Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Keegan and Steeler play in the snow!

On Sunday when I got home there was two feet of snow in the back yard! Keegan thought playing in the snow was great fun. Steeler took a little bit of convincing. I did get some video on my phone - so not the best quality, but you can see they are having a blast!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Steeler's new Rally title

Whoo hooo - Steeler has a new rally title. This Saturday we competed in our first APDT Rally Trial. Three trials in one day makes for a VERY long day. We drove up to Keene the night before and stayed in a hotel with a friend and her Kees. She and Steeler got along great. We were a bit worried about it - so it was fun to watch them play. Of course they thought the beds were for leaping on and across - but what fun to watch them play. I wish I had had the video camera handy! Of course when it came time to sleep ... well that was a bit of a problem. But we survived. We left the hotel around 7AM the next morning and didn't leave the trial until almost 8 PM. What a LONG day! I don't think we will do three trials again - certainly not that far away! It was great fun though! Karen and Ruffi were there, and got their level two title and finished their last run with a perfect 210! Lisa and Brew, LauraJean and Ares, Sue and Milo and Steeler and I all had some nice runs and got our level one titles!

Steeler didn't have the best scores - but I was really pleased with his first time out! His first run was a 189 - we had some tight leashes, double cues and maybe a retry of one sign. And the first run was definitely the one where I felt the most disconnected. Steeler and I were pretty far down on the run order - so we walked the course and then didn't run for 2 hours! I am out of practice for this kind of stuff!

His second run earned us a score of 200! Again with some tight leashes and extra cues. I think there was about 4 hours between our first and second runs! But Steeler did really well being crated inside with all the other dogs! He did get lots of time outside with his pal Brew for a break from all the chaos - but it was really too cold to spend too much time out there. Here is his second video -

This was a tough start for Steeler to have to come into the ring and put his back to the people and dogs watching.

By the time we got to our third run everyone was pretty much exhausted and video'd out. Steeler and I earned a score of 195 - which is pretty good considering that by the time we got the bonus exercise Steeler was done. The bonus was a call front and side step right or left - the dog is supposed to move with you staying in front. Steeler decided to finish instead. He had probably reached his limit of what he was willing to do.

At some point I will dig out the course maps and post the courses. APDT rally is a lot of fun! And the atmosphere is very supportive and friendly. Much less tense than I have found the AKC trials to be!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Totally awesome class tonight!

Steeler and I had a totally rocking agility class tonight! I had an epiphany earlier today or maybe last night ... Last week I was so focused on this vision of Steeler heeling out to the start line gazing at me adoringly the entire time. OK so that is a bit of an exaggeration - but you get the idea. And what I realized was that I wasn't doing anything to help him get to the start line while still paying attention to me. I wasn't making it fun for him - because really - heeling in a horse barn? While dogs are doing agility. Seriously - I think that was asking an awful lot from my little spotty boy! Someone hit me with that rolled up newspaper! :-)

So what did I do different tonight you ask?

Well I got Steeler out of his crate while Trixie was running (steeler and trixie have run pairs together in a seminar setting so I have no worries about the dogs meeting) and we did some warm up attention stuff and playing with a toy in the aisle with the horses - it's about an 8 foot wide cooridor and three (or four?) large horse stalls long. Then when it was our turn I RAN to the start line with Steeler. He is a dal after all and they were born to run! We are having a little bit of trouble with sitting at the start line. Steeler does not like to sit in the cold barn dirt.

We ran two crazy courses tonight! Both were lots of jumping and lots of fun. It was a good thing for me to work on with Steeler since we have in the past had trouble with lots of jumping. Steeler did the first course AWESOME!!! There was a series of 9 jumps to a tunnel - and since Steeler has had trouble with that kind of intense focus in the past I decided to reward right before the tunnel with a big jackpot. I of course interupted his perfect run - but I think it was worth it! And we got to do it again - so that was good.

The second course was a bit more difficult for us - lots of wrapping jumps and reversing direction. But Steeler did pretty well. This course included the teeter and that looked really nice tonight. Last week he wasn't driving up it - so I was happy this week he picked up where we left off last week. I wish I had video - but maybe that is why he did so well tonight! I forgot the battery for the video camera. :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Totally Awesome Nosework Seminar this weekend!

So Steeler attended a Noseworks Seminar this Sunday at MasterPeace with Scott Williams. There were 16 working dogs and several people that came to audit. Steeler thought this was LOADS of fun. Search the boxes for food ... yeah how could that not be fun! We covered quite a bit in this seminar and it is very much a "working" seminar.

First up we divided into two groups of 8. Scott and helper Pat, put 8 or 9 boxes in a straight line and walked the dogs up and down the line letting them sniff and then when they indicated in some way that they were really interested in the "food box" (which thankfully was marked for us) we opened the box and gave the dogs lots of praise. Oh and the first couple of times they showed the dogs the food in the box and then hid the box in the line. So we did this three times in a row and then put Steeler back in the crate. We cycled through the first group of eight - the first time the boxes were straight, and the dogs were on leash. Round two - the boxes were in straight line - the first time down the line the dogs were on leash. The second/third time the dogs were off leash. For round three the dogs were off leash and the boxes were spread out unevenly on the floor. some up against the wall some in the middle ... you get the idea.

After this we gave the dogs a break and the second group got their turn to work. Then we had lunch. :-) For the next session with the dogs we made the search area smaller and got the food out of the box! We cut the area in half and added a big cardboard box that was open on it's side, an over turned table, over turned chair, a shoulder bag and several of the original "boxes" that we were using. (I think they were 9 in x 5 in x 4 in) In this scenario, the dogs were once again working off leash and the food was hidden in a bowl around one of the objects and there was a "box" in the general vicinity. For Steeler - the first time the food was placed in the big box open on its side, the second time I think it was either behind the table or over by the wall. The third time it was behind the shoulder bag. It was really cool to see him work. Lots of the dogs were getting tired when we got to this exercise so Scott was very aware of which dogs could handle three searches and which should end with the second successful search and not pushing them to a third repetition. This exercise all of the dogs went through one set. Then we talked for a bit about trials and the sport and had a question and answer period. Then the dogs got one more chance to work.

This time we went back to "box work" and the boxes were arranged in a horseshoe. The really cool part about this exercise that we did was that we (the handlers) did not know where the food was hidden. And we did this exercise on leash. It was our job to let Scott and Pat know when we thought the dog had found the right box. This is where it became obvious that Steeler had clearly caught on to the game. It was SO cool to watch him work! I can see how people could easily get hooked on this. It is really fun to see all the different dogs work.

And Steeler was even able to hang out in his crate quietly for most of the seminar. I did give him a little bit of a break in the car for a bit, but I thought he did very well! Steeler and I were both exhausted by the time we got home Sunday night!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Agility class

So I decided to pick up agility classes again for the winter since class is literally 5 miles from the house! When I emailed Catie she put me in the advanced class with all the dogs that are already competing. Most of them at the open and excellent level. YIKES! I have to say one of the things that I like about class is that many people crate their dogs while they are not running. This means I can relax just a little bit more. The first week Steeler did great with the dogs that were there. This week there was only 4 of us for class. Of course I can not remember anyone's names yet. There is an aussie named Cheyanne with her dad, a border collie named Trixie (who is Cheyanne's sister) and her mom, and a springer spaniel whose name I can't remember. Steeler has seen Trixie before and even ran pairs with her at a games seminar we did this summer.

This week right before we ran our first exercise Cheyanne got snarky with Steeler. Of course Steeler got snarky right back at her. But I didn't think it was very intense and it might have been because we were in between her and her mom. Even though Dad runs her, she is very much a momma's girl (or so I've been told). So Steeler was a little bit distracted for the first minute. I am sure that I could have handled something different walking out to the start line. I am not sure if he was looking for Cheyanne or if he was just distracted. So if anyone has any thoughts on what they see in the video please let me know! The video is unedited so rather long. I am feeling rather lazy about editing.

The second exercise is apparently still processing at youtube. Not sure why it is taking so long. .... ok that took long enough.

The third exercise had a very tricky weave pole entrance. And it was at the end of the night so both Steeler and I were running out of steam. I wonder if I should have brought his toy back out especially for this exercise. And i think we should have maybe quit after getting through the exercise the first time. At the very end I was having a hard time getting Steeler's attention at all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone had a nice day with family and friends - or a day of peace and quiet if that is what you opted for.

This year "The cluster" aka the Springfield dog show (obedience, conformation, rally and agility) took place the weekend before Thanksgiving. Usually this 4 day show takes place Thanksgiving weekend. I took Steeler up this year to see friends that were down competing in agility and the conformation ring. Steeler did great with all the commotion! He spent some time watching his spotty friends run in agility and a couple of classmates as well. Then we went out for dinner with the crew from Maine. It was a long day - but nice to see everyone.

Then on Sunday we went up to run thrus at the training center. I am trying to get food out of my hands as I think that I have been using it as a crutch (more for me than steeler) for too long. So we are working through some training issues, and I am trying to incorporate some toys into our training routine outside the house. Here at home Steeler will do almost anything for a chance to chase a toy.

