Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chloe meets the Tug It toy...

Chloe has never been a tugger. I got the Tug It from Clean Run awhile ago....thinking it would be good to build more tug drive in Breeze and maybe build a little toy drive with Chloe-because it would make some of the contact work I would like to do with her much easier to do. I was lazy and hadnt tried it out until I went to the Elicia Calhoun seminar and she did mention this little toy and said she origionally thought it was a bit silly, but in her travels across the country she has seen it do amazing things for dogs with no drive or building drive in dogs with low tug desire. I put Liverworst in it, and it is a mesh so the food oozes into the dogs mouth when they bite on it, each time they bite they are getting a little reward. It comes in two different sizes of mesh for beginners and for dogs that have got the idea and are ready for more of a challenge. So I brought this out and at first Chloe just licked the bag for a few minuetes, even when I was sort of moving it away from her and trying to make it look more interesting, then all of a sudden it all kicked in and she was on the job. Pretty cool toy, worth ordering and trying out if you want to get a little more toy drive out of your dog. The video is not very exciting but I told someone I would post how the toy worked for Chloe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cherrys Progress for December

We finally get to work outside again after a huge break. I have been inside working on shaping an automatic down on a contact board-one that is 20 inchesX12 inches, I think that is going to be my contact behavior for Cherry, a 2o2o with a weight shift to the back if she can handle it with her back end. I have also been running her over the aframe, and hopefully that will build up some muscle tone-so that is having to go pretty slowly to give her muscles time to build themselves up. We also started the stay behavior, leave it, sending to dead toys, strengthening the hand touch and of course playing on a lowered teeter. So all in all Cherry is really doing well. Can you believe this dog that wouldnt take treats when she got here will now very happily work for kibble, LOL. What a good girl. I think the one new thing we will add in this week if the weather stays nice is sending to a tunnel, and working on a longer plank, like sitting, standing, turning around, running. Cherry has this weird way to walking sideways with her back end sometimes so I want her to be very comfortable with moving her body around on the plank before I start raising the height of that, and then adding in the dog walk.

Monday, December 22, 2008


So I survived the cold of the first day of the seminar and showed up at 8am for the second day, I had to leave at 6am in the dark and ice, YIKES, but.....So this is a picture and by the second day when I took the picture a lot of the snow had melted and this picture really doesnt capture how pretty the view was, but it really was gorgeous. The second day we were treated to a really nasty wind, I know Kirsten said it was breezy, but she is nuts-there were gale force winds. The first session was prenovice then the novice session. Elicia went over her weave pole training, she likes the channels and some proofing she likes to do. Then she demoed the contact board, which is what I have been working with (my contact training board is longer then she uses, hers is just the length of the dog from chest to beginning of tail) but the games she does are a little more precise and I think would really help the dog understand their position a little more, so I think I will be adding some of that, especially for Cherry. She demoed how she teaches sit/ sit stays. I had noticed yesterday she does a lot of shaping and clicker, but with the sit/sit-stay/release word she does use a hand in the collar and guides the dog. Nothing bad or scary or real forceful but she does guide the dog. I guess I have always liked to try to teach the dog by having them figure it out on their own and problem solve a little more, but for a dog that has been conditioned to understand a hand in their collar it was interesting to watch how she does it. A lot of the participants said they wanted to work on focus issues, so we did the two toy game and I found that very interesting how Elicia feels that when dogs are working and they are distracted, they have the voices in their head. Like the toy or food is calling, and the dog has to make a choice of whether to follow the voices, or to stay on track. So the two toy games are designed to make the dog work through wanting to go and play by putting the toys/distraction closer and closer to the working area and having the dog work through what gets them the treat/toy in the long run. TA DAAAAAAA, I am feeling so smart because after Chloe was trying to leave the ring to find her treats.....another proud moment of mine.....that is EXACTLY what I started doing with her and it has worked like a charm. Chloe is now happily running over and past her treat pouches and then at the end we both run over to find the treats out of the pouch and her last trial she was not looking for the treat location. Sort of the plan Alicia had already suggested with the wild Liz too, so going to start working a little more on that at home. Another thing that I have got over the weekend is a lot of tricks to encourage the dog to be more obstacle focused. I was interested in that because like Elicia kept saying you have to have the balance of obstacle focus and handler focus-no huge revelation but something you always have to keep in mind-balance is good, and lately....think I have worked so much on attention that the balance has shifted to a little more handler focus then object focus and a little more balancing is needed. I did acquire a new title that Elicia Calhoun said I could add to my resume, that of toy guarder, toy wiggler. Denise from class was really getting good at the toy wrangling, she was at the other station. Yippie, I got very fast with my foot stamping on the toys when the dogs were not supposed to get them or wiggling them enticingly when they needed to be attracted to them, LOL, see when you are an auditor you get to be doing some of these important jobs, hahahahah. In the novice session I was very happy to see a lot of the people from my classes, so that made that session a lot of fun too. Bruiser had a working spot and he was just doing awesome-it was neat to see him there. There were some more great handling tips and I thing I brought away from this whole seminar that will play through my head that Elicia kept saying to people was.....MAKE IT HAPPEN-she would usually say that after someone tried something a few times and it just wasnt happening and she would say, it is your job to make it happen this time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Elicia Calhoun seminar

So I was lucky enough to attend a seminar today-a masters handling seminar with Elicia Calhoun. Anyway, I have to set the scene, it was in a field with a lot of snow, and we were raking around the contacts and along the routes the dogs needed to go. I had my doubts thinking about sitting all day in the snow-I had an auditing spot because the working spots were filled by the time I found out about the seminar. Anyway, so getting up in the cold while it was still dark and driving over the icy roads to sit in the snow.....I seriously considered turning around a bunch of times. If you ever get a chance to go to a seminar of Elicia's I would highly recommend going. She was very entertaining, and I got a heck of a lot of good information. She is great at painting word pictures to help you remember and understand the point she is trying to get across. I can not imagine I will forget some of the pictures she brought up in my mind in relation to certain handling positions or manuevers. Of course she had some terminology that it took me awhile to figure out what she was talking about, where are the Madonnas pointed?, using your sexy shoulder, the McDonalds arm, using the nose pick hand, presenting the obstacle with the Vanna White move, talking about your body being a magnet, the swirly, twirly, toilet bowl twirly move, and when you turn a car you keep your foot on the accelerator very slightly and turn and keep turning if you yank it around you will spin and skid, and of course then there is the SFL (straight freakin' line). Once I figured out what she was talking about-it sure made it easy to remember. She was very good about showing where exactly to be to communicate to your dog and how to get there and giving really good pictures about how to communicate that with your dog. I really liked one thing she said several times -your dog will be honest and tell you what you are telling him, if you listen to what he is saying you can figure out what you need to do. I also got some good pointers about some consistancy with the contacts. Elicia was also describing how she taught the dog to hit the contacts straight, so I definately will look up more of where she describes that training in the March 2007 clean run. I was so jazzed after watching everyone else working all day that I was dying to go home and try some of the sequences, but was an hour and a half drive home and the roads were icy and it was pitch black, and so I had second thoughts about working on those sequences by the time I got home. I am going back tomorrow for the novice and prenovice sessions, and then we have rain forecast for a few days so that will be the only bummer, it doesnt look like I will have a chance any time soon to practice the things I was watching all day. I may bring Breeze and even if I can not work with her, I could work with her during lunch. Elicia reminded me of my own very cool instructor in a lot of ways-I really like that style of teaching.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Sorry for all the snow stuff, but it is exciting when you live in California in the desert. It has snowed all day and not stopped, I do not remember ever having it snow this long. The kids of course had to make a snow family complete with a snow dog.

Another delay in the weave pole challenge....

So we are currently at 4 weave poles in about three days with 2-3 sessions lasting less then two min. each day, not too bad, but think we are going to have to take a few days off.

I took Liz to Petsmart last night to do some work and I am starting to formulate some new strategies with the help of our ultra cool trainer-Alicia-where would we be without her?
So I am going to try working with more objects to sort of anchor Liz and give her something to focus on and work with-her stool, a cone to work around, hand touches etc...
I am finding things like loose leash walking just leave Liz not able to focus. I think she needs way more active things to do. I am going to use a lot more hand touches, sits, and things like heel work-I am thinking maybe competing in some Rally might really help us. When I had Liz at Petsmart and put out a cone I was able to do front crosses with her leash dragging-so basically off leash, she could do stays with me way far away- where she couldnt see me, but then she was a total spazz when we just tried walking through the store on a loose leash. I wonder when she was at her trial if I made her heel to the jump and then had her stay instead of just going out and trying to get her focused on an object could it have worked better? I am also keeping better records to try to really hone in on what the best ways to help Liz focus really are.
I am also going to try to get longer behavior chains-three or four behaviors that I can get before we go and get a treat so that Liz understands she can work for awhile and then there will be a reward coming.
We worked on Breezes start line stays, reading rear and front crosses last night at Petsmart, poor girl it is hard for her to sit on that floor because it is slippery and trying to do her front crosses she looked like Bambi on ice.

