Thursday, July 28, 2011

Revisiting old training protocols

After and during camp I had huge light bulb moments. I have always been a fan of linda M, but wasn't a true purist as to her system. I like to take little bits from every system and fit them to what works for me and my dog. I bought the handling book even though I have all the clean runs the articles are in. Something about having everything in a concise book just makes you motivated. I have so far read over the 6 trained and untrained cues that we went over in class and am currently working deuce back through the recall to heel exercises. I did them when he was younger but he also wasn't as fast and as motivated then as he is now. I think it is good we are going back through them as he is having major collection issues and it is costing us time (running past me on lead out pushes) and qs (running past the weave pole entry because he is going so dang fast). I like having a very deliberate, written out approach as to how to work through exercises. The pictures help too as I am a huge visual learner. I still would really, really like a DVD as some times I get a little confused, even with the pics. I know I have a ton of questions, just on recall to heel for my trainer tonight for clarification. I guess this getting up at the butt crack of dawn really is a good thing as that really is the ONLY time that it is at least bearable to work the dogs. Deuce is getting lots of drill work and stella gets to watch and then stella gets to do some basic training.

I am hoping to get tony to let me take stella to class tonight to get her around other dogs and people. We haven't had her out as much as I like, other than long walks in the park down the street and having kids come over and play with her. She went yesterday for her rabies shot and was a little timid and scared, a side of stella that i didn't know existed. She growled at the clinic cat which shocked me and then when we had her on the table, she was a little scared. We got her to do some behaviors for yummy cookies on the table but she still was a little up tight. I will go back this weekend and do some training there and bring deuce with us (to say he loves the vet office is a huge understatement, he L O V E S the vet's office). She did get on the floor scale and offer a sit like a big girl and is actually up to 16.4 lbs. She is also enjoying having her uncle cayce here (tony's brother) as she gets to stay out with him most of the day and doesn't have to go into the ex-pen. I think that is probably why we are getting better sleep at night. She did stir a bit at 4 something but went back to sleep and stirred again at 5 thanks to the big dogs but is laying back down and going back to sleep till the alarm goes off now. YIPPEEEE!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

stella, ella, ella (sang to the song umbrella)

It's is finally just us and stella. Not much has changed really, now she mainly plays with us and deuce and occasionally harley. Miller is still the big bad dog that no one plays with and probably never will. Playing is beneath miller anyway. She still wakes up at either 4:19 or 4:30 am on the dot and takes forever to go back to sleep after potty time.

I actually miss training sessions with two puppies. Stella is much like her human mom and dad as she is very competitive and likes to be right. So, today I let fergie join in on the training sessions of shaping behaviors and she did rather well. For Fergs, downs are not her forte but she was offering them so well today and of course so was stella (i cheated though, got her good and tired first). So far we have basically worked on sit, down, hand touches, tug and restrained recalls with some gos to toys mixed in. I am hoping while tony's brother is here this week we can get out to the farm and get our tunnel and our a-frame back to the house. We have been working on some banging of the teeter board with deuce helping her bang it down but nothing serious. I will have to say that tony has not been doing as much training here lately with her or else he is doing it when I am not around. I wanted to take her to agility class with me last night and he told me he wanted to keep her at home so i complied. Again, this is not my puppy so I have to take a step back and let him train at his own pace. He doesn't seem to mind me working with her in the morning so I will continue to do so until he says anything different otherwise.

We are also working hard on impulse control. Deuce still has major issues with impulse control so we are working really hard on getting this right this time. Stella has to sit before the food bowl is put down, even now at 11 weeks old. She also has to sit before we let her out of her crate or her ex-pen or before we throw her wubba. So far so good as she has gotten this down pat quickly. It just seems to me that she gets things really quickly, alot quicker than deuce did for some reason. maybe it is because she is a she? Anyway, she definately has the climbing gene in her and the water gene as she is always on top of something or in the water bowl or pool. I was really surprised that at 1o weeks old, she was already jumping on the bed and on the couch unassisted. I am super excited to see what tony and this little girl can do!!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Puppies and 4:30 am

