Thursday, February 25, 2010

SILLY Cricket....

No I do not counter surf when my breakfast is being made....why would you say I did?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today I am grateful for training partners....

I am grateful for fun people to train with.

I met my training buddy Denise and her collie Kodi when she first started agility in Acton. She is taking lessons here with Deanna now so we get together at the yard and work when we can. The great thing about training with another person on an on going basis is they really get to know you and your dog and see things from the outside. Denise has been helping me figure out how to more accurately predict when Liz is going to stress and to figure out a strategy for working with that.

Last night that was put to the test when Denise ran Liz. There are very few people I would let run Liz because I am working so hard on not having her frustrated. Denise was AWESOME, she actually did better at doing small sequences of just a few obstacles and then catching and engaging Liz then I do-it was awesome and I learned a lot watching how she was able to work with Liz. I really thought I had been doing that but seeing Denise do it really brought home how I really am pushing past her threshold a little bit and then trying to get her back, I am better then I used to be, but Denise really did a great job of breaking things down. I asked how she had been able to do that when she had never really worked with Liz before and she said it was because she has watched Liz and I so much. Denise is a great dog trainer, she is newer to agility-but she has learned so quickly, I can not think of anyone else who knows Liz as well as she does and would have been able to do that so well.

Wow, what a good girl Liz was, she was happy to work with Denise and even came running when Denise called her. The cool thing was that Denise was stopping more frequently and getting Liz back to a thinking mode, almost no frustrated barking or Liz spinning around to yell, the second time running the same sequence Liz was getting the idea and settling in and able to do just a tad more, I am anxious to try doing more of that.

Who but someone who sits and watches lots of our practices and has a fresh perspective about what is going on, could have accurately seen exactly where Liz is about to go over threshold? Having people to train with is a TERRIFIC resource. THANKS SO MUCH DENISE FOR ALL YOUR HELP!

Cricket was awesome last night and while we were setting up a course she kept running through the dark green tunnel, in the shadows that was curved. I would never have asked her to go through there, it was dark, but little daredevil just kept running over and speeding on through the tunnel. We practiced the table and she will run for the table from a long way away when I tell her to GO TABLE, she is such a cutie!

A picture of Cricket with her beloved bed. This bed was in her crate on her flight here when I got her. She has long since outgrown it, but she will still curl up in it where ever she finds it, she piles her toys in it and just loves her little bed. I was taking pictures of her with her bed, and sort of playing with her bed with her in the morning, later in the day I took a picture of my daughter and Cricket got all excited, raced to the back room to find her bed and brought it back. Guess she liked playing with her bed and having pictures taken. Crazy puppy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Buddy-Liz turns 4!

Lizzie and I in Acton last summer when I was teaching-I do not have a lot of pictures of us together....

My best friend in the world has turned 4 years old. Looking back on this journey, who knew when I showed up at a little ranch in Temecula and saw this little split faced curly haired red/white dog how she would change my life. There have been times I did not know if I was up for this journey, but the things most worth while in life can be the things we have to work hardest for.

I have definitely not been the only one who has worked really hard. Liz is a special creature and as hard as I have worked to train her, she has worked just as hard if not harder to try to please me and to figure out what it is I want. It just has not been easy for her. How could I not love and admire a dog that always gives her all, it is just that some things I wanted from her she was just not mature enough, or able to give me, but it was never because she did not want we both hung in there and kept chipping away.

I have not been perfect at all, and I am still learning but Liz has taught me so many lessons about patience, and love, and being clear, knowing what you want and how to communicate that, and about how important it is to do what I feel is best and act/train in a way I feel good about -other people can think I am an idiot, or not understand why I will not push my dog or use methods that are against my principals of how I want to treat my one has to agree with me, it is between my dog and me. It has also forced me to define my own parameters of success, who cares what success means to others, Liz and I have our own little definitions and we feel like we are the most successful team in the world. A title or a few blue ribbons would not make me feel differently about either one of us when she cuddles up behind my head at night. We might get those things one day and we might not, but that is not the point of our relationship. Liz has really taught me to look for the little steps, and by making me more consistent and clear with my self and my dogs, she has made me a much better trainer and friend. I wish all this had come easy to me, but I had to be dragged kicking and screaming because I am a real people pleaser and when I felt more unsure there were so many people anxious and eager to tell me all the things I was doing wrong, LOL.

