The dogs and I have been hard at work on some Training Tips videos! Head on over to my YouTube page under the Dog Training & Behavior Playlist. Let me know what you think!
Here’s one to wet your whistle:
NADAC trial recap for the weekend. It was awesome!!! I’m over the moon, on cloud 9, still happy dance big grin, etc.
It was my clubs annual spring trial, so I worked and helped out more than I usually do at trials, but I think I did an ok job pacing myself over the 2 days. Saturday a good friend of mine who rarely does trials on turf was also entered and we crated together. It was nice to see him and catch up. There were a couple of new folks and it was lovely to meet them, clap and cheer for them, and get to know them. I hope they decide to come to future events as well. As always hubby was a huge help, I’m ever grateful he is so supportive of my agility hobby.
The courses this weekend were super fun. And a plethora of bonus boxes. It was awesome. Usually we are lucky if we see 1-2 boxes all weekend. Saturday we had them in touch n go, both rounds of regular AND in weavers. Sunday they were in both rounds tunnelers, both rounds regular and BOTH rounds jumpers!! Seriously! 10 boxes in a weekend of 16 runs. And all of them felt 90% doable for where our skills currently are (which is also amazing).
I’m happy to report our winter training of go skills in many different contexts has paid off. I am so damn happy!! We struggled with those types of elements on boxes last season, she rocked them all this weekend!
Elite Jumpers, that final go line of the course OMG my heart sings as it does for so much of this course:
I found repeatedly a hole with turn always at big distances. Especially when there was a closer draw obstacle. She’d lock onto the draw. But I was pleased despite the lock on she was able to respond most of the time to my lie down cue. I started using that after the first round of touch n go where on the resend she could not shift her focus and wasn’t really listening but guessing. So good things to work on.
Elite tunnelers, that turn away with the green tunnel draw, got us both rounds. 1st round she made it to the mouth of that green tunnel where I downed her and redirected back out. This round was better as she didn’t fixate on that green tunnel and I’ll take the change she did do asking me for help.
Elite Weavers, so much awesome happened this round!!! But again the tunnel draw
Elite Regular, again over the moon about so much of this! Struggled with some of the push outs
And fingers crossed I think we maybe earned a passing distance challenge regular run on Sunday! Still waiting for final determination from NADAC but I felt comfortable enough with it to try submitting it for bonus review. We shall see.
Elite Regular distance challenge:
A new to me student and I have been breaking down the challenges she’s had consistently with her dogs surrounding discriminations on the agility course. A discrimination in dog agility is where 2 obstacles are placed rather close together and you have to communicate to your dog which one to take based on the numbered course. Depending on the nature of the discrimination and the course path leading up to the challenge one obstacle may be more obvious to your dog than another, even if it’s not the one you want them to take. Some dogs will also have a preference for an obstacle and be more likely to pull to a tunnel, weaves or a contact obstacle if you don’t give them clear enough information in a timely manner.
A challenge she’s had is the timing of cues. When and how to give the dogs enough information so that the obstacle she’d like them to take is clear to the dogs far enough in advance for them to not question if the off course obstacle is the desired one.
So an exercise we did in our last lesson was to break down in slow motion some video clips of her with her own dogs and seeing where she cued on course in relation to where her dogs thought they had been instructed to go, along with breaking down in slow motion some clips with Zora and I running discrimination sequences. It was an eye opening exercise for her.
I find such an exercise often is eye opening for many students. Thinking about the discrimination and giving the dog information over 1 obstacle before the actual discrimination challenge. Not waiting until the dog has already taken off, or landed and is approaching the discrimination to give the dog cues as to where you actually want them to go. Thinking about how you can give the dog information as they approach the preceding obstacle so they take that obstacle in a way that sets them up for success with the discrimination. Looking at how well it works, how clear and confidence building it is for the dog when the handler is clear in communication, along with how the dog slows, has to work to change path, guesses or goes off course when the handler is late or unclear in communication.
When you watch the video clips, where do you think Zora will be heading based on the information I give her vs where she actually goes? Which ones am I cuing her on time, which ones am I early, which ones am I late, which ones do I micromanage and did I really need to? A tip: watch my feet, and my shoulders and arms.
It has been damp and intermittently raining all day. The Tuesday Crew & I got our usual morning walk in, then went inside for a few hours to de-mud and dry off. The weather cleared up a bit just now so out we went into the back yard for a game of Kick The Ball.
The ducks were rather reluctant to return to the safety of their overnight pen this afternoon. Zora and I had our work cut out for us. We haven’t worked the ducks in over a month, and Zora was being pushy with no balance to speak of until the very end. But we got it done!
(in the video at one point she is holding her ear weird and shaking her head, I think a bit of dirt or something must have flown in as she’s fine now)
On the plus side Zora and I have been working on her being willing to gather the ducks to me as she much prefers to drive them away. And we are making progress!!
Also the ducks are back to laying! Spring must be here! I made the most delicious gluten free lemon meringue pie the other night using the duck eggs. Every time I use that recipe I am astounded by the interesting properties of tapioca starch. Why did I make pie, you ask? Just because I wanted pie. And I feel no guilt in saying, I ate it all myself and it was absolutely decadent. Delightful.
My dogs make me laugh. Every. Single. Day.
Tom loves his greens. Zora says, “Yup, broccoli is still gross!”
This was actually the first time she ate it. All previous times I’ve given it to her, she took one nibble and gave up in disgust. Let Tommy finish it for her. Nice big brother that he is.
