Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick to judge, LOL!

Ughghggh, maybe I am just getting grumpy in my elderly age, LOL, or technically challenged,or resistent to change, but I spent some more time trying to figure out the Susan Garrett web site and maybe I can just go in and find my lesson for the day and leave-now I feel a bit silly for all my earlier comments-although I still dont feel it is as friendly as before.....and I found Diana with Miley to "follow" which might be fun (anyone else on the course can find me under Kathy M if you do a user search), it is the same great info from the first course and I noticed they just posted a tab with the first weeks lessons (which panicked me at first thinking I had missed a whole week ;-) but no they appear to just post those tabs in advance ), it looks like it will not be as hard to find as I thought at maybe it will not be so bad once I figure out where things are, but it still seems way confusing to start with, more confusing then last time, LOL, but perhaps I should hang on and not judge too soon! (hanging my head in shame)

Treading water, Isnt this supposed to be Spring break?

I had big plans to get out there and get some video to post of just a few tips that have worked magic for us to get more play in or training. UNFORTUNATELY life has had other plans for me this last week, and I am feeling a bit overwelmed right now, so hopefully soon I will get caught up with everything else and I can get on that little assignment I had set for myself.

It is Spring break for the schools here and since my husband is a teacher,...everyone has been home this week. what a time for our very old, HUGE, TV that had developed an hourglass shaped picture with wavy edges finally died. Can you believe my husband and kids were not complaining about a picture like that and really did not want a new TV? Go figure! ANYWAY, the TV did DIE and I had to replace it. I have no cue how old the old TV was-but it was really old and really heavy and HUGE. Going to shop for a new TV was like going into a new country, it is so hard to get up to speed with what is going on with TVs now days-and I felt totally lost trying to compare and make a good choice-but we did get an awesome new TV, that actually cost way less then I thought we would have to pay. How often can anyone say that?

Next the new Susan Garrett recallers course started. I do think it is going to be fun because the dogs and I really worked the last one and have incorporated a lot of the exercises into daily life, and this time I think we can work on more difficult levels of the games. It is still the type of course where you need to keep up to really get the most out of I feel a big pressure to get going-we started last weekend.

What do I think of the new Susan Garrett course? This is HUGELY PREMATURE...This is only my opinion....and I may be eating crow as time goes on but I really feel like the new ecourse so far has sort of taken a lot of the magic out of what was in the first course. Have to say so far I am a bit disappointted in the delivery of the info, although the info itself is still pretty terrific.

There is a new web site that is S L I C K! It is very professional looking, and set up to be like a social networking site and a whole world. You go into the web site and there is your dashboard and from there.....well,not sure where you go.

The problem for me is that it seems very difficult to figure out what is posted and where and you would have to sit for hours and hours and wade through pages and pages of posts saying things like "I am so excited" and "hey where are you guys from" to try to find relevant questions. IN the old site you went to her web site every morning and the daily exercise was right there along with the video showing you what to do and all relevant questions, comments and clarifications were right there on that page. To me it seems to take a lot more time to figure out what you are supposed to do then doing all the training. You can pop in and just get the info but the shame is then you miss out on the little details that you get when you can more easily see all the comments related to what you are training-but who has hours to pour through a web site like that every day?

The worst part of the changes is that to me it seems to have taken away the warm, comfy, we are all part of a big group feeling. I think they are trying to foster that by letting you follow certain people on the website, sort of like a social networking page, it seems to foster a lot of conversation that is not necessarily related to the course. I really don't have the time to wade through tons of social conversations to find peoples questions about what we are doing and the answers that I know fit with what the course is trying to teach. It is a shame because the information is really great and maybe I will find my way around it and come to like it, but not a big fan so far.

So I freely admit I am not a big fan of change so hopefully as time goes on and I figure this whole thing out I will feel silly for making these comments, but for today I am very disappointed because it just feels like another job to try to even shift through way too much useless info to find the relevant information. I just want to get in there have all that I need in one place, get in and get out and spend my time training and if I want to do more social networking then I could go to a site aimed at that.

