Monday, January 30, 2012

Get Back and Passion

Three days of agility with Terry was fantastic. I really do love his teaching style. He is easy going, up beat, but still gets his point across. He is a very good teacher. I learned some new things, and went with an open mind (sticking with my "year of the new" resolution)

We did Course Analysis on Friday morning- it was good. Although I wish I had done the Threadle portion in the afternoon. Running full courses over and over with Pixel is never a good idea. I'm not sure what I was thinking. But it was a good chance to work on my memory issues with courses, and work through some of Pixels weaknesses- weave entries and lateral motion on sending to a jump. He also talked about a verbal "take the back side of the jump" cue. Pixel understands a body language cue, but I have not put it on a verbal. I will do that though- because I could see in a few instances where it would be helpful.

Saturday afternoon we were in "Distance for Big Shots" and Pixel did much better than Friday. Smaller, more broken down stuff is what she likes. And she really surprised me with how well she did. I already know that distance is one of her main weaknesses, but I got some good feedback and have specific things to work on. Pixel can do a handling gamble no problem- she listens well and does have very good obstacle commitment. Her issue is contacts, and our turn cue is not as strong as it needs to be. I've known about these things for a while now but haven't really been doing much about it. Seeing as how we only need gambles for her ATCHC, I will be focusing on this in training...

Sunday morning we were doing tough handling exercises- the class is called FIGJAM...
It was a lot of fun- and challenging. I actually did a fancy new move for the first time. Terry calls it the "CLC" (california lane change). But it has lots of other names. It's a blind cross, sort of. It was neat, and I think it could be useful for Pixel- anything to keep her moving through turns! We are going to practice it. He also spent some time talking about collection- which is not an issue with Pixel- but I still tried to absorb as much as I could by watching and listening because it could be an issue with Brit one day.

All in all a pretty good weekend- lots of laughter, tequila, and some shooters for good gambling. ;)

I will admit that it was not the same without Wicca. I haven't really done much agility since the whole forced retirement thing. I thought I was doing pretty okay with it- but it was very apparent that I am not. I miss running her- a lot. But I tried hard to focus on the dog I do have to run. It's not fair to Pixel if I'm not 100% focused on her. And I feel guilt being sad. It's hard to feel sad about Wicca's career end when my friends dog Tag actually died- I feel selfish, so haven't really allowed myself to be sad about Woo. I think it's so hard because she loved it so much, and she is so young. I've had to retire three dogs in my life already and none of them affected me like this.  It's going to take a bit to sort out emotionally. I did bring Wicca out to visit on Sunday afternoon. She liked that and stole some cheezies, mooched food from people, and basically walked around like she owned the place.

I'm going to start making myself go to class each week and train my dogs- I am worried if I don't I may lose the passion I had for agility entirely. One of the things that Terry talked about at the end of the weekend really stuck out to me. "We do agility because it's fun. Have fun with your dog." It's nothing earth shattering, and something I've probably even said a million times to students. But at this time in my life I need to remember that. I need to figure out how to bring back the fun, and the passion- for myself...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Seminar Weekend

So this weekend Pixel and I are attending an agility seminar that my agility group is putting on. It has kind of snuck up on me. lol. We are doing one session each day starting tomorrow. Initially Wicca was supposed to do half, but I had to drop a spot when it was just Pixel left to play. She couldn't do two sessions a day- she'd crap out for sure. I think we are in a Course Analysis one, Distance for Big Shots, and another crazy handling one. It should be a lot of fun!

Anyway- Terry Simons is our awesome instructor. I totally love him- happy, upbeat, helpful, has advice for everyone and is just a really nice guy- oh and a great instructor. We've been bringing Terry here for a long time now- once a year. Each time he brings loads of fun handling drills, courses, and stuff that is challenging, but still realistic. I am looking forward to a learning filled weekend!

I have been on an agility hiatus. Hopefully I haven't forgotten how to run with my dog. lol.

CKC Approved!

Brit 1/12/2012, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.

Today I called the CKC to find out about the status of her Performance Event Number application- and she's been approved!

Of course I didn't really doubt that she would be- but still it's exciting.

I think she will be ready for Rally for May, and Scenthurdle in the summer. Bring on the fun!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Scamp Update

Love at first Bite, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.
Just a short post. He's awesome. ;)

Seriously- the more he settles in the cooler he becomes. He is still not into learning things like sit and down...but otherwise is a very fun dog.

He can tug now
Will fetch almost anything
Likes to play with dogs
Completely housetrained
Doesn't bark
Walks nice on a leash
Loves kitties
Is awesome with dogs
Is getting more and more friendly with people.

