Saturday, December 24, 2011

Luring vs Shaping in Flyball

The trend in dog training in general is shaping instead of luring or removing the lure very quickly. This makes sense to me because if the dog has to think about making the right choice vs following the reward they are more likely to repeat it. Also they are more likely to do what you want when you don't have a treat. Luring really only seems to work if you fade it immediately

In flyball we use shaping a little bit for wall work, but for jumping and box work we basically use luring. For some dogs this works really well. Indigo for example has always had a nice box turn and never went around the jumps. Other than the gutter I use to keep her turn tighter, her runs look exactly the same whether or not she has a jump in front of the box.

Some dogs have lovely turns ONLY with a jump board in. As soon as they get to a tournament, it falls apart. This is basically like the dog that will only recall if you show them a treat.

What people generally do to fix this is wall work, lots of box work with the board in place or reteach the turn from the beginning. Sometimes a clear plexiglass jump so the dog doesn't see it or can't anticipate doing a nice turn or a crappy one.  Rarely do people pull a dog from competition for this, so the dog does the bad turn in tournaments and gets rewarded. So without any different feedback for different turns, the dog has no reason to think it matters.

I've been working on a method for training this type of dog. Here is what I do:

1. Wall work to build muscle memory for a nice turn
2. Figure out the box aid that gives the dog the best turn
3. Always have the handler at the box to tug or not tug depending on the turn
4. Have a 2nd person send the dog on a full run with the correct box aid in
5. If the dog does a nice turn (they probably will) give a big reward
6. Next put in a smaller box aid (a gutter or PVC) and do the same thing if the turn is nice, give a big reward, if the turn is crappy give no reward and try again with a box aid back in.
7. If the turn IS nice, try again with no box aid.
8. Keep alternating between box aid and no box aid

 Continue this process so that the dog continues to get the correct feedback depending on the quality of the turn, making sure that you make it easier if the turn is bad. You can click or say "YES" for nice turns.

I'm curious if any other flyball trainers have tried anything like this?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Self Control


My Experience with "It's Yer Choice" so far

I've been playing SG's It's Yer Choice game with my three dogs lately and practicing a lot. The applications for fixing problems and having better behaved dogs is amazing. Indy got it right away because I've done a lot of "leave it" training with her. In the first session I was able to put treats on her front legs when she was in a down and she didn't try to steal them. Last night she was able to walk past a pile of treats on the floor when I called her to me. It was pretty funny because she walked by them she was afraid of them. During our training session I dropped treats by accident. Previously she would have stolen them, but she just stared at them!

Pax is very easy to train. It seems like he isn't paying attention (probably because I'm used to a border collie intensely staring at me), but he definitely is. He isn't extremely food motivated, but he is a food stealer (typical whippet). He was able to not steal a treat that I threw past him and no longer steals treats out of my hand.

Goose is more difficult to train in situations like his. It can be overwhelming to him and he'll flop over, panting and stressed. I like this game because it doesn't require any talking at all...so less chance of me getting frustrated with him and showing my frustration in my voice. When he flops over, I just wait patiently until he gets up and starts playing again. I use very high value treats for him. He didn't get it the first session. The 2nd session he was a little bit better.  It will seem like he is ready to move to the next step and he will do pretty well with a harder game, but then if I go back to the easy stuff he sometimes forgets the game. Last night he did great actually. He was also able to walk past a pile of treat on the ground and not steal them.

 I've found lots of applications for this game that naturally weaves into everyday life. I'm hoping that the dogs will stop obsessing over cleaning up under Finleys chair at the table. A friend that has tried it with her dogs said they have been better about trying to steal food. I can already see it helping with self-control, better stays and better focus. I'm excited to see how they progress as we keep working on this and finding new applications. Next I'm going to try it with toys and tugs.




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We've Got Some Training to Do

We just got back from the December Dogwood Pacecetters tournament. It was a great time and very successful for our team. Pax ran in start again and was way more consistent than in November. His times were all mostly in the low 3.8s with one 3.77. I also figured out how to hold him so that my starts were more consistent. He is a crazy crazy dog.  Indy freezes when getting ready to run. She predictably watches the judge until he starts the lights and then she stares intently at the start dog. Pax on the other hand is bucking, barking, foaming and writhing all over the place...and he doesn't like to be held by his back legs. He almost bit me in the face going for his tug. He is serious about tugging.  I ran up to the line on every heat, turned my back and ran with the tug dragging behind me and he held his ball every time. He did great.  We still need to work on a tighter turn, running in the pack and striding.

Jeff ran Indy again and did a great job with her. She posted some great times with perfect passes by Jeff. Lots of low 3.8s throughout the weekend. She also tried to get away with dropping her ball and got flagged a few times. Naughty girl! Jeff did a good job of working with her during warmup and reminding her to bring her ball.

Goose ran well too. We didn't get a lot of video, but we realized that we need to work on his striding between the box and and the first jump on the way back. He takes two half the time and barely clears the jumps on those runs. Ben had fun pushing his passes and got lots of good ones (and a few flags, 4 to be exact).

We broke our team record with a 16.4 here

And almost broke it here, but Deco dropped his ball. I had a .11 start on this one, so it could have been a 16.2!


I am taking Susan Garretts Recallers 3.0 course. I've just started reading the course material today and need to get started today so I don't get behind. It's going to be a lot of work, but worth it I think. I already see lots of applications for flyball and agility training.

We have a New Years Eve flyball tournament coming up and then we will take a little break for the winter from competing in dog sports and training to give the dogs a mental break. We'll do lots of hiking and conditioning and very little training..after the recallers class I''m sure they will be ready for a break.

I've started thinking about getting Finley a dog to learn dog sports with. Obviously she is waaay too young now, but I'm starting to think about small dog breeds that will be a good pet and a good sport dog. On the list now is rat terrier, toy fox terrier, papillion, boston terrier, silky terrier, podengo. I have a while to decide and may end up getting a rescue, but the only thing that satisfies my obsession with getting more dogs is planning which dogs I might get in the future!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ball Obession Progress

I've been working with a border collie from my flyball team with serious ball obsession. He is so obsessed that he imagines balls that aren't there. He especially loves going for moving balls, which isn't great for flyball. I've seen people run dogs that are chasing balls all over the place in the run back and it's dangerous and looks stressful. The main thing I always hear is keep tennis balls away from the dog outside of flyball. I understand this to a point. You don't want to constantly play ball with a dog that you are trying to convince to NOT find tennis balls highly rewarding. On the other hand, you don't want to deprive them of something they love, so that when they finally see one they freak out and obsess even more.