At the same time the Sylvia Trkman puppy ecourse far, first week it is mostly stuff we have sort of worked on except one exercise which will be a HUGE challenge, but it will be good to get it all more polished up. Day three and so far we are having a lot of fun.

Three dogs, two courses, trying to keep working on the weaves and contacts with
Cricket and get a little handling work with her in....spring break with everyone home....of course, normal life keeps marching I am feeling a bit overwhelmed getting started. Hopefully in the next few days we will get our routine down and it will not be a big deal.

Today I feel like I am treading water and trying to make sure I don't fall way behind-and at the same time this is supposed to be fun and it is important to keep balance in life, soooooo..........
THE GOAL FOR THIS WEEK IS: Keep things short and sweet, I am trying to make sure to have everything ready before we train, have everything planned in my mind and do really, really short, sweet sessions. I do think that my training skills will be improved by having to learn to work more efficiently and keeping the time spent much shorter.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some thoughts on tugging....from a TUG-tard

First off let me say I was hesitant to even post this because I do not want to sound like an expert or like what works for us would work for everyone else. I was always a tug-tard and felt like I squashed all my dogs play instincts-not that I wanted to, I just did not understand how to inspire play with my dogs, even though I really wanted to. Ricky's mom asked a few days ago how we found our tug, esp. with Chloe and Breeze who would not tug. Liz was a good tugger but at some point in her life decided she would choose not to tug most of the time, I figured that was me working my non-play magic, ahhhhh... hers was mostly gone. It took me awhile to answer but I had to think....So ya can all groan...hahahahahaha, but I am going to do a few posts on some of what we found worked for us. OF COURSE I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE AN EXPERT, I was just a frustrated trainer who tried a few pretty simple things that for us made a lot of difference-but I definitely have no masters in dog play but I can say I am pretty happy with what we have now. My dogs are FANTASTIC TUGGERS now and I really treasure what we have- because the dogs have more excitement when we train, even if it is training with food.

When I had non-tuggers, I found the whole thing intimidating. You know it seems that everyone tells you you have to get your performance dog to tug and tells you how much you are missing out of if your dog is not a tugger. It seems like a lot of training videos or seminar presenters assume we all have a great tug. If your dog didn't tug they do not always tell you how you can create some of that excitement with food or tell you how to get it, so often then just tell you how much you NEED it. Hummm...I always resented that talk to tell you the truth. My dogs did not tug and I tried a lot of things to shape it, different things to tempt them, lots of different toys and toys with different textures and toys that were supposed to bring out the tugging instinct, I worried about it and tried to get my dogs to tug.. but it just was not happening. To tell you the truth it ticked me off to keep hearing we should have this great tug but no one would give me any clues about how to get this. I wish I had a good answer and could market a formula because I know a lot of people feel like I felt. Unfortunately I can only share what I think made it easier for my dogs and for me to be in a place where play flourished a little more and tug sort of came out of that.

The interesting thing is that we were not actually working on a tug and not really trying to get a tug per say when we finally were able to find out inner TUGGERS and bring them to life. So I am not the expert on tugging but I do think it is worth perhaps sharing a little of some of what I think made a difference, because even if we had not got tugging, it made a huge difference in the excitement level of our training. So anyone can take it for what it is worth...I will probably make a few posts...but these are just some things that worked for us.

I know what I would have said earlier B.T. (before tugging ;) ), like why do I care or why bother-we do OK without it? Hey, I do not think tugging is a necessary thing, although it is a really nice thing to have because a lot of times I do not have to use food, or find as many treats....I enjoy feeling like we are playing and not like I am just dolling out treats-it is more fun for me, but I do notice even if I am training with food now there is a new level of excitement that really makes things more fun for all of us.

