Sunday, April 26, 2015

"The Secret of Change is to Focus All of Your Energy Not On Fighting The Old, But Building the New"...Socrates

Socrates had that quote right.
Its a new day, I have a new baby dog Katydid that makes all things seem new, I have my best buddy Cricket who keeps me anchored to the past as I try to bring her back to working condition so she can do agility after two and a half years off.

Katydid-14 months and full of it-she has so many truly wonderful traits from her mom Cricket

Cricket- she will always be the most perfect dog I could ever imagine

I decided to blog to keep track of our training journey, to keep my notes, videos and progress here in one place as I try to figure it all out.  I live in a small community and I really don't have the time or the money to travel for lessons and to be honest I enjoy homeschooling my fur girls.  We are currently taking an online handling class, a jumping foundation class with Loretta Mueller, and a Sensational Stays class on line with Hannah Brannigan.

Our agility journey started way back when with my sheltie Chloe, and I didn't know anything about handling systems, or that there were options in handling, so I suppose I started with a Gregg Darrett background, although I did not know that at the time.  Its just what was given to us to start.
As I started to train my BCs Lizzie and Breeze-I was aware of options and chose to try to learn the Awesome Paws handling system from Linda M- that was just gaining in popularity at the time.  It made perfect sense, but I remember struggling so hard to figure out a handling system.

Cricket was brought up mostly in the Awesome Paws handling and she was AMAZING using that system, but I had a knee injury and had to get a knee replacement, we both had a few years off adjusting to that, followed by Katy's litter and then a small muscle tear Cricket had.  Unfortunately I just don't feel the APHS will work that well for us right now.  Courses are changing and I'm slower then molasses and that isn't changing any time soon.

So here I am with a few really fast dogs, and some really slow legs....what to do?  We have set out on a journey to learn a new handling system.  The new system I have in mind uses a lot more verbals, and concentrates a lot more on sending and the dog feeling confident to go out on their own.  I have trained enough dogs that I think I am doing much better remembering to pay more attention and reward the dogs for focusing away from me more and building more confidence then I have in the past.  I am also having to plain do a lot more training because I realize a lot of the time I plain am not going to be able to be there for my dogs, so we will have to rely on training and not just that I work harder at being there, because sometimes that is going to just be physically impossible.

Its all dog training, and its what I do for fun.  I pay HUGE amounts of money to play with my dogs, so I plan on just enjoying the journey, hopefully connecting with some fun people along the way and just having a great activity to keep my dogs happy and healthy and give us a fun way to connect to each other.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Katydid is 9 months old, and it seemed high time to let her meet the tunnel.  I got my daughter to help hold her on one side of the tunnel so I could call her through. I was carefully arranging for the introduction and.....

Katy said "Hey, Mom while I am waiting for you I will just do a few tunnels if that is ok"

 Sometimes life just happens when you are busy planning and that is EXACTLY what happened today...

In true Katy style she handled problem!!!  THAT is precisely why I LOVE this dog!

I am thinking that she has not been harmed by the later introduction to the tunnel ;-)  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Not Perfect at all, but......I Do Believe I am Forming A Training Philosophy!

 I am not suggesting I have any real answers...but I do have enough dogs and I have raised enough dogs and taken enough classes that with Katy I do feel like I am going to do fine raising her,  and I am feeling more confident to try my own thing.  Sometimes I feel like we can be so worried about doing the "right" thing and having the "right" answers that we don't get out there and put together what we do know and try to design a dog training program to fit our dogs personality and ourselves.  Having a little more confidence I decided to tackle one of our current issues which is running off in the back yard.  Parties of one can be VERY FUN for a wild puppy, but I am not so fond of them, LOL.

 It is my job as a trainer to have a goal for the session and evaluate how I need to alter what we are doing and break it down so that the game we are playing becomes more clear TO THE DOG.  It really doesn't matter how much sense something makes to me if my dog does not understand what we are doing.

I think so called "failures" can be my best friend because it shows me where we still need to work or where the dog just doesn't understand yet.  The dogs behavior doesn't lie, it might not be what I want to hear but it doesn't lie.  My dogs are great workers and if they don't get something, it means that I have not created a great enough understanding, or value for the task, period.  But that is OK because I can always fix that.  It is a bit freeing to train and not be too worried when there is a mistake, it is just all part of the process and more information to me and I do think my dogs have learned it is no big deal to make a mistake so they don't panic either.