What has been working is overwhelming him with tennis balls at home. He sleeps in a crate full of tennis balls and over several weeks has gotten less and less obsessed with those balls. He is also getting good at "leave it" when someone is bouncing a ball. We've been playing a game with him to build tug drive. You throw the tug out about 5 feet, restrain the dog and then race him to the tug. You beat him to the tug two times and don't let him get it. On the third time you get it, but then run away and get him to chase and get the tug. By this time he wants the tug BAD! This works well. It would be helpful for anyone looking to build tug drive.

I think I might also try "Its Yer Choice". I've been playing this game of impulse control with my dogs and it works really well. Also I'm signed up for Susan Garretts Recall Class., maybe that will give him some ideas!

Training work = Prevention from getting a new dog

The 3 of my own dogs I've trained for flyball have been fairly easy. Indigo started around her first birthday and has been pretty ideal. She's never had any issues and her striding, jumping and box turn are all good..and I trained her before I really knew what I was doing.

When I trained Goose I knew a little bit more and he was a little more work. We got him at 1.5 years and he had lived with a pack of dogs. He never tugged. Luckily he had plenty of drive, willingness to work and good structure. Ben got him in June and he ran in his first tournament by December of that same year.

Pax came to us at 5 months old and was a tugging machine. I think he is the craziest tugger on our team. He has been a bit more of a challenge. He doesn't chase and he is an honest dog/tries hard, but his striding has been off and he hesitates going down to the box. He has run anywhere from 3.72 to 4.2 depending on his striding and box turn. 


Here are Indigo, Deco (mini aussie) and Pax. I'm trying to bring down Pax's "jump-box-jump" time by adding gutters. Getting them in the right places has been a challenge. I finally figured out that he needs one on the way in so that he doesn't slide and one on the way back so he takes 3 strides. He clears the jumps much better and is faster this way!

I've also been working on putting him him the lineup. He still will go around the jumps if I pass him too tightly (again worried about running full speed into another dog).

The one good thing about his training challenges is that it's keeping me from getting another dog (for a little while). I've already started looking! Working with him does give me something to do at least.

We have a tournament this weekend. We will be running the same team as we did in November. We got a new flyball bag! I'm so excited it's supposed to be here by Friday.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blow the Terrier Mind

I've tried everything to fix terrier chasing problems, or at least it feels that way. What has been working lately is taking it very slowly. We run our chasing terrier against an 8 second dog, if he does well rather than make it harder right away, we wait several weeks before introducing him to a 6 second dog. He is finally able to handle a 4.5 second dog 95% of the time.

I recently heard that it helps to use three boxes in a row and put the chasing dog in the middle. The theory is that the chasing dog won't be able to make a quick decision about who to chase, so he stays in his lane. The lanes were very close together. The dogs were all released at the same time and it seemed to work...or he didn't try to chase anyone. I think this drill could also be helpful to improve speed to the box.

THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE



November Tournament Results


Two weeks ago we went to Canada for the November Flying Squad flyball tournament. Our three dogs were on the same team. I ran Pax, Ben ran Goose and Jeff ran Indy. We were seeded at the bottom of Division 1 with a 17.5. We realized quickly that we could go a lot faster than this, as we broke 17 right away. We kept breaking the JCJ NAFA record with each race. Goose and Indy were solid as usual. Indy and her handler Jeff are a great team. Pax was in start because he tends to slow down  A LOT when passing into another dog. I am very happy with his performance overall. He didn’t make any errors all weekend, running between 3.8 and 4.2 depending on his striding and box turn.  I have a lot to work on with him! His striding is off going into the box after on the way back as well. Also some of his box turns were really wide. He was really fun to run and I’m excited for a long flyball career for him. Our best team time of the weekend was 16.60.
We have two more tournaments coming up, one the first week in December and one for New Years Eve!
I went to watch Pax and Indy practice agility last night after several months of not seeing them. Indy was way over the top crazy (even after a trip to the park), but she was able to hit her contacts on the dogwalk. She still doesn’t have a good running contact on the A frame. Pax looked great! He is starting weave training and is extremely focused on Ben and seems to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dog Sport Updates and Flyball Thoughts

We are going to our first flyball tournament since Gridley this weekend! Pax, Indy and Goose are all on our “A” team. I’m hoping we can break our NAFA team record of 17.2. Pax will be running full time on the team for the first time!
We went lure coursing with Pax and he did awesome! I think this is his favorite sport. It was amazing to watch, but so much slower than flyball! There have been several race practices, but it’s hard for us to get to them with flyball practice. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a NOTRA race for him or possibly even some open field coursing this winter in California.
Indigo started back up with Nose Work and is working on more difficult hides. She is ready for her ORT and probably NWI trial, but I haven’t even had a chance to look at the schedule.
Indigo and Pax are both doing well in agility. Pax is learning weaves and rear crosses and Indigo is back to 2o2o contacts, which will hopefully allow her to enter a standard trial someday. Ben had a really hard time teaching her running contacts. Indigo has a trial Thanksgiving weekend. Will she learn her contacts by then? I hope so!
In flyball Pax is working on confidence going into passes and holding his ball. To work on going into passes, I changed the drill a bit. Last week we tried it this way: You need two holders, two dogs, two handlers, and one four jump lane with no box and a big run back with jumps adjusted so there is an extra one in the run back and one less in front of the box area. Holder 1 stands around where Dog 1 would normally start. Handler one stands with tug at jump 3 going toward the box area. Holder 2 has dog 2 in the box area and handler two has a tug near jump 8 in the run back. Holder 2 lets dog 2 go like for a normal recall. Holder 1 lets Dog 1 go for a tight pass (or as the dogs can handle) but instead of going to the box, handler 1 starts running toward the box area and catches dog 1 there. And then switch dogs. This teaches Dog 1 to run full speed to the box into another dog. Eventhough the box isn’t there isn’t cued the same and more comfortable for some dogs to recall to a tug than to run toward the box.
Other thing that I am working on with team dogs are: ball obsession (still haven’t found a method that works) and striding. My question about striding is whether there is a benefit to putting a noodle on top of the jump to “flatten” out the dog. From everything I know about jumping, it doesn’t make sense. So, I’m focusing more on striding gutters.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flyball Vacay