Here is some video from our novice run thru. I actually taped the Stays as well - just because I am always curious about watching the dogs body language.

We also did two Rally run thru's since Steeler is officially entered in his first APDT Rally trial next month. Actually he is entered in THREE trials! All in one day! OH boy! So I thought we should work on some rally stuff on leash. One of his all time favorite persons was at run thrus that night - so we started out a little bit distracted. For some reason - every time he sees Linda he goes NUTS. And it's not like he sees her very often. We were in class together a couple of times, and she was nice enough to take a look at his skin one time after class. That's it! But that's ok - I would rather have to work through thinking people are great than the "there's a dog out there" anxiety. :-) So here is some Rally run thru's for your viewing pleasure. I do have to say that I did feel like we were a bit disconnected ... but the run got better as we went along.

So that is our training update for last weekend. Soon I have some video to post from our agility class on Wednesday night.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The weekend!

Well we made it to the weekend! YAY! Just a quick note as I am headed out to Springfield to do a little bit of window shopping and see some friends. No way I was going to make the 8AM ring time for the dals today though - so hopefully some will be hanging around for a while.

Steeler had a totally awesome agility class on Wednesday. I am in a new class (same instructor) in a horse barn maybe 10 minutes from home! How awesome is that! When I got to class Catie had said to me - Let's see how he does, but maybe the earlier 7PM class might be a better fit for Steeler. I was a bit nervous (haha go figure) since it is 6 or 7 people and they are all competing many of them in Excellent, and new dogs for Steeler. And really I don't care if he is in the 7 or 8 PM class - either would be fine. But Steeler did AWESOME! It helped I think that I knew most of the people - at least in passing, and most of the dogs were crated when not running. I only had one minor panic attack when we had to do a straight row of jumps towards all the people watching and right towards an aussie that was watching - and then Steeler had to turn 180 degrees into the poles. I am not sure that he realized we were turning after the 3rd jump and I paniced and turned into a Lunatic yelling "come come come" because he was headed right at the Aussie (I thought). The panic only lasted a couple of seconds before Steeler turned and nailed his weave pole entry. And Steeler was able to to complete the whole course of 22 obstacles instead of the half a course at a time that we were doing previously. I did notice that his enthusiasm was starting to decrease a bit - and i realized that I had probably decreased the rate of reinforcement too fast. I get into the feeling of not wanting to hold up the class and forget to stop and give the dog a cookie sometimes. So next week I am going to try to remember to break things down a little bit more for him!

Thursday was shaping class night and I went up a little bit early to get a run thru in before class. He did pretty well - I am trying to get the food out of my hand since I feel like I have been using it as a crutch lately. Shaping class was good - though Steeler had a bit of trouble with a golden when we started moving around. So I just moved him away and we played Look at the Golden for a while. And Jane was kind enough to let us do some work around her new Toller puppy (OMG how cute!) and her Golden retriever as well - so it was a hard working night for Steeler. But he did really well! Oh and we did stays after class as well - and I have to say - those are coming along extremely well!

So today Steeler and I are headed to Springfield so we can practice going in and out of the building politely. Yes - that is why we are going, definitely not going to shop. :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday night agility fun

So tonight Steeler and I took a trip up to Franklin to drop in on Katrin's agility class. I always pick up something from any class I have taken with her. Tonight - well we know that Steeler knows how to "push my buttons" - our opening sequence was a series of jumps (4 jumps in a straight line but turning after jump #3) Steeler veered into me just a little bit after jump #2 and what did I do - I yielded space to him. And this after playing the space game with him quite a bit. Maybe not so much in the last month or so - but still it is something we play at least once a week. Sometimes I think I focus on the technical aspects of agility - and I need to learn to focus more on what Steeler and I are actually doing. Steeler is such a responsive dog - it only took a couple repeats of doing the opening sequence for him to realize that he had to jump all three jumps and I didn't have to keep repeating jump each time. Of course that also means that every time I drop my arm he comes into me!

The course was also set up to work on changes in lead (I think that is the right term - any horse people?) Katrin calls it "switch" and I use "Flip" as my cue. Steeler actually handled this very nicely once I figured out where I was supposed to be. Actually - I was really impressed since it is something that we work on occassionally and we started the basics in Katrin's Communication class last summer. Honestly I don't know that I have done much with it since then. But Steeler seemed to understand what I wanted when I said it! We had a little bit of trouble with the dog walk - but only in one direction which I thought was a bit odd.

What was also nice is that he didn't have any barking hissy fits with the dogs that he had never seen before. He wasn't real quiet in his crate - but he wasn't at his worst either. And he played tug with me after running - which for us is a key indication of how in sync we are! And I got to catch up with Katrin a bit. All things considered - it was worth the 2 hours of driving. :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

More on Treat and Retreat

For a great description of how this exercise came about - check out this article. In checking with a friend to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything, I was reminded that Ian Dunbar was the inspiration for this exercise and Suzanne Clothier had coined the term!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Suzanne Clothier's Treat and Retreat Game

This is for my friend Kim down in Florida! She has a spectacular spotted boy that runs agility with TONS of enthusiasm. There are a couple of people that they have run into at trials lately that seem to bother the spotted boy. So when she said she was going to see if they would take a few minutes to help her the next time she ran into them - I thought of Suzanne Clothier's Treat and Retreat Game. And Kim thought it sounded like a Blog Post!

Essentially you start with tossing the dog a treat so that the dog has to move towards the "strange people" a little bit. The person tossing the treat needs to move away from the dog - removing pressure away from the dog. When the dog then looks to the "stranger" again - toss cookie and move away while the dog is eating the cookie. I am sure I am not doing justice to the description of the exercise! At the seminar there was a dog attending that was somewhat leary of strangers. And with in maybe 30 minutes the dog was happily approaching one stranger and taking treats from the strangers hand. We then repeated the session with another stranger and the process was even quicker. It is VERY important to remember to take the steps away from the dog - even as the dogs skill and comfort is increases. Here is what I have in my notes:

-toss the treat when you are on the dogs radar then take a couple of steps back
-as the dog looks up toss a treat towards the dog, having it land so the dog has to take a step or two towards the stranger.
-DON'T forget to take those steps away
-Don't always make things harder and harder!
-ALWAYS leave the dog wanting more!
-Remember, the dog needs to tell you where to start.
-The DOG needs to make the choice to close the distance
-The dogs do seem to generalize this pretty quickly and eventually you will get to the point where you have to start working on only greeting people when you give permission.

Maybe if I can get my act together I can try to video a demo soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shaping Class

Well - the Steeler pup is taking a shaping class. Just a short 3 week session and he has lots of shaping experience, but I figured a class with new dogs would be a good thing since I am taking a break with obedience and agility for a bit. And I have to say, Steeler did AWESOME! Class starts at 6 which is a bit tight time wise for me, and we got there just a couple of minutes before class started. Steeler was excited to get there and get in the ring - so it took us a few minutes to get in the building since I am trying to be consistant about my requirements for a loose leash. :-) We sat next to a great Dane last night - I think Steeler thought he was a small pony. :-) The best part is that Steeler had NO reactions to the other dogs in class other than mild interest! YAY! And he did know 3 of the dogs, two from Obedience class and my friend Ann's dog Brandy who Steeler likes to play with is taking the class too. I was totally incredibly pleased with Steeler last night!

Today I subbed for Play Group and Puppy Kindergarden. Play Group is always rough on my nerves, but I did manage to survive. One of these days I am going to ask folks if they would mind if I video'd - because I sure would love some feed back on what other people see as appropriate play. After teaching we hung for an obedience lesson and Steeler got to do stays with some new dogs. He really is doing well! The sheltie next to him kept looking at him and inviting him to play and while steeler was definitely interested in the invitation (wagging his tail back) he stayed where he was! What a GOOD boy!!!!

Coming up in December with have a "nose work" seminar which I decided to do a working spot instead of just auditing. There will be a lot of people and dogs there that I know - so I think I will be able to work Steeler with out worrying too much about the dogs around us. Ann and Brandy will be there as will my friend Lisa and her husband and their two Malamutes. Plus some other friends that are in obedience class with us. Then there will be an APDT rally training party, and Steeler's first APDT Rally Trial on the 19th if we get in. Oh boy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

more video

A quiet weekend

It was nice to have a quiet weekend at home! It was even warm enough to get the lawn mowed one more time. Well at least half of it. I am still recovering from a cold and that was all my lungs were willing to handle.

When I first got Steeler, several people told me that I should be prepared to keep Keegan and Steeler separated - possibly for life. Keegan is my recovering reactive boy, and I wasn't sure how how Keegan would react to having a new dog in the house, let alone a male I was intending to keep intact until he was 14 months to 2 years old. Well we did have several moments when I thought that the boys would never be able to be buddies, but with some help (mostly hand holding according to Ann) the boys happily coexist. They play often outside and less often inside. This weekend I caught some play on video. I can't believe that in another month Steeler will be 4 and this winter Keegan will be 10!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good Boy Steeler

Steeler and I have been working on obedience stuff in addition to agility. Stays are my nemesis, though I am getting less and less nervous about them. Yesterday we went to a show n go at the training center. Steeler's first run was early before the start so that I could Steward for utility. Side note: some people are just plain nuts - though I am not training in utility yet so maybe I am full of it. Someone was very insistant that their articles that were scented not touch the other articles because there were 5 shows coming up and she wouldn't be able to show if the articles got mixed up.