Snow in December

Living in the southern Cal. desert we dont get snow very often, and of course we had to go out and play in it. It had just started to fall when I took these pictures, and the snow fall is getting heavier. Breeze was the first to see the snow when she was looking out the window and barking at the flakes, Liz really likes to sit and sniff and roll in the snow and her curly hair really catches the flakes, Cherry can not stop running, Chloe the sheltie just likes that it is not hot and Skyler wants to play with Cherry. Of course the kids are in a fever pitch watching the stuff, so hopefully there will be enough for them to make a snowman later on.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Training in the Rain, and Snow

Well, my weave challenge with Cherry has ground to a halt. First off I met my Mom and my two aunts in Long Beach for the AKC invitational trial. One of my Aunts was trialing in Obedience. We had a pretty good time but I missed my kids and the fur kids because we were gone all weekend. When we got back we have had some snow and lots of rain-yep, right here in the So. California desert! So I have guests in the house, three border collies and two shelties and the back yard is basically a lake right now. Have I said before that we have a very small house? So I tried to set up the weaves to work in the house, I was going to take out the living room furniture like someone suggested......but have had to be content with training on the traveling plank, doing some shadow handling and working on our lefts and rights, but no weaves......OOOH dear--Poor Cherry I might have to add a few days to my personal challenge of teaching her the weaves with shaping before two weeks was up. I didnt plan on losing days to the weather, this is So Ca after all!!! hahahah.
Have to say I am over my little pity party with Liz, not sure what I will ever meet the goals for her that I origionally had when she arrived here, but..... I wouldnt trade one minute of the time I have had with her for anything. I think all of my dogs are pretty durn cool and I am feeling the gratitude today. Even Little Cherry - I am lucky enough to be able to be playing/training with her now while she is just going through such an exciting time, she is just blossoming before my eyes-so I am not sure how long she will end up being here, but I do feel lucky to have her here for the time being. Cherry and I will get those weaves even if the schedule is delayed because of weather, hey maybe the SG 2X2 weave DVD I ordered will be here before we finish???

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The lady in the phone,,,,,The cool GPS in the phone

Our house is a fluid place with comings and goings....with temp people and dogs, but we have welcomed a new person into our lives who I am very excited about. We got the lady in the phone!!!! I got the GPS system and how cool is it to have the person telling me where to go and how to get there. I am thinking I am going to like her a lot. A couple of weeks ago I was going to class over an hour away and with the time change it was dark and things looked different, and it is an area I am not that familiar with and I ended up on 70th East street, which NOT 70th West...Like I guess it is 140 blocks away, LOL. WHO KNEW??? So I think this shows what happens some times when I go to classes and trials --I admit I am directionally challenged, so I am very happy to have the new lady living in my phone to help me out. So now anyone who knows me and expects me at events, there is a greater chance I will actually make it there.


So I havent talked much about a new little star in our home that is doing wonderfully. Cherry is actually a Contact Point Agility dog, but Karen has let me keep her here for the last couple of months. Cherry was born about two weeks before Breeze, and is a cousin of Breeze's. So the fun thing is that Cherry came here just shy of turning 2 yrs old, but I remember holding and playing with her when I origionally went to meet Breeze. I have a lot of pictures of that trip. I also remember seeing on the CP email list the pictures of Cherry at 14 weeks jumping over a tunnel, and I remember writing in that I thought Cherry really wanted to be an agility dog for sure. I remember hearing about the day they took Cherry in to the vet because she had been limping and it turned out she had a broken pelvis I believe. Anyway, she had a FHO, where they remove the head of the femor and then instead of a true hip joint as I understand it the muscles are holding the hip area together. Origionally Cherry came here because Breeze was doing her exercises and rehab and Cherry needed to do the same exercises and so I figured the more the merrier. When Cherry first came we spent a lot of time teaching just plain manners, and doing a lot of exercises. Cherry was a challenge for me because she was not at all food motivated, NOT AT ALL. And she loved to play with toys but didnt really understand how to play WITH me, so it was difficult to use that as a reward. She has some really truly awesome drive though and is the sweetest dog ever. I will say that Cherry is the only dog in my house right now that gets full house privledges and doesnt have to go in a crate when I leave. Skyler is pretty much on that status too, and Chloe I just worry about her and Liz fighting through crates, but Cherry just never does anything wrong. She is my husbands favorite dog, and the kids just love her. Cherry is fun for them because she is gentle and sweet and still loves to play-she is a ball maniac. So recently there have been some really exciting things going on with the ol' Cherry. I am GOOOOOOOOD at bringing out food drive and I am getting much better with playing with the dogs and all of a sudden Cherry is the easiest dog to train. So I started Cherry in a little beginning agility class and I do have to the risk of bragging.... she is by far the best dog in the class. OK that is my own opinion, but.....LOL, I really think she is. She is amazing, like between exercises I wanted to shape a focus-just asking her to sit and look at my eyes-then increase the duration she could do that. By ten minuetes later she was holding my gaze as long as I will hold her and I can run and move and she will run after me and find my eyes. Wow, two years and still working on that with Liz. She was the demo dog for learning out around a cone and after two of three tries with Alicia the instructor, I took her back and we were able to run by the cone and she would go out and around it. Last week we were doing jump-tunnel and Cherry would sit behind the jump-knowing that we were going for the way fun tunnel, and even though she hadnt done it before she was pulling and then went over the jump and raced through the tunnel where I threw the ball for her. All of a sudden she is a learning machine. It is all clicking for her so fast. She is really doing so good. I am so proud of her.
Sooooo I have a SUPER FUN challenge I am doing with Cherry now. I had tried earlier to do the 2X2 weaves when I was origionally teaching my dogs but she just was not operant enough yet and she wasnt into the rewards enough to really get into it, and the way I handle that type of thing is to just wait and work on other things. SOOOOOO we are BACK, and I am going to try to get these weaves down in the next two weeks, and I mean I want some awesome weaves. hahahahahah, so that is the challenge. I will post how it is going to keep myself moving and honest, and I will post a day by day progress video in TWO WEEKS. I really think we can do it and I think this is going to be fun. I will have to take a few days off because I have to be out of town for a few of the days, so that will be my excuse if it takes us a few more days....but I am still going to predict two weeks!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008


CHLOE GETS HER FIRST TITLE-so it is Jazzy Little Chloe NJC, CGC. So yeah, I know it isnt a huge deal but it is to me. I was a nerd in school, I used to go to a junior high where these gangs of girls would chase kids down and beat them up when they didn't do well in baseball or volley ball. I was just never good at physical things, and I have done dog training but the competition side of things just intimidated me. I love to challenge myself and even working as a nurse I would do some of the more difficult things, but I just dont like doing things where I feel judged or people have to watch me doing it. I have a huge perfectionist streak that makes me not want to try things when I am not going to be perfect or when I might look foolish, and I have had to really come to grips with that in my little agility adventure. When I started private agility lessons just working in front of the instructor made me really, really nervous and I had to make myself go because it was hard. When I very first started group lessons I would write my instructor at the time, Deanna, and apologize when I had trouble getting something. Anyway, agility has been good for me and I have worked through a lot of things, and so getting my first agility title is so much more then a little novice title. It is a symbol of all that I have worked through and am working through. Chloe has had a lot of challenges, but boy running with her now is so much like sitting at home in your favorite chair, it just feels so good-except that start line. So this weekend Chloe Q'd and got a first in every run, except one where we got excused when she peed at the start line, LOL. I was not at my best this weekend, but boy there were two times when Chloe just seemed to read my mind and I was so far behind that I had to trust my dog, which people keep telling me I need to do more, and she pulled it off. Chloe and I have worked through a lot and just a year ago she could not make time-she barely walked, she could not weave, she ran around every obstacle. We worked through her physical issues, her motivation issues and now she is always way below time and she just reads things so well, she is really a sweet, nice, consistent little girl. CONGRATS CHLOE, AND THANKS FOR BEING MY PARTNER!!!