This is him and his new friend Neena. (Scamp is the one in front with his head turned.. and yes, the do look very similar...)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's not fair

Last night a great dog died. Tag was only 6 years old. He was an accomplished agility dog- one that you would always stop to watch on course. The barking could be heard for miles, the slam of the teeter, you could feel the excitement. He loved agility, as much as he loved life. From the time he was a baby, until the day he died Tag did everything with gusto and heart. You couldn't ask for a better working dog. He was a great teacher- for his mom, and for us as instructors. Tag was a challenge.

Tag grew up in Go Dog Go. He was in our first puppy foundations class. He pee'd on my foot that first night in class and continued to do so until the very end. Every time he would greet me he'd jump up for a hug and pee... I got a final hug (and a pee) last night, and told him what a good boy he was, and that I loved him.

Lately he hadn't been himself, mysterious weight loss, muscle loss. Ongoing issues, with no answers.  Finally, some answers but too little too late. Tag went into organ failure and was put to rest in his Mom's arms. It's a devastating loss, but so suddenly, and with such a young dog is even worse. The heartache his family is feeling is indescribable.

He will be so missed. He was one of the best. And had a huge fan club. I loved that dog, and am so lucky to have been able to be part of his circle of friends. He leaves a big hole in everyones hearts.

 Rest in Peace Taggy.

*photo by Sarah Novak

Friday, January 20, 2012

A post not about Wicca

Pixel 1/12/2012, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.

Wicca has been getting all the attention lately- but don't worry the rest of the crew are doing just fine. :)

Pixel really has settled into herself lately- she's acting all mature or something. It's strange, but I'll take it. Physically she seems to have stopped growing/filling out. I remember Wicca was a noodle until about Three so the timing is right. I really do think that Pixel is beautiful. Sometimes I stop and stare at her as she runs through the field. lol

Her Open training is coming right along. I've been getting some really good stuff with her. I am contemplating doing one day of an Obedience trial in March...maybe...I dunno. We'll see.

We haven't done agility in what seems like a long time. And I think that's a good thing. The last time she was out was at League- so, well before Christmas. We have a seminar next weekend, so I imagine she will be extra pumped which will be fun! I like a little naughty in a otherwise perfect dog. ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Journey

I've said a few times in the past few weeks that Wicca is retired. And I've been thinking about a way to write about it- to really let people see the things that we have done together. What it has meant. It is hard to put into words, but I'll try.

I am so incredibly lucky to have had her as my partner for the past 8 years. She has taught me so much, and we've come so far together. For us, this journey has been hard, and rocky, and loaded with twists and turns. Nothing has been easy. Nothing- we have worked hard for every qualifying run, for every weave entry, for every bar that stayed up. But that makes every bit of success we've had all the more awesome.

We've done all this cool stuff together- first regionals, first nationals, first plane ride, first time "on the podium" is incredible to think that a dog has changed my life so much. She is such a huge part of who I have become- as a dog trainer, and a person. I am very sad that our fun was cut short, but I am grateful that we have many years ahead of us still. We will create new memories- away from agility and obedience, and I will do my best to ensure that she still feels as special as she deserves to be. Once she is further recovered we will get back to Tracking- I think that will be safe and easy on her body. But mostly she'll still by my buddy. The dog at the end of the couch, at the foot of the bed, pulling on the leash, and always on the lookout for Gophers...

It has been an incredible ride Woo. Thank you.

Here is a little slideshow I made- some of our favorite memories and a small portion of our journey together..

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop Freaking Out...Part 2

I took Wicca to see Dr.Devall today- hopefullly this can be the last appointment for a few months. It went really well, and her adjustments are holding pretty well.

Her shoulders were where the trouble was at this time. Particularily her left shoulder/bicep area. I can't remember what the muscle was called exactly, but it is essentially her rotator cuff. She got some trigger point needles (which Wicca didn't care for too  much), and laser. Veronica showed me some exercises I can do to improve her range of motion as she is still quite tight there. Likely from years of this...

Her neck and pelvis were great- and only a few little adjustements in her back. I am pleased that she is doing so good. I really just need to stop freaking out, but it's hard. I love this dog to bits, and want her to be healthy and happy. Not stiff, sore, and miserable. She is on the road to that though, so it makes me very happy. The plan is to spread out the treatments every three months or so, depending on how she is doing. Combined with frequent massages from Sarah. :)  The massage helps a ton, and Veronica said that it was good that I had her worked on when the shoulder flared up. So I'm going to get on a regular schedule with that aswell.