OK - back on track! Steelers first run was nice! Great attention, stayed with me, his recall/front was dead on straight. We do need to work on working with a long line though. His first run can be found here. I need to teach Lisa how to edit - the video is a bit long. Steeler then spent some time in his crate in the building instead of out in the car. And he was actually pretty quiet! Good Boy! My friend Jane was crating her golden nearby so she fed Steeler several time for being quiet.

Later in the day, after lunch I brought Steeler back in for a second run. There significantly more noise and commotion, lots of people and dogs right on the ring gate. Steeler's heeling wasn't as nice - but he did pretty well. I was especially happy with the fact that I only had to call him back to me once (and he was only a couple feet away) - he wanted to go say hello to the border collie leaning up against the ring gate right in front of him. But his turn back to me was instant! And Judge Laurie said I did good! :-) Again his recall was very nice - even with the noise! And then there were those dreaded STAYS!!!! and OMG - Steeler STAYED! I know I shouldn't be surprised by now! But I knew I was rushing into the ring and I was too tight on the leash. Not that long ago being tight on the leash like that and walking past dogs would have had Steeler reacting to the other dogs around him. No reactions at all this time. For stays were were second dog from the end, between a sheltie and a lab. The sheltie he had seen a couple of times in class and a friend knew the woman with the lab - a very sweet yellow girl that Steeler was making eyes at. :-) I didn't actually let go of the leash for the sit stay - but Steeler stayed put even though he was making eyes with the lab. Then for the down Stay I did get all the way across the ring a few times, and spent the majority of the time about half way across. Steeler even held his stay when another dogs dumbell landed right behind him on the other side of the ring gate! What a good boy!

We even got to meet a new dalmatian puppy! She was very cute! And Amy was nice enough to walk her up and down the drive in front of Steeler so I could work on - oh look here comes a puppy! And Steeler was awesome!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One Tired Spotty dog

Well I have one tired spotty dog today and no pictures or video of what made him so tired. :-( Today we went up to my old stomping ground to pick up our raw food order from my friend Krissy. She usually picks up my order for me so I don't have to make that drive during the week and that gives us an excuse to take Steeler for a walk with one of her dogs. Usually her old girl as she seems to like Steeler and she doesn't like all dogs. Steeler had a great time! After that we stopped by the nursing home to see my Grandmother. Steeler stayed in the car for that visit as he moves too fast for my Gram. Actually he would be fine going for a visit - but since he makes my grandmother a bit nervous I decided he could take a nap in the car.

Then Steeler and I met my friend Ann who is dog sitting this weekend for Maetteo - an intact male Italian dog (I forget what she said he was - basically an Italian water dog). So - anyone that knows me would be reading this and saying - Wow ... Jenn took Steeler for a walk with another intact male dog - I wonder how much valium she needed? LOL - well the answer to that is NONE! Maetteo is a super sweet well mannered little boy! Steeler actually actually played with him! I wish I had gotten it on video. We went for our walk at a park near my house that I had driven by several times but never checked out with the dogs. It was a nice walk - not a long one - but there are places were the dogs can swim - and while we did run into a few dogs - it wasn't super crowded and mostly dogs were on leash. It seems like it would be a great place for training around strange dogs.

What I found very interesting about this walk with Maetteo is that Steeler never once reacted to him in a negative way. Usually we have a little bit of leash fustration to deal with and there was none of that today. We did run into a small white dog on our leash and I was able to actually move Steeler off the trail a couple of feet and have him focus on me and take treats! Usually we have a bit of trouble with this - I think because we usually run into big dogs that are straining to the end of their leash. So clearly I need to get some more practice in with smaller calmer dogs. We did have a bit of a reaction at the end of our walk while we were at the car to a yellow dog - maybe a golden mix. A couple of "let's go" and moving away from the dog got Steeler back focused on me and then I was able to move closer and c/t for looking at the dog and not reacting.

Ann thinks Maeteo's Mom would be up for some play dates - so maybe Steeler will have another walking buddy. I can't tell you how pleased I was with Steeler today! What a good boy! He's so dang cute when he is tired too!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stress! and a GREAT Tuesday Agility Class

So - I haven't posted in a while because I have been kind of cranky and whishy washy feeling about training, and work has been insanely busy, and just generally I think the pressure of everything has been getting to me. I am thinking that I might take a break from obedience class for a while. The stress of getting to class on time is just one added thing that I am having trouble with. I know I might not be able to get back into that class again - the competition classes where I go are full and someone pretty much has to die for there to be an opening in the next level class - and I don't want that to happen.

On the plus side - Steeler had a GREAT agility class tonight. We have a new dog in class - a Springer Spaniel who seems very out going. Steeler barked at him as we were coming up the path to the agilty field - so when we did our first run I asked for them to wait on the other side of the fence while we ran. And actually - Steeler was just a little bit distracted - but didn't leave me to go check them out. Catie had set up a novice course since a couple of people are competing this weekend for the first time and Steeler did GREAT. We've started putting him in his crate if he drifts off to be sniffy to break the pattern of leaving me for something he deems more interesting. No harsh words or handling - just a "oh you need a break" and into the crate for 10 seconds. What a difference that has made in just a couple classes. I really need to work on following through at home too. We ran the course 3 times tonight, and the second and third time Elliot (the new dog) was in the ring for the 2nd and 3rd run. On the 2nd run Steeler looked at him once and moved in his direction but was quickly back on course with me when I called him. And when I say "moved in his direction" - well Steeler probably only took maybe 3 steps in that general direction. Probably only because I started to get a litte anxious in that area because Steeler was coming down off the Aframe and then later thru the shute with a direct line of sight to Elliot. But my little boy NAILED his contacts (all of them) and his weave poles. Oh and he was able to run with me when there were a couple of people in the next class watching us who he really really wanted to say hello to. :-) I did let him say hello after - but at that point he was more interested in what I might have for him.

In the last month or so we have done a few other things as well. Steeler and I went to another APDT Rally match and Catie had run thru's at her house at the end of September. I am glad I went - even though it was raining! It wasn't too crowded and the people were all really nice - I played judge for someone and people played ring crew and in general were really helpful. Steeler was a bit distracted and had trouble running with all of those people and dogs watching. So I went back to starting with a restrained recall across the ring and working in the far corner. On the plus side - he was willing to play tug with me down there and we worked a series of jumps to the dog walk - with the dog walk coming back towards all the activity - and he nailed his contacts! On his last run - I did the same thing but instead of spending most of my time down there in the far corner - I played tug for 15 seconds - then did the jumps to the dog walk. Dog walk to table - then ran the entire novice course from the table. :-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Latest Training stuff with Steeler

So Steeler has been up to the usual stuff the last few weeks and a couple of new things. We went up to Keene NH for an APDT Rally match that was a lot of fun! Long ride for 2 runs ... but my friend Karen wanted to go - and she offered to drive! Steeler did GREAT! It was a totally new place for him, and while the crowd for the Rally match wasn't huge - it was at the Monadnoc Humane Society - so there were lots of people wandering around and barking dogs. I entered Steeler in 2 level 2 runs - Level two has a few exercises that we haven't worked on much yet - but I thought it would be a good thing for us. Of course the minute I stepped in the ring I realized I was WAY more nervous than I thought I would be! *sigh* I had every intention of doing the entire run off leash - but there were a couple of golden's ringside that Steeler was eyeing so I started on leash and then took the leash off at the first exercise that had a sit in it. Of course Steeler had to go explore a bit ... we really need to work on this! I was talking to my obedience instructor about it and she thinks at this point it is not about the treats that I do or don't have. So I will be thinking about that. This Sunday Steeler is entered in another APDT Rally Show n Go with 2 level 2 runs - but it is at our regular training center - so I expect that I will not be as nervous and Steeler will be more comfortable there. This time I will remember the video camera!

Obedience class and agility class continue to go well. Steeler had some really nice heeling and really nice stays this week. And my agility instructor thinks that I should actually enter Steeler in a trial!!!!! OMG - an actual trial?????

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Ok - once again I am behind in my posting. How on earth did it become September already? *sigh* Lots of stuff going on around here, not all of it dog related. Work is totally crazy at the moment - feels like we are starting our end of year rush to get stuff done a bit early! And it seems like the past couple of months I have spent several days driving to Cambridge for various and assorted science things. Pembroke to Cambridge is not really a fun commute! Thank goodness for Danielle next door who comes over to let the dogs out after school. On top of all the craziness at work, my grandmother fell a couple of weeks ago and though she managed to get up she still didn't feel well and my parents ended up calling the ambulance to come take her to the emergency room. Turns out she had 4 fractured ribs (or was it 5?) On a CAT scan there was no signs of a stroke but they did an MRI and found "water on the brain" ..... at least that is what my mom reported back from the neurologist. So now she is at a nursing home/rehab facility a few miles from my parents. I will hopefully be able to get up there this weekend again to see her. She was doing pretty well when I went up a couple of weekends ago - pretty resigned to realizing that she can't really live alone any more. Mom says she is doing even better now. So hopefully we can get her involved in some activities as well. More on dog related activities tomorrow!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Good week for the spotted boy!

