Saturday, April 25, 2009

This Week with the Spotted boy.

This week has been a busy week for Steeler. Monday night is Obedience Night. He does very well in class these days. Stays are a bit difficult, especially with agility class running in the next ring - but we are getting there. We were told that we need to spend some time refreshing our Stand for Exam - so we have been practicing that this week. Tuesday night Steeler made a new Border Collie friend. Wednesday night we didn't do much because Tuesday night we got no sleep when the sump pump hose blew a hole at 2AM and sprayed water all over my basement. What fun that was. Thursday night was the first night of our Communications class. The first class was without dogs so that we could go over some of the rules and the basics of what Katrin would like us to start at home. On Friday we went up to Uxbridge and went for a 5 mile walk with Lisa and Brew. We ran into three dogs on Friday. The first one as we were starting our walk, was not a problem. The second one I could have handled better - as is usually the case. The lab was on a leash and at the end of it and pulling - so Lisa and I leashed up the boys and walked off into the woods so they could pass. Both boys took offence at the fact that they were sitting politely and this lab kept heading towards them rather than just passing them by. In retrospect what I think we should have done was asked the guy that was walking if he could move his dog to his left so we could just keep moving by the dog. Oh well - hindsight is always 20/20. The last dog was an off leash golden. Brew had already met the dog before but I am still nervous about Steeler meeting dogs that I don't know. So I leashed him up and just moved on past the dog. Well ... the golden's owner after being told 3 times that Steeler is not always good with other dogs just stood there and called her as she followed Steeler on down the path. It felt like it took forever for Lisa to grab the golden and escort her back to the owner. But - while Steeler was not happy about the golden - he didn't erupt into a barking lunging mess. :-) I found out after that the golden was only 2 - she looked much older probably because she was carrying about 50 extra pounds. :-(((

After walking with Lisa I met Dawn and Ghost at Dunkin Donuts. Dawn came down for the night for the agility trial today. We took the boys for a short walk around the show site and then went up to the NADAC site for "Fun Runs". Fun Runs are a tunnelers run. Oh boy! ALL TUNNELS! This time around there were a lot more dogs and people around. Still not as many as an actual trial - but more than last week. The course was also harder. The first run (that I didn't get on video) was pretty good. Just a little bit of drifting between the first and second tunnel. The second run about the same. I have not been asking for much in the way of Start line behavior -
because as soon as I start to
fuss with him, my anxiety builds and Steeler gets stressed out. So I couldn't beat him to the end of the first tunnel and he was drifting in the middle. So the third run I asked for a sit stay at the start and was able to lead out to the end of the first tunnel! You can tell that he is tired by this point. By the end of the run he was really starting to slow down.

Today we hung out at the AKC trial that Dawn and Ghost were entered in. We shared tent space with Maria and Kirby and the boys all did well together. I had Steeler out quite a bit and Steeler did great. Here he is hanging out in the tent ring side. He was very good in his crate while I was not around. Not so good if I was sitting right there with him, but he got better as the afternoon went by. At the end of the afternoon we did the practice jump a few times. I tend to get nervous about taking his leash off around lots of distractions, but he sat, stayed and jumped when I asked him to without getting distracted and wandering off! I think there is hope for us yet. Tonight he is EXHAUSTED (and so am I)! Tomorrow we have to do Katrins homework a couple of times to make up for not doing it today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More fun with Steeler

On Saturday I headed north to my parents house for the afternoon. My sister was down with the kids and my brother had come down from ME so we could have a birthday party for Ryan, my nephew. Little did I know that my brother had a trip planned to the state park that is a couple of miles from my parents house. So the 5 of us and 2 dogs (my brother has a lab, Luke) piled into the car and off we went. Now, normally this is not someplace that I would take Steeler. It is full of off leash dogs and that normally sends me running in the other direction. But I let my brother talk me into it. Actually he didn't say much - just gave me that look that says "get over it". I kept Steeler on leash and he did really well. The worst part is getting past the first pond since that is where dogs tend to congregate and play. We let Luke play in the water for a few minutes and since Steeler is not a water dog we just stayed off to the side and watched. Steeler did really well with a little chi leaving his owner to come check him out ... really didn't seem all that bothered by it. It helped a lot that I don't generally freak out about smaller dogs. We continued on our way and passed a few more dogs without incident. Then we took a side trail and I let Steeler just drag the line for a while. We only had one problem with an aussie sneaking up behind us that I kind of paniced on. I couldn't quite get Steeler's leash shortened up in time - but nothing major happened. Steeler barked at the intruder and the intruder turned and ran back to their owner. I was happy that Steeler went back to just being a dog rather than scanning the environment looking for the other dogs. We had a pleasant walk for most of the remainder of our walk. Well if you don't count Uncle David telling Ryan that we were lost in the woods. One other dog came to visit us towards the end - a larger mix that looked like maybe some whippet in him. I just stuffed dried salmon at Steeler and moved away and Steeler was fine! I was really pleased with Steeler and even more pleased with myself, that I could get through that walk without having a panic attack about all the loose dogs. I am still not sure if I should have taken Steeler to the park or not, but I am happy that everything went just fine. Today we had a quiet day of just hanging around the house, getting ready for a busy week ahead. :-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fun