I don't think I have mentioned anything about the puppies yet so since it is slow at work, thought I would write a little about them. Yes, I said them as we are baby sitting a puppy from the same litter for a friend. In a way, it has been nice having two. We got both of them on sunday, July 10th. Stella and her brother brick fit into out pack so naturally. Stella is the loud mouth bossy little girl and brick is the quiet, mischevious, deuce look alike. You always know where Stella is at all times but watch out for little brick. I have been very proud of my hubby. He has been very good about helping me with them early in the morning and cleaning up after their accidents. We have had a slight problem with them though. At first we couldn't get them to tire out no matter what we did until at least 10:30-11. Then, they would sleep through the night but would wake up at 4:30 on the dot. At first I blamed the adult dogs because they are loose in the bedroom with us (puppies are crated separately next to our bed). Then we tried a variety of situations such as adult dogs down stairs, puppies with us and puppies in the puppy ex pen downstairs, adults upstairs, and puppies crate high so we could touch them in the middle of the night to help them feel comfortable. They quickly got over the whole being in the crate thing and stopped crying when they went in the crate. Poor stella cried for almost an hour one night when we put her in so I gave in and slept on the floor so she could touch me. I don't like giving in to their demands but we needed sleep. Anwyay, that issue seems to be solved and we are getting them in bed earlier (10 pm last night YIPEE), but the getting up early is still there. We have been trying to take them out when they get up (and we get a second of silence before we open the crate door) and then putting them into the ex-pen downstairs with chewies and toys but then they just scream until we get up. We have tried waiting it out and so far, this morning was the only morning I had to get up and thus give into their screaming, only because I had to go work out at 6 am. We have gotten them to sleep till 6 am so that is improvement but it seems that 4:30 is the norm for getting up. My biggest concern is that our neighbors hear the puppy screams and it is waking them up. I don't want to be turned in for having too many dogs in the city (we are allowed 2 and we have 5 if you don't count fergs as a rat) and I don't want to be a shitty neighbor either with the barking dogs. We currently have the ex pen in our dining room which is the closest to our neighbors so may move it when we just have stella. Everyone says that it will be easier with just stella but I am not so sure. She is the one up screaming, brick goes to bed as soon as you put him in and then is still asleep when he sister is up crying. I guess it will just take time to see how this plays out. When it is just stella, I will probably just put her back in the crate and give her a kong or a rawhide.

Training is a little slow right now but this is my hubby's dog not mine so we are on his time table. I signed him up for a puppy seminar with Lori Michaels and he is also going to audit a running contacts seminar. I did see him out doing clicker work with her a couple of nights ago and he now has a nice sit on her. He asked me to make him a schedule and I told him how about just giving him weekly tricks and skills to teach instead LOL! I worked briefly this morning shaping a hand touch and a down. I want him to at least have some shaping down before the seminar. I hope this weekend we can go get a plank and a narrow flat plank to get her to walking on it. She has done our full sized teeter a couple of times accidently and had no fear but I am lowering it so we can play the bang game when she gets a little heavier. We are going in for our second set of shots tomorrow so will be excited to see what she weighs. She really scared me this morning as she misjudged the steps up the deck and came up three legged lame. She was holding the leg up and crying and I just knew she had broken it. She wouldn't put any weight on it and just cried and cried. I didn't want to coddle her but it broke my heart. I picked her up and felt down her leg and it wasn't broken. I massaged her little shoulder for a while and she seemed to be less and less ouchie. Of course 30 minutes later, I think she had totally forgotten about it and was running around again.

To wrap up here, I am very,very happy with little stella even though she seems to want me to be a morning person. I have to admit, I do get alot done in the morning after she wakes me up. I do house cleaning, dishes, laundry, go run, and do computer stuff. I would love to be a morning person, just never have been. Let's just say the lady at the sonic down the street knows my name and my van and has my morning drink ready for me when I pull up:)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Timing is everything

