Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunday Agility Match

Life is crazy as usual - but on Sunday I took a break from all the packing and took Steeler to an agility match at the barn.  He did pretty well!  I am working on conquering some of my superstitions.  First - he ran NAKED!  And second I actually had him jump 24 inches first.  I am not sure what I was thinking - but we did 4 runs!  2 at 24 in and 2 at 20 inches.  One thing I really need to remember - if I leave the inhaler in the car in the winter - it doesn't work so well when I need to use it.  Oh and for the first time I didn't walk in and automatically walk the novice course!  And I didn't have them close the gates completely.  So I think we are making lots of improvement!  Or should I say that I am making lots of improvement!  :-)  We worked on the open course which had lots of wraps!  I left the audio in for your entertainment.  :-)  Now we are going to start working on SPEED!  Oh boy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I can't believe it but Steeler Dealer Puppy Dog is FIVE years old already!  Where does the time go?  Here's the birthday card Gramma LaDonna sent!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What a weekend

Well I finally did it .... a classmate goaded and taunted me until I actually entered Steeler in an agility trial.  :-)  So this weekend Steeler competed in his first "real" AKC trial in Falmouth at the Cape Cod Kennel club show.  It was a three day trial and I decided that if I was going to enter I might as well enter everything.  Friday was Novice FAST, Novice Standard and then Novice Jumpers.  I think we finished around 6PM and it was a COLD and windy day.  Steeler had some nice moments in all of his classes, but did a LOT of visiting with the ring crew in his FAST and Standard runs.  He did however Q in Jumpers with weaves.  YAY!  I was exhausted by the time we got home!  Saturday was another long day, but it wasn't quite as cold and windy.  Today we actually were finished by 3 PM I think since we just had Standard and Jumpers.  Friday's video's are below - but if you want to check out the rest of the weekend - check out our youtube channel.

novice standard -

novice FAST -

And here is Novice Jumpers with weaves for a Q and second place

All things considered - we had a great weekend!  Steeler Q'd twice in Jumpers with a second and third place, he didn't leave the ring, he didn't get snarky with any dogs and he was good hanging out ringside.  Now we just need to work on visiting the ring crew.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where does the time go?????

Just where does the time go?  Since my last post Steeler and I have been busy.  We had an APDT Rally trial at the end of August.  Steeler was entered in his first Level 2 run - which is off leash.  I entered him in a level 1 and level 2 run that morning.  Neither run was very pretty.  :-)  He's never been up to All Dogs Gym before and while he did great hanging out in his crate and hanging out ringside with me - when he got in the ring he was totally distracted!  ARGH!!!!  The level one run was first and is on leash - so I wasn't sure what I should do for his level 2 run.  Well his level two run wasn't pretty either and I ended up putting the leash back on so he couldn't practice things that I don't want him to do - but he didn't leave the ring and we had a few moments of being connected.  In thinking about it and talking about Steeler's propensity to be distracted in new environments with some training friends - we have a new training plan.  :-)  Poor Steeler - I keep changing the rules of the game with him.  More on that in the coming days.  We have a couple more weeks of working on things before we are entered in another APDT rally trial - 2 level 1 runs and 2 level 2 runs .... sometimes I think I am completely nuts - but the only way I know how to work through some of the anxiety related behavior is to actually enter trials and deal with the anxiety.  I really think that my anxiety levels are much lower than they used to be, but with all the practice that Steeler and I have had where we enter the ring and disconnect because of my nerves and his concern about the environment around him it is just going to take some time for us to find a way to remain connected in the ring.

We've been working on some agility stuff too.  We've been doing some of the things that we explored at the Julie Daniels Seminar, and we are working on a new way to teach rear crosses after our instructor went to a seminar a few weekends ago.

Just for kicks I took Steeler Lure Coursing on Sunday.  What a hoot!  He had a blast!  He lost the lure on the first run - the grass/weeds were kind of long, but his second run he had that game figured out!  Here's some video for you entertainment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Notes from the Julie Daniels Seminar

Julie Daniels Seminar – Aug 21 – 22, 2010

Your dog needs you to:

  1. Show up!
  2. Stay Connected
  3. Inspire your dog (criticism is not helpful)
  4. Keep your dog safe: being happy in the face of the unexpected is critical.  For example: if a dog comes into your space, don’t scream at the dog – start feeding your dog – Keep the other dog away if you have to.
Think about your personal energy: ie it does not create good energy to go thru a crowd telling everyone to move their dog because your dog is scared, aggressive etc.

For dogs that won’t eat:  continue to offer food for 2 seconds.  Then put back in bait bag/pocket.  The day will come that they will take food – so don’t stop offering.

When not working your dog – put them away.  If you can not stay connected …. Put them away.  DO NOT put them in a down stay or disengage and go move equipment etc.

First exercise – 1 dog 2 people.   Building drive to play or get reward.  So with Steeler – hand in collar – do you want this toy … do ya … really ….. GET IT.  2nd person plays with dog the same way.  You can use this game whenever you have a helper …. “oh my gosh she’s got your toy … wheres’ she going with that toy … then release dog to get toy.  You can also do things like put a jump in between you and helper.  Jump become incidental (and therefore the cost of doing the jump is low)

Cookie Jar
-          use glass jars for big dogs (except on concrete)  - kind of like a food tube.  Want something that will not allow dog to self reward.
-          You want the dog to decide to come to work.  Let the dog sniff, paw, etc – do not call dog away.
-          Work needs to be EASY when beginning.
-          Make dog part of process (Let dog think things thru???)
-          Cookie jar goes before the obstacle that you want to reward.
-          All cookies are unpredictable
-          Feed from the jar, This will make the cookies in your hand/bait bag unreliable!
-          ALWAYS HAVE LEFT OVERS!!!! 