So this is my full training session from the other day. There is some good training and some mistakes, but we made progress and I got more information, so I'm good with that ;-).   I was trying to keep Katy working with me and not taking off on victory laps or taking off for her own party.  Her favorite game is retrieve and I felt like maybe the answer to this problem was to work on some self control, asking her to come to me or to do a task BEFORE getting to retrieve her toy.   I wanted to increase the value for her coming to me, and make working with me as valuable to her as retrieving the toy. I was not sure Katy was going to be able to do this and I knew it would be challenging for her but I was pretty sure she could do it.

I had such fun watching her figuring it all out, she is such a smart girl.  This is the whole training session without anything cut out. she did great and she quickly caught on to the game, which is awesome because this game can make her really over the top but she was able to work at thinking and still have fun.   Not an example of perfect training but we had progress.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And So It Begins........

It was a big day for us, Katy got to do something like real agility!  Just a few Susan Salo jumps with jump bumps.  As I understand Susan's program, puppies only do some jumping every couple of weeks, they do very few receptions, they use small jump bumps, and the object is not to be perfect but just to introduce them to the jumps and let them work out how to use their bodies.

Katy is targeting to a favorite tug toy on the ground, and I am standing just past the toy. Susan believes that young dogs need to think about the jumping and pay attention to their job so she would not like movement that distracts the dog.  My own personal handling system does not call for teaching the dog to blast past me, so that is why I stay up by the toy.  This was all the jumping we did, I just edited out the walking back and forth.  It wasn't about staying so I did not want to make that an issue so I had my lovely daughter as my assistant.

I do have to admit I HAD A BLAST!  After all this time with my knee injury and replacement, then Cricket having puppies, I had forgot how good it feels to be out there and what a charge it is to see my dog playing the game.  SHE IS SO COOL!!!!

In general I don't believe in doing lots of  agility or equipment with puppies, I just think their bodies and minds are not ready for it and there is so much other foundation that needs to be done.  Teaching equipment is so fast and so easy that there is plenty of time for that!  I plan on starting weaves around 15 months and not jumping full height until Katy is around 18 months.

 first jumps 6 months from kathy bordergirlsmom on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


IM BACK!  I've missed my blogger friends and I really want to track the training of the newest BorderGirl Katydid.  For anyone who does not know ~ my heart dog and best friend Cricket had three beautiful puppies February 17, 2014.  There were two boys and a little girl.  Yolo one of the little boys is in Arizona, Doone is in British Columbia in Canada and Katydid stayed with me in Southern California.

Life has been pretty perfect, and Katy is a great combination of a little naughty and tons of sweet, and has been everything I hoped for, a truly great combination of traits of her mom and her dad.   I have not felt like I needed to talk about her training much, ...everything has been pretty easy.

Fast forward to Katy turning 5 months old and hitting teenage hood, LOL, she is cheeky and full of it, she is so confident and willing to try anything and so training has really begun, and I have had to step up my game and not be as sloppy, which has made me long for my blogger friends and to track our progress.

Way back when I first took Susan Garretts Recallers- a baseline assignment was to list in order your dogs distractions.  We were just to think of all the things that are challenging for our dogs, from the easy to handle distractions to the really hard challenges for dogs to ignore and work through.

The other list we were to make is a list of things that our dogs found reinforcing--everything we could think of, from going out the door to different foods, to toys, being allowed to run outside, being allowed to play with other dogs, being able to go greet people, what ever your dog found reinforcing to them.  I thought writing all that down  was a bit silly because  I pride myself on knowing my dogs. .I did the damn list and lo and behold it turned out to be a very valuable assignment.  It made me much more aware of the distractions for my dog and things she found reinforcing.

