

She recently put together a fantabulous online auction, all the proceeds of which will go toward the $5000 cost of raising a puppy to be a future Guide Dog of America. When you see all the work that has gone into this site — how beautiful it all is and how many things are offered — you will be blown away.

There is a lot of dog stuff, not surprisingly! Toys, treats, collars, and leashes, etc. There are also baked goods, jewelry, hand-knitted and crocheted hats, mittens, purses, and more, including a gorgeous afghan! Art, photography, cards, T-shirts, etc.

There are various one-of-a-kind items and things you can personalize, such as a photo of your choice on stretched canvas, or individually made postcards. How about getting a T-shirt with a message of your choice in Braille? (Real Braille, raised dots, so to read it, you will have to be felt up!) You can have a short story written about a topic of your choice!

If you like dogs or cats, there is definitely something there for you! And even if you don’t, there’s probably something. So, please stop by. Some bids start as low as $3, and there are many items that have not yet received bids. L-Squared gives so much of herself to the blogging, blind, and assistance dog community. This is a great way to give back!

Here is the link once more: Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship Fundraiser Auction.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (I would have eaten those banana cookies), and Barnum, SDiT (I want the Kong!)

Have You Seen This Ball?

I am so very grouchy today. I have been overdoing on every level: physical, cognitive, emotional, and I’m paying the price.

I’m on day two of a migraine I can’t seem to shake, day and night, which is not doing wonders for my sleep. Barnum has hair in his ears from the haircut we gave him yesterday, and I have been trying to decide whether (and what) to use as a non-commercial ear flush, since all the commercial ones are scented. He hates having anything in his ears, so that will be fun, if I decide to do it.

I’m also having writer’s block — which I never have — on a story that I’ve been given an extension on by the editor. So, I really feel indebted to her that I have to finish it. Yet, it is floundering, and I fear that whatever I send her will not even be something she can use. And I’m still struggling to finish my post for the ADBC.

Of course, there’s also the never-ending pchair saga. I haven’t made progress on my letter of demand because my brain has been too occupied with other things, or I’ve been too sick (from overdoing). Meanwhile, Betsy and I have been making Herculean efforts to get my old Jet running again, and that’s been a bumpy ride, which has not made for happiness on the home-front, either.

Still, there is progress there, at least.A very nice guy from my town came over today to help me figure out why we can’t get the Jet working, even though we had the batteries installed correctly, and they are new. It took a lot of detective work, but we have figured out there is a wiring issue with one of the wheel motors. It’s not safe to use yet, since it could die at any moment, but at least now I can charge it and use it around the house to keep the batteries in shape.

Barnum was a complete flake when my neighbor was here working on the chair with me: getting in the way, stealing treats, totally couldn’t figure out how to do “go to mat,” and then when he did, couldn’t maintain it. His zen was abysmal, particularly in the realm of crotch sniffing — which he only does with strange men, which makes it hard to practice! — and is not an appealing habit for a service dog! Augh! There are always 8 million additional skills he needs “work” on!

Lest I go into a complete spiral of despair and frustration, let me remind myself of skills he really knows and is reliable on:

  • Shutting doors. (He actually went and shut a closet door while my neighbor was here, and he’s only ever had one session on that door before, of only two or three repetitions. I was impressed.)
  • Shutting drawers.
  • Shutting cabinets.
  • Brace. I had to get up and down from the floor several times, and he really is rock-solid on this one. It really helps. I have to start calling him over more for help with that when I just need a moment of balance at other times, too.
  • Stand.

That’s it! AUGH! He still does not even have sit and down under stimulus control! He confuses them, gets nervous, cues off of environmental or body cues, etc.

So, here’s a new problem: Barnum’s favorite ball is dead. It was the only toy he would play with anymore, so this is a problem. Play is important.

Many years ago, Deb, my neighbor, gave Jersey and Gadget each a ball for Hanukkah. Jersey never had any interest in hers. Gadget wasn’t interested in his except for water retrieve, which became very useful as part of him helping me to swim.

We had a blue one and a green one. The blue one died eventually (a Lab chomped it to death during a play date), but the green one was Barnum’s most, most, most favorite toy. It’s a good size for his mouth (bigger than a tennis ball, about the size of a large naval orange or a small grapefruit), and soft enough to squeeze but still tough enough to have lasted. Most importantly, it squeals incredibly loudly. Or, it used to. That’s what he loved so much about it. It had a very loud, high- and multi-pitched, piercing squeal. If you didn’t know what it was when  you first heard it, you might be concerned that a small animal or baby was being killed, but Barnum’s Mr. Prey drive, so he loved that.

