Monday, December 29, 2014

Pet Blogger Gift Exchange

This may be my first year participating but this is the third year for the Annual Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange hosted by Something Wagging This Way Comes.  We're not exchanging physical gifts, we're exchanging good vibes, encouragement and friendship!

We were paired up with DZ's Adventures, which is just about the most perfect match that could have been made!  The blog features Dante and Ziva, two bully breed dogs who live in rainy Eugene, Oregon.  Dante and Ziva's owner (and blog writer) is passionate about advocating for bully breeds and busting stereotypes.  I LOVE her History of Bully Breeds post, so much great info there!

One thing that I am struck with when reading this blog is how active outdoors this family is with their dogs.  Hiking (in some rather tough terrain), snow shoeing and joring, it's inspiring and makes me want to get out there with my own dogs.  But then I look outside and it is FREEZING COLD!  Come spring, I have something to aspire to!
DZ Dog Mom is also very in tune with her pups and uses positive methods to help solve any problems that arise.  Ziva can be selectively reactive in certain situations.  DZ Dog Mom's approach of teaching impulse control using clicker training makes SO much more sense than the more common (at least around here) stern shouting, NILF (Nothing In Life is Free) and "pack leader" type domination training.  She also wants to start agility training with her, which will only build more focus and relationship and help even more with reactivity.  Good thinking!
DZ's Adventures is a great blog for those who like reading Bully Breed success stories, watching videos of dogs getting down and having fun in nature and being inspired to take a proactive approach to dog behavior.  I can't wait to hear what these guys get up to next! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Season Greetings

From Taco and Dot.

And best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY Orthopedic Pet Beds

Dot is now around 6 and before she got much older, I wanted to make sure we have comfy places to lay down.  The dogs are crated at night so I also wanted to make sure the beds they were on were as comfortable as possible as she ages.
Knowing that I wanted to scatter them around the house (which is mostly hardwood floors), I needed quite a few.  I am very frugal and even the cheapest orthopedic pet beds are kind of pricey when I know they are just foam covered in a little fabric. 
 My solution:
Buy an orthopedic foam mattress pad, cut it to size and make my own covers.  I bought my mattress pad from Walmart, and had it shipped to the store for free to save on shipping.  With some creative cutting, I got five medium-sized dog beds out of a twin mattress pad.  I had the fleece that I used to sew the covers on hand, but even if you had to include the fabric cost, I got five dog beds for under $50.  A BARGAIN when one can easily cost that much!
My covers are not zippered.  I make them the same way you would make a decorative pillow slipcover, with overlapping flaps in the back so the fleece covers slip on and off easily for washing.
The dogs really like them!  When they are hanging out in either my crafting room or my husband's office, they will almost always choose to lay on a bed rather than the wood floor (can you blame them?).  And in some rooms where we have blankets on the floor, they much prefer these beds over a plain blanket.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Therapy Dog Dot part 2

Dot had her very first Therapy Dog visit last week at our local University. During finals week, they schedule Therapy dogs to de-stress the students in the libraries around campus. (This is one of our ten supervised visits so our regional coordinator was with us the whole time.)
Dot greeted well over 100 students, who petted, kissed, photographed and complimented her.
We were scheduled to be there for one hour but just after 45 minutes of non-stop attention, Dot started to tell me she was ready to call it a day. Luckily the large horde was starting to disperse and we had smaller groups to deal with near the end.
When she was ready to go home, she got up on a chair and looked at me like "Shoof, what a day!"  She really enjoyed her time with everyone but I was glad I had only signed up for one hour and not two.  I think the large amounts of people demanded a lot from Dot, she was "working" at visiting everyone and giving everyone attention non-stop.  I learned a lot on this first visit.  Next time I will give her an outside break away from everyone halfway through.  And I like that she decided a chair would be a good safe place to retreat to, I think I will always make sure we have an empty chair nearby so she can always know she has a spot where she can get away from all the hands.
Two other (more experienced) Therapy Dogs were at the library that day. Lilly the Goldendoodle.
And Argus the Rottweiler.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Therapy Dog Dot part 1

I made Dot her own vest in her colors!
Dot and I just finished up taking a Therapy Dog Prep Class.  We practiced all kinds of things like passing by treats on the ground, greeting people in wheelchairs, ignoring loud and obnoxious people and putting up with clumsy petting.  Most of the people in our class will be testing with Pet Partners (Delta) but I investigated other organizations in our area.  We have several options:

Pet Partners (formerly Delta)-The local evaluator is a member of our Dog Training Club so this is most handy.  This organization requires you to take on online course before you can take the in person test with your dog.  I was not impressed with their website or the online course layout.  Their test is extensive and you are required to re-test every 2 years, which I think is a brilliant idea.  But it is also a bit pricey once you factor in the online course, the test and registration fees.

