Monday, November 1, 2010

Change is Good...I Hope

I'm the first to admit that blogging doesn't come that naturally to me. As a result, I don't always keep Dare's blog updated as often as I should. I think that I'd be even worse on the Resqtails blog if it weren't for the fact that my friend convinced me to get that blog approved for paid posts. I was a little hesitant at first. I really didn't think it would add up to much, but I was wrong. I was looking back and so far this year I've made about $600.00 just from putting those silly links in the posts. That extra money has come in very handy for dog stuff that I didn't have otherwise!

So, the other day, that same friend asked me if I had tried to get Dare's blog approved. Well, I hadn't, but I thought I might as well try. I contacted the company that gives assignments to Resqtails but they replied to say that I'd need to consider making some changes before they could consider adding Dare's blog. Which leads me to the reason for this post...

You will now find Dare's blog at:

I hate to do that, because I know it's an inconvenience to everyone, However, if it allows me to make a little more for the dog sports fund, I'm going to try. It actually should make for more regular posting on my part if I have an incentive. I can't help but think about Sara's posts about her kids in the class that need to see immediate consequences for their actions...maybe I'm still a kid at heart.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dare Fall 2010

I just have to share some of the pictures that I got of Dare this fall. I still find it hard to believe that this is her second fall with us. Time sure flies.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Extra Credit Weaving

Ok, training is just fun! That's all there is to it. Especially with a partner like Dare. Today we were out doing some weaving, working on different angled entries and I also wanted to see if she would recall to me through the weaves.

So, I led out and called her through the weaves, which she did nicely, then tossed the ball over the jump and turned around and ran back to the start where the camera was, to turn it off. Before I got to the camera I turned around in time to see her enter the weaves at an angle like we'd be working on, nail the entry and then continue slowly back to me. The best part...she was holding her ball in her mouth the whole time. LOL

You'll see that her weaving is much slower coming back through, but I'm not as fast when I'm multi-tasking either. :-) The fun thing is that she got the entry (without me anywhere near her), and finished all 12 poles all while concentrating on holding that silly ball. Go Dare!

Hope you are all enjoying your training as much as we are. :-)

Putting Things Together

The jump training continues. Along with other training too of course. But I thought I'd post an update on some of the stuff we're working on now.

We are still working on the basic drills that I've already talked about, and we're adding distance and impulsion to those exercises. Unfortunately, Andrea was right (darn her for knowing what she's talking about)LOL As soon as Dare started picking up speed and not just striding through, but planting her feet to jump, the box turned into the same scenario as all other stride regulators before it. Something to land as close to the front of as possible.

This week, I've been working a bit on pinwheels. Here's the baby pinwheel work:

The next step is obviously raising the bars, and then changing the angle of the pinwheel. The next thing that I wanted to do was try adding the pinwheel to the standard jump chute that we've been working on. So, here is that video.

I was looking for her to still read the spacing and jump heights of the straight part of the chute, but then be able to adjust her striding and jump style to solve the puzzle of the pinwheel at the end, and have her jump closely to the inside uprights for an efficient jumping path. I think she did a pretty good job. :-) I'm still waiting to hear back from Andrea, to see if we've missed anything on this one, but hopefully not.

Anyway, that's all for today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Jumping Experiments

The jumping experiments continue. The ultimate goal is still to get Dare more comfortable with striding in closer to jumps for take off. You know that we tried with the stride regulator. I decided to try something new, to see if it made more sense to Dare. It started with the suggestion from Andrea that maybe a foot target would make more sense to Dare as a take-off spot. Being a little lazy, I wondered if something that we already use for obedience. We have a pvc box that I send her to when we work on signals for obedience. I remembered seeing that Diana and Miley had used a pvc box when they were working on their running A-frame and I wondered if we could use a combination of ideas for Dare.

So, I started with the box and just clicked Dare for getting in and then tossed a toy out of the box to keep her moving. She picked up on that pretty quick. Here's the video.

Then I decided to try putting it together with the jump standards.

Now, I'm working on introducing the bars again on the jump. I also need to do some other variations, but so far, she isn't treating the box like she did the stride regulator, just landing directly in front of it, so maybe this does make more sense to her. I sure hope so.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jumping Update

Well, I looked back and I haven't posted anything since July about Dare's jump training. Where does the time go? We have been consistently working on the jump training, I guess I just haven't been good about posting.

I guess I'll start with the very basics of what we're doing and what we're learning. First, I knew it was important to teach the dog to be comfortable and proficient at taking off with the rear legs. One of the pre-jump skills that we work on is the beg-stand-beg exercise. Here's Dare demonstrating that drill.

Then we've worked on the up and over collected jumping exercise that I showed you in the previous jumping post. Placing the dog right in front of the jump and targeting just a body length beyond the jump in an attempt to get the dog to simply lift the front legs off the ground and push off for the jump with the rear legs. We did this starting at 8" and worked up to 16"

We've also been working on baby front and rear crosses...These exercises also have been started at 8" and worked at all angles and then repeated at the higher jump heights on both sides.

We have also been working on some jump grids. This one is test help us see how well she is able to scope out the differences in spacing and in heights.

What we noticed in the grid work you just saw and when I started adding more distance and speed to our baby front and rear cross that Dare prefers to take off for jumps from further away, (rather than striding in closer), which is neither efficient or a safe way to jump.