I will go out and try to get some video today of one of the things I think really helped us one of which is TREAT DELIVERY, or how I learned to reward behaviors with food that helped us add a little more playful behavior and excitement. So how is that for a teaser? ;-)

My AMAZING dogs at the park!

WHOWZA!!!! Have I said lately how much my dogs just blow me away! For the last few days during our recall practices at the park, Lizzie has been so spot on and done her recalls so well-- straight out of the car. This is the dog that had no recall for so long, I think repeating the recallers course is going to be so good for her. Breeze of course is fantastic and loved chasing the Orbee, and looked so fast until I saw Cricket taking her turn. Cricket just hunkers down and runs- I can not believe how fast she runs. It is AMAZING-she just looks like she is flying. Of course Crickets recalls have always been amazing and to see her running full speed at me when I call, boy it makes every minute we put into practicing recalls seem so worth it. I can not tell you how fantastic it felt to be out at the park,enjoying the fresh air and just watching how happy the doggies were.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks and what has been going on with that Aframe?

THANKS SOOO MUCH TO EVERYONE for checking out my video from the Susan Garrett Recallers contest and supporting me. I was VERY honored to be selected as one of the final fifteen out of two hundred videos that were submitted. I did not make it to the top five videos who are the winners-they will win a free ecourse to the next project and some other mystery prizes, but I came in around eight or ninth video in vote numbers, so I am pretty proud of that. Everyone who entered did get a free recallers course so that is pretty cool. It has been a long time since I have won anything so it was a big ego boost to have been picked and the support I got really made me feel very happy!

As far as my training....
I have been working with Cricket on the running Aframe using Rachel Saunders method of running Aframe which utilizes a PVC box to help the dog learn how to go over the Aframe and still hit the yellow contact area. As with all good things, was going so well, pretty much without a hitch and all of a sudden we just had a huge backslide. Cricket had the box on the Aframe and was consistently hitting the top of the box. I moved the box higher like the instructions say and she would still hit the top of the box, it was weird and I could not figure out what was going on.

Last week I was finally ready to buckle down and get busy working on the aframe again and by Friday I decided I had to really video and watch every practice session, I made up a flow sheet to try to account for every variable I could think of so I could try to figure out why our performance was not looking so hot after it had been going so well.

Sorry this is pretty boring, you can skip it-but I am into keeping records right now!!!
Here is what happened the last few days:

Thursday march 17: I took my aframe and took it apart so it was flat and positioned two jumps on the upside of the Aframe and put the box on the yellow contact zone. We got a 100% success rate on four tries, then the whole setup was just too unstable and the jumps were falling down, the box was bouncing around when Cricket was hitting the aframe before the box, so I had to abandon that plan ;-).

Friday March 18:I bought some more chain to lower the aframe, it is pretty low now, around 4 1/2 feet. 6 out of 7 tries were successful-two hits on the way down from the top, all four feet in the box and not touching the pvc with her feet. I have the pvc box about one slat above the contact zone, that gives us a second hit about a third the way down into the yellow, looking good! The one unsuccessful try was a two hit try but the first hit was the third slat down the Aframe and then one on the fourth slat and then leaping to the ground without hitting the contact zone. On that try I was positioned in front of the Aframe and moving.

Saturday March 19:We did grids on the ground and I could have SWORN we had a 100% success rate. I got the video inside and watched it in slow motion because I figured I could not take anything for granted.....well, 4 out of 7 tries Cricket nicked her back feet on the PVC box as she went out, What was that about. I had noticed over the past few days that there was a LOT of Cricket curling around to look at me or tracking the toy as I threw it.

Plan....look at another way to deliver the treat. I could beg my daughter to come out and throw the toy...I could place a toy in front on the ground which would mean I would have to use a non reward marker, and I really am concerned about dampening her enthusiasm esp if we end up with a lot of non rewardable tries....use the manners minder-although Cricket isn't wild about the MM so I think Iwould have to increase the value if I want to use that...hummmmm...

