Sunday, December 5, 2010

Deuce's second and third day of trialing

This has been a very emotional and trying weekend. My best friend barb lost her heart dog on friday morning while we were at the trial. I don't want to get into it here, have cried alot of tears this weekend and am still very emotional. Instead I want to talk about the good stuff. I got to run my baby this weekend for two whole days! After the first show, I was so excited to get to run him and see what we still had. Tulsa is a new location for him with new footing and new equipment. We started out on friday with jumpers and had a very nice run. The weave poles were situated right where our crates were so he got a little distracted and veered off and missed his entry but I got him back and he finished nicely. I need to train more on just 6 poles so they look more familiar to him. I am also sure that he is getting so hyped that he is not wanting to collect and I am okay with working through that. All of my dogs have had this problem in the beginning, even though we work entries in class and practice but you know how those novice courses are! Straight lines, three jumps into them or straight tunnels into them. They build up a TON of speed going at them and this is something we are just going to have to get over. This was Deuce's first Q in novice JWW as he knocked a bar the first time we ran it in wichita. He got a second place and had some nice speed and a nice turn at the end that i was super proud of. He is staring to get confidence in the ring and leave me in the dust (YIKES).

Our next run of the day was novice standard. I had heard that the dog walk up and down ramp had been bouncing alot and that dogs were falling off of it. I didn't remember Miller having any issues with it when he ran, but our seasoned dogs probably adjust better and it isn't as much of an issue as it is for our baby dogs. I think the theme for novice in AKC is straight line, gentle turn, straight line back down, another curve, almost like a Z pattern sometimes! No real handling like in USDAA novice, but i digress. The dog walk was the second obstacle and he ran it with great speed but for whatever reason, released himself from the dog walk contact before I said the magical words. Now, criteria is a bitch so I gave him a verbal "uh-oh" and then continued on. I was hoping it was just the bouncing that scared him. I seriously want one of my dogs to have good contacts and I swear if it kills me and costs me a Q or placements or a title, I am going to uphold my freaking criteria. Again, I digress. SO the next contact was the teeter. Again, on the teeter, release before I say anything. This time, bigger verbal correction. What does the little stinker do? Of course, he bangs the board back down and goes into two on, two off! Everyone was laughing and i have to say it was pretty cute. Next contact, three or so obstacles later is the a-frame, creeping down the down ramp, WHICH I HATE, but holding into position and waiting for release. GOOD BOY! Of course the obstacle before that was the broad jump and he had ticked it so we were already DQed at that point but might as well work the rest. Got discombulated at the tunnel but got him in the correct entry and then he got his weaves out of a tunnel at a dead run. GOOD BOY! Ended on a good note but I was a little concerned. He never blows his release in practice on contacts so I hadn't even planned on what to do if he did so in a trial. Never even entered my mind. I have to say it did blow my mind a bit. We are still figuring each other out in trials. I think he is testing me a little and I am going to have to learn to roll with the punches.

We still had novice FAST to run and we had a teeter and an a-frame. Started out with a nice two jump lead out and then to the teeter. He still stopped before he got into position and I had to ask for "toes" again. He did come into it and wait for his "good boy, okay" before he released. He got the bonus fine (distance is probably not going to be a problem for this red head), but I was out of position and forgot i planned on doing the weaves after he came out of the tunnel. Bad handler, did a jump and got him through the weaves. Also got the a-frame in as the buzzer was sounding (stupid creeping) so we didn't get the points but I was proud, I held his contact again till he got his good boy, okay and then sent him over the finish jump, even though it was ticking off points from my total score. I think we got fourth or third, doesn't matter. His contacts were a tad bit better this time and I am so glad we had fast last so I could work him. Again, sometimes he puts on the jets and leaves me in the dirt and I am so not anticipating that. I think once he gets confidence and I get confidence in knowing what dog I am running, we will be a very fast team.

The next day dawned and I was excited and a little nervous to see what dog showed up with me that day. We ran jumpers again and I didn't get it taped so I think he knocked a bar or would have qualified but I can't remember exactly. I wish I could see the tape to know for sure. We had standard next and again I got horrible creeping on the a-frame. I then had to handle him coming over a broad jump and going into the wrong end of the tunnel that they were to land and take. I said his name over the broad jump as I was going to pull him and turn him back to the correct end. For whatever reason, he decided to run around the tunnel, then offer me a 2 on 2 off on the dog walk and then get into the tunnel. Silly boy! We then got going again and he had a much better dog walk contact. I notice that I was helping him with my body by holding up and slowing down and I never do this in practice so once again BAD HANDLER! His teeter was much improved with him driving to the bottom and holding till i got there to make my cross and get him into the tunnel. I am trying so hard to stick to my criteria of telling him good dog and then releasing him with his okay but dang it is so hard!!!! I am competitive and I can just feel the seconds ticking away as I do everything in slow motion but I know it will help me in the long run! Next was the weaves and they were a little set out and I know I mishandled him and did not tell him out weave soon enough. Oh well, got him back and finished and we got a Q!!!! Not the prettiest run but I think it was 100% better than the day before for sure! We placed but of course low down because i am holding contacts. I loved the fact that this club had a give your ribbon back, get a box of cookies for your dogs. I gave all of his ribbons back this weekend, except his new title ribbon.

Last run of the day was Novice FAST and we had a teeter and an a-frame again (YEAH). Blew past the weaves again after taking three jumps. Not getting his attention enough to collect into the weaves but we can deal with that. Turned nicely out of the weaves to the tunnel jump send, no problem and even worked the teeter at a distance. Teeter was AWESOME this time, probably due to the fact I wasn't baby sitting it and was running it like we always do in class or practice. Took some jumps across the ring so I could get the a-frame and again, he did much better this time because I was running and not baby-sitting. Please feel free to knock me up side the head and tell me to stop making stupid mistakes and trust my dog. Was planning on going back over the a-frame but the buzzer sounded so we just headed out.

Overall, pleased with how we ended the weekend. We now have our Novice FAST title, one Novice JWW and one Novice standard leg. We need to work on collection into the weaves for sure and I need to work on not baby sitting anything and trusting him. Why must I have to tell myself that yet again with yet another dog? URGH! Anyway, I know puppy brain can show up and I am prepared for that. We are entered in a two day show in january and then a three day in february, plus USDAA (YES, YES, YES) in which we will probably do team and then a few classes the other days. We are still feeling each other out and I know that will continue for a while. He continues to build speed and surprise me sometimes. I have got to learn to handle differently because he is so unlike miller and I LOVE that! I have to give myself a pat on the back for holding his contacts and not giving into the competitive side of me. I so want some pretty ribbons but I keep telling myself that this will help build the foundation for years to come. Letting him get way with crappy contacts could haunt me and I don't want to have to go through what I went through with miller and his dang dog walk contact again. I want a dog that I can take to the line and know that he is solid on everything and to not worry about any what ifs. I am super proud of his start line stay. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to walk out calmly, get into position and then release him. I am sure he will test me on that at some point and if so, we will have the walk of shame out of the ring:( Anyway, this whole weekend taught me so much and if you are reading this, hug your dogs because they love us even when we are bad handlers! Rest in peace dear Haley, you are loved and will be missed. Driving home tonight we saw a shooting star right in front of us and it wasn't even dark. Haley's name was wish upon a star so I am sure it was a sign from her!!!!!

Here is the link to deuce's video, enjoy! Love the music (problem child by ac/dc)!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deuce's first agility runs

SO EXCITED! Deuce's first agility weekend is in the books! I just showed him in novice Fast, novice Jww and Novice standard for one day. I was really excited to see where we were with our training and if I (and he) could hold his criteria. I am so excited to say that in all of his runs, criteria was met and then some! He actually ran way faster that I thought he would and I actually was out of position a couple of times because of his speed! Apparently, running on dirt is fun for him. I had intially thought he might have issues as we train on grass but I will have to say that it sped him up a bit and thank goodness he didn't get the zoomies!

Our first run of the day was Novice FAST and I was just planning a big loop and out till Lori got ahold of me and asked why not go for it and get all the points i could get. I love her for pushing me out of my comfort zone all the time as the plan she came up with was awesome. He held his stay for me to get into position and release him with an "okay" and then it was on! We even did a threadle in part of the course so that he had a better line to the send. The send was pretty easy, jump and tunnel and then we had a big sprint passed a few obstacles to get the teeter. He did want to duck behind me but I kept him beside me (good snooker practice) and he had an amazing teeter contact. I wanted to make sure he got praise on every contact so after he did his "toes", he got a "good boy" before his release. The funniest part was the first time he did the a-frame. For whatever reason, he came about half way down the down ramp and stopped. He has never done this in practice so I was a little thrown off by it. The look in his eye was priceless, "can I just forgot about toes mom and blow this?". I told him "wrong, go toes" and he came down into it like ,"urgh, okay". I got to do the a-frame from the other direction at the end and he did a better job of driving down into toes. We didn't get to do the weaves as I had planned since we ate up alot of time waiting for him to come down into toes and telling him what a good boy he was on every contact (three contacts practiced YEAH). I was so proud of him after this run!!!! He got tons of cookies and lots of praise. He ended up with a Q and a third place, but I am more happy about criteria being met.