Therapy Dogs International (TDI)-This organization is a bit polarizing.  If you join, they do not allow you to be part of ANY other organization including local groups.  We have a nearby evaluator and their testing process seems straightforward.  This is in my top two.  Some local teams are registered with them because Pet Partners does not allow you to feed your dog a raw diet and TDI does.  Dot passed the TDI test recently and even though I may not end up sending in her forms, I found it comforting that we were deemed capable by this prestigious organization.

Love on a Leash (LOAL)-This was one I had not heard of before but someone in a nearby town is starting a local chapter.  Right now they only have cats in the local group and are interested in getting dogs involved too.  However, their test is very basic and can be performed by any CGC evaluator.  After your test, you are required to do 10 supervised visits which I think is great, but also seems slightly difficult to coordinate.  This is in my top two.

Therapy Dogs Incorporated (TDInc.)-According to their website, we have a local evaluator in a nearby town but after many attempts, I was not able to get in touch with her.  So much for that option.

Is your dog registered as a therapy dog?  Next week I'll post about Dot's very first therapy visit experience!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TD/TDX at Middle Fork

Our dog training club holds a TD/TDX test each December.  This year it was a bit larger than usual because we had THREE judges (one apprentice) so we had four TD (Tracking Dog) tracks and five TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) tracks. 
Gorgeous weekend for tracking.  This is at around 7 am, just a bit frosty but you can see the sun is coming out!
I laid a TDX track and crosstracks on another TDX with AWESOME outcomes!  The dog who ran my track passed!  And the dog that ran the track that I laid crosstrack for passed!  I was successfully stinky enough and then not stinky at all!
HUGE congrats to Ruby and her handler!  They drove quite a ways for this test and it was worth it!  I highly encourage anyone interested in tracking to volunteer at tests, it is an awesome way to learn and it takes a village to run a tracking test.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fixing Dot's Ear Infections

Dot's adorable ears also cause some troubles.
Dot has been with our family for almost 2 years now.  Like a lot of drop-eared dogs, she suffers from ear infections.  Before we adopted her, her foster mom struggled with her ear infections.  She switched her to grain-free food which helped a little but when we adopted her she still had yeasty, itchy ears.  She would scratch at them until they were red and bleeding and scabbed.  The ointment from the vet didn't even make a dent in the infection, I was constantly cleaning her ears and was looking for a cure.
Sometimes Dot likes to air out her ears.
I found one in an article in Whole Dog Journal!  Boric Acid Powder, which I purchased from the Walmart pharmacy.  Cheap and easy to find.  Easy to apply too, just dab some powder onto a cotton swab and swab it around in the ear, being careful not to get it anywhere hear eyes, nose and mouth.

Dot's ears cleared up and she has not had itchy, red, bleeding ears since!  I apply a little boric acid powder every month or so when I clean her ears out just to keep it from recurring.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Card Pictures

Holiday portrait time!  The cat didn't make it into the picture this year since we went to a portrait event at church and it was hard enough to get two dogs to pose for a happy family picture.  In the top picture, Taco is balanced on a wobbly pedestal table, hence his unsure glance.  Dot is thinking "What on earth is going on, why am I on mom's lap?"  Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I collect turkeys year round but they only get to come out during November!  Here is this year's display, spreading the Thanksgiving cheer!

And these two clowns are ready for Christmas season!  I need to get to work on their presents for this year or they will be sad little elves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tooth Gel Show-Down

Let the games begin!  I have two brands of doggy oral care gel and we'll be using each one every day for 30 days.

First up, PetzLive Oral Care Gel with Wild Salmon Oil.  I bought this gel before I knew Dot was allergic to fish.  This gel helped me figure that out, in a horrible, disgusting way!  For that reason, Taco will be the test dog for this brand.  Note that they make a version without salmon oil but I thought the dogs would prefer the taste of this one.  Despite it having salmon oil high on the ingredient list, it smells strongly of mint and nothing like fish.  And Taco started out hating it with a passion, bucking like a bronco to get away from the highly-minty smell and taste.  But he's over it now, I just catch him in the evening when he's sleepy on my lap and apply it with my finger.

