Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemade Puppy Puzzle

Well, they are predicting SNOW in the Southern California desert and it is almost April! Last week I almost died from heat exhaustion. It is really windy and rainy so it was time to find some things to do inside.

I decided to try making a puppy puzzle. Super easy to do...just take a plastic bottle and carefully, using all safety precautions drill two holes across the bottle from each other so you can insert a dowel or some stick type thing. If you put the holes about half way down the bottle that is a pretty easy setting, I made mine with a couple of different holes, if you put holes further up then it is harder.

I did figure out that the treats come out really fast, so I just put in a few at a time, or I was thinking you could put the top on and drill a smaller hole in that, but then it is getting complicated ;-). I have also seen this type of thing where they made a base that could hold the bottles so you did not have to hold it, but again this was a rainy afternoon project that I wanted to try NOW. Of course different size bottles would give a totally new challenge! I used am empty soda bottle because that was closest to where I was sitting, and I used some kibble for the treat.

Each of the dogs did things differently, Cricket....true to her nature, attacked the thing and started grabbing it and forcing it to yield its treasures. Breeze was ever so delicate and just gently nudged the bottle and Lizzie sort of sat and tried to figure it out before she wanted to really work on it.

I am playing with fetching, the dogs sit and fetch the remote while we are watching tv, which could be a really super useful trick....they fetch the cell phone-probably not the best thing for them to fetch because this is my new cell phone that has to last two years and it is super nice ;-), and a plastic dumbbell. Actually they will fetch lots of things. I am going to teach an obedience fetch, but am just working on happy fetching right now and getting the idea and being very happy about it. I have been reading two books with some excellent fetching ideas...Schutzhund Obedience-Training in Drive--I had got that book when some agility people I really admire were talking about training in drive which simply means always making the dog keen to work and having a very excited attitude. So the way they start out fetching is very interesting, and I am going to try it, and I will report back on what I think. The other book that I am using to formulate a plan to teach the retrieve is the Clicked Retrieve book, hummm, not sure that is the correct name....and I don't see where I put the book at this moment, but it is excellent too. So I just did a video of the dogs playing with retrieving different objects.

On a side note, gosh what is the deal with Youtube? Every time I figure out just where everything is and how to get all the info they change it again. This afternoon I was thrown for a loop trying to figure out where to find the embedded code, grrrrrrrr. Don't they know the stress that change causes me?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Another light bulb moment for me....

Whew, what a busy week.

We started the week off with herding, Liz has taken another step back with herding, and Breeze was so amazing. Cricket got to play in the agility field and she saw a dog on the other side of the fence herding, a fast moving exciting dog. She was pretty obsessed with the same look the cat gets....But....She was able to call off and come running to me, boy what a true recall superstar she has been!!

Next we spent a few days at the Collie National Specialty. There were some awesome agility collies, wow, I had no idea collies were so driven and fast. My buddy got her Rally RAE-the Rally equivalent of a MACH at the specialty and I got to watch her so that was very cool! CONGRATS TO THE AWESOME KODI AND DENISE!!! A really great team.

I sometimes use my blog as part of my training journal, and no one else may find this whole light bulb moment interesting, but....I wanted to record it for me to cement in my mind.

This was my really exciting part of the week. I raced home from watching Collie agility to catch my class, I almost blew it off but I am so glad I got to class this week. You know how sometimes you might have heard something a million times and one day it sort of hits or you really just think about it? Well, we had our light bulb moment this week! It is the sort of thing I have always said yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that, you have to decelerate, but I was finding the place these transitions need to take place were not always where I had thought they should.

So the subject of this weeks lesson was transitions from object focus to handler focus.

For some reason I think because Liz had her problems with TOO MUCH handler focus and not feeling comfy with object focus after her heel work, it is like when scientists study someone with a disease to figure out how things work in a normal person. So seeing the problems exaggerated in Lizzie made me see where I have had problems with all of my dogs with this concept and finding the right places for my dogs to help them transition from concentrating on obstacles to knowing I have vital information about things coming up on course. Usually the handler has done a totally correct cue, but imagine driving at 70 mph and then at the last second someone yells TURN LEFT NOW! Correct cue and information but Yikes, or a handler that is like a driver riding the brakes and keeping the car at 35 mph because in a couple of blocks there will be a turn-that would be very demotivating.

