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!!!