Another NKC trial in the books and what a fun weekend. I was looking forward to getting sleep that I had missing with the puppies getting up so early and I was looking forward to seeing if I could use what I learned in camp on a real course. NKC this year hauled in sod instead of dirt so grass inside in July and in fact so chilly I had to wear a sweatshirt the whole weekend LOL! We also got to run T2B which we had previously only done as a demo. It is alot of fun, very much like steeplechase and very motivating to the dogs. The long and the short of the weekend is that timing is everything. I had at least three runs where my timing was off thus causing him to be off and have an off course. This is just something I have to get use to and will adjust accordingly but it will take me some time. As I have said before, he tends to run at least a gear if not two faster in a trial than he does in class or training so trying to get a feel for what I might get is hard. The fun of trials really puts him on a major HIGH and it makes him run like a dog on crack, which I love but I need to learn how to handle. Tried to get him to tug before we went in instead of just doing attention exercises and it worked until we had to go into the chute to go into the ring and he just started sniffing. I didn't want him to hike a leg on the grass so had to borrow some cookies to get his nose off the floor and his attention back. SO, i do think he is stressing and it is definately a stress up. I am okay with this, just need to figure out how to manage it. It is funny, in all of my videos, you see me leading out taking a big breath and him doing a big yawn at the same time. We are both letting it out at the same time LOL! I did finally manage to get a EX A JWW Q and for whatever reason, feel like we are getting better at JWW than at standard. We also had a qualifying run in T2B with 4 points (i have no clue what this means, need to learn about it). He did have a couple of runs where if he would have gotten his poles, we would have had a Q so that is a little frustrating but trainable. That is if we could ever have temps less than 100. They are predicting another week of 100 or greater temps with heat indexes of 110 or greater. We usually get this in August but not july. We have had to cancel classes the last two weeks:( I also got his two official AKC measurements and he now should have a permanent height card coming. Both judges got him at 20.25 so I think that is probably the most correct and best measurement we have had so far. Now to just get those last stupid USDAA measurements thanks to that judge that measured him at 21 inches.

Timing really is our biggest issue right now. Sometimes I trust he will get something and he doesn't and I am out of position or sometimes I don't trust and baby sit and get out of position. In one run, I didn't trust he would get the flip from the dog walk to the tunnel underneath it (but sticking out further than the end of the dog walk) and I stayed too long back there and then barely made it for my front cross as he came out if said tunnel and then got stuck behind a wing and sent him way out, causing him to miss the second jump of the 180. In retrospect, a rear cross would have worked better in that situation but I am still becoming comfortable with rears. It is all part of coming together as a team and figuring each other out and I am fine with that. I am getting better at timing and better at giving him the information he needs in a timely manner. I am getting better at getting him back into handler focus before say a discrimination or an off course rather than waiting too late and reactive calling or handling. Thats not to say I am still not late becuase I had some wide turns on a couple of runs and lost him in the last JWW run over an off course jump. We are improving as we show more and even if it breaks me financially, I am going to try and go to as many shows this summer and fall so we get as much team work practice as possible. I still think our goal of getting into Excellent B by the end of this year is attainable and I still want to make it a goal next year to qualify for AKC and USDAA nationals for 2013 (unless USDAA is somewhere really, really far away).

Well, need to finish and go run while it is still cool. I have decided to start training for a 10 K in hopes it will help my 5 K times. I had to abandon running the last two weeks due to shows and camp so need to get back in the swing of things. I have my video of his best runs and best parts of runs on facebook and youtube so check it out!!!!! The facebook one has the music and as usual, stupid youtube stripped it:(

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 2 and 3 ABCTC

Day 2 and Day 3 were again very eye opening. We were once again outside for one session and inside for another. We had Karen H in the morning and we really worked on collection. She basically said I was allowing him to pass me and I was only using one finger to tell him to stop when I should be using my whole hand. Again, I am hugely visual so she said to use it just like a big sign and once I started doing that, he started respecting it more. We worked on serpentines which deuce did very well and also calling a dog into heel position and how to correctly reward this. Deuce even got to run extra because a fellow camper had a dog that didn't want to run. Deuce loved it and she even sent him to the back side of the jump (by mistake of course) but since I have taught him back, she cued it and he did it. We had ann for the afternoon session and back to the inside. Once again I learned that I needed to keep my eyes on my dog for him to go to the right obstacle, even if that was peripheral vision. I tend to look at where I need to be since I do alot of front crosses and with him timing is so important. That is when I lost him. We finally did one sequence with weave poles which he nailed but he was pretty collected already so that wasn't an issue. We need to work on lateral and forward sends on my end, he has it, I just need to send and rock back instead of rotating around. If I send and rock back and go, he is collected and tight but if I send and roll, he goes wide. Good feedback for sure. Ann also had me run a big long three jump lead out with a push since she said I could be ahead of him and then timed us doing a three jump lead out standing still versus a two jump lead out with a big push. He was super fast with the second option and she said that as long as I can get ahead of him, that would be the better option time wise.