Taco's before picture:
You can see Taco is still young but he is starting to accumulate some tartar.
And the opponent, TropiClean Clean Teeth is allowing me to test out this product free of charge so thanks Chewy!  This gel also smells of mint, but a little less potent than PetzLife.  The bottle of gel also came with a free sample of their Fresh Breath + Plus Pre Biotic Digestive Support Dental Dog Treat which I was truly surprised to see are completely grain free!  Dot doesn't mind this gel at all, after I apply it with my finger she licks her teeth and doesn't act like it is a horrible punishment.

Dot's before picture:
At 6 years old and never having had a cleaning, Dot's teeth are much worse than Taco's.  The tartar is caked and touching her gumline.
 We'll see you back in one month with after pictures.  Will we be able to see a difference?  If not, Dot is certainly due for a dental at the vet!

Disclosure: provided me with one TropiClean Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel Kit to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs'.  :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Last AKC Trial of 2014

Wow, Dot had a rockstar weekend!  DTCCU hosted two trials on Saturday and one on Sunday and she rocked it!
On Saturday she earned her Graduate Novice title with a second place.  Then in Saturday's second trial she got her first Open A leg with another second place!  This was attempt number 8 at Open A but I had a good feeling about her, her attitude has been awesome and only getting better.  She is confident in all the exercises and the last little wrinkle to iron out was her habit of going down on the sit but with some expert positioning she stuck it out like a pro.

On Sunday she did it again and earned her SECOND Open A leg and first place!  So proud of her, one more to go and she'll get that CDX!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Walk

I love a leisurely walk with a canine companion.  I love fresh air and seeing everyone's yard changing from spring to summer to fall.  I love seeing holiday decorations go up and stopping to chat with neighbors and stopping to chat with my own dog sometimes, as we wait for a car to pass.

When we adopted Taco, I had visions of tandem walks.  People would marvel from their cars at how well behaved they both were, how pleasantly I was able to walk two dogs at once.  What a happy family, out for an evening stroll.  Oh my, how far from reality!

I knew Taco would need to be walked separately at first, to learn leash manners on his own.  So we did, and he did and then it was time for two dogs at once.  And it was a disaster.  I hated it, it stressed me out and soon I avoided walks altogether.  I missed being outside, the fresh air, the invigorating pace of a walk with long legged dogs.  But I hated the management it took and for some reason I was devoted to the idea of walking both dogs at once.

Our main issue is that our dogs have VASTLY different ideas of what a walk is about.  They have different goals and those goals directly conflict with each other.

Dot is all about movement.  She wants to trot fast the entire time, her goal is to get to see as MANY trees and squirrels and birds as possible and as soon as she sees one she is on to the next.  She does not want to stop, chat, sniff, or dilly-dally.  She wants to MOVE FORWARD at all times.

Taco wants to stop and sniff and pee on every bush, lamppost and fire hydrant.  He wants to check out who has been there previously, what kind of moss is growing on this tree and what the leaves from that tree taste like.  He is happy to stop and take it all in, then move on at a relatively relaxed pace so he doesn't miss the next opportunity to check things out.

As you can imagine, trying to walk a dog who wants to stop every 30 seconds and a dog that NEVER wants to stop at the same time just isn't in the cards.  And I finally realized this thanks to one of my DogVacay clients.  Chelle is an older girl who can still move like a puppy!
This is the best picture I have of Chelle on a walk because she also likes to move!
When I walk Chelle, it is nothing but pleasant.  It is relaxing and energizing at the same time.  It's like moving meditation and the reason for that is, there is no stress or management or trying or negotiating.  Only walking.  And I realized I could have this experience every day with my own dogs.  One at a time!

My dogs have different goals, so walks with each of them are different.  Walking Dot is like walking with someone who has to get downtown to a meeting in 5 minutes, but they are happy to chat with you as long as you walk and talk.  She is a power-walker (not a power puller, just happiest going at a nice fast pace), she's going places and you can come too if you can keep up!