Breeze first trial was every bit as good as Lizzies first trial day was bad. She is just such a good doggie she handled the stress wonderfully and as the weekend went on with each run it seemed like she was getting the game more and more and looking for where to go, and understanding my body language a little better each time. I did not know what to expect from her, so I didnt know when to let her go and when to sit closer and babysit. Trusting my dog has never been my strong point, so I had a lot of trouble sitting and babysitting areas where I felt I had to stay to get one obstacle and then getting to the next area I needed to be. I have only done a handful of longer sequences with her and I do not have any feel for the timing with her yet, and that was HARD. She doesnt feel like anyone else I have run with and knowing when to stay and help her and when to just let her go is not something I have a feel for yet. I felt like such a rotten handler this weekend, but Breeze really did good even though I will have to say I did not give her the best chance by giving her good direction. It is weird to run with a dog as fast and happy as she is, I wasnt stressing walking up to the line which is always stressful for me and Chloe because I havent really come up with a good way to do that with Chloe so she doesnt start worrying and shutting down, but with Breeze we could just walk up there and not worry about it, that was fun. Then Breeze was just having such a good time and getting better with each run. We came out with a HUGE list of things to work on but a huge list of things that went right and the best part is that she held up beautifully physically. I did not opt to give any medication because I wanted to get a true test of how she was going to hold up and if she would get sore, and she didnt show any signs of hurting that I saw.
Our last run was on sunday in the dark, and a tunnelers run. There were two sets of tunnels that were parallel, and one was a set that were touching each other and Breeze being a baby agility dog does not always read my signals really well, the first tunnel was a dark blue one in the dark and the judge was sitting right next to the tunnel, so there were a lot of things in that run that made Breeze a little nervous at the start line and she broke, and I went with it because I had not thought it out ahead of time what I should do if that happened. Anyway, she Q'd and got fourth in a pretty big class of dogs. Her first Q. She read everything I did perfectly and I was proud of myself for not getting lost, although it was a really nice course.
Beeze is so much fun and so nice to run with, even knowing she has a lot of training that needs to be done and there is so much more she needs to know and I had no idea what we would get out of her, and she is so much different from anyone else I have run, and the list of dogs I have run is pretty small......I still did not get very nervous and I kept my stress pretty much under control. The last few trials I have been a real stress case, but I have to say I did sooo much better this trial. I worked hard on that and I think I did OK. Funny I started out doing well with stress my first couple of trials and then I started worrying a lot more and I just got so stressed I really had trouble thinking, remembering the courses and it was very uncomfortable.
So this trial this weekend was such a mixed bag of emotions and there were such extremes of how things went, I deceided to give everyone a little seperate entry and seperate the memories a little bit. It is going to be really rough to have so many dogs just starting out their agility career at once, the highs and lows come a lot faster that way for sure.
BREEZE....Breeze....boy, I sure wish she didnt have hip dysplasia, maybe she is going to do pretty well with that, but I will always have to be more careful to not tear her down, and I will always worry, it all comes down to that I will always worry about how she is doing physcially. I will always have to limit her number of runs, and I will just always be having to make sure she gets her accupuncture, her supplements, her exercises, great nutrition, I just will never just get to run her and not think about it because I love her to death and I do not want to tear her down to do something I want to do....maybe as time goes on and I get a feeling for how much she is able to do and handle I will relax...and not worry as much?
I really have GREAT things to say about Breezes first trial, it was a real terrific suprise. Breeze is such a fun dog, she is just easy as far as her training, her drive, her stress levels, she is just a fun, easy dog. Breeze is just the sweetest girl.

The day Lizzie and I would like to forget.....Her first trial

So Liz had her first trial entry. Lets say she will NOT be entering any trials soon and as SOON as her "run" was done I found the trial secretary and asked how to pull Liz from the rest of the trial. The really unfortunate thing is that whole incident unfortunately I think points to a really bad judgement on my part to enter her in the first place. The sad thing is that Liz was making sure HUGE progress, and is a different dog from this summer when we couldnt get her to stay with me and work during a private session and she has come to the point that she can do a long stay with a group of dogs sitting right next to her when I am 30 feet away and jumping and clapping. How great is that and how wonderful the progress. Liz is able to do agility in front of familiar dogs on familiar territory, or I think at a place that I can work for a little bit to get her attention first and let her settle in. To enter a trial Liz will have to be able to walk into an area "cold", turn and give me her attention. We are definately not there. Poor Liz. So the plan was to take her into the ring and set her in front of a few obstacles, let her perform them, get her and run out of the ring. Well, Liz just went way over threshold and when placed in front of a tunnel just took off in a major zoomie around the field. She was so over the top she couldnt even do the one tunnel. I will say when she does that I do not think she is hearing things, she is not thinking she is just feeding off the movement. So thank heavens we were at a yard that had actual gates and was fully fenced, everyone spun into action and slammed the gates closed. Liz did come to me and looked relieved when I got her, and I know dogs dont think this way, but I felt like she was just as upset over what happened, and I felt like she was telling me that she just couldnt help it. I felt so horrible for my little girl. It was all my fault for putting her in a situation that in hindsight I should have known she was just not ready for. It was not my most proud moment as her trainer. The really bad thing about the situation is the whole thing has just made me feel hopeless about her prospects and while we were riding on a high and I was starting to feel like she was going to be able to do I am just having trouble thinking about even continueing her training. It would just be so much easier at this point to get a nice, easy, fun puppy-although I know there are no guarantees on that, but... I just want an easy, fun dog that I can just have fun with and that everything isnt such a challenge. Can you tell it is a bad morning for Liz and I. I just feel so inept because I just do not know that what I am doing in training is what Liz needs, I do not know anyone who has trained through these things, and so everything is just what makes sense to my pea brain or what feels right and so far it seems to be working but we just get to this point and then we have not gone beyone that, so I really worry that I am missing some little thing that I should be doing. I just wish I knew so much more. To make things worse....I am not sure how obedience class will go tonight. Last week Liz was jumped by a cattle dog WHILE she was doing a recall to me, right as she got to me and her toy. The rest of the class she wouldnt let any dogs near her, she would cross to put me between her and the dog, and she wouldnt look at her toy. Liz and I are hitting a little low right now, hopefully it will pick up again soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Breeze practice 11-29

Ok, I know this doesn't look very exciting, but...the issue that Breeze and Liz have been having is understanding reading a line of jumps. There is almost a 120% chance we will be seeing that in the trial this weekend-or any that is a huge thing. We are trying to do a handling system where the dog is looking for and reading movement so I am not teaching with toys lying out on the ground or using a go on cue without the movement to support the line. ANYWAY, it is still new for these dogs who are very inexperienced dogs. So I have a video of our practice today, I tried to video Liz's practice but when I got to the had run out of room, so that was a bummer when I was sure I had caught her practice too, but then I got out Breeze and made sure I had room. Liz was having a lot more trouble and would catch up to me then turn around in front of me and bark and dance......Breeze is getting it. Breeze actually did pretty good this week she did a drop in class and did her first full course, she actually did it twice. She really did pretty well. I am discovering Breeze actually likes to work further away and reads lines much better when I am further away from her, sort of opposite of Liz. YES, I am going to have my work cut out trying to work with both of these young dogs who are so different, LOL. So we have our first trial with Liz and Breeze this next weekend. We have chose a NADAC trial because there of the flowing courses and we can train in the ring, and I imagine we will be needing some of that. The greatest thing though is that when I dropped in on the class this week Breeze and Liz nailed their weaves, it is gorgeous and they got them every time-not bad when working in a class is new to them and this was a new yard and they have never run a full course. All in all I am happy with how things are coming along this week.
ACTUALLY after watching this video I am thinking I have some pretty cool neighbors -I usually put my sheltie Skyler up before I practice, and I guess there are some obvious reasons for that! I think what they say about shelties being my experience it is very true, Chloe wouldnt have been much better if she had been out.

Whoops, tripod accident

So I let the dogs out, and I wanted to video them playing, so I had the video recorder in my hand, I had been out trying to tape some exercises, and as soon as the girls were let loose....there went the tripod, of course it really upset the dogs -NOT- who just looked like hummm....were there any treats involved? Of course there were they continued their play, just glad I had not left the video recorder on there. Check out Cherry, Breeze and Cherry are both ball FREAKS, very obsessed by them, but Breeze is bossy, so Cherry just sits and herds the other dogs until she gets her turn to get in on the game. Cherry is definately a border collie with that herding behavior. Now for the cast of characters, Breeze is the blue merle border collie, Liz is the split face red/white girl and Cherry is the pretty red merle border collie, they usually are in the house, but when they go out to potty it is usually in the smaller yard, but once or twice a day I go out with them for a longer play session and they get to play in the agility yard and they LOVE that, wild play is always happening there. I love to watch them play in the big yard where they can really stretch out and run and they always look so happy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Hear it for Latent Learning......