So my issue with Katy now is that she can pick up one back foot at a time, she can shake hands, she can balance all four feet on a 3 in board, she knows left and right on a verbal, she is a smart little girl,  with a ton of behaviors but....recalls, what are those?  We used to have a beautiful, awesome recall, but we misplaced it lately because she just gets so distracted  ;-)

So here is our list of the five biggest distractions for Katy:
1.  CARS,  CARS, CARS AND CARS- she is stimulated by cars and I find that frightening
2.  If Her mom is getting excited or barking or moving fast-Katy knows she needs to be with her
3.  Dogs who are acting a bit aggressive and barking or posturing-Katy thinks she will go bark and
      with her 24 lbs she will handle them-she is on it
4.  bicycles-those are very exciting, they have wheels and move-must herd those
5.  My daughter Emma who she just adores.

surprisingly other dogs running, and other dogs training or playing is not that huge a problem, she actually does really well around that so far, which really surprises me.

We have done tons of impulse control and focus games, but Katy was still stimulated enough that I found that it was super hard to get many treats in for good behavior, and I don't think I could reward enough that she ever had any idea what it is that I wanted.  Bad Trainer. ;-(.

The last few days as much as I really don't like head halters, I decided to try one.  I just knew I needed to get cookies into her for good choices and she was just not getting a high enough rate of reinforcement with what I had been doing for her to ever really understand what I wanted.  For her it has been so nice, she does not mind the head hater because I spent a good amount of time conditioning it, and it is letting us work around distractions.  We worked around a soccer field with cars driving slowly by-I was able to stop hold onto the head halter and walk back a few steps,  Katy automatically sat and started playing our focus games, without my asking, it was like a default behavior.  I am hoping that fairly quickly I can get enough cookie and good rewards for paying attention and making the choice to keep herself calm that we can get rid of the head halter and still have a puppy using her thinking brain.

Luckily things are going remarkably well and the last two outings had zero times lunging at cars, she has sat and paid attention to me and done easy tricks as cars pass, and she has only had maybe one or two incidents of barking at anything while we were working.  She is one smart cookie and once she gets rewarded for something she learns quickly so I do think this is going to work pretty quickly so we can move onto more fun things!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Its all about Play- so lets take a class!

Ok, I have to admit I was about the WORST training buddy for Chris and Ricky.  The plan was to take Denise Fenzi's on line class "Relationship Building Through Play".

The Relationship through play focuses on the different types of play...Toy Play, Food Play and Personnel Play which is play with your dog that does not involve food or toys. By definition personnel play is play that you can use with your dog while training and while in the ring when you can not have food or toys-there will still be times when you can be playful and reward your dog.  It is my understanding this Relationship Through Play is an overview type of class and there are some other classes where there is JUST personnel play explored, or just food or toys.

Chris/Ricky, and Cricket/I  signed up for auditing spots since the worker bee spots were filled by the time we got over to the sight to sign up.  The PLAN was to work together and post so we could still get the most we could out of the class. has just been a hectic month, and I was gone on a trip, was gone to a seminar, and just had a million things including the holidays filling my little brain, so the class is over and now I am starting ;-), but now I am going to work through the class!  Chris was an awesome sport and did awesome in the class.

Our first assignment was to create a baseline video of food play, toy play, and personnel play with our dogs so we could look at what was going on and where we need help and where we could use more skills.  Seems like a great idea, although it is a bit rough to post playing with your dog, I always feel a bit silly.

First off is toy play.  OMG, I have to say lately Cricket is about the perfect dog.  She goes up to ANYONE and sits nicely to be petted, she even likes kids lately, she just has a softness about her.  I remember being at this very park a few years ago working with opens and being very careful so she did not run after the joggers, now here in the video there are three skateboarders that go by and I throw the toy right after them, and Cricket barely notices them, she is just intent on playing with me and would never dream of leaving.  HOW could I even think of getting a puppy when my little girl is so darn easy now days...  Anyway, here is our baseline video for toy play.

Next up we have food play.  Movement is a HUGE reinforcer for Cricket, probably bigger then toys, or food and certainly bigger then personnel play.

Last we have personnel play....sigh.....  Let me say this is probably way better then our usual personnel play.  Cricket uses her mouth, a lot.  So when I have tried to do more personnel play, she really gets uncomfortable because it makes her want to chew and she is very nervous she is going to bite me.  If Cricket has a toy to chomp on then she can play and she is very happy.  Personnel play seems to make her uncomfortable and it makes me uncomfortable because I am not great at it.  When we took Denise Fenzi's Heeling Games class that was the one area we had trouble in during the class, Denise would want us to reward during some games with personal play and that was rough for us.

