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.