Latent learning as I understand it-refers to the fact that some things can be taught and then will be learned or "gel" after a period of time for the learning to be processed in the learners brain. It is a very cool thing and I have seen several examples of behaviors, especially harder behaviors, that when teach them then leave it alone for a period of time- BOOM you come back and they are way better then when you left off with them. This sometimes works even with very simple concepts say you are working on a sit for example -you stop do something else for a few minuetes then go back to the sit and Wha Laa, there it is.
It is a well known fact that I hate contacts...but I hate them a little less today, LOL. Origionally Lizzie was taught a four on the floor contact and she LOVES that behavior, she feels comfortable with it, she understands it. She would run up and over the contact and hit the ground in a down at the bottom of the obstacle. The problem is that Lizzie is a smart girl and figured out how to do the Aframe with a leap up over the yellow up contact and into the blue on the upside, she would leap over the Apex of the Aframe and then hit about in the middle, but definately above the yellow contact and then hit the ground with her butt touching the Aframe but definately missing all parts of the actual contact area. She is a very clever girl and you know I couldnt have taught anything like that if I was trying. I know she thought she was super clever and had figured out a way to save us a little time. I do believe my down fall with the four on the floor was I never did anything to teach Liz that she had to touch in the yellow, I ASSumed she would have to hit it to get to the down, so she was being a super good girl and doing all I asked. I just fogot to ask a key componant thinking surely she would have to stride through the yellow to hit her mat on the ground, well, Liz is much more talented then that.
Soooooo....I deceided since I am slow and this is my first really fast dog, Liz tends to spazz and run off if she gets nervous or feels alone, so we could really use another spot to connect-with a stopped contact, and because I couldnt think of any other options we deceided to do a 2o2o with her. Poor Liz was just so sure her contact behavior is the down on the mat at the bottom of the Aframe, and I think she thought when I was trying to teach a 2o2o that it was some sort of weird proofing behavior for the four on the floor, so she just kept doing everything possible to get into her four on the floor position. I felt so bad for her because she loved the four on the floor, and she really understood it and it really seemed to be messing with her confidence when we worked with it. She had the 2020 position on curbs, she had it on a block, she could do it everywhere but where she "knew" she was supposed to get into her four on the floor position.
I deceided that my biggest goal in training right now was to build her confidence, and get her to work with us. With her running off and the fact we still werent able to have her work with other dogs around I knew we were no where near trialing so I made the decision to leave the contact alone and not mess with it for a period of time, build her confidence and get her working with us in other areas, and we would just figure out what to do with the contacts when we had to. I was really glad I had the luxury of a little time before we had to worry about it.
So....about a week ago, Liz was playing in the agility yard before class, and I have not touched the 2020 behavior in maybe a month or two...but I went over and popped her on and BOOM---SHE GETS IT!!!! It just took a little while to process, but taking the pressure off and letting it all work out for her seems to have worked. So not a finished behavior, we need to of course add it to the whole obstacle, proof it, sensitize her to movement---all that good stuff, but hey, think we are definately on the right track now.


My youngest daughter saved her money, went to the store and got me the softest, cuddliest little slippers with a penguin on them-VERY CUTE-she even got a card and wrote some of the nicest things on it and wrapped the whole thing, and then had it waiting for me when I got up on my birthday morning. what a SWEETHEART!

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Island of Reality in a Sea of Diarrhea

So I was listening to a song and you know how a line can just stick and play in your head all day? Well the last line on the recording just was sticking today, probably because it sort of makes me think of things that have been going on lately, anyway, it amused my little mind.

Your an Island of Reality in a Sea of Diarrhea,

Anyway, I really liked the lyrics to the rest of the song too. It is by Jason Mraz-which I have found a lot of his songs lately that I like, but this one is called Details in the Fabric. Anyway, here is the chorus of the song and a verse .....

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way

Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The road to the goal......

Liz went to the trial this weekend with me, we worked on our ATTENTION, tricks and obedience, and of course there was a lot of playing to do and a lot of dogs and people to meet. She actually did very good especially the second day, but I guess all these increasing expectations just wear her out! Even with all her social obligations she was better at loose leash walking then she ever has been and we had some awesome recall practices and she was tugging and playing really well until the end of the trial when I think she was just getting tired.

The road to your championship will not be a smooth, wide and easily traveled freeway. No, great accomplishments are never realized without first having to endure steep climbs, hard falls and sharp turns. The key to your success is perseverance and focus. Keep your focus on that which you desire to accomplish, your championship, and continually discover ways to, and ways not to, achieve your goals. Fall down and/or get knocked down 10 times and get back up 11..., and in so doing learn, grow and move closer to your championship.
-Greg Werner

So, I read this and it made me think of my Little Lizardo Lizzie. She was looking so fabulous doing so well at agility, and then in our lesson last week it really seemed like she could not understand jumping a line of three jumps, she was crossing behind us-I hadnt seen that before, poor girl was totally looking like a spazz. Of course this was right after I sent the check and had entered her in her first trial, hummm, might be an interesting day! The road with Lizzie has been a long one and I really notice lately as we actually come close to actually working together that I really notice the two steps forward and one step back pattern. Maybe I notice more because I feel like we are so close and so my expectations climb. For so long I just really was working with a vague hope that one day Lizzie and I could actually pull it together and really make a good team, but now that that goal feels so much closer and actually seems attainable, it is harder to sit back and exercise patience.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cutie Katie

So just had to post this cute little westie that some how found herself in rescue. I picked this little girl up last night and she is the cutest thing. She LOVES toys, she has some of the best doggie skills I have ever seen, she LOVES people, she has been through an 8 week in kennel obedience program, she is trained to go outside and potty on command, she is healthy, she is just very sweet and loving, and she is just a few weeks over a year old. ANYWAY, makes you wonder, this little girl went through the eight week in kennel program and everyone knows that was expensive...and her owners were just not willing to follow the training that had been done, so they saw no option other then turning her over to rescue :-( . She is really going to make someone the perfect dog.

ANYWAY, when I picked her up yesterday I intended to just put her in her crate until I finished with classes-we had the wild border collies and the wild Valhund all playing and she is a tiny girl. Mostly I knew Liz would manhandle her,....but she was just giving such nice signs and everyone seemed willing to include her in their play so I let her off the leash. She is one tough cookie for such a little girl. This morning I took her out on leash to try to get her to potty and right away she saw the other dogs and was going to play with them, no ifs, ands or buts. She even deceided Skyler the grump WAS going to play with her. She is fun to watch because she is rough in her play style, and wants to play with everyone so she will keep trying different things if a dog doesnt want to play, but she will back off if the dog doesnt respond.
Today I get to pick up another Westie for rescue-just very sad sometimes-I think sometimes it is very hard to be a doggie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bakersfield girl finds forever home!

This is the foster Border Collie that lived with us for about five months last year. I found her at the Bakersfield shelter where she was an owner turn in. She was a year old purebred red/white girl, she had contracted kennel cough and was quite sick. Once she got home and recovered enough to be spayed we discovered she had pylometria, an infection of the uterus which can be fatal-so being spayed at that time did save her life. Roxie who is now known as Willow was a very high energy, sweet, loveable, smart girl. Definately not a girl for just any family though because of her energy level. Luckily she found a really great couple with another dog, an Aussie, who wanted to make her part of their family. So I just got an update and little Willow is just doing great, she has been at her new home a year now, she is obsessed by toys and very loved by her forever family. She was a very neat dog and very hard to let go of because she is just the type of dog I like, but gosh getting updates and knowing that she found the perfect home for her makes me really happy she came through our lives. ANYWAY, check those shelters, there are some very cool dogs that just need a break, or someone to give them a little bit of help!

The other pets....

