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.