Steeler has been a very good puppy this week! Tuesday night in class he did a great job. We worked on a lead out that is a little bit tough for Steeler - but when I went back and back chained it he had no trouble with it. We then had a little bit of trouble with a tunnel trap because I was going too far into the pocket - but we worked that out as well. Here is his second run through our little course. I really feel like things are coming together in his little spotted brain! Unfortunately Summer is coming to an end so it is getting dark much sooner these days so I don't know that the video quality will be that great!

Today I took Steeler to an APDT Rally Training Party that a friend had organized. It was fun! The APDT signs are a little bit different from AKC Rally - and in my humble opinion - more fun as well. APDT actually has some of the advanced obedience exercises in the rally courses. So things like signals, moving stands ... you know - the fun stuff! We did a level two course and a level three course today. We had a little bit of a rocky start - but once I figured out that - 1. I was a bit nervous, and 2. that Steeler knew that I was "worried" I increased his rate of reinforcement and he than worked very happily! There are some things that Steeler is not quite ready for - like the signals exercise in level three, and the drop on recall exercise. But we worked on things just slightly modified. And I think I have been talked into trying a APDT Rally Match next weekend up in NH. Oh boy!
Run #1

Run #2

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Busy Busy weekend for the Steeler Puppy!

Well Steeler and I have had a very busy weekend! On Friday we got together with Ann and Brandy and worked on some individual agility stuff and then on some control unleashed exercises together. Brandy and Steeler make pretty good play partners. Then I met Lisa with Brew and Winnie and we worked on obedience stuff. We did stays, stand for exam, some heeling, drop on recall .... the usual stuff. It was nice to be playing in the AC instead of the heat!

Then Saturday morning I got up early threw some boxes of books in the car and headed over to Ann's where they were having a neighborhood yard sale. Didn't sell anything, but Steeler got to play meet and greet with the people that stopped by. He was VERY good with a timid boy that really wanted to pet him - but flinched if Steeler moved. He did eventually pet Steeler for a second. We let Steeler and Brandy play in the back yard for a while, while Paul tried to get some actual work done on the computer inside. We packed stuff up sometime after noon, and tried Steeler and Nico in the back yard. Not such a good idea. Nico is 12 ish and his back legs don't work quite as well as they used to. Nico got just a little bit to forward for Steeler and then couldn't back away when Steeler let him know that he was not happy. :-) No harm done - but probably they will just be walking buddies. Steeler and Brandy got to practice Mat work while we had lunch - then we took Steeler to the barn!

Last time we were at the barn, Steeler was a bit anxious about the horses. But at the end of our session when he saw Ann hand out treats to the horses he seemed to relax quite a bit. I was really happy to see that had carried over to this session - almost 6 weeks after the first session. Something clicked in his brain and we were working within a couple of feet of Ann's horses while she gave them a bath. We spent about 2.5 hours at the barn! Add that to the morning spent hanging out and playing with Brandy - well I had one very very tired puppy last night.

This morning we got up and headed to an Agility Games Seminar with Catie. So, most people know I get a bit anxious doing agility around other dogs with Steeler. I actually had a dream last night that I was at a seminar and the instructor told everyone that Steeler was a bad dog. LOL That is not something that Catie would say at all but still - I woke up nervous. The seminar was geared towards dogs that were novice competitors already and Steeler is not quite ready for a whole course without some reinforcement. There were 12 working spots - so that is 11 other handlers and dogs ... plus there were a few auditors that had dogs with them as well. ACK!!! Actually - everyone was really nice - I think several of them are in classes together, and I did know one woman that was there with her BC, Trixie. Trixie is a sweet little BC girl that I already know Steeler is comfortable with. She doesn't have that strong stare that some of the BC's have.

First we worked on Snooker! Lots and Lots of questions about snooker. When I first started agility years and years ago, we started in USDAA, and the snooker rules haven't changed much. Steeler did really well on the first course we ran. He did drift a little bit - ok actually he drifted right out the back door. Good thing there were no horses out there. So we closed the doors and started again. Second time around was much better. I was reallly pleased with how well he stuck with me and when he did drift because the smells were too enticing he did come back when I called him. That in itself is a big improvement. He is hitting his Aframe contact at full height which is just amazing to me, since we really just started working on that a couple of months ago.
Here is his second snooker run. This course was a bit harder than the first one.

We spent so much time on Snooker that we decided to skip discussing Gamblers and instead focus on Pairs and FAST. And yes I did run Steeler in Pairs!!!! He was wonderful. I ran with Trixie and her mom whose name I can't remember. Steeler never even looked at her when we handed off the baton and he was jumping into the crowd as well. He didn't even become "spazzy boy" while watching Trixie run! By the time we got to FAST, Steeler was pretty much done for the day. It was HOT HOT HOT today and I don't think he napped in his crate at all in between his runs. I can't tell you how pleased I was with the spotty boy today! He was hanging out in the hallway letting dogs pass him by within inches with nothing more than an occassional glance to see who it was. I think it helped that there were only 3 other "big" dogs. Two BC's and a Chessie. We had 3 or 4 Caveliers, a poodle, an ACD, a Havanese I think, and I don't know what else. Steeler is one tired puppy tonight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The video is up ...

So the video from Tuesday nights class is up, unedited ...
the first time through is here
second time through and the last time through.

Also - since I don't talk about the other two often ... here is a couple of pictures of Keegan and Steeler playing. You can see Logan in the background sleeping. There was a time that many people told me that I might have to keep Steeler and Keegan separated - Keegan is not fond of new dogs and after a couple of bad experiences he became pretty dog reactive. He is much much better now - but he and Steeler had a couple of rocky starts to their friendship. So now when I see them play together it makes me very happy! The stuffed bunny didn't last long - they are playing tug with his tail! Yesterday we went back to the barn and today we are off to an agility games seminar! I know the rules for the USDAA games - but this will be a great opportunity to see how we cope with a larger number of people and dogs around while we do agility. And by we - yes I mean ME!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Totally awesome class tonight!

Steeler had a totally awesome class tonight. We were working a sequence of 10 obstacles - haven't looked at the video yet to see how much of it I got on tap though. The first really cool thing for Steeler and I tonight was that I grabbed his ratty old tug toy on a rope out of the back of the van for class because I forgot his frisbee - and Steeler played a rousing game of tug with me. In fact he was so into his tug that when I hid it on the course he couldn't run with me at all. Silly boy. He was all over the place looking for his tug! So Catie had me bring him back and run with the tug in my hand. She said - don't worry about the whether or not he has the self control to run with it out there but not in my hand for now. That even running with the tug in my hand will help build some self control. I am totally psyched about his wanting the tug - because previously he (hmm or is it me???) hasn't been relaxed enough to play with me.

So the first bit of the sequence wasn't too hard - tunnel to the poles to the aframe. I need to work on Steeler getting some independent obstacle performance on it - but once I figured out that I was changing the picture too drastically he nailed his contact. Then starts the harder stuff. I really thought that going from the Aframe to the next jump was going to be an issue - but surprise surprise - when I keep my arm out he understood to come over the jump to me instead of just coming to me ... so lets see ... 4 to 5 were jumps ... They were side by side - so that would make it a 180? then the plan was to come in between the jumps and head straight out to jumps 6 and 7. Handling it that way made the line to 6 and 7 a straight line even though the jumps were angled. What we were supposed to be working on was sending over jump 7 - keeping the arm out (no words) to support jump #8. Then Jump 8 to the shoot to a front cross on the landing side of jump 10.

Even with the humidity up here in the northeast - Steeler was MOVING for class!!!! I am just so pleased with him! :-) Video is going to have to wait till tomorrow though. I need to be at work early tomorrow which means I really need to go to bed!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Distance work!

So this week at class we worked on distance work. Hopefully the links to the videos work. They can also be found on Youtube - search for agilitydal! So - Distance with sending to jumps and tunnels, sending to the weaves, and distance from the contact obstacles. The first exercise we worked was at full spotty speed over jumps and into a tunnel, over another jump and into a tunnel and then back. It was harder than it looked! We had a lot of trouble with the reverse trip - but I think I know what need to do now to get the path that I want and send Steeler in the correct tunnel entrance. Now I just need to set it up and practice! First I need to mow the lawn though. I tried to stay conscious of remaining upbeat and connected with Steeler throughout the class as well.

Next up was a weave pole exercise. We haven't worked the weave poles much lately and I don't think that I have ever worked entries that extreme with him either. He didn't have a ton of speed going through the poles - but once he realized that is what I wanted him to do he was willing to give it a try. Right before we started the exercise Laurie asked me if I wanted her and Solo to move ... and of course until she said something I hadn't given it a thought! She stayed where she was - and while Steeler was a bit confused at first - he had no interest in bothering solo.

The last thing we did was a quick exercise with the contacts. I was really pleased with his contact behavior - but we definitely need some distance work!