Send exercises
Two jump exercise:
First time – stand in between 2 jumps  leg/hand closest to dog … send straight over jump

Second time – stand in between 2 jumps as before  this time you want to send dog to jump behind you.  You step sideways away from dog, picking up dog with furthest arm to turn and send dog behind you.  (get out of the dogs path)

Tunnel games -  can you send dog into tunnel with a handful of cookies in the sending hand.

Motivation:  motivation = Rewards – cost

-          most of us know how to increase rewards …. But how can we lower the cost.  Remember to work one issue at a time!  For example – do you need to work on your start line stay at the same time you are trying to work a new skill or set of obstacles.  Remember – it is the DOGS perception that counts. 
-          Julie like to work on “go” before working on “stay”
-          Watch out for unconscious patterns.
-          Remember to reward even if you are not happy with performance – do not deprive your dog of a reward because of lack of enthusiasm
-          Or another example – dog leaves to check things out – first reward when dog comes back no matter what! Work up to the dog coming back for a chance to earn a reward.  (ie dog comes back and you ask for known behavior and then reward)

Things that are part of cost – Difficulty, Duration, Joy or Pleasure (handler derived), Drive (or desire)

Cookies (or toys) should be delivered in the ring – not outside.  You want the GOOD STUFF to be inside the ring rather than outside.  Stuff happening inside the ring should be better than the stuff outside the ring. 

-          can be lots of things – food, toys, touch, play.  And don’t forget about the power of relief of pressure.
-          You should know your dogs reinforcement hierarchy.  What does he value most?  Least?
-          Reinforcement hierarchy is context specific
-          Remember ALL learning ins contextual.
-          For dogs that are really stressed in the ring, relief can be your best friend.  Start with entering ring – Oh my gosh you are brilliant!  What a good puppy you are – C/T and run out of ring.

Be creative about variables.
Somethings to think about
-          Orientation (of handler, dog, obstacle)
-          See saw example – change pivot point by duct taping paper weight underneath to change pivot point
o       Put cookie sheet under to change noise

Possibly one of my favorite quotes from JD (who heard it in a psych class)
“You can’t help anyone unless you accept their premise as valid”
-          you need to accept your dogs starting point and work from there.

Games to play ….
-          weave poles: showed us a method using ex-pens
-          2 rules Stay on your own side, and only click when dog is going away from you

Noise game – build a tower using dog bowls, soup cans – pay dog for knocking it down.

See Saw games –
-          wobble board and balance games
-          drag dog around on bed
-          see saw between 2 tables
-          see saw backwards so dog has to use paws to pull down to table
-          play push back game to increase desire to be on the board – when dog is pushing and fighting to stay on the board dog is ready to run down.  (train contact behavior separately)

As far as contacts go – JD first establishes the yellow zone as a place of many many cookies.  At first this is solely the responsibility of the handler

Raising Criteria
Remember the three D’s – Duration, Distance, Distraction
-          can raise criteria when at least 75% reps are correct
-          or another way to look at it … 75% are correct, 10% are excellent, no more than 25% are incorrect.

Example: Target Stick Training
-          at first only a direct touch to the hand would be incorrect (not reinforcable)
-          then the bottom 25% of the stick would not be reinforceable … etc

When shaping something and you have a GREAT step one and you take too big a step 2 – go back to step one!  You can shape failure just as easily as you can shape success.

Jackpots – Differential Reinforcement for Excellence (for the science geeks)
Rough rule of thumb – jackpots should happen about 1/10th the time for 10X as many treats. (not really a hard and fast rule)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh boy! Tomorrow is Saturday.....

....and that means that Steeler and I will be attending the Julie Daniels Seminar down in RI at K9 Connection. I didn't think that I was that nervous about it .... but I was wrong! :-) I am sure it will be fine and lots of fun. I know there will be at least a couple of people there that I know - so know I will be able to relax and have fun with the spotty dog.

Speed’em Up Seminar

Emphasis on motivational games and handling techniques to bring out SPEED, DRIVE and CONFIDENCE!!
Topics Covered:
How to help the dog who is too serious
Shaping for DEMAND on the obstacles
Learn how to inspire your dog
REAL help on how to "lighten up!"
How to use differential reinforcement, clickers and jackpots
Learn to increase your yards/second to qualify and/or get more MACH points.
Plenty of individual help! A lot to do and learn, even without a dog!
Julie is a top agility competitor both nationally and internationally. She and her dogs have earned multiple trophies and medals at the IFCS World Agility Championships and is an award winning author of agility books and instructional dvds.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Busy Saturday for Steeler!

Saturday was a busy day for the Steeler pup! First we met Ann and Matteo at PetsMart. Ann is dog sitting for Matteo a Lagotto Romagnolo. The store was Busy Busy Busy!!!! While we were there the puppy class got out and paraded by Steeler. And then there were the adolescent dogs that were there for the next class ... Lots of dog traffic and barking ... and lots of people too. Steeler did GREAT! Totally able to hang onto his brain and function. No snarking at any dogs that got close enough to stick their nose in his butt ... and the puppies were no big deal.

Then we went to a park in Braintree just down the street from the store. It has trails in the woods and a paved bike trail/walking trail. It was a really nice place to take the dogs for a walk. We ran into a couple of dogs - but at a distance. Lots of runners and bikers though. Again - Steeler was AWESOME! He only barked a bit at a dog that was tied to a tree while we were talking to her owner. I was hoping for a spot where the dogs could swim - but the water looked really mucky.

Then we went to Ann's for lunch ... first we let Steeler and Matteo play in the back yard for a few minutes. I only had one tense moment when the play got a little more rambunctious than I was comfortable with and Steeler had to tell Matteo to take it easy. Took the dogs inside where they settled while we had lunch. Even spent some time working on Steeler settling in a crate. :-)

THEN - we went to see the horses. Steeler has decided that horse are really not a big deal any more. Even the two horses that were loose (well one horse and one pony) for a while were ok.

Steeler was exhausted last night! Here's a clip from our visit to the barn!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crazy week!