Our second run of the day was jumpers. We were the first 20 inch dog in all runs so I had tons of time to work on start line routine while they were setting the course. He seems so far to not get nervous at all and keeps calm, although wants to be doing something while he is waiting rather than just sitting and watching. I have a warm up routine in place for him now and I am pleased with it. Again, he let me lead out a few jumps and then get into place, take a deep breath and then release him. What I am super proud about this run is not only his lead out, but he hit the weaves going a 100 mph and managed to collect nicely and stay in them. He didn't read one of my front crosses (he was looking at an off course jump) so I held position, made him come into my hand and then we went on. He ended up knocking a bar but I didn't care! He was running fast and listening and again our criteria was met!!!!!!

Our final run of the day was standard. I was excited to see his dog walk contact and again to get to do a multiple jump lead out. Again, we were the first dog in 20 inch so he got to set up and get released and set up again before we had to start. I was very proud of the tunnel to the a-frame line. The end of the tunnel shot them out past the a-frame so you had to get their head and make sure that they came onto the a-frame nicely and we connected and he had a great approach to the a-frame. Again, a great contact and then out of a curved tunnel into the weaves, which he hit with great speed and then collection. Unfortunatley, after the weaves, there was a push out to the tire jump and then back to the dog walk and he locked in on the dog walk and almost got to it before i got him back. He back jumped the tire but then got going again. A baby bobble, I think more a michelle bobble as I wasn't anticipating him being out of the weaves so fast. I need to practice more on 6 poles because he can just about beat me out every time! He had a great dog walk contact and then the table which he did very well. Next a chute to the teeter and then three jumps out. For whatever reason, he knocked the bar after the teeter but I didn't care. He actually got ahead of me on the ending line and when I said "turn, jump", he didn't read it or hear me or whatever, and turned the wrong way and then back jumped the last jump. Again, I didn't care, he was fast and I just have to learn how to steer from behind some! I am not the best rear crosser in the world, I prefer fronts so I am going to have to solidify a new skill.

All in all, super proud of my baby! He showed me moments of brilliance, he met all of my criteria, and he showed me what we need to work on. We are entered for two days in Tulsa so I am super excited to see what he can do in two days. I am hoping we have a mild winter so we can continue class and practice because I can see what he needs to work on and what I need to work on. I will try to post the video here tonight! I have to tell you, it is thrilling to walk to the line and not worry about anything. Will he stay, will he get that weave pole entry, will he get his contacts are not even a thought in my mind. I feel like for the first time in my life, I am proactively handling versus reactively handling. Miller has skills, dont' get me wrong, but not the foundation that Deuce has. I am also able to let go of the Q now and see how important holding criteria is. It took me almost four years to get Miller's MACH and it was simply because I would not hold onto criteria. I see the importance of rewarding good behavior at the novice stage versus trying to rush through the course, ditch criteria and just get the Q. I can see the big picture FINALLY and I can see how I need to be selective now versus later. Will that win me ribbons, probably not but when the ribbon chasers are falling apart in open and excellent, I hope our strong foudation will take us onward and upward. I am so excited for the future and what it holds!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T minus 2 days!

I am getting so excited for Deuce's debut into the world of showing in agility! Looks like the FAST class will be our first class, which I am glad for so we can have fun and just go out there and work obstacles and not really worry about a course per se. I will design something very flowing and nice for baby dogs and have FUN! I have already started working on a video montage of baby pictures that I can then embed the videos of him running throughout. Even if it is a full out zoom fest, I am going to put it in! After all, he is a baby and baby brains crop up at any time. I guess the feeling I have with Deuce is super excitment and confidence. I know we have prepared him for this and I know we have the foundation skills to handle what may come. I know that he won't be perfect and it will be some time before he will be, but I don't expect perfection. What I do expect is team work from him and from me, criteria to be maintained, and above all else FUN! Will I be nervous, probably so, but I am hoping that because I know he has the skill set I have trained him to have, those nerves will be alot less. I just read one of Susan Garrett's blogs about confidence in your dog and how we are so silly to step to the line and not have confidence in our dogs. It really hit home for me, especially with Miller. Why do I ever think he can't do something? Well,I am hoping that I can change that mental picture with Deuce. I am sure we still have holes to fill, still have places where we can improve and work harder, but he has the foundation layed that none of my other dogs had coming into their first show. I think for years, for me, it was all about just getting around a course, not so much thinking, what does the dog see, what is the correct line? Miller is an honest dog so I could get away with this viewpoint. Despite me, he can run a course and run it clean. With Deuce, I want to really finesse the handling of the course, the setting of the best most efficient lines (and safest), the running of the course not necessarily to Q but to run it the best I can.

Anyway, I am excited for the future and videos are to come!

Monday, October 25, 2010

weave pole work

So i had asked and the first trial that we are entered in has 24 inch spaced poles. No problem, right? Big wrong! I don't have 24 inch spaced poles so I put Deuce through Lori's 24 inch spaced poles before class last week. He acted like he had never seen them in his life. He would hit the entry and make it through about 2 or three poles and just pop out. You could see him thinking and trying but just not able to figure out the puzzle. After a couple of tries, he just refused them period. I didn't want to pressure him on closed poles, so opened my poles up at home again and signed up to take a lesson with Lori on the 24s. I figured once he got on them and they were channeled out, he wouldn't have any issues with them. At the time, Lori didn't have channel weaves, but God bless Alice, she went and had some made so we could use them in class. She got them before our lesson, so I was super excited to use them! I have tried to really avoid using any visual or physical helpers on the weaves. I feel like using them with Miller really didn't fix any of his weaving issues he had, more or less just was a band aid and not a permanent fix. I so far, knock on wood, have not had to use them with deuce so have nothing to wean him off of for competition. It was super cool to watch deuce go from weaving super tight (our poles at home are 21 iches from center to center) to really stretching out and using all of his body to reach. Tony came with and video taped the lesson so it was really neat to watch the video in slomo afterwards and see him figuring out his footwork. I would prefer him to single step but whatever he feels comfortable with is what we will do. He seems to single step till midway, then he hops one time and then single steps the rest. It is so funny to watch. Of course when I went to edit the video in imovie, the stupid version I have doesn't have slomo and I don't want to upgrade so had to just post the video in real time. I have a set of 24 inch channel weaves on order so crossing my fingers we get them in the next few days. I really wish all clubs had 24s and I wish USDAA would consider switching to 24s as the dogs seem to LOVE them. I guess for now, whatever spacing we will have is what channel set we will have out. I am also thinking about making stick in the ground WAMs for his footwork as well.

Here is the video link. Wish freaking IMOVIE v. 6 had slomo!

We also worked on Deuce's a-frame. I had previously been working on a running a-frame but Deuce just couldn't seem to get his striding right and when I would take away the hoop or the stride regulator, I would get the pounce. He would either miss the contact or be super high, plus it wasn't safe for him. I started asking for a 2 on 2 off and he was doing great, until he started creeping and I HATE creeping. Not sure what happened but when I went back to just letting him run to get his confidence back up, he would still creep and stop. We have decided to lower the a-frame again and get him back running and then put the 2 on 2 off back in when he is running full out again. If we are ever going to have a shred of competitiveness in the sea of 20 inch AKC dogs and 22 inch USDAA dogs, we are going to have to take out any slow or creeping. So far I have not seen this behavior on the dog walk or teeter so keep your finger's crossed we don't. While I would love to have running contacts, I don't think deuce's build will ever allow for the correct striding needed. His back is just too dang short and that is okay, we will deal with it. 3 more weeks till Deuce's debut and I am super pumped!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

USDAA thoughts for my baby dog

Well, nationals has me thinking alot of about deuce's future and what I expect of him. I am not talking about putting pressure on him, just what goals I have for him in the future. I know there will be a learning curve for both of us and he is a mix of Miller and Harley so running him will be different. I know that I have instilled exactly what contact behavior I want and what weave pole behavior I want and I think that will help me immensely. SO many of my miscues with Miller are because of lack of training in the beginning which is okay because even though I trained Berry to do agility, I still was learning alot when I got miller. I want to instill all the foundation work I can get in him so that he can handle pressure, he can respond to being asked to step it up, and that he can have a nice balance between handler and obstacle focus. I have such high hopes for him, yet don't want to put any undue pressure on him. I will love him even if he never sets foot into the agility ring or wins a class or goes to a nationals. He truly is the sweetest, goofiest aussie I have ever had and I love that about him. He could be a lap dog and I would be happy but I hope he loves agility as much as I do. Here is to the future and what we can accomplish!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deuce's first entry

Okay, so i decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and enter deuce in one day of agility in wichita. I hope I am not jumping the gun but I figure one day won't hurt anything. I have him entered in an AKC trial in JWW, Standard and Fast. Our number one goal is going to be to have a ton of fun!!!! I also want to see how he is holding to his criteria in the ring versus in class or at the field at home. Criteria is so much fun;) Anyway, will have video for sure to post on here and FB. We are probably going to enter the new years eve trial in St. Louis so he may get to go play in a couple of classes in USDAA as well. My goal is to not rush him so I hope I can stick to this goal (feel free to knock me up side the head if you see me doing stupid stuff with him). I want a pup that loves agility! I also have been firming up some details that include deuce doing some rally and some formal obedience in the very near future. With the help of the clicker, his heeling is really coming together nicely and we just need some polishing now and major repitition to get us ready for the ring. I have always wanted a versatile doggy and I really think i have finally found that in Deuce.