I received a very special letter in the mail today. My great friend Dillon-who is my friends son-has let me join his cat club, so I got my official card in the mail. I suppose my blog and my life are way more slanted to dogs, to give the cats a little attention!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ummm stinky fishy treats......Dogs love 'em

I really enjoy having dogs that are toy and food motivated, it really makes training much easier and gives me a lot more options. I have always had dogs that were food motivated....and now have both the border collies who love their toys-so that has opened a whole new world for me. ANYWAY, I really feel like I want to watch what my dogs eat, I do feed raw and make all my own food, so I do care about what they eat, and so of course I worry about their treats because I do give a lot of treats. There are some excellent treats, but they can get pretty pricey when they are made of really good ingredients! I used to cook quite a few treats but have gotten lazy but today when I couldn't find a specific type of treat I was looking for I got off my butt and made a treat that my dogs used to love. I like this receipe because it is super easy and super fast and only has a few ingredients. I have seen a very similar receipe in a lot of different places, but figure I will post it here for anyone else to try out. I used to make this with lots of different things, I used to put in some peanut butter--peanut butter, salmon treats, sounds pretty gross to me but the dogs loved it, or you can use tuna, salmon, chicken, feel free to substitute. I do use organic, cage free chicken eggs in this that are fresh, and I grind my own whole wheat flour, but I have used different types of flours too, this recipe works pretty much no matter what you do to it, my type of recipe. It also makes a treat that is soft and yet not crumbly, so you can break it up as much as you want.

2 cans of turkey, chicken, tuna, salmon, juice included
2-2 1/2 cups of flour (whole wheat or regular)
2 eggs (I take the shells and grind them in a coffee grinder and add those too, but the receipe does not call for that)
garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
Parmesan Cheese- I think I usually put in 1/4 of a cup, more or less

I like to puree the meat so that it is the texture of baby food-I feel like it all mixes in better, but the origional receipe doesn't actually call for that. Mix all ingredients until dough is the consistency of biscuit dough. Spread on greased cookie sheet so it is about 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 275 for 25 min. It should be a bit hard on top but still soft through the middle. (I have always had to bake this a lot longer then what the recipe calls for, like maybe 10 or 15 min more I think-so I dont know why that is, but I will tell you what I did and what the recipe calls for, but it just never looks right to me after the amount of time they call for). Cut into desirable pieces with a pizza cutter or knife and serve. Put extras into sealable containers and freeze or store in fridge. Take it out just before you go to class or to train. Dog do like them frozen as well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Ok I am not one to post or even talk a lot about political know it can make a lot of people really mad, it can spark heated arguments and most of the time I just like to try to be nice. I do feel the need to make a comment on our election yesterday......First off I am very pleased to see Senator Obama elected president. I think the majority of people thought he was the right man for the job. What is really making me stop and think is how we have now elected our first black president and I believe he was elected because people really felt like he was the right man for the job, but at the same time on the same day in California it looks like we have passed a proposition to keep a segment of the population from having the right to live their life as they see fit. Gays have been allowed to marry for the past few months here in CA and I can truly say it has not affected my life in a huge way one way or another. I do not think anyone was going to make me or anyone else be in a gay marriage, I do not have to participate in any gay marriages if I do not choose too, my own heterosexual marriage has not been affected that I can tell :-). Allowing gays to marry just seems like allowing people to live in their own homes like they choose. I just hope in the future this group of people that want to legislate everyone elses morality doesnt deceide they dont like something about how I am living my life and deceide that they need to legislate how I live my life in matters that really dont affect them. I think there were a lot of scare tactics that were used, and I just feel sad for friends and neighbors who I feel are being discriminated against.
On a happier note, YIPPIE, prop 2 that just said that veal calves, sows, and egg laying chickens should be kept so that they are able to stand up, turn around, lay down and stretch their limbs. Seems pretty basic to me. I think Oprah really drove the point home on her show when she brought in the standard cages and pictures and just basically said do you all think this is right? Just so sad to think of an animals spending its whole life without being about to turn around in a cage, that just can not be right in a society like ours.

Friday, October 31, 2008

trick or treat

Halloween night, a nice cool evening, but not cold, a nice cloud cover, a mild breeze, should be a great night for trick or treating. I have a big bowl of goodies so hopefully we will have a lot of kids come by!

If you should happen to see these three witches, be aware, they are good kids but can be a bit desperate hunting for candy!


Halloween 2008

These are our pumpkins, guess which one was made by my teenager? LOL, very creative. It says "I'm with stupid", nice....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Voting/Juries/IRS, life's little pleasures?

Sometimes things that look so easy can be so complicated.....One complication in my life has been voting. I am in CA so I am registered to get an absentee ballot. I thought I was being so careful and reading all the information and I wanted to make my vote count and do it all right. I am putting the ballot in the envelope to mail I see a little paper that says DO NOT mark over your line more then once. WHAT?????? There are little arrows, actually very thick arrows and you are supposed to connect the one side to the other side to indicate your vote. My OCD kicked in and of course I felt like I needed to COMPLETELY make the arrow one continuous arrow. I spent quite a long time carefully coloring in my arrows...I will have you know. So then I was really worried my vote would not count, but a quick call to a friends who has a husband running for office, who called the registrar of voters and assured me I might be a pain in the rump-it might get kicked out of the machine that reads it, but the vote would count even if they have to hand count it, so ....yippie, it is all ok. I thought I was being so careful.

Then I also got a summons for Jury Service, like I get called at least every three months for say the last.....ummmmm 12 years. Since my kids are homeschooled and I have no one to watch them all day if I am gone to jury service and they couldnt be at the court house they have always ended up excusing me, but just one more hassle...LOL. Rest assured the day that I have child care they will have me doing jury service because they never tire of summoning me every few months, just in case things have changed......I know it is an honor and our duty and all of that and I respect that, but seriously what would I do with the kids?

Then of course the IRS is still sending all sorts of letters every few days which is very stressful. They use a lot of words like we owe, and interest, and penalties, not things I like to see. The funniest thing about that was when my post man came up to the house to get me to sign for the latest round of letters he asked if I had a business and had been cheating the IRS and was that why they were after us??? I was like "WHAT????", I wish. I said no we actually are a one income family and my husband is a teacher so not like we are big fish at all. SOOOOO then my little postman says oooh but you must have a business with the dogs because you have all this dog stuff and you must just take a lot of money under the table for your dog business, did they catch you? It was too funny, and left me wondering if the IRS was hiring mailman to gather evidence, would he later testify when I told him of my black market dog training business??? LOL, of course my doggie hobby just costs tons of money and none of it is reimbursed on our taxes. Sheesh!!! Do I look smart enough to make this expensive hobby pay for me??? I dont think so!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chloe-drop in on a class in our neighborhood

AGhghghghghghgh!!! Took Chloe to class today here in town, it has been about a million years since I have gone to that class, and this class is a few levels lower then the level we took last....but it was just what Chloe needed. Short sequences, a small class, and she really feels comfortable in that yard. So we worked on putting my treat pouch down on the ground by the start of the sequence and then we didnt go to get treats until we finished and I brought her over there. By the end we had the treat pouch where she had to run right by it, and she caught on really quickly, sort of glanced at the pouch and continued on. Always fun to go and work on something you know you and your dog will do pretty well at, not that we didnt have some bobbles, but just a nice relaxing class.
I got to bring out Liz and new yard, new equipment, new dogs, not a lot of dogs but they were dogs she didnt know, and wha laaaa she was a tad distracted getting to the start line, but once we start running she is just on it. She was looking so good, so confident and so fast, and reading everything really well except a couple of late calls I gave her, but we cant hold her responsible for that, LOL. All in all a great afternoon, especially since I do not have my regular agility lesson this week because Alicia is out of town :-( for the nationals, was really nice to have another class to drop in on.
Does anyone notice that Liz seems to be on a real uphill spiral? I know we will have some back sliding but, gosh things just seem to keep going GREAT. QUICK FIND SOME WOOD TO KNOCK ON!!! LOL!

Leapin' Lizzie amazes her mom AGAIN!!!