We celebrated Liz birthday by starting our new agility classes.
OH MY GOODNESS-overnight she has just really been maturing very quickly. She did so good during her class, she worked the entire time and did not run off or do any zoomies. This was a class I thought would be way over her head so I would have to just do bits and pieces, but she was awesome and the most comfortable I have ever seen her.

The next day Breeze was not able to go to her even higher level and there was a very hard course, but only two dogs showed for class. I took Liz and figured it would just be a good time to watch what we were missing since Breeze could not be there, and I would use it as an opportunity to work on some small sequences with Liz, nothing too hard. Well, because of the small class and how well she was doing we were able to run her the whole class. A first-two classes in two days and she was amazing. In Breezes class there were some skills she had never been taught because this was a higher level but Deanna patiently helped us work through those and Liz was able to take the frustration of learning some new skills that were not that easy for her.

I have to say that as we hit the four year mark and she is growing up, I almost miss the wild little youngster and the journey because it was so intense, and what a trip to just keep working and having no idea if any of this would all come together, I did not know if I would ever be able to even keep her safe. I wish I could go back and do that all without the worry and knowing it would all be ok, then I could have enjoyed her young years even more. I really do not think that Liz is able to do more now because of anything I have done, I think that she has just matured, her milestones just seem to come over night and I think she just needed to grow and mature at her own timetable. Liz has changed my life and I am really lucky to have been forunate enough to have my world shaken up by a little red headed whirlwind-she has definitely done that and I am better for it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Susan Salo puppy jumping work-Session 1

Susan Salo- PUPPY JUMPING Dogwise carries this video and if you look on the site there is a link to get a preview of the video ;-).

these are a few of my notes as I was watching this.

This work is designed to start with puppies at 4-6 months of age. This is the formative age for learning problem solving. This work is really designed more for teaching the problem solving not necessarily jumping. This will help with spacial orientation and puppies learn this very quickly. Dogs that learn this as adults may struggle with this and will have a much harder time learning.

Dogs growth plates and the muscle attachments are not totally formed until at least 18 months of age-so go slow with any jumping and things that require a lot of physical work. This work is done using speed jump bumps-no height. The jump bumps are 4" diameter PVC cut in half or the larger ones are 8" diameter cut in half.

Let the puppy experience things in different ways and different surfaces-jump bumps are easy to haul around to new places.

When puppies go through awkward phases do other training, you want to empower the puppy and make sure they are successful.

Use a target, it is only possible to pay close attention to one thing at a time and you want the dog to be paying attention to what they are doing, head forward and looking down. You stand by the target and they will be paying attention but you want them paying attention to their job not to you. As time goes on you will proof by adding in your motion, but to start with the dog needs to concentrate on what they are doing.

Always release the dog when they are focused on the target, not on you.

Here is cute little Cricket. Stays are not our strongest suit and I did not want this to be about I got a helper to hold me, but you will see by the time we got to the second time of jumping my helper magically disappeared, LOL. How does that happen? Guess my daughter does not find puppy jump training very exciting, and I did not sufficiently motivate we did the best we could.

Watching the video (I wanted to make video to be able to see the progress as we go along), I thought it was cool to see her figure out that the jump bump was not just in her way, first she almost steps on it, then she strides over it, then she finally figures out how to go over it, hummm, puppy problem solving.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Breeze is looking better today- YIPPIE!

Breeze went in to our terrific holistic vet, Dr. Modglin for a check to see WHY she is limping when ever she does agility lately.

