Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday's class

Today's class was about straight tunnels and the fact that they are turning obstacles and you have to let your dog know which way he should exit before he goes in! We did a lot of sequences - it was pretty fun but since I am not a super fast dog, mom could beat me to the end of the tunnel. The skill was much more difficult for handlers with fast dogs.

We started class with some dogwalk work - Jenn wanted the dogs to drive forward and complete the dogwalk while the handler decelerated. So we used a target (even though she is not a big fan of targets). Jenn stood at the end of the DW and the handler ran with the dog and each time tried to stop forward motion earlier and the dog ran to the food target that Jenn put down as the dog was approaching. At first I thought - who is she and why is she standing at the end of the DW - but once I realized she had chicken, she quickly became my new BFF!

I was good in class - no sniffing! And I am kind of willing to play a little before taking off on a sequence. I do bounces or hand touches or something - I think the hand touch game Kathy taught us is beginning to work! Mom didn't do lead outs with me - she just tried to get me to play and then go! Since we have been doing some fun weave pole drills in previous classes, they have become my favorite obstacle there and I cut behind mom once and headed for the poles and another time ignored mom's signal to jump and went for the poles! I even did a DW on my own instead of following mom to the teeter. Jenn says mom needs to keep her eye on me and that cutting behind her is especially bad, but mom couldn't help but smile and be happy that I was enjoying myself so much!

Gotta zoom!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Training Challenge #4

We did another walk along a busy-ish street for my training challenge again this week. A lot of parks around here are big grassy areas for athletic events and they have walking/jogging/bike paths around them and through them which parallel streets. So usually when we go to these parks, we walk only in the grass and on the interior paths. Today of course we tackled a section of the path near the street. Mom was armed with her experience from last week and with some ground turkey!

We parked the car and the minute we got out, I could hear the cars passing by. We headed out on this path and turned right. I was excited and not exactly loose-leash walking but definitely not over the top.

Mom had me sit on the path each time a car came by - surprisingly a lot of cars for this area! As long as I sat, I was able to stay under control and watch the car and then turn to look at mom for my turkey treat. I seem to be able to handle cars going by if I am not moving myself (after some sits, we tried it with me standing still). But if I am moving and the cars are moving, I get too excited.

We were careful not to push too hard this time - we walked a ways up the path and then turned around to go back towards our car. We took a little break in the shade and watched the cars.

Mom asked me to do some tricks and stuff this close to the street (on leash of course - don't worry!). Here I am doing a down - not super relaxed, but I did it. I did down, stand, cross paws, turn right. I even did some hand touches (we've been working on that game Kathy and her BCs are doing). At first I wouldn't touch mom's hand with my nose - I would go close but not touch. But then I started doing it! Cool! I can actually think a little bit when cars are going by!

Here is the part of the path where we were working on my tricks - over there near the bench and you can see the street to the left.

After the challenge we went back to our car and got our flexi leash and just went for a fun walk away from the streets in the park. It was so pretty outside - sunny and 75. Look at the drinking fountains they have here - a dog level one - but I am too finicky to drink from it.

We're on an interior path and the street is way over by those trees. I didn't realize how brown our grass is getting around here until I saw this picture.

The path back to the parking lot.

So this training challenge was more of a success than last week. Working on my self control when cars are around is not a very glamorous challenge, but it is one that continues to put us way out of our comfort zone - that's for sure. Mom still dreams of being able to walk with me ANY WHERE so we'll just have to keep working on it. The bury-your-head-in-the-sand method of dealing with my issues isn't ever going to resolve them and that is why we need the training challenge!

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tuesday's class

We are getting behind on blogging this week - it's Thursday and it should be tRicky T-Day but we're just now posting about our class on Tuesday.