We ended had a big discussion on training puppies including teaching the release and also how to deal with a barky dog. Ann says she works on drive first and then impulse control, so lots of restrained recalls and shaping which is how I trained Deuce. I can't wait to start working with Tony and stella on some of these things. Kind of hard right now with two puppies in the house, me just getting back from camp and of course not getting very much sleep. Babies both have upset tummies right now so can't really give lots of extra training treats till they settle a bit more.

Day 3 was the all out door day and it started out with Jenn to go over strategic placement of rear crosses on course. Again I hate using RC and am super sucky at them so it was nice to see where they would be better than the FC and even learned how to do double rears (i.e. we did a rear on the flat and then a parallel rear cross over the jump). Jenn also helped me more on collection and had me stopping him before the jump like Lori has us do. She had me do 10 two jump lead outs with 8 stopping him and two not and said that I need to do that every day. I hate that the temps are so unbearable hot right now or we would be out practicing this for sure. We also talked about the "ring of fire" exercise, which I got to use in Karen's session later that day when Deuce started releasing himself from me to take other obstacles. We ended with Karen and I wanted to work on the moving FC at the beginning so got to work on that in her sequences as well as some more rears. Basically I was not setting up far enough laterally and once I did that, he was super tight and collected on his turn. Of course it will be a timing issue as to when to rotate and when to go but we will work on it. We ended on a great note and I was so proud of Deuce and myself for making it through.

Overall, I highly recommend this camp. I was able to challenge myself within my group and had powows every night with my traveling partner who was in the top group to go over what she went over. I have gone over my notes several times, rewritten them several times and purchased Linda's book so I don't have to flip through old clean runs over and over. I am hoping if the money is there that i will be able to go next year and maybe take a bigger group. Both Jenn and Karen are coming to KS so hoping to have the money to go take at least a day or some privates from them as well. Puppies are up so have to go potty them so guess I am wrapping up!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

ABCTC summer session part 2

Well up earlier than I thought (still 10:30-10:30 was a nice 12 hours) and hubby is washing dishes that he dirtied while I was gone and i am waiting for breakfast to settle so I can go and run. Like I said in my previous post, I am so excited to try the exercises we learned and set up some of the sequences we had and try running them the different ways we learned to run them. I am hoping if it isn't too horribly hot monday after class that I can do some of that. Of course Stella will be here tomorrow and we are baby sitting another puppy so I may be so busy with puppies that I won't be blogging much for a while.

So again for those of you who haven't been to this camp, the format is this: You have two rotations a day so you get two different instructors, usually one inside (ann) and one outside in the outdoor field (jen or karen). We started out with Ann which I really, really liked. We had to introduce ourselves and tell our dog's names, ages and issues. I guess we were the only group that got to do that since we were the novice dogs. Most of the people in our group had issues like start line stays, sends, getting speed, and getting your dog to stay with. I figured out right off the bat that we were probably in the wrong group, but I decided to make the most of it and learn from everyone's issues. I took away so much info on how to work through these problems that I feel my students are going to be super lucky as I really filled up my tool box so to speak. It also took pressure off of me I think to be perfect and own up to his baby dog issues. When it was my turn, I told her that he is having issues with collection and seems to run a gear or two faster in trials than in training so I am having timing issues. We learned so much about the 6 parts of linda's system and how certain things can trump others in context to a course. We also focused on running the right way and how to give "screw up cookies" when we made mistakes. This hit home for me because I am really bad about getting frustrated with myself and then letting down and then he thinks i am mad at him so he gets stressed. She was really good at pointing out when to give them and I think that really helped the slow dogs more than anything to speed up as the owners weren't blaming them for mistakes and rewarding them more thus building more value in the game. We got to run two sequences of 8 or 10 obstacles each and really talk about what options work and what options didn't for that sequence. My biggest mistake with deuce is that i take my eyes off of him to try and see where I need to be going and that is when i loose him. HUGE light bulb moment on something so simple. Also learned that sometimes, because of his speed, I need to really think hard about always putting in fronts as they are late and then loose their value. I HATE rear crosses so it is hard for me to do this but the next session with Jenn cured that hate. We ended up going way over into our lunch so we got about 30 minutes which was more than enough but then we had to drag all of our stuff outside and that was a pain. Next year, I will be for sure taking my van where I have crates already in the van and then my other lighter weight crates to drag around. My traveling buddy's car is very small so we couldn't take a lot of extra stuff so whatever they traveled in was what they were crated in at the seminar (heavy wire crates, ick).