Good news----she could not find anything serious, her hips are way out of alignment, but that is not that unusual for her, her back is pretty good considering (that is where she really shows it when she has been hurting a lot)

Bad news--might just be the weather, which might mean the arthritis is developing more??? The weather has never bothered her before. Or we were doing a lot of weave entry stuff and that really seems to be bothering hopefully as the weather gets better and she has a little time off that will get better-but if it is that pushing off and torking her body to get into the weaves that is hurting her...not sure how we will handle that long term, but guess we will cross that bridge if it comes.

Breeze got an acupuncture and a chiro adjustment and is going to be rechecked in two weeks and in the meantime we are just working on the back end exercises, working on her core work on the exercise ball, and just taking things slow.

Someone asked about Breeze, and she is 3 1/2 years old now. She has bilateral hip dysplasia that was diagnosed when she was a year old. I knew there was something wrong right when I got her, and my vet also felt there was something wrong, but I kept hoping I was wrong. Right when Breeze turned a year old I had her OFA xray done and the dysplasia was confirmed.

She had about a long period of time where she had a lot of injuries and just had a lot of trouble, and her last big injury was a partially torn ACL which took forever to get healed. I took Breeze to a really terrific rehab vet who set up a full program for Breeze to get her through that injury and then to keep her strong. For the last 9 months Breeze has actually done really well. My vet Dr. Modglin had told me early on that a lot of dogs like Breeze will have a lot of injuries and a hard time when they are young, then go through a pretty quiet couple of years before they have more trouble as they are older. So hopefully we will keep in this relatively quiet period for Breeze for a lot of years, or maybe the rest of her life?

So Breeze is on Adequain shots every month, Cosequin, Sam E, Omega oils, Glucosamine, her Back on Track jacket that is supposed to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, core exercises to protect her back and exercises like sits to stands, crawling, walking, back end awareness stuff....and acupuncture and Chiro adjustments every week or two when she is having problems and at least every 2 months when things are going well.

Breeze is a very cool dog but I always feel like I have to walk the line with her, keeping her mentally and physically healthy. The vets have said doing agility is good as long as we are really careful with her. I know a lot of people just say run her and no big deal, but she is my buddy and she is with me for the rest of her life and I want to make sure she lives a really good life without a lot of pain for her whole life. Keeping her healthy and mentally happy is the big goal for her life.

Breezes appointment was yesterday and today I took her out and did a very small amount of agility and she looks a lot better after her treatment, YIPPIE!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Little Victories that mean a ton to me....

whoo hoooo Liz, I am so proud of her....
I took her to Lowes and was walking around the store with a cart looking for materials for the next DIY project..

She was so awesome. The leash was loose the entire way around the store. Even going past people very closely she was focused more on me-in the past she feels it is her duty to say Hello to EVERYONE. While I was looking through the wood she held a stay, even with people walking right by her, that is so huge for her.

The most awesome part of the trip came at the end. We had been working for awhile and we both spied an employee that wanted to say HI to Liz. I stopped and Liz totally reoriented to me instead of launching into the lady-just automatically looked to me to see what I wanted. I indicated she could go and say HI, and Liz still sat looking at me, with her back to the lady until I clearly said BREAK-her release word. I could tell how much self control Liz was using, she got up and scooted to the lady and sat, she was wiggling with a lot of her body but I did not even have to tell her to stay seated, she popped into a sit and sat very nicely for her pets. She is really starting to understand and working so hard to do what I have asked her to do, my heart just swells to see how hard this dog is working.

Liz turns 4 in two days...and has her new agility class tomorrow. It is a class that is definitely above her level but the only one that would work, so I will have to fight off my impatience and keep the real goals in mind and be willing to break down the courses and stop when she needs rewards or things broken down for her, not when I would like to---I hope I am up for the challenge and will remember what the real goals are.

I have made a commitment to take her to the agility yard at least 5 days a week even if I have to get up early. I want to just work on her connecting with me, clicking for attention and doing just two or three obstacles and staying connected. I think even though that is the yard we use for class, the more used to paying attention and working with me without stressing out and without doing zoomies it will help so she can work in that yard and hopefully that will get her used to working like that at all times when she is doing agility and eventually working like that will carry over to other yards ;-). That is the plan.