So happens someone was giving away old clean run magazines and BOOM, there were two magazines with some articles from Stuart Mah on transitioning from object focus to handler focus. Talk about timely.

So in June 05-Stuart says that "obstacle focus is when the next obstacle is the logical obstacle form the dogs perspective. The dog's focus is on the obstacle staring him in the face. Handler focus is when the next obstacle is not the logical next obstacle. It is the responsibility of the handler to cue the dog promptly regarding handler focus or obstacle focus."

Cueing handler focus vs obstacle focus can be divided into six categories
1. How you move (softly or strongly)
2. Your arms and hands (static or active)--now I am thinking in my handling system Linda M says that running with pumping arms is a cue to keep going, to take the next logical obstacles, so object focus--vs if I stick out the off arm, or start cueing which means collect your stride and pay attention, something happening
3. Your voice, (stronger or softer) I have not thought of my voice and the tone, humm
4. WHERE YOU LOOK- (I thought this one was interesting)-looking at your dog (handler focus and guess you would be expecting them to look at you)...or looking at the next obstacles
5. What you think (only of the dog or your next place on course-hummm, I could use working on that one)
6. the path you take-I am a little more unclear on that point.

"To teach the dog to gear up (upshift) you should concentrate on changing from a softer voice (handler focus). Also be aware of where you are looking when in handler focus, you should look more at the dog. When upshifting, you should focus on the chosen obstacle (obstacle focus), keeping the dog in your peripheral vision.

To teach the dog to decelerate (downshift) and go into handler focus, instead of looking ahead at the obstacles in front of you begin focusing on the dog more. Instead of running hard, begin slowing your pace some and shortening your strides. Also being softening your voice commands so that you don't have that driving sound to your voice. Instead of throwing your your hands to send the dog on, start "bringing everything in", drawing your hands in more toward you. All the cues begin to tell the dog to ease up and relax more rather then drive ahead."

This is from the article by Stuart Mah, he says when you hit between jump 2-3 the handler should begin switching the dog into handler focus, the handler takes slower strides, maybe smaller strides, the handlers voice becomes quieter instead of loud and driving, the handler watches the dog more rather then the obstacle, the dog should gear down, taking off closer to the jump, landing closer and turning to face the correct jump sooner, the tunnel is taken out of place and you do not have to do call offs or have the dog go off course.

"the net result from a handler who can perform downshift transitions is a dog that is fast, not only through the straight away, but a dog that can make a quick tight turn and move on to the next obstacle more rapidly, all the while minimizing and off course"--Hey I am all for that!!!

I have known about this stuff, and decelerations for a long time but I had not thought about the other cues and this series of articles really helps you see where the transitions have to take place. You have to let your dog know before a jump something is going to be happening, they might not necessarily see what...yet...but they have to know so they can adjust their stride, their jump length and get ready to pay attention to what you are going to tell them. Some dogs need a couple of obstacles to know hey, we are going to handler focus and stay with me, some not as much time. By not cueing in time to let the dog know something is coming up and moving toward the next jump you are putting the dog into object focus and when I did that to Liz we had a beautiful off course Aframe, LOL. She knew that is where we are going because I did not slow down in enough time to tell her something was going to happen so she flew on ahead with drive and confidence. By the time I tried screaming and stopping dead to tell her something was coming up she had already committed.

So in the course we ran in class, SURPRISINGLY to me, the first time you really have to get handler focus is sometime after the teeter -object 9 and before object 11-well, before they are committed to that jump. If you need to grab focus right after the teeter, you sort of have to keep the handler focus until the middle of 10 and 11, then pull after the dog hits 11-but they can change their path because before they launched for 11 they knew to shorten their stride, to not jump so far, and to keep looking at you. Interesting. Most people were really late and ended up with off course tunnels, I was early and ended up pulling Liz around jump 11. Chloe used to really be obstacle focused so I got used to very early cueing and I am figuring out that is where I go wrong with my dogs sometimes, those early calls, LOL. Next place we had to have handler focus was right after the tunnel to set the dog on a straight line to the 15 jump. Of course on that one you have to get the dog into handler focus right after 14, and I did that way too late, tried to call her right as she was hitting the 15 jump so she had already committed to taking the Aframe, whoops.

