Monday, December 12, 2011

practice time

During our winter break from classes, I've been working on some goals for the dogs. We were at the barn with our friends Jen, Clue, Tag, Delilah and Holly on Sunday, trying to work a few exercises. 

I've been watching "Dial up the Distance" and found several helpful exercises to work with Griffin. I am insistent that we can get some distance with Griff. We've also been working some hard weave entries and refining our contacts. 

For Zig, it's contact work, weaves, and jumping. Baby courses of a few obstacles and teaching front crosses. I need to teach the tire. I'm not going to work on the teeter on my own, really don't want to f it up! 

They both did well. Griff was driving ahead nicely, especially since his reward was a thrown ball. It was easy to reward him working at a distance that way. Zig worked mostly for his frisbee, which was pretty cool. Treats just for contact work. 

I am planning to neuter Zig on Saturday but I'm dreading it. Especially since that means no more practicing til the start of classes! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fleet Feet December 2011 trial, day two

Fleet feet CPE trial day two....

Standard run:



The decoy tunnel near the dog walk got a fair few number of dogs, but not us. Got a front cross in between jump 10 and 11 tunnel. Got another one in between tunnel 13 and weaves. Really solid run all around, and our last level 4 standard q! On to level 5.

I'll have to compare the difference between Wildcard, which was a great run, and Colors, which was a passable run-maps will help but the main difference was in wildcard, I handled the way that was the most clear and smooth, and in colors, I ran to prevent knocked bars, which made the run much choppier. We incidentally had no knocked bars and no weave problems all weekend. But right now, too tired to analyze more. Going to rest and recuperate.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fleet Feet December 2011 trial, day one

Today was day one of FF's December trial...really, really early. I was up by 5:15, in the car by 6, and at the trial by 7. In 25 degree weather. Brrrrfreakingbrrr. 

Wish I had a video camera of the runs we did, but I do find watching myself painful, and my iPhone doesn't really take the best video, so we will settle for some course map illustration! 

Let's talk about Standard....

Tricky areas-I wasn't too worried about the Aframe-tunnel discrimination the first time, Griff highly prefers contacts and is much easier to pull than push, so I just planned to lead out. The pinwheel led to my favorite dilemma, where to place the front cross I know I needed to do. I walked it with the cross between 5 and 6, between 6 and 7, and with a rear cross to the weaves. The rear cross option was the least promising as far as getting him to nail his weaves confidently, so I really wanted to get a front cross in there. Needed to be on the left of the weaves to pull to the 8 jump and not into the tunnel. And then finally, the tunnel choice instead of the Aframe was going to be tricky, but I knew I could keep up with him on the jumps and just planned to run straight as if I was going past the aframe before asking him to tunnel. 





So all that worked well. Front crossed between five and six, lovely weaves, no problem with the jump, nice jumpline and turned into the tunnel nicely. Feeling home free when we hit the teeter---and that of course was my mistake, because I was not working the 16 tunnel and somehow got an off-course jump (14-15-8). Not really clear on why, but perhaps the teeter was offset just enough that I was still pulling to the left slightly, and again, Griff doesn't push well. So NQ on that, but really nice work in general on the run. I was disappointed only because had we Q'd we would have been done with level 4 standard and on to level 5. But usually we don't struggle in standard like we do in, say, Jackpot, so I know we'll have plenty of chances to get those.

Now Snooker, which I used to hate, worked out nicely. I decided to do the #5 tunnel after each opening red jump because, hey, no chance to knock bars. I thought we'd start with the far left red jump, but there ended up being a cone to mark the start line on the near left jump which interfered with the wrap I would have needed there so we started with that one, then alternated sides, then 234567 done. Did a reverse flow pivot on the first red, which somehow popped him in the other end of the tunnel than I'd planned