We just got back from a long trip in our trailer with Finley and the three dogs. We picked up our trailer from Tacoma RV, which was getting fixed after some damage that happened in Victoria. After that we stopped for lunch in Centralia at Country Cousin with Dan and Cheryl. Then we went down to Longview, WA for a flyball tournament. This was not one of my favorite tournaments. The venue was not ideal at all. There was no space for crating and the surface was dirt. My air cast got dirty and I felt awful on Sunday and stayed in the trailer. The good things were that Indigo ran well for Brian from TA and Pax did well on Sunday. I've decided that this is my last flyball tournament on dirt. The tugs get nasty and the dogs never run well and it's gross the kneel in.
Despite the difficulty we had at that tournament, we trucked on to Roseburg, OR, then Weed, CA and stopped in Clear Lake, CA. I'm usually not really negative, but this  place was a total dump! I expected a fancy beach house and a cute little town with lots of restaurants and things to do with Finley. We got a double wide manufactured home that smelled like mold and a rocky beach. The water was actually warm for swimming and the dogs had fun. The town was mostly boarded up stores and sad looking people. Not going back there again either!
It sounds like a bad trip..it really wasn't. We made the best of it. As soon as we pulled into Gridley everything got better. We had full hookups, parked right next to our teammates with a huge field to potty/exercise the dogs. The weather was amazing and the building air conditioned to the perfect temperature. Our dogs ran well too. Indigo and Ezri set a new best time with their doubles team of 8.0..something... Indigo proved again that she's not a singles type of girl, but ran wonderfully in 2nd position after Ezri on the team and was part of all the fast lineups.. Goose, who by the way is still in the running for fastest border collie this year, did great despite a ripped up pad and handler with a hurt ankle. I was so proud of Pax! He ran amazingly well the whole weekend. He beat his previous singles time with a 3.77 and did great with his first time in start and 3rd position. He held his ball and got faster throughout the weekend. I couldn't have asked for more out of him.
In other news, we tried dock dogs this weekend. thumbs down. Goose and Indigo wouldn't jump off the dock and we didn't bother to try Pax because he JUST learned how to swim. It was fun to watch, but not a sport we will pursue until we have a dog that loves it.
Indigo and Pax are starting back up with agility classes and Indigo is also getting back into Nosework.


Our upcoming schedule:
October 9 - Breeder Day in Olympia
October 15-16 - Lure Coursing ASFA Roy, WA
October 23 - Flyball Tournament (Goose & Indigo running without us)
November 5-6 -  Flyball Tournament
November 25-26th NADAC agility Argus Ranch

Monday, August 22, 2011

NOTRA debut



We have been wanted to get Pax to either a race or lure coursing for awhile now. We got him for flyball primarily and potentially agility with an occasional lure coursing or oval track race. I am always interested in trying new performance events and the oval track appeals to me because we don't have to do any additional training other than keep him in good physical condition.

We went to Jo Sowards home in Goldendale, WA on Friday night. Everyone was extremely welcoming and helpful and got us set up to do a qualifying run. Pax ran once by himself without the box and once with one of Jo's whippets. He did great in both and qualified easily.

In the race there were 4 programs. Pax was in 2nd place twice and 3rd place twice, giving him 10 points. He was very keen and had tons of desire, but tending to take wide turns and stay toward the outside of the track. He also wasn't happy with the box on his first race. He ended up placing 18th out of 32 dogs, which we expected and were happy with.

We are planning to take him to another even in Roy, WA on Oct 1-2nd. Hopefully after that we will try Lure Coursing, which may be more of his forte.

Also I found this video of Pax's FASTEST time last weekend.

Our upcoming schedule:

9/17-18 NAFA tournament - Longview, WA
9/24-25 UFLI tournament - Gridley, CA
10/1-2 NAWRA/LGRA/NOTRA/ISWS Roy, WA
11/25-27 NADAC agility Argus Ranch



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Victoria Tournament & Kennel Names

We just got back from an extended flyball weekend + family vacation in Victoria.

The dogs had a blast on the beach, including running up a steep sand hill for a ball and then cooling off in the water after.

In the days leading up to the tournament we went to 3 flyball practices and one agility practice! Pax has a pretty bad ball dropping issue, so we wanted to work on it a lot before his debut without burning him out. We did some short practices and really focused on ball holding and passing. We ended up not needing to worry about passing luckily.

It was a small tournament with few teams seeded in the 16 second range. On Saturday of the tournament Indigo & Goose ran with Skye & Remy from JCJ and Havoc and Reckless from Total Anarchy. We were able to run the fastest lineup 3 times and ran a 15.90 in the first race of the day. We didn't get there again because we pushed it pretty hard. Also on Saturday Indigo and Pax ran in singles. Indigo got first place with a 3.853 and Pax was in second with a 3.853, making him tied for the 8th fastest whippet of all time in UFLI singles.

On Sunday we lost Reckless and got Topo, a 7" height dog. Our fastest time was 16.3 with that lineup. Goose and Pax ran singles, coming in first and second places respectively. Goose shocked us all by running a 3.740, making him the fastest border collie in singles so far this year and the 22nd fastest dog of all breeds for all time. Pretty amazing for a dog that we got at 1.5 years without any flyball related training as a pup. Good boy! Our teams won division 1 both days.

I'm very happy with how our dogs did and very grateful to Total Anarchy for letting us borrow their dogs, so that we could debut Pax just in singles and keep him successful.

Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39511107@N06/sets/72157627325396689/


We are considering breeding dogs in the future and hoping that Pax will be used for breeding. We think he is a great representation of his breed and it would be a shame not to carry on his amazing traits. Indigo & Goose are spayed and neutered, only because we weren't planning on breeding our dogs when we got them. Anyway, with we decided that it's time to pick a kennel name for our dogs and potential future breeding that we might do. We picked Spectrum Kennel and will start a website soon. More updates about this in the future...




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

be careful with your dogs in the summer!

Death on the trail


It was one of the saddest experiences imaginable. A man was running up the mountain trail, looking through the brush on each side, screaming over and over again, "JACK" "JACK." His bike could be seen in the distance further down, tossed to one side and abandoned as the man retraced his path, searching.

I stopped my bike and asked if there had been an accident. The man started crying and sobbed, "My dog...I can't find my dog. He was right behind me." He continued running back up the trail, yelling his dog's name. I turned around and followed in case help was needed. As the man ran out of sight where the trail curved, there was an agonized scream, "Nooo! Jack, NOOO!"

Around the curve, I saw my help wouldn't be necessary. Jack was past any help. His body lay in his owner's arms, the tongue lolling from his open mouth. His eyes were open, but glazed. His beautiful long furred coat still gleamed in the hot afternoon sun. He had run after his beloved master's bike until he could run no more. He ran himself to death.

It's something that happens more often than most people know. A training run or bike ride can be much more fun when your pooch comes with you. But when it's the hottest part of summer, running for more than three or four miles can be deadly for a dog. Canines can fatally overheat quickly, resulting in organ failure or heat stroke.

When humans overheat, they can cool off by sweating, drinking or being splashed with water. But dogs only sweat through the pads on their feet, a very small area in relation to body mass. They only release heat by panting, but if the dog is also breathing hard because of exertion, that limits their ability to use panting to cool down - and panting also dehydrates the animal. A dog will dangerously overheat before a human even feels uncomfortable - and there's an even more tragic aspect to it. If a canine's internal body temperature reaches 107, it will not cool back down. The dog will die. Nothing can be done to save it.