This was not an ordinary squeaker, at all. The squeaker was part of the ball, part of the construction, and “squeaker” is really a misnomer. It was a squealer.

Another important factor was that even when these balls got tooth holes in them, they still squeaked (although, if  you used them at the beach, they became waterlogged). Apparently, however, they are not made to withstand being accidentally run over by a powerchair.

Now, Barnum will run and pick the ball up, attempt to squeak it, and then drop it in disappointment. It’s a very sad sight to behold.

Thus, I am asking you, my internet dog community: Have You Seen This Ball?

Green plastic ball with blue, orange, and pink slightly raised designs on it. The designs are five-pointed stars or "suns" -- rough-shaped circles with little lines around them like rays. This ball is scuffed up quite a bit.

The Best Dog Toy in the World

I haven’t seen them in any dog catalog I have. I’m really hoping I can replace it. If I can find several, I will buy them all!

Please, if you see this ball anywhere — online, in a catalog, at a pet supply store, at a garage sale — buy it and send it to me! I will reimburse you! Or tell me about it so I can buy it.

Just imagine Barnum quoting Shalom Aleichem, “So, if you had a bad week, why should I suffer?” Poor dog wants his ball.

– Sharon (fully trained grouch), Gadget  (sorely missed on days like these), and Barnum, SDiT and bored pup

Toys for Aggressive Chewers: The Kong Stuff-a-Ball

For almost a year, I’ve been wanting to write posts about toys for aggressive chewers, because Barnum is a shredder!

Most of the toys we started out with are now scraps in the sewing or rag-bag, with the stuffing waiting to be used in cushions or made into new dog toys.

Today’s Featured Tough Toy: The Kong Stuff-a-Ball!

Kong Stuff-a-Ball

It's excitingly rollable!

[Image description: Red rubber Kong toy, sort of ball-shaped, but not round, maybe octagonal. It has “dental ridges” running vertically along the sides, which supposedly clean the dog’s teeth, but the best feature is that it’s big, tough, and rollable (like a ball), and stuffable. It has a cross-shaped hole on the bottom, which is large enough that food does come out, but not so big that it comes out easily, if you use something sticky and freeze it.]

Like most of the Kong products, it’s all-natural rubber, which I like. For my MCS readers, I admit that I don’t remember what it smelled like when I first got it (several years ago), but I don’t remember it being extremely problematic, and it is certainly completely outgassed now.

Not all Kong products are made equal, however. The bone-shaped Kong, which Barnum really liked, was too easy to destroy, so I bought the black version of that (the black rubber Kongs are made for aggressive chewers), and it reeks. Even non-MCS people who have been around it were appalled. I’ve been outgassing it for over six months, outside, in the sun, rain, and snow, and it still smells!

Barnum also chewed through the Biscuit Ball quite easily. I’ll write more about other rubber and Kong products another time.

Anyway, I made it my mission to find tough toys, and I have. Several of them. As I get the chance, I’ll write product reviews on which work for us, and why. But this is one of the few I already had, pre-Barnum.

In the last few days, Barnum has been getting a lot of use out of his Kong Stuff-a-Ball. This is because I have been A Neglectful Mommy and A Bad Trainer.

Instead of spending most of my energy on him, I was writing and revising a personal essay, inspired by my previous post, about the discoveries I made in training Barnum to help me with my agitation symptoms. I was behind on the deadline, so I had to be very single-minded.

Since writing took all my time and energy (and then some) for the last few days, I was either writing, resting, or sleeping all the time, and Barnum was very bored.

Even though he was getting physical exercise (from two of my dog walkers), he was not getting training, and he missed it! He whined and jumped on my bed and barked inappropriately, generally acted like a grouchy teenager, demanding to be entertained.

I couldn’t have been more pleased! How very different from the low-energy, tentative, careful dog of yore!

Well, I did feel guilty, actually. I tried to keep him occupied, and was most successful with his favorite toy, which is the Kong Stuff-a-Ball. I stuff it with dog food and cottage cheese (his favorite), then freeze it. (I recently used wet dog or cat food instead of cottage cheese, to reduce his calcium intake, but the smell made me sick. I need to find an all-natural brand that he likes, that doesn’t trigger my MCS.)

The Stuff-a-Ball works the best of any toy because it’s really big, can be played with like a ball, and it’s difficult to get the food out (as opposed to the Kong Biscuit Ball, which is not only too easy to get food out of, but too easy to destroy).