This led to a series of drills where we are trying to use the stride regulator to get Dare to stride in closer to the jump before take-off. We had some success, and a lot of experimenting in the process, and we are still working on it.

It was also around the middle of August that it was suggested that I take Dare in to the veterinary opthamologist to see if she was having issues with her depth perception or eyesight in general. In examining her eyes, they did find that she has Distichiasis, which is just simply eyelashes growing where they shouldn't. It can cause irritation and eventually scarring of the cornea, but at this point, they said that it doesn't appear to be even causing any irritation, so I'm just to keep my eyes on it for any changes. Other than that, they said that her eyes looked great, and they found nothing that they felt would account for her early jumping.

So, having ruled out any major vision problems, we are back to training. With Andrea's help, we are focusing on helping Dare get more comfortable with striding in closer to the jumps and rewarding that behavior. We are actually doing this not only with jumps, but with the table as well, since she exhibits the same tendency to take off too early for the table as well.

It's a slow process, but a fascinating one. One of the other things that I'm looking into is how to help condition her better for jumping and agility in general. I got the DVD "Building the Canine Athlete" and I'm trying to come up with a practical routine for Dare and I to work on.

Anyway, as with the last jump training post, this is now more of a book, so I'll just end it here for now. Hopefully we'll have more updates and progress soon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 Months Today

Two months ago we started our weave training. I'm thrilled to be able to share today's weaving video. Today Dare did 12 weave poles, with no channels, no grid guides, no wires. Just straight up 12 weave poles. Woot! Here's the video.

I will probably keep working with the wire on the entrance for a while longer, while I continue to work on more difficult entries, but I'll be taking them on and off, since I want to use them as a reminder, but I don't want it to become a crutch for her.

Now I'd like to start including the weaves in short sequences too, while the weather is still nice enough for me to have all the equipment outside.

Monday, August 23, 2010

USRVDTC Day Three Video

Here's the video of the last day of the Rally trial for Dare. It was a great weekend! Now back to training... :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dare Got Her RN

I've always thought that's such a weird title abbreviation, since it is so commonly used for Nurses. LOL But regardless of the abbreviation, Dare has her first real AKC title now. :-)

Today the ring conflicts were really bad. In fact to be honest, if it weren't for the fact that my friend was keeping a very close eye on Twist's ring, I would have missed my turn. Thankfully, she knew I was going in the Rally ring with Dare right then, and so she had the gate steward move me to the bottom of the class in Open A with Twist. A huge "Thank you!" to Cyn!

Anyway, Dare finished her Novice B Rally title today with a score of 95. You might have guessed, that we tied with another dog. LOL The really fun thing was that it was our friend and traveling companion's dog, Tatum! How cool is that? There was another dog that scored 99 today, so today Tatum and Dare tied for second place. When I manage to get the video uploaded to Youtube, I'll post it. It's obviously not our best performance, but I'm still just thrilled to pieces with how well Dare is doing.

They had really pretty title ribbons, so we couldn't resist taking some pictures.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

USRVDTC Rally Day 2

Day 2 of the Rally trial was very similar to day one, with two minor differences. One being that Dare improved her score to a 99 and the other being that even when she tied again for first with another dog, she had the fastest time today, so she took first place! Woohoo! Here's the video for Day 2.

On to day three!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

USRVDTC Rally Day 1

Day one of the Rally trial went great. Dare was first dog in her class, and despite my nerves, she did fantastic. She had a bobble at one station where she was to come into front and then finish right. She hesitated to sit, like she was confused about what exercise we were doing, but she did it, and I think we must have only lost a point or two. After that, it went really well.

When we went and checked the scores, she had a 98! Woohoo! There ended up being three dogs with a score of 98 when the class finished, so we were all in a tie for first place. But they break the tie by time, and we weren't as fast as the Border Collie, so we got second place. But what an awesome way to start the weekend. :-) Here's the video.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weaving Update

It's long overdue as always, but here's an update on how Dare's weave training is progressing. The last time I posted, we had closed the channel, but we still had grid guides on all the poles.

Since then we've been able to exchange all the grid guides for less visual weave wires, and now we're in the process of removing those one by one. You can see the progression in the videos.

Now with more wires, less grids...

Grids only at the entries, and working on me in various positions...

With only 7 wires on the twelve poles, (note the sneaky little spin move to get the treats that she fakes me out with at the beginning) LOL

And now down to 5 wires...

That's where we are this week. :-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

ASCA Rally Debut

Yesterday was Dare's first official trial of any kind. Utah held it's first ASCA Rally Obedience trial and I thought it would be a great thing for Dare and I to try. We had a great time! There were about 17 dogs in our class, which is pretty big for ASCA in our area. Since this was the first Rally trial ASCA has held here, there were very experienced dogs mixed in with the total newbies. I figured it would be an accomplishment if we were even able to qualify, but if not it would be good experience anyway.

Well...Dare not only qualified, she tied for first place with a 199 out of 200! The tie is broken by the fastest time, so we ended up with second place. I'm still just walking around on cloud nine. What a nice way to debut! Here's the video:

I can see lots of footwork errors on my part and I think that our friend that we train with will still have lots of little hints to improve our heeling, but all in
all, Dare was awesome. :-) If you watch close you can see where just before the figure eight station, Dare hops up and gets her leash tangled between her legs. The judge let me fix that though, and apparently didn't deduct any points. So, that was nice.