Oh yeah, Deuce did pass his CGC!!!!! I was really worried as he LOVES people and it is so hard when anyone give him attention not to get up and say hi, which usually involves some butt slamming/wiggling and some kissing action. He intially did get up and was not passing that element, but when we got our re-try for that element since that was the only thing he didn't do well, we passed. He managed to keep his furry wiggly butt on the ground. I am so proud of my baby! He actually did better than Harley did! He truly is the smartest aussie I have ever had. Every night he either curls up by my head or stretches out the lenght of my body and I cuddle with till I go to sleep. He is such a good, cuddly baby!

We continue to drill weave as this is the last piece of the agility puzzle of obstacles skills we need to master. We have a ton of other skills to work on handling and running wise but I waited a while to start weaves. The channels are now officially closed and I am still getting very nice speed. If i see him slowing down, I will inch them out a little but so far, so good. He seemed to have hit a little wall for a while as I was nearing those last few inches but as he got over his entry issue, he got over his slowing down and thinking issue. That is not to say he doesn't have puppy brain occasionally and blows past them or skips a pole but I am really impressed about how well he is doing at this part of the game. I am taking him to the USDAA seminar this weekend in KC so hope to see how he does in an unfamilar place with unfamilar equipment, especially the weaves. I have been training on my old set which is 21 inch spaced so interested to see how he does on a larger spaced set.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

wow, i need to get into shape

I didn't realize how out of shape i had gotten in the span of one month of no gym or running until i had a nice agility field to run on and three dogs to work (fergs doesn't count)! Lori has sent us lots and lots of drills so I have been setting them up and working them. I so LOVE having a full field to work on! I alternate nights on taking just deuce or deuce and harley or all three (and sometimes four). I really am identifying weaknesses in all three dogs which is awesome! I would much rather figure them out in training versus at a show. Even ole miller has been doing some drill work.

Deuce and I have been working really hard on weaves and weave pole entries. I had been previously worried about this but for some reason, last week, something clicked. Now he is hitting entries like a pro. I have no clue what changed but I am LOVING it! Maybe he heard me talking to Dana about envy and got envious, LOL! We even got to 6 o'clock tonight with a jump and he hit both sides like a pro and with me on either side. It was even hot tonight and he did three of Lori's mental drills and weave pole entries. I also have been working collection because even now, Harley has collection issues and hits the poles with his shoulder. I did some jump chutes going in and coming out of the weaves and he was collecting nicely. I am so proud of my little boy! Am actually toying around with maybe entering him one day at the wichita trial if we don't go to the ASCA trial. We could enter Saturday since we would be there that day anyway. Don't know, still thinking and deciding:)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

what a difference a day makes

Okay so I know I just blogged but have to blog again. Decided tonight to go out with just Deuce and I. We had had rain all afternoon so wasn't sure how the field would be and wanted to see how Deuce would do with the lower temps. I think it was 63 when I headed out to the field. Well, I am happy to say that his drive was phenomenal!!!!!! We worked weave pole entry and he was going around the clock like a pro! He was also beating me out of the poles so I was having a hard time just getting there to get to the next obstacle. I was in AWE! He was engaged with me, playing with me and paying great attention. I hate that he is so sensitive to the heat as he is going to have to get over that but I was to say the least, IMPRESSED! We worked on lateral sends and tight turns as well and he was just on! We even played Frisbee for a while and he was very into playing and being with me. Of course, distraction was at 0% and I had doggie junk food. Guess I am learning more and more about my pup!

baby you can drive my car

I need to post pictures of our new training area! I have been talking to my local vet about renting land out at his place for training. His father has a farm out off of 99 which is about 5 minutes from my house. We finally found a good comprimise for what I needed and what he had available. Alot of the land is rented out for hay or crops or cattle but some of it was in need of cleaning up and is now our practice field! We moved equipment out on sunday and have been practicing there every night since then. It usually takes me an hour or two to cycle through all three boys on what I want accomplished that night. I work through alot of drills that Lori provides all star students, but I also try and get a full course set up too.

So, I have talked about in past posts that Deuce just looses drive at Lori's place. I always chalked it up to the heat or the presence of lots of good smelling girlies or the fact that they do open practice when we are doing class but those really are all poor excuses on my part. Yes, he does wither in the heat but he has to get use to this. Well, I am starting to see lack of drive out at the farm as I call it. It is very incosistent so I can't really put my finger on any one thing. I am trying to keep sessions super short as I cycle back and forth through all dogs. I do tons of rewarding (mainly food, can sometimes get tuggies), but I am seeing lack of drive cropping up for sure. I am not sure if we are hitting another phase or it is something I am doing wrong as a trainer. I always have yummy treats as rewards and am very liberal with my praise and excitement. I have never had a dog that really could care less sometimes about working. I have to admit, working all three does help as the other two get jealous while I am out there working. Deuce will try and come out when I am working miller for sure so I have been rewarding his desire to come play with me. I never punish him for anything he does wrong other than a verbal "uh-oh" or "wrong". I am really scratching my head at this. I want him to be happy with what we do and I do see that he likes it, but I am not sure he lives for it like my other dogs do. I know it takes boys a long time to mature and I am sure neutering him will help, but I am open to suggestions at this point!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weave woes or not?

I have really been thinking alot about Deuce's weaves. I have just really started working them in earnest but I am thinking about them and how I teach them. I have tried to do a better job of teaching deuce that the weaves are an obstacle that needs to be completed no matter where I am at or what I am doing. What i found so far is that I have someone taught him that as long as I am behind him and out of his way, he is okay and weaves good with good drive but if I am anywhere near him or ahead of him, he pops out. Need to rethink this and include him doing them well with me near him, crowding him, in front of him and other scenarios I apparently did not think about. I was so wanting to be out of the picture that I have created a problem in its self. I also have not used wires or gates and so when I do try and incorporate them, they confuse him. I want to stay away from visual helpers but I think I have shot myself in the foot by not including them when I don't need them.

I also do not feel like he really understands entries. I know part of his problem is collection, he is still a baby and is learning to collect in them but does he really know entries? I do like the 2 x 2 method for this but started channels so I have to work through this issue with the channels. How do I make entries more black and white? I have narrowed down this for deuce on his contacts. He has to complete toes with two feet on and two feet off and I can get this behavior on anything at any time. How can I do this for weaves too? Should I teach an entry "behavior"? Would going back and doing just one 2 x 2 set to teach entries with the clicker teach him entry "behavior"? I can't really use the clicker with a full set of weaves because if you click for the entry, you will get a head check and probably a pop out. I don't want to teach him that popping out is a good idea. Lots of things to think about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

deuce and fergie update

Wanted to update on how my deuce boy has been doing. We have seriously begun our weave pole training now but have decided to use the channel method instead of the 2 x 2 method. If you know of anyone who would be interested in buying my DVD on 2 x 2s, let me know since i haven't even used it. I do feel like it is an awesome method, I just feel like it is easier to do what my trainer trains so she can help me troubleshoot any issues I am having. We have been slowly moving the channel in and out and I am very happy with his progress so far. He has nice drive and collection in and is hitting his entries well. He is far from perfect and still has days where he doesn't want to weave and I have to channel them way out and then work my way back in. It has been super hot here so I have been having to wait till 9 or so to get out and train. We haven't had class lately due to my crazy schedule and Lori being gone so I have just been working him on skills drills after the beginner class I teach. I have seen alot of improvement and have worked him up to jumping 20 inches. He still sometimes forgets to jump properly and so I have been giving him a verbal "Uh-oh" and stopping him, not so much as a punishment but more just to remind him to be careful.

I will have to admit, I have been playing around with 2 on 2 off for his a-frame and will need to make a clear decision here soon as to what I am going to do for sure. I have really had trouble fading out the hoop and I felt like the running was not a clear enough criteria for him. I think because we did running for so long that he had great drive into position and as long as I can maintain this drive, I am pleased. I will just have to monitor his shoulders and keep him very lean to keep stress off of his front end. (can you tell I am leaning towards a 2 on 2 off:)

Fergie is well, fergie. She does agility when she feels like it and I haven't been pushing her. We just got her down to 7.7 lbs so i feel comfortable having her do more like jumping and more a-frame work. I have her currently jumping at 4 inches but she may eventually have to jump 8. Again, I am in no hurry to get her into the ring. This is more of a learning experience for me to train little dogs. When she is into work, she had great intensity and can be super fast. She doesn't seem to like the heat either so I haven't been pushing her. She finally just this week got back on the teeter after deuce launched her off of it. I am thinking the teeter may always be her nemesis so NADAC may be a better option for her than AKC or USDAA. Oh well, it is too early to tell so I am just letting her go at her pace and give me what she wants. She is just now doing her sits and downs on command as we having been clicker training these behaviors. Most of my dogs get this in a couple of days so this has been interesting to see how long it takes her to get all of this. I really look forward to someday showing Fergie and Deuce!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Deuce and his own random rate of reinforcement

I guess we are in the throes of doggy adolescences for sure now. Deuce is starting to try out his wings in garbage diving and dog food gorging. Twice now, we have left thinking everything was put up and that we would only be gone for a little while so he should be okay to be left out. Right before I left for the IN, went to the store or something and came back and he and who knows who else had eaten who knows how much dog food. It happened again last night, went to the movies and came home and the dog food air tight container was opened and empty. Poor Deuce had three accidents last night and when he went out had pure diarrhea twice. I guess from now on we will have to lock up the dog food container and the garbage. Lesson learned, wish he wouldn't do that anymore but not fair to tempt fate. I am sure when I get home today, there will be accidents galore. I left him out of his crate so he would at least be able to do that on the hardwood and hopefully not walk in it. I also think I am going to have to take him to dog shows no matter what. I have gone to a couple and left him with Tony and I don't think Tony pays good enough attention to him and thus the mischief. I do also think we are going to have to go back to crating him, no matter how short the period of time we are gone. I told Tony, since we have nothing in the dining room and it will probably be a long time before we will due to all of the house problems we are having, that we should just move all crates downstairs and crate everyone. I think it is only fair as we really don't know who is doing exactly what.