The rest of the course can really be handled in obstacle focus, and I had a blast running it. So much fun. Luckily I got to do sit in on the class after mine and run Breeze. Having looked at the course and figured out some of the timing stuff and thinking about it, Breeze smoked the course and got it perfect the first time. It felt like so much fun.

Anyway, if you have access to the June 05 clean run and the April 05 you can check out the article-it has exercises and explains what needs to happen to give a good transition to your dog, and it sure seemed to hit at the right time for me when I was trying to figure this all out. I am going to be looking a little more carefully at myself and all the cues I give and look at where my particular dogs need to have transitions.

LIZ WAS DOING AMAZING! It was the PERFECT class, and perfect course for her after her heeling work had got her too handler focused and uncomfortable with looking at obstacles. She started out the class sort of taking one jump and whirling in front of me and barking, wandering off and sniffing and just not looking happy. Each step she figured out it was ok to just go on, and most of the course had the dog in obstacle focus and very quickly she ran the course like a pro. She also stopped looking so stressed once she figured out she did not have to have me involved in every step of the course, she could go on and just look for more obstacles. It was cool to see how great she ran, with no sniffing, no barking. YIPPIE.

I even got to stay for the second class with Breeze, so having just worked on this we were able to run the full course with Breeze with no mistakes, really fun, really fast, confident, gosh it felt MARVELOUS.

All good things must come to an end and I threw the ball for Breeze at the end of the course.....she went skidding into the ball and bent her right front leg backwards I think. She screamed a blood curdling scream and started limping, UGHGHGHG.

SERIOUSLY Breeze you do not have to be injured each and every time we go out to play!
I decided to not panic and just walk her out, she started putting her weight on it and was looking better, so I put her in the crate to go and listen to Deanna, got her out again and she was definitely still limping. We had done the course perfectly, Breeze was definitely hurting so of course we went home. Thank heavens after about two days of light walks, some ice and some heat and no agility and she looks great. All I kept thinking of though is the videos Susan Garrett posts about why not to throw the ball for your dog and how they can tweak their body, yep, she looked just like one of those. Geeze, what a bad mom I am ;-(, but she does not like tugging and she loves chasing the ball, but I am going to have to think about my rewards. The funniest part of the whole day was when I picked up another of the clean runs this gal was giving away and took it home and settled to look at it and there was a long article on how to strech out the front knee and what to do when it is hurt, so I picked that up out of the blue just five minutes after Breeze got her knee hurt...and I had no idea that article was in the magazine. The Clean run fairies were sure trying to help me out this week with information they gave me at just the perfect time, LOL.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cricket says...Just when everything smells JUST right...

Cricket wants to know if EVERYTHING that happens to her HAS to have a picture???? She had just had all her smells just right and some cool food stuck to her coat, and a lot of dirt all over her-it was just the way she likes it and I had to ruin it by giving her a bath.

IS THIS A SAD FACE OR WHAT? Cricket thinks it is too embarrassing that she still gets bathed in the sink.

RUNNING AROUND THE HOUSE TO GET SOME OF THE BATH STINK OFF HER-don't you all just hate that clean smell???

Lizzie and Breeze were not smelling quite so "wonderful" and we have herding scheduled for they escaped the bath! They have spent the day doing 2X2-more maintaince on weave entries is needed, some of our performance has definitely deteriorated. Contacts and weaves.....guess training on those is never all finished is it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Training Lizards is about always adjusting the plan...

We had class for Lizzie and training Lizards is one of those things where you have to very carefully watch the balance of all factors and there is no manual so I have to just always be sort of thinking about what I am doing in contrast to most of the other dogs where I can feel like I sort of know the basic path we are going to take. Lizards think a little differently though......So once again the Lizard brain seems to be showing through!

With Lizzie's excitement level, her stress issues and her zoomies-stress can be a result from excitement-I spent THREE YEARS mostly just rewarding for eye contact, for having her right next to me, for a very focused type of attention. Looking back, I am not sure that was the best thing.....but not being in that place now, at the time I needed to keep her with me otherwise at that time I could not keep her working with me more then a few seconds when we were in stimulating environments-she could be EXCELLENT and AMAZING when she was at home or in a very familiar environment, but I was trying to get where she could work other places.