Class started with work on decelerating at the weaves. We had never done this before. Jenn said that when you work on the weaves, you should never reward the dog by calling him over to you. You should throw a toy or food as he exits (throw at the 11 pole). You need to reward the dog for driving ahead 4 or 5 feet beyond the poles. If you reward right next to you, then the dog keeps looking back to see if now is the time for the treat or he may keep popping out. We have practiced with a target plate many times and that works well for me. Jenn doesn't like the target much because she thinks it is hard to fade the target. We tried throwing the food a couple times, then Jenn put a line on the floor even with the last pole and the handler was not allowed to cross the line. This was really tough for us because I rely on mom's forward motion so much that I was slow to do the weaves - I kept wondering what the heck mom was doing running slow and then stopping. We're not too worried about practicing this but definitely see the value in it - the handler could get into position better and show the dog that a turn was coming after the weaves. So for more obstacle focused dogs, this would be great. For us, we'll keep doing what works. We tried to make a video but it didn't turn out that great. First we try the target plate, then two times throwing a food container, and then we give up and just work on lateral motion.

Also in this week's class we practiced the chute to weaves and that went well for us. Jenn just said we should figure out how to show our dogs the direction we needed them to exit from the chute for the weaves and how to show them the entrance of the weaves the best - depending on our dog.

Last week we did serpentines with a chute as part of the serp. We also made a video of that - I do well until mom throws in a rear cross (which I read fine) but then I don't pay attention on the attempt after that and assume rear cross again. I just pattern train so easily - LOL!

Gosh, we are enjoying some really nice cooler weather - it feels like Fall. Guess by Monday we'll be back up to 90! The ants seem to be finally taking a break from our kitchen (knock on wood). Mom hopes that is IT for this year!

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Wonderful Surprise!

The other day we got the most wonderful surprise in the mail! A package from our good blogging friend Eva the Sheltie! Here's what we found inside:

A gorgeous photo of Eva taken during her recent vacation at the beach:

A super cool postcard with Yehudi Menuhin on the front - he was a famous violinist - and mom and Rosie (Eva's sister) are both musicians! There was a very nice note written on the card too!

Mom got this beautiful shell bracelet:

And I got a bandanna! The red colors look really good against my black fur but I am not a fan of this bandanna - LOL! Eva did an awesome job of wearing hers for a photo shoot not too long ago - we tried but I was not very cooperative!

Thank you so much Priscilla, Rosie and Eva for brightening our day with such special gifts from special good friends! If you all don't know Eva, please go to her blog and say hi! They are having a difficult time right now because Eva's dog brother Mika was hit by a car and is trying to recover from his injuries. They think he will be ok but he has most likely lost the use of one of his legs.

A post about this week's class coming soon, I promise!

Gotta zoom!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

COSSA AKC Trial Sunday

Great dog, shame about the handler....

Today I did the chute (no refusal or anything)!! WooHoo for me!!!!!! Lots of my friends cheered for me when I went through and that was so nice! Then when we were almost at the end of our standard run - just two jumps away - mom was running helter skelter and couldn't get me over the last two jumps. Everyone groaned! I would've had a Q if mom could've gotten her act together!

Then in JWW, mom got totally lost at #4 and instead of heading to #5, she went off to #12 and took forever to figure out what had happened - then when she finally showed me we needed to go to #5, she took off running and so did I and we completed the course like a real agility team - mom ran with me like she does at home or in classes. It was really fun and once again, Iwould've had a Q if it weren't for mom!

Mom thinks this was my best trial weekend ever even though we were 0 for 4. I ran with more confidence than ever and so it was a great experience for both of us! We want to try to run our hearts out (like we did for most of the JWW run today) and try not to worry about whether or not we Q. Because running fast is so much fun!

Gotta zoom!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

COSSA AKC Trial Saturday

The trial today went well - we spent 4 hours there (noon to 4:00PM) and got both our runs in. The venue is awesome and the air conditioning worked extremely well (it was actually a little chilly if you weren't running). Plus this place is 5 minutes from our house so there just isn't a single thing to complain about! :)

I ran my standard course first. Mom did a little lead out and it didn't seem to affect things one way or the other. My DW was pretty slow. The chute was the 4th obstacle and I DID IT (but not until after the judge did her YMCA dance)! After that the run was really good until mom forgot what she was doing going from #14 to #15 and she pushed me towards the weaves. Then I back jumped #16 instead of wrapping. We got back on track and finished fast!

