Saturday, January 30, 2016

Puppy Bumps

Had a super fun puppy agility class with Vixen today! During the week we struggled with her cone work at our training hall, but during class she rocked it! Whenever I experience two very different results of an exercise, it is usually due to a factor outside the dogs own “understanding” of an exercise. For this, I expect it was due to the flooring.

The matting at our training hall is very slippery; the matting at The Training Hall has a texture to it which almost completely eliminates the slipping. It is such good matting that I can ever do weaving exercises with Indie on it.

Today we also bumped up the “fun” on the two crate game we have been playing. The two crate game is fairly simple; teach your dog to power from one crate to another, on a straight line. It is a great game for building a reliable start line stay, and also for teaching your dog to focus forward (on their line). It also gives the handler and opportunity to practice leading out laterally – your dog should focus forward no matter how close or far away you are.

Since Vixen was easily running 20’ between crates, we threw in a winged jump with a jump bump. Her first jump was super cute and very puppy like.

We did maybe 10 more reps of this and I could tell it was beginning to make her tired so we put it away for the day.

I love this little dog.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Puppy Back in Action

Vixen and I had a fabulous puppy agility class today! We have been out of it since Christmas, so we were both glad to be back at it.

While away, we have been playing our crate games to very little applause. In class we were finally forced out of our comfort-zone (you know the one where neither you nor your dog can do no wrong) by our coach. It is good to get a kick-in-the-pants sometimes. We were encouraged (I say that like we had a choice) to move on to the Two Crate Game that is designed to encourage speed, driving the line, focus forward, and independent performance. Basically you race from one crate to another. All the rules of crate games apply – as in your dog must sit before being released from the crate. This also helps build a great start-line-stay for when working in the ring. Criteria…it all about the criteria. And being consistent! Over the next week we will add in distractions and maybe even a jump bump! Woot-woot!

Vixen was FAB! and we quickly built up to about a 20 foot distance between the two crates. She is a smokin’ fast little dog!

Our next task was to advance our cone work. She has great tight turns on a single cone, so we were pushed to start two cone handling with front crosses, post turns, and get this….a threadle!! She nailed it! Who’d have thought a little munchkin puppy could be threadling at such a tender age. I credit the brilliance of H360!

Our next cone exercise was the dreaded – but incredible necessary – “send-n-go”! What we are looking for is for the handler to cue the obstacle (or send…and in this case to a traffic cone) and then “go” (or leave in the opposite direction). A dog should understand that once their handler cues an obstacle, they should commit to it no matter what the handler does afterwards. We challenge little herding dogs with this because they often will “pull off” (a refusal fault) an obstacle before taking it once they see the handler leaving and running off in the other direction. We had about a 50% success rate on this one – a hard one for little puppy brains.

Our last exercise was teeter work. Vixen had already had one session of restrained recalls across the teeter plank when it was on two 24” tables. We started with more of the same as a refresher. Once she was comfortable was started to add in a tip – just 1” at a time. The tip didn’t phase her at all, so we will pick up here during our next session working up to a few inches of tip. We will go slow, but not too slow as to hinder progress.

She will also be 6 months old this coming Thursday. Where did the time go? I was hoping it would hold out until then, but her puppy collar was just a little too snug so I caved an bought her a new one.

I did this without forethought though. I purchased another pink one, without consulting my husband. As he does most of the dog walking on leash, I thought perhaps he would like a colour other than pink. I did ask him when I got home, and he said he didn’t care. Excellent news. I see more pink…and maybe rhinestones…in our future.  :-P

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Indie and I went to our first trial of 2016 this weekend (Eric and Vixen came for the ride too) hosted by the Montréal Agility Club! The hold the event a giant indoor soccer arena in Saint-Eustache. I planned for four runs Friday, and four runs early Saturday, so I could still get home at a reasonable hour and still enjoy the weekend. Plus I had to teach on Sunday at Best Friends.

Indie has never run particularly well at this venue, and I have yet to determine why. This weekend was no different. While he absolutely gave me his all, little things just didn’t come together. I don’t do many rear crosses in my handling anymore, but I did have to do a few this weekend. This is where we lost 2 Q’s. Indie was like “HEY! What are you doing!” So clearly we need to go back to the fundamentals of rear crosses again. There is always something.

This was also the first weekend of running aframe in competition. He had 3 great a-frames, and one icky one (he jumped off from high in the yellow), so that is coming along well. There is still plenty to practice on the running frame – most notably would be hard turns off of it.

So we left the weekend with 2 Jumpers Q’s, but only one video to share – where heck was my videographer all weekend?!? At the start the dogs had to jump the tire and directly in their line of sight was a huge patch of bright light. I believe this why he broke the tire (no fault) – hard to judge all aspects of the obstacle when looking directly into a patch of light.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Late to Bed. Early to Rise.

I woke up almost every hour on the hour. Figures.