Sunday March 20Aframe was once again lowered as low as it goes. I decided to take out my movement while we figured this whole thing out....I got my daughter to throw the toy for me...I did not position myself too far forward. 6 out of 7 tries were successful. The first four times Cricket still was curling way back to look at me, but the last two tries she was looking back less and anticipating the toy being thrown in front of her.

1. practicing on the Aframe about 3 times a week
2. continue trying to have someone else throw the toy as a reward-maybe work on the manners minder to increase its value.
3. work grids and work a lot to the front of the box, work more handler movement for now
4. continue documenting all I can and video taping so that I can have a record and so that I can see what is going on!
5. just work on grids and the lowered Aframe until we can get a success rate greater then 80% on the grids with more movement on my part and with more handling around the grids-rear crosses, front crosses, push past, etc...

It was sort of bumming me out that things were falling apart and everything I was trying was not working so after a good week of really watching more closely...I think I am a lot more aware of what is going on, so hopefully....we are back on a good path ;-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

A favor please! ;-)

Yippie! The video I made for the Susan Garrett contest made it into the final 15. If ya all would not mind voting for it today.....I would be so grateful!

Mine is the number 4 choice "Five Minutes is Not a Lot of Time" THANKS!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Practice at the park

Cricket was such a good girl, the nice weather brought out a lot of kids, bikes, joggers and still she was off leash and never seemed to consider being distracted by all the activity at the park. I should have planned and been more deliberate with handling-but I had not thought she would do so good so we were just sort of winging it-Crickets weave entries were terrific today even with my sloppy handling! The trees work really well and save me from having to haul a lot of obstacles to the park.

CRICKET-What a fantastic girl!!!

I was so proud of Breeze-this is her first time weaving in a long time because of her injuries and mine, and she was doing great.


Poor Liz, she has done so much better staying with me, but this park is right by a big street, and there are no fences, and I was just not brave enough to have her out doing weaves off leash-sorry Liz!

Monday, March 14, 2011

entry practice...

I was working on a contact board with some garden fencing for guides to help Cricket figure out how to straighten herself out and load onto the board straight. Hopefully that will help with more independant contacts and keeping her safe on the contacts. I did not push the fencing in all the way so if her foot slipped it would not get caught and when she started on the teeter I put some chicken wire between the fencing and her in case she slipped. Her teeter was not as nice as usual..., I think the guides looked way different with the chicken wire tents, so she was paying a little too much attention there. Anyway, love Crickets enthusiasm and how she figures things out, have I said lately how much I love Cricket?

Here is the link for the Sylvia Turkman long distance classes I was talking about yesterday. If anyone else is taking the class and wants to exchange videos or "work together", it would be fun to have a little group ;-) if anyone else was interested.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Putting the Fun in FUNdamentals

I am EXCITED that I have a plan!

Daylight savings time is here, there are some little yellow flower on our Jasmine plant, the days are getting longer and warmer, there are ants trying to invade the house...all signs of spring. Spring- a starting of a new chapter and a time to renew my plans and goals for training-a very exciting time!

I was a bit bummed when our local agility classes started up again and I could not sign up because my hamstring is still pretty sore. Some days I can run a little bit, which feels so nice, but then it has some harder days. I do not want to risk reinjuring myself and I plan on doing some yoga and it is getting better slowly but surly, it is a lot better then it was. Things usually work out for the best, and it is looking like it is going to be ok even if my original plans of getting back to the agility classes this month did not work out- I was able to sign up for two e-classes I am very excited to be doing and I think they will be great for us in the long run.