Cricket has been going to a new location or store every day to work too, she is getting more ready for a little more distraction and new places. She had a HUGE breakthrough moment in a different Lowes earlier in the day--she was able to walk past some KIDS-her highest value people--and look to me without automatically lunging to jump on them-we walked right past them, yippie! It is really cool she wants to say Hi to everyone and wants to be such an ambassador but I would like her to start getting used to having to ask to go and say HI, so she does not feel like EVERYONE needs to say HI to her. Believe it or not, not everyone is happy when my dogs jump on them, imagine that!

Loose leash walking is actually going really well with both of these girls-Liz and Cricket. I am using a program from a book by Brenda Aloff called Getting Connected With your Dog. It has not been the easiest book for me to just sit and read in I have read a little here and a little there and got some good ideas on teaching the loose leash walking-but I am looking forward to reading the full thing. One big light bulb moment is when she said that you should keep your leash a uniform length when the dog is on leash. If your leash is short sometimes and really long others then your dog HAS to pull to figure out how far they can go out, where if you keep your leash basically the same length then the dog knows how far away from you they can get and still keep the leash loose.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

RIP poor little Dremmel, gone well before it's time...


I have to say I am feeling more then a little embarrassed. Today I did myself proud with my DIY skills. I have the Susan Salo Puppy Jumping Foundation video and it looks like it has some very interesting things to work I decided to get a few jump bumps the program calls for. Sounds like a pretty simple thing, they are just a couple of 46 inch long 4" diameter schedule 40 PVC pipes cut in half, and a couple of 8" pvc pipes cut in half length wise.

I looked around and I have enough of the larger jump bumps out of the 8" pvc, so I looked on the Internet to buy a few more small jump bumps. YIKES, in my opinion they seemed pretty expensive for what they were and the shipping was enough to make my hair curl. Well, I am not going to be taken advantage of that way, LOL! I am no fool, and how hard could making something like that be?

Next I called someone who has a husband who has tools and might do a little odd job. He gave me a quote of $100 for 4 of each size. That still seemed very high to me, or maybe just more then I had to spend, so I went all the way out to the middle of nowhere to our local industrial pipe store. They were very nice and had the pipe in 20 foot lengths which would yield 10 jump bumps for $35, AND they would cut it to length but they were unable to cut it in half lengthwise, so I had half the cutting done anyway. This way I could get just the size I really needed and look how much money I could save.

Not a problem. I asked my hubby to ask his friend if we could give him $20 to cut the pipes in half and of course my husband promptly forgot and it has been weeks and I really got tired of waiting for him and did not want to pull out my nagging routine, it just did not seem worth it and I had other bigger things to nag about anyway.

I have a friend that offered use of her jigsaw if I got a blade, but I never can get ahold of her and I have not seen her in a long time, so who knows how long I would have to wait to go that route-and once I got ahold of her then I would have to figure out what type of blade, you get the picture and I am sure you are seeing what the problems would be for an impatient person such as myself if I wanted to go that route.

Next I thought hey, I got this dremmel, how hard could it be. Another $10 for a cutting wheel and some blades and I was on my way. Well, it actually does work, but the PVC dust is horrible, little bits were flying all over and I went through about a million blades that would split and break and just do some very impressive flights all across the house. I started smelling a little hot smell,......I figured it was the PVC dust right by where the motor was, so I wiped it off and kept going. I was not using the best judgement at that point-I just wanted it done. Minutes later there was a lot of smoke and I got the feeling flames were just seconds away (it had a horrible burning smell that filled the house)...the dremmel was DEAD. I will probably never get the PVC dust out of my nose or hair or eyes...that was not pleasant.

So, because of my impatience and wanting to actually have these before Cricket is grown I spent:
$35 for the PVC for the small bumps-enough to make 10 (I had to buy a 20 foot length)
$10 for the dremmel bit and blades
$40 -at least that is what I am guessing the dremmel cost-it was a nice one with a more powerful motor.
?? Heavens knows the cost to my health with the pvc dust and the aggravation..
YEP, I am such a smart consumer, LOL, guess I did not save anything in the long run.

