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?