First Susan Garrett is having her recall class again, she said she is adding some things,most of it is just stuff you can never practice too much and we had a great time. As a bonus because I made a video about our experience taking the course last is FREE, and FREE is good! (I posted the video and got it fixed so people can see it in my last post)

Next Sylvia Turkman opened another long distance puppy class, and looking at her videos of puppy classes, it sounds AWESOME. She says that you get a list of things to work on every two weeks for three months, I think that will keep us busy and out of trouble, so i am very excited. Someone asked about who the class was appropriate for, and this is what she said:

LoLaBu on March 10, 2011 at 21:46
I agree, it’s never too much foundations and it sometimes is too much technical handling instead of training the basics and having fun with the dog. So I would definitely advise foundations, it’s not just for puppies and it’s so different from normal basic agility classes that I think it’s appropriate even for experienced competition dogs, especially those who could use some work on turns as cik&cap will be our major focus. And for body awareness and fun, puppy/tricks class is the best choice – again, it’s not just for puppies, but anybody interested in dog training and working on little details (that can improve the big picture enormously).

More work on cik/cap should be great and it looks like there will be things we can really have a lot of fun with. I Hope it is not going to be too many things to work on at one time...I really think it is going to be very fun and challenging Spring for the Bordergirls Gang!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Procrastination does pay....

Sometimes it DOES pay to procrastinate....well, sort of...LOL

Since daylight savings time was over last fall, I must have looked at the clock in the car a MILLION times and thought....I really should change the time to the regular time. The kids ask me all the time..."Is that the real time Mom?"...NOOOOOO, that is last daylight savings time, and unfortunately we were not on daylight savings time.

Changing the time would have involved fishing out the owners manual and finding the section that explains the magic combo of buttons to change the time. Well, I almost changed the time last weekend, then I was listening to the news and they said DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME IS COMING THIS WEEKEND!

THANK HEAVENS I DID NOT CAVE AND CHANGE THE TIME, otherwise I probably would have spent the whole summer with the correct WINTER time on my car clock, LOL. Surely I would not have remembered from one day to the next how to change the time.

Last summer I took the Susan Garrett 5 min Formula for a Brilliant Recall course, and really felt like I got a lot out of it, and when I heard she was going to repeat it, I was going to go ahead and pay to take it again.....but SG posted that she was having a contest, and if you had taken the course last time, you could post a video about the course and everyone who posted a video would get a free recallers course. Five people will win a free tuition to the next course she is going to do on something else yet to be announced.

ANYWAY, this is my submission. There are some really cute videos that have been posted by others so it was almost a little intimidating to post a video to facebook. This ended up longer then I had wanted, but I did not want to edit baby Cricket doing her recall out, LOL. What a great marketer SG is, getting her name out there and getting people to advertise!

and if that link does not work, this is the vimeo link for the same video ;-)

video about our recall course from kathy bordergirlsmom on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


"I have a very important job, watching those kittens, I will not let my mom down!"

"Hummm, I will not let those kittens out of my sight, ...I don't see them but if I stare at the spot they used to be ...I am sure they will reappear and mom will never know they got out of my sight!" The kittens remind me of the Siamese Twin cats from Lady and the Tramp-they like to tease the poor dog who is just trying to keep up with her guard duties!

Here Pixie has left...and Ashe is getting ready to make a break. Cricket says "Mama I am watching and I will let you know if either of those cats try to make a break for it-don't worry I am watching!" She really never turned and looked at the cats, LOL, she is such a funny girl, but you can sure tell the cats are not afraid of her anymore.

HOW DID YOU GET THERE ASHE? And WHERE is that durn Pixie?

I think that Cricket is in reality a little afraid to actually stare directly at the kitties, she thinks she will lose them if she looks at them with her powerful stare, so she does a lot of sideways stares or looking right by the side of them,-that is the only thing I can figure out she is doing when she looks like she is so intently staring at the cats and I can see they just are not there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Daisy Peel in California!

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Daisy Peel Seminar this last weekend.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her style of teaching. I thought she was great and really included working teams and auditors alike. She talked about the basic six cues that all dogs pretty naturally read-

MOTION-main cue

Then we had some short exercises where you could isolate the cues and see how they affected what your dog understood. A handler/dog team would run a particular sequence and because it was a small sequence and as observers we could position ourselves nice and close where it was very easy to see how things like a handler continuing to give lots of forward cues but yelling at the dog to turn just did not work.