Next was the jumpers run. Mom walked a good handling plan and then also a crazy outside path plan. Also she decided to try to get me to play a little at the start line (nope- didn't work - you'll see in the video) and I started out waaaaayyyy too slow! So mom abandoned her plan at #3 and that sped me up. I got the tunnel entrance at #8 - tons of dogs missed that if their handlers were behind - it was really tough) and then I ran pretty fast to the end even though mom tried to mess me up at #17 and 18. Even though I ran clean, I still got an NQ because I was over time.

Did we meet our goals? I was pretty happy (after the slow starts) and we were pretty connected (most of the time) and I did do the chute!

We'll see what tomorrow brings! I also don't want to forget - a big thank you to grandma for going with us and for taping my runs!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Training Challenge #3

We have a trial this weekend so I am going to go ahead and post about this week's training challenge today. It was a doozy!

Facing my car chasing mania is probably the hardest challenge we have and mom hates to work on it and prefers to live in our little bubble world where we go only to places far from moving vehicles. But when mom envisioned having a dog, she assumed she would be able to walk anywhere with her dog. Then she got me and realized it wouldn't be that easy.

So in the spirit of the training challenge, she took me out to a nearby park that we go to from time to time but we always stay on paths on the interior and well away from the neighborhood streets (which are surprisingly busy - cars at least every 30 seconds and often in clumps). We got out of our car and walked towards the street. We took the path all the way to the sidewalk. So far, so good - I sat and watched a little:

This was the path that lead to my street-side spot:

Then we walked on the sidewalk along the street. Mom had me do my usual sit where I can quietly watch as the car goes by then I reorient to her and look at her and get a treat.

I was doing pretty well so mom upped the ante and decided to see if I could keep walking when a car went by (since there were so many) and then as I was walking, look up to her and then get my treat. Well, I lost it! I quickly escalated over my threshold and spun and barked like a lunatic! Mom had me sit and then moved me farther from the road. I did calm down quite a bit but was not able to keep from wanting to pull ahead. Mom felt really bad that she had pushed me too far but she wanted to know what would happen. Even when we got farther from the road, I was still on the alert:

My tongue was hanging out and I was tired from the mental work-out:

We took a break and ran together in the grass a little and played some games. I started taking treats again (I would barely take one when I flipped out). We casually strolled around and got our act together and then mom headed down a path towards the street again. In the end, we had to stay about this far away:

I was super tired when we got back to our car. Mom was super discouraged and mad at herself for putting me through all that. But we know I will never learn that I can walk quietly while cars pass by if we never work on it. We need to try again and the next time make it a shorter trip and keep me below my threshold and try to end on a good note and build on that. I have gotten much better about watching cars pass by when I walk in my own neighborhood so we think I am capable of doing it! Getting out there to confront this problem is way out of our comfort zone and we thank all of you fellow training challengers for motivating us to do it!

Looking forward to hearing what everyone else did this week! Wish me luck at my trial - it's at the soccer venue very close to my house - the one where people play basketball right next to the rings. Our goals for this weekend - run happy and connected (and do the chute)!

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

tRicky T-Day!

This week's tRicky T-Day trick is more of the same old thing - get it and hold it - this time with a dumbbell. I used to hate to pick up the dumbbell, so just the fact that I am doing it willingly in the video is a good trick. Mom read or saw somewhere that you could backchain the retrieve by putting the object in something and starting there - the dog picks it up and then eventually learns to bring it back. You'll see that mom is not very good at keeping to her criteria (or perhaps she's not sure what her criteria is) and we go from picking it up and trying to put it back in the bowl to bringing it to her hand. Oh well, I am smart and can handle the confusion - LOL!