We ended the day in Jenn's outdoor ring and talking about rear crosses. I learned SO much about all of the different kinds of rears and how to execute them correctly. My fav quote of jenn's was, "you are so worried about the off course option. Go out there, walk how you would do it if that was the correct option, then don't do that." Of course we started with rears on the flat which I thought we were good at but try doing them at a distance and not saying anything. YIKES! Once I got the body motion down, he was doing them quite well but it took me a few times. Also in this ring there was a family of voles and deuce became quite enthralled at their scent so I had a few times of calling him off of vole hunting. Guess I need to proof for voles LOL! Of all of the rear crosses at the obstacle, my favorite was the decel rear cross or the no motion rear cross. Those are my fav because they cued collection and tight turns without me having to yell or scream or do any of that silly stuff I do with deuce to get him to collect. I learned that no motion rears are very good for baby-D and that I need to really, really exaggerate my accels versus decels right now to get him to read them. Very, very cool, came out of this session with a HUGE smile on my face!

After day one, took a nice long walk around Chippewa falls downtown area and let the dogs swim and unwind. We were lucky since I can't leave baby-d in the hotel room that there were several fast food joints right next to our hotel. This pic was taken in the park before we let them swim. It was a log that was rescued out of the water and probably was over 100 years old. Very cool!

Friday, July 8, 2011

ABCTC summer session part 1

Am back finally to a computer and able to blog. Am very tired however so this first entry may be very short. My traveling partner and I have opposite sleeping issues. I can't get to sleep, and when I finally do, I usually stay asleep as long as everything is relatively quiet and still, and she can sleep at the drop of the hat, but can't stay asleep so is usually up by 1:30-2 am ready to go. Out of courtesy, she tries to lay in bed till 4 or later but after that she is up and going. Needless to stay, I am very exhausted after getting 5 hours or so of sleep a night. I am really amazed I am even awake right now to even type. I think i probably could have gone to bed 2 hours ago but had laundry and cleaning to do first. Something about being gone makes me crazy when I get home and I usually have a marathon cleaning, unpacking, laundry session even though all I really want to do is sleep.

To give a very brief teaser, camp was AMAZING, I had lots of light bulb moments and ended the three days running my dog silently with motion only. No reactive screaming of his name or yelling commands that don't have enough meaning in his brain. I was very, very happy with how we ended, even if his brain did get fried by day three, session two of the all day outside sessions. Even then I was able to glean some very useful exercises to try when he gets this way. Overall, very happy with his progress, my progress and my understanding of LM's system. I have never been a true system follower and probably still won't be true to any one system, but I do have alot of respect and more understanding for it now. I bought her book even though I have all of the clean run articles she wrote and will be going back over all the exercises with baby-d. I am also very proud I was able to swallow my ego when we got put in the "novice dog" group even though baby-D is running in excellent. He still is just two and still has a tendency to act like a baby and we are still so new in our team work anyway. While the sequences were a tiny bit easy for us, I tried to run them all completely different than my comfort zone which equals lots of rear crosses instead of the fronts I tend to defer to. Also had a ton of work on collection, something that has been KILLING us lately and got lots of really good feedback both with the lead out push, the lead out pivot and the moving front cross. I am very happy I spent the money and look forward to next year when I will be able to move up maybe to the more advanced group. I will write more tomorrow, decided to not do the 5 K i was signed up for and instead catch up on sleep, laundry, and get ready for the baby to arrive (aka the red demon stella).