Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day 4- 2x2

just checking in - the last couple of days we have had gale force winds and with the eyes fresh post op...we haven't been able to work much.

Katy has never sequenced but I felt she was getting less enthusiastic, doing great but I wanted to spice it up, I was excited to see she has the idea enough to really look for those poles. The poles are a few inches between the 2 sets and the poles are just barely rotated open.  How cute is she?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

More Weaves - Day 2-3 on 2x2s

Ok generally in life, things are sort of rough because my vision is pretty bad after my first eye surgery a week and a half ago.  I'm having trouble seeing the computer and it hurts to read, and watching my videos to review what is happening is no fun,  reviewing to go to the next step of the 2x2 weaves is rough I'm wondering if I should have waited.  On the plus side since I can't work on my on line classes or do computer work, or move faster then a fast walk, I have time to be working!!!  I will have to compensate because I won't be able to finish and add any fast movement to our training...but hey, it's just dog training, if we mess it up we can fix it and Katy and I will just make allowances and do our best!

The first day we did four short sessions with the two poles - I was able to add some movement and Katy could find her way through the poles from pretty much anywhere.  The problems I could see were her tracking the toy way before I could throw it, and some pretty fun victory laps after each try- Katy would take the toy and run  on a big loop around the yard before returning, she is a fun loving girl, so that isn't surprising. So day 2 as I added in the second set of poles....I decided to try food as a reward.  Of course a new issue showed up, Katy was having a heck of a time finding the food.  So very quickly we relocated to the driveway ��

So pretty happy with the two afternoon sessions of day 2.  It started out rocky with Katy looking back and me unable to throw the hotdogs in even roughly the right place, but we got it together.  The poles are 15 feet apart and the food did help with forward focus, made her a little more thoughtful.  So the next session on day 3 will be the same set up but adding a little movement then we can put the two sets of poles about 7 feet apart.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015


TA DA!!!  One of my favorite things to train with a young dog is the weaves.  AND THE TiME HAS COME!!!

I feel strongly about waiting until I feel like my doggies are mature enough physically, why risk injury?  And with 2x2-my preferred training method-  the dogs learn it so quickly.... my goal is to start no earlier then 14-15 months.  Katy is 14.5 months so right there.

I also just had eye surgery and have another surgery scheduled May 19, and one of the restrictions is no running or jogging or lifting for a month after. so I won't be able to totally proof these weaves with running or sticking them in a sequence but what the heck.  I plan on sessions every other day with the off days as rest.  SOOOOOOOO....when I count days for training I will be counting actual training days ;-)

OK to start the fun.....every time I think of the 2x2 the awesome video Helen King and Jef Blake made to teach agility pops to mind.  So to start off our weave adventure on the right track with a little humor-I figured most people have seen this but it make me smile.  So no we won't be using the 2x4 method of training the weaves but....LOL

Wednesday May 6, 2015.  FIRST exposure to the set of 2 poles.  I skipped the first steps because Katy has spent a week or two running a 12 foot long board with two poles at each side of the board.  This is in prep for her dog walk behavior.  I think the set up is so similar to the 2x2 that we can skip the first part and hey it is only dog training so if I am wrong we can just go back one step.  NO WORRIES!  

I did two actual training sessions that I videoed, and wow, she is a rock star.  I do think in the first session, done in the morning I threw the toy along the line really well, but the toy placement is a tad further out then I would have liked.  Not much just a tad.

Second session, ughgh, I was trying to move around the arc and add just a touch of movement, not a lot because THIS IS THE SECOND SESSION, less then 5 min just a touch of movement.  The one issue I see is I am throwing closer but she isn't totally committed to the opening so I am waiting a little too long, I'm late rewarding so at the end of the session I am getting quite a bit of looking back.  

All in all, yippie, we are on our way!!!!  I am very pleased with day 1.  

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!