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Archive for November, 2007

As readers of the Irish Water Spaniel Yahoo group well know, I have been looking for ways to get adolescent energy, persnickety-ness, and rebellion under control. Cooper has so much energy that no amount of walking or training seems to damp it down. When he’s attracted by any distraction, like a pine cone, a stick, a leaf, a crow, a pop bottle, a dog, a squirrel, or another person, pretty much anything, he pays no attention to me at all. It doesn’t matter what I do, what treats I offer (even his favorite roast chicken), what toys I pull out of my pocket, how silly I behave, or how hard I pull on the leash…

He’s even pulled me off my feet a couple of times, lunging at a squirrel or another dog. And it’s worse if he’s out with the two of us instead of only one of us.

It’s a problem. Cooper has been in obedience school since he was 16 weeks old, and in class and in the house, he’s pretty good. But get him outside, and BAM! everything changes.

We’ve tried lots of things — believe me, advice is not in short supply at all. We’ve tried “traditional” training methods with choke chains and pinch collars. We’ve tried positive methods with clickers and treats. We make him sit or lie down before throwing his toys. We walk suddenly the other way when he lunges on the leash. We feed him after we eat. We make sure he’s exercised with two walks a day and lots of retrieve games. He gets to walk in the door only after sitting and after we’ve already walked through. And so many other things…

Dorothy, an owner of another IWS male, says that she’s gone through the same kind of fun with her boy. She thinks it’s a male thing. That the girls mature faster.

So, we’re thinking of sending him off to the Academy for a 5 week training program. They say they have a better than 99% success, so …

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This whole grooming thing is intimidating. My past dogs, a malamute, a german shepherd, and a chow-mix, all had to be brushed (a lot), but you can’t really mess that up so long as you do it thoroughly and regularly.

But Cooper requires hair cuts. As I was informed by a well-meaning fellow Irish Water Spaniel owner, I have a “coated dog,” and there are certain responsibilities that go along with that. Including hair cuts to meet the “breed standard.” Oddly, this includes shaving off the whiskers — I mean, the whiskers grow there naturally. Why aren’t they considered part of the breed standard?

If Cooper weren’t going to be shown again in January, I’d just clip all the extra fur off in what another IWS owner, Colleen, calls a “retirement cut.” This is the cut she uses on her girl who has retired from the show ring. It’s basically a trim with clippers, not complicated shaping with scissors. But Colleen has been very generous, and has groomed Cooper once herself to show me what to do, and has been ready with advice and offers of more help.

The really fun part comes afterwards: vocal dueling with the vacuum cleaner.

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