I think Caties class is really starting to pay off for us. When steeler was a puppy I did a lot of foundation stuff with him, but then I didn't really find a good class for us until this summer. The class I was in before just didn't have enough instruction for us! I need the reminders to stand up straight and get my cues out sooner .... etc ... and some one to yell at me when I grab at Steeler. I think Steeler is happy here too! And I decided that he was doing well enough that I should try Caties USDAA games/FAST seminar coming up on the 23rd. OH BOY!!!! 12 working teams .... OH BOY!!!! and the good thing is that it is at the barn in Duxbury which is 10 minutes from my house!!!! So no travel time! YAY.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tuesday Agilty Class

So once again I am running behind on posting. :-) Oh well. I am taking a video camera to agility class and using it when I can. Mother nature conspires against me often with rain or mist though. Last class I did get some video though. I knew that my handling had slipped a lot from the days of competing with Logan and Keegan ... but when Catie said I was bending too much I didn't realize just how much bending I was doing until I watched the video! OH MY!!!! Steeler's handler has some work to do! You can watch the video here. It was a tough course for me .... and for Steeler too. We had done a lot of baby agility work between 2 months and 9 months old, but after that we took a long break and just did some private lessons and an occassional class here and there until a few months ago.

Also at this class - Steeler's "sit" at the start line seemed to really fall apart. I have no idea what was up with that. And then my brain fizzled. I had asked him to sit, but he didn't sit ... well now what ... pull out a cookie? Help him sit????? My brain just fried! LOL I don't usually manhandle my dog so much. But like I said - I was feeling a little frazzled!

I also discovered that if I put Steeler in a sit/stay while walking the course without tethering him to something he will stay there ... but having the ability to move (ie not tethered) means he doesn't feel the need to bark. Hmmmm .... you suppose he is anxious about being tethered?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A little bit of sunshine ....

Should definitely be taken advantage of! Especially this summer in New England!!!! Of course that brief bit of nice weather didn't last long, it is raining yet again. Yesterday I brought Steeler over to my friends Ann and Paul's place. They have two dogs, Brandy and Nico. Brandy and Steeler have done some previous work together recently and I knew that they would probably get along with each other. But it's been probably a year and half since Steeler has seen Nico. And while Nico doesn't really care about the dogs around him, I worry about how Steeler would react if he got nervous. I am doing much better with dogs exchanging butt sniffs... but when they go nose to nose I get just a bit nervous (ok maybe more than a bit). At any rate - we took the 3 dogs for a walk. Ann and Paul are not far from the Blue Hills reservation and near a equestrian facility. So we walked up the trail to look at the horses - no reaction at all from Steeler. Then we walked through the woods up to the pipeline. After Nico was turned loose, and ran full tilt towards Steeler with no reaction from Steeler, we let Steeler off leash as well. I had a couple moments where I was nervous, but I think it was just me being over anxious. Steeler and Nico ran around for a bit, and then Nico had to go back on leash for the rest of the walk. Nico (he's 12) is supposed to be taking it easy and building up to those energetic romps in the woods. We put Steeler back on leash and let Brandy loose. After working on her recall a few times, we let Steeler loose as well. Steeler and Brandy played for a bit, and we gave them a break when it got a bit too exuberant. Neither Ann or I want to have their play tip over into something more frantic. They did great together ... and Steeler seemed totally unbothered by Nico. So Steeler has two more buddies that he can walk with where I can work on relaxing a bit more. :-) Below is a short video from our walk.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fabulous Weekend for the Steeler puppy!

This weekend was rather busy for us - though not as busy as some weekends can get! On Saturday my dad came down and we took care of the cedar branches that had come down over the winter and did some weeding and bush trimming. FYI - always keep an eye on the extension cord when you are using the electric trimmer!!! :-) Otherwise the sparks will fly! Dad also worked on the lawn mower - which still won't start, and the snowblower, which still won't start - but probably just needs a new spark plug. (fingers crossed on that one). Didn't quite get the AC unit installed in the bedroom - but it's not too bad with a couple of strategically placed fans. Dad left about 3:30 and then I had to get ready for our class that is based on some of Leslie McDevitt's exercises in Control Unleashed. It was HOT and humid on Saturday even at 4:30 and the back yard doesn't have a whole lot of shade at that time.

We are working on Box Work, and Give Me a Break. This week there were four of us. Lindy the aussie (I think she is ~12), Seamus the Berner, who gets reactive when other dogs rush him, Nahar the aussie/BC mix who was only adopted by his owner in February. While the other dogs were learning about the give me a break game, Steeler and I were working on shaping some relaxation. OMG that is hard!!! I have worked so hard on having Steeler focus on me and not really pay attention to the other dogs around him, that he will happily lie on his mat for extended amounts of time on the off chance I might drop him a cookie. So this week he only got cookies when he was doing something other than looking at me using that spotty will power to get cookies.

Steeler and I did some work around the box while Seamus was working in the box and the boys did great. Seamus didn't seem all that concerned about Steeler or Nahar walking around outside while he was working inside. Seamus was even ready to handle both Steeler and Nahar walking around outside the box. Yay Seamus! Steeler and Seamus did some sits and downs very close together but with the gate between them. Both boys did wonderfully. And Steeler and I practiced some formal heeling as well as loose leash walking around the other dogs. And Steeler was able to hang out on his mat and let Lindy come walking by as well as Nahar .... Both dogs got pretty close to him and he didn't care! Whoo hooo!

Today was obedience day! I volunteered to help out at the Show n Go up at MasterPeace Dog Training from 9 - 12:30. So I went up early so I could work Steeler in the building before the rush started and of course he was a good boy. I worked the open ring today - and it is nice to work the list of people from the begining! Much less confusing than when you take over half way thru. Things were running pretty smoothly for a change! I thought about crating Steeler in the building while I worked - but I really thought that he would just be a basket case in a crate with dogs coming and going all around him - so I left him in the car backed up to the building with the back gate open and reflective tarps to keep out the sun. He was much happier out there and the car actually stayed cooler than it was outside!!! We also took several breaks since things were running so smoothly so I was able to get him in and out of the building several times. I really dislike crowds myself - so it is even harder for me to relax with Steeler in a crowd. Steeler is doing great though!!!! He only had one minor growl when I was trying to get away from a dobie on a flexi lead that was visiting while his owner was talking to someone else. And it wasn't the dobie that he grumbled at but the boxer on the other side of us. *sigh* Honestly - why would you bring your dog into a crowded training facility on a flexi ... if you are going to do that at least lock the leash at 5 or 6 feet. ARGHHH!!!!!! Of course this had to happen as we were getting to do stays - which I dread as it is!!! However - Steeler recovered very quickly and was able to do the long sit and downs without issue. I did sits and downs with the open crowd since the novice ring was kind of crazy. :-) For the first set of Stays - I kept Steeler on leash since I was so wound up. I did another set later with a group of 5 dogs and I was able to actually drop the leash and walk across the ring instead of staying at the end of the leash. So we are making progress!

I was very pleased with Steeler's behavior today - both in the ring and out of it. And he is a tired boy now! Spotty dogs are especially cute when they are tired!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday and Tuesday classes.

Monday night is obedience night at my house. This week we were working outside the ring. Typically I really hate it when we do this! It means working in tight quarters and that other dogs coming in for agility class have to come through us. So even though I hate it - it is good for me to work on that kind of environmental stress. Steeler did GREAT. He grumbled once at Dove (the golden puppy) as she walked in, but he was able to get passed Dove and into the ring without even looking at her. The only other time he seemed to see her was when a group of 4 was working on Stays and the other group of four were heeling behind them on the other side of a ring gate. The first time it was our turn to heel, Steeler sat very nicely beside me and then when I said Heel, he took off towards Dove who was on the end of the stay line. Since he still had a leash on he didn't go very far, and it didn't seem like he did it with and real intent other than maybe investigate - so maybe we are making some progress. And he did come right back and start working with me, which he might not have done a couple of years ago. And the second time around he never showed any interest in Dove. Oh yeah - and when we were doing stays and people were heeling behind us - Steeler glanced in their direction - but never broke his stay! Even when it was Doves turn to heel!

Agility class last night was great! We worked on some really hard stuff for Steeler and I. I can set him up in front of a jump and be in lots of different places and he will take the jump in front of him - but this course required that he take 2 jumps in front of him before turning in my direction! And it was a twisty turning course that we were working on. Of course we only worked the first 8 obstacles - but that was enough. And I am much more confident that steeler is going to stick with me now and was able to have Laurie and Solo in the ring with us and hanging out behind where Steeler was setting up! And Steeler never once showed any signs that he even noticed that there was a dog behind him. Next week I am going to see if can finagle some video. Apparently I am dropping my arm at times and Steeler actually crashed a 16 in jump because of some weird cues I was sending.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steeler goes to the barn!

Updates for the past week ....
Obedience class continues to go well. And this week I dropped into a different agility class so that I could head to Maine on Tuesday. The dogs stayed at my parents house with Brian to look after them.
So - after a week away the dogs were very happy to see me again (and Laurie, grandma, Aunt Dot, Barb, the kids and my parents). On Saturday we were supposed to have our self control class in my yard but one person got stuck in traffic in NH, another had a headache, and another classmate also ran into a problem. So it was just me and Steeler ... and Ann and Paul with the video camera. The video still needs to be digitized - but hopefully I will get to see it soon.