Ok so we had our second class. This class is seriously more then I would have ever thought Lizzie could handle EVER!!! I know she could not have handled this class even a few months ago. She was so awesome, she just keeps amazing me. So first off there is free play. I think it really threw Liz that her buddy Hunda was not there when she went in. I think from watching her she gathers some confidence from having her little buddy there and from having her Alicia around. She was just more unsure and not as wild about free play, and she was so ecstatic when she saw her friends. Of course there were other dogs this week that were rougher dogs, and Liz is not into rougher play. The funny thing is little Hunda who is corgi size is Liz friend, and he is by far the smallest dog there and the instructors were worried about him playing because of his size. Every week he just marches in and is so confident, and acts like he doesnt have a care in the world and it has never occurred to him that anyone could ever give him any trouble. Liz on the other hand is always sizing everyone up and making sure everyone knows not to sniff her too much, dont get too much into her space, and is very busy letting everyone know she is no threat, the minute they give her any eye she is rolling over letting them know she does not mean to take anything over. Liz is also the official fence checker, she feels she needs to recheck it every week, just in case....I notice that and that worries me about her. I am getting to be a pretty good fence checker myself, and gate watcher. All the other people in the class do not seem to worry that much about the gate and are sort of more laid back, I can tell their dogs probably wouldnt just run, I think mine would....... One thing I have noticed that suprises me is that Liz does go up to all the people that are there, people she knows and people she doesnt to say hi and ask for a few pets. I have always wondered if she got loose and got lost if she would go to people and I am suprised at how much she does look to anyone she finds, so maybe that is good.

So then we get into class. OMG!!! It is really a rough one for the dogs I think, purely higher level concentrating and not a lot of break in between or no spacing out the concentration with some sort of movement exercises. Liz is doing ok with it though. So they did sits next to each other with people coming up and trying to temp their attention with food, pets, walking right by them and the dogs only get rewarded for continuing their attention to their owner. One helper did try to tempt liz to pay attention to her and when Liz did, Liz was so sweet this lady kept petting her. LOL, that was not how it was supposed to be, but the lady did it every time, so someone didnt get their instructions too well. Then they did like a million hour down stay. This was our first class and the instructor asks do your dogs have a down? Then we launch into a half hour down, LOL. Of course that was broken up with some ends to some exercises and then we would start another but for almost a half hour we had them in a down and people would heel dogs right next to them, they would call dogs right in front of them, lots of people took turns walking over them, we all walked off to 30 feet and did a long down. I was just awe struck and couldnt believe Liz would do that. Even with other dogs breaking and people going into reposition them she still just lay there, I could tell she was thinking that it was really weird and she wasnt sure about it all, but she did it. In between exercises I have Liz tugging and she is tugging like a champ, taking treats the whole time and seems to be doing ok, I see slight stress once in awhile but really she is keeping up really well. THis class would have been horrible for her a few months ago, but it is really just the thing she needs right now I think. Liz is just turning into an amazing dog, every week I marvel at the lessons she is teaching me, and I am so glad we are through so many things, makes me wonder where we will be next year, but gosh she is actually getting to be a really cool dog, and sometimes it actually makes me feel sad to see the naughty puppy disappearring. Do not get me wrong I am very happy about what is happening and I am so proud, and I feel like she is a much safer girl, and I think she will always have that spark and enough naughty in her that she will always be that naughty puppy in my eyes, LOL, but she is just getting to be an awesome dog that anyone might think was an awesome dog, not just a dog that I love because she is mine.

Chloe -first AKC trial-Woodly Park

So Breeze/Chloe/I went to an AKC trial this weekend at Woodley Park. First off we got to see Molly/Eric run, and Molly was looking great, very sound and happy, Becky/Trevor ran-and they had some nice runs and an especially gorgeous JWW run where almost everything seemed to come together for them, and we saw Denise/Kody, although I was looking forward to spending some time with them but when I saw them I was getting ready for my standard run and then I didnt see them afterwards, but it was really great to see both of them there. Alicia was nice enough to be there both days even though she and Pickle just ran on Saturday. Pickle had some gorgeous runs and was looking very happy, confident and was running fast.

I was really sweating getting measured because it was Chloes first AKC trial and she is right on the line height wise. I knew if she measured over 14 inches we were going to have to scratch and she has been measuring all over the place around 14 inches. We squeeked by, although the judge could not do an official measurement so it was only good for this trial and we will have to deceide what we will be doing about the measurement at the next trial. I can put Chloe in performance then if she measures high she will still jump 12 inches, but she might jump 8 if she measures where I think she should....or I could put her in regular classes and if she measures over....just scratch and try again the next will have to think about that, but for this weekend, we made it in, LOL.

Now I was told that I have to mention three positive things before I can mention anything negative, I will, hahahahahah.
1. Chloe was under time the whole time, she was basically happy and moving. A year ago we could not make time, and we had lots of time to spare so....that is a really positive thing.
2. I realized that Chloe just does an automatic down on the table and at class on thursday would not do a sit on the table. So we did some quick training and of course at this trial there was a sit on the table both days. The first day in excellent it was a down on the table and I thought I had it made, but they changed in the middle of the day. During the first standard run on Saturday Chloe looked at me like no way am I going to sit, but she did get up into a sit and hold it, YIPPIE!!! The second day-IT WAS A SIT AGAIN, but no problem Chloe sat like she had always been doing it, so we had a great table performance, which I had been worrying about.
3. I ran all my runs exactly as I had planned (except one run where I had watched the open and excellent and then when it was my turn I got thrown and took the route that they took and was off course for my run, but hey, it happens, LOL-lesson learned), and I did accurately predict any problems, I knew where we might have trouble and I know my little Chloe and she did just what I figured she would.
4. Chloe had no problems with the panel, the teeter (she has been bailing if I am not close enough), the broad jump and there was a tunnel as the first obstacle, no problem there, there was a chute followed very closely by a tunnel with the EYES for the timer there, something she had never seen any of those componants and she still just dived in and did fine, we hit all our contacts, what more could I ask for???
5. We did get TWO Q's, and a first and a second, so hey, that works for me.
6. Breeze/Chloe did very well, relaxed in their crates between times, we are getting our timing for getting ready more under control, I am getting my little routinue of how to get all my crap to and from the trial and what crap I need down. That might sound like nothing to the people that have done this for years but for us newbies that can really throw a person, not knowing if we need an easy up, how to get everything out and set up, trying to think of what we will really need, how to keep an eye on when our runs will start. AND like every trial I have been at but one-it has been small to tall jump order every time so there are rarely more then one or two dogs before it is my turn, so to get the dog ready, get the right amount of treats and fun and get the walk through and be ready on the line, that is one of those things that can throw me, but it is getting better. Especially with Chloe because I have to work a bit to keep her really up and happy.

OK SO I THINK I HAVE CONCENTRATED on the positive for long I can let our problems rip!!!!!! hahahahahhahhahhahah
Really it isnt that bad!
1. OK first off I thought I got whistled off for my start line. I will not even attempt to explain what the problem was, but basically I was starting Chloe past the plane of the first jump, facing the opposite way and then twirling her around over the first jump. I did get Whistled, and then Chloe wouldnt even come back to me, yes a proud moment, LOL, but the judge let me restart. I chose this method of starting Chloe because she wont hold a stay, like yes she has been taught a stay but she gets all worried and upset and then wont leave the line. IF I do it the way I have been doing it, she wont take off before I am ready, it gives me a little head start since I have to run with her and I can keep her up and happy. So, I will be investigating working on our start line and how to make that look and work better. Anyway, lesson learned and I can still do that start but I have to be more careful about my placement.
2. Chloe HATES THE HEAT. Every time we rounded a corner and there was shade, boom she dove for it. I was really trying to wet her down, but she is no dummy and sees no reason with all her hair to be running around in the heat. OF course ALL the weaves were under the trees with the jump setters right next to them and in the shade. Gosh talk about a prescription for disaster. Poor Chloe. So I was getting better about getting her wet down to her skin, I kept pouring water on her but it would roll off, so anyway, there is an art to wetting down a long haired dog. This was the first time she has missed weaves in a trial. She basically didnt even look at them and was just diving for the shade.
3. We have to work on treats. I am really concerned Chloe has figured out in a trial there is no hope of treats in the ring and is pretty bummed out about it. She has taken to figureing out where the treats were left and wanting to leave the ring to go to the place/person that has the treats, so as soon as she rounds a corner and sees the person/place, boom she is thinking lets cut to the end and get the treat business going.
4. As always there is my nerve problem, I do get nervous. The first several trials I did not get nervous, or not very nervous but the last trial was horrible and this one was a lot better but I was nervous. ONe time I yelled Chloes name and I heard my voice and thought eeeekes, sorry girl, I didnt mean to sound like that.

Sooooo all in all we did not have horrible runs, and there was not anything really hideous, and there were some good things, we all made it there and out in one piece, so all in all a good weekend.