Walking Taco is all about noticing the little things.  What's that bug on the sidewalk?  Who's across the street?  Can we go check out that bush?  And that one?  And that one?  There is some trash here in the gutter!  Taco is a master of schmoozing with passersby and gets the most compliments.

They both have their merits and now that I have given up my unnecessary obsession with walking them at the same time, instead of dreading walks and getting out less and less, I can enjoy each of them separately and make it out for a walk each and every day!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Litterbox Solution for Dog and Cat Households

So, we not only have two dogs, but we also have a cat.  Stewart is an awesome cat, here is a picture of him being completely enthralled and outraged at the new water fountain I got for the animals.
But those who have cats AND dogs know the inevitable dog in the catbox problem.  Our catbox at our old house was in the basement where no dogs were allowed.  But our basement in this house has a store that is always shut.  Our prvious cat would use a covered catbox so we just put it in the laundry room but Stewart is a little more picky about his toilet habits and wouldn't go in the covered box.  So what was my solution?
I created a dog-proof cat bathroom.  In our laundry room, we have cabinets which have a countertop on top.  When we first looked at the house, I thought this area would make an awesome desk area, for sketching up garden plans and making phone calls.  But no, it was instead to become our cat's bathroom.  Two tension rods hold up a panel of welded wire fencing.  The door opening is just big enough for a cat to enter and exit.  The tape around all four edges was a later addition after Stewart got a long cut on his neck from getting caught on a sharp edge.

Now, I imagine you could probably make this a more solid panel if you didn't want to look at cat poop everyday.  But I wanted it to have good ventilation and Stewart, as I said, is picky and likes to be able to see out while he does his business.  You could also use something a little more classy than pipe cleaners to hold your fence to the tension rods but that's what I used to test it out years ago and I never got around to making it more appealing.

Ruckus the American Eskimo Dog Blog
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Positive Training Blog Hop-Training scent articles

The topic for the Positive Training Hop may be rear-end awareness but after spending months perfecting Taco's platform pivots producing lovely left turns, I'm over it!  I've moved on!  So you get to see what the dogs have been delving into down in the basement recently.

Scent articles discrimination is one of the most mystifying obedience exercises.  We have no idea what goes on inside the dog's head or what exactly they are smelling to decide which one is "right".  How on earth are we supposed to train it?  Certainly a positive-only method makes sense because we can only guess what the dog smells.  He may be completely right (as you'll see in the video of Dot working  when Dot is positive that #2 is correct, keeps going for it and only gets hits on the "right" one by accident.  Perhaps I had touched that article and didn't realize it.  Perhaps it had residue from chicken or cheese on it and that's why she was so sure she wanted that one?) but we can never know since I can't smell what the dog smells.

I have been working both dogs through Connie Cleveland's cookie tin method (originally published in Front and Finish magazine).  This methods works first with metal cookie tins (with holes punched in them to let scent out) and then with a tie-down board.  The progression is (very simplified):

Step 1-The cookie tins are first empty except for the scented tin which has a treat inside.  First the tins are open, then they are closed.  When you close them, you are looking for a persistent indication from the dog, not simply a quick sniff.  You can see Taco's indication is digging at the tin

and Dot's is stepping a foot (or two) onto it.

Step 2-Then you add unscented metal and leather articles to the unscented tins and a scented leather and metal to your scented tin. 

Step 3- THEN you add food to ALL the tins along with the articles (tricky!) to verify that the dog is detecting the scent, not the food.

Step 4- Next you move to a tie-down board with ALL articles tied down including the scented one.  Again you are looking for persistent indication but not messing with a retrieve yet.  Both of my dogs are comfortable retrieving dumbbell shaped objects so both switched to an indication of mouthing.

You continue to add articles and make the arrangement for complex until you have a full pile.  And voila, your dog is doing scent discrimination!  Just teach a retrieve separately, add it on to the end and you've got it.

I like this method because there is no correction at all.  The dog works on the problem until they hit on the right one which they get rewarded for.  Once you move to the tie-down board, instead of using it traditionally where the tie-down is the correction for picking up the wrong one, ALL the articles are tied down so they can't go around "shopping" for the right one until they find the one that's loose. 

The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop occurs on the first Monday of every month. November’s theme is Rear End Awareness but any positive reinforcement training posts are always welcome.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

If you haven't already seen it, last year Dot was an adorable Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween.  She won some fun prizes at a costume contest and open house at our Vet's office.
Taco was supposed to be the Big Bad Wolf but he was NOT into wearing his ears. Granted, he had only been in our family for around a month at that point and was probably not sure he wanted to stay with a crazy bunch that would ask him to wear fake ears and a tail when he already HAD ears and a tail!