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday's class

No big class recap today or video - I know, I'm sorry. But we didn't have a theme for the class or a special skill to work on - everyone is entered in a local trial this weekend and Jenn wanted us to run some sequences and work on how we would handle each one for our own dog (instead of her dictating what handling we would use). She also wanted us to get on all the equipment and she had the chute out so I got to do it 3 times in sequences. I am still not barreling through it gung-ho BUT I did it all 3 times without refusals. There is hope for me yet - :)

A few thoughts from today:

1. the chute as part of a serpentine - the chute is a turning obstacle so you have to let the dog know which direction they will be going when they come out before they go in! If you can't use lateral motion or deceleration (like if it is part of a serpentine), you can use a shoulder turn as you send the dog in. (maybe we could make a chute serpentine video?)

2. Turning obstacles (rely on handler motion)- jumps, straight tunnel, chute
Nonturning obstacles (dog ignores handler motion and completes obstacle independently) - dogwalk, aframe, teeter, table, weaves, curved tunnel (the curve of the tunnel determines the dog's lead)

3. More work on using the dog's name on tunnel entrance discrimination

4. Know whether you are using a rear cross on the flat or a rear cross at an obstacle (when do you get your outside arm up?)

5. Independent aframe - know the difference between lateral distance and lateral motion. If your dog has a "running" aframe and you need some lateral distance, don't be right next to the dog when you send him up the aframe - be the lateral distance away that you want to be at the end so you don't pull the dog off the side of the aframe.

I ran my best the very first sequence we tried - which is awesome because the first go is usually my worst! The second sequence I was a little squirrelly - not sniffy - but distracted. The last sequence was ok but mom pulled me off a jump. My weaves each time were very fast for away-from-home weaves! When we practiced the lateral distance from the aframe, I hit the contacts every time! The only contact I like to jump is the down on the dogwalk. Mom will probably have to babysit that one always. We practice at home with a hoop but whenever mom removes the hoop, I launch off the end.

Well, there was more info to report than I thought! LOL!

Gotta zoom!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Training Challenge #2

We went out and got our training challenge done on Monday of this past week because we knew the weather was going to get hotter and hotter as the week went on. Mom took me to a part of my favorite park that we never go to - it was at the end of the library parking lot and across from ball fields and the tennis courts. She brought a jump, a tunnel and my 2X2 weaves.

So in the video, behind the camera is the parking lot (not many cars moving around on that end - that's why mom hoped it was safe enough - but there were park workers who were emptying trash cans), to the left of us were tennis courts and kids at a tennis camp, and behind us were girls at lacrosse practice. None of this bothered me - I just did my agility!!

We were invaded by ants this week - little, itty bitty ants every where! Mom discovered them last Saturday under the carpet at the back door. She cleaned them up and then a couple days later, they were in the food cabinet in the kitchen! Then a few mornings ago, they were in the toaster - for crying out loud! Mom has been beside herself and finally had to call a bug guy. She was trying vinegar and then baby powder and she kept seeing them coming into the house from the patio, so the bug guy came and mom had strict instructions for him on how much (or really how little) he was allowed to spray because she really didn't want him to spray at all. He did the perimeter of the house and very little inside. That was Friday and she is still finding a few ants in the kitchen and yesterday morning she was shocked to see a big trail of ants marching to and from the house across the patio and right through the area where the spray was!! If the situation doesn't improve, she'll have to call the bug guy again tomorrow. I hope those ants stop coming in because I am tired of hearing her whine about it! Funny, last summer we barely saw one ant in the yard. The bug guy said that all the snow we had last winter (remember in February when the ground was covered for the entire month?) insulated the bugs in the ground. Great.

I love the posts about this week's training challenges that I have seen so far! Can't wait to see what other dogs did! We are loving the TC - it's so nice to be motivated by such supportive friends!

Gotta zoom!



Thursday, August 12, 2010

tRicky T-Day!