There are symptoms to watch for if you take your dog with you on outdoor training sessions, but first, some common sense precautions: If it's over 90 degrees outside, don't subject your dog to more than a few minutes at a time of strenuous exercise. Always carry water for your dog on a hot day, as well as one of those lightweight collapsible fabric dog bowls that will allow your pet to drink from it; don't count on being able to pour enough water into a dehydrated dog's mouth from a bottle. Stop and rest often, and stay alert for symptoms of overheating in your best furry friend.

Those symptoms include trouble with balance - an overheated dog may lose coordination. It will start to slow down and seem confused, unable to obey if you give a command. The signs may be subtle at first - a lurching step here and there - but be on the lookout for it.

As the overheating gets worse, the tongue will hang further out of the mouth than usual, and it will be curled at the end and widened. If the tongue starts turning red, it's a very serious sign that the dog's internal temperature has reached the danger point. The dog will start panting hard, and there may be a frantic thirst.

If you take your dog outside with you when it's hot, always pay extra attention, so that you both return home, tired, but alive.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com). For the latest in training and workout information, go to: adventuresportsweekly.com

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"once in a lifetime dog"


I was going to post on the results of our Maple Ridge tournament and another new flyball drill, but I couldn't bring myself to do it this week. I'm too sad about the sudden death of a dog on my flyball team, Riker. Riker was Jeff's once in a lifetime dog and I've been meaning to post about this topic for awhile...

I don't even know if I believe in a “once in a lifetime” dog. I'm not the type to treat my dogs like humans. But since Indigo came into my life and every day I have with her, I can relate more and more to the idea of a dog soul mate. I know that of the 5 dogs I've had in my life, there is one that no other dog can compare to. Despite my intentions to see all my dogs equally, she tends to be held above the others. She is the dog that stole my heart.

I know when I lose her some day, there will be other dogs in my life and I hope that I don't compare them all to Indigo. What makes her my "heart dog"? She just gets it. She has been easy from the day we picked her up from the airport, learning everything we taught her with ease and trying to do the right thing. She never chewed anything she wasn't supposed to, tried to run away, or caused any trouble at all as a pup.

As an adult dog, she is an amazing dog around the house. She wants to cuddle, but isn't needy. She wants to play, but knows when it's time to settle down. When I got her I was looking for a dog that would excel in any performance event that I wanted to try and she has performed way beyond my expectation. She is one of the fastest, most solid flyball dogs that I know. She shows great potential in agility and is only limited by the amount of time we have to train her.

We formed a close bond when I took her with me to Massachusetts for a year. She was my companion for that year and I felt as if I was there with a close friend. We explored together and made friends together. I don't know if I would have made it without her.

When I'm stressed or upset, the first thing I do is put Indigo on a leash and go for a long walk. She is a calming force in my life and I am beyond blessed to have her.

I can only hope that I'll have other dogs like her in the future, but I have a feeling I won't. I still don't know for sure if I believe in a "heart dog", but I do know that she came to my life at the right time and she's my best friend in a fur coat.

Knowing the bond I have with her and the bond that Jeff had with Riker, I can't imagine what he is going through. It's a reminder to appreciate everyday I have with my girl.




Thursday, July 21, 2011

a new flyball dril

I'm always looking for new ideas for ways to improve box turns, speed, passing, drive etc. I have a list of drills that I use during practice. I try to cycle through them, repeating the ones that work really well and putting aside the ones that don't seem to help.


Every dog either needs to improve speed to the box or back. I like to time both and see which needs improvement. This drill I tried this week is especially for dogs that need to work on speed toward the box.

We put the box in the run back area, just slightly to the side of the mats. We did regular restrained recalls over jumps, but the handler ran full speed past the box. The box is supposed to serve as a visual to convince the dog that they can drive harder toward the box. It seemed to work really well. Perhaps I'll try putting the box in the lane the next time and have the dog get the ball and have a 2nd person ready to run back.

I'll try to get video next time.

conditioning in the city

We live in the city and have a 6000 square foot lot, which is pretty big for the city, but not nearly big enough to exercise 3 very active dogs. Luckily less than 1 mile away is a school yard that allows dogs when school is over/out for the year. If I'm home, I would ideally take the dogs to Marymoor dog park everyday. It's massive and beautiful and there is even a river for swimming. The only downside is that it's at least a 30 minute drive across the traffic laden 520 bridge. So...instead I often walk (ideal) or drive them to the schoolyard.

I spend the first 20 minutes walking laps around the field while they run around. They all enjoy running in no particular direction just for the fun of it. It's awesome to watch. During that I work on recalls. After this, I usually throw the chuck-it and work on "stay", pretty much until they clearly can't go anymore. To cool them down, I walk around a bit more until they aren't panting heavily.

We do this routine everyday, other than the day before a tournament and the day after. I think it makes a huge difference in my dogs performance and prevention of injuries.

I know it's hard to get them out everyday for many people, but it's so important if you have an active sport dog. I believe that it's really not fair to ask your dog to run the equivalent of a marathon with no physical training.

You can even teach your dogs to run on a treadmill while you watch TV!

Here are some clips of a typical exercise session

Saturday, July 16, 2011

upcoming plans & results

Last weekend we went to a flyball tournament in Salem, OR. They offered Friday night racing, which is rare for this region. It was perfect timing to get some practice for Pax and see what kind of times we could get for Indigo & Epic. They all did really well.

Pax spit his ball most of the time because I was more focused on getting a good time, then making sure he held his ball. He ran a best time of 3.70. I don't think he will be a 3.5 whippet, but I'm quite pleased with this. He is extremely focused and has room to speed up. I'm cursed with ball spitters...Indigo also spit her ball a few times, unfortunately when she ran a 3.70. I know she has a 3.6 in her! Epic has been running consistently in the low 3.8s, and ran one 3.80. His biggest area that needs work is his box turn. It's pretty could, but could be faster.

Indigo & Epic were on the same open team. We were seeded significantly faster than all the other open teams and won easily.

Upcoming Events

7/23-24 Flyball Tournament - Maple Ridge
7/13-14 UFLI Flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
9/17-18 NAFA tournament - Longview, WA
9/24-25 UFLI tournament - Gridley, CA


I'm not sure when our next agility will be. We went to a NADAC trial for weavers & touchngo, but Indigo wasn't ready. She needs work on weaves on contacts. Hopefully her and Ben will be ready later this summer or fall. We are also thinking about doing some foundation work with Pax, so that Ben has two dogs to run in agility!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pax's Friday Night Racing Debut is This Week

We are very excited for Pax to get some practice in a tournament setting this weekend. He will be running in Friday night racing along with Indigo and Goose (who is Goose? that is Epics new name).