It's been a crazy kind of week. First the speedometer on the van died again on my way home last Saturday night. That scrapped my plans for Sunday that I had been looking forward to. So I dropped the van off at Sullivan Tire near work Monday morning to have them take a look. I was really hoping that it would be a matter of some loose wires since I knew that the computer was going to need to be replaced. Well Monday they called and said that everything going on was tied to the computer and there wasn't anything they could do. The car had to go visit the dealer. UGH! That was going to be difficult enough since when the speedometer dies the car goes into Safety Mode and it won't go any faster than 35 miles an hour. That means no highway driving ... and the nearest dealer was at least 30 minutes away on the highway. So obviously this was not making me happy. I go to pick up the car and see a note about the exhaust leaking. Ummmm ... you guys were supposed to have replaced the exhaust in May - why is it leaking????? So the tech goes out and crawls under my car again - guess what THEY NEVER REPLACED IT! On one hand I am horrified, but on the other - since I decided that I really just needed a more reliable vehicle I am kind of glad that they did not replace it. Now I will get that money back. So after much debate I ended up buying a 2008 Forester. It sure is nice to be able to go faster than 35 mph. All the stuff that was in the van is now piled in the entry way so I have a bit of organizing and cleaning to do.

We never made obedience class last week but we did make it to agility class on Wednesday night. We were working on "go outs" and Steeler did really well. I really need to find the battery charger for the camera so I can go back to getting some video!

Today we went down to Rhode Island for an agility Match. Steeler did really well. We got there about 2:30ish and hung out for a while with Lisa and Bob. Met Kelly who also trains with Catie. I get pretty stressed out about Steeler's behavior sometimes and Lisa was there to remind me that he is just a normal dog. But I still asked Lisa and Bob to stand at either ring entrance just in case! His first run was pretty distracted. He really needs to check out the environment in new places. But he is definitely getting a bit better about that. He didn't try to leave the ring but he did have to say hi to the ring crew. I was able to get him back and working. Then his second and third runs were GREAT! No visiting the ring crew or checking out other stuff. Lisa was kind enough to video - so hopefully I will get those this week. Steeler is now napping on the bed. Tomorrow is going to be cleaning day. (YUCK!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Agility Night

Tonight Steeler went to agility class but didn't get to run. I don't want to take any chances with that left foot. He still had a good time. We went early to help set up and then hung out and did our own thing during the obedience for agility class, then only one person showed up for the 7 PM class - so Steeler got to work on watching the golden retriever run. That was good for him because he sometimes doesn't care for goldens. Then we watched a bit of our class and steeler worked on just chillin' out and hanging with the crowd. He's decided that one of the Papillons is just the cutest thing! He was wagging his tail and trying to get her to play with him. It was really cute. I really do LOVE how he just loves EVERYONE. After not seeing them for a week he just had to greet everyone - hopefully that won't translate to greeting the ring crew and judge when we trial. I am not really sure I should have had him at the barn - so he got a foot bath when we got home. He is not thrilled about that - but did jump into the tub on his own! :-) And now to get some sleep!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Steeler was given a new nickname Monday night at obedience class. His buddies are now calling him "Crash"

I can't wait till his stitches come out! We did go to obedience class last night though. We mostly just worked on some heeling, recalls and Stays. He still has a little bit of trouble with one 8 month old puppy in the class - but he is getting better and better every week. So it was a good class for not putting to much stress on his left front leg. The other incisions look great ... but that left front he definitely did a number on. Poor boy. On top of that he is ITCHY ITCHY. *sigh* I am guessing that the kibble I tried for the week I was gone is the culprit ..., or maybe a delayed stress reaction? At the moment he is crashed out next to me though and not chewing on his feet anymore. Hopefully going back on raw will get the itchies back under control. For the past couple of months we had been doing a really strict no grain, no dairy and no root veggies diet and his feet were doing GREAT! The kibble was no grain - but one I hadn't used before.

On Sunday we were up in Westford at the agility trial to watch some friends compete. Steeler was an awesome boy! He made a couple of new friends, and didn't react much to the ridgeback that lunged at him - he just looked at me .... "Did you see that? Where's my cookie!" It was great to see old friends that I haven't seen in a while! Steeler was even polite to a friends 5 month old puppy! What a good dog!

Tomorrow night is agility class .... and I think Steeler needs another week to heel before we are doing a lot of running and jumping. *sigh* I will probably go help set up and then work him in the obedience for agility class - that won't be too taxing for him. Thursday there is nothing on the calender and then Friday we are going to a Rally Training party. And then I will have survived the week at work. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bad Blogger!

WOW - the end of March was my last post. I guess things kind of got away from me.

Steeler has been doing pretty well the last few weeks in agility and obedience class. I'm sure I have lots of video of various activities. Check out for his latest activities. I actually took a week off and went to the beach with my folks, and my sisters family. For the first time ever I boarded Steeler. Poor Steeler - he is officially a serious mamma's boy. He ended up going through a glass plate in a screen door less than 20 min after I left him. He ended up with a trip to the emergency room and stitches in 4 spots. The first 48 hours were kind of rough for him - but he got better every day and Katrin took excellent care of him. For the most part he got along with the 3 resident dogs as well which made me very happy.

Logan got to stay with my friends Ann and Paul and I think she wants to go back! She got to go for a walk in the woods every day with Nico and Brandy and basically took over the furniture at their house. I think she is officially going deaf though. She didn't hear me come through the gate or talking to her when I picked her up. She definitely was not going to let me leave their house with out her though.

Keegan stayed with Brian who always takes great care of him when I go away. I am sure he was happy to have some time away from the other two and some undivided attention.

