Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life has been rather busy the last few weeks. Not with anything special - just everyday stuff. I had to spend two days in Cambridge - that was a pretty awful commute. Tuesday wasn't too bad - but Wednesday morning was just awful. I don't know how long it took for us to go from Rockland to Cambridge ... I think we left around 7:40 and got there about 9:15 or so. It's only 20 miles away, but route 93 is just a parking lot at times!

Obedience class continues to go well. Steeler's Stand for Exam is back to where it was before we stopped practicing for a bit. It didn't take much to get it back - just a bit of refreshing his memory. I feel like his Stay's are coming along quite nicely as well. I still feel like I need to do them on leash - but I think we are close to the point of taking the leash off. But knowing me I won't do that until Esther makes me take it off. We did some group heeling this week and Steeler did really well with that.

I decided to try a new agility class with Catie after run thru's at the barn. The people at the run thru's were super nice and I felt welcome even though I was keeping my distance with Steeler. Plus - if I could have a class that was 5 minutes from home - well that would be the best!!!!! We've had one class that went really well after Steeler settled down a bit. In the class there is a Briard, a shepard, and a BC. The first class the BC was absent and there was a malinois making up a class. We worked on start line stays, and rear crosses. Last week we missed agility class - didn't get home until after 7 pm ... but this week we went down and in addition to our regular class we did the beginner class before ours. I could have made up class in a class at the same level - but sometimes the basics are worth repeating, plus I figured it was a couple of new dogs and that would be good for both of us. We worked on the 2x2's and some contacts. I actually felt confident enough to take Steeler's leash off while we were all working at our 2x2 stations. Steeler stayed with me and was focused on the game! Yippee!!! Then our regular class was next. Steeler was pretty good with everyone until Laurie put up Solo's hair (Solo is the Briard). I think Steeler could then tell that Solo was looking at him ... heaven forbid another dog actually look at him. Solo is young and still intact - who knows if that was playing a part ... Laurie took Solo outside the ring and Catie worked Steeler through his "issue" - Steeler barked and lunged a couple of times - but I think when Solo didn't react at all to him Steeler kind of deflated and then didn't have another problem with Solo. Solo is such a good boy!!!! And Laurie is great! It is nice to be in a class where I feel like people understand and don't think that Steeler is "bad" ... I've only been in one other class last summer that I felt that way - but I still hadn't worked through a lot of my anxiety about what Steeler "might" do if he ran up to another dog. So, anyway - last night we worked on some short sequences that Steeler handled very nicely. I was able to lead out 2 jumps and there was a pinwheel and a front cross and the A frame. We haven't worked much on the A frame since I have spent a year or so debating 2on 2off or running contacts. So the A frame was low and Steeler was able to figure out the 2 on 2 off behavior that I have decided on.

Thursday nights are Communications class! We had our first class with dogs last week. It is hard to let Steeler just do whatever rather than trying to manage everything. In class there is a golden retriever - very bouncy and active, young I think, Brew, Steeler's Malamute friend and another dog ... maybe a mix of medium size. This whole eye targeting game is hard work. Basically we are teaching the dogs to find our eyes rather than us finding their eyes. A "simple" targeting exercise - but one I am finding difficult. I am just not sure that the lightbulb has gone off in Steeler's brain yet. But we are plugging along. I took some video this weekend. And we spent 15 minutes tonight working on it. It is so hard to not move my eyes to find his! I think he is just starting to figure things out. He is getting a bit distracted though - I think because he can't figure out what I want as easily as other behaviors we have shaped. We started by shaping eye contact in front of us and then when they seem to get that behavior, we turn 90 degrees and see if the dog can figure out to come in front of us again. Steeler seems to be getting that tonight so we tried the next step which is to turn just your head and see if the dog can find your eyes. Steeler did (woooo hooo!) and then we ended with a couple of easier turns of the whole body instead of just the head. Then I ended the session on that note. Here is the video from this weekend. It is kind of long - need to find some editing software that I can figure out how to use!


  1. Jenn -

    Cool exercise. I'm going to try it with Jazz. What a smart and handsome boy Steeler is!

    Keep us posted on how your Communications class is going. It sounds fantastic. We don't have anything like that here, except for the occasional seminar.

  2. It is so much harder than it looks!!! I will keep you posted. I think it is going to be a great class for Steeler and I.

  3. I was wondering what happened to you! ;-)

    That's so great you have found another class close by that 'feels' good.

    Communicatiosn is so hard, but so worthwhile. it looks like you and Steeler are making great progress.

    Do you have a MAC or a PC running Windows? I have found the
    Windows Movie Maker
    to be a pretty straightforward editing software and it comes installed on pcs running Windows (or you can download it, I think).

  4. Awesome! Yay Jenn & Steeler! :)