Think I will ever get it? : )

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday's class

Yesterday we started a new session of our Tuesday morning agility class! The class was all about what Jenn calls parallel rear crosses - a rear cross where you approach the jump from one end instead of straight towards the jump bar. When you do a regular rear cross, the handler keeps her shoulders straight and facing forward so it is easy for the dog to see the jump and go ahead towards it. With a parallel rear cross, the handler drives towards the end of the jump and has to turn her shoulders and invite the dog over the jump to the side. Timing is everything - the handler has to hesitate slightly to allow the dog to see the jump and to go ahead of the handler. It is ok to use the dog's name as a directive (never as an after-the-fact-turn-now panic command - LOL!). So if you are doing a parallel RC and you need the dog's attention and aren't sure you'll get it with hesitation alone, you should say the dog's name before they commit to the jump. ( In our case though, it would probably pull me off the jump if mom said my name because I don't have tons of obstacle focus).

Confused? Well we made a video that will make everything totally clear - LOL! Any way on the video (done in Ricky-time slow-motion so you can see it all the first time):

1. parallel rear cross exercise with one jump - turn shoulder and let dog go ahead and then drive forward (although for me, I watch mom's feet more than her shoulder and you will see her feet point toward the jump)

2. pinwheel exercise - go around a pinwheel twice keeping the dog on the same side and sending them to the middle jump and then the third time, do a parallel rear cross at the middle jump

3. parallel rear cross sequence - the jumps are closer together than in class but the set up is similar - we have trouble with the rear cross at the 3rd jump - if mom doesn't keep moving forward, I back jump.

4. Two exercises - one where you want the dog to drive forward after the parallel RC and the next where you want a turn and you need to hesitate more (not bend over like mom does) and you can call the dog's name if you need to.

5. the sequence again from a different angle and with a little added on at the end.

The class ended with some work on the handler moving laterally away from the dog in the weave poles. I am really good at that, so I did some showing off! Most of the class went well for me - I was sniffy at the very beginning (during the first try at the pinwheel) and mom told me to quit it and I did. Mom thought the class was fantastic and she learned so much and is so grateful that we get to work with Jenn every week. It is such a privilege!

Gotta zoom!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training Challenge #1

It's Sunday and time to post about my training challenge for this week! I have already read some terrific posts by Kathy, Sara, Dawn, and Marie and so I know that you all have gotten out there and done some great training this week! Congratulations - and I'm looking forward to reading all about what the other participants did this week too.

Mom and I went to a nearby park this morning - before mom got me, she used to bike to this park and then walk around the lake and dream of walking there with her very own dog. Then she got me and tried to take me there but the park is right next to a busy, busy state route and the park is full of bikers and joggers. I have been to this park several times before but the beginning of the walk always put me way over my excitement threshold. So mom hates to take me there even though she ultimately wants us to be able to do it. To go there is definitely a challenge!

Here is a map of the lake - it was a quarry lake and was partially filled in when the city decided to make it into a park. Apparently the lake is 30 feet deep in places and the water is crystal clear and full of fish. You park your car in the lot to the left of the highway and the lake and then have to walk under the highway to get to the park. The bikepath runs parallel to the highway, and when you start out on the jogger/walker path that goes all the way around the lake, you walk right next to the bikepath and the highway. We always go toward the lake and turn left and go around clockwise. On the right side of the lake it is really nice - you are away from the highway and there are some woods and also a river. (I hope the map will bigify).
We knew it would be busy on Sunday morning but it was so busy the parking lot was full and cars were parked on the road too. When we first got there, I could hardly look at mom.

The sun was not cooperating for photos but here is the way you go under the highway.

There is a really nice deck where people feed ducks, warm up for their runs, or do a little fishing - see the highway behind me?

Here are the paths at the start - I am on the gravel path at the bottom of the photo, then is the bikepath and then the highway. I pulled a little on my leash but I did not bark and I kept looking at the cars/bikes/joggers and then looking back to mom for a treat! (this is where I would always totally lose it in previous attempts to walk here).

The lake is really pretty but I have to keep an eye out for moving people (this is the top of the lake on the map).

Now we are walking on the side farthest from the highway - you can see the deck and the highway in the background if you bigify. Some times I can walk off-leash on the path over here but today was just too busy for that.