Training wise, Deuce and I are still taking Lori's puppy class when I can make it and when it isn't too terribly hot. Lori has given us the drills on paper so I can work them at home, which helps. He sometimes has tons of drive and sometimes not. He is starting to do really well with his a-frame, especially in sequences and we have moved the hoop out away from the a-frame and the target passed other obstacles now. I will have to be honest, due to this weird summer, either really hot or raining, no in between, we haven't done a ton of training. I am very busy with work and very stressed with both work and the house problems so I de-stress alot by just watching tv or going to the gym. I figure I am in no rush to get him in the ring so why hurry:)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Deuce, here's your present, it's an infection!

Poor Deuce! Deuce celebrated his 1st birthday on Sunday with a raging stomach ache and an infection of his "man bits". I feel so horrible as I think it was my fault that all of this happened, well not the stomach part but at least the infection. Deuce has always had a very sensitive stomach, to the point that I won't feed him anything other than his food and I even use it for treats or very bland charley bears. He has had horrible gas in the past, which has cleared up somewhat as he has aged thank goodness, but the sensitive stomach has stayed. For whatever reason, Saturday night, his stomach revolted against him and he basically had an intestinal explosion in our dining room which thankfully is plywood floors and no furniture, so easy to clean. He had a total of five accidents all of cow pie consistency and very smelly. I immediatley started to bulk him up with some cooked rice throughout Sunday and he seemed better so we left to go run some errands in town. Well, when we got back, it looked like another poop bomb had gone off in our house. The smell was unbearable and Tony immediately headed back outside till i had everything cleaned up. This time there was poop from one end of the house to the other and they had walked in one of the piles so it was smeared everywhere and there were little poop footprints going everywhere. Now I was starting to get worried. I couldn't believe how much poop was coming out of this dog! More rice down and Tony and I decided to not do yard work but instead stay inside with Deuce and of course watch True Blood Season Two.

Around 7 pm, I noticed that Deuce was getting more and more uncomfortable. He just seemed to not be able to settle, would go from place to place and seemed to be biting or licking his flank area. He got worse and worse so we held him down and inspected him and his man bits were very red and swollen and smelled infected. I couldn't believe it because we had not seen him licking. What I thought about though was after every explosion, I had taken him out and washed his touche with the water hose. I never did dry him off and he is a very hairy boy so apparently the little licking he did get in and the water staying in that area had all worked against him. He now has a very nasty infection and his poor man bits are very red and swollen. We stayed up together most of last night, with me watching him and him moving from place to place trying to get comfortable. I even iced his man parts to help him and he laid there and let me! Poor baby!!!!! He had a couple of times that he needed to go outside but seemed like the diarrhea was slacking up.

Took him to the vet today and he got his cone of shame put on and his poop area shaved a bit so I don't have to wash him so much. He is getting steriod cream on his man bits to try and help the swelling and the cone of shame is working as well. I am taking the whole day off to be with him as I would worry myself to death if I had left him today plus i have had maybe a couple of hours of sleep if you patch all the little naps together so I am not in the mood to be around people in a social setting. I really do think the diarrhea is done but not sure how long it is going to take his man bits to clear up. I feel so responsible since i was just hosing him down and not thinking about causing an infection. I guess I will have to start drying it with a hair dryer to make sure it is dry from now on. I just wish his tummy would settle down but it took Harley's stomach 7 years to settle so this may last for a while!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am so proud of little Fergie! Last night out at Lori's house, I got her out after we had worked all the other boys and let her play. We did the full size a-frame, the full size dog walk and tunnel! I was so proud of her for being so brave with all of the big equipment. I even let her off leash to do the obstacles and she only ran off once. Harley ran after her and pounced on her so we caught her. Thank goodness I have herding dogs! Anyway, she was so awesome and I was so proud of her courage. Now, we have alot of work to do on the teeter. We are playing the bang game but the teeter is so much heavier than she is. Right now I am just clicking and treating for her putting feet on the teeter and last night she actually ate cookies on the teeter after she pushed it down. Of course the teeter is being held on the ground practically so her pushing it is nominal but I am working baby steps with her. She still doesn't like the noise of it so I am having the other dogs bang it down while I feed her yummy treats. We are making improvements but I would love suggestions on how to teach the teeter to an 8 lb dog!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deuce and Fergie again

Wow, having a little dog is such a different ball game! I am so use to my "big" dogs and at that herding dogs that are so biddalbe and want to work for you! I am still trying to find that button or trigger that gets Fergie to want to work with me, but we are doing better. She will work for food and will work for a tug toy but still doesn't have the drive I want to see. One thing that excites me is that we always train in one room and she will sit outside of that door and wait for me to open it so we can work. The other night she kept going up stairs and then peaking down the slats in the staircase like "You are coming, right?". I am really learning how to adapt my teachings to such a little dog. For instance, I had to use a tug toy to teach her turn and I usually use a food lure. She just didn't appreciate me leaning over her and would scoot out away from me from the pressure. So far Fergie knows "balance" which means jump on the balance disc, "sit", "down", "here"(touch my hand), "walk it" (climb a low a-frame) and "bang it"(bang the a-frame down). She is a work in progress but I am learning so much about how dogs learn and how to teach little bitty doggies. I love watching her brain process what i am asking or waiting for and for her to get the shaping game is so much fun! Now, if I could just get her recall more solid!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fergie and Deuce

Pud is now Fergie as we thought Fergie sounded better! Fergie is adapting very well to our home, much to my surprise. She is a very well adjusted dog, probably in large part to the staff and vet at Deer Creek. She potties in the house some but I don't mind as I haven't been paying as much close attention to her when she is in the house as I should. We took all the dogs to the show this weekend and I have to say, they all did really well. The only thing I didn't take into account was the fact that little dogs get cold and I didn't have her any little dog coats. I just wrapped her up in a blanket and she got warm and then put her in the ex-pen with the boys and they all snuggled. I was worried about her pulling out of her harness or her collar but she did great. I am still trying to get the hang of the stupid flexi and will be getting her a nice slip lead as soon as I find one i like. Deuce absolutely loves her and they play alot. They even tug and sometimes Deuce will lift her off of the ground! I am trying to get some good video of them playing together. How come dogs always know when you have the camera and stop? Anyway, I hope to weigh her weekly to see if we are taking the weight off. She is so active, I can't see how she won't loose it.

One great thing about having Fergie is the jealousy factor. If deuce doesn't want to do something, I just turn my back to him and play with her or take her into the training room (aka guest bedroom, only room with a door i can shut the other dogs out of. I love to see the look on his face when he gets ignored! It is almost like, "how dare you, I am the baby!". I will have to take her to agility class and see if this works there too. I haven't done much agility work with her as she is so fat but we could just run around like idiots and have fun when he leaves me. I am also going to try Ami's suggestions of doing all "its yer choice". I kind of started doing this the other night, taking him off leash and asking for a down instead of dragging him around by his leash. I will also go get some really smelly yummy fancy feast or something to have in my pocket so if he leaves and then comes back or makes good choices, he will get a lick. I was also reading a book yesterday about canine adolescence and it was talking about how they do the most baffling things during this period and this would probably be about the time he would go through this fun stage. I worked him a few times in the show over the practice jump and with joc and her pup for distractions and he did great! Great drive, great tugging, great attitude, so still wondering what that piece of the puzzle is that I am missing on thursday nights.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I know this is called the puppy blog but I thought I would let you in on a new "puppy" that has entered my life. Her name is PUD. She was a stray that a older lady took in and now that lady has had to be put in a nursing home and Pud is homeless. Pud has been living with the local vet at his office since September. It just so happened that I had been recently thinking very hard about getting a smaller dog. My weakness is smaller dogs because I have always had big dogs so I have no clue how to train them really, whether it be for agility or for just everyday. Pud has alot of potential, but she also has alot of belly fat. Pud is going on a diet as is Deuce (vet gave us the official okay to step his calories back) and of course both tony and I so we are hoping to get the weight off of her and our dogs. She is a very busy dog and I look forward to having a new project. Deuce thinks she is wonderful and they slept together with me in the bed, much to tony's chagrin. We now have three dogs and a cat that sleep with us nightly. Tony was grumbling about getting a bigger bed but I don't think you can get anything bigger than a king size can you? So from time to time, you will probably get a Pud update on here too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

another piece of the puzzle

I am really confused now. SO, I teach beginners on monday nights and then after the class is over, we have open practice for anyone who wants to practice. I run miller on those nights and tony runs harley and I also run Deuce with lots of rewards. I take the course that Lori has set up (no numbers) and make up a course for the diehards to do. I try to make it fun and challenging. For example, tonight, Jan was getting ready for a NADAC weekend so we made a fun flowing course that didn't have weaves (but did have table and teeter, whoops). He needed contact practice so I wanted him to have as much contact work as possible. After she ran Mac through a couple of times, I ran Deuce through with stops along they way and rewards for good performances. It was an 18 obstacle course (except I didn't do the a-frame). He ran it with drive and enthusiausm like I only see on monday nights. So what is the difference? One difference is the whippet girls aren't there, which he is just going to have to get over. Another difference is that the other puppies aren't there for me to compare his performance to (yes, I am human and am competitive but should give it up, they are border collies, different ballgame). We aren't doing drill work either, but I am breaking down the courses fairly small, into four or so obstacle blocks with rewards. He did leave twice tonight to go see Harley, but both times when he did, I walked towards the car and he came running. I guess I am very puzzled as to what is going on. Very obviously, I am putting some unknown pressure on him. I have to figure this out, this is driving me crazy! I LOVED his running tonight!!! Great speed on contacts, great speed on jumps, wonderful turns. So what am I missing?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

i am a thinker too!