This year our costume was a team effort. Dot and Taco played along (and even wore wigs!) as Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I dressed as the Cat in the Hat!
We went to a Halloween party at a great local pet supply store and kicked some butt! Dot won second place in best trick for her wild spinning (in both directions) and our costumes won second place Best Costume!  The party benefited our county's Humane Society and there were a TON of raffle prizes!  Check out what we won!
TWO bags of food! And an awesome pet fountain that the cat is scared to drink out of.  I thought he would LOVE it because he's very picky about his water and it filters and circulates it to keep it clean but he doesn't like the noise.  I unplugged it and then it made a glug-glug noise of a water cooler and that freaked him out.  So I hope he adjusts soon. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homemade Agility Slip Lead

I love to ogle pretty fleece agility leads online but knowing I have piles of fleece in my sewing room I decided to try to make one myself.  This is what I came up with.  Girly colors for Dot, of course! 
The leash is really short but it works.  Version 2 will have a longer leash and maybe even some of that fun cuddle fleece that's furry!  Of course, the fleece braided leash is totally pointless (besides being pretty) because Dot is NOT interested in tugging on a leash, don't be crazy, that is what bad dogs do!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chair of a VST!

This past spring I was the secretary/chair for our club's Variable Surface Tracking (VST) test. This was my very first experience chairing a dog event and I was a little nervous about all the preparations and paperwork. I think I chose well when I picked the VST because it is SMALL and has limited preparations needed. Our club has a great relationship with the local community college, who lets us use the grounds on the weekend for free so I was set for venue. Judges were already contracted so I didn't have to worry about that. Paperwork wise, I created the premium, then entries started arriving and I kept track of those. Once the test closed, I contacted those that had made it in, those that were alternates and created the program to send to everyone.
This picture shows the judging program and the key fobs I made as the draw item.  Draw items are what are used to determine running order: each entrant draws an item (key fob in this case) and on the back of each one is a number.  That will be the number of the track they get.

The day before a tracking test is plotting day, when all the details of the tracks are figured out by the judges, walked by the judges and tracklayers, placing flags as reminders for the next day. Then everyone goes for a late lunch together once all the tracks are plotted. The big day came, I picked up coffee and doughnuts and got there extra early to greet all the entrants as they arrived. Surprise, one of our tracklayers couldn't make it!   I wasn't planning on being a tracklayer but I was prepared with spare articles and boots on so I laid their track when the proper time came. Then I followed along behind the dog and handler and judges, watching the dog sniff and snorf along the first leg, make the first turn only to struggle after that. That's when my job came in. As a tracklayer, you hope you never need to help but when the dog is no longer on the right track and gets whistled off, the tracklayer assists the team to get back to the right path and complete the entire track to find all the articles.

At the end of the day, we had no passes but that is not abnormal for a VST test.  We all had a fun day together, watching each dog run, talking about training and trying to stay dry on a bit of a drizzly day.  Afterwards, we went to lunch together and I gave the judges their thank you gifts:
This for a judge with Belgian Turvurens.
And a double-sided pillow for a judge with Whippets and Cirneco dell’Etna.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Grandma Lucy makes more than biscuits!

Chewy again let us try out some tasty treats, this time it was Grandma Lucy's Freeze-Dried Tiny Tidbits Meatballs CheeseBurgers Dog Treats.  I am familiar with Grandma Lucy's oven baked treats, you might know them as the teddy bear-shaped dog cookies.  :)  But I didn't know they also make freeze dried treats.
See the adorable painting of Dot at the top?  (Not painted by me but totally captured her adorable pout.)
I used these as rewards for training during classes AND I used them as treats on tracks laid for Dot.  We have re-started tracking from the very beginning so she gets treats on the ground every couple of yards. These seemed to really get her interested, even more so than cheese so they must smell pretty great!

A nice thing about these freeze dried treats is that unlike other freeze dried items, these are ground meat mixed with a few other ingredients which seemed to make them way less crumbly.  They easily broke in half for smaller rewards but didn't turn to powder in my pocket or hand, which was great!

Disclosure: provided me with one package of treats to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs.

