Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR and some more on Aframe lesson with Rachel Sanders


I hope 2012 if full of new adventures and great surprises for everyone!

BOY, do I have a list of resolutions. I have been working on some goal setting programs, and there is sure room for improvement for me in that area. One thing I have been having trouble with is posting to my blog.

I promised awhile back to post about my running aframe and what I learned from Rachel Saunders during our private lesson.

Going back to when I was teaching Breeze a four on the floor, when that method first came out....I trained that and actually feel like we did a great job with it. Of course we did it before the second round of articles Ann Croft put out so a bunch of the things she addressed in the second round of articles were training issues that I had messed up with and had to figure out how to fix them.

When I started Crickets contacts I wanted to try a running aframe. I wish I had not wasted so much time going back and forth and had just went for it, but doing a running aframe was a bit scary for me. I am a slow runner, I feel like I have so many skills to learn as far as handling which will make the running aframe a little harder perhaps, and I really had no one around me learning it at the same time. Just like the four on the floor with Breeze, there were a few parts of the running aframe training with Rachel's method that I feel like I did not fully understand. Rachel is releasing a second running aframe DVD very shortly that I think will address some of those things. You know if I understood a few things I would have been done with my aframe and moved on a LONG time ago and it would have caused me a lot less worry, LOL.

So as far as my lesson, I started out telling Rachel the saga of our running aframe and all the steps we had taken. I fully admitted we started with the box, and the grids on the ground, then back chained on the aframe to the box, then slowly raised the aframe. At a certain point Cricket was VERY consistent about putting her left front foot right on top of the "box", two hits but a little bit of a step with her foot above the box, so only three feet in the box.

The criteria for the aframe when the pvc box in place is....
1. four feet in the box--which means four feet in the contact zone
2. two hits on the aframe

Well, I was very afraid to accept how Cricket was CONSISTENTLY doing the aframe because I did not want it to deteriorate and leave me wondering what to do once I broke down my original PVC box training.

Here is where I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache and time if I had just sent a video to Rachel and asked for some help. A few quick questions would have taken care of the problem and clarified things, if it took more then that I could have paid for her time, but I think most people who put out a method of training would really like to help people with quick questions rather then have their method twisted and messed up, LOL. In my case I know now Rachel would have said to take the pvc box off the aframe and to move on a long time ago-because Cricket was so consistent in how she chose to perform the aframe.

So the way I chose to fix the three foot problem was to put a stride regulator in place. I had to admit this to Rachel knowing she REALLY does not want to see a stride regulator used. I do not want to speak for her but my UNDERSTANDING is that even if you want to think of the pvc box as a stride regulator, it is a stride regulator with CRITERIA. The dog has a job and can work to do it. A stride regulator is just something that is trying to mechanically force a dog to do what you want. Hummmm, guess I see why the stride regulator was not a great idea, but truly it was the only way to get the behavior since Cricket was so used to sticking that one foot down BEFORE the PVC box it was a habit. The stride regulator did get the behavior.

After talking to Rachel I should have just taken the box off. The second thing I did not understand until after my lesson was that the criteria we used for the PVC box was for the PVC box, but once that box was off, the criteria for the aframe changed. Now with the box off it is perfectly acceptable to have three feet in the yellow as the criteria. If I need to put the box on then we go back to the four feet in the box as the criteria. I think before this I would have been way too fast to put that box back on, it should not be a crutch.

So as far as a lot of Crickets hits being rather high up in the contact zone Rachel said what I have heard Silvia Trkman say ....namely that as the dog gains confidence and relaxes into their running contact dogs with high hits will usually normally start hitting lower into the contact zone and so she thinks Crickets aframe will be fine. She also said that dogs that hit really far down into the contact zone will settle in and start hitting a little higher up, so you just have to sort of let them settle into how their performance will be as they gain confidence.

Rachel also said to make sure to help Cricket sort of settle and get ready for the aframe before she approaches it and for now to do everything I can to be out even with her or in front because she does not totally understand doing her aframe while I am decelerating behind her, so some good tips for when we do our first few trials. Rachel gave me hints about to look for that could still break down with our aframe, but said to send her a video and ask if any of those things that was really nice of her.

It was sooo funny because when I told Rachel I had used a stride regulator she kept asking WHY would I do that? She was kidding that her next DVD was going to have a big picture of a stride regulator with a line through it for NO STRIDE REGULATORS. A little while later we were watching another dog work, a puppy starting his aframe and I was filming, we were having trouble seeing what his feet were doing so Rachel says hummmm, I need to think for a minute about what we want to do here....I said "Do you think we should stick on a stride regulator" LOL, good thing she has a great sense of humor!!!