Okay so I have been thinking about Deuce's performance alot here lately. I am a big thinker too and i have been really trying to dissect what I can do better to improve his drive and performance. One of the things I am going to try which was suggested by my friend Cheryl who is also a dog trainer, is to hide when he disengages or get in my car and drive off. As long as there is someone to watch over him, next time he disengages from me, I am going to do this rather than call for him or hunt him down and drag him back to where we are working. Let's see how important the momma truly is to him! The other thing I am going to do is really reward alot, really break down performances. I was just listening to Susan Garrett's 2 of 30 podcast and it made so much sense to me! I do train alot but I do very short sessions so I am trying to make these short sessions even shorter. Today for example, I did weave channels in the morning with maybe 8 runs through them total (two just driving straight through, 2 with rears, two with lateral movement away from the poles, and two with fronts). All had him driving to the target with lots of cookies and lots of praise. We quit while we were ahead and did another set of 8 tonight. I also did some go overs with a very low jump and target and then took up the target and did a couple of go overs and turns. Again, I quit while I was ahead. For the most part, today I saw drive and enthusiasm, especially the last set of channel weaves we did. I have really been revving him up with restrained recalls and lots of ready, ready, ready instead of putting him into a position and then releasing him. I did have to put him into position to do the front crosses and he was a little slower. I thought I had been rewarding his position at the start but maybe not enough?

Another thing I am worried about right now is the amount of calories Deuce is taking in. We do alot of target work and lots of clicker work in a day so he is getting lots of extra kibble. I have not cut him back at feeding time as I wanted to let him grow until at least a year but I also don't want him too heavy. He hasn't gained any weight in 2 or so months, but I feel like he is getting so much food right now. I have tried incorporating tug into his training but I can tell he doesn't like it as much as food and with the issues I have been having with drive, would be afraid that would make it worse. I have been using his kibble as food since his stomach is so sensitive but I wonder if he needs something more yummy. This would probably be more calories though! I need to take him to my vet to see if he is ready to be cut back, if he is done growing. I can add in green beans or other low calorie foods if he isn't growing anymore. So much to think about!

Friday, April 30, 2010

A thinker

Well, last night in class was to say the least, well, interesting. Deuce is a huge thinker, probably alot because I do tons of clicker work and shaping with him. It is starting to really show in our agility class as Lori ups the anty and he is starting to run slower and slower, trying to think through things instead of just do. While I like the fact that he is body aware and does not go balls to the wall, I hope we are not looking at a dog that is going to trot around the course thinking about every little detail. I don't think i can be a cheerleader and that was what I was doing all night last night. In his defense, the wind was blowing 100 mph and his favorite three dogs in the whole world were present but they are there every week, doing the open practice while we run our pups through their paces. I don't mind him looking at them, but I want him to not disengage from me and go see them, which he sometimes does. Last night we did more running a-frame work, channel weaves open very far out, and jump tunnel work. I love class because it gives me so much to work on. Previously all of my running a-frames were with me being behind him, either sending him or letting him get ahead of me to focus on the target. Last night we ran with and he was very confused. He also has been using a plastic target to target to and all I had last night was his treat bag. You wouldn't think it would make a difference but he would drive to the bag and just look at the cookies on the bag, like "what I am suppose to do with this?". I will be incorporating different elements for him to target to in our target work from now on!

We also did some channel work and I hope that doesn't screw anything up with the 2 x 2 method. To me it is a very different picture, but I may need to ask my 2 x 2 friends. The channel was spread way apart so that the dogs are just having a good time running through, absolutely no weaving involved at all. I don't want any weaving going on until his growth plates are closed, especially since he is so big. I have seen too many dogs come up lame or have signs of dysplasia or OCD before they even reached two because their owners were in too big of a hurry to weave. Weave takes muscle skill but it also takes brains, so I am in no hurry to start doing anything with the weaves other than running through channels.

I don't want to worry about his performance, but I am human so i am a little worried. We put so much hopes and dreams into our next dogs and we place our previous criteria from other past dogs on our babies. Again, we are human and we are going to do this. We are use to things being a certain way so when performance is different, we tend to worry or doubt. You know, even if deuce never did agility again, there are so many other avenues that we could pursue or he could just be a big lap dog for all i care. I think I could use his thinking ability for tracking and obedience, and of course, who wouldn't love to do herding, but what is important is i LOVE this dog and would be content to just snuggle with him for the rest of his life! I am going to keep that in the front of my mind so that I don't put any unnecessary pressure on my baby.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

a horse is a horse of course of course

Had a great weekend in KC at the GKCDTC show! Deuce as always was up at 4 am ready to go so am glad I am bringing my little red crate to put him in, otherwise I wouldn't be getting enough sleep for sure. Deuce got to see his brother for the first time in a long time and boy did they play! So cute to see them play with the same style of play. So many dogs won't play with deuce because he is all feet and wrestling. Deuce also got to go to his first horse show this weekend. He was not a good boy! He thought horses were very scary, even though I am pretty sure he has seen horses out at Lori's house. He was very nervous and barky around them so I had to go up to the top of the arena and work on quiet with him. He was finally allowed to watch them go around the ring as long as he kept his mouth shut. He was also very nervous about the horse statue in front of Kemper arena. No clue why so we did lots of behaviors near and on the statue and lots of cookies on the statue in the rain no less. Will have to work on this one more out at Lori's house where I can get near horses and not have to worry about him spooking a horse and throwing off a small kid. Of course when we went over to watch, they were doing all the kid's classes and I really wanted to work through this behavior but not have a kid get dumped. He was barking under his breath so thank goodness it wasn't loud but it was enough!

Looking forward to class this week. We need to really work on his a-frame for sure!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Well, I have been very slack about updating my blogs but this is the time of year when I am outside the most! I am a huge lover of the outdoors and will go pick up sticks in the yard just to be outside if the weather is nice. I love yard work and love working in the flower bed or garden. This year, since we had deuce and he seems to have a fetish for the garden plants, we had to put up a fence. Makes it a pain for us to get in and out of the little garden but i was tired of replacing plants that he decided were tasty. Apparently pepper plants taste the best as he has eaten three pepper plants and one okra plant. This morning he was such a cuddle bunny though! It was raining when i got up for the second time to let them out so they could have their morning outside time, so I let him out of his crate and he got in bed with harley and miller and i and cuddled up and we all snoozed. I swear I think I could have stayed there all day! Tomorrow is going to be hell though as I need to pack for KC this weekend and I know the dogs will be amped and ready to go. Miller will probably have me up at 4:00 am rearing to go, even though we aren't heading out till friday night.

We have had two puppy classes now and I am pleased with deuce's progress. He seemed alot less distracted last week even though two dogs were doing the open practice. I did loose him once to go see Barb's whippet who was zooming around (can't blame him) and once to Addie, a very cute scotty that was working on the table. We mainly worked on his running a-frame and him driving ahead of me to targets. I will try and post some video tonight if I think about it, since i will be in the house due to the rain. The pouncing behavior is getting better but of course we are having to use a hoop to try and regulate his stride and break this behavior. We also have been working on some jump/tunnel sequencing with all kinds of crosses before and after the tunnel and he is picking it up rather well. He wasn't driving as much as I like last week but it was the first real hot day we have had and he has a ton of hair so I think he was just hot. Guess I need to get him his on cool coat soon! Thank goodness he is water dog as he loves to get in the kiddie pool, even got it in monday when it was cool outside. I have been taking him to the open practices since his big brothers are there anyway practicing. I usually just take the big course that we run with the other dogs and break it down to small three or so obstacle sequences with lots of rewards. I even let tony run him on a particularly nasty course I made up and he did so well! Tony paid me lots of complements on my training of deuce but of course, this is my fourth agility dog I am training and of course I am going to change all the other things that I didn't like about my other dogs!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

bad, bad deuce part two and herding instinct test

Well, I am happy to report that Deuce seems to have passed all of his garbage gut, although he has had some pretty bad diarrhea all weekend. He pretty much work me up all weekend long needing to go out but wanted to play and seemed to feel very full of himself all weekend. I did crate him at night when were at the hotel as sometimes he gets very antsy when we stay over and he keeps me up by climbing on me. I just used one of my little cheap red pop-ups and he was a good boy, never tried to get out.