Hopefully this class will help us address this area of play.

OH yea, this video has a lot of pretty loud, frustrated barking, fair warning, ;-)

I hope to catch up over the next week or two and talk about the One Dog Mind Training Seminar, which left me lots to think about, and of course I want to talk about Puppies, and everything else that has been going on to catch you all up on the last couple of weeks!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Silly Pet Tricks!

TRICKS, TRICKS, TRICKS, most of our foundation work was simply tricks, they were all about body awareness and learning to work together. One thing I loved about the foundation work Cricket and I did as she was growing up, was all the body awareness work we did.  I can say now that it really paid off.  We have done a bit of herding, a bit of obedience, a bit of rally, some agility, some nose work, and there is nothing we have done that I did not feel we had a bit of a heads up because of the foundation we had thanks to online lessons mostly from Sylvia Trkman but also Susan Ainsly, Susan Garrett, Denise Fenzi and a tiny bit of the Michael Ellis DVDs. The best thing about our foundation was that we could work at our own pace and in really short sessions-homeschooling the Crickster turned out great for us.

In the desert we don't do stairs.  When I wanted to teach Cricket to back up the stairs I had to wait until this real estate office was closed so I could go use their stairs.  They have stairs all around the building and they are all a little different sizes and slopes.  I was driving by the office and since it was black Friday the office was closed, and there was a break in the rain, so I stopped to see if Cricket remembered how to back up the stairs.  SHE DID!

Have I said before how much I love this dog?

Friday, November 29, 2013


HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope everyone had a great day.   We had a quiet day, I went to the gym-YIPPIE ME! We had a delicious FAUX turkey, yummy- and some pumpkin pie.  If there are any aspiring vegetarians out there the meat substitutes by Quorn are delicious and we can get them at our Target Super center, they are in an orange and white box and I think have a very good texture.

Because it is Thanksgiving I will share a few things I am thankful for this evening-I am thankful I do not have to make websites/edit websites/or in any way touch websites in my daily life-I know now I could make one but one is about as many as I feel compelled to make in my lifetime....although as soon one of my friends saw the site I was working on she was hinting she would like me to help her do one..sigh...good thing she's an awesome friend.  I am also very thankful that Agility Blogger day is only a couple of times a year,--it is coming up again and the topic will be the mental game I believe....and.....I plain can not get my head into the game to think of what to blog about ....  thirdly I am thankful that our floor is tile so it can be easily cleaned--naughty Skyler who has been plain peeing-not leaking on the floor.  Thank heavens the holiday is over so I can get him back into my holistic vet. Can we tell I am tired tonight, hahahah!

So now that Cricks and I are finally really doing a little agility again, WHOOT!  it is AMAZING how much that has improved my mood.  What I can do now really isn't running, LOL, but hey it is getting there.

So with our new found freedom, it was time to take stock of our training and see what we can work on while I am getting up to running full courses... that pretty much means short sequence and drills, and obstacles.  Check out the picture of Crickets pretty 2020, well that was before, and in my recovery period that pretty sight is gone.  It was pretty funny, Ive let a few people play around with Cricket and she runs so beautifully for others, she is just happy to do her 'gilities and who cares who it is with---however, if someone can run, she is keeping up and there is no time for stopping on that dog walk.  The teeter was just fair before the injury and it is pretty much where it was before I still have work to do on that-I'm using some Wendy Pape exercises on that.  The running Aframe I was so proud of-its really not up to the criteria with some odd scampering going on, but just some running over it seems to be fixing that, it is getting better with each session so I am not worried about that.  Cricket ran across the long jump, working carefully to step on each board, LOL, we worked through the whole Mary Ellen Barry Long jump program, so that was sort of freaky to me that she really doesn't recognize it at all, silly girl!!!  But all is not lost, OMG her weaves are awesome,  her jumping is looking so nice, and all of a sudden she works really nice at a distance and has so much more obstacle commitment then she has ever had before.  I think all the Sylvia Trkman cik/cap around trees in the park has paid off.  Now that we have taken stock, and I know what we need to work on, guess its time to get to work!