Her coat is super crappy right now- it's so dry, and with it being so cold I have the heat on all the time. She gets Salmon Oil every day, but Veronica also suggested Cod Liver Oil. 1/4 tsp twice a day to start. I am going to go and pick some up this afternoon. All the dogs coats are dry, so everyone will get some. She is also due for a bath- (maybe this weekend if I have time!).

So that's that. Hopefully I can keep Wicca semi-active without hurting herself, and we can go back to spending money on more fun things. ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wise Words

We have all had days when we felt we let our dogs down in competition, but our dogs don't care about winning and losing. The only day you truly let your dog down is the day you put your ego first, instead of thanking your dog for the privilege of his effort. - Kathy Keats 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life Lessons 2/52

Vito says:

If you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth full.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scamp and his Sheep

He may not care much for real sheep, but let me tell you that Scamp LOVES his pink sheepie. It is his toy of choice, and he happily carries it around the house. He loves toys, and likes for his favorites to be neatly arranged in a pile on the couch. If another dog comes and takes one he will look around the house for it, and put it back to it's rightful spot. It cracks me up.

The other day I taught him to fetch, okay maybe taught is the wrong word. Three times in a row he brought me his green squeaky ball and I threw it and he brought it back. That's how a border collie learns apparently. Today we started tugging- just gentle little tugs and then I let him run away happily with the sheep.

Scamp is an interesting dog. I've really enjoyed watching him figure out stuff, and come out of his shell. Gone are the worried eyes. He is happy, playful, and fun. Although I said in my previous blog that he didn't appear to be very smart, I take that back. It's not that he is not smart, he just doesn't really know how to learn stuff. But that's coming right along. He likes the clicker now so I am going to spend some time today teaching him to learn.

He is a great in the house dog.  quiet most of the time, but will bark if someone comes to the door, or if he is really excited. He has the best happy dance ever- legs out, toes splayed, and his whole body wiggles and wags. It is very adorable. He has not pee'd in the house in almost a week!! He doesn't know to ask to go out, but he certainly knows that I was not happy about his choice of pee spots on the couch and on the door...

Jenny and I were talking the other day about him, and his parents. It's interesting that such a well bred sheep dog just didn't care enough to work. Genetics are an interesting thing, of which I know nothing about. lol.  Apparently the only thing he did inherit from his dad is Cat Watching. It's a sport around here. I am moving him to a hard crate today so that he can only watch him in one direction when I am not home. lol.

Scamp is awesome on leash- and is very excited to go places. Today we are going to go to some Pet Stores. Hopefully he will not feel the need to mark anything. I'll be taking along some yummy treats to keep his attention on me! I am thrilled with the progress he has made in such a short time. He really is mostly just normal.

Edited to add: Scamp's Pet Store Adventure
I took Scamp to two different pet stores today and he did pretty good. The first store was quiet, so he settled pretty quickly. Sudden noises were alarming for him, but he was willing to take cookies, and I even got a tail wag. The other pet store was much busier- and it took him about 15 minutes to settle enough to take a treat from me. We walked around, and he met a nice lady who gave him lots of cookies ;). By the end of the visit he was pretty relaxed, and had nice happy ears. We didn't run into any men at either pet store though, so this week we will be on the search for men. lol. And I'm going to bring him out to the agility barn too- lots of dog saavy people, and dogs, and noise. Slowly but surely Scamp's going to learn to be a city dog!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Have I said how much I adore this dog? & a Herding Lesson

Brit had a busy day today- first some Obedience training, followed by a Herding Lesson.
She is just such a bright dog- so smart, a thinker, a happy worker, and just fun. I really am completely smitten with her.

Obedience training this morning was really fun. I've been fixing my heeling with her for a while now, and finally we made some progress with the help of peanut butter and a spoon. I really messed her up by doing too much pivot/perch work and not enough straight lines when I first got her. So her idea of heeling is actually lagging, with her head twisted around like a psycho. Anyway- due to the power of the peanut butter (or salmon cream cheese!!) I think we will be okay. It is pretty well luring a good head position right now. She also did her first ever stand for exam today. I just taught her a stand/stay the other day. And in one short session we went from a sit for exam, to a stand for exam. And she's pretty solid. I don't think I will have to go back to a sit or anything. Once she gets something she gets it. I love that kind of learning! I also got some good ideas for some other "moving attention" games. I am looking forward to trying them out.

Herding this afternoon was great. I think it was the best yet actually. And of course I have no video/photographic evidence. lol. My video camera was dead..