The show we went to this weekend was a huge cluster with agility, conformation, herding, lure coursing, and obedience going on all at the same time. Deuce got to watch his best friends, the whippet girls lure course and of course watched his big brothers run agility. We even took him over to the conformation ring before aussies went in and had lots of people ask where he was from and who he was out of. We also got invited to go do an ASCA puppy match but I just registered Deuce a couple of weeks ago and I didn't have a number for him yet. I did decide to take him over and get his herding instinct tested. It was 50 bucks a pop, but I knew he would love it and he deserved to get to do something other than just sit in a crate and watch all day. We were going to let him try lure coursing but waited for hours for them to get done so they would start the fun match and finally gave up. Anyway, he got to go under two different judges to get his scores and boy did he have a great time. I was slightly worried that he would be missing the momma when they took him in but you can see he quickly forgets i am not in the ring. Tony was video taping so a couple of times he came towards tony but the second time he was pretty much all business. He had a great, great time and I was so proud of him! 9 months is AKCs lower age limit for testing so he barely made it in. I got huge compliments from both judges!

I would so love to herd with him but have no where really to go around here that is reasonable or close. Then it comes down to the whole money issue of course. Would love to do multiple things with all of my dogs but it takes money and time and agility is my main focus right now. I know they have a sheep camp and several agility folks are going out to do it but I only have so many days off and I really don't have the cash to fork out right now. Oh well, maybe something will come along so that we can do more herding. Berry is actually my best herding dog of the group even though she is getting up there in age. She was my first aussie and I specifically got her to help me on the rodeo stock farm I lived and worked at.

Friday, April 9, 2010

bad bad deuce

Deuce decided at 4 am this morning that he was up and so should we be as well. I knew taking his nighttime/morning crate out to the car was a bad thing. He hasn't done this much but when he has, I have always let him go potty and then put him in the crate with a chewie. Now I didn't have that luxury so we tried everything to get him to go back to sleep but he was done with that. I think maybe me packing last night for this weekend got him amped up or something as it does for miller for sure. Anyway, we finally got him to at least lay still enough for us to go back to sleep till the alarm went off at 5:30. I got up fed everyone, let everyone out to potty and then we all headed back to bed. Deuce got his morning chewie, which he has been finishing in record time, and then he watched Tony get ready to go to work. Tony said that as he left, he noticed Deuce had a little gleam in his eye. Here lately, Deuce has gone through a chewing stage. He has mostly limited it to unimportant things like cardboard and paper from the recycling bin so we haven't much worried as he is just helping with the recycling movement, right? Well, the other night he got a jug I was using to fill up the dog water with and it was full and he proceeded to take it to the only carpet we still have downstairs and shred it. When we got home, it looked like a water bomb had gone off and again we laughed when we probably shouldn't have. Fast-forward to this morning, alarm goes off at 7ish which is when I get up and let everyone out so they can have an hour or so outside in the nice weather. All the dogs are in the bed with me except deuce. Deuce is no where to be found and I can feel the other dogs looking at me with that look like they know something and I am going to be mad about it. Now, I am not 100% sure Deuce is 100% guilty but when I came down the stairs, the garbage can in the kitchen was turned over and stuff was everywhere and Deuce was standing in the middle of it looking very guilty. I had thrown away a bag of kettle chips that was now half eaten in the floor. I had also had a chicken breast and a chicken thigh from the grocery store last night and the box I had put the bones in was empty on the floor. OMG!!!! Chicken bones are the worst!!!!!! I also vaguely remember throwing out some broccoli and rice that tony had cooked last week that could have also been in that garbage that was now missing. I called my vet immediately and while I wasn't hugely concerned, I knew that bones could cause blockages and illness but that most dogs ate them and passed them with no problems. My biggest fear was and still is gastric explosion. I had to work today as I had a five day experiment that had to be finished today and was going to take me all day to finish. Add on top of that the fact that we are leaving tonight to head to Wichita for an agility show for the weekend so I needed to get to work and stay at work to get done quickly. At the time of posting this blog, I have not been home and neither has Tony. Just in case, I filled up Deuce's litter box and put in his crate so maybe he could aim his explosion in the box. I fear I may come home to newly painted walls if you know what I mean. Furthermore, I have a feeling that tonight may be a long night as we are staying in a hotel and I fear he is going to have a long night stomach wise. I would rather go through gastric disruption at home but we need to get down there tonight. I won't be around a computer till sunday night so look forward to part two and hope that it is a good ending!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fun night

Not much to report other than I got to run Deuce in open practice tonight. I set up the ISC JWW course to let tony and harley do some work and to also work miller on some different options. At the end, I decided to go ahead and run Deuce at 8 inches. I did alot of rewarding to get through it but we successfully made it through it (of course with no weaves). He did take off running a couple of times to see what miller and harley were doing and tony yelled at him and ran at him so he came back pretty quickly. We need to make the fun with me and not with them and I need them there to work through this. He only left twice so I am hoping if we can do this once a week, maybe it will get less and less. We did do a few dog walks and he has now forgotten what toes is. I finally got a couple of good full runs into toes but I got several running dog walks that weren't toes at all! I did let him do a few full sized a-frames and i got superman leaps so not a good idea to go up that quick. Oh the temptations when everything is set up! We also did a few teeters but the beginners tonight were working on teeter so there were lots of good cookies laying around the end of the teeter so his nose was on the ground and he was not paying attention to me at all!

This morning was the first morning i did not crate deuce for a couple of hours and I am happy to report he did not tear anything up nor did he keep me up. He was a good boy, chewed on his rawhide and then snuggled in bed with me. He is such a snuggler and I love that! He will root as close to me as he can in the bed and then sigh and go to sleep. I love my baby boy!!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the one more syndrome

I had decided since we did so much yesterday that i would lay off and just have a good day playing and doing work around the house. I had alot of cleaning to do since I had been gone several weekends and of course the laundry as always had piled up. Some one keeps getting in the bed with poop still attached and then it mysteriously lets go in our bed so I have been doing lots of sheet and blanket laundry lately. I also had many big hair bunnies to clean up and then had to clean out the shop vac as it was full of doggy hair too. I tell you, I don't miss the carpet at all but it sure is a shock to see all the hair that gathers in corners and underneath furniture. I also cleaned the yard several times today. I have been trying to be very vigilant to ward off any eating of the logs and I was shocked at how much I cleaned today by just going out three or four times and doing a sweep of the yard. My dogs poop alot! I have them all on wellness but maybe I need to look at another food where they have less waste LOL! I did notice that the diarrhea I had previously been seeing seems to be less as well. Unfortunately, every day and every weekend will not be like this so I am glad for now I can keep it picked up but won't always be able to be this careful.

As the day wore on, I felt the urging to go do something with Deuce. I finally caved in and did a few running a-frames. He is four striding right now so I am happy with where we are at. I am excited to have Lori watch him in class and see what we need to change or if we are headed down the right track. He does act a bit different in class though so will be interested to see his a-frame in a class setting. I have really been working on distractions lately with him, making sure he is connected to me before I ask for some behavior and trying to get him pumped by doing "ready, ready, ready" before I ask for a behavior. I have been getting a few breaks with amping him up but you think about how they will be at a trial and they will have the juices flowing so might as well work on that now rather than later. Instead of just calling it good, I decided to work on rear cross/turn some more with the jump. He was doing great, great distance, great turning, really paying attention and I should have quit but the "one more" syndrome caught up with me. Well, it started falling apart fast. I was getting the turn before the jump or the jump and a turn to the wrong side. He wouldn't even sit either so I had to go back to just getting him to sit, then sending him to the jump, and then asking for the turn. As soon as I got one correct jump, I had a big party and quit. I have to remember he is just a baby and I shouldn't expect so much from him as it really cost me in training today. I hope I don't take too big of a step back as he was doing so well yesterday. I did later on do some circle work and even incorporated the jump and he was up and having a good time with that so I think he will be okay.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

spring days are awesome!

What a beautiful day! I got so much training in today with this wonderful weather. It really motivates you and makes you want to be outside! I tried to do several very short sessions on the exercises that Lori taught us in class the other night. I then took some of the exercises and did them in the park where there was tons of other people and other dogs to distract him. I am so proud of him, he is doing so much better so can't wait to get out to Lori's field to see if we improve. Short sessions are so much better for deuce and I try to rotate between flat work, jump work and a-frame work. I probably went out 10 times today for five or so minutes and worked him. I so wish I was already retired so I could just focus on working my dogs LOL!

Here is the very short video I made during a couple of our afternoon sessions. Thanks to my neighbor who provided the soundtrack!

I did try and drag out the dog walk planks that I had previously used to work on Deuce's 2 on 2 off but one of then planks had broken in half and the other one had some rotten wood on it so we took them both to the dump:( That was the last of our dog walk so guess we will have to buy a new one now for sure! We are looking into getting a frame made locally as Alice has had one made in the past and is looking to make another one so we may get a mass order in for dog walk frames. We will probably at this point cover it in wood and then get aleucobond skins when we go home to TN. Well enjoy and enjoy this Easter holiday with family and friends and this awesome weather! Remember, HE lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today (favorite hymn of all time, love Easter hymns) I serve a risen savior!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

deuce's first official class!