One of our friends was nice enough to not only video, but also to take some still pictures for us too. Thanks Katie!!!

Oh, and I almost forgot. The really cool thing about ASCA's Rally program is that if you get a score of 195 or higher, you get what they call an "X" Q. If you get all three of you Q's that way, instead of the regular RN title, you get a RNX title. Isn't that fun! It's definitely something to work towards. :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Copy Cats

So, Dare and I are just a couple of big copy cats, but I just had to try to teach Dare Ricky's suitcase trick. I hope he doesn't mind that we copied him. :-) Here's what we've got.

Thanks for the inspiration Ricky! We sure are having fun with this one. :-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Now and Then

My friend reminded me that today is the year anniversary of when we went to Florida and picked Dare up. I couldn't resist uploading some of the video we took of her the day we picked her up and our first night at the hotel. I couldn't believe how confident and curious she was. I guess that's a big compliment to her breeder Judy Guaraldo. Dare has been exactly what I hoped for, from day one. :-)

Fast forward one year and here's what we're up to. We're another week into our weave training. Well, minus the long weekend we were gone. Anyway, Dare is now weaving straight poles, no channel. I have also opened up the grids, so it's not a complete closed path through the weaves. She's doing great! I'm going to keep working this week on different entries and varying my position, before I start taking off the grid guides and replacing them with the less conspicuous wires. At any rate, here is a video from this morning, (please ignore the lovely pajama pants). LOL

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weaving Dare

Dare has been a busy girl. In addition to her jump training, she just started her weaves too.

I spent a lot of time toying with the idea of training Dare using Susan Garrett's 2x2 method. I love the thought of the dogs figuring it out on their own, and having such a good idea of how to find the entrance. However, even after watching the Susan Garrett DVD, I don't think I have the confidence to try to train it. It's one of those methods where...if I thought I could get some help when I got stuck at a certain point, maybe I'd feel more inclined to try it. Since I don't really have anyone close to help me through the process though, I think I'll stick with something that I understand more easily. I figure I can spot if my dog is struggling because I've moved the channels in too quickly, or started removing guides too soon, etc. LOL

So, we started about a week and a half ago or so. here is video of her first day, channels fully open.

And a few days later, you can see the channels are closing just a little.

and yesterday...the channel is a little closer again, and I'm trying to vary my position in relation to her weaving. I want to be able to send her ahead of me, run along side and also be able to be in front.

I'm also really making an effort to use both food and toys as a reward. I tend to be more comfortable with the treat reward. I think that part of it is because I'm not that good at tossing a toy in the right spot. LOL (you'll see an example of my poor tossing skills in the first video). I've actually been out there practicing my tossing of the toy when we're not training to try to improve. Poor Dare, she's just got a dork of a mom to contend with sometimes. She's doing really well though. I'm really pleased with her progress.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jump Training

I don't think I've written much about Dare's jump training it up to this point. Probably because I've been a little, (ok a lot) perplexed by it.

I started out thinking that I'd use Linda Mecklenburg's methods. From the start, I just noticed something about Dare's jumping style that I didn't like. Even on the first exercise which just involves you starting out sitting or kneeling beside the jump and the dog offering to jump back and forth, getting their reward at ground level to keep their heads low. Dare got the idea of jumping back and forth all right, but she would often just seem to spring all four legs off the ground at practically the same time in what my husband says looks like a motorcycle jumping. LOL

I tried from that point doing exercises which encouraged her to collect over the one jump, for instance: jumping and wrapping back to me on the take-off side. Some days it seemed better and others, not so much.

Then I got a message from the person who has her littermate and she was having lessons with Susan Salo. She sent me examples of the first jump grids that they had done. So, I set it up and Dare's version of solving the jumping puzzle being presented to her was to rush to the end to the target and if it meant jumping two jumps in one huge leap...fine. If it meant taking off early and just crashing through jumps...fine by her too. I did that a couple of times, and decided that was not helping. LOL

I went back to the exercises that encouraged collected jumping and didn't do big lead outs and didn't run beside her, because I found that both of those things also had a tendency to end up with less than desirable results.

I was really getting frustrated and worried when I came across the Clean Run article on Early Take-off Syndrome. Now I'm not normally one of those people who is quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest diagnosis for people or dogs. But this article freaked me out. In the end, it basically offered some suggestions that some handlers have found varying levels of success with and said that they don't know what causes ETS or how to cure it. Talk about poor timing for me to read an article like this! LOL

Of course, I couldn't help myself and entered Dare in the funmatch even though we are struggling to figure out this jumping stuff. Consistency is obviously not a strong suit for me.

Then I ran into a friend that mentioned that she had been referred at one point to a person in WA for help with jump training and analysis. Her name is Andrea Dexter. She was quick to reply and said that she would be willing to take a look at Dare's jumping and see what she could suggest. :-) So, she had us video 3 exercises and upload them for her to analyze.