This Stuff-a-Ball was Gadget’s, and it’s still in one piece, which is true for very few of the toys that Barnum inherited. Not because Gadget was an aggressive chewer — he wasn’t. That’s the issue. I had not stocked up on indestructible toys in the past because both Jersey and Gadget were gentle chewers. Then Jaws Barnum came along and sent those toys to their demise.

Anyway, Barnum nudges it with his nose, rolling it all over the house, like a canine Pelé, leaving a trail of cottage cheese everywhere. (Not that I am suggesting Pelé left a trail of cottage cheese, ever. I think smearing the soccer ball with cottage cheese is probably against FIFA regulations and would earn you, at minimum, a yellow card.)

Periodically, I’d call Barnum, just to work on his recall and remind him that good things happen when he comes to me. (Good things in this case are food, some lovin’ up, and a release to go back and play with his toy.)

The regular Kongs are not reinforcing enough to keep Barnum busy for long because either the food comes out too quickly and easily, or not at all. Also, they can’t be rolled around the house, like a ball. Barnum prefers ball-shaped toys to other shapes.

With the Stuff-a-Ball, with it all frozen and sticky inside, pieces come out often enough that he doesn’t give up in the beginning, but not so often that it’s too easy. The unpredictable, intermittent reinforcement keeps him going for a long time. I also give him knuckle bones for entertainment chewing, but our supplier is out of those, currently.


-Sharon, the muse of Gadget (who was much too dignified to destroy his toys, except his pink, squishy rabbit, which clearly provoked the incident), and Barnum, SDiT and Toy Demolitions Expert

P.S. In case you’re wondering why I don’t use peanut butter inside the Kongs, it’s because Barnum hates peanut butter. He acts like it’s poisonous. If it even touches other food, he won’t eat any of the food. Maybe he’s allergic to it. Who knows? He will work on a ground-meat stuffed Kong, sometimes, but not with much enthusiasm or tenaciousness. He also doesn’t like honey. In other words, he’s incredibly picky, which I’ll write about in another post, so unless you have an all-natural, wet dog food to suggest for use as a sticky substance, please don’t suggest foods for me to try in the Kong.

QuickPress: Barnum’s First Service Skill! (Well, sorta.)

This was not at all planned. Today I am having another “stuck day” like I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Today was not as bad, in that I have more range of motion (ROM) in my arms, but still cannot pull myself up into a sitting position to transfer or to prop myself up to use the computer. Problems with legs and torso (especially abdominal muscles).

Unfortunately, the PCA working today has injured her back and is currently unable to help with transfers. What to do?

Before she arrived, Barnum was hanging out with his front half on my bed, looking out the window, enjoying the fact I was awake. I tried to lure him toward me, but we were not communicating. Note to self: Teach Barnum how to come closer to me on the bed, put behavior on verbal and nonverbal cue.

Anyway, when the PCA got here, by writing notes, I was eventually able to ask her to give me one of Barnum’s tug toys, which we seldom use (to keep it special). It’s not one of his favorites (which is surprising, because usually there are few toys Barnum doesn’t love), but having kept it from him most of the time still makes it interesting enough for the occasional tug game. It never occurred to me I could use it as an assistive device, but I needed someone to help pull me forward, and Barnum loves to tug and is very strong!

So Gloria handed me the toy. It’s a yellow slightly-stuffed “tuff” toy, about two feet long, called “Ultimate Tug-o-War” made by I got it as part of my quest for toys that Barnum could not destroy in five minutes of aggressive chewing. (I’ve been working on a post about Barnum the Destroyer for quite a while, with ratings and pictures of which toys I suggest for other large, aggressive chewers, and which toys I don’t recommend, and why.) This one’s rated nine-out-of-ten on the toughness scale of “soft toys,” with many, many layers of fabric and stitching to make it hard to shred. It has a ring on each end and a bar in the middle. Below are some pics of Barnum with the toy.

Barnum chews on the center bar of his yellow-and-black tug toy, decorated with black and white bones. He is sitting on a tan dog bed, with his head down.

Mm, chewy.

Barnum lies on tan dog bed, looking into the camera. The yellow tug toy is laying between his front legs. His right paw sits over the ring on one end of the toy, while the other end lies across his upper left leg. He has a "caught in the act" startled expression on his face.

What? You said I could have it.

Anyway, Gloria gave it to me. I showed it to Gadget, who got very interested. I held it out. He gripped on. I pulled. He pulled. He thought we were playing tug first thing in the day. How lovely! His favorite game! I used his counter weight of pulling to pull my upper body into sitting position.  Yay!

I wanted to hug him and praise him and give him treats, but I wasn’t able to. I put down the toy, too, and didn’t continue to play, which I realize was a mistake, in hindsight. However, at the time, I was in pain, and I really had to pee. I just wanted to get into my powerchair and get to the bathroom.