Last year when she was not going to take off all the time I started working a little on a more informal type of attention and Lizzie was very uncomfortable if I asked her to stay connected but to work a few feet away, still moving with me, but not having to stare at me-like what you do in agility. Liz is the fastest girl I know so for us to get around a course since I am the slowest person I know....she has to be able to do some lateral distance.

We had been making a lot of progress, and she still can not drive down a very long line, but she was looking for some obstacles and being able to be more obstacle focused and still not feel disconnected, so WHOOO HOOO, we were making progress.

As all training with Lizards goes....there HAVE to be setbacks, LOL! I started doing some heeling training-I wanted to do some rally or Novice obedience with Liz. Liz takes to the heeling really well and likes it. As we went back to agility during class, Liz was a mess. She was back to where she would take one jump and whirl in front of me with full eye contact, barking, yelling, frustrated, I was putting pressure, using my whole body and telling her "jump", and trying to help her figure out she could go on like we had been. I finally ended up having to take my clicker and shape her looking at the next obstacle. I think the focused heeling, along with so much reinforcement history for staring at me is too much for Liz right now to understand going from obedience/heeling to something like agility, so I think heeling is going to have to go back into the closet for a little while longer until she gets the agility game better.

BREEZE had class, and she was marvelous, and TWO CLASSES IN A ROW AND SHE STAYED SOUND! What is going on? LOL, could it be the warmer weather or the fact I brought my own weaves with the wider spacing, and the club did get some new 24 in weaves, so I kept her out of the 21 inch weaves-I altered any courses where it went into the 21 inch weaves. Breeze is soooo good, it was fun running with her and seeing her look good.

CRICKET went to class and worked on her tricks and walking around nicely, tunnels, tables while the people in class were walking courses, and she was able to get really close without going bonkers. She is doing terrific. Cricket also got to work on sitting in the crate while the dogs were running in front of her and keeping herself relaxed, she is getting the hang of that and she is getting the hang of sitting quietly in her crate while I go out and look like I am walking the course. So she is doing most excellent baby dog work. Her lefts and rights are going to be ready for video soon-so that is pretty exciting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two birthday girls, doing what they do best--playing!

Chloe is SIX YEARS OLD!!!! Chloe came from Utah six years ago, we drove to Utah on Fourth of July weekend all those years ago. She was my first real agility bud, the first dog I got a title with and she is an awesome little girl. Lately my older daughter has stolen her-Chloe sleeps with her and wants to hang out with girls. LOVE YA CHLOE!

IT'S CRICKETS HALF YEAR B-DAY!!! She has gone for a gangly little puppy to a gangly teenager right before my eyes! I can not believe the time has gone so fast. She let me take some pictures that hint at what she wants to do with her life. Can you guess? It involves moving fast.......LOL

Monday, March 15, 2010

just say "NO", who knew it was so simple?

Over the weekend I came into the kitchen to this sight:

Silly little Cricket up to new tricks! ON THE COUNTER-LOL, leave it to Cricket!

The GREAT part was I was on the phone with my mother, and she says "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?" I said I was going to get her off the counter first...move the crates around, since I thought she climbed on the crates and then jumped across to get up there, and put my little tattle tale device that operates on vibrations and if she hops up there again it will make a loud sound. I thought it was a pretty good plan.

So my mother who is ever so helpful says "well, other people do not have such problems, and not everyone dogs are on the counter, why can't you just say NO? Not everyone comes up with these plans of how to train it or things to put out on the counter, and their dogs are not on the counter". Of course I know she is trying to push my buttons because I do not use heavy punishment with my dogs, which does not mean they are allowed to do anything they want.... I am smart enough and I have enough dogs to know that counter surfing can be a lot of fun, and yelling NO might work or it might teach them to not do it while you are watching-I did say NO, but I also knew that I would probably have to do something else to insure poor little Crickster does not get hurt running across the counters.

The great part is that if I had been really angry and did some heavy punishment my mom would have went on and on and lectured me about how she is a baby, she is a puppy and you have to be patient. Yep, it was one of those no win situations and I am only annoyed that I let myself get defensive and started defending myself.

Anyway.....the whole just say NO advice will go alongside my other favorite advice of a class mate who saw Lizzie running off in a stressed zoomies and she says "Have you ever thought of training a recall?". That was after a few years of dealing with things, I do not know how many recall classes, working on attention and recalls every day of our life, hummm, if only someone had thought of teaching her to come years before, LOL.