I have to say that it has been so educational for me to have her help. I will be the first to admit that I have a lot to learn. After we did the initial jump analysis I decided to get her foundation jumping DVD for a couple reasons. I like her manner of explaining things. It's simple and yet detailed and very organized. Another reason is that living where I do, I don't have ready access to experienced trainers on a frequent basis. Because of this I often find that even when I get books or DVD's that have great methods of training...I get stuck on an exercise and need help. Unfortunately, calling up Linda Mecklenburg or Susan Salo and asking for help in explaining what I'm doing wrong, is not an option. So Andrea's method has a huge advantage for me. I can work through the DVD and if I get stuck, I can just video what I'm doing and send it to her for help. How cool is that?

So, we're going back to basics again. But this time with a positive attitude and more confidence. :-) Some of the things we are working on are exercises to strengthen and raise awareness of her rear legs. Some of them we'd already done, and some we hadn't. Some are as simple as teaching your dog to "back", (which Dare already knows), also to rock back and push off with their hind legs, first into a sitting up position and then into a stand (which we hadn't done much). Then we are doing one jump work again, which will include baby front and rear crosses etc.

Anyway, this post is turning into a short novel. Sorry! If you're not snoring by now, or about to click over to the next more interesting blog, here is a video of Dare working on one of the very first exercises with one jump. We still aren't up to full height. I want to make sure that she's consistently using her rear at 14" before I go to 16".

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dare's 1st Agility Funmatch

Today was Dare's first agility funmatch! I knew it was going to be a really relaxed environment and so I decided to enter her in Pre-Novice. If it hadn't been with this group, I probably wouldn't have entered her yet, since we haven't even been running full courses at home, just sequences. There where some real highlights for us, and some not so great things too. The good news is that the good things waaaay outweighed anything else. At least in my mind.

THE GOOD: She held every startline! Yay! She did her 2o/2o on her Dogwalk in both runs. That might not seem huge, but a dog that ran after her on the first run was scared of the dogwalk, and so the handler had squeeze cheese and she put dobs of it on the dogwalk to coax her dog across. I almost didn't run Dare in the second run because of that. I didn't want her to get out there and then have her think that dogwalks were for sniffing. Several other dogs did the dogwalk without stopping though, so I decided to chance it. Dare never even paused. You can hear my friend videoing, saying "don't stop to sniff" LOL Maybe it helped.

THE BAD: The bad was all on my part. I just got back from a handling workshop with Stacy Peardot-Goudy on Tues., and she really emphasized to us, rewarding for pieces of things that go well, or that we want to reinforce. Seems simple, right? But like she pointed out, almost all of us stop and reward for contact performance, but when we struggle with jumping or weaving, or difficult handling sequences, we do them until we get it right, and usually instead of rewarding...we just keep running. She says it's probably because it's rewarding to us to continue, but is it really reinforcing to the dog? I had good intentions of stopping at certain points in the course to reward, but wehn I got out there, when it was going well, I just kept running. LOL When it didn't go smoothly, like when she'd refuse a jump or bail the contact on the A-frame, I would go back, fix it and then keep running. Ugh! That's bad. I really have to make a conscious effort to work on that one.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN: Dare's first A-frame was far from ideal. I really don't think it's her fault though. The club had it lowered down so far that I think it took Dare a bit by suprise. She came over the top and never got a toe in the yellow before she bailed. On the second run, I told her to take it easy and she did fine.

Anyway, here's the video from both of Dare's standard runs today. It was a fun day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Training Contacts

Thought I'd share how Dare is doing on her contact training for agility. Her dogwalk is full height and now we're just working on increasing speed, varying my location and stuff like that now. Here's the video of her 2o/2o on the dogwalk. You'll see that I missed her foot coming off because she had it back on before I turned around on the last repetition. LOL

Now for the teeter. I'm ready to take it up to full height too now. I think I'll stick with having keep all four feet on the teeter rather than a 2o/2o because I think there's less chance of it bouncing back up on her. Anyway, here's the teeter video.

Last of all...the A-frame. This is the newest obstacle for her. She seems comfortable with it at home, but the other day at a friend's house she ran up their full height A-frame and just absolutely launched herself airborne off way above the yellow. I'm sure that part of that is that she haven't worked on the A-frame at full height yet. I wonder if the pitch took her a bit by suprise. Nevertheless it really reinforced that I want to have a consistant performance at the current height, before I move it up any higher. Here's what it looks like so far though.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"I'm HOW Old?"

I kept telling Dare that she's ONE year old today. Odd didn't seem to make the slightest impression on her. LOL I guess it's just me that's amazed at the blinding fast passage of time.

Honestly, I don't think that I expected to have such a deep bond with her in such a short period of time. I wish I had more talent at expressing my feelings in writing, but it's never been a strong point of mine. I'll just leave it at she has exceeded all of my hopes and expectations several times over!

I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of her today and a friend of mine has these gorgeous peonies blooming right now, so I went to her house for a little impromptu photo shoot. I had hopes that the pictures would turn out better. It seems when you have great expectations of how something is going to turn're often disappointed. Regardless, I think you'll have to agree that if nothing else, the color of the peonies is just breathtaking.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Photos

So spring is here, kind of. We've had some beautiful days, but they've been interspersed with snow and wind and cold too. I guess that's spring time, but it seems like winter just doesn't quite want to let go of it's strangle hold on us just yet.

The other day though, the weather was just about perfect. We took the dogs out for a walk, and got some nice pictures. The pictures just make me feel like being outside when I look at them. I love how green everything is right now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

An Article Bag for Dare

I know, I'm probably jumping a little ahead of myself going out and getting an article bag for Dare, when we haven't even started competing in Obedience yet. I just couldn't help myself though. I found the coolest custom article bags while I was online one day. The website is here.