Negative Training in Flyball

Is is ever okay to use punishment for training? I'm not sure. I've definitely used it when I didn't want to take the time to use positive methods to teach Indigo to stop lunging at cars. She stopped quickly and hasn't considered chasing them again since.

We are still working on training a terrier in flyball with chasing issues. Desensitizing isn't working well or fast enough. We've been trying it for 2 years. Just when we think we have some progress, we have a set back and it feels like we are where we started. It seems like we could work under his threshold for several more years and maybe make some progress.

One thing we haven't tried is negative punishment: water gun, "come to jesus talks", e collar/vibration collar etc. We did try using a pool noodle and he just attacked it.

I am very hesitant to try this type of training because I know it can break the dog.

To be proactive with our new set of green dogs, I'm working on head to head training for everything. There is ALWAYS another dog working in the other lane. It obviously doesn't work to deal with all that later.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flyball Overtraining

Woah...I'm on a blogging roll today! I'm sure this happens in all dog sports, but I know flyball pretty well and I definitely see it happening. My flyball team had a history of training every dog, every single week and doing lots of full runs.

It could be my imagination, but I believe full runs during practice weekly and nothing else is boring for dogs that are already trained. Sure, if you have lots of time to work on problems and green dogs and you have time left over, there are plenty of conditioning exercises and box improvements that are helpful for trained dogs....but every week?

With 7 dogs in training and several dogs with major issues, we decided to take all of our experienced dogs, split them into 2 groups and have them alternate weeks of practicing. I have been trying to get this to happen for years and am so happy that we finally did it.

I think our experienced dogs are way more excited about flyball after a week off and our green dogs are getting the attention that they need. I think people with multiple dogs don't mind saving a little bit of money either.

We've had several new personal bests in recent tournaments and I'd like to think it's related to this change.

flyball documentary?


This needs to be done! I can't believe no one has made one yet. There is so much great material in every region around the country. I would love to interview people to create an entertaining documentary for the people that already love flyball and help the others understand our love of this sport. I need help though...any takers?

All Hell Breaks Loose

I consider myself to be a decent dog trainer. I don't have a lot of experience, but I read a lot and am always trying new things. My biggest challenge is Indigo's barking and the dogs behavior at the front door. When someone knocks at the front door all hell breaks loose.

I've talked about this before and committed to giving Indigo a treat everytime someone knocks on the door and having people knock on the door a lot to speed up the process. I feel like I did this a lot and didn't have much success. I probably didn't give it long enough.

Indigo starts barking incessantly, which make the other two start barking at well. Then when someone walks in they charge and jump on the person.

I've tried lots of things that haven't worked or maybe I haven't given anything long enough to work.

Our current plan is to put the dogs in crates when we know that someone is coming over and then let them out one at a time, so we can work each one separately at appropriate greetings. They don't get let out until they stop barking. This helps keep the situation less chaotic, but hasn't reduced barking.

The barking is a larger problem and happens when anyone is outside or comes near the front door. For this we have been trying to distract Indigo by having her "find it" with treats or do simple tricks.

To prevent jumping we are doing mat work, which I'm hoping will eventually get them to stay when people come over. We are still pretty far from this.

I'm hoping someday I can fix this problem, but it feels very far away from reality.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

striding gutters for Pax & injuries for Pax

Pax has finally been getting more confident toward the box during full runs. He is officially ready to debut at a tournament. On this video you can see how much better he does with striding gutters! His box turn still needs work, but I'm happy with his progress.

One of his toes on his back feet is apparently really susceptible to injury. First he sprained it while chasing birds in our backyard. He runs full speed and then comes to a short stop. It finally got better and then he broke the nail to the point that it had to be removed. This was actually good because we learned that if his toe nails are kept short, he will be a lot less likely to have another injury! He is finally better now, but has to be wrapped during heavy activity.

He is one of those dogs that needs to be put in bubble wrap before competitions...he is really accident prone!

http://www.youtube.com/user/taydeb06#p/a/u/1/MGAG3Ms1EJ4

Zach in a Box


After two years of training we finally make progress with Zach! We decided that we want to make him really successful and not have to make too many choices. Often it's good to have a dog be challenged by a situation and make a good choice. We want to get to this point, but for a few weeks we just want to to be really successful.

As I mentioned in the last post, his problem is head to head box work or head to head runs. We completely boxed him and the box in, so his only options were to go to his handler or the box. First we ran him against our slowest dog and he had no reaction at all. He had never been able to go head to head with her before though. We switched her out for another medium speed dog and got the same result...perfect box work.

Next week we will move one gate halfway open. We also worked on the "focus on the handler game" and head to head dead ball retrieves with my border collie, Indigo.

It was the best he's done in months!

http://www.youtube.com/user/taydeb06#p/a/u/0/9n_jgtlqbkU

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chasing Terrors!


There is a Jack/Rat terrier mix on my flyball team. He has been in training for about 1.5 years and runs beautifully...by himself. He can run with other dogs, but not head to head. Specifically, if he is headed toward the box and the same time as another dog, he will turn around and chase the other dog.

We have tried lots and lots of things to help him in general. He is very over threshold in the flyball environment and a generally stressed dog. His handler has done lots of work to calm him in less stressful environments with clicker training. We have tried some control unleashed games (give me a break, premack to go chase dogs and "look at that"). We had some success with these, but not enough consistency in playing the games, led to minimal success.

We recently figured out that his main problem area is between the 4th jump and the box. We finally figured out that doing full runs staggered, building up to head to head always ended up with a chase.

My newest plan is to be really conservative and try to never set up situations that he can chase other dogs, which is very rewarding for him. We will be doing head to head box work with him completely surrounded by gates and the focus on the handler game (alternating ball retrieves head to head). I would love to have him racing sometime this year. I think we can do it!

Outdoor Flyball Practice


Today we had an outdoor flyball practice. The weather in Seattle is rainy most of the time lately and another big chunk of time the field is wet. The crappy weather combined with a busy tournament schedule in the summer means that we usually only have 1 outdoor practice per year. This year I'd like to have at least 2-3. We have one outdoor tournament this year and it was great practice for that. It's also really nice to have as much space as we need and no time limit. We were there for 3.5 hours today and make lots of progress.

My favorite outdoor drill is long distance chase. It's great conditioning and teaches the dogs to run fast!!

Pax did well and still has no interest in chasing other dogs. He still needs gates or he will go around the jumps. Also his box turn looks a little bit awkward when he does full runs. He still needs more confidence and a slow build up of speed.

Indigo and Epic did great. Indigo ran for someone that she never met before while I ran Epic in the same lane and did great.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tugs


I started making tugs for people a few years ago and have considered starting to sell them at tournaments. I'm still experimenting with different styles. Here are some of the tugs I made recently for Indigo & Epic.