Anyway we spent a fair amount of time on outruns, and gathers. That is still her weakest skill. Today we put a bit more pressure on her to give them more space at the top. She was a bit pouty about it, but didn't quit, and kept on working. You can really see her thinking, trying to figure out how to be right. It's very interesting. There was no real naughty moments, and we actually were getting nice flanks, without too much speed at the top.

We also worked on the holding exercise with the fence. She was fighting a bit, and not really happy to be working in so tight. Which is opposite of last time. So we just did a bit and moved back to gathers, and outruns. I am certainly understanding more about where I should be, and what I need to do to get the sheep where I want them. And most of all I am able to control my dog better. We still have a ton to learn, but I don't feel overhwhelmed by the dog, the sheep, etc.

All in all a very dog filled day. After herding I took the dogs for a walk- we are supposed to have winter tomorrow. So I figured we might aswell enjoy our strange spring like weather while it lasts!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wicca Update

Wicca has been doing good- she seemed to be getting stronger, and was back to her normal self. Her exercises were going well, although the dog cannot crawl, or do cavaletti's very well.  And then a few days ago she started acting weird, and semi-lame. She didn't do anything out of the ordinary- except she did manage to slip past me and jump out of the van once. And now It's like we are back to square one.

I am so frustrated. It's like Sam all over again. Seriously. Random lameness that pops up now and again, soon turned into chronic lameness, and before you know it my dog had to be euthanised. It was awful. And that's all I've been thinking about for weeks.

When she first seemed off the other morning, I thought I was just being paranoid. But it was pretty obvious she was uncomfortable. She sits funny, yawns a lot, and stretches- often holding the stretches for more than a few seconds. Sarah gave her a massage tonite, and found swelling on/near some muscle on her shoulder that I can't even pronounce. When she saw her a few weeks ago she was okay, except for some serious muscle spasms in her hamstring area (I can't remember where exactly, or what muscle.) The muscle spasms there are actually what I noticed first at the beginning of all of this.

I emailed Dr.Devall, and could have gone to see her tomorrow, but instead have to wait for next week because I can't afford to go on such short notice.  Dr.Devall is great- she knows my dog, and really knows her stuff. I believe she has made a difference in my dog. I am grateful to have her so close (only a few hours away), but I am pretty sure I can't afford to go and see her every month forever.

I have been doing pretty good financially- even feeling comfortable enough to drop a day of work in trade for evening classes (which is about the same amount of money after taxes, etc.) Now it is likely that I will have to wait a month to get that shift back, and then go back to working five days and five nights a week...  I have been trying to save money for other things (like a dental for Boone, and a dentist for me...). But every spare cent is being used up by this chronic, not going away, issue. I want my dog better, and I never want to have to withhold treatment because I can't afford it. But at this point I am going to have to do some serious life changing things to be able to afford an extra $500 a month. ($350ish for the appointment, plus gas, and potentially a day off work). It's depressing.

Interestingly enough, I actually have been feeling much better mood wise lately. Wicca really has been doing great, and I had a great work break over christmas. And even with this Wicca thing flaring up I am still oddly okay. I don't really believe that my dog is going to die anytime soon, and I do think she will get better. It's just going to take a really long time. And I'm going to have to work extra hard, and cut back on some stuff to be able to afford it. But that's okay. It will work out in the end. I'm just frustrated.

I've already picked up a few private lessons, and am working on a website for that aswell. Private lessons are a good money maker, and take less time than running classes. I can fit them in when I can, vs. trying to fit another class into my already packed schedule. Now to decide what to cut out. lol.  I don't pay for classes so that's a non issue, and have no trials planned anytime soon, but my herding addiction may have to be put on hold for a while, and I'll probably have to start walking the dogs to the field for a run, instead of driving all over the country side. And Tim Hortons may have to go without my business, and I might even have to stop buying quick meals and actually cook things.  But there are worse things than being forced to exercise and diet. lol. And if I end up with a sound dog at the end of it I'll be happy (and thinner.) lol.

Balance with Rewards

Last night I had an Orientation for a new class I'm teaching.

One was for puppies and the other for a class called Beyond the Basics. This is a class I am pretty excited about, I've got lots of fun things planned and I think it will be a good group of dogs. The point of this class is to challenge owners and their dogs. Put their training to the test and really work at making the people better trainers. For some of them it will be a challenge mostly in the fact that they've never trained this way before. One of the things I spent a lot of time talking about was rewards. And because I was talking it so much last night I figured it would make a great blog post.