I just sent Mandy some pictures of Dare and some ideas of colors I liked...and she did all the rest. I was just amazed at how she was able to recreate Dare on this bag. It is awesome!

I think Dare likes her new bag too. Here she is checking it out...

And from the other side...

Maybe we should put our articles in there...

Now it's perfect!

Thank you Mandy, we LOVE our new bag! It's the best!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stretching to Prevent Injuries

Friday and Saturday were really fun. We went to a seminar on how to help prevent injuries in dogs through stretching. Friday evening was a classroom type setting, without your dog. There was a slide show and the person presenting the information took questions and demonstrated anything we had questions about on his dog. His demo dog was the most flexible 10 year old Rottie/Shepherd mix that I've ever seen! Then we were to go home and try it out on our dogs and come back the next day for a "hands on" portion of the seminar.

I know, it might have made more sense to take an older dog like Zoe to something like this. Since when have I followed the logical path? I took Dare. I was really happy with my decision in the end.

The "hands on" portion was a little hard for her to settle down for. There was a room filled with at least 10 dog/handler teams attempting to stretch their dogs. For the amount of distraction in the room, I thought Dare was a gem. She did a pretty good job of staying on her mat, and even spent a good portion of the time relaxing (somewhat) laying down on her side. I did end up having to do more massaging than actual stretching, but I think it was a good start. She did let me get in some stretches eventually and I think it's a process that you can't rush through, you just both have to get used to what you're doing and work together.

He did explain the difference between passive stretching exercises, and active assisted type stretching. Obviously, the passive stretching are when the dog is relaxed and usually lying down and you are stretching the muscles for them. The active assisted stretching usually are with the dog standing and they do part of the work of the stretching with you. For Dare right now, the active assisted type stretches are more successful for us. They allow her to be standing and also were of shorter duration.

I thought it was interesting that one of the active type stretches that he mentioned that we could find useful for agility is having the dogs weave in figure eights between our legs. Something that Diana had mentioned in her blog after she and Miley went to a Debbie Gross Saunders Seminar. You can read her post here. I was doing it wrong though. Funny how you can picture weaving through your legs in a couple different ways. LOL The way he demonstrated was just standing with your legs spread apart and you not moving. Luring the dog through in a tight figure eight. I had tried in the past having Dare weave through my legs, but as I was walking forward, not standing still.

Anyway, one of the things that I really enjoyed was something that I didn't even expect to be discussed. It was some of the various ways you can use to condition and strengthen your dog. He mentioned that any of us that were interested in trying out the treadmill with our dogs were welcome to try. So, we did! Dare did great. She wasn't worried at all about it. The funniest thing was watching her think about walking. I hadn't considered how much thought she was going to have to give to walking. It was so funny to watch her lose her train of thought when I'd tell her she was doing good or offer her a treat. She definitely was having trouble doing two things at once. So, I think it gave her as much of a mental workout as it did physically.

We also got to do some work on the balance balls. Dare LOVED this part! I only have the balance disc so this gave us a chance to try out some of the other sizes and varieties of balance balls out there. I think our favorite was the peanut shaped ball. It seemed to me to be the most versatile. He did everything from just having her do some basic balance work, to having her balance while on 3 legs and then on just two! We even tried a little with two balls at once, but we didn't have enough time to really get her used to that idea. Here's just a little video of what we played around with. Fair'll just have to ignore all of us babbling in the background. There is also a part where a dog was trying out the treadmill and wasn't really thinking it was the greatest thing. Dare didn't seem to notice anything going on around her, other than the location of the treats. LOL One of these days I'll take the time to figure out how to put on the cool music that everyone else seems to know how to do. In the meantime, you are welcome to just hit your mute button when you get sick of listening to us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video of Training Level 2 Tests

Here's Dare's Training Levels 2 tests. Dare's doing great, as usual...I'm the problem part of this team. I looked at the video for the Stand Stay and it is only supposed to be a 10 sec. stay. Well, counting to 10 is apparently too difficult for me, because I left her in a Stay for over 15 sec. if not closer to 20. What a dork! Anyway, I don't know if we got everything done exactly as they described it, or not, but I'm satisfied with it enough to move along to the next level.

I'd type up the descriptions to all the skills in the Training Levels 3, but I'm too lazy after fighting with Windows Movie Maker last night and this morning, so I'll just insert the link, if you're interested in reading what we'll be working on next. Training Levels 3

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Little Heelwork

Heeling is such an ongoing process of training. It definitely has to be one of the most difficult skills to train. I for one, really enjoy teaching the dogs to heel. I know I'm kind of crazy, but what's new? LOL I just LOVE the feeling when you and your dog are walking in sync, it's just beautiful. Watching the really experienced Obedience teams heel together is so cool! I can't say Dare and I are quite to that point yet, but we're making progress and so I thought I'd share a video from the other day. We are training at our friend's building and she had several of her own dogs out there, as well as the two puppies she's keeping. So we had some distractions from other dogs. We also left out some obstacles in our path to heel around. Dare did such a nice job! :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Picture Time

We had a friend visiting last week, and it was all the added incentive I needed to get the dogs out to a few places we hadn't been for a while and take the camera along for some photos.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A New Tunnel

So, I finally bought the dogs a collapsed tunnel for training. I've always wanted one, but it just happened that NTI Global had a spring sale at the same time that my husband and I decided to split the tax return and buy something fun. Perfect timing! Anyway, I got a package that included a practice collapsed tunnel. It's not a full length chute and the "barrel" is actually regular tunnel material, rather than a hard plastic barrel, but it's perfect for what I wanted and Dare seems to approve. She had no problem at all figuring out that she needed to push her way out of this tunnel.