The results- 6 small jump bumps and 2 pipes still waiting to be cut in half to yield 4 more jump bumps. I am thinking I should not have been so impatient or so cheap ;-), and come up with a better plan. I guess since I still have more pipes I will get to figure out another idea, hummm, how about using the dremmel I have for the dogs nails, LOL, (YIKES, please someone hide that dremmel from me, I can not afford to replace that one). I wish I could say I learned a lesson from my impatience, but I would not really put money on that.

Agility uses many skills, and I figure soon I am going to have to take a shop class! Who knew when I got into agility it would call on so many different skills?

I would give an opinion about the puppy foundation jump skills video....but it has been so long since I watched it and originally started trying to get my things together to do it, that I will have to rewatch it to really remember enough to sound intelligent discussing it-so I will rewatch it and take the jump bumps I do have and then post about it, I am sure everyone will be holding their breath for that, hahahahaha.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taking advantage of a beautiful day to get some training in

We had a beautiful day today and I needed to go down to the agility yard to pay for the new series of classes that start this week! YIPPIE! Because I have been a total sluff at working with the dogs with all the rainy weather, I decided to bring the dogs and get some work done.

On the docket for todays training:
Weave entries with Breeze, working with the entries while I am recalling her through them, then working up to running along side her.
Lizzie needs to work on attention and contacts, just sharpening up the teeter end behavior.
CRICKET, working on attention when she is excited, and just letting her be cute!

Lizzie does not get to ride like that on top of the crates, but that is where she would dearly love to sit. Cricket was MAD she was in the crate and you can see her trying to open the gate, she got really mad and finally took out her frustrations on a bone. Poor puppy, puppy abuse.

Lizzie showing her BEAUTIFUL end position on the teeter. During the break she was just a little sloppy with the teeter performance, so time to sharpen things up a bit.
Lizzies teeter performance criteria:
Load onto the teeter straight (we have some exercises we do so she understands that), I do not want to have to manage her entries ;-)
Race up and through the tip spot, I want her racing for the end
shift her weight back to her hind end and slide into position with her feet at the end, her head forward and stay there until I release her.
I feel the more clear the criteria is for my dogs, I am better able to reinforce what I want and they feel more comfortable and safe knowing what to expect.

Cricket being Cricket and trying to get Breeze to play, no one is safe from the puppy play monster!

Unfortunately we did a little weave entry work and once again Breeze is looking really stiff and limping ;-(, I am not sure what is going on so she mostly just got to play with the ball no big workout for her, guess it is time to take her in to the vet since this does not seem to be getting better ;-(, she is not looking horrible but something is definetly going on.

RUNNING CRICKET-WHOOOO HOOOOOO! She is fast! Have I ever mentioned how much fun I think she is?

Liz and Cricket playing at the agility yard, Cricket LOVES to harrass Liz, Liz is her favorite target!

PRICK EAR (ONE EAR)! Cricket lost another tooth which explains why her ears have been all over the place again!

Liz wants to practice her contacts, but isn't willing to run into Cricket's face, Cricket says "What are you doing Liz?"

Is Cricket exhausted when we got home from our adventure? NOOOOOO. She is still going to bug Breeze to play, LOL.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another rainy evening, what to do???







"COME ON...."




Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Morning

Cricket cleaning herself up after a wild weekend playing and learning!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cricket running with the big dogs!

Cricket is now 4 1/2 months or 20 weeks old, 24 1/2 lbs and about 16 inches tall. She is growing up.

She is such a mix of personality traits. She is very excitable, very stimulated by movement and she can sometimes seem so over the top but then a second later she is so awesome at controlled behaviors or being over the top and then snapping into working mode. She is already able to sit on a stay on the couch while another dog is clicker training in front of her. That just blows me away to see her doing that. She is also really good with dogs but she can be pushy, especially with Lizzie. She wants to play and she wants to play now. Lizzie who is all about getting along lets her get away with it, while Breeze and Skyler and even Chloe already seem to know that they better teach her what their boundries are before she grows up!