There is a footpath in the woods that runs parallel to the jogging/walking path. The river is on our left. We went down there so that I could have a little off-leash time. I behaved very well and waited for mom and checked in with her every time I went in front of her.

After we got to the bottom of the lake (according to the map) we came back out onto the regular path and as you go around to come back towards the entrance, you are close to the bikepath and the highway again.

I was much more relaxed by this time and could look at mom even sitting so close to the bikepath.

Lots of dogs swim here - sometimes there will be 10 - 15 dogs in the water at the same time.

Getting worn out from this challenge!

We finally made it back to the car! I hate to brag but I am the best car-riding dog ever! I lie down on my towel the minute mom puts me in the car and I don't get off that towel until she takes me back out of the car!

There you have it! We survived the challenge - actually we did better than that. I did not bark once the entire time I was there. I got very excited a few times but did not lose it at all. I even did a few tricks for mom when we got back to the parking lot. Mom even had a smile on her face - that hasn't been the case when we have left this place before! This is a challenge that will definitely bear repeating though so mom and I can finally feel comfortable enough to add this park to the list of places we frequent.

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

tRicky T-Day!

First of all, did you see all the participants in my training challenge? We listed them on the side of our blog - if we got any wrong, let us know. Also if anybody else wants in on the challenge, there is still time! I will be posting about my challenge on Sunday. Actually,we haven't even decided what that challenge is going to be yet. But the weather is supposed to cool off a little after today (but back to HOT by Monday) and that should make getting out there easier!

Today's tRicky T-Day is another trick in progress! So that just means we can make video after video of it as we get better. LOL! I have been super slow to do a handstand so mom is morphing it into another trick - eventually she hopes I will first do the handstand on my own. Once when we tried the other day, I did lift my back leg and then kick up - so I am close! It's hard to see in the video, but mom waits for me to lift my leg a little or at least shift the weight - she is not just grabbing my foot and lifting it up.

Gotta zoom!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiking in Hocking Hills and the Training Challenge is ON!

We went to one of my most favorite places today - the Cedar Falls trail at Hocking Hills!

This time of year, there isn't much water coming over the falls, but it's still pretty:

There were two big snapping turtles - this is the smaller one:

We were all alone for a little bit and I got to be off-leash:

Me and mom:


Doing some hiking - I am on a flexi-leash - there are cliffs and stuff so it's too dangerous for off-leash and mom controls the flexi carefully:

Tiger swallowtails were everywhere:

Me and dad:

Taking a break:

Me and mom again:

There were also lots of red-spotted purples:

The trail is so beautiful:

It follows a creek most of the time:

We even got a little video - listen to the sound of the cicadas in the background!

Enough of that! Ok, I declare that the training challenge is ON for anyone and everyone who wants to participate! Starting this week and running for as long as you all want to - we are thinking until the weather gets too bad for regular outdoor trips for us. But you don't have to be outside to do the challenge. This is how we view the challenge - we are going to do at least one thing each week that takes us out of our comfort zone. For us, it's very comfortable to practice agility at home and do tricks, walk around our own neighborhood, go to my favorite parks, and go to classes. So we want to motivate ourselves to work on other things - like take some agility equipment to safe locations other than our backyard (new neighbors yards, new parks, etc.), or go to places where I can see cars going by and work on my control and ability to listen to mom and not go bonkers, or train around other dogs - ones I know or don't know as I get all weirded out sometimes in those situations and don't even remember how to come to mom when she calls. You can make the challenge anything you want it to be. Video and/or pictures are always great but not required. We are going to post about our challenge every Sunday. If you have to miss a week, there is no penalty! :) But for the challenge to work, we all have to try to be consistent. During the weeks that we tried this with Marie, we felt just the right amount of pressure and obligation to do it and we got out there and it got a little easier as we went along. It's amazing how people miles and miles away can encourage you to grow and learn - this blogging and the internet are wonderful tools!

Let me know if you are going to participate in the training challenge and if someone is creative, come up with a good name for it and we'll use it! Let's get busy - the challenge starts......


Gotta zoom!