It is HOT back here at home! It was so nice at the beach! Hopefully I will be back to getting some video soon! steeler is out of commission for a little bit longer - so probably no agility this coming week.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Steeler meets his match

After Wednesday's agility class Steeler got to play with Trixie. Keegan will sometimes play with Steeler - but he can't really keep up with him and Logan wants nothing to do with the chase me game. BUT Trixie .... LOL she can keep up with him and give him a run for his money.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Noseworks - training party

On Friday we got together with Scott and a bunch of classmates to work on some noseworks stuff. We did the first two runs with food and scent in the box, then the remaining runs were scent only in the box. This was the first time Steeler had done "scent only". He's such a good boy! He didn't seem to have much trouble making the transition from food + scent to scent only. I totally mucked up his last run though - oh well....

Wednesday Agility class

Last weeks agility class went pretty well, though Steeler was a bit distracted this week. Apparently people hanging out behind the tunnel was just too inviting this week. Everyone was good though and just ignored him. No attention for the spotty boy when he is supposed to be playing with his Mom! Class was also a bit louder than usual - not sure if that really bothered him or not. A couple of times I thought he was a bit concerned by Cheyenne barking. I was really happy with his weave poles this week! He seemed to have more enthusiasm this week than in the past couple of months. I think there were also several places were I could have given him a cookie and I would have a more focus. Oh well - can't do much about that now. Just try to be more aware in the future.

Yup - definitely needed more cookies! Bad Handler!

second time thru....

Last exercise ...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bad Dog?

Ok - really I have only myself to blame here ....

Left my chicken in the crock pot on the counter when I took Steeler to agility class. Left Keegan in the dining room behind the baby gate. Any guesses on where this is going? LOL Keegan was NOT behind the baby gate when I got home. And my chicken was NOT in the crock pot! *sigh* At least he didn't break the crock pot this time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Catching up ...

So behind again ... sigh. Oh well. Here is some video from noseworks class number 6. Unfortunately I don't think we are going to do the next session as I already know that I would miss two classes out of the six. We'll continue to do some work at home and with friends though.

Other stuff that has been going on -

we did an obedience show n go on Sunday last week, Steeler had two novice runs that went pretty well. The only exception being when I lost his focus during the first run. In watching the video and talking to E about the runs - I think Steeler does not find our targeting game as much fun as I thought he did. We talked about some other ways to reward between exercises as well. Obedience class is going pretty well. Last Monday there were puppies around outside the ring while we were working on heeling. Steeler isn't too sure what he thinks about puppies and used to bark at them. Outside the ring this week was a newfie puppy (already weighs more than Steeler!) and a 8 or 10 week old Aussie puppy in the owners lap. Steeler was able to heel towards the puppies and then turn around and heel in the other direction without a backward glance! YAY! I think we got probably within 5 feet or so of the puppies - I wasn't really paying attention to the dogs - I was focused on Steeler and what we were doing because I trust E to not send us over what Steeler can handle. Steeler and I can do great things when I can focus on him and the job at hand rather than trying to scan the environment for problems. And I am learning - that focusing on Steeler and our activities - Steeler doesn't even see the other distractions that I used to obsess over. Here's one of his runs. We still have a few things to work on, like getting into the ring with the long line not so tangled.

On Wednesday Steeler had a great agility class - but I forgot the camera! And now I can't remember at all what we worked on. I know it was short sequences again .... but I can't for the life of me remember what specific skill we were working on! I think my brain is full.

Today we went to the barn for an agility match. Steeler had three runs. The first two at 20 inches and the third at 24. Laurie was there with our old classmate Solo the Briard, and her husband was nice enough to video for me! (Thanks Dave!!) Steeler's first run was ok. Not great but not horrible. He got distracted after the teeter by something that must have smelled really good! I probably didn't react quickly enough to Steeler deserting me. But I did get him back and working.

I think I must have worked out what ever nerves I had during the first run because his next two runs were much better I thought.

For his third run I had Lisa and Trixie hang out in the ring. I really need (in my mind) to work on things that I think are distracting. So since Steeler likes Trixi and I don't worry about what MIGHT happen with her I decided to start with pretending that they were hanging out near the ring. Lisa is great because she does exactly what you ask her to! So we will work up to having Trix moving and work on maintaining focus! He is clearly not bothered in the slightest by Trixie just hanging out which makes me very happy! :-) Steeler has made so much progress in the last 9 months since we started class with Catie! I was so happy with the spotty boy today!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Agility Class

Once again I am falling behind. Last week we had Obedience class, two agility classes (Tuesday and Wednesday) - one a make up class from a snow storm, noseworks class, and today the obedience show n go. I am exhausted.

The last few weeks I have felt like I was really struggling with Steeler's attention and focus in agility class. In thinking about it (obsessing about it?) I realized that the nights that I felt like I was really struggling (video here if you really want to see how bad it was) I had brought Steeler's dinner to class with me. My thought was that since dinner of ground beef and veggies was VERY reinforcing to him - I could start building some speed and drive from him. Unfortunately I think it sent his poor spotty brain into overload and he just couldn't focus at all. *sigh* Some day I will remember not to up the criteria so much at once. If he can't practice obedience stuff at home around his full food bowl with out loosing his brain - why should it be any different at agility class! So after Tuesday's class I felt very discouraged until I had that epiphany and on Wednesday I did not bring his dinner with us to class. It was in the car, but not in the building. This helped! Wednesday we worked on threadles - so we were doing a bunch of drill type exercises. I worked on making sure we were connected getting to and from the start line and paid him for his attention - and he was great! No running off and he was very attentive!  Yippee!  Meanwhile - we will work up to those distractions at home first before bringing them to the barn! Here is some video of what we worked on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Noseworks - class number 5

Yesterday was a busy day for Steeler and I - first in the morning we attended a Seminar - more about that later. Then we drove up to MasterPeace for our 5th Noseworks class.  This week the dogs were introduced to their first odor - Birch.  The odor is introduced by scenting a few q-tips with sweet birch essential oil, and the Q-tips are placed under the food in the box.  We started with a simple box drill in a straight line on leash.  Then we separated out the boxes around the room and let the dogs search off leash.  Odor recognition is the first skill that the dog has to demonstrate if you want to participate in a National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) trial.  The odor recognition test (or ORT) consists of a box drill type exercise with no distractions.  There must be between 12 and 20 boxes at least 48 inches apart.  Click here for more information.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wednesday Agility class - Fun with Rear Crosses

Class tonight focused on 4 short courses that used rear crosses in various places. Our first run was definitely our best! I've decided to start bringing the video camera again - and Andi was kind enough to video for me. I got the first three exercises on video.