Daisy had us do something that I found very helpful-when we would walk the sequence that was coming up....we were supposed to make seven columns on our notes. In the first column we would put the obstacle number where there was a critical handling spot. Then the next six columns were each labeled with one of the handling cues -motion, shoulders, location, arms/hands, verbal, and eye contact. For each place that needed handling you were supposed to go through and say at obstacle three you were supposed to put what your motion would be doing, what your location would be, etc....across all the columns. Daisy would read the plan before the handler ran to see if they were able to follow their plan. What Daisy said about that was you should learn to plan what you were going to do at certain points and then practice it that way, maybe you will find out you were wrong about what was needed but do it that way to see. I could see over time that would lead to a better awareness of the cues and how you were using them.

Another thing I found very interesting was that Daisy said was that we should all sit down and write our own handling system. Think about what you need for the courses you run, look at other handling systems and see what meets your needs, but develop a systematic approach to handling so you do not confuse your dog and ask for conflicting things. She also pointed out that you need to accept the downsides of your handling system, say for instance if you decide to train your dog to assume every set of two jumps side by side is going to be a 180, if you have a lot of 180's in the venue you trial in that might be very handy....but know if you do see a threadle you are going to have to work REALLY hard to get that. Being aware of your handling system helps you be consistent which makes you more fun to play with.

We ended up running a short sequence where she would keep asking everyone to think of other ways to run it. Being able to run sequences in a lot of different ways lets you practice and have a lot more skills to pull from.

One of the most profound things Daisy said right before we left that running agility is like driving a car...when you watch someone driving a car it looks like their hands never move and looks very smooth, but when you actually drive you are constantly moving your wheel and adjusting, correcting and making slight movements. She said all agility is like that too, it will always feel sloppy and like you are just hanging on. She said if you are doing it right you should never be just standing around and waiting, hummm. I found that thought very reassuring.

I found the seminar very useful with a lot of ideas about how I can practice more effectively, so that was GREAT! I really liked that the skills she talked about were presented in a way that I do think I could plug that understanding into a lot of more difficult courses, which was refreshing. I would DEFINITELY attend another Daisy Peel seminar in the future!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Liberation Day for the kitties!

Well, I don't know about anyone else, but when ever I have got little rescue kittens...they usually come with umm....friends. The type of unwelcome friends like bugs and viruses. My vet had advised me to quarantine the kittens for awhile to make sure that we did not spread anything through the house since we do have a lot of animals.

Luckily the kitties Ashe and Pixie did not get the upper respiratory infection that is so common with cats from shelters or rescues. They would sneeze just enough to make me worry, but not enough to do anything about. The kitties did have some roundworms, a few fleas and ear mites, and of course a huge bout of diarrhea trying to get their diet straightened out, but the vet said that after five days...they could be let loose and so Sunday is the day!

I did try to make their confinement as nice as I could, the girls and I have worked over time cutting up boxes to make little puzzles and things they could run through, and we have all spent a lot of time in my bathroom, LOL, and we have got a ton of toys for the kittens, but boy we will all be happy to just let them out.

I was taking the Pam Dennison ecourse on multidog households and I have used some of the ideas from that to work with the dogs and the kittens and Cricket has seen the kittens playing in front of her on the floor and she has left them alone-just watching. I was so proud of her. We have done a lot of work in the past two weeks, but it sure seems to have been worth it. The kitties who were terrified of dogs were at the vets and three different dogs came in right in front of them and they just calmly looked. The only members of the house hold that have not had a chance to make peace and make friends is Kimmie the cat and the two kittens. Kimmie seems to want to see them, but Ashe especially will hiss an make a fuss if she sees Kimmie. So hopefully they will work that all out once they are FREE!

I have to admit I have had a blast watching the kittens and having two sure has made it easier especially since I needed to keep them seprate until we got everything straightened out. They are the sweetest kittens!