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".