I guess it is always worth suggesting things to people and making sure some easy solutions have not been overlooked, but come on people! LOL.

Sooooo, another tangible sign that puppy hood goes quickly.....
I had to take down the Xpen that has sat in the kitchen so I could move crates around so Cricket could not use them to get up on the counters.
Sorry Cricket....

So Cricket gets her first official crate that will be for when short times when we are out of the house and when they are eating their meaty bones for dinner. The doggies also like to lay in them when we are all watching tv, my puppies love their crates.
We have had to go to a Condo style crating and Liz being the most fit gets the penthouse, she is not too happy yet about that, she likes the lower inside corner and Cricket gets the crate where she can look out into the backyard ;-).

But crisis averted, there are no pathways up on the counter least I do not think so and I guess if Cricket finds another one, ......I will just say "NO", I have it on good authority that is all that is needed for a well trained dog!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Breeze has a great class and looks GREAT-who needs any other news? LOL

Liz's agility class was cancelled on Tuesday due to gale force winds.... I was not looking forward to the biting wind, so I was not that disappointed.

Wednesday still had a nasty wind, but Breeze's class went on as scheduled. Knowing the cold might be a big factor in Breeze and her current physical problems.....I put on her Back on Track jacket I have been using the jacket on Breeze all night, every night and I put it on her for about an hour before class and then put it on as soon as she finished an exercise. I also made sure to pull her out of the crate and run her around to warm her up. I have to say warming her up was a bit embarrassing, Deanna was talking and I felt rude just walking off and moving around-I stayed close so I could hear what she was saying but....I was probably not looking like I was listening a lot, but I apologized after the lesson and I did feel like things are to the point where I have to put my doggie first for sure no matter how embarrassing it is-people are going to have to understand....or not. The courses were the type we like a little tighter and no weaves! BREEZE WAS AWESOME, and more importantly looked great through the whole class, no limping. The class theme was contacts and even with the contact work Breeze looked great. I did not run her in the whole class, I used moderation-which I am horrible at and skipped the last run of the day even though I wanted to do the last run soooo bad, it was so much fun.

The interesting thing about the class was that I had given up on my 2o2o on the dog walk, and just went back to the 4 on the floor, so you can all guess what type of contact Breeze did-YEP, a gorgeous 2o2o-all three times she was on the dog walk. Ughghghg, I can tell she is not sure of what she should be doing although she is driving to the end, and with all our going back and forth with the type of contact we are doing that was not surprising there was confusion, it was surprising she was still driving to the end. We got some really good distance work, way more then I have ever trusted her to do before, I just felt like going for it and Baby Breeze just did awesome. I had just read the article about what we inadvertantly train in this months Clean Run that arrived yesterday...I thought it was great and it reminded me of a lot of things that I made sure to work on in class.

I so wish I had a tape of Breeze running, she was so awesome and she looked good. Maybe the weaves and the Back on Track jacket did the trick???? I have noticed an improvement since I have been doing her exercises more diligently and used the jacket.

I have some pictures from Cricket playing at the Contact Point Agility yard and at the beach from the other day


HERE I COME-now that I made sure you are watching!



THE BEACH AFTER HERDING-the wind was really strong and the waves were high so not much swimming

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everyone has a great herding Monday!

AMAZING BREEZE-the highlight of the whole day!!!!!!

What can I say? Breeze is amazing.
She stayed very sound-YIPPIE!
She has been exposed to sheep twice as a baby, she did one lesson with a crappy trainer who did not teach her anything several months ago, and now she has started with Robin and just did her second lesson
We are planning on trialing her soon, we are going to skip the HT which is the first step in herding and go to the PT level, which should be fun!

What makes me feel so good is that Breeze is a high drive dog, and she has not been doing so well holding up physically lately with agility, so I do feel like herding is going to be a little easier on her and we are still trying some things in agility but if she really is not able to do that....she can still have an activity to keep her happy and healthy, that is what it is all about, right?

It was HERDING MONDAY and everyone got a turn yesterday!

Here are some pictures from the ranch where we go herding:

the orange trees on the side of the herding corral

Some of the sheep taking a nap at lunch time

like I said EVERYONE got to do some herding yesterday-which made for a busy day.