Just a few min. of the first couple aframes we tried with the box...then we did some without the box and a few in sequences.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!!!

It is Christmas Eve, and of course I had left a lot of shopping until the last minute. Suprisingly the stores were fairly empty, even Costco ;-). I got home and was rushing to wrap the gifts while the kids were out of the house....I did not get to practice agility again today....and I can not find several of the gifts I got....apparently I am a good present hider. LOL. On top of prepairing for the meal tomorrow (black bean and tofu enchiladas with green sauce, ummmmmm!) I was worried about Pixie.

All of a sudden Pixie's litter box revealed some string laden droppings and my youngest daughter who has been a butt searching the house, who I am almost 100% certain has found all her gifts ;-( on the computer and found the Norad Santa Tracker just like we have every year of her life. Emma said she wanted to get Santa his milk and cookies set out,as she noticed Santa was leaving Mexico and headed here, hahahaah ;-) (my daughter is 14 years old). All of a sudden the magic of Christmas was here and things all felt good as any troubles melted away.

The dogs-Cricket, Lizzie, Breeze, Skyler, Chloe, The cats- Pixie, Ashe, Kimmie and I hope you all have a holiday celebration that is safe, happy and filled with joy. I love my internet friends and really hope you have a great holiday, give your furry friends a hug and an extra treat from us!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pixie this afternoon

So far so good, after two very expensive shots and half the day at the vet -they could not make Pixie throw up, so they sent her home to be watched. The vet said that if she was lethargic, or got diarrhea to rush her to the emergency vet. So far Pixie was looking pretty drugged up and no activity in the litter box, so hopefully it will be a quiet Christmas weekend for Pix. It is a bit worrisome because Pixie is being very sweet and cuddly, she is usually pretty aloof, her sister is the cuddler. We fixed up the kitty Palace/Dungeon so I could keep a better eye on her and know for sure if she is eating and whose poos we find in the litter box. WHY does it always seem things like this happen on holidays or weekends when the vets you know are not going to be around? So far so good though.

Pixie needs some good thoughts!

We need some special healing thoughts or prayers for Pixie today. My daughter came out of her room with Pixie in her arms and a long piece of thread, like sewing thread sticking out of her mouth. I tried to gentle pull the string out but it was STUCK and doing that seemed to really hurt Pixie, the string broke ;-(, so I knew that was not a good thing.

I threw on some clothes and rushed her to the vets. The vet could not see the thread in her throat so now Pixie is in the vets and they are going to try to induce vomiting. If she doesn't vomit, or they don't find the thread the vet says she wants to have her transferred to the emergency vets for the night to watch her, and of course surgery might be necessary.

Pixie is just over a year old-she is a tiny little girl that we got along with her sister last Valentines day weekend from a pet adoption fair. It is the first time we have got siblings like that and these girls love each other and have always been together. Pixie is the more shy of the two and the more scared, Ashe her sister is a very confident girl but Pixie looks to her sister for support a lot so this has to be really hard on her to be in a strange place without her support system.

I feel bad, I guess maybe I should have just rushed her to the vet when I saw the thread, but I was really hoping it was just in the top back of her throat, so I really was not sure what I should have done when I found the thread.

Anyway, will let you know when I hear what is happening and hopefully Pixie will be just fine for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Lesson with Rachel Saunders for Cricket and I

I had a real red letter day on Sunday and got to enjoy a really cool Christmas gift.....I got two hours of private lessons with none other then Rachel Saunders! How cool is that? ;-). I have to admit I was a little intimidated trying to think of what to say I wanted to concentrate on....there is so much Cricket/I need, so many areas to work on, so hard to narrow it down.

I was really surprised that Cricket had as many skills as she does. Rachel said that she has a LOT of skills and is doing really well. where could the problem be-who needs to get more SKILZ? I bet anyone who has done agility can guess! IT'S ME!

Rachel was talking about how agility is one of the hardest sports to really do correctly with a really high level of skill esp with a fast, highly driven dog. She said you have to have the skills of a football player- like when you need to get someplace but still need to keep your shoulders and eyes turned to the dog while you are moving in another direction. Of course there is that little deal where so many times you really do need to be at just the right place-which can be HARD. She said that most times when people are out of position they are only 18 inches to 3 feet out of place, not that much out of place distance wise, but enough that it looks like something totally different to the dog. Add to the whole picture the fact that you are working with another being with their own mind. The timing of a lot of things has to be pretty precise so not a really easy sport to do well. Amazing we all do as well as we do ;- ). ANYWAY, it made me feel a little better that sometimes things that seem they should be so simple just seem so hard-and made me feel better when a few sequences that looked really easy took me a long time to get correct ;).