Friday, October 10, 2014

4-H Fun Night Quiz Contest

Here a little quiz for you!  (Answers are at the end of this post.)

1. How many breeds does the AKC currently register?
a. 154
b. 165

c. 178

d. 189

2. What is the name of the first dog listed in the AKC Stud Book?    
3. What is another name for ascarid (the most common internal parasite)?  
4. What is the common name for the term coprophagia?    
a. Eating dirt and stones
b. Eating feces
c. Eating plastic
d. Eating paper

5. Which of the following is not a type of vertebrae?

6. True or False: You must have achieved a qualifying score in order to receive a ribbon in a non-regular obedience class?    
7. The obedience jumps are how wide?
a. 4 feet
b. 5 feet
c. 6 feet
d. anywhere between 4 and 6 feet

Those are just a few of the questions that were included in our Quiz Contest for 4-H Fun Night at the Dog Training Club.  
Labeling the anatomy poster.

I put together stations with questions in several categories: Breed identification, Health (disease, parasites, breeding, preventative care, etc.), Anatomy and AKC rules and regulations.  
I was super-proud of my Barbie doll obedience handlers!  They gave examples of hand position for the Novice on-leash heeling.

Groups of two (one 4-Her and one adult Dog club member) revolved around the stations, filling their answer sheets for the questions are each station.  Some of the stations had visual aids, like pictures of different breeds to identify or an anatomy chart to label.  
These two are trying to decide what breeds are shown in the pictures.

These visual aids came from our Dog Learning Lab Kit, a fantastic teaching tool!  At the end, we self-graded our scoresheets as we went over the answers presented on a PowerPoint presentation.  The evening was a lot of fun and there were awards for kids and adults! 

Ok, ready to grade yourself?
1. c. 178 (not including the Foundation Stock Service Breeds in the Misc class)
2.  Adonis (an English Setter)
3. Roundworms
4. b. Eating feces
5. d. Sublingual
6. False
7. b. 5 feet

How did you do?  Do you think you need to get back into 4-H and learn or could you be the teacher?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Box Game-A Lesson for Handlers

First Monday of the month, it's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop time!  The theme this month is 101 Things to do with a Box and I just happen to have a very recent story all about it!
I just taught a short course at our Dog Training Club called Clicker 101/Tricks.  During the first meeting I covered clicker basics like priming the clicker, timing, body language, adding cues, etc.  Then each class after that we covered a different type of training and how to apply the clicker.  Luring and using a clicker to mark the exact moment the dog is in the correct position.  Capturing behaviors the dog naturally offers with a clicker.  And, of course, shaping.  Teaching shaping, what I would consider the most useful for teaching tricks, was by far the hardest!  And by that I mean it was hardest to teach to the HANDLERS!
I don't have any pictures of the box game so you get pics of the dogs enjoying the outdoors.  This is classic Dot, watching birds and squirrels, ready to run!
The class had all had experience with traditional training, mostly with treats and leash corrections.  So when I introduced free shaping, I tried to explain that you will not start out with the final product but will instead take whatever the dog offers and move on from there to create the final picture that you had in mind.  One trick we introduced was sitting on a Bosu ball.  Instantly they all wanted to give their dog commands to get then into position.  One handler said "if I give her a " paws up" command, I know she'll put her feet on it."  But the class was about learning a new skill, not using old skills to get your dog to do each trick.  Another trick was teaching the dog to flick a light switch.  Handlers were pointing to the switch, putting treats at the switch and giving "go touch" commands instead of simply waiting and letting the dog puzzle it out for themselves.
And classic Taco, sunbathing in the hottest part of the yard.  He is solar-powered and needs to recharge.
FINALLY, I had to admit to myself and the class that I had obviously not explained it well enough.  I broke out the box game!  The rules are simple, concrete, and easy to explain.  NO COMMANDS!  NO LURING, POINTING, OR COACHING!  Just waiting and watching for the slightest inclination of the dog showing interest in the box.  And it took what seemed like a very long time to the handlers, (but was actually less than 5 minutes) for the dogs to start looking at, sniffing, stepping, pawing, licking and otherwise recognizing the box as something to interact with.

And it finally dawned on the handlers that their dogs have minds of their own!  They are smart and capable beings that don't need to be handheld through every step of their lives.  Next time I teach this class, we will start with the box game and the instructions to "Shut up and learn."