Things went down hill fast when I decided that to build some drive over the teeter I was going to have his dinner as a target. That was a big mistake! We aren't quite ready for that level of distraction just yet. And I probably didn't increase the rate of reinforcement for Steeler enough to keep him from running to check the spot out. However - I did get a lot of drive coming out of the tunnel. :-) I was going to edit the next two clips - but I didn't have the patience - so you can see just how bad it was.

On the second exercise we changed the location of one of the rear crosses and added the teeter and jump after the table. One thing that I did work on successfully was having Steeler jump that last jump with Trixie (who he adores and really wants to play with) maybe 10 feet away just hanging out being a dog. Steeler paid little or no attention to her! After we have some success with that I want to start having Lisa play with Trixie a little bit and work on keeping Steeler's attention.

With the third exercise the opening sequence was the same - but then we added a turn to the weave poles. Another thing that I want to spend some time working on is building some speed through the weaves. At home and in a couple of other places I have nice speed but not yet at the barn. Clearly I need to put more time into rewarding speed thru the poles at the barn.

We didn't get the fourth run on video - I think we were all running out of steam. This exercise was jump - weave - jump (rear cross) jump - tunnel. The tunnel entry was a tough one - we had send the dogs over the jump towards the far end of the tunnel and pull them back to us to go thru the end closest to us - basically rear crossing the tunnel entry. One thing that Catie pointed out at the end of class is that I wasn't finishing with Steeler ... I was giving up just before the course was finished. Maybe giving up isn't quite the right words - but I was stopping or slowing my forward momentum and still expecting Steeler to go full speed ahead. Something else to work on! :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

noseworks - class number 4

This week we worked boxes off the ground again and we also worked the "horseshoe" exercise where we didn't know where the food was hidden.  In the first exercise - the first two times the boxes were on chairs, and the third time the box was on the floor.  You can see that Steeler was a bit distracted for some reason on the third run down the line.  Scott had me set up Steeler and re cue him to "search" again at the other end.

At the beginning of the horseshoe run Steeler was still a bit distracted - I edited out probably 10 or 15 seconds of him just looking around - I tried to cue him to search when he seemed to focus on the task at hand.

Agility Match

Yesterday Catie had another agility match at the barn in Duxbury.  Logan got to come with me to help set up again.  It was a bit chilly in the barn for her - but she enjoyed hanging out for a little while and exploring the empty horse stalls.  The little (8 - 16 inch) dogs ran first.  We got to see some friends from CT that came up for the match and their dal Abby.  Some other old classmates were there as well that we hadn't seen in a while.  I had Steeler out several times and he was totally unfazed by the dogs around him.  Even dogs that were barking at him.  I had him hanging out in the middle of things to watch a couple of friends run - and yeah he had a couple of barky dog moments while other dogs were running the course - but for the most part he was happy to watch.  And lot of dogs bark while other dogs do agility and their owners don't seem to care - so I know I am expecting a lot from Steeler.  Catie was nice enough to let me run him at 20 in first and then with the big dogs at 24 so I could get two runs in and then head out to noseworks class in Franklin.

His first run I did get on video.  I ran him at 20 inches first and then at 24.  The first time he missed the entry to the weaves - I don't know if he just didn't see them or if I was out of position.  So that is something to remember to try this spring with the jumps angled like that.  I sent him back over the second jump and he had no problem with the weaves the second time - the next group of obstacles was no problem. Tunnel - front cross - jump - Tire - tunnel - dog walk!  From the dog walk - there was a jump which I want him to turn tightly - he didn't the first time, so I think I had too much forward momentum?  The second time was no problem - possibly because he knew where we were going.  :-)  From the teeter there were two jumps that he was supposed to take and I kept sending him to the tunnel.  I think I didn't drop my arm soon enough - but we worked through it.  We missed one jump at the end - but clearly I didn't cue it and I was seriously running out of steam!  Two minutes in the ring is a long time - especially when you forget the dratted inhaler that is supposed to help you breath!

So there were a few things that I was especially pleased about - first he kept working with me even when we were repeating things. He didn't get distracted and wander off. Second - Jumping into the crowd with people and dogs watching - he didn't get very distracted by that. And third when I took my attention off of him for a moment - he stayed on the table! In the past if I took my attention off of him (and he was off leash) he would wander off to do his own thing. I spend a lot of time working on this and trying to set him up for success by not allowing him to wander - and this is really starting to pay off!

In between his runs Steeler hung out behind the orange fence among the other dogs and even with a BC tugging crazily a foot or two away - Steeler was calm and pretty relaxed!  His run at 24 inches was great!  It had the same focus and attention as the first run.  I was able to practice jumping into the crowd and calling him back to me as well as some of the pieces of the open and excellent level courses.  I find there are somethings where my timing matters a lot more when he is jumping 24 inches compared to 20.  For example if there are two jumps side by side (so a 180?) and we are working on tight turns - my timing is a lot more important to Steeler.

I was so pleased with the spotty boy today!  Things are really starting to come together!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some pictures from the storm

We were supposed to get over a foot of snow and ended up with about 6 - 8 inches of wet heavy stuff instead.  No fun to shovel, but pretty to look at.  Apparently when you close all the schools early and the state decides to close all government offices - the storms then go out to sea early.  Just a couple miles north of me there was barely a dusting to bother with.  The day after the "no-easter" as it is being called - was bright and sunny and apparently Keegan thought it was warm enough to curl up in a sunny spot to enjoy the sun. 