LIZ: First off Liz got to try her hand and did the best she has ever done. My kids were not around so I had no one to video her. There was a HUGE puddle in the middle of the herding round pen and Liz LOVED that. She must have rolled in the mudd a thousand times, the stinky mudd with a lot of sheep poo and pee in it, yep she was LOVELY by the time we left. When we got home she had to go STRAIGHT to the sink to be washed even though it was after 8 pm, I love her VERY much but she was NOT going to be sleeping in my bed smelling like that!

Robin is a super terrific herding instructor, now days I am handling all the herding with the dogs myself, she sits outside and usually yells thing like YOU ARE DOING PERFECT, EXCELLENT, she is so good at buildng up my confidence and explaining what we are doing. Herding has never made sense to me before but I really understand what we are doing now and that makes herding so much fun and so interesting!

We got to visit with Gabrielle from Florida. She owns Zing who is Breezes littermate. We had a great visit, and it was great to hear about Zing, and we even got to talk a little bit about contacts. It was a real family reunion, when I got to the ranch Batman who is also a littermate was there with Kristie and then Gabrielle came over to watch Breeze.

CRICKET: Next was Crickets turn to have her first look at sheep. Well, maybe a good thing she seems like she is going to like agility, LOL, she did not look amazing at her first try with the sheep. At that age it really does not mean a whole lot that she was not into herding the sheep, and she had a great time, so heck it was all good. Robin brought in her dog Lass to move the sheep to try to interest Cricket and Cricket was sure Lass should just play with her. Poor Lass was trying to work and does not really like puppies....Cricket was jumping at her head, chasing her, barking at her and trying to keep her from listening to Robin, poor Lass did not look happy...but what a trooper--Sorry Lass-but I did appreciate her efforts.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More jump girds for the Crickster, and sadly Breeze is still not as good as new...

Crickets second session with the jump grids. It is COLD, and WINDY, YUCK, but working with Crick was worth going out into the cold, have I said lately how much fun that little monkey is?

I did not watch the full Susan Salo DVD before I started and so I felt bad because we have not done a lot of grid work-but guess what-- I watched the rest of the DVD and you are only supposed to do the grids every couple of weeks-I was right on track! You are also supposed to vary the grids since puppies can pattern so easily and just do them without thinking, which is not what we want, and most of all the goal with these grids is to make it fun for the dogs.

So we did the equidistant straight line grid. I thought the biggest challenge with those was Cricket being almost 20 feet away from me and having to hold her stay. I have never worked with her that far away, and when you add in the distraction of having to throw her toy down.....YIKES, I am proud of her for being able to do that.

We also started some bend grids. They are the most difficult grids for the puppies and there is usually a favorite or easier side for the dogs. These grids you alternate which direction you go and you do not fix them or keep going on one side until it is "right". I found the most difficult thing with this grid was that you throw down the toy at the end of the jump bumps...then the dog has to go out and around to get the target, YIKE, Cricket thought that was dumb at first, why not just cut behind and grab it? If you place your target correctly these grids teach the puppy to jump a nice tight line, and use their body and judgement going around a turn. Most dogs will have a side that is easier and they do better, but in the DVD Susan says we just work it all equally and do not do a lot to try to "fix" that, just let the puppy figure it out.

It was good to be out there with the Crickster tonight and have such a fun session-I LOVE watching her work and with a puppy who is figuring out sooo many things so quickly-how could that work not be fun. I needed an afternoon like that.

Poor Breeve was at the vets on Wednesday for a recheck and another acupuncture and chiro adjustment, and it looks like her latest problem is not an acute injury, so that is good in a way....but then maybe she has had so much trouble the last few months because of the colder weather. If that is the case, then maybe she will not be able to do agility in the winter, I really hope she is going to be OK once it gets warmer. I took Breeze to class on Wednesday afternoon but she was not able to do the weaves, it was pretty bad and I was a little annoyed, but a few minutes later Breeze was limping pretty bad again, so now I am thinking the weaves were hurting and that is why she was not able to do them, ;-(, I feel horrible I kept trying to fix them. I just do not know what to do, I want to take care of her health long term and lately it has just been so hard to walk that tight rope of keeping her happy and healthy, and I do not feel like I have been doing very well lately, but I have done everything I know how to do. She just had such a long stretch where things went so well, I had thought we were on our way but everytime I turn around poor Breeze is hurt lately, I just wish there was someone who had any answers, but I just do not think there are any cut and dried things with Breeze, everything has to be played by ear.

