Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time to buckle down

Well, that was a wonderful weekend of learning! I love being able to totally immerse myself into that other world that is the dog training world. We learned a lot this weekend at Kim Collins' Outreach and now I have a lot of homework to do before I see her again in a couple months. Having a plan with goals makes getting up and training your dog so much easier! I get so much inspiration from seminars and 7 really benefits from having a mom who actually works him on a more regular basis :-)
Here are a couple of vids from this weekend...
The first is 7 playing the teeter bang game. The teeter is the only agility obstacle that moves (and makes a pretty startling noise as well!) so a lot of work has to go into the early stages of training this obstacle to make the dog comfortable with the noise and movement of the board. The bang game teaches the dog that he is in control of the noise/movement and that he can earn reinforcement for making it bang. As he gets reward after reward for making the teeter bang he starts to see the teeter as a representation of the rewards and the obstacle becomes just as reinforcing as the rewards that follow. This makes for a driven, confident dog later when tackling this potentially scary obstacle in the middle of a course.

Another exersize focused on end of contact behaviour. Every contact obstacle in agility has a "contact zone" at the end of it. Usually painted yellow, it is a zone that the dog MUST touch with at least one paw as they run down the obstacle. This is for safety reasons as dogs are inclined to take the path of least resistance and sometimes jumping from the apex of an A-frame just seems like less work than running, safely all the way to the bottom! There are many different options for teaching your dogs to run all the way to the bottom but the one I'm teaching 7 is the "two on, two off (with nose touch)" method. He needs to run all the way to the bottom of the frame finishing with his front feet on the ground and back feet on the board. He also needs to be bopping his nose into the ground. The nose touch is to get his head facing forward so as not to twist his spine as he hits his contact position. In this video 7 is working on leaping onto the frame from the side and driving to his target plate on the ground. With time the plate gets faded and the dog will be touching the ground with his nose.

As far as homework goes, to go along with my list in my earlier post I also need to work on...
Deceleration- 7 needs to stop at my side (right or left) when I stop my body. He is starting to blow past me when I slow down or stop and I need to spend more time reinforcing him for being directly at my side, NOT in front!
More teeter- I need to start working on his teeter. More bang game, and teach him to run accross the board off the ground, balanced on two tables. After he's confident with this, start making one table smaller so that the teeter begins to tip.
Jumps- I need to play more with jumps now that he's getting close to full height. He needs more reinforcement for seeking out and taking jumps as well as the other more fun obstacles. Also, we need a LOT more Susan Sale jump grids as it's starting to become clear that 7 is not using his body as well as he could when jumping bigger heights.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brotherly Love

My two boys snuggling...Gawd, these two love eachother!

Tomororw I head out to another Outreach session with Kim Collins. The last outreach weekend I did with 7 was when he was about 4 months old. This time I'm very excited because we will be able to do so many more of the exersizes! The things I feel I really need to work on are...
Nose targets- He has beautiful, hard touches on any floor other than dirt or grass. On those surfaces he gets "dainty" and doesn't drive down into the touch as hard.
Rear crosses- I've done very little in teaching him the flatwork for rear crosses. Maybe 2 or 3 sessions clicking him for turning his head when I cross behind his line, and that's it.
ABCD (Anti Blind Cross Drills)- I've done basically none of these and it shows as 7 does not fully understand that he must never cross behind my body when working.
Crate Games- I've been very slack on these and I need to work him on more impulse control, driving into the crate and siting when I open the door.
That's my list for now but at the end of this weekend I'm sure I'll have much more to add!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where oh where has my little dog gone?

Well, it's been over a week and 7 is still not completely sound thanks to his sliced paw. For five days after the initial injury I didn't take 7 out for any exersize whatsoever...for those of you who have ever met 7, THAT is a remarkable feat. In all honesty it didn't have much to do with me, he didn't want to do anything. He spent the entire week sleeping in various spots around the house only getting up to eat or potty. I felt like I'd lost my dog! Where was my spitfire? My out of control wild-child? I went from having a dog that required a daily hard run of at least an hour and a half to remain functional, to a dog that decided walking more than 2 metres at a time was pushing it! He has recovered a lot now and is back to needing hard daily exersize but he's still a bit lame and is certainly spending a lot more time sleeping than before.
In the meantime I took up a Susan Garrett challenge
to shape a new trick in within two days. I chose the trick that I've seen Jody's Abby (No tails of a nutty mutt) perform which is having the dog open the fridge and get out a bottle of water for you. This didn't take very long at all as I've previously taught him to close his crate door with a tug toy attached. He transfered to tugging on the toy attached to the fridge door quite quickly and then it was just a matter of shaping him to pick up the water bottle and hand it to me. This is the finished result...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"F*ck my life"

The baby dog is NOT a happy camper :-(
He sliced his foot today, probably on some glass, while out on a walk with my friend and her dog. When my friend brought him back you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with him other than the trail of blood he was leaving everywhere (ew!) But, he's been in extreme pout mode since the vet soaked his foot and bandaged him up. He is feeling so utterly sorry for himself, he seems like a different dog!
I work right beside our vet so when he came back bleeding I immediately took him over to get checked out. Because I'm so close to the vet, 7 has visited a couple of times per week since the day I got him for weighing and treats/cuddles. The staff know him by name and even remember his last weight! When they saw me come in with his foot wrapped in a bloody towel they promptly dropped what they were doing and helped me wash and soak his foot and then let him pick the color of vet wrap he wanted, even cut out a heart shape and stuck it to his bandage. With instructions to take the bandage off tomorrow and start soaking it twice daily until healed we left...WITHOUT paying! They helped my big baby completely free of charge! I LOVE my vet :-)
They are Mosquito Creek Veterinary Hospital and if you are looking for a caring, knowledgeable vet who treat their patients with a mixture of Western and Homeopathic/Chinese medicine check them out.
I'm sure 7 will be back at 'em tomorrow, so I felt the need to video him in his current state as it's not every day I get to see him going any less than 100 miles per hour!