I did spring for a room for the weekend. The trial was small enough and ended early enough that I could have went home, but who knew??? It was really relaxing though to sit and take a long walk with the dogs on saturday afternoon, there was a great pool, which felt great on the back, I had some great quiet time to sit and read in the evening and instead of getting up early and rushing around sunday I went out for a nice breakfast and was rested and refreshed and took my time getting to the trial. Too bad I couldnt do it that way all the time!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Class in Acton Oct 23, 2008

I was able to take Liz out of the crate, go to the start line and run a beautiful little run yesterday at agility class. I felt like she won nationals, LOL. It was dark by the time we were doing that or I would have video taped it, and drats I would have loved to have had that on video.....oooh well. Liz was not at all interested or excited by the other dogs, she just wanted to play AGILITY. Breeze is getting in much better shape-not tiring out as quickly and is doing very well and looking very sound. Breeze is funny because she gets out to do agility and acts like such a spazz, but she can just turn that off and on and get her head about her in a split second, she really is a neat dog to train. All three dogs were able to stay out in the yard in their crates and did very good even watching the class work. Chloe ran a little course to make sure she had seen things we dont see very often, like the panel jump, the broad jump, the chute....she did great but she has some sort of strange lure to the table and kept running out of her way to get there, that must be the object she is perceiving will pay this week, LOL, and she is not thinking that tables are for sitting, she knows we down on the table, so what do you want to be this weekend will be a sit on the table during the trial. Chloe is doing her first AKC trial at Woodley park this weekend, so that should be fun. I will be the weak link in this little pack this weekend. Since my back has been out the last few weeks I am way out of shape again, funny how fast my endurance can be lost. My back is finally starting to feel better so I hope to start my quest for physical fitness again next week, but for this weekend, I am afraid I might be a slow, hurting puppy, and definately the weak link in our team, LOL, poor Chloe she has a lot of handler problems.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Liz's New Class

So I found a new class to take Liz to. The goal: just working around other dogs and helping her develope confidence and learn how to control herself around other dogs and people, and I felt like somewhere other then agility would help her do that. So I went to class, the instructor is named Lynne, and we had it ok'd that if the class was too far off my training philosophy we would just do our own thing around the other dogs. Soooo I was very pleased with the first class and I was very pleased with Liz. The first thing they do in the class is an hour of free play with all the dogs. I was very leery about that, but it seemed very well supervised and they didnt seem to put up with any dogs being rude, so I deceided to let Liz try the group. She did great, she was nervous entering the group but quickly settled in. She did her little nervous zoomie but the instructor did not let the other dogs chase her or pack up, so Liz quickly settled in. Of course Liz did the complete fence check, LOL, some things never change. After an hour the dogs were very quiet and had really burned off a lot of their energy. So during the class the only thing that I wasnt totally on board with was the fact that the class was almost an hour of behaviors that it seems like asked a lot of concentration from the dogs. It wasnt broken up with some sort of exercise where they did some faster movement to break it up. maybe because of the free play first, or ??? but, Liz did really well even though it was so a lot of concentration. I did stop between exercises and play with her,and she was relaxed enough to tug and get really wild, but she was a trooper. So there were a couple of interesting exercises. One was an exercise where the instructor had meat, good steak and tried to lure Liz attention away from watching me with eye contact, she made sure Liz was not able to get the treat and then I would give her a really good treat when she looked back at me. By the end of the evening she could hardly get Liz attention even when she brought dogs right by her and when she would stroke Liz's tail or poke her gently. It was pretty neat. Then there was a lot of work with the dogs all sitting right next to each other doing sit stays, and there were some exercises where the dogs would all walk with attention on their owners while they walked very close to dogs coming at them and everyone walking by each other almost crashing. It reminded me of some of the control unleashed parallel games, or some of the work I have done in reactive dog classes. The class is a long way away, which is a pain but I think this is really going to mesh well with our training goals, so we are going to sign up for a session. I think I will bring another dog next week though to rotate into the class if the concentration gets to be too much for Liz, I do not want to push it to where she goes over the edge, but she did remarkably well. The funniest part of the class was the other students came in and I didnt see any treats or toys, they must have just had handfuls of food in their pockets or I just didnt see their "stuff". I walked in with my plastic bag FULL of toys and food. I had my little mix of rollover, natural hot dogs, kibble, kong tots, roast turkey breast and ham. Then I had a package of pastromi I was trying out, which was a hit, I used that for the attention game that class started out with, then I had liverworst that I used at the end of the class when it was getting harder for Liz to pay attention (I got my fingers bit a few times for that one, guess that was a hit), then I had string cheese for the stay work. I guess I took the instructor seriously when she told me to bring my best treats, LOL! I had several toys, all her favorites, so those were in my bag. Anyway, I felt a bit freakish walking in with all my gear.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Working the Levels

YIPPIE, we are having a blast working the training levels
Chloe, Lizzie and Breeze have successfully completed all the tests for Level 1 and will begin work on Level 2 today. They have a lot of the behaviors down but there are holes in our training, LOL, imagine that.
Cherry is progressing well on Level 1 and is getting the hang of the game.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living for the weekend

I spent saturday at the Driven Dog trial in Fillmore. It was the perfect day for a trial, the temperature was just right, it was really nice sitting under the trees, just felt like the perfect place to sit and enjoy the day. I ran into some people I know who were set up next to some people I really enjoy talking to, so there was a lot of really great conversation and visiting. There were some courses with a lot of places that were difficult so I could sit and watch how people handled them - what worked and what didnt. The really interesting thing was there were a lot of places on the courses that the Linda M handling system I am trying to learn would have worked well so I was really trying to watch those places to see how others handled those. I brought Cherry and I brought Breeze because Breeze doesnt get out as much as Lizzie lately, it always just seems more important to get Liz out. The day ended with a great Mexican restaurant in Fillmore and some more good company, so it was a very nice day, and I was ready for that!!
Sunday was a day of training. I am going to work on some more obedience training with all my dogs. I think that it will be really good especially for Liz to help learn to handle her excitement and stress levels working around other dogs. I am going to take her to a class and I am also working on the Training Levels. Training levels is a yahoo group that is really fantastic.
They offer support and instructions for doing just some all around positive training. There is a little bit of tracking, obedience, agility, etc.... The behaviors are split into levels to break down training them so you start out with very easy parts of the behavior you want to teach and then each level builds on the complexity. They say that if you get to level 3 or 4 you have all the behaviors your dog will need to be a very nice pet, be easy to live with and you will know how to work with your dog. IF you get to level 7 your dog will have enough behaviors that with 3-4 weeks work in your specialized area you will be able to do what ever type of activity you want to do with your dog. I believe they are also adding on some new levels very soon.
This is Susan Ailsby's site that has a lot of the descriptions and basically a free book that explains how to teach the behaviors. Anyway, it is really great and I like how they explain how to teach the behaviors and how they are broken down, and it is FREE for goodness sake. So I am going to take Lizzie for a class so she can work around other dogs but I am also working on the levels at home.
We had a great training session today and I had a great training partner today, so we got some good work done for agility and for obedience with Liz, Cherry, and Breeze. The biggest thing I learned today was Liz who was doing wonderful recalls between myself and my friend, just lightening fast recalls with tons of confidence and done very happily-when we added a dog just sitting where Liz would have to pass him to do the recall-all of a sudden Liz lost a lot of her confidence and was a bit worried with her recall. We have done a recall class and we did a lot of recalls where the dogs would recall past the other dogs sitting at the side, but today that was a stressful thing for Liz. Anyway, as soon as we finished, which we kept that short because she did lose some confidence, Liz took off on a zoomie run, which it has been a long time since she did that, so it was just interesting to see how the increased stress affected her, I learned a lot about my girl today.
It was a very nice weekend and I was once again hit with the realization that a lot of time friendship and support comes from places I dont normally expect to find it. I also feel very grateful for the people that really do support me and have been so willing to help me and to build me up when I need it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Class in Acton Oct. 17, 2008