It seems like Rachel is really good at working with a student and giving a little road map for how to progress after your lesson. Rachel talked to me about how to structure my practices so even working alone I can continue to make progress in my handling, gave me a rough time line for how long things should take, what she felt I should concentrate on and even a lot of tips about how to handle my running aframe, where I needed to be and how I needed to support the aframe while Cricket is still getting comfortable and settling into that.

All in all private lessons like that are really a luxury for me, esp at this time of the year.... To be very frank, I was not sure that doing a private lesson like that was the best use of my resources, but after I was done I really thought it was well worth it especially because that lesson sort of gave me a frame work for making sure I could keep making progress-and I have been a little stalled out lately, between my foot and just getting to a level where I was not sure where to go from here. I was really glad I did it, and in a few months I will probably go to Rachel's and take another lesson. I do not have any lessons I can take now, so I do save quite a bit of money because I do not have to pay for those, and I feel like by going to someone who has a handling system I really like, and having a lesson tailored to what my dog and I need, and being able to get help from someone with a handling system very similar to what I want to do is not something I can do every day but it might be something to help us keep moving forward.

I have a lot of video, so I will am going to try to get some more posted, and I would like to post about my work on the aframe, so that will be coming in a day or two!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Keep those feet moving! ;-)

I got Silvia Trkmans new DVD a few weeks ago,
Speed and Conditioning
I must say I am a big Silvia Trkman fan, so I like most of her stuff but I LOVED this DVD. I thought there were just some great ideas that are just things you can incorporate into your regular life, a few things to teach and think about, but basic stuff to keep your dog in shape and to encourage a more playful attitude of your dogs and to get dogs feeling like moving faster and having more fun.
This is the link where you can buy the dvd if you are interested.

While you are on the sight check out the blog entry she wrote about being too slow for your dog. It came at a cool time because when I went to the Daisy Peel seminar in September she talked a lot about how if you just keep moving deliberately and don't stop, you can get to a lot of places that would surprise you and keep up much better then you think. Daisy showed us by making some people who could NOT get to where they needed to be for their dogs RUNNING as fast as they could,.....she made them WALK without stopping to the position they needed to be, and without exception the people had no trouble getting to where they needed to be when they were walking deliberately without stopping. It is a trippy concept that I have been trying to wrap my head around since I was at the seminar, so this blog entry was especially interesting to me.

Learning how to keep moving more and keep from planting my feet does not come naturally to me and it is a goal I am working on. It is AMAZING how I could SWEAR that I kept moving with out stopping only to watch the video where it looks like I am a tree with my feet firmly planted into the ground. I can not claim I am making a lot of progress but I am video taping my practice and really trying to become more aware ;-).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The state of our Contacts...

Some contact practice. This is just the aframe and dog walk.

I am happy because I was getting some higher hits on the aframe but it seems to be doing better again, and I was getting some pretty creepy dog walks and Cricket would stop on the down ramp before her position, so I am pretty happy that she is getting much more confident on that and driving into position better, YIPPIE!

Have I said Lately how much fun it is to work with Cricket? It is starting to meld a little more despite the time we lost with my durn hurt foot.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is getting added to "The List" after Daisy Peels seminar

So what did I get from the Daisy Peel seminar, well, the first big reminder I got was that with a baby dog I need to make sure to support obstacles way better, just like if I was driving a car I have to keep my blinker out longer and make it more obvious because she is a baby dog so she questions herself... and not expect a new dog to do things like say send to obstacles right off the bat, YIKES, that is a problem because I am slow, so it is hard to be at all the places my Cricket should be supported. I do think I am on the right track with doing smaller sequences so I can be there,and we have done a lot of the cik/cap work from Silvia Trkman so that send work will help her understand ;-).

Another thing to put on my list of things to work on is that when I run I usually am VERY quiet, I have always tried to shut up so my dogs learn to watch me and not rely on verbals. WELL, when I took lessons with Alicia she used to get on me to tell my dogs "over" in some places and I just never really understood why or where that was really necessary, so I had a light bulb moment....when I am not going past the plane of the obstacle I need to say "over" to support it. Duh....such an easy concept but lets see if I can do it!