So, that was very exciting. Obviously, this is not a finished service skill in any way, shape, or form, but it gives me some ideas of what may work as a service skill in the future. Later, I tried to interest him in the toy again when I had clicker and treats and was functioning a little better. But he didn’t want to take it.

I think there were a few factors causing this unusual desire not to grab a tug. One is that it’s not a favorite. If I had held out his spider, I’m sure he would have pounced. Another thing is that earlier he got no reinforcement for tugging with me. He tugged, and then afterward, we didn’t keep playing, he got not praise (because I couldn’t make a sound), no clicks, no treats, etc. Also, now I did have the clicker and treats, so he went into training mode, meaning he kept targeting (nose touching) the toy.

He was also not getting the usual cues for tug. We don’t normally play in my bed. I’m not normally lying down. I wasn’t making any of the noises he associates with play. For example, I couldn’t say my usual cue for tug: “Git it!” Another note to self: Teach tug in bed and nonverbal cue for “Git it!”

Finally, our default for me holding anything out to him is for him to gently touch it with his nose. So, that’s what he did. I tried to shape it into a grab, but I wasn’t up to it, physically.

Nonetheless, there we have it. Barnum has helped me in a useful way for the first time! I still don’t know if we will make it as a service dog team, but I hope so! It felt really, really good to have faced that problem, figured out a way he could help, and then put it into action.

Planned upcoming posts (not necessarily in this order, and not necessarily on time!): Barnum videos of food versus games; memorial to Gadget on the anniversary of his death; and intersection of Lyme and my other diseases — which cause what?

Your comments are always warmly received.


Sharon, Barnum (SDiT), the muse of Gadget, and the spirit of Jersey (who never played tug a day in her life)

Eye Lock Log #1

I’ve decided to do a quick press, ideally once a day (but this is me, so it’s doubtful) about my eye contact training.

This is the one area I can’t seem to make consistent training progress on. Lots of other good stuff is happening with Barnum, and even if it’s slow, I can tell we are moving forward.

Eye contact is a different story. Level 2 requires the dog to find the handler’s eyes on two or fewer cues and hold contact for 10 seconds. No hand signals or body language allowed. (Though once we have an *established* cue, I will introduce a nonverbal cue, because I need to have nonverbal cues for everything.)

Today, I took us back to square one and worked my way up from there.

I gathered my strongest reinforcers: frozen raw beef heart cubes and chicken cubes, and the squeaky plush spider tug (to be featured in a future blog on toys for aggressive chewers) and the flying duck. (It’s soft, it squeaks, it flies, it has a tug rope — what more need I say?)

Step one: Rapid Fire (RF) for any eye contact. Several RF in a row for any eye contact, just to get his attention. (One treat doesn’t usually seem to be worth it for him to do something as boring as look at me.)

Then I started clicking for two seconds, three seconds, four seconds — 2-3 reps and RF for each. This is a modified version of the 300-Peck Method. Usually 300 peck works well for us, but it has not been working for eye contact. Thus the modification: Several reps at each step/peck, plus RF.

What is rapid fire? It’s when you shove as many treats as you can as fast as you can into the dog’s mouth. It’s a way to get them excited and focused at the same time. It’s different than a jackpot in that a jackpot is usually tossed on the floor, several treats at once or one right after the other. Some dogs find jackpots terribly exciting. Others find them distracting. (Jersey was gaga over jackpots, and Gadget loved them, too. Barnum can go either way. RF usually works better for him. Depends on the situation.)

Anyway, the longer we went, the more intense his stare got. We got up to seven! Foolish, foolish, foolish me — I had planned to stop at five. But I got greedy. Bad trainer. He broke eye contact after we successfully did seven.

With 300 peck, if you have an error, you go back down to one. Back we went. This time I went up in true peck fashion — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but did RF for each. We got to TEN!

That’s when I pulled out the big guns. Food can be enjoyable, but it is not, after all, TUG!

When I clicked for ten, I whipped out the spider from behind my back and said, “Git it!” We played an exhilarating minute of tug, and I put the spider behind my back again.

NOW, I got real eye lock! We did two or three more reps from seven to ten seconds, with the spider as reward each time. For the last one, I THREW the spider, which is the most rewarding of all, because then he gets to chase it, pounce on it, chew/shake/squeak it, and bring it back for us to tug on it.

Then we ended.

Another note: I did not use a cue. I have decided not to introduce the cue until at least a week of solid ten-second, consistent eye lock sessions. I’m writing this in public so I can’t take it back.

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