Today was a good day for Steeler. We started the day with a walk in the woods with our friends Lisa and Brewser. It was a gorgoeus day - about 70 degrees and sunny! Brew is a long haired malamute so he thought it was very warm today. Awesome trails - wide open and you can see for quite a ways. Lisa and I walked about 5 miles so who knows how far the dogs went. Of course by the time we got to the spot where we put the leashes back on - Brew was walking slower and not pulling .... Not my Steeler dealer puppy dog .... Where are we going NOW mom!!!!??!!! If I pull will we get there quicker? The best part was that we didn't run into another soul! Steeler was great - he has never been here before so I didn't expect much check in behavior from him. But once again he surprised me! He checked in very frequently! Every time he checked in he got a cookie. I still need to put as much money in that bank as I can. Steeler apparently does not like getting his feet wet - he was funny to watch by the stream. Hmm .... that brings back some memories of the Finger Lake Shows where Steeler earned the nickname "sissy boy" Brew of course wades right in to cool off ... not my little boy - I couldn't even get him to drink unless I scooped up some water in my hands for him. What a goof!

After our walk, and getting Lisa's car started (the battery died) it was off to PetsMart to get a new mat for the car crate. He did great there. A bit distracted, but Steeler sat still for the little boy that wanted to pet him (even when he stepped on his tail he didn't complain) and was able to ignore the little dog on the flexi with the inattentive owner and was only a little bit startled when a purple dog ran by him. What is it with people dying their white fluffy dogs different colors?????? I have to say I really do just find that bizarre.

After that it was off to the agility show grounds to meet Maria and Kirby for some training time. Maria explained how to lay a track and we started Steeler on some tracking today. So I laid the track, and then I threw bumpers for Kirby. Then we went up to the agility field to see what was going on with the fun runs there. They had a tunneler course set up and Steeler and I ran twice. The first time I didn't set him up very well. I set him up too far from the tunnel and I wasn't really going to be fussy about sitting him and getting him to stay - so he ran past the tunnel - but Steeler came right back to me and into the tunnel he went. We just ran the novice course, so it was pretty easy. But Steeler missed my front cross - it was sloppy ... totally my fault. But again - he came right back to me. And we completed the course without any problem. Well - if you don't count my throwing the frisbee at the leash runner. I didn't mean to do that!!! Our second run was great. I took the time to actually set him up in front of the tunnel and asked for a short wait and I led out a few (maybe 3) steps. I was able to concentrate more on standing up straight and making the cross at the right place and Steeler was able to read that with no problem. I think I got my cues out a bit quicker too. Sometimes I forget that he is MUCH faster than Keegan and Logan were. I have to say - I felt really good about his attention today. It's been a really long time since we have done anything outside that isn't in the back yard and I used to worry myself into a tense knot about what Steeler might do. Amazing what can happen when you can relax a little bit. Granted - there were not a lot of people or dogs around - but there were lots of birds and squirrels! And Steeler didn't bolt or try to leave the ring!!!! I've been told that next time I must get video!

After agility it was time to see if we could get Steeler to follow a track. I have to say - this was not as successful as the agility runs. It was a straight track about 50 ft with 5 articles. He started out ok - but then got distracted by a woman and a little dog that stopped to watch what we were doing. :-) The little dog was making noises at Steeler and Steeler wanted to keep an eye on the other dog. We will keep at it and see how it goes. Then we threw some more bumpers for Kirby - then took the dogs for a stroll ... by the time we got back to the car Steeler was walking nicely on a loose leash. I think he might have been a bit tired by then. He actually fell asleep on the way home and as I type he is curled up next to me - sound asleep. I love tired puppies!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Response to Comments

Ok - Since I am still figuring things out I thought I would respond to the comments ... It is great to hear from all of you!