The other BIG thing I really need to work on is remembering with a young, new dog is that to build up confidence I need to give her a lot more feedback. Daisy pointed out that on course you have roughly twice as many opportunities to praise your dog and give feedback as there are obstacles on course. You have the dogs decision to go to the obstacle you can reward and then performing the obstacles themselves. The reward can just be some praise and feedback that they are on the right track, just a "yes" or "good" as they take the right obstacle or read where you wanted them to go. Hummm, another one of those communication issues, guess I am going to have to get used to talking more on course.

I know there were a lot of other things that we will need to work on, but those were the biggies that I am itching to get out and try, the things that really hit where I am at with Cricket.

The thing she talked about that I really am NOT excited about working on is she gave a lot of tips about how to run more efficiently and how to work on making the most of your abilities in that department. I am soooo out of shape after having the broken foot and not working out, not that I had started out in any type of amazing shape before the broken foot but it is BAD and embarrassing how out of shape I am now, so esp after this weekend I am acknowledging that I got to get off my hiney and do better in that area ;-(, I am TRYING to get excited about that, hahahahaha, but I bet you can tell that I am not doing great at getting excited.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Weekend-a Daisy Peel Seminar

WELL, we did not blow away yet. The day we were supposed to get the really scary winds, it was pretty windy, but not the killer winds.

I had a great little bonding weekend with Cricket-she was the chosen dog who got to go on an adventure. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at the Daisy Peel seminar-WHOOT! The first day of the seminar was AWESOME in terms of information but it was soooooo cold. My little toes felt like they were going to snap off. There were a really wild wind so we all spend the day huddled together so we could hear, LOL. LUCKILY it was a really super awesome group of people at the seminar and the cold weather bonded us together as we all complained and shivered all day in the cold ;-)

I was going to drive back and forth during the weekend but decided to stay because we were going to start the seminar really early on Sunday. Cricket was not at all sure about the scary hotel room, LOL, she just always seems so happy and confident, but then she reminds me she is a border collie and some odd thing will really throw her--that is when you see that wild, take on the world attitude crumble and she melts because the hotel had ceramic floor in the bathroom and she knew there could be evil associated with that, LOL. What a nut! It was funny that even when Cricket was worried about the hotel room...I pulled out the toy and it was instantly GAME ON! She has her priorities and you gotta put your worries aside if someone is willing to play a good game of tug. You have to love a dog with that type of attitude.

I really love my little Crickster, she is just so much fun. She has just enough naughtiness to make her really funny, she has just enough oddness to keep her really interesting, just enough weirdness to give us new little things to work on-she has the bounce back to act really wigged out but then like with the hotel fairly quickly she can relax and settle in and get over it. I just fell in love with her all over because she was such a good girl.

At the seminar the area is surrounded by trees and open areas, so I was able to let Cricket run loose, even with other loose dogs running around. I have not had that many dogs that I would just feel totally comfortable with letting them run off leash. Breeze and Chloe are dogs that naturally is off leash trust worthy but as a puppy I never did the foundation and work I have done with Cricket, so they are not as trust worthy off leash but they don't have the same instant recall that Cricket does-there could be weird things happen where I could see them not would have to be something really weird could happen. I was working Cricket during lunch time and Daisy took Juno out and Juno her dog was moving very fast and for a split second I saw Crickets eyes and auto brain took over and she was going to say HI to that fast moving, exciting dog. I was really worried because I could tell the thinking brain had snapped off, but I called and little Cricket did not even think she whirled around and came back-I guess all that recall work paid for itself this weekend.

-hummmm, not sure what to think-LOL!

Cricket did not get to work during the seminar but she did get to work at lunch and Dave who owns the field said I could stay after the seminar on Sunday so Cricket did get to try some of the sequences and work. She was so funny with her dog walk, it was just a little different surface on the dog walk then she is used to and I have worked on getting her to drive to the end. WELL, mission accomplished she is driving to the end and has sort of a sliding dog walk contact, she rocks back into a down and slides into position. With the different surface though the first few times she just slide past the 2020 point into a lovely four on the floor, LOL. I really liked how it looked, I LOVED the speed, she seemed really solid-the stickiness at the end where she stops a few feet away or slows down as she is half way down the down ramp-that is GONE-I am so happy to see that gone.... I know I need to stick to criteria, and we can just work on her working harder to stick in the exact right position but will be interesting to see what we get on a few other dog walks. I think we need to seek out some more equipment ;-).

I wonder if the end of the dog walk is better because I have been doing Jen Penders two teeter work with Cricket trying to get rid of a hesitation and slow down she was getting at the tip point???