I decided to try to get some photos, and I found out how good your timing has to be for that to work. Let's just let the pictures tell the story, shall we?

Hmmm....just a little too soon!

And...a little too late!

"Mom! Come on already! I've done this a million times now! Haven't you got the picture yet?"

I decided to call on my husband to help us out. And finally we got some success!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Recall With Distractions

Dare and I convinced my husband to come out with us this afternoon to video some of her skills for passing the training levels 2.

We started with the recall. TL2 Come is described as: "The dog comes from 40’ away with no more than two cues (voice, body language, or hand signal). The dog may be left on a Stay or held by someone else. The dog must come close enough to catch without moving. A “Front” is not necessary."

You'll notice that nowhere does it say that there should be distractions, but rarely can we make it out to the field to train without some kind of distraction. Today, both the cats, Gertie and KC, both decided to join in the training session. They have obviously decided that if they hang around when the dogs train, they might get some treats.

Anyway, I would say that Dare passed her come exercise with flying colors. We got most of the other skills for level two videoed today too. Just a few more to go! As soon as I get them all done, we'll post video of the whole level. :-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mom! There's a Cat in the Tunnel!

So, I found out just how valuable video can be in training yesterday. I also found out how oblivious I am to my surroundings. When Dare and I went out to train there was a pheasant in the agility field. He wandered off, and Dare didn't mind him being out there anyway, so I just set up the camera and off we went. I did know that Gertie our cat had also come out to train, but I didn't pay much attention to her either.

Well, I was working with Dare on her 2o/2o contact on the dogwalk, and I also wanted to throw in a little mix of obstacle discrimination with the tunnel. So, I set her up to do the tunnel first and then we'd do the dogwalk. Well, as you'll see in the video. Dare was distracted, and I wasn't paying any attention to why she was distracted. I just kept on working. Oblivious!!!! We ended the session on what I thought was a good note and I came in.

It wasn't until I watched the video clips back later on in the evening that I realized what was going on out there. Boy did I feel foolish. LOL It kind of looks like Dare is bouncing up to tell me "Mom!!! There's a cat in my tunnel!!! Mom!!!" on the way to turn off the camera. I can't tell you how grateful I am that I have a girl like Dare to work with that is able to deal with these type of distractions and being handler impaired besides. She is such a good girl! :-) Here's the video.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obedience Lesson

Dare got to have an obedience lesson on Monday. I had every intention of posting about it before now, but I haven't had a chance. I wanted to get in writing what we were working on though, before I forget.

We worked on her heeling and guess what? I've been rewarding her for being in a forged position. LOL That paired up with the fact that she'd like to push me to "go faster mom, faster!" is really going to end up getting us in trouble. So, we worked on getting me used to what it looks like when she is actually in heel position standing in place, with a mirror so I could actually see what the whole picture looks like. Then we started heeling, really, really slow. Fortunately Dare is a quick learner and she's adjusting to the new position much more quickly than I am.

We also showed her how our retrieving games are coming along. She pointed out something interesting to me. She said that the Shelties have a tendency to really make a wide loop when they retrieve, so to clean that up a bit for obedience she had me throw the toy out and watch which way Dare turned to pick up the toy to run back. Then, I am to turn the opposite direction, so that instead of looping wide, it makes it like a tight figure eight when she returns. The only hard part is me figuring out which direction to turn. LOL

We also showed her our recall work. Dare did a great job on her "wait" and she is running in with really nice speed and enthusiasm. From that recall though, we got to looking at her sits. The best way I can describe it is like she's slouching. It's not really like a rock sit and it's not like it's off to one side or the other, but it's slouchy. (I think it's something you'd have to see, because I can't describe it very well). Anyway, she wants us to work on having her sit up straight and rewarding her up higher. Sounds simple, right? Well, that took a good portion of our lesson. :-P We've worked on it the last couple days though, and Dare is getting it figured out. Now I think I just need to work on building duration. She sits nicely and gets her treat, then it's like she relaxes back into her slouchy position again. LOL So, yesterday, I tried to focus on her being able to hold her position for a little longer. We are still just at a few seconds at this point, but I think it's probably like for me. If I have to sit up straight, it's using different muscles than I'm used to using and it's easier to just go back to the comfortable position again, until you build up the new muscles.

Anyway, that's a review of what we worked on in our lesson. Dare got to come along with Twist and Layla this weekend for Twist's obedience trial. If we do anything fun, I'll try to get pictures or video and post those.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dare's Tricky

I keep meaning to work more on tricks and I don't always get around to it, but I thought I'd share Dare's latest trick. I think it's pretty cute. The best part was how simple it was to teach.