Steeler did a lot of run out into the yard and then run back to the porch - full speed ahead as usual.  Here he is in mid air ears flying.
Logan of course took one look at all the white stuff and went back to bed.
While we didn't get an overwhelming amount of snow this time - the wind was pretty bad.  I am not looking forward to spring when I have to clean up all the branches in the yard.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nina Ottosson dog toys

I've been curious about the Nina Ottosson interactive dog toys for a while. But the budget didn't really allow for a dog toy that expensive. :-) Thanks to Kim and Peyton, Steeler got to try his hand at the Brick toy.

of course Logan wanted in on this game too. Logan and Steeler (and Keegan too) say thanks to their favorite spotty agility dog in FL.  Thanks Kim!  You and Peyton rock!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday afternoon Nose Works

This is our third week of class.  This week we worked on teaching the dogs to search the corners and walls of a room.  The first time the food was in the box right as the dog entered the area.  The idea was to let the dog catch the scent and then cue them to search.  The second an third time the box was in the corner.  The next exercise was to help teach the dogs that they aren't always going to be looking on the ground for the scent/food.  We ended with a simple box drill so the dogs could end on an easy successful note.

Wednesday night agility!

Class is going SO well! I think after the night that Steeler was so distracted, running away from me and wanting to play with Trixie, I finally started to truely relax. Nothing bad happened that night and no one made me feel like I didn't belong in class - and it was like a big mental sigh of relief. I don't think I even realized that the stress was there. Every one in class is competing at the Excellent level in AKC - so sometimes I feel a little bit intimidated - not by the people but more by my own expectations. Does that make any sense?

Here's the course map (roughly) for class.  This week we stuck with jumping Steeler at 20 inches.

As you might imagine - there were lots of potential challenges in the course.  To start there was the two jumps set up on a straight path to the a frame.  Initially several of us walked that begining sequence as a lead out close to jump number three.  Instead Catie had us try a front cross in front of the 2nd jump - with a slight lead out.   Then there was the discrimination between the a frame and the tunnel from 4 to 5. 

We also worked a short sequence at the end of class from jump #10 -#15, wrapped 15 to the unnumbered jump to the teeter.  I know that things are starting to come together because when I finished that exercise Catie said "WOW - that was great Jenn!"  :-)  Go do it again.   And if felt good.... it felt like Steeler and I were connected and I knew where I was going and what I was doing. 

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday Noseworks class

Steeler loves this class! This week we ran through each exercise twice. Our first exercise was the standard box drill with 7 boxes in a straight line. I think the first time the food was in the first box and the second time it was in the last box. Lots of dogs completely bypass the first couple of boxes in their hurry to get through the line. When they start doing that you start putting the food closer to the front of the line until they start to get the idea that they should check all the boxes and not rush too much. This class is definitely a balance between getting the dogs to be excited about working (ie pulling to the line) and control - working the boxes in a methodical manner. The first time through Steeler was very excited and I didn't exert much control when he got to the end of the line and started back down the line. Scott stopped to say he had seen several dogs do this and that we should not have such a frantic behavior at the end of the line. Unfortunately I missed that on tape so I am not sure I am describing what Steeler did very well.

Our second exercise was much the same as the first, except we now had boxes on top of boxes. The idea being to get the dogs to search at different heights.

Our third exercise is what I think of as the most fun. We turn over chairs and get the food out of the box. The first time you can see in the video where Steeler catches the scent of the food. Then the second time he immediately went back to the same spot to make sure there wasn't anything there.

Friday, January 29, 2010


OK- the barking when I come home is starting to bother me again.  Susan Garrets blog has recently been discussing barking which started me thinking I should really work on the barking frenzy that Steeler has when I come home.  I have tried (and obviously not succeeded!) to make departures and arrivals non-events.  I have tried different set ups, crates in different areas, dogs separated and dogs together.  NOTHING seems to make it any better.  On the other hand nothing makes it any worse either.

I know I should try to not enter the house when they are barking - but Logan needs to go out as soon as I get home or she will pee in her crate.  She just drinks water like there is no tomorrow.  She's almost 12 - I just think that she shouldn't have to wait to go out.  And she is usually quiet once I get through the door.  Keegan is not too bad - he has a high pitched bark - but usually he is quiet when I ask.  Steeler though is a NUT.  Here is a video of what happens when I come home.

Here is what it looked like in January 2008 .....

And here it is in January 2010! Clearly we have not made much progress.

I know there is not going to be a magic answer - though I certainly wish someone could wave their magic wand and fix this. Katrin once suggested I try to drop cookies into their crates when I come in - that seems to have worked well for Logan. :-) I will happily entertain any other suggestions people have!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Surviving my worst fear...

OK - maybe not my worst fear - but definitely one that is high on my list.  I have been thinking about working in some runs at 24 inches for Steeler during our agility class.  So tonight before actually running the course we broke down a couple of sections to work on some handling skills.  Well the first one didn't look that bad so I thought I would try it at 24 inches.  Oh what a meltdown we had, Steeler and I.  I am not really sure just what was too much for his spotty brain - because I don't think that I was concerned about anything.  Steeler ran around and around and away from me and his favorite squeaky toy.  He would not take the jump in front of him to save my life!  He tried to play with Trixie at least twice.  And Trixie was such a good good girl to just ignore him.  She so wanted to join him for a run around the barn.  Well I got him back and put him on leash and took him over some jumps and rewarded his attention.  This is one of my biggest fears - that he will just run away from me at a trial and run up to the wrong dog and get himself in trouble.  But I survived this and nothing bad happened!  Here is the first handling section.

The next grouping that we that we worked we decided to run Steeler at 20 inches and see how he did as far as paying attention to me.  And he was fine - back in working mode.   Something about the first set up and the 24 inch jumps was just too much for his spotty brain.  Wish I knew what it was.