I find that people really have no idea how to use rewards or even what to use. Food is the most obvious one, and the one that people use more than anything else. The problem with that is that we often create a dog who only wants a cookie or worse a dog that will not work unless they know a cookie is in your pocket or hand.

There is nothing wrong with using food to train. In fact for most of my training, specifically tricks, shaping, and new behaviors I use food. But we need to have balance with our reinforcers. Teach our dogs that  if we ask them to sit (or down, or target, or heel, or stand on their heads...) that they will get something. The key is in the something. The don't need to know what they are going to get, or when they will get it. But that shouldn't change how hard the dog works.

As mentioned, Food is the most common reinforcer. Which is great- there is nothing wrong with using food to train your dog! But be creative with it. Don't use the same thing each time, and keep in mind that "food" is a pretty broad category. With all dogs there will be different levels of food rewards- kibble and cheerios are generally low value rewards, then you move on to a middle of the road store bought reward, and then you bring out the big guns- hot dogs, cheese, chicken, steak.... yummy. lol. Don't be afraid to use a variety of treats- I get students to put them all together in a baggie and then you never know what you're going to pull out. It keeps food exciting. Even the delivery of the food reward can be varied- calm, thrown, jackpot, excited, moving around, jumping up for it. Sometimes the delivery is actually what makes the reward exciting for the dog.

Toys- tugging in particular is a fantastic way to reward your dog. It's fun, gets the dog engaged with you And it riles them up. So for fast things, like heeling where you want the dog up and excited- a tug is a great way to reward. Not all dogs tug, and I get that but it's not hard to teach. It takes time, but isn't as hard as you might think. The most important thing is to present the tug or the toy when you know your dog wants it, or be prepared to make the dog want it.  Don't offer them the toy, and when they refuse give them food instead. Remember that toys need to have value too, and every time you do this you lower the value of the item.

The other reinforcer we need to have in our tool box is ourself.  It's the only thing we can take into the ring with us. So we had better be sure to balance out our reinforcers and use praise- verbal and physical. Teach your dog to enjoy being handled or have their collar grabbed. Teach them that a good dog! And a pat on the chest is worth as much as a hotdog. It can be done. Most dogs like physical touching, or a good game of chase, a hand touch can be taught as a reinforcer! There are lots of ways you can use your voice, or your touch as a reward.

In training our dogs with a balance of these three reinforcers we will be able to use them at any time, in any situation. Because dogs will have a "favourite" it is our job as trainers to make sure that the dog learns to like all three, and to want all three. If you get this, and can use them properly, it certainly will open up all sorts of possibilities in training and trialing!

I've got a few more thoughts on training in general that I'll blog about tomorrow!

Monday, January 09, 2012


Last week I came home from Sheepherding with an extra passenger. Something black and white, with a pointy nose, funny ears, and cute feet. His name is Scamp. And he is a herding washout.

 He is just too soft, with not enough desire to herd. When the going gets tough, Scamp leaves the field. lol. Which is no good if you were born to be a super herding dog. So here he is. In a city, learning how to be a city dog. Once he's finished with his city-dog-lessons he will be ready for a home of his own.

He's been here a week and so far he's learned three things

where the cookie jar is (very important!)
the couch is not a tree, and should not be pee'd on (also very important)
that the little black and white dog is not your friend (probably the most important)

I debated changing his name, but whoever adopts him likely will change it anyway- so why put the poor dude through two name changes. Besides Scamp kinda suits him. For a day he was Scout, and then for a few days he was Whiz because he really likes to pee on stuff. But Scamp is what comes out most of the time now. So Scamp it is. Although Whiz was cute too. I don't anticipate him being around too long so it doesn't matter too much, I don't have to like it! Unlike Davie, my last herding washout foster, he doesn't have that super sensitive side and will be an easy dog to find the right home for.

He really is a good boy- and in a week has come out of his shell a lot. The progress from shell shocked farm boy to confident city slicker won't be long. I've started some clicker work with him. Right now we are still pairing the click with the cookie, but I hope to start some shaping games with him this week.  He doesn't know anything really except his name. And no. He knows what that means already. Pisser. Oh, and he is getting neutered tomorrow, so I expect the peeing to reduce dramatically. It's the only thing about him that I don't like.
In the week I've had Scamp I've learned a few thing about him.
He is very happy, and wiggly, and cute.
He has a fantastic recall
He prefers crunchy cookies over soft treats
He rarely ever barks
I am not sure he is the smartest kid in the playground, but his sweetness makes up for it.
He really likes plush toys.
He has a healthy respect for kitties.
He doesn't like to get in trouble.
He learns fast. (nearly housetrained in a week!)
He is not afraid of stuff, and is very curious

Below is a very short video (taken with my iphone) of Scamp with the only kind of sheep he likes. The stuffed kind. ;)

As I mentioned I don't think it will be long before he ready for a home to call his own. So if you know anyone- spread the word!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Rule Changes and Match

Jolene and I travelled to Cowley this morning for an info session about the new CKC Obedience rule changes, and a match afterwards.