So, all I did was show Dare how to pull the kleenex out of the box once, and then I set it on the ground and told her to "get it". She figured it out with no problem. :-) The only thing that I've noticed is that if she's too excited she tries to grab the whole box instead of just one tissue. That, or she'll grab the tissue and then want to tug with it instead of just giving it to me. LOL

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Keeping Track of Training

I found something really cool when I joined the Training Levels yahoo group. They had a link to something called the training tracker. Honestly, I don't know who took the time to develop this site or program, but it's an awesome tool. It is designed to allow you to log in your training sessions, what level of skills you're working on, and then what tests you've completed. Not only is it a way to track your progress on whatever skill and whatever level you're on, it automatically calculates your percentage of success with each behavior in a session.

Anyway, if you can't already tell, I'm liking it. One of the things that it's helping me to see is that I more often than I realized, I am getting an inconsistent response to cues, or having to give repeated cues. It seems funny to me that I was ignoring these things. You'd think it would be pretty obvious, but I guess I just needed to see on paper that some behaviors were successful only about 50% of the time.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, our weakest point is the one skill that most dogs learn first. "Sit" using a verbal cue only. LOL Maybe I didn't give it much attention, just assumed that she knew it. After seeing what our rate of success was on this skill, I realized it needed our attention. One of the things that was interesting is that when I'd give the verbal cue to sit when was facing me, she would flip around to sit in heel position. I thought about why this might be happening, and then realized that usually when the dogs are facing me, I am working on hand signals, not verbals. So, probably the most I have used a verbal Sit cue is when my dogs are in Heel position and we are doodling. For instance, I'll say, "up sit" when I want them to take one step with me and sit again in heel position. I think that inadvertantly, I've paired the verbal sit with being at my side. LOL

I decided to eliminate the possibility of her swinging into heel position by working with a wall on my left side. That kept her facing me and she seems to be understanding quickly that Sit just means sit, not get into heel position. Tonight she was 5 for 5 on sitting quickly and straight in front of me without the wall. Woohoo!

Anyway, to whoever came up with the training tracker, a big thank you from both Dare and I!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Level 2 Distance

I'm trying to decide what exactly to do with this skill. LOL When I read the description of this skill, the first thing that popped into my head was that it was a chance to start teaching an "out" for agility. Then I started to analyze (or overanalyze, as usual).

The way the skill is described in the levels and the videos of other dogs that I've seen doing the skill are different than how I want to teach an "out". It seems to have the goal of teaching the dog circle the object, since the reward seems to be given back at the person. The main difference is that when I teach an "out", for agility I want to reward the dog's movement "out" laterally from me and I want the dog to stay out away until I cue them to move back in towards me again. So, to reinforce that, I would toss a toy or a treat to the dog once they are out away from me. See my dilemna? No? I don't blame you, I'm probably just crazy.

Anyway...I think in reading and re-reading I've finally come to a decision. I will teach Dare this skill, but I will use the herding cues that we used of "away" and "go by" depending on the direction that I'll be sending her around the object (either clockwise or counterclockwise). Then I can teach the "out" cue for agility the way I saw it taught at the Jim Basic distance seminar last year with no conflict.

I hope....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leash work

We've been working on our loose leash walking the last couple of days. According to the directions you choose something that the dog that finds really appealing and attempt to walk towards it with a loose leash. The way it works is that the forward movement towards the desired object only continues as long as the dog can keep the leash loose. If the leash tightens, forward motion stops and you walk backwards away from the object. Then when the leash is loose again the forward motion to the object continues again.

I chose the barn where we train because if Dare has the chance she'll do whatever she can to get there fast. If she's not on a leash, she'll just charge out there and bounce by the door. (I know, I know, I probably shouldn't even admit that) LOL Anyway, yesterday Dare and I worked on our Loose Leash Walking. It took us several tries before we got there, but by the end of the session, she was getting the idea.

Today I was going to get video of Dare just rushing out to the barn off leash and then video of LLW to the barn to compare and guess what? She waited at the gate until I released her and then instead of rushing off for the barn like usual, she just turned back around and wouldn't leave me. LOL Woot! I really wasn't expecting that. So, I just put the leash on her and we did our loose leash walking. She was so much better than yesterday it was just great. It's still not perfect by any means, but I'm really happy with her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Working on Level 2 Skills

I'm pretty confident in Dare's ability to pass the level 2 "Come" skill. She's coming really enthusiastically from 40' away. :-) I do think there are parts of the "continuing education" portion of this skill that we could still work on. They include calling her with my back to her. (I love how changing your body position can really test how well the dog understands the skill). Putting on and taking off the collar before she gets the treat. Holding off the click till she looks up and cueing a sit.

The "Crate" skill is pretty good too. I think she'll be able to pass this level without trouble.

"Distance" This one I am pretty excited about. I have always wanted better distance skills for agility, and I promised myself that my younger dogs would have a foundation that Zoe didn't get. I decided to take advantage of the big pole that is in the barn to begin with. She is doing fine, but I do notice that she seems to have an easier time going "out" from my right side than she does on my left. Today I got out the jump that I'd been using with Layla and set it next to the pole that she's been going out around. I didn't put a bar up on the jump, but thought I'd start incorporating the jump into the picture for her.

The Down and Downstay and the Sit and Sitstay are all coming along nicely. The formal return after the stay isn't required, but we've been incorporating that anyway.

The Stand is a little behind the sit and down stay. I am still working on building up duration for the standstay. We are not at the full 10 sec. of stay yet, but it's getting better.