Not the best quality video but I wanted to shoot a little bit of her playing with the other dogs. Check out how Lizzie is not at all excited about Cricket jumping at her-but she does not want to rock the boat by telling Cricket off, poor Liz looks stressed when she is trying to deceide if she should put a stop to things, but then she will join in the play when Cricket stops jumping at her. Cricket is like Lizzie's shadow these days, this little black figure that follows her everywhere. Lizzie has always been such an over the top dog that it is really weird to see her seem like the calm girl now, LOL. My how time changes things. Cricket LOVES to tease Breeze and will grab the balls and just dance in front of Breeze and turn her head so Breeze can not get the ball, she knows Breeze's weakness is the ball, LOL. Breeze is smart and just watches her and waits her turn, the minute Crick puts the ball down, boom she moves in and takes it. They are a crack up to watch.

I was looking at the tape and gosh Cricket really can spread out her body and run, and those tight turns, humm, she might be a little fast one day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cricket Feb. 4, 2010

Finally a picture where you can really see her face and those cute little ears, LOL.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I have sort of been taking an unofficial break from agility over the holidays while the classes here in town were on break. I needed some time with Cricket and I have been devoting more time and resources to herding and just some basic training around the house.

Breeze and I were at a point where I need to learn some more distance work and where I need to put myself so I can give her good information and have things flow. I still have trouble backing off and letting her handle things she is capable of handling-letting her work further out and trusting she knows what she is doing. She has gotten more confident if I give her good directions and a lot faster - my handling has needed to change to accommodate that ;-), so I really felt like I wanted to work on that and the weaves before I stuck her in more trials.

Sooooo...tonight we scraped off some of the rust and took a private with Deanna. Deanna is wonderful, she is always cheerie no matter what is going on in her life, she always acts like you and your contact problem or your off course dilemma's are of the up most importance, she always makes sure you understand and she always is just so encouraging, I love training with her. My training buddy Denise-who runs with a gorgeous rough coated collie named Kodi, and I got to work on a nice little course.

IT FELT GOOD TO BE BACK, and especially training with Deanna, no pressure, no worrying about anything else just immerse yourself in agility for an hour. What could be better?

I wanted to work on treadles, somewhere in our training we had never learned how to handle those-so I had a lot of clever ways to get around them, but that was one of the goals for this private for me. I know how I handled them with Chloe who was a very different dog and that was not going to work with Breeze and I wanted to make sure I could handle them from behind-where I will no doubt be.... I also wanted to make sure it worked in my handling system. So on my video that is the one place I was still having trouble getting my timing at first was the treadles, that was our first attempt. After the video we worked on them and by george a little more practice on the timing and I think we will have it. My other problem area has been the weaves and I could not figure out what was going on there. We broke it down during this lesson and it appears I neglected to work them with a lot of pressure from me being by the weaves. Breeze can handle them if I am far away, or if I stand fairly still but when I am really running it blows her mind. So we got some exercises to practice for that. A very productive lesson.

Here is the course we worked on, I am sure I got some of the spacing way off, but it did have a lot of weird angles when I walked it, things did not line up so it was a little more of a challenge.



We also kicked around the contact dilema and since I just do not seem to be able to get a 2020, but Breeze is definitely striding through the yellow and doing ok on that, I am going to continue to train a 2020 in practice, have her hop on and off and keep having her find that spot rewarding but I am going to just go ahead and live with the 4 on the floor. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and how much of my life do I want to devote to this contact? We have also had Breeze going back to really being crooked on her down, but it is working and I am not going to sweat that. Now the table and the start line, since I am going with what I have in the contacts....I am going to be dealing with those a lot more, LOL.

silly tricks...

The dogs were playing last night- they all love to "speak". It really riles them up. Poor Liz is a great "speaker" but she was getting stressed trying to do it around the other dogs, so because we were just playing, she did her favorite trick.