The CKC has changed quite a bit this year- apparently trying to follow in the AKC program... here are just a few things that stood out for me. I am going to download the new rules and read them through. And the below is from memory and not be accurate. lol

1) You only have to be in Open B if you've earned a UD.
2) Open B exercises will be in random order. Announced only 30 minutes before the trial.
0) The judge will signal the drop on recall- no more telling people, or specifying an area
3) No leash for Novice Stand for Exam
4) Which means that you could use a 4 foot leash if you wanted to.
5) No pinch collars near the ring (woohoo! no more watching dogs be yanked around before they go in the ring!) The actual rule is somthing like "collars that are not permitted in the ring cannot be worn outside the ring either"
6) Food must be kept 3 feet from the ring entry. No feeding until you get to the ring, and leaving your food on the table for some other dog to be distracted by...
7) Dogs can wear tight fitting, plain jackets or sweaters. This is one that has caused lots of issues already. This means both for warmth, and for cool. So at an outdoor trial you could have a cool coat on the dog in the stays, or if it is cold the poor little IG's and the Weims won't freeze to death, shivering on the floor for three minutes... This does not mean Thundershirts. They were very explicit with that. Which is funny- because really- if a thundershirt works to destress a dog, then any tightfitting sweater will have nearly the same results. I know with Boone it does. He often will wear just a shirt on a walk, or his winter coat just to help him to be a bit more settled. Anyway, I found the whole rule rather interesting.
8) If a dog bites a person, or judge, or dog they will be disqualified. Which is VERY different than excused. To be reinstated you have to go before a committee etc.. I want to read up more about that to see what they mean exactly...

There were lots of other things- lots changed for prenovice, and the intermediate classes. And some changes for Utility aswell. I have the worst memory in the world though, so will have to read the rules again.

After lunch I judged Pre-Novice, and Novice. And I want to say that I wish that trainers would prepare their students better, or better yet tell them not to enter if the dog is not trained for it. I almost kicked this woman and her poor dogs out of the ring. Instead I just failed them both. But it was painful for me, and for the dogs. Mean people shouldn't have dogs.... Back to the match. After Novice (which had LOTS of great working teams), it was Pixels turn!

She did really great. She actually forged on her heeling! Which is a good thing! lol. She was up and happy, I loved it. She flubbed up her drop on recall though- she hesitated and sat. I asked her to down again and she did- so much improved than before. Her retrieves were good- she did attempt to veer off on the ROF on the way back. So I redid the exercise and she was better. And her broad jump was perfect!!! I was so excited we just ran out of the ring as soon as she came front. Yay!!!  Oh, and her finished rocked. She didn't miss one. ;)

Brit got to come out and play a bit too. She had never been to the Cowley Hall but wasn't phased at all- we worked on fronts, and attention, and played tug on the matted floors. She had good manners in the xpen and didn't make a peep all day.

So yeah, a great day. Tomorrow I am going tracking in the morning with Wicca, and I may take Boone too...maybe he'll like it?!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Bad Boys Have All The Fun 1/52

Vito is the star of my 52 Week Project this year!!!

His bad attitude, naughty ways, and super cuteness will make him a fun project.

I am excited to do this project with him this year- this is my fourth year though so to keep myself challenged and focused we will be doing "Vito's Life Lessons" each week. At the end of the year I should have quite the collection of good advice, bad advice, and just plain funny.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Mouthful

Pixel totally cracked me up on our walk this afternoon. She insisted on carrying this huge frisbee for most of the walk-
even though it was super windy, which made it difficult to carry. She's a funny dog.

Wicca is 8!

Happy Birthday to the best Woo ever.
Eight years old. Wow.
I love this naughty dog.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Speed and Want in Obedience

Wednesday nights I run a "obedience work group." It's really great. A small group of serious people interested in serious obedience. Lots of different backgrounds, opinions, and ideas. We did a similar thing last year, but this year has been even better. Each week we pair up into different groups, so you are working with different people.