Today Steeler and I took a trip to Ann's - me for brunch (yum!) and Steeler to make a visit to the barn where Ann keeps her horses. I don't know why I didn't think of asking her if we could do this years ago! Well other than the fact that there is another dog there that is not always dog friendly and I just never thought to ask.

It took us FOREVER to reach the barn! Ok maybe not that long. From the car it is oh - maybe 100 feet to the barn. I am not that good with distances. I haven't put a lot of emphasis on Steeler being "with me" when we get out of the car in new places. I just tend to loose patience and want to get to the good stuff. Well this time, we took our time. There were LOTS of new smells for Steeler to check out. Eventually he was able to take more than one step before lunging ahead of us. The horses at the barn are very dog savy. Barking dogs don't bother them. So I was able to bring Steeler all the way into the barn to work on being near the horses and the horse noises. There were a couple of times that I thought Steeler was clearly anxious inside the barn and he started barking. But when I moved in front of him to block his view he stopped barking and was able to sit and look at the horses again. We spent some time in the barn and then moved back outside so that Ann could clean hooves (I am sure there is a fancy term for it) and do whatever else needed doing. Steeler was clearly more comfortable outside watching the horses than inside, but one thing that I noticed that was interesting was that when I took the leash back from Ann (She had been holding the leash so I could move to block Steeler's view when nessessary) and Ann went to say hello to the horses - Steeler's whole body posture changed. It was like he watched Ann go rub noses and thought - Oh well the horses must be ok then. He was much more relaxed after that! And our walk back to the car was accomplished easily on a loose leash with no pulling! Hopefully we will be able to do this some more. We've been seeing horses where we walk and it would be nice if he thought they were nothing special. :-)

Now to finish all the laundry and clean the house! UGH!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Steeler takes a walk with Winnie the Malamute puppy

OK - so she is 7 months old and has about 20 pounds on him, but she is still a puppy and I still worry that he wants to tell all puppies exactly who is boss in his world. Though I think that once puppies hit 6 or 7 months old he generally does much better with them. We started with a quick walk around Lisa's house with the youngsters before heading to the state park. They did great together except when they went nose to nose and I got tense ... just a little bit of grumbling that had Lisa and I debating the wisdom of including Winnie on our walk. We debated and debated and then finally decided (since the dogs were lying down next to each other waiting for us to decide) that we might as well take her. Worst case scenario - I would put Steeler on a long line and keep him with me instead running all over the place. So off we went!

And of course the dogs were all fine together. Steeler and Brew have been walking for a while now, and Logan has never met another dog that she can't take a walk with. Right at the beginning we ran into a few horses waiting to cross the road and another pair of dogs. Lisa was ahead of me and told them the dog on a leash (that would be Steeler) didn't like strange dogs in his face and the guys were great ... Steeler was straining to investigate - but not doing his Cujo impersonation and we just kept walking by them. So a bit of an improvement. After that we ran into two horses on our way back to the car but no other dogs.

Not much else to report on .... obedience class and agility class are going really well. Steeler hasn't reacted to Dove the golden puppy much the last couple of classes which is good. We are getting LOTS of heeling practice and lots of work with long Stay's. Last Tuesday at agility class Steeler "met" Solo through the fence, with no growling until Steeler had his feet up on the gate and Laurie was feeding him and Solo thought maybe he should get a treat too. But Laurie said his "growl" was really half hearted and didn't have much oomph behind it. Then Steeler realized that I wasn't standing there any more and had to come looking for me. Then I sent him back to Laurie and he and Solo were fine! I talked to Laurie after class and we are going to try to get together at some point in the next couple of months to continue working on my relaxing a bit with Solo and Steeler. We also have a "back yard" class running based on some of Leslie McDevitt's exercises in Control Unleashed. We've had two classes so far, and Steeler is handling intruders in the yard just fine. This week we worked more on relaxing on the mat and some box work. I don't know that I will ever have a dog that melts into his mat - but we will continue to work on it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Behind yet again!

Some days I feel like I will never catch up! So here is a short run down on our latest adventures! Steeler's Monday night obedience class continues to go well. We are getting used to working around Dove the golden puppy. Dove is very sweet - and just way too cute as well - and I am trying really hard to not expect there to be a problem. The first week we moved back to the earlier class was a bit rough - but this week he hardly seemed to notice her at all. Winnie the malamute puppy now has at least 10 pounds on Steeler and he doesn't seem to concerned about her anymore. Maybe one day soon Lisa and I will take them for a walk together and see how they do. On one had it is nice for Brew to have his walk with Steeler and time away from the "baby" - but on the other hand - Winnie needs the exercise too ....

Tuesday night agility is awesome!!! Steeler is now running with Solo the briard in the ring. Steeler hasn't even looked at him with any intensity in the last two weeks. And this week he did the dog walk with Solo about 8 feet away and in his line of sight. He didn't quite meet my 2 on 2 off criteria - and he kept glancing at Solo - but he didn't bail off the dog walk and he might have been looking at Solo because I was glancing at him to keep track of what they were doing. Last nights course was a lot of fun ... and had some hard parts for Steeler. And it was still raining and misty - so I was thrilled with Steeler's attention and desire to play in the rain. He is not a dog that enjoys being wet! LOL - he did earn his nickname of "sissy boy" a few years ago as his grandma will remember. Last night he did the A frame at almost full height and was able to hold onto his contacts a couple of times. When he didn't - he was clearly thinking about it and knew that he was supposed to stop. Yippee! I think full speed at a trial is going to be interesting the first time out, but we shall see. He is really starting to put things together and I think I better start a sprinting program! He is "border collie" fast!

Last weekend we went to Maine Friday and Saturday to hang out with friends at the agility trial in Cumberland. On Friday there was a match after the show, and we were pretty much looking like drowned rats by then. I had signed Steeler up for 4 runs, but only did 2 of them. The weather was just miserable! I didn't really feel like I got a lot of agility out of our runs - but he stayed with me and he played tug with me in the ring! So all things considered I feel that it was a successful afternoon for us. He handled Sara running under the easy up with Carina before I even saw them coming with no issues at all. Steeler knows Carina - but only see's her a couple of times a year so I was thrilled that Carina could run into his space and he didn't care one bit. We had a bit of a growly moment with Axl the GSD - but I think I caused that by tightening up on the leash and pulling him back. Later that weekend he was fine with Axl hanging out within 6 or 8 feet. After the match we drove back to Dawn's, picking up dinner along the way. Of course once we were on our way home the rain stopped and the sun came out a bit. After drying out - Steeler got to play with Aura, Dawn's sweet little liver girl. Aura warmed up to Steeler much quicker this time and they played well together. Then Rachael and family dropped by with Jenna who Dawn was showing in the breed ring on Saturday. I thought that Steeler and Jenna would play quite a bit since they had spent a whole week together last year at the national - but Jenna was being a little bit bitchy this weekend. Steeler took it in stride though - and I used it to practice calling him away from another dog. He was just the BEST!

On Saturday Steeler and also worked on being near Corey (another one of Sara's dals - he's 4 and still intact) and both boys handled it well. Sara is working hard on Corey's attention because he wants to play with EVERYONE! We also saw Laurie with Solo and met her husband Dave and the rest of her crew ... Rio and Shadow. Steeler practiced walking past their expen several times - and he had absolutely nothing to say about it ... just walked on by wagging his tail as if to say - Mom - I already know Solo!!!! I've been warned that once Steeler like Briards that he will probably like all of them - but they are not all as nice as Laurie and Dave's crew!

On Sunday - Ann came over and brought lunch, which was a good thing since I haven't been to the store yet! We watched the Sara Kalnajs DVD Am I Safe. Well we watched disc 1. We had to keep stopping to talk about what we saw vs what Sara was seeing. It was fun! We are going to do disc 2 at some point.

OK this is long enough for now. Look for a posting on the Suzanne Clothier seminar that I went to a couple of weekends ago! I have to say - she is a great speaker, and FUNNY! If you ever get a chance to see her it is well worth the money!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Classes so far this week....

Last night was obedience night and I have to say - Steeler did great. We switched back to the 5:45 class since Maria has a new job (YAY!!!!) and wasn't sure if she could make the early class. There are a couple of intact boys in the class - And Steeler really didn't care at all about them. He did join in the barking a few times, but really I guess that would be kind of a normal dog response. And we have a puppy in the class. A few times Steeler has not handled puppies well and I usually avoid them if at all possible. This time though we were able to work through a lot of it - including having to set up for a heeling pattern that started in front of the puppy. We still need some work there - but he is getting better all the time.

Tonight was agility class. There was a new (to Steeler not agility) Belgian Mal in the class. A girl who Steeler thought he just had to say hi too. Our first sequence that we worked on he had no trouble with the other dogs being in the ring. And he handled the sequence really well. Even when I twisted my ankle in the sand. On the second sequence he really just HAD to go say hi to Jazz. *sigh* So we had to work through that a bit. Really he just wanted to play with her. I was a bit nervous at first because she seems a bit reactive, barking and lunging at the dogs while they are running. But maybe that is just part of a herding breed??? I don't have that much experience with Mals, even though I have a friend that has a couple. We had to work the rear cross a bit, but we haven't worked much on rear crosses.