OK, I know very few other people will be interested in our little class, but it was just full of great stuff for me. I have lived the last two years learning to appreciate the small steps forward and lately we have had giant strides, so while they do not look huge to others....for us here, they are what we have worked for for two years and it is just so exciting.
WELL, had a great class last night, first off Liz, Breeze, and Chloe all were on the field in crates and all of them did really well while watching the other ones work. I was so proud of them all. Chloe looks like she is all ready for the trial in Woodley Park next weekend, she was doing the broad jump well-we havent worked with that recently, and she didnt get bothered with the panel jump-and I am not sure when she last saw one of those. I am going to have to stay a little closer to the teeter then I have wanted to lately, because that is the one obstacle when I get a certain amount of distance away from her she is bailing off, and I will have to start retraining some distance, and we are going to have to start working on a little stronger contact behavior with the Aframe. The 2O2o is hurting her and so she is avoiding it, and we havent really trained a running contact, and when she just is encouraged to run through she is getting to look like I think she is going to start leaping off.
Lizzie is starting to understand motion better. As far as her jumping when she is doing a jump with collection she has a beautiful rounded jumping style and kicks her legs out back-it is very nice. When Liz is doing a jump that requires her to use speed going up to it and needs extension she is sort of lifting her legs up and more into her stomach, but she still is clearing the jump well, but it is definately not as nice a style. Then when she is doing some real extension she sometimes picks up her legs to her stomach she seems to take a minute to figure out what she is supposed to be doing so she knocks the bar. All in all she is getting the game, and think she is going to be awesome. We are avoiding the contacts issue for now and I will revisit that in a couple of weeks, but for now,....we are going to cut down some pressure for Liz and for me.
The really exciting thing is that at the end of our private lesson I was able to put Liz on the table which was at a horrible entry angle to the weaves, I was able to release her and she got the entrance, and completed the weaves, quickly and confidently and then continued to a jump WHILE THE NEXT CLASS WAS ARRIVING. This was probably one of the first times she could stay on task with that sort of distraction. She looked at the people and dogs arriving, she knew they were there and she CHOSE to continue playing with me, YIPPIE!!! During the class our first exercise with Lizzie as a circle where if you went one way I had to stop before the second jump, and then when you reversed the direction you are running past the jump. Liz was reading that wonderfully. At first I tried to do the sequence with Liz on leash and Alicia told me to take the leash off and of course Liz was ready for that leash to come off before I was apparently and did absolutely fine off leash. I was also able to take her off leash for a three obstacle sequence with the other dogs standing around, and she had plenty of chance to run off but she is choosing to stay with me. The biggest difference I am seeing now is she is getting really excited and deceiding agility is more fun and exciting then running off. Have I said lately how much I just love this little girl? It is just so sweet and exciting to see her blossoming every week, and to know how much work she and I have done together for all this time. She has been the hardest dog I have ever had, but also the most fun and I certainly have learned more from her then any other dog I have known.
Breeze made her come back to lessons. She was so happy and excited. It was very obvious she was rusty and she got tired, but she looked sound and looked great. Breeze is so much fun to work with, she is the dog that lets me work on my handling, and she just is patient with me and is always ready and willing to play the game. I love watching how happy working makes her.
Even Cherry got to get into the class and was working as the "demo" dog to show some teeter games. Good girl Cherry was having so much fun and was more then happy to show how much she likes the teeter.
SOOOO.....while all of my doggies were working on pretty basic stuff, it was such a great lesson, followed by such a great class, everyone was doing really well, everyone is making really good progress, the class is made up by such supportive people with such neat dogs, is there any better way to spend the evening? All I could ask for is a bigger car more easily fits crates, treats, manners minders, toys, planks, water, me and four dogs. LOL.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

migrating microchips

So when I had Lizzie into the vet to check her ears after she had been shaking her head more then usual, we discovered a little "cyst" at the base and just below the bottom of her left ear. Turns out the "cyst" was her microchip and it had migrated. In this case the vet feels that it will still be picked up if she is scanned.....which I am hoping to be true, but I think this points out the need to have the microchips scanned for when I go into the vets office in the future. Just to make sure they are where they should be. The bummer of the deal is that Liz is my dog I would imagine is the most likely in my pack to NEED her microchip one day. She is getting so much better at coming back but when she gets excited movement is so intoxicating to her that she is way more likely then anyone else to just get excited and RUN. I think she would be quite aways away before she would figure out that she had gotten into a situation she might not want to be in. ANYWAY, so I am going to make sure to have everyones chip scanned when we go into the vets office for other things.
On the positive side, Lizzie was a little angel today at the vets office. You know she can be such a handful at times, but she is the best natured little girl. She was doing all her tricks and using very good focus while we were in the waiting room, she was very good at just keeping herself from getting too excited. A little boy ran over and sort of jumped on her and was hugging and kissing her. Liz and Chloe are my only dogs that I have no worries if something like that happens. Liz just loved on the little boy and didnt even jump on him. When we took her to see the vet -she was wonderful with the vet tech and did her tricks (I was using a lot of tricks and keeping her mind occupied to help her keep her excitement under control). The vet was able to examine her and mess with her all she wanted and Liz was an absolute champ. We walked in on a loose leash and were able to keep the leash loose say about 80+% of the time and we were able to leave on a loose leash. See Liz is not just a hard girl to train, she is also one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had and except for her excitement, she has the most stable temperment and just handles so many things so well. I am really happy I have her, I sure would not have chosen her if I knew what I was in for....but ......I really am lucky to have her in my life :-) .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random training results

Sooo we are trying some new things with the wild Miss Liz to keep her training moving along. One thing we are doing is to have her play agility with Alicia, our awesome instructor, and I have been fortunate enough to have Pickle run with me so that I can feel how it feels to have a dog that really understands their job, so I can handle Liz with more confidence. WE have also went back to decreasing her distractions, and gosh we had some beautiful work this week. Liz really likes to play agility with Alicia. I found having someone else run Liz had some very big benefits,
1. I can see what Liz is doing that are mistakes because of my handling and what she just isnt understanding.
2. I found it VERY useful to see how Alicia handles Liz, she is very upbeat and very exciting and I found it really neat to see her use that with Liz and see how she motivates Liz with those type of skills, I think that will help me a lot. I have also been understanding lately that I do not have to be worried about Liz level of excitement, it just has to be handled and directed and Alicia does that really well with her. Liz is getting way more used to working with a higher level of excitement and I think if we can get her trialing that will be a good thing. Watching someone else who is of course going to have different tools is very useful to see different ways to handle things and how they work.
3. I think it will give me more confidence with Liz to see that I can trust her more then I do at times-although I totally love her but there are times when I should trust her more but because I am trying so hard to make sure she does well I do not give her as much a chance to shine as I could.
4. I would guess that working with more then one person will help Liz to generalize her job and understand what she is doing even when there are slight differences in how different people cue the job.

SOOOO for the rest of my dogs, and any new puppies I think that having them learn to work with other people will be something I am going to make sure to add to my little list of things I would like to teach my doggies. I was soooo proud of Liz, I knew she would work for Alicia, but I did not know she would do as well as she did. I was sitting right next to them working and the first minuete she was not sure what she was supposed to do but then she understood that Auntie Alica has good things to eat and she knows how to use a toy, then she was more then happy to hang with her and play agility.

ON the other side of the equation, I got to run a little with Pickle. Pickle is my hero and such an awesome dog. It did feel really neat to be working with a dog that so totally understands his job. I think that my experience with him will really help me back off and let my dog do their job and run with more confidence. So THANKS Pickle for putting up with my learning experience.

Sooo the other thing that has happened is I pulled my back. Man am I a hurting puppy, and now for some reason my knee is killing me too. So I have been just hanging out moaning and groaning. Sooo this afternoon I deceided to do a little clicker training with Liz and Breeze. I didnt want to get up and let one outside so I was trying to think of something to teach them both at the same time that I could do without moving around a lot. So.....bored minds can react weirdly and I deceided to see if I could teach them both to target each other at the same time-to sort of give each other a kiss..... My poor girls-I am sure they would like the SPCA to know some of the things that go on around here. Anyway, it turned out to be a very fun experiment. It was really neat to see how each dog was learning just a tad different. First they are so used to shaping that when I got out the clicker and the treats they very quickly started to figure out that I was clicking for their noses getting closer to each other. It wasnt that easy to think of something that I would be able to have criteria for both dogs that I could click at the same time for both and so it was a little more challenging then I might have thought. At first they got really spastic because they had never targeted each other so they were pawing, nosing and batting at everything they could see that possibly be the key to getting their click. You could see the wheels turning that they were thinking hummm, it seems to have something to do with touching my sister, but how could that be? Finally I think Breeze totally had that she was supposed to touch Liz's nose with her nose,, and I think what Liz was understanding was to turn her nose toward Breeze and let Breeze do the nose touch on her nose. Anyway, it ended up with a very sweet kiss looking behavior and when I left off we were putting it on cue. It was a way to pass a little time and kept my girls busy for a short while, and I just love doing fun little training sessions because I am always so amazed at how quickly they pick everything up and figure things out now a days. Just seems the more we play with shaping the quicker they get it, and now they are so quick.