And here is the actual course that we ran.  The maps are probably close to the right spacing - but there could be some wiggle room in what we actually ran tonight.  For example - jump 6 to the tunnel was a pretty straight line.  It was a fun little course and Steeler actually handled some tricky pieces really well.  We are working on "collection" cues and tight turns.  Tonight we also worked on wrapping jumps.  So the first 4 jumps we kept the dogs on our left with a collection cue (using our right hand) before jump 2 and then picking them up on the left hand as they come over jump three to continue with jump 4, 5,6 and the tunnel.  Rear cross the tunnel to the double jump to the table.  So from the table - the jump to the poles was pretty straight forward.  Or so it seemed when I walked the course.  Steeler has developed a table fetish and he kept trying to head back to the table after the jump.  Once we got into the poles, jump 12, 13 was an easier wrap for Steeler to the teeter.  The end was kind of tricky for us.  Catie wanted us to try to front cross the teeter so the dogs are on our left to jump 15 and then rear cross jump 16 and call them back over 17.  We had a little bit of trouble with it - mostly my working out the correct timing for Steeler - but he did get it after a couple of trys!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday night agility class

Steeler had a great night!  And so did I....  We spent our hour working a single course this time.  I really should see if I can get the course maps to share.  I crated Steeler in the tack room (I think that is what it is called) It is warmer in there than it is in the barn  - I think it is heated a little bit at least.  And since the car is having heat issues (possibly a thermostat stuck open??) I didn't have the option of blasting the heat and working out of the car which I have been doing the last few weeks.  Steeler does not handle the cold very well if he is just sitting around in his crate.  The first time thru - we walked the course and then ran without any discussion.  The opening sequence was 2 jumps to the weave poles.  The jumps were angled and I was able to lead out to the 2nd jump.  From the weaves we reversed  direction into the shoot and then did a semi circle of jumps.  I chose to do a front cross after jump number seven. Then one more jump to the teeter. (now headed towards the front of the barn again).  From the teeter (A frame discrimination) to the tunnel to a jump facing the wall, and then reversing direction again to the A frame (A frame/tunnel discrimination).  From the A frame there was a series of three jumps down to the far end of the barn.  I am going to have to draw out the course I think!   At any rate - Catie said that she thought that was the smoothest she has seen Steeler and I run - and the run FELT good!!!!  We talked about where we were putting front crosses and we discussed how to tighten up the jump after the tunnel and then ran it again ... and again! Catie had us working to get our front cross in between 8 and 9 (instead of between 7 and 8) and then another front cross in before the teeter!  The second time through Steeler had a little bit of trouble sending from the tire to jump number 7 - I am still working out timing with him for things like that - and I know we will get there eventually. 

So one thing that I have been trying to work on (in addition to all the other stuff) is my attitude when we get ready to run.  I suspect that my attitude was better last night because the beginning of the course was at the far end of the barn - so Steeler and I ran to our starting position.  And even though I asked him for a stay at the start line - I was confident that the opening was something he could handle easily - and he did!  I have also been trying not to chatter at him while we run - I did that pretty well last night and discovered that he LIKES it when I talk to him in the weave poles - but other than that he prefers to only hear from me when it is important.  :-)  It was a good night!

OK I downloaded the trial version of course designer....  here is a rough estimation of the course to give you an idea.  the spacing is probably not quite right - but you get the idea.  :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Show N Go! at Performance Plus in Taunton

Steeler ROCKS!  He was such a good boy today!  And I only had a minor little panic attack over stays.  :-)  Run thru's started at 10 AM and Steeler was in the second and third sets of 8.  We got there about 9:30.  A bunch of people that we train with were there already and had saved us crate space.  We were set up in front of the novice ring - so there were lots of dogs going past up to get to the open ring and the utility ring.  Steeler was quiet in his crate even with the crate cover up and just watched the world go by.  No whining at all until we were just about ready to leave, at which point he had been hanging out in the building for over 4 hours - even with breaks outside that is a long time in a busy noisy building for my spotted boy. 

His first run was pretty good considering that we haven't been to class in over 3 months and have only been doing a bit of training here and there.  I thought his heeling felt a little bit laggy - but people watching said no it wasn't that bad.  I've been working him on a long line so that he doesn't get the chance to make the mistake of just wandering away from me, and today I only had to step on it once when we were approaching a couple of stacked crates with a HUGE stuffed dog on top.  His figure 8 was pretty good too - just a little bit laggy on the outside turn.  Stand for exam just a little bit of foot movement .... and his recall was AWESOME!!!! 

The first set of stays I found a little bit nerve wracking.  There were 8 of us along the short wall - there was definitely about 4 ft between dogs - but for baby dogs it was a bit crowded.  I was a bit too nervous to drop the leash for the 1 minute sit, though I did let go of it about 40 seconds in.  I stayed close but stayed silent and calm I think.  I had trouble getting Steeler to drop into his down for the long down - so I did lure him into it.  But once he was down - he stayed down for the 3 minutes.  He did pop up as I started to walk around him - but I think that was just a timing thing with all the other people approaching - I decided to not fuss with it.

His second run thru was at least as good as or better than the first one.  His Stand for Exam was definitely better, only one tiny foot movement.  His recall was spot on again and his heeling felt a bit better.  And even better his Stays were good!  This time we set up against the longer wall so there was a little bit more space between the dogs.  I set Steeler up between Riley (who he has known thru class for almost 3 years) and Ellie who he hasn't seen in a while but wasn't a complete stranger to him.  This time I was able to get almost all the way across the ring from him on the sit stay - even with a dog barking in the crate that was directly behind him on the other side of the ring gate!  On the long down I did have to lure him down with a cookie - but he stayed down and I was able to get all the way across the ring.  We still had the barking dog and lots of activity going on behind him so I did a bit of walking in towards him when I thought he was getting too distracted.  And he was able to stay in the down as everyone was walking back to their dogs.  He really did a great job today!  GO STEELER!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Agility Match in Duxbury and catch up

So once again I am behind on stuff.  First Thanks to Kim for making my new header! 