Spring Updates



Recent Results


5/14 Race Practice - Indigo, Epic and especially Pax had a great time. Pax finally had an opportunity to race with other whippets. He was faster than everyone he raced! We were very proud. Indigo & Epic are getting better at going after the lure and enjoy the exercise. We even got some video

5/28-30 Agility Trial - This was Indigo & Ben's agility debut. They went to a NADAC trial at Mega Dogs in Woodinville, WA. They had a great time and Ben got hooked on agility. She did well in tunnelers & hoopers and even won in those classes the first day. They need more work in jumpers, but Indigo was incredibly focused and patient with her new handler. Here is some video


6/4-5 Flyball Tournament - Cloverdale - We had a blast this past weekend at the Dogwood Pacesetters 25th Anniversary tournament. Indigo & Epic ran perfectly with best times of 3.72 (Indigo's PB) and 3.83 respectively. Their team won Division 2 both days and Epic earned his FMX title. There was a 1980s costume contest, a "history of flyball in the NW slideshow and a wonderful dinner, which was all very entertaining. The weather was awesome and we had hookups for camping. Perfect flyball weekend.

Upcoming Events


6/29 Agility Trial - NADAC - weavers
7/6 Agility Trial - NADAC - Touch & Go
7/9-10 Flyball Tournament - Salem (possible debut for Pax)
7/16 - Ben TTouch Seminar
7/23-24 Flyball Tournament - Maple Ridge
7/13-14 UFLI Flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
7/27-28 NAFA flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
8/5,6,7 Whippet Specialty Event - Argus Ranch & CPE trial
9/17-18 NAFA tournament - Longview, WA
9/24-25 UFLI tournament - Gridley, CA
10/15-16 ASFA lure coursing Roy, WA



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Foster Dog Training

Obviously when we get a foster dog, we are expecting some training issues. Most dogs don't get dumped at the shelter with excellent training. The dog we have now, Cher AKA "Chair" has major recall/bolting issues. She also digs in the yard and is mildly afraid of new things.

I have been focusing on her recall issue mainly because I think this will limit her ability to get adopted. She thinks it's a fun game and really tries hard to get out. She is never allow outside of her crate unless she is contained or on a long line. We have had 3 instances of her escaping and it was scary!

She is making excellent progress, considering she wouldn't come to me and let me touch her collar at all when we first got her. The next step will be to add distractions.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Exciting Things

First some updates....

Pax: We are spending a lot of time conditioning Pax for muscle building, which means lots of time spent free running. We are slowly getting to the point of having a mostly solid recall on him, but it's still a work in progress. His flyball training is coming along nicely. He can now do full runs, but his striding is off. We are going to try 10" jumps and starting him further back. After we let him work it out for awhile, we will add striding gutters if he doesn't work it out himself. He is still taking a break from agility and goes to race practices when we have time to take him.






Epic: We decided that Epic's box work in flyball needs work, wall work. He hasn't been doing much herding, mainly because we haven't gone out for a lesson. It's been too long! Epic is taking a CGC class with me, so I can learn how to teach this class & because he needs more obedience training. He is doing well and I think he enjoys the individual attention. He gets stressed out easily and doesn't calm down after activity. To deal with this, I have been working on the "off switch game".



Indigo: We have been doing less flyball practice with Indigo and focusing more on keeping her in good physical shape. She runs beautifully and seems to do well with some breaks. This gives us time to focus on Pax. She is busy with agility & nose work. Her first trial is coming up soon. Her & Ben are entered in jumpers & tunnelers. She will be starting the next level of nose work soon...odor detection.






Last weekend.....we went to a tournament in Abbotsford. Indigo & Epic ran well all weekend. Indigo ran all 3.8s in start and some 3.9s with a pass. Epic ran lots of 3.9s in start and a 3.901 with a pass! Pax had some awesome experience practicing on Saturday night after racing. He did several successful full runs with lots of distractions going on. We were proud. Now Ben & I have to decide who will run him. I think I'm losing the battle.


Upcoming Summer Schedule....
5/14 Race Practice
5/28-30 Agility Trial
6/4-5 Flyball Tournament - Cloverdale
7/9-10 Flyball Tournament - Salem (possible debut for Pax)
7/16 - Ben TTouch Seminar
7/23-24 Flyball Tournament - Maple Ridge
7/13-14 UFLI Flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
7/27-28 NAFA flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
8/5,6,7 Whippet Specialty Event - Argus Ranch
9/17-18 UFLI tournament - Gridley, CA
10/15-16 ASFA lure coursing Roy, WA



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flyball training and racing

I wish I got some video of Pax at flyball practice last week! He did awesome! I let him go from jump 4 to the box and then all the way back to Ben, with a dog passing into him and two dogs racing in the other lane...no baby gates. He held his ball every time and didn't even look at any other dog.

The only thing we need to work on now is his box turn and making sure it stays nice while adding speed to the box. I'm pretty sure he has been so easy to train because of his crazy tug drive. He is a serious maniac on the tug.

Here is last nights session

This weekend we are going to another flyball tournament! Epic & Indy are going with Joy on Friday night and then we will run them on Sunday. They are on a team together with Ezri, Tina and a borrowed borderjack height dog. It should be fun & fast!

Lure Coursing

We went to our first race practice with Pax, Indigo and Epic this past weekend. We wanted to try all 3 dogs on the lure to see how they would do. Indigo and Epic seemed to be herding the lure. They both almost did an outrun, past the lure and then came back to get it. They also might have been running directly for Ben, rather than the lure at all. Who knows...but we will probably continue to run them in practice since it only costs $2 per dog and it is long distance running, which is great for conditioning.

Pax was another story. He has seen the lure once before and immediately starting going NUTS! He was barking and whining up until I let him go for it. He ran by himself, so its hard to say how fast he was going. It looked pretty fast to me! Several people commented that he probably has some potential for doing well in performance events. I think so too!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

k9 nosework


There are so many great things about this sport that I decided to try..one of them is the lack of equipment. All we use is a variety of household items and lots of cardboard boxes. I have been wanting to try this for awhile and when I finally found a class to take, I had trouble deciding if I should sign up Pax or Indigo. Pax would be more a of challenge, but Indigo already does a lot of other activities (she is the only one that does agility). Epic was out of the question for this sport.

I decided to take the easy route and bring Indigo, although I have been training Pax at home. I did try Epic and immediately was reminding of why this was not the sport for him. He will stick with herding and flyball thank you very much.

Indigo is doing awesome in our class. It is so much fun to watch her progress each week. She is now at the point that she knows that she is hunting for treats and gets very excited for her turn. I have not been doing a great job with my homework, which is to set her up for some searches in several different locations other than home. I need to try at least two before her class this week!