Lately I’ve been working on a little video project. In the process of it and having others review it, I’ve once again realized the environment conducive to me functioning isn’t one conducive to other things, such as video camera friendly lighting. So, after hashing out what it would take to make these more accessible to a wider population and recognizing it would largely make them then inaccessible to me and impossible for me to make, I’ve decided these are as good as they’ll get for the time being. I’ve done videos on teaching a dog to ‘go to place’, teaching a drop it cue, and introduction to tugging. Today I’ll post here the ‘go to place’ on, later likely the others.
That all said, the project was really fun to do with my dogs. Tom, Zora and I enjoyed the time we spent together making these. Which means it was worth me to spend time and energy on. Spending quality time with me dogs is never a waste.
So if you watch this and get something positive out of them, yay! I hope you are able to learn something useful. If you find the lighting distracting, too difficult to learn with, or otherwise inaccessible to you, then please don’t watch.
This week I’ve been charged with an 11m old papillon, who happens to not be house broken. To the tune of on average 4-5 accidents in his owner’s home per day.
Over the course of this week, he’s getting a crash course in house breaking 101, and has so far passed each day with flying colors. Since his drop off on Friday night, we’ve had only 1 indoor toilet of him attempting to mark a dog bed. Monday evening he began to consistently signal in a clear, easily understandable way when he needs to go out. He’s an incredibly smart, fun and active little dog.
With any age dog, puppy or adult, the keys to successful toileting habits are really rather basic: supervision, proper cleaning of any indoor accidents, appropriate exercise, monitoring of food and water in, ruling out medical reason for the challenges (not fair to expect a dog with a UTI to hold it and so forth) and data tracking. Really that’s it.
With this little guy, data tracking over the course of his 1st 2 days here gave me a wealth of information to then apply to aid in his success. Through data tracking I easily could see that like clockwork 15-20min post drinking any water, he would need to urinate. So know when he drinks = able to prevent indoor urinating accidents by proactively taking him out or setting up the environment in a way that increases the likelihood he will signal he needs to go out, then take him outside. Through data tracking I could also see that, also like clockwork, 60-90 post a meal or large amount of food (which for this little tiny guy can mean about 5 mini zukes treats) he will need to defecate. Like clockwork.
With these 2 key pieces of data about his body’s natural functions and rhythms, I now could set him up to actually learn to a. toilet only outside and b. gain some more control of those bodily functions himself ie working toward a long term end goal of him being able to hold it even if he has to go until taken outside. And I could more easily get his toileting needs on a schedule that worked for my daily life and routine.
This informative video about the routine we have when we’re outside shows the pieces of the puzzle with this particular dog to teach him to value toileting outside. He does love his ball and it’s a huge motivator for him.
He’s hear for a few more days before heading back home. But he’ll head home with a solid foundation for toileting success that his owners with care, thought and dedication can continue to build on.
Zora does love her Red Ball! I can’t tell if I caught it on the tape, but while she most often pushes the ball with her nose and mouth, sometimes she actually dribbles it side to side with her front feet. Cracks me up laughing. Such a good little girl.
As I primarily train alone, I try to take a lot of videos of our training sessions. Sometimes I forget or our training is spontaneous, but yesterday I remembered to haul out the camera and tripod to the back yard before setting up some exercises.
This session I specifically went into it wanting to work on a certain start line set up with Zora where I am behind her to start. I’ve noticed she can be very ‘sticky’ in such a set up for lack of a better word and have difficulty driving to the first obstacle and beyond. She has a tendency in this type of set up to go around the first obstacle or if I happen to be layering come off the obstacle I’ve set her up in front of to move to the obstacle I’m closest to. Or as she did in the fist rep of yesterday’s practice, move off the 2nd obstacle. I’ve realized a large part of this is when I start behind her, after cuing the 1st obstacle, I tend to stop forward motion. And being the good attentive dog she is, she then stops, slows or turns off the path I would like her to take.
In the video I did exactly that the 1st 2 reps, then remembered ‘oh yea, you need to indicate some movement here Katrin’ and so changed where I was starting to further back so I could then drive forward further without passing the imaginary line I’d set for myself.
And then she struggled with the weave entry, so we worked on that sequence: start line with me behind, jump, jump, hit the weave entry correctly from distance.
As the weave entry had been so difficult for her, after she got it correctly and rewarded, I wanted to work further on the course so started her at obstacle # 4 the jump. My original plan had been made assuming she would have no issues with the weave entry and be jump, jump, weave, switch, to the out jump then the far loop. But, as weaves were a challenge, I didn’t want to beat a dead horse after she worked those well.
Starting at the jump gave us a whole different set of challenges. Mainly my footwork. When I watched the video, I realized how much my feet were angled and that explained better why she was on the right lead going over the jump instead of her left. I was overall pleased though with her commitment to the jump hoop loop once on the correct left lead with me at such a far distance and layering the weave poles.
And finally we worked the serpentine. Which she and I have been practicing most of this week. In earlier training sessions this week she really struggled with the switch to the 3rd obstacle (hoop) in the serpentine. I was very pleased to see her grasping that piece readily. Instead today she struggled with the final hoop, out of camera view what she kept going wide on the ‘out’ cue to was the pause box which happened to be there. Watching the video, I can see what I felt when doing it: that I was watching her and not strongly enough looking at and cuing the final hoop with my feet.