Wow, first night of classes and I have so much to work on! Boy was he distracted but we got through most everything. It definitely showed me what we need to work more on. Lots of attention work is number one! It is so funny how good they can do in your backyard and how that all goes out the window when you take them somewhere! Overall, I think he did really good with most of the exercises. The only exercise he really struggled with was the go jump exercise. For whatever reason he would not go away from me to take the jump. Guess we need to back up and start out very close and then work our ways backwards. He is also having issues with the rear cross but Lori really broke it down to the basic, basic level so I have stepping stones to work up from. We just did jump exercises and on 8 inch jumps at that. I am sad that we won't have class next week due to Wichita show but I have lots to work on in the mean time. I do think that he left a little stressed as I had to stop half way home to let him go potty and he has pretty much had diarrhea since he has been home. Unfortunately I do think he is going to be very similar to harley with his stomach issues. Harley at 7 is finally getting his stomach settled so I really hope I don't have to wait that long for Deuce!!!! May have to try him on another food other than chicken based food, maybe lamb and rice as Joc is giving her dog. He doesn't get anything other than food and cookies and one chewie a day so not sure why he constantly has diarrhea other than the poop eating. I am excited to start working on the exercises that Lori gave us and will try and do some videoing when I can.

Potty Mouth isn't working:(

I was so excited thinking the potty mouth was working but it isn't:( Deuce came in this morning with such horrible breath that I almost threw up. I have been cleaning the yard every night but am missing the am poop break that happens at 5:30 in the morning when it is still dark. At least he isn't getting much poop but one log is enough (ICK). I guess I am not sure at this point what to do next. I have tried all the homemade remedies before and they have never worked. Funny, someone pooped in the house last night (on the plywood thank goodness) and he didn't eat that. I think he targets miller's poop and miller would rather die than have an accident in the house.

Tonight is our first real agility class and I am so excited! We know all of the obstacles and our foundation skills but doing them with other dogs present and tons of distraction will be a whole different story. I have tried letting my dogs be present on sit stays while i work deuce or even let them be milling around in the back of the yard while i work as distractions but that is so different than his "friends" in class. I am so excited to get Lori's advice on my running a-frame project and to get him on other people's equipment. We are slowly amassing all pieces of equipment and also looking at land to rent so that we can have our very own practice field and I am super excited. I think now all we need is a dog walk and a broad jump and we will be set. Our backyard is way too small for us to do much practicing in so looking forward to having something close that we can spread out and play on. I am hoping to go by this weekend since we have nothing to look at the proposed land and see if it is doable and talk price. Unfortunately it will not be a place where we can have power but for spring, summer and fall, it will be perfect. I am so ready to have a place to call my own! I totally miss having an agility field as we did in our rental house but the house was tiny, tiny, tiny, especially for four dogs. We did try to buy it at one time thinking we could raze the house and build a new one but she didn't want to sell:( I loved mowing my own field and setting up my own equipment however I wanted it.

I will blog later with how Deuce did in his first "real" class!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

deuce's running a-frame

Okay so decided to go ahead and teach the running a-frame with Deuce. I may go back and do a stop as he knows his contact behavior so I know I can add it in at any time. At this point, I am not using a "method" per se, just kind of trying some different things and seeing what works. I already know a few things that don't work for sure. Throwing anything makes him pounce or watch me instead of where he is going. Putting targets out or food tubes makes him pounce as well. If the food tube or toy is too close to the end of the a-frame, he stops with his two on and two off. Right now I am putting him in a sit, leading out to about half way and as long as I am ahead of him and running, he strides through the contact. If I am behind him, he jumps instead of striding through. I am using the jump at the peak and keeping the a-frame low at this point. I just want him to run. I did notice after looking at the video, if I am running toward the house or toward the deck, he isn't driving as much but I think that is because I am not able to continue to run all out, am getting caught by the deck. He seems to drive more when I am running away from the house and have no obstacles in my way. I am not using a clicker at this point and not rewarding for anything other than him driving all out.

I start classes with him tomorrow night so excited to see what Lori has to help us with our quest. I am still doing a two on two off for the rest of the contacts as this has never confused miller. I look forward to learning and trying this new technique. I LOVE having a running a-frame with Miller, however I really did not do much training with him, it came naturally.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Deuce's First Show n Go

I decided to take Deuce to Truine's show n go and just work on the teeter and stays in a different surrounding with different equipment. I am so proud of him even though he did get the zoomies and I spent most of my time getting him to come back from where Harley and Miller were stationed. We did several bangs on the teeter and then a few full teeters with contact criteria. I also got to sequence the table in so he did his table behavior and then teeter. I also got a few start line stays in as well. I am slightly worried that he was very concerned as to where the other dogs were at all times. Previously at the shows, he never cared if I got him out and worked him or even took him over the practice jump off leash. This was the first time I saw a little bit of stress in him as he kept running out of the ring to go see them. I had started all of his training with them out of the picture in a "sterile" enviroment where he couldn't see them or hear them and I have slowly been working them back into the picture (great for stay training for the big dogs). He will some times diengage from me and go check them out but not the extent he was showing me at the show n go. I tried to get Tony to take them out so Decue could work with me and not worry about them (miller was not happy i was in the ring without him and was barking) but Tony was not in a good mood and argued with me so I gave up. He basically didn't want to go out into the mud so was pitching a temper fit. All in all, I am very happy about our progress and very grateful to get to take him to a different place with new equipment. He as well as the other dogs have been cooped up this whole winter so a little bit of zooming was good for him. I imagine when we get ready to show, he will do this then as well but he is so dang cute zooming that I am sure we will just laugh and go on!

I hope to start working on the a-frame after I drag our new one home from nationals this weekend. I bought one of the a-frames that they will use in the rings. I am going to start out teaching him a running a-frame and go from there. I will try and video this process as well. I also hope in the next couple of weeks to start him in class so he will get on Lori's equipment on a regular basis. We haven't done much with the full height dog walk or the a-frame so looking forward to start training these obstacles.

Nationals will be deuce's first big time away from me as I had decided to just take miller and not have to worry about him. He will be with his daddy and his other grandma all weekend so they should keep him entertained. I would love to take him but really need to focus on the miller man as this will probably be his last AKC nationals:(, plus it is so much easier to travel with just Miller. He is quiet, you can leave him in the room by himself and not worry about him barking, and he goes potty when told and has a very regular schedule which is helpful late at night when you just want to sleep.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring is here (finally)

Well, spring has sprung finally. Starting to see green grass and flowers poking their heads up from the ground. Starting to see mud being taken over by greenness. Starting to have daylight later so I can do some training at night. I am still trying to keep the majority of my equipment off of the backyard so that the grass can get all the sunlight it needs to dry out and grow. I did drag the teeter out tonight and some jumps to do a speed circle. We worked on toes on the teeter a few times and then launched into some speed circle work. Once I got him going really good, I would call out a here or an out or a turn or something to see if he was really paying attention. Keep in mind, I am having the jumps set extremely low so he isn't really jumping, more just paying attention to commands. He had previously done some "drive by nipping" as I like to call it but for whatever reason tonight, didn't do any of that. If I noticed he was focusing too much on my movement or looked like he might nip, I would throw the food tube and give him a go on command. This helped him to focus forward and not so much on me.

This weekend I did get him over the practice jump at the show and did some great drill work and was so proud of him. We are working on rear crosses and he is coming along so nicely! He is really reading my motion and my foot work and know exactly which way to turn. He seems very in tune to my body, so much so that I can just say turn and turn my shoulders, not using my hands at all and he gets it. We also worked on front crosses and wrapping tight (jump super low) and jumping collected. Granted no one was in the ring while we were working but I was really proud of his attention span and his work ethic.

I have also been very happy with his behavior in the crate or ex-pen as we have been using at shows. The last two shows have been very small so we have experimented with using the ex-pen instead of dragging four crates in. I LOVE having the ex-pen because all four dogs fit and they can all stretch out and rest. Unfortunately we won't be able to use it at all shows but it sure has been nice to use it lately. Of course miller hates it because he loves small dark places so crates are his favorite and deuce steps all over him but he tolerates it pretty well. He tries to go in everyone else's crate that is near! He will get to go to Nationals with me all by himself as I am leaving Deuce with daddy so he will like that alot.

I am still having problems with Deuce eating poop. I have started all dogs on Potty mouth and am trying to pick up the yard everyday. He and harley still are finding poop to eat though and I am doing everything I can to stop it. I actually caught harley trying to catch it as it came out of berry's butt this morning (SUPER ICK). I don't have time to clean the yard twice a day so hoping the potty mouth takes care of it. It is going to cost us a fortune as all dogs have to be on it for two weeks and they get 1 pill per 10 lbs of body weight so everyone gets 4 except miller who gets 5 a day. I am just sick of the poop eating. I fear that it is a learned behavior now and i will never get rid of it. Am seriously thinking about using an aversive to deter them if the potty mouth doesn't work. Hate to do it but it is a very yucky unhealthy habit. I don't like leaving them out unattended at all anymore as they find poop and eat it so they aren't getting much outside morning time. I can't imagine they are nutritional deprived as they get the best food I can afford (Wellness) and both Deuce and Harley get a cup 2 x a day. We have a ton of toys and chewies outside so they have plenty to do and are only outside maybe an hour unsupervised a day. I don't know what else to do as home remedies have not worked for me in the past with other foster dogs we have had with this issue:(

Per Ami and Melissa's training advice and videos, am teaching Deuce how to do a hand or paw stand. We are shaping him putting his hind feet up the door by putting a cooler and then a taller cooler and then a clothes basket up against the door. He is doing great with it and hope to have some video to put on here soon. We may never get a full paw stand but I like how it helps him stretch out and helps him think things through. I LOVE shaping behaviors and seeing the little wheels in their head click and try to figure out what I want. I am still working on "put your big butt in the air" which is basically a play bow. He still is doing great with wave, shake, high five, low five, sit, down, back up, back up the the steps or beep, beep, and roll over. I need to teach him to put his head down and are you shy. Only so much time in the day though LOL!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deuce and the escaping red aussies