This past week it has been pretty cold - so we haven't been doing much.  Wednesday nights agility class went well.  Though I think Steeler was cold.  We are also working on hard stuff and I think that I really should have upped my rate of reinforcement much more than I did.  BAD HANDLER!  But Steeler continues to do pretty well.

Today we were at the barn for an agility match and Steeler was GREAT!  Usually I am so nervous at these events that I end up doing restrained recalls with Steeler across the barn and then working in the back corner away from all the people and dogs.  Well I didn't feel to nervous (that doesn't always mean much) and I started at the begining of the novice course.  I didn't fuss too much since the first obstacle was a tunnel, and damn if Steeler didn't just do the course for me.  Of course I completely messed up the novice course the first time through and ended up just making my own course.  I don't think that Steeler realized I was lost though.  :-)  The second run I tried the harder course (It could have been an excellent or open level course) since we had been working on that opening sequence in class on Wednesday.  That was a bit too much for Steeler though.  Not sure if it was the people and dogs behind him or me ... I went back to running with him and we did get through the opening sequence (4 jumps to the tunnel which was the first novice obstacle) and then we just continued with the novice course.  The first two courses I ran at 20 inches then ran the last one at 24 inches.  Since I was changing the jump height I decided to go back to the novice course once again.  And I have to say I was really pleased with how well we did today.  He hit all his contacts and had really nice weave poles!  Not to mention that his behavior was just wonderful!  Now how much of that was related to me not panicing every time a dog went by and generally being more comfortable with the people around me now that I know them from classes and stuff and how much was related to Steeler  growing up..... who knows!  LOL it is probably a combination of things.  But it was really nice to be so calm instead of worrying about every possible encounter. 

Catie had things set up so that the small dogs (8 and 12) ran all of their runs first and then the big dogs were scheduled to start at 11:45.  So I took Logan over at 9:30 to help set up.  The barn is about 10 minutes from my house and I figured that doing something was better than getting worked up (however subconsiously) about the run thru's waiting for our turn.  Logan got to come in and play with one of Catie's border collie's while we were setting up.  I am glad that she could - she has been really moping around the house lately.  It's been too cold to take her with me when I take Steeler to class.  But today we had a New England heat wave (I think it got into the mid 40's or maybe even up to 50 degrees today) so even if she couldn't have come in to play at least she would have gotten out of the house.  Plus we stopped at my favorite pet store to say hi and check out Dianes new puppy (what a cutie!)

So that is what has been going on today for Steeler.  His favorite liver pal Jenna from Maine got her last three points at the breed show in Fitchburg today as well so Congratulations to Dawn and Jenna!!!!

Tomorrow we are off to an Obedience Show N Go.  Oh boy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tuesday night agility

Tuesday night I went back to agility class after taking a couple of weeks off.  It was rather crazy around the holidays and there was just too much going on.  So at class last night we were working short sequences that involved rear crosses and to some extent pulling and pushing our dogs.  I also raised the jump heights on Steeler.  He hasn't been measure in a while and I am pretty sure that if I do any USDAA that he is going to have to jump 26 inches (unless I put him in Performance to jump 22 inches - which is an option).  For USDAA a dog over 21 inches at the withers must jump 26, for AKC if the dog is under 22 inches they can jump 20 inches, over 22 inches they jump 24.  NADAC has a class for those that measure over 20 inches, but they only have to jump 20 inches.  So the last time I had Steeler measured he was under 22 inches, but over 21.  So I think he can jump 20 inches for AKC but for USDAA he will either have to jump 26" or 22" in performance.

Ok - I got a bit distracted.  On Tuesday we tried raising the jumps to a mix of 24 and 26".  Up until we moved to the barn he had been jumping 24 in quite well.  I don't know if the courses were a bit more difficult for him than I thought, and raising the jump heights made him a bit anxious, or he was cold.  He seemed a bit distracted(sniffing and just wandering off as opposed to racing off to investigate) and didn't really seem to want to work.  I thought maybe he had to poop.  But I had him out before we went into the barn, and I took him out after we ran for 5 minutes and he didn't do anything!  His second run was better.  He had a great 2 on 2 off on the a frame!  And he actually started to go into an automatic down on the table!  And on the third run I ran him at 20 inches and that was probably his best run.  So we ended on a successfull note which is very important to me.  We do need to work on taking the first jump when I release him.  For the sequences we were working on we were setting the dogs up at an angle at the first jump, and Steeler went around it several times.  I thought at first that it was the higher height, but he did it again on the last run.  So it was probably my fault.  :-)  And that we haven't practiced that much. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010!

Holy Cow .... how on earth did it get to be 2010???? It seems like only a year or two ago that we were saying - Wow can you believe it is the year 2000? I had the last two weeks of the year off this year and I didn't do half or even a quarter of what I thought I would get done. I did get in an obedience lesson for Steeler and some training time with our friends Karen and Ruffi. Other than that I spent some time with Family, took my niece to see a movie and out for dessert at the Melting Pot for her birthday. My brother was kind enough to load my snow blower (that my dad was kind enough and smart enough to fix!) into his truck and bring it back to my house. Good thing too because we got a lot of snow Sat/Sun! The spotty dogs are not that thrilled with the snow, especially Logan. Keegan though is perfectly happy to be hanging outside.

I think I need to decide on some training goals for the Steeler pup this year and try to make a plan of how I want to get to where ever it is that I decide to go! (how's that for convoluted!)

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and here's to a happy and healthy 2010!

Here's a couple of snowy pictures - Kim do these make you feel any warmer?????  I'll have to get some current snaps so you can see how much snow we have now!  :-)