Go to Mat is great. I don't foresee any issues with this skill.

Handling: I think we should be able to pass this skill too, especially with the little extra bits of training we did prior to the CGC.

Leashwork: Here is the description. "Handler stands in one spot with the dog on a loose leash. The dog keeps the lead loose for 60 seconds with one distraction. Handler may talk to the dog and use any loose leash cues, but may NOT give cues to Watch, Heel, Sit, Down, Stand, or Stay. This behaviour is about testing Loose Leash as a default behaviour." Somehow, I seem to have totally overlooked this skill. LOL I don't know how, but I haven't even given it a second thought, until I was going down the list today. So...needless to say, I think we have a lot of work to do before we are ready to test this one.

Target: She's got it down pat. :-) "Done!" as Zoe would say. hehe

Watch: She's at about 5 seconds, consistantly, but 10 seconds is going to take a bit more work.

Zen: Seems to have been lost somewhere along the way with the leashwork. Hmmm...if you asked me about what I think some of the most important skills in this level would be, it would probably be the two that I have overlooked. :-P Guess we better get busy.

I hope to have video later this week of training progress.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Training & Playing in the Snow

Anyone who knows me, knows I HATE winter. The only redeeming factor about it for me, is that the dogs seem to enjoy playing in the snow and I like to take pictures of them. So...after the latest storm that dropped another 7 inches of fresh snow, I thought I'd take advantage of the powder for some photos and also to work on Dare's recall for training levels 2.

From the last post you'll see that she needs to be able to come to me from 40' away with no more than two cues. You can either put the dog on a stay or use a helper. We had a helper yesterday, my husband. :-) Dare was doing so well with him holding her and me calling her to me, that I decided to get the camera and take some photos. Here are just a few of the photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Training Levels 2

I'm comfortable with Dare's ability to do all the skills in training levels 1. So, we're going to move on to level 2. These are the skills we will be working on.

COME: The dog comes from 40’ away with no more than two cues (voice, body language, or hand signal). The dog may be left on a Stay or held by someone else. The dog must come close enough to catch without moving. A “Front” is not necessary.

CRATE: Dog enters crate with no more than two cues (vocal, body language, or hand signals), remains in crate while handler closes/opens door, no vocalizing or pawing.

DISTANCE: Dog goes around a pole from a distance of 2’ with no more than two cues.

DOWN: Dog Downs from Sit on one cue only. The handler may use the dog’s name to get her attention before a voice cue. This behaviour must be done with no treats or clicker anywhere in the room or area. (This is a "blue behaviour": it must be tested with no treats or clicker on you or near you. In fact, not in the same ROOM.)

DOWNSTAY: Dog Downs and stays while partner walks 20’ away and back. Partner may give extra cues while away. An official “return” is not required.

GO TO MAT: Dog goes to, gets on a mat, dog bed, hammock, or pause table from 5’ away, 2 cues only - two voice cues, or a voice cue and body language, etc.

HANDLING: Dog allows the handler to handle his ears, tail, and feet. This may be done on a table or on the floor. There must be minimal fussing.

LEASH: Handler stands in one spot with the dog on a loose leash. The dog keeps the lead loose for 60 seconds with one distraction. Handler may talk to the dog and use any loose leash cues, but may NOT give cues to Watch, Heel, Sit, Down, Stand, or Stay. This behaviour is about testing Loose Leash as a default behaviour.

SIT: The dog Sits from Stand on one cue only. The handler may use the dog’s name to get her attention before a voice cue. (This behaviour must be tested with no food or clicker on the handler or anywhere nearby.)

SITSTAY: Dog Sits and Stays while partner walks 20’ away and back. Partner may give extra cues while away. An official “return” is not required.

STAND: Dog Stands from a Sit or Down with no more than two cues - two voice cues, or a voice cue and body language, or body language and a hand signal, or voice cue and hand signal, etc.

STANDSTAY: Dog remains standing without moving her feet for 10 seconds. Partner may or may not leave the dog’s side. This exercise may be done beside the dog or in front of the dog.

TARGET: Dog touches the marked END of a touch stick with her nose with only one voice cue. Naturally, presentation of the stick is a second cue.

TRICKS: Dog performs a trick of the partner’s choice. It may be very simple.

WATCH: Dog finds partner’s face and holds eye contact for 10 seconds with no more than two voice cues. No body language or touching other than looking at the dog.

ZEN: Dog stays off a treat in the handler’s hand for 5 seconds and off a treat on couch or chair for 10 seconds. No more than two cues for each behaviour, handler cannot guard the treat to keep it safe. Intent is to present the treat at nose level.

Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it. LOL Not really. I think this will be fun. Some of these skills are going to be totally new for us and others are going to be nice refreshers to things we've worked on in the past. Anyway, I'll try to keep a good record of our progress...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Training Goals

I have so many things that I hope Dare and I will be able to accomplish together. I'm always on the lookout for something to help me reach my training goals, and I think I've found something really worthwhile. It is Sue Ailsby's training levels.

I really like it because it is a very detailed training outline. I love that! In looking it over, I think it will give us a really good foundation for both Agility and Obedience. The first level covers some basic skills that Dare and I already have worked on. I made a video of her testing those skills today. She did really well. I am excited to start working on level two skills now!