Kim - you will have to fill me in on the other spotty blogs that I should check out! I thought it was funny that you are already following Tess and Jazz - Jazz is a half sister to Steeler! :-) And Gambit is Steeler's sister! I love all of your pictures too! If I were in FL you would be doing my photos for sure!!!!

Kathy - Great to hear from you! I heard you ran into my obedience trainer (Esther Zimmerman) at either the Clicker Expo or the APDT conference in KY (I can't remember which) - talk about a small world! I've been following Joey's accomplishments via LaDonna's blog page. Steeler is doing pretty well with obedience and rally - at least run thru wise. I just need to get over my anxiety with Stays and then I think we will be ready! In Nov we did a pre-novice run at a real trial and Steeler actually did pretty well - we wouldn't have qualified because his heeling was not great - but he held his Stays which was all I was really worried about.

Lisa - I love checking out your blog! But I can't let Steeler see all the things that he is missing out on! Unfortunately the easter bunny did not show up for him today. But he did get a new tug toy yesterday for being such a good boy! I've been taking him to trials since he was a pup. Not quite as often as I did with Keegan - but enough so that I think that he is pretty familar with that environment. It is my nerves that cause our problems. There is a B Match coming up in June in Maine that we will be going to as well ... Oh and some NADAC fun runs are coming up this month as well. Oh boy!!!!

Jules - Thanks for helping me get started! Now if I can just figure out how to add pictures and stuff. LOL This is looking like it could be addictive!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Agility Run Thru's with Steeler

Today I took Steeler to agility run thrus at the barn in Duxbury organized by Catie Williams of WonderDogs. This is the second time that we have gone and Steeler and I were MUCH better this time around. It helped that it was less crowded this time. The first time we went to run thrus about a month ago Steeler did great hanging out and being focused on me until it was time for us to actually go in the ring. When I get anxious Steeler tends to bail on me. I need to work on being less nervous! Last time on his last run my friend Laurie helped me with some restrained recalls with Steeler. The last run was definitely his best. So this time I decided to do restrained recalls right from the beginning! Luckily Laurie and my friend Nancy were there to help today. We ran 24 inch dogs first - there were only 3 I think and then Steeler was the 3rd 20 in dog in. Nancy took one look at me when I brought him in and took him away from me! LOL I think that was a good thing. When it was our turn to go in the ring Nancy took Steeler to the opposite end of the barn and we did a couple of recalls and then started our course. All I can say is WOW ... it was like running a different dog compared to last time. He nailed his weave poles and was very focused. He was running so fast he almost bounced off the teeter - but he did manage to hold onto his 2 on 2off contact position. We repeated the recalls the next run but with the second recall I didn't stop to feed but went directly into our run - Jump to the weave poles and then cookies. We then continued on and Steeler continued to be focused on the job at hand. I am so pleased that he is nailing his contact behavior on the teeter and dog walk! He even downed on the table! I was even able to work in some front crosses! We do have things to work on as well. I still need to spend some time working on his A frame and discrimination exercises, and I need to build some tug drive in places other than the back yard, but overall I am really pleased with my little boy today! Steeler is now sacked out under the covers on the bed. He really doesn't care for this cold rainy weather we are having today!

And a big THANK YOU to Laurie and Nancy today for helping me relax!!!!!

A first post

This is my training blog - hopefully to help keep me on track with my training plans for Steeler. I tend to write like I talk - so consider yourself warned. :-) Steeler is my 3 year old dalmatian. I also have an 11 year old Dal girl named Logan, and a 9 year old lab named Keegan. I've done agility and obedience with the Logan and Keegan - though I have to say that Logan really hated obedience class. :-) Of course those were the days before I completely "crossed over" to clicker training. Logan and Keegan are mostly retired these days. They do a bit of training here and there - but mostly they get to do whatever they feel like doing. So this is likely to be 99.9% about Steeler.

Steeler has been a challenge in many ways ... mostly of my own doing unfortunately. But we are working on those issues and we have both come a long way since his adolescence. I hope you enjoy our tales. :-)