Breeze is really good at herding and I wish I could do more herding with her-maybe that would be easier on her body?, but it is sooo expensive and three hours away so I do not think we will be able to do a lot more with that then we have been. That makes me feel bad.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Making a Teeter Board-and you can drag it in the house or on the road!

It was pouring this last Saturday so I decided to make a little teeter board to play with Cricket on and to work on contact behavior with the other dogs in the house.

This is a SUPER SIMPLE teeter board, I made one in a couple of hours. You can use it in the house, take it on the road and use a different size pipe so the board suits your needs! I did think about cutting several different sizes and drilling the holes to match so I could change the pipes out, but then I thought I was getting a bit obsessive-I can put a board over my little jump bumps if I want a smaller drop.

1. First get a board-you will need to drill some bigger holes though this so I would get a softer wood, not oak-ask me how I know this....BUT anyway you can choose how big you want. I chose a 6 foot long board because I figured it would be big enough for my bigger dogs to hop on and practice their end contact behavior, and still small enough to be easily transportable and I can use it in my tiny, little, microscopic house on rainy days! I got a piece of pine 12 inches wide, 3/4 inch thick, and 6 feet long. You could get an inch thick board if you choose, or an eight foot or even a tiny little board if that suits your needs.

2. Next I went to the plumbing section and found some pipe that is the diameter you want. I took the pipe and put it on the floor, laid my board over it and saw if I liked the drop that I got with that pipe. They have 2 foot long sections of pipe. The pipe is easily cut with a handsaw, that just took a few seconds. I liked the 6 inch diameter pipe-it is a white pipe and in the same area as the pipe shown here that is 4 inches in diameter. The 6 inch pipe I got was a lot more expensive then the 4 inch pipe I have pictured here but it just seemed like it would meet my needs better.

3. I drew a line across the board from side to side in the middle of the board so I knew where to position the holes I was going to drill. I wanted them both in a straight line across the middle.
I also drew a line along the length of the pipe so I knew where to drill holes that were straight along the top of the pipe.

I drilled two holes in the pipe about 2 inches in from each side. I put a pen in the hole I had drilled in the pipe and made a mark on the bottom side of the board along the line I had drawn-this showed me where to drill so the holes would line up perfectly. I was using a 5/16 inch carriage bolt-which is pretty thick, so I started with a small drill bit, then drilled with a slightly bigger one and then an even bigger one-this prevents the wood from splitting.

4. I got a 5/16 inch carriage bolt that is 2 inches long, and a nut and washer. The carriage bolts are rounded on the top so there is nothing to catch on paws ;-D.

5. Next I put the carriage bolts through the holes, and then through the pipe to attach the two together, the bolt goes into the inside of the pipe, then you put the washer right next to the inside of the pipe and then the nut holds it all together.

6. Next I used this little dohickey tool, I believe it is a wrench ??? to tighten the nut on the inside of the pipe, I wanted it nice and tight so it stays stable!

7. Next comes the more fun part and we are on the homestretch! I sanded the sides, I like rounded edges and you want to make sure your board is not going to have splinters. The top of the board is going to be painted with a non slip surface--so do not worry too much about having a perfect top of your board, no one will ever know.

I like to buy the mis-mixed paint. There is usually a section by where they mix paint where they have marked down paint that was mixed with a color and then people changed their minds. It is always less then half the price of new paint, it is unused and perfectly good quality and most of the time I can find a color I do not mind for my agility equipment I make. Today when I went there were not as many good choices as usual, so I was skeptical about this peachy pink, but what the heck for $2 and it was a good quality paint... what the heck.

To paint my non slip surface, I first painted the board-
If I had been smart and had more patience, I might have painted the board AND THEN attached the pipe, but this worked out fine.
I painted the first coat as normal.
The second coat was painted on the top and then I put on some sand and sort of pushed it into the paint a little bit and let it dry.
I did two coats of paint mixed half and half with water, followed by another coat of paint.

Let dry and have fun!
I just sort of guessed on how to make this so of course feel free to adjust the sizes of things to your needs!