Tonite my partner was a woman who has working style bouviers that she does Schutzhund with. She is, of course, very into Drive. And Speed. And Enthusiasm. She is very nice and positive with her dogs though, and they are amazing workers. In any case tonite I went with the goal of working on Pixel's finishes- they are slow, and she often stalls out. "C" had some great advice, but there are a few things that really stuck out.

First- if I had the drive into front, I'd likely have drive around to finish. Duh. Makes sense right. Don't get me wrong. Pixel has a beautiful front. All nice and perfect like. But she doesn't have the oomph. And then is flat for her finish. So we'll be going back and working on fronts. Again. This time with the basic priniciple of make her want it. Make her try harder, Make it hard for her to get there. All of that is going to make it faster and more exciting. Just like I used to proof Wicca's weave pole entrance buy trying to get her to do it wrong- holding her at the second pole and trying to push her in- she pulled away of course and ran to the first pole to do it right for a huge jackpot. With the fronts, push the dog away, turn away, run away, change your angle. Do all of that and instantly be rewarding in position. Makes sense.

Second- something called Tug and Miss? lol maybe Miss and Tug, or Hit and Miss. lol. I dunno what she called the game, but it was interesting, and I'm going to try it with Brit and Pixel. I play lots of tugging games already- and keep to the main rules (push the dog away, don't push the toy at the dog, keep it moving, make them want it, don't food reward if the dog doesn't want the tug, quit before the dog is bored, let them win lots.) But this game was a little different. Offer the tug, take it away fast and sharp movement. Turn away even. The dog should never really know if the tug is going to stay in one spot, you should get tons of excitement and drive before letting them have it. Of course you don't do this all the time- but it is a fun game to help build the "want" for the tug. I think its the sharp movement that really gets the dog. It was interesting to watch her dog (who is already in mega drive) turn into a freaking alligator for the toy. I do understand that my dog is different, but I think I can build it up to be similiar.

 I also showed her what I've managed to teach Brit. lol. I did a ton of perch work (how I taught heel position) so now she just swivels her head around so she is actually looking sideways instead of forward. It's hard to describe. I'll try and video it. Anyway- with C's good eye she actually saw that not only was it my reward position but in my timing. So I've got a better plan to work on that. It also occurred to me on the way home that I should go back and do some choose to heel games with her. Because I taught the position first (which I normally teach later), I think that I initally forgot I hadn't taught her how to walk beside me and look at me. In other words I am lumping too much together combining the movement and the head position- she is confused. The choose to heel game will fix that in a few sessions...duh.

 So a good Obedience night. Lots to think about, and lots to work on. In other brief news Brit retrieved her dumbbell tonite out of a pile of three on the box!!!! Woo Woo.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Year of New

I've decided that this year is going to be all about "New." Trying new things, going new places, doing things differently. I am very resistant to change, one of my least favorite qualities. lol. So in theory I am opening myself up for change for a whole year....It should be interesting. lol.

My first new thing this year is Tracking. My friend Jolene (OneCollie) went out on Sunday for the first time, and then I took Wicca out again today.

Tracking has always been one of those things that sounds fun, and then you just never really make time to try it. I've been a track layer before, so have seen Tracking Tests, and years and years ago I did go to a Tracking seminar. But beyond that I've not really been around it much. With Wicca's retirement from strenuous activities I thought that Tracking might be something we could do together. Something to keep her brain busy.

To be honest, I do find tracking boring. But I remember feeling that same way about Sheep before I had a dog that liked it. So maybe my mindset will change. I am willing to try though. Wicca needs something to do. I don't need a depressed Wicca at home.

Because I am super new to this, I am relying on Jolene to keep me straight. She has trained lots of tracking, and is friends with a super duper tracking person. At this point I am okay doing the baby tracks on my own. I mean, how much could I screw her

Sunday, Jan 1st. w/Jolene & Kort
First Time Out: 3 straight tracks. Short, Medium, and Medium Long. lol. Hotdogs in each step. Glove at the end loaded with food.
Wicca did great, and was already pulling into the harness by the third track. She is VERY into food. It's interesting to watch her body language in the video- it is very similiar to "critter mode."

Monday, Jan 2nd
2 Straight Tracks. Medium and Long. (I will have to be better about counting my steps.) Glove at the end loaded with food, and a jackpot in the middle of the longer track. Food in every step of the medium track, every second step in the longer track.  She was VERY excited. Nose to the ground before we even got to the scent pad.

I went out today and bought a new harness, and a long line. The harness I used the first day (in the video) was Sam's and it made me sad to see it on her. (weird how we attach such emotion to an item...) So I bought her a pink camoflauge one today. It suits her and has a padded front. I think it will work okay. Jo can take a look and let me know next time we go out together.