Liz wanted to do her favorite trick-wave-

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cricket-the new recall graduate!

Check out the cute ears!

WELL, we did it. Cricket is an official graduate of the "Fido Come" class.

I must say she did marvelous! On the last class she was recalling with food in the instructors hand and Cricket is the only one the instructor let her nibble on the food and then I called her. Little genius never batted an eye and turned and came back to me as soon as I called.

They had everyone in the class take turns holding food and then calling the dogs off of the food, then the helper would come over and feed the food to the dog, along with the owners treats-pretty good for a 4 1/2 old pup in a new environment with a lot of other dogs running around, and her doing that exercise with all the people in the class.

The other big challenge in the class was having someone hold Cricket, I went to the other side of the yard and Cindy the instructor put down food on the ground making sure the dogs saw the food. I then called Cricket and she came running-never gave the food the slightest attention.

Cindy was saying the way to have the recall a totally conditioned response, meaning the dog just does it without thinking and it is like slamming on the brakes when you are driving, is to have a really strong reinforcement history over a long time. So she advised continuing the type of work we have been doing for at least six months before we start using a variable reinforcement schedule or using a lot of different types of rewards. So I guess even if we are graduates of the "Fido Come" class, the work continues, LOL.

I really liked the class because a lot of it was catching the dog checking in, making yourself fun, setting your dog up for success--a lot of good relationship building goes into that little recall!

For the flip side of the coin....little Crick has not been totally perfect! She is pretty durn close to perfect ;-), as close as any pup can get to being perfect while still being real, LOL, but she does have on behavior I think might be shaping up to be a bit of a challenge, LOL. Cricket is really getting OBSESSED, and obsessed big time with cats. All my border collies sit and stare at the cat. They will sit for hours, but my cat Kimmie is very dog savy and just gives them the look, like "hey, you can stare all you want but I am just going to sit here". She does not run or get upset, so everyone lives happily together. Cricket has been treating the cat like the rest of the dogs do....until very recently-actually seems like the obsession developed virtually over night.

Cricket staring at the cat--poor kittie

When we went outside weeks ago, she saw Kimmie or another cat up on the outside of the window sill. Now when ever we go outside Cricket will try to play keep away so she can sit and stare at the spot where the cat once was. The cat has not been there since, but Cricket knows if she stares at that empty space long will show up. First clue we had some cat obsession starting.

Second clue--in recall class where Cricket is able to shut out any other distraction and is even doing good with the other dogs movements, she spied a cat-WAYYYYYY far away. I could not get her focus off the cat with food, or play or anything even after the cat was gone. YIKES, like she is pretty intense and doesn't forget where the cats might have been.

Third clue--Cricket is starting to whine at the gate to the room the cat can go in where the dogs can not get in. Cricket will just stare in the room and bark more, most of the time if the cat is in that room the border collies know there is no chance of getting her so they generally get bored and never even glance in there, but not Cricket, LOL. Cricket is also getting closer and closer to chasing the cat when the cat is just sitting she will once in awhile spring and nip, something definitely not allowed in this house, she was corrected the first few times she did it, but I doubt it is the last time I have seen her do that, I think that is definitely a behavior to put the breaks on right away.

I am doing some thinking on how I can teach Cricket to have a little more control. Last summer I was able to work with Liz and the gophers where we were training using a premack principle type of exercise. If she did the weaves she could go obsess on the gophers, if she did weaves-jump, she could go to the gophers, if she did weaves-jump contact she got the gophers and eventually the gophers were not the powerful little critters they had once been. The problem with the cats is that I have to be able to have control of the cats, and get Cricket far enough away that she is not over threshold. I think that might be the next state, LOL. So I am still thinking about this. In the house with Kimmie, who is a familiar cat that is not moving I can tell Cricket "leave it" and then reward her when she moves away and she is doing pretty good with that-I am pretty proud of her for being able to manage that as well as she does. I have to think of some way to work on the feral, wild cats that move fast and are all around where we train, she is way too over the top for "leave it" to work in that situation yet. PUPPIES! LOL.