I love this sport for cross training with agility and flyball and also for dogs that are retired from sports, physically unable to be really active, or dogs that are limited in activity choices because they are aggressive with dogs or people. This is something that can easily be done at home and really improves the relationship between dog and handler as well as increasing the mental stamina of the dog.

I would like to see if dogs with focus issues and limited attention spans during sports like agility and flyball would benefit from regular nosework practice.

I'll post updates on this as we get more advanced. Who knows...maybe we will enter a trial some day!

First Flyball Tournament of 2011

We went to our first tournament of the year this past weekend. We could only go on Sunday because of my work schedule, but our teammates were nice enough to bring Indigo and Epic to race on Saturday also. They both did great.

Indigo ran is completely back to her old self again and is running lots of 3.8's and 3.9s in 2nd position. I didn't start her, so I'm not sure what her real times are. I think my passes were pretty class, so that is probably accurate.

Epic is a little bit overweight at the moment and his box turn needs some work. He ran lots of 3.9s in start, but didn't seem quite as fast as usual.

We stayed in a hotel because it didn't seem worth the effort to set up the trailer for one night. Pax was perfect in the hotel. He slept in the bed, right up against me all night and didn't move. He practiced on Saturday night after racing and did well. I think we got a little bit ahead of ourselves and sent him on a few full runs, which messed up his turn. This reinforced that we need to keep it slow with him and stay close to the box until his turn is really good. I can't wait for his debut! His recall to the tug is super fast!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

recall update









Recalls: Considering my promise to my dogs at the beginning of the year and Susan Garrett's recent focus on reliable recalls, I have decided to step it up...especially for Epic.

I have been working on increasing the rate of reinforcement (giving my dogs treats every time they come to me) and trying to never call them if I think they will ignore me. I also realized that they do a drive by recall (they come for a treat and then zoom off again). We are working on an implied stay after a recall to solve this problem .

I am going to take Susan Garrett's recommendation and work through some distractions....starting with Epic & Pax. Of Susan's ideas these are the ones that I will work on: birds, sheep, door bell ringing, balls being thrown, smells, dog on leash, dogs running off leash, another family pet playing, another pet being fed, opening the front door, dogs doing agility/flyball nearby, toys on the floor, another dog tugging, squirrels, a toy thrown, a cat running, a swimming opportunity, leaving food. And for Epic I would like to add "someone holding a chuckit or tennis ball".

We will start with the easiest ones: dog on a leash, door bell, toys on the floor, smells, swimming opportunity (Pax not Epic), me standing still. I'll use a long line in these environments at first.

I am not going to be able to avoid the more difficult temptations, but I can commit to not setting up a situation in which I need to call them in a really distracting environment. Also, I probably can't do 3 five minute sessions a day, but I can definitely do one per day for five minutes.

I'll shoot for 20 recalls each session and use a variety of motivating toys and treats...and I'll start using a clicker.

For the next few weeks, I'll do the sessions at home with very little or no distractions and try out different rewards to see what is most motivating. I'll post an update when I have one.

And a brief overall update: Indigo is doing well in agility, but her handler needs to work with her at home to teach her weaves and some jumping drills before they can trial. She is also taking a nosework class and doing awesome with it. It is very fun and addictive!

We are going to our first tournament this weekend since December! Pax is doing really well with box work and we are taking it slow with full runs to build the basics first and get him really solid before we debut him. I'm pretty sure it will be this summer sometime, as he will be 1 in a few weeks. Epic needs wall work to fix his box turn and again, his handler needs to get working on that! We went to a Touch N Go seminar in February and got some great ideas and have been implementing a lot of changes in our training and how we run flyball practice.


For example...we use gutters to improve striding

Squishy tennis ball


I am volunteering at dog training classes to get more experience training and get some ideas for working with my own dogs and the flyball team.

We haven't been to another race practice with Pax, but there are several upcoming scheduled practices that we are planning on attending. Hopefully Pax can improve his recall before this.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

a hike in the woods


I realized recently that its been forever since we took the dogs for a hike. Unfortunately in the Seattle area there are very few areas that are safe for off leash romps in the woods. Sometimes the dog park doesn't cut it. I love watching the dogs bound through the woods, alternating between full speed running away from us and then racing back to check in.

I also realized that our new little whippet boy has never done this. You wouldn't know it - he hiked with us like he has done it a million times. He stayed with the pack and did well with his recalls along the way. His focus/obesession with Indigo is annoying most of the time, but it situations like this its kind of nice to know that he won't go running off to chase something. He would way rather keep an eye on Indigo.

Today we went to Issaquah and found a great trail with lots of up and down hill parts. The dogs ran fast and hard and slept for a solid 1/2 hour after.







Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Im all over the place

Okay my big plan was to spot doing box work and still with wall work and then I talked to someone who knows way more than I do. The suggestion was to continue doing wall work, but also do box work with a box. And don't do wall work with a ball.

I moved the props around again and used a tug that Pax has more drive for. This worked really well! He had a few box turns with the ball that I was really happy with! He is still double-hitting about 1/2 the time, but overall he is looking a lot better.

Our plan for the moment for practice is lots and lots of boxwork and maybe work up to some full runs soon.

OUR TRAINING SESSION LAST NIGHT

Thursday, February 3, 2011

pax box work update

I keep trying Pax on the box and its definitely a bit of a mess. Lots of double hitting and crumpling. In so many ways he is advanced....he is able to do all the jumps perfectly and isnt distracted by anything. This tempts me to push his training beyond what he is ready for. I think I really just need to focus on wall work only and leave the box for a few months. He is only 9 months old and has plenty of time to learn his box turn. I need to keep reminding myself that it is worth it to take a step back and train him slowly.

It is very different for me to train my own dog, compared to other peoples dogs. Especially in flyball. I have been fortunate to have dogs that are ready for the game before their bodies are ready. We will be going to the Touch N Go seminar this month and have a working spot for Pax. This should be really helpful for figuring out which direction to take his training

Even with our break from box work, expect to see Pax debut sometime this summer!

Here is the train wreck

Saturday, January 29, 2011

knocking and barking

I will start working from home soon, doing nutrition counseling over the phone. My home is currently not conducive to this because regardless of where I am in the house, they dogs will bark when someone knocks on door or rings the doorbell. When someone is calling for nutrition counseling, they think they are reaching someone in an office and I doubt they want to hear a pack of barking dogs. This is a bit of an emergency.

I have been working with Indigo unsuccessfully to get her to stop barking and jumping up on people for a long time. I have literally made no success. I tried to teach her to go to her mat. She just barks from her mat. I've tried removing her from the situation and letting her out when she is quiet. That doesnt work either.