I am hoping that having spent $50 on tracking stuff will keep me motivated to stay at it.

Here is the video of our first time out- This is just the first track, and the third one. I cut out the middle one because it was just like the other two...I'll try not to bore you all with it. lol

Monday, January 02, 2012

Herding Lesson #7

Today we went out for another lesson with Jenny. I'm going to need an intervention soon. lol.

Anyway- Brit started out rough (again!), but ended really, really well! She actually started out pretty well, and then we sent her on an outrun and she cut in at the last second and sent the sheep flying over the fence. Jenny said the sheep were being bratty, but Brit was pretty naughty herself. After we got the sheep back we worked on our Outruns- this is Brit's weakest thing. She often will cut in, or be too tight at the top of the sheep. She did better this time though, and about half way through our first turn she was actually sending from beside me. Short distances, but still- not cutting in. Oh, and her lie downs were better this time- not perfect, but improved!

Our second turn we did this very cool fence exercise- teaching Brit to cover and hold the sheep. It was a lot of fun. I got that part on video too so you can see what I mean. It's hard to explain. I thought she did really well. Jenny said that Brit is a very "tight" working dog and will do better at this sort of thing. The outruns on the other hand are more difficult for her.

I tried to work Brit with a boot on her sore foot- but she was hopping around like a dork and seemed to be distracted with it on. The second turn I let her go in with nothing on, and her foot still looks good.

Some other random things I learned. I need to be more "authorative" with my lie downs. Not frustrated. (I often get annoyed if she won't lie down. lol) I am going to practice my commands in a lower voice with more meaning to them.

Ask her nicely, if she doesn't do it give her a firmer cue, and then follow up with nice as she is doing it right. The cue really becomes the reward.
Thanks to Sarah for the Photo, and Donna for the video!!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Brit Scenting

Last week I taped a little training session with Brit. She is doing really well- as she gets more confident I will add more "X's" for her to choose between. She will likely be ready for the spring- maybe May? She is pretty smart, and has a good solid fetch. I want to be sure the scenting is 100% though before I start peicing too much together!

On a side note, this was the day that I noticed her sore pad- but it wasn't until after we had done this training. Looking at the video I can see that her foot was sore. :( Poor girl. But- it is healing up really nicely and is almost 100% better. We still wear a boot if she is running, or active.

Did I even blog about her foot? lol. I facebooked it, sometimes I get confused. Anyway- Brit's foot was cracked and bleeding. Just two toe pads. It was totally bizarre. Not sure how or when it happened. I was thinking that maybe the ice and rough ground from herding? But who knows. It actually looked like it was being eaten away by something. But we don't have snow, so there is no salt on sidewalks or anything. I've been soaking it twice a day and putting vaseline on in the morning and at night. It's seems to have done the trick- the foot is almost baby soft. :)

The Boys, and Brit

The last installment of a year past, and looking forward to 2012. :)

Boone has spent the year recovering from his "adventure" last October. Finally I think we are over the most of that, but we aren't rushing back to training or trialing anytime soon. He is happy just doing his own thing, and I am happy to have him happy. :) We still putter around on tricks, and rally. Maybe one day he will be brave enough to go back in the rally ring to finish off his Excellent title, but there will be no pressure for that.

Vito has had a suprisingly successful year!
He was entered in a few events over the year, and came home with some Q's. He is definitly a one run per weekend sort of guy. We play agility when he wants to. And that's all. He is a dog who loves comfort, and cuddles, and to be able to make his own choices. ;)

Where to even start! I've had her for just about a year now and can't believe I am so lucky. Brit is training for a multitude of sports and is doing well in all of them. She is a slow to mature dog so although she is two years old she has lots of growing up to do before we get serious about much. We do have some goals for the year that I'd like to share though.

Herding- there is a CKC herding trial in the spring. My plan is to enter her at the Started level. My trainer assures me it is not as hard as it sounds, and that Brit is almost ready now.

Scenthurdle- she is doing very well. Her scenting is almost solid already!! I've got some video I'll post in the next few days!  The goal is to have her ready by May.

Obedience/Rally- we have done just the bare minumum, and are really focusing on building solid heeling. Next fall she will debut.

Agility- we haven't been working as much as we should. Instead spending lots of time building up the foundation that I've learned is so important. She can weave 12 poles now, and is still backchaining contacts. We have lots of jump grids in our future. I am not in a rush at all with her. Oddly enough Agility is on the back burner so to speak! Which has never happened before.. lol