Not much to report this weekend other than a very glowing report on Deuce's recall. We were in wichita and after having him and the other boys in the crate all weekend, we had decided to take them out to the campground and let them run. Well, Harley and Miller took off like bats out of hell with Deuce on their heels. The first few times, we would call and they would come back and then all of the sudden miller took off and didn't come back with harley and deuce right behind him. We were screaming at the top of our lungs but to no avail. We called Deuce and even though he was so far away from us that we could barely see him, he came running back! I am so proud of this boy for listening to me! He got lots of cookies for coming back and lots of praise! Tony had to go on a trek to get the other two naughty boys. In the end, everyone was covered head to toe in mud so we found Wichita's only do it your self dog wash and everyone got a bath. Now I have nice slick, clean smelling fluffy aussies and the knowledge that Deuce has a good recall!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lawn bombs

Well, the weather was very nice today so took off as soon as I was done working and got home and took Miller and Deuce for a walk on the track. I really thought there would be more people out walking with the nice weather but the track was empty. I decided to let Deuce walk without his gentle leader today. He walks great with it on but take it off and he is balls to the wall. I fear we may have to use it for a very, very long time. Miller has been acting very hyper here lately so he isn't helping the situation. Usually he is very laid back and nothing phases him but on our last two walks, when we have walked past a dog in a yard and the dog is barking, he has started barking back. Very weird for him and of course that send Deuce over the edge because if Miller is doing it, so should he. Now, every time we walk past any yard, if it has a fence, even if there is no dog in that fence, he gets very excited. Looks like we are going to have to take the clicker out and try and mark good behaviors with clicks and treats to try and increase those behaviors versus the bad, barking and lunging behavior. Thanks alot big brother Miller!

I decided also since the weather was so nice, I would go ahead and clean up lawn bombs. Much to my dismay, the yard was fairly clean meaning that Deuce is eating ALOT of poop. Looks like he isn't eating his own thank goodness but everyone else's. I am wondering if maybe I cut him back on food too soon? I have no clue what drives a dog to eat poop? The only time he is out in the yard is in the am for about 45 minutes. He and harley are both out together so maybe harley is also eating it? I did notice harley had something in his mouth and I yelled at him and ran over and it was a poop log. YUCK! Maybe I will try some type of remedy with them even though I have never had any luck with any of the remedies in the past. Am also wondering what to do with all of this poop. I wonder if I could compost it and not use it for anything but just compost it to get rid of it. I hate just putting it in garbage bags and leaving it for the garbage man.

On another note, which might be a good thing, we are probably going to have to stop letting the dogs out in the backyard anyway. Half of our yard is shaded thus no grass grows so half is mud and half is grass. Well, due to the extreme amount of snow we have gotten this year, the usually grassy side has turned into mud as well. I fear that it might not recover and we may have a huge yard of nothing but mud this year. I went ahead and took all of the equipment off of it today to try and give it all the sun it can get. I am hoping with the warmer temps, maybe we might get some drying action. I really need to at least go and get some straw to try and at least make the really muddy side a little bit better. We have pretty much had snow all year on the ground so the ground is super saturated:( So the up side or down side however you look at it is that the dogs may not get any play time in the fenced yard anymore or at least till it dries out. This will help with the boy's poop eating habit but won't help them get rid of excess energy. I am going to have to get my butt out of bed and walk deuce and harley in the morning instead of nestling down in the bed and putting them out in the yard:(

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Poop, literally

I have been having a heck of a time with Deuce and his stomach. We first thought he had a food allergy but the allergy food made him worse. I stopped giving him any treats other than his own kibble and started giving him rice, probiotics, and no sugar added plain yogurt. Nothing seemed to be working and although he doesn't act sick, the amount of loose stool that comes out of him is amazing. We have had him checked for every parasite possible and have de-wormed him for every worm possible just in case, even though he is on HW treatment year around. He also seems to always have poopy butt so I have scissored and clipped till i can't anymore without just shaving his whole butt down to the skin. No matter what I do, he always has loose stool and it is always all around his little butt hole and hair surrounding it. He also pretty much always smells like poop because of it. I take wet wipes with me everywhere we go so I can clean his little butt. I really don't know what else to do for him.

We have caught him a couple of times eating poop in the backyard and even though I try to keep the backyard picked up, it quickly becomes a problem in a couple of days. Our backyard isn't huge but it isn't small either but for whatever reason, he thinks poop is good. I had a foster dog that did this and we tried every product on the market and nothing worked. Tried pinapple, distaste, potty mouth, pumpkin, and some other home remedies. Nothing worked, sent the dog to live with a single dog family that had to walk him on a leash. Now, I do think this is part of the problem, but this just started to happen. I am wondering if this started because of something going on in his stomach or with his digestion? None of the aids we have tried really have helped him so I am at a loss as to what to do with him. Harley has a sensitive stomach but it seems like at 7, he finally is starting to calm down stomach-wise. I hope we don't have to wait till Deuce is 6 or 7 for his stomach to settle down!!!! I can't tell you how many times we had to take harley out at shows and wash his butt off with a hose and then towel him off and go run him inside due to his stomach issues. I don't want to have to worry about this with deuce too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I jinxed myself

I wrote in my other blog that I would jinx myself if I bragged on Deuce. Well, sure enough, I came home to massive diarrhea in his crate and boy did it stink. I had to take him to my vet's office to bathe him because it was so bad. YUCK! I should have known better!!!!!

Oh boy!

Finally got to do some training last night out at the all-star field. We haven't really done anything out there since probably December so I was excited to see what kind of work I could get out of deuce. I arrived before anyone else so decided to do some basic work with Deuce first. He was very distracted at first and very excited, running around and sniffing. I let him get all of that out and then started doing some flat work to get his brain warmed up. We also worked on some waits in front of very fun obstacles like tunnels and very low baby jumps. If he was a good boy, he got a cookie and then a release to that obstacle. I was very interested to see how he would treat the tunnel because it was the darker tunnel, with the dark inside and it was in a dark corner. I really expected him to refuse it, but he didn't. We haven't been doing much tunnel work because I have been too lazy to drag it out for him and I don't want a tunnel sucking dog anyway.

Lori had the field set up for working on her running dog walk contact with a lowered dog walk, so i took advantage of getting him on a full dog walk to see what we could do. I had him stay, then released him to a tunnel and then called him to the dog walk at a full run. The first few times, I said nothing, just let him run. I could tell he was a little cautious the first few times as he hasn't really been on a raised dog walk, but once the light bulb went off, he was running full speed. After I got some speed, I started asking for toes at the end. He wasn't 100% but for his first time, I was very pleased. He nailed a couple, blew through a couple, and blew through a couple and then corrected himself immediately. If he held toes, he got a reward in position and then a release to another obstacle (either the tunnel or the jump on the other end). I was really pleased to see the little wheels in his brain whirling. We also did some table work with me counting out loud and then rewarding for staying in position. Again, if he held position, he was rewarded by getting release to another obstacle. I tried to keep all repetitions short and fun. To end the first training session, I introduced the tire jump with the tire on the ground basically, and then linked it to the teeter since they were in sequence together. Lori had the teeter lowered too and I was excited to see him driving to the end into position. I need to lower my teeter too and work on getting speed into position. I also worked doing front crosses off of the end of the teeter and him holding position. Of course all of this was done with no one else on the field so distraction was at 0.

I let deuce take a break and worked miller on some stuff, including some short sequences and some weave entries. I just jumped him at 16 inches and kept his session short. I did warm him up with some fun run and jumps and then took a walk with him to cool him out. I don't want to push him right now but I sure do need to get him in condition so that i don't have to worry so much about injury.

Barb showed up and Lori came out so after they had worked for a while, I pulled deuce back out to work on distractions. He was of course very excited to see his friends but as soon as I put the gentle leader on him, he started offering me downs and sits. He would whine and tremble while the other dogs were working but stare at me and offer behaviors. So funny! Just got to figure out how I am going to work through this at AKC shows since I can't have my gentle leader. He doesn't really care about the dogs in the ring but he loves his friends or anyone he perceives as friends! I had Barb do some work with Chloe while I did the dog walk with Deuce a and he was super. He held his position no matter what barb was doing so i think we can up the anty next time we work on the dog walk. He did take off once when Solei was working and it took me forever to get him back but these are things we are just going to have to work through. He is such a social butterfly! I kind of like having a dog that is happy with everyone and every dog but it is going to present some new challenges for me to get over. Time will tell!

I did weigh deuce on Wednesday and he is up to 45 lbs! He doesn't seem to be getting any taller, just wider. We did decide to start cutting him back on food since he is laying down a bit of fat. I need him to be lean and mean for his agility training! He is also doing very well in his crate without his litter box. I had been leaving it in even though he wasn't using it, but about a month ago, I took it out and he hasn't had any accidents yet (knock on wood, probably just jinxed myself). We are also leaving him out with the other dogs for longer periods of time when we aren't there and so far (again knock on wood), he has been doing great. We have had a few minor casualties, mainly out of the recycle bin and some shoe strings, but overall, he plays with his toys and seems to have a sense of what is acceptable and what is not. I hope this trend continues! I am still don't think he is ready to be out 8 hours a day while we are gone but maybe soon he will be.