My friend Greta suggested that we just give them treats and knock over and over and over until they stop barking. This worked quite well. Why didnt I think of this? I guess I was hung up on the idea that we didn't want to reward them for barking, but now I get the concept of conditioning them to associate a reward with a knock or doorbell ring.

I plan to work on this daily until I have total silence every time someone comes to the door.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

visitors have left

Kate left two weeks ago. I spend quite a bit of time with her working on her fear of other dogs. We had several sessions on leash at the park and she got to the point that she was able to be close to other dogs and not worry too much. I sent her back home when I started working because I couldnt give her the individual attention that she needs. Working with her was a good experience for me especially considering my failure with training Teal (now Lava). Now that I really understand about fear in dogs, I feel like a better trainer in dealing with this sort of thing.


Georgia was here for two weeks and made major progress while she was here. We had some trouble working on the whining because she wouldnt whine on walks. I decided to work on her whining in just in day to day life. She would whine to get anything she wants...food, out of her crate etc. One morning I waited for 45 minutes before letting her out of her crate. She finally stopped toward the end of her stay. And she finally started whining on walks.

As soon as she started whining, we stopped and did some basic tricks to get her refocused. This allowed her to walk past the scary house with the dog barking without whining. This made our walk quite a bit longer, but she made some real progress. At that point I had already had her for two weeks and it was time for her to go home. If I had her for another few weeks and lots more time, I think I could have made a lot more progress.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Time on the Real Box & Other Training Updates



We bought a used Fast Track Flyball Box and it arrived yesterday. We decided to try Pax on it. He seems to be ready to move to the real box. We loaded it for him and he did well! He caught the ball everytime and got his four feet up nicely.

Now we need to work on his approach to the box and his double hitting. The second arrangement in the VIDEO is much better and gets him on and off much faster. His problem is that he is going straight for the ball and not turning especially nicely. He is also too high. I am going to keep modifying things until I can get a better turn, which will involve some wall work and changing the props in front of the box.

Overall I am very happy with how he is doing. He is only 9 months and is doing real box work and is very focused on the game. I was not expecting my little whippet boy to be this easy to train!

Georgia has been on two walks so far and has not whined. I have been told that by the middle of the third walk I should expect some whining! We will find out tonight!


Georgia

I trained Kate this morning on leash outside of the dog park. She got to the point that she could comfortably watch dogs from a distance, but is still very worried that they will approach her. We will keep at it, until she is a bit more relaxed. Then I will probably bring her home for a little while (when I am working full-time) and then work with her again in a few months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

training news

First of all, I am going to have my hands full! Our friends dog Georgia is coming to stay with us and I will try to train her to to not whine while going on walks and maybe to start tugging in public. Seems easy enough right? Well, Im not a professional and her owner has been working on this for a long time. Im hoping I can at least make some progress in the right direction. Georgia will be arriving tonight.

I took Kate to a dog park the other day. It is really open and huge. I went during a time that is very empty. Having a fearful dog has helped me to realize that lots of dogs are very rude. She is clearly showing that she is nervous and many exuberant dogs take this as a sign that she wants to play. I was very wrong about taking her to the dog park. It was way too overwhelming and we had no escape from the dogs.

So last night I took her to Green Lake for some training. It is basically 3 mile path along a lake in the the middle of Seattle. All dogs are on leash (or supposed to be). We made some real progress there. I rewarded her for looking at other dogs and for looking at me when other dogs walked by. She told me that 15 feet or more was as close as she wanted to be to another dog. So that is where we worked. Unfortunately someone came up from behind us and before I could save her, some clueless person approached us with her dog and Kate snapped at him. I tried to walk away and she followed "but he is very friendly". Ughh! Other than that little incident. I think we were very successful.

At the dog park with Indigo and Epic yesterday, we did some recall work. As usual when it is time to leave there is always several people playing chuck-it near the parking lot. And as usual Indigo and Epic were happily stealing other dogs balls and ignoring us. I went to the car and grabbed our chuck-it. Indigo, being the more aware one saw it and came running and didnt leave our side again. Epic did not notice until we called him with the chuck-it waving in the air. Not great, but it was a start.

Pax is getting better and better with his recall and general self control. He is getting MUCH better at bringing the ball back and dropping it at my feet as long as no other dogs are around. Unfortunately we are having problems getting him to stop biting Indigo when they run together, so Pax will need a muzzle. He also will not stop peeing on the floor in the middle of the night. Crate or no crate, water after five 5 pm or not, let out at 11 pm or not, he pees. Its extremely annoying. I think we will have to start letting him out in the middle of the night.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Visitors

To improve my dog training skills and help friends out, I have been taking opportunities to bring dogs into our house and train them. Right now we have a puppy that belongs to Diane Pagel from Deltabluez Stockdogs. She will be an awesome herding dog. She has great manners: sleeps through the night, never whines or barks, goes into her crate with no issue. She gets along wonderfully with my dogs and is very appropriate with Finley (my baby).

Her only problem is that she is quite fearful, mainly of other dogs. I have had problems dealing with this issue in the past. I think I owe it to her and myself and the other dogs that I havent trained well to work on this until it is resolved (or at least try my hardest).

Before we venture out into the world and start training with strange dogs, I am working on some basic training at home. She is getting good at "touch" "look at me" "sit" "lie down". I am also rewarding her when she is handled and for orienting to me at all. She is doing a good job and is beginning to enjoy clicker training.

Next week we will venture out into the world and watch dogs from far away.



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wall Work With a Ball

Today I moved the props out further to give Pax more space for his turn and made it a little bit lower. He double-hit on the first two and then single-hit for the rest. I also tried to get him off the chute faster by being more enthusiastic with the tug. Im happy with how he did tonight compared to last night!

CLICK TO SEE VIDEO

Day 1 - training a better recall

I am trying to condition both Indigo and Epic to recall to me when someone is holding a chuck-it. Yesterday I learned that Epic is really dedicated to the chuck-it and it is way more rewarding than any food reward or even a moving ball without a chuck-it. Indigo was a little bit easier because she thinks she is starving.

I tried using the premack principle using treats while Ben held a chuck-it. The chuck-it was completely still. Every time they looked at me, I clicked and treated. And would would release them to go stare at the chuck-it again.

Indigo got to the point of ignoring the chuck-it and staring at me. Epic on the other hand stared at the chuck-it for a long time with no throws at all. When he looked back at me, I clicked and tried to give him a treat, but he wasnt interested at all. Finally after 10 minutes of no reward from the chuck-it he would come to me to play with a tennis ball.

After talking to some people and getting some suggestions I am going to start working on their recall with a second chuck-it. I also might try the "give me a break game" from Control Unleashed.