I was up and out of bed at 5:00am. Out the door with the dogs by 5:35am. No real good comes from being up that early...except maybe a plane ride to a tropical location. I digress.

One of my many hats is as an agility trainer at Best Friends Dog Training. I like working with pet-dog people because it allows my not so serious side to shine...have a little fun without having to be so serious. Pet-dog people don't care that their jump wrap was a little wide, or that their a-frame contact was a little "sticky". They just want to have fun! I digress.

This morning the local CTV 'morning show' came to the training hall to do several segments on different dog sports to get involved in in 2016. 

All this mean't hauling myself out of bed while it was dark and cold and dark. I digress.

The first segment involved several teasers of flyball runs. My friend and fellow BF agility instructor allowed me the honour of handling one her flyball dogs - Kye. We live shot three teasers of her and I alternating running her two dogs. It was exhausting and loud and screamy. So much yelling. It was fun to try a new sport without having to put in any of the leg work. :)

Vixen even got to show of some her puppy skills in the segment. You can watch here...well, you can so long as the link continues to work. 

The next segment was all about agility. Agility rules! Indie is in the beginning of the video, and then the last part is me working with the host, Sarah Freemark's, dog Calleigh.

It was a lot of fun. The crew was great. The BF trainers and friends were great. However, I realized I am not meant to be in show biz. I'm not so happy about the early mornings. :)

Here are the other two segments that we recorded - 'Pet Tricks' and 'Scent Work'.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Say Cheese

No formal training today. I was however reminded that leaving my shoes laying around is no longer a privilege I am allowed to take advantage of. People training of the highest caliber.

Eric escorted Indie and I to see Carrie at her new clinic - Kemptville Canine Centre. His left tricep is a little sore..."agility pit" as it so described. Carrie was able to do some deep muscle manipulation...which of course made Indie melt in to the floor. A few IMS jabs and some laser too for good measure.

No need for any reduction in activity, however I have to do much more stretching. Indie has his first competition of the New Year next weekend. Very excited to run him at 10" in competition for the first time. I've made sure to pre-pack my fastest agility shoes.

Vixen has been blessed with one of those hard cheese chews. Indie keeps steeling it...much to her chagrin....

Friday, January 1, 2016

First Practice of 2016

Hauled my butt to the training hall to work on some agility foundations with Vixen, and some running contacts with Indie.

First, Vixen is a beast. She is cuckoo-bananas fun to work with. Decided to work some recall exercises and a bit on her "go" ahead cue. Not to brag, but she has a FAST "go" to well over 100' now. AWESOME!

We are suppose to be working on impulse control on the tunnel. However, Vixen doesn't have a reliable sit or down yet (priorities much) so there was not much impulse controlling. So, we worked on putting it on a reliable verbal cue. We had a few good reps, but then we hit a iceberg. I'll admit, I laughed uncontrollably (as did Eric) because it was fun to get a glimpse of things to come.

I cued 'tunnel' and away she went. My cookie toss was a little off, so she didn't see it. So this was her thought process... "No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!......No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!..."

We were paralyzed with laughter! She was stuck in endless loops of trying to earn a cookie....and by George she was going to get that tunnel right even if it took all night. She is going to be so much fun!

Tonight was the first night back on cones about 5 weeks. Fortunately we picked up right where we left off. I am in no rush because after Flat Work comes Blueprint and we are still many months away from jump sequences. In fact it will be September 2016 before she is ready for jumping sequences. Doing things right with this baby!

Indie and I worked on distance handling. After I put Vixen away (I believe she is actually a Malinois mixed with a Border Collie) Indie could actually HEAR me give him verbal cues. She is crazy loud when she is mad. Car crating for this little minx for sure!

He rocked his sequences so we moved on to his running contacts. I've been messing around with about 4 different methods with him for about 6 months. I think I have finally settled on stride regulators. Is it the best method for teaching from the ground up? I don't know. However, I feel from a retraining standpoint it is what will work best for Indie.

In our RC lesson, I discovered that our tunnel sends and threadles sucked, so we worked on that for a bit too. It is always something isn't it.

No pictures and no video because I was in my PJ's. :-P

Welcome 2016

I have decided that 2016 will be the start of a new chapter for me and my agility dogs.

The year past was one of profound change for me. I discovered more about myself than I have at any other point in time.

The year ended with the biggest test...the loss of Travis. It has shaken me. However, I have decided to make good from it, and not wallow in my sadness.

So it has been decided that 2016 will be the start of something new. A new me. The new me on a path to personal greatness.

I will be posting on the blog more. I hope to post many more training videos so everyone can follow along with Vixen as she grows. What I post will be part raw, part edited videos. It is always more fun to see that edited - the best of what I train, but I also want you to see the raw. With raw come the mistakes and the challenges. Those are just as important to our journey as the good.

I'm happy that this morning I woke up a better person. I feel better. For me, that always was half the challenge.