And the best part of class tonight was that Steeler was hanging out withing 4 feet of Solo - the young intact Briard that he initially had some trouble with - and the boys were great. Steeler showed no signs of anxiety around Solo. Solo of course thinks that they should be able to play - but I am not ready to test that theory yet.

I am looking forward to our Communications class this week as we are working on some toy stuff. I really need to build some toy desire back into Steeler's toolbox in places other than the back yard.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Training Time

Today Steeler and I went to a "training party" organized by Karen. We all had obedience run thru's and worked on whatever else we wanted with our friends. Steeler was just AWESOME today! First - he took a little short walk with Winnie - the malamute puppy that is now bigger than he is and I think he has decided that she is ok. We might try a walk in the woods at some point this summer. Second - he was SUPER hanging out with dogs going past him and he felt comfortable enough to just lie down and hang out. Third we did some work with a Collie puppy - I don't remember how old she is now - maybe 7 or 8 months? And the two of them went nose to nose at one point, kind of by accident - and Steeler has decided that she is ok too! He had no reaction when I called him away. We worked on Stays as well and we did a bunch of short ones where I actually took the leash off for a change and went all the way across the ring! And to top that all off - his novice run thru was spectacular! His heeling was awesome, his recall was great even if his front was just a little bit crooked. His stand for exam was pretty good too, just a little bit of minor shifting of the feet when Karen walked in to do the exam. He LOVES his auntie Karen - so to stand still while she comes in is really hard for him.

After that we stopped at Ann's house to do some more training. Ann and I have made a pact to try to get together more often to actually do more training stuff with our dogs. Some friends of hers with a little white dog named Harry also came down to add another dog to the mix. While we were waiting for Harry, we started with just Brandy and Steeler hanging out - they are both a lot alike - this is BORING when are we going to MOVE! When Harry arrived, we took the dogs down the street to an area that I think links up with the Blue Hills Reservation(?). At any rate - we took the dogs for a walk through the woods where Steeler and Brandy went nose to nose sniffing the same spot a couple of times with no reaction from either of them. We saw some horses as well. When we got to a wide open spot where we could see for quite a ways we worked on taking the leash on and off with Steeler. It seems I have done a spectacular job of pairing the leash going on, the appearance of other dogs, and mom getting nervous to result in Steeler doing a cujo impersonation. So we are going to try to uncouple that by working with dogs I know first! Instead of trying to jump straight to strange dogs. At least it isn't just putting the leash back on that causes this reaction, so we have a place to start! And I know he can do this - because we can walk all around the agility trials and not have a reaction to other dogs passing within a foot or two.

All in all, we had a great day hanging out with friends! But now Steeler and I are tired! :-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tagged! - how my dogs came to me

So- I've been tagged by Julie - to tell the story of how my dogs came to me.

Logan - Logan is my first spotted dog, my first very own dog, who came to me from the Conneticut Humane Society. Brian and I went to visit the humane society on July 3rd, 1998, where he had adopted Puka (pooka)the year before. Really - we just went to look. I had been laid off in June and I was "thinking" about getting a dog. Brian agreed that if/when I did get a dog that the dog could stay with him since I couldn't keep dogs at my apartment. Heck - they could even visit which meant I was spending most of my time in CT instead of in RI. So - we are at the shelter - and there is this really cute 3 month old spotted dog all alone in her kennel. Her brothers were together playing across the aisle. I just HAD to take her home. I had to! So about an hour later - after going to the bank to get cash and signing all the paper work, I walked out with a little spotted girl. Did I know anything about dogs, or puppies at that time???? Nope! I got her because I wanted a dog and she was cute and all alone! Never gave a thought to whether or not Puka (who was about 1 1/2 yo) would like having another dog around? What was I going to tell my parents .... sigh. The next day we were headed to my parents for the 4th of July cookout and we told them that Logan was Brians dog! It took me until April of 1999 (when Brian got out of the Navy and moved back to Chicago) to finally tell my mother that Logan was really mine. And since I was living with my parents after finding a job in Cambridge, could she come live here with JR (my parents dog - whose name stands for Jennifer's Replacement) who was 11 at the time and had never really been around many other dogs. Thank goodness that JR had the temperament of a golden retriever (he was part golden part chow). JR took to having Logan in the house without any issues! Do you think I realized how lucky I was to have a dog with Logan's personality?

Enter Keegan in May of 2000. Brian had moved back to MA (because he missed me)and I had bought a house. I had discovered agility and dog training. While I absolutely adored Logan's laid back personality (except for some separation anxiety)- she didn't LOVE agility. She was happy to train and play, but would only run as fast as I did. I decided that I wanted a dog that loved to run. So - Brian and I went to the animal shelter up in Salem - to LOOK. The north shore animal league maybe? And there was a litter of black lab mixes that had come up from TN. The puppies were about 14 - 15 weeks old and we were told part Belgian sheep dog and part chocolate lab. We happened to have Logan and Puka in the car and we decided that we should get a boy as we already had two girls. At least this time we checked to see if the dogs would get along. So at 8:30 that evening we left with a new addition to our four legged family. Now we had Puka (Brian's dog) Logan (my dog) and Keegan (our dog). Little did I know what I was getting into this time around. Keegan has taught me a phenomenal amount of things about animal behavior and dog training. Who knew that socialization window was slamming shut so fast and that Keegan would become afraid of big dogs as he got older and lash out with teeth when he felt cornered. He has come incredibly far in the last 7 years (he is 9 now)but doesn't love to compete - probably due to a variety of reasons and not just the fact that he doesn't care for other dogs. He and Logan are my resident couch potatos and bed warmers. So after the addition of Keegan in 2000, I was no longer allowed to "visit" any animal shelters .... 6 years pass ..... I move, Brian moves out to go to Grad School in NY, and in 2005 I decide I am ready to start thinking about adding another dog. Enter Steeler, Kingdom's Thief of Hearts, CGC, TDI.

Steeler Dealer Puppy Dog - OH boy. I thought when I started looking for a dalmatian breeder that it would take me at least a year to find what I was looking for and maybe even longer before there might be a puppy available. I had lot's of things that I wanted in a litter. I wanted a puppy from a raw feeding litter, I wanted someone that did the Puppy Stimulation exercises, I wanted someone that was willing to give me a puppy unvaccinated as I didn't want to vaccinate until the pup was 12 weeks old and I wanted to do single vaccines rather than 5 or 7 at once. For that reason I wanted a winter puppy as well if I could. LaDonna of Kingdom Dalmatians had emailed me that she had a litter arriving for December of 2005. At first I thought - no that is too soon, I'm not ready yet. And so I didn't respond other than to say thanks for the information. Well after the puppies were born she emailed me again to tell me that they had arrived - all 12 of them, 6 boys and 6 girls. Well - I thought - lets see what she thinks of all my questions? And I sent her an email that had to be 3 pages long. Instead of trying to answer that email - she picked up the phone and gave me a call. We almost immediately discovered that we had a lot of common interests as far as dogs went and probably spent 45 minutes on the phone talking. I had said I wanted a girl because I thought that would be easier for Keegan and she said that I could pretty much pick my puppy - after the stud owner picked her puppy and Barb the co-breeder picked her puppy. I could come out and test them if I wanted too, whatever I decided would be fine with her. So when the pups were 6 weeks old I flew out to visit my friend Donna for the weekend who lives in Pittsburgh. Being the BEST friend that she is - we drove out on Saturday to see the puppies for the first time. LaDonna had been telling me that she thought she had the perfect agility puppy for me and it was *gasp* a BOY!!! but I could decide on my own. So we went out and videotaped and did some puppy testing that day. And when I left I had it narrowed down to 2 or 3 puppies. Donna says that she knew I was going to pick Steeler aka Goose the boy that LaDonna thought would be perfect. Luckily Donna's husband Will is a great guy and while Donna was working - he took me back to LaDonna's for another look at the puppies. And yes - LaDonna was right ... I ended up deciding that "Goose" as he was known was going to be mine! Steeler has a couple of spots or combination of spots that are heart shaped - hence his name Kingdom's Thief of Hearts. OK kind of corny I know ... but really I had every intention of getting a girl!!! but he stole my heart. LOL

So I think I am supposed to tag someone else??? So I tag Kim
and Lisa

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saturday's Agility Match

...or a continuation of my obsession with dog behavior. On Saturday I had planned to spend the day at the agility trial with my friend Dawn and Ghost. Since car trouble and other issues canceled those plans I took my time getting up there on Saturday. I dropped Keegan and Logan at my parents house, got some lunch and headed over to see who I could find at the trial site.

Steeler and I walked around and around the agility rings and I couldn't have asked for better behavior. We were passing within a few (2 -3) feet of other dogs and handlers and the occasional puppy. Even a dalmatian puppy, with no reaction other than occasional mild interest. We stopped at Kathy and Sandy's tent to hang out for a while and chat. I used to train with Kathy when I lived in Chelmsford so it was good to see her and chat for a while. Of course we (I) had to talk about behavior and get her take on what happened on Friday night. And now I don't really remember what was decided - if anything - other than it was good that I had a chance to work through what happened. And that I need to practice putting a leash on in the woods for no reason.

By the time the match was ready to start there wasn't anyone around that I knew - so no video this time, sorry Kim! :-) Steeler's first run was lovely. He was really focused, though the opening was jump - poles and he missed his entry. But I got him back and he handled the next few obstacles very well. Stopped on his dog walk contact and waited to be released! Then into the tunnel. He still doesn't have a full height A frame - so we skipped that, though we practiced his contact behavior. The rest of the run was fine, tunnel, teeter (wasn't exceptionally fast - but he didn't hesitate and held his contact. Table to the next series of jumps (first a 270) then over the broad jump and another jump to finish. I think I should have stopped there! BAD HANDLER for forgetting that he did that whole course with no real rewards during the run. I haven't been able to really get him to play in that environment lately. So I couldn't stop and reward him during the run. In retrospect - I should have stopped after a few obstacles and run out and gotten cookies. *sigh* Some day I will learn. I did take him out to run up and down the dirt road after we finished, and he got cookies. And we tried to play with his favorite rabbit tug - which he did a little bit, but he was far more interested in sniffing the grass than chasing his rabbit.

Runs 2 and 3 I felt were just awful. Run 2 started with him leaving to investigate the shelties walking down the side of the ring. Thankfully the snow fencing was 4 ft and he didn't think about jumping it. But I panicked, which sent him looking for something else to do, and he almost went to visit the next dog that was waiting his turn. *BIG SIG* OK so now I was in complete PANIC mode ... but he did come back and we were able to do a couple more obstacles before I left the ring. Oh and visiting the ring crew was fun for him too.

Third run - probably not as much of a disaster as the second run. Now I had ring crew guarding the exit so Steeler couldn't escape. I didn't even ask them to do that. Steeler was still really distracted and though he would come back to me I clearly wasn't doing a good job of being reinforcing enough for him.

So- plans for the next match in June??? This time I am going to stick to my plan to do 5 or 6 obstacles and then take him out and reward him for doing well. :-) Though at the moment I am vacillating between being done with dog sports, done with agility, or just doing obedience. *sigh* Sometimes I think that these ups and downs just can't be normal.

Since Julie has Tagged me to tell how my dogs came to me - you can look forward to that in another post soon!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My obsession with dog behavior.....

OK - Anyone who really knows me knows how obsessed I can be over my dogs behavior. This weekend my friend Dawn was supposed to come down Friday night for the AKC trial in Westford. Just minutes from my parents house - so no getting up at the crack of dawn. But between car troubles and her grandmother being ill, she decided not to tempt fate. :-) Probably a good idea to stay home for the weekend. So - even though Dawn couldn't make it down I decided to go to the Tunneler fun runs that were happening in Wrentham.

Note to self - Steeler with no exercise outlet for the day is not good planning! Logan had a chiro adjustment scheduled - so I worked half a day and basically came home, played with the pups for 30 mintues outside and put Logan and Steeler in the car to drive to Framingham. The traffic was awful - which made me a few minutes late. Fortunately that wasn't a problem .... but then I left there later than planned and it took forever to drive the 15 miles to Wrentham. EVERYONE was driving about 10 miles under the limit. So I got to Wrentham later than I wanted to. And Steeler had been in the car for 2.5 hours.

I got him out of the car for our first run and he was a wild boy. Wild boy took the first tunnel and then proceeded to make up his own course. Then saw a barking sheltie on the side lines and jumped the FENCE. ARGH!!!!! Looked at the sheltie and decided not to mess with him but the big black lab also hanging out looked like and easier target. I am sure most of you can imagine how fast this happened. Well all I can say is Thank Goodness for Mark. Somehow he was able to catch Steeler mid stride and pick him up before he connected with the lab. He carried him back out to me and said - take a deep breath - he didn't connect, everything is fine, just get him working with you again. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Fortunately Steeler recovered quicker than I did and ran the course just fine. I of course was shaking. Not wanting to end on that note - I did do two more runs with him, for which he was much more focused and never thought of jumping the fence again, even though the barking sheltie was still there. (I had asked them not to move to far away so Steeler could work through the barking- because after all barking happens A LOT at agility trials)

I am really disappointed that Steeler jumped the fence ... I had thought I could count on that being the one thing that he would not do. Generally he is very respectful of ring gates and has never jumped a ring gate in obedience settings. Some days I wonder whether I should even think about competing in agility with him. I know that I tend to panic and obsess over everything that he does - which doesn't make things any better. On the other hand - Mark's timing was impeccable and the total calm and unemotional manner in which he grabbed Steeler was just amazing. And the look on Steelers face as he was carried back to me was priceless.

On the plus side, we stayed to hang out with Julie, Carmie and Bug for a while, and Logan got to do a Tunnelers run too. Of course at 11 she just trotted through the course - but I think she had a good time. I also took the opportunity to practice our moving stays with Steeler. And yes Katrin - I did actually drop the leash for this. Steeler was totally focused on me while we were working and charging forward full speed to get his cookie when I released him. :-)

And yes I am still obsessing over the fence jumping and subsequent behavior!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The past week

AHHHH ... a long weekend with no major plans except to relax!

The last week has been a pleasant although busy one. Monday night obedience class continues to go well. Though I think I do need to go back and refresh some of the basics that we haven't worked on recently. This week we worked on retrieving. Steeler is doing great with that - with the minor exception of letting go of the dumbbell when I put my hands on it. It was a pretty common problem in class and we talked about two different ways to work on that. The first way seemed to me to be shaping the dog to want to hold onto it. The other way used doggy zen to maintain the hold. I will likely play with both methods this weekend and see how we do. Meanwhile - Steeler's stays are coming along nicely and I think I might be ready to take the leash off pretty soon.

Agility class on Tuesday - Oh boy! It is so nice to be in a class where everyone seems to care how you are doing! Everyone in the class is competing except for Steeler I think - oh and Solo. OK - so half of the class is competing. Everyone wanted to know how Steeler did at the Match last weekend. We worked on a new lead out skill this week. Some day I will get my act together and maybe get some maps uploaded. It was a hard one, three jumps to the poles and Catie wanted us to be able to lead out to the third jump. Which really wouldn't have been that difficult - except for the fact that it wasn't a straight line! We started closer to jump 2 than to 3 the first time thru to work on the mechanics. Steeler and I are still working on our timing - but we quickly got the hang of it. The second time thru we were closer to jump three, but not quite where we ultimately wanted to be. We had a bit more trouble there - I am still working out what it means for Steeler to be committed to an obstacle. We also added a few more obstacles this time through. So Jump Jump Jump, poles, jump, tunnel table. By the time we finished our turn - I was standing where Catie wanted us close to jump 3 and Steeler was committing to jump 2 before turning into me and he nailed his weave poles and turbo charged the next jump to the tunnel and didn't fall off the table! YAY! And everyone said - OH my doG he is going to be FAST! :-)

On another note - Steeler did have a few things to say when Solo came into the agility ring, but when Steeler set up in front of the first jump and Solo was 4 or 5 feet behind him on the other side of the gate - Steeler didn't seem to care much. He did glance at Solo once, but I just reminded him to sit and walked away. And Steeler held his sit and waited for me to release him! He also got a bit distracted the first time through and left me, not sure if that was a minor stress issue - because we were working on something hard for him. I had a moment of slight panic because he decided to play with the BC girl in our class. Luckily she is a sweet girl that doesn't give off any hard vibes. And after my moment of panic I did manage to call Steeler back to me in an almost normal tone of voice - and he came running back! On our second turn he started to leave again to go play - and this time I had my brain back and just called him before he got very close and he came right back. :-) YAY!

Thursday night is Communications class with Katrin. I am really enjoying this class. We worked on the eye targeting game some more. Steeler had some trouble getting started, he was a bit distracted by a couple of the dogs. We worked with peanut butter for a bit, and then switched to a can of Evangers all meat canned food. All of a sudden Steeler was REALLY into this game. Amazing what you can do with a novel treat. And he seems to be getting the idea that he needs to find my eyes. I will try to video this weekend. We also introduced the space game this week. Steeler LOVES this ... of course any thing that involves motion is good with him. This game is to teach the dogs to move into our space when invited, and out of our space when we step into theirs. I'll have to video that too. It's all about pressure. Creating pressure when you step into them, and easing pressure when you invite them into your space. I talked to Katrin a bit about Steeler's reaction to Solo (and he has a similar, less intense reaction to the golden in class) and I am going to try to be proactive next Tuesday (and Thursday). Before Steeler can notice Solo I am going to start playing the space game with him. And if he does react to Solo, I am going to just back up and reward him for coming into my space. We have lots of homework this week. Continuing with the eye contact game, the space game - moving forward and back and side to side, as well as working on backing up in a straight line. hmmmm I guess I will be doing more training and less relaxing than I thought this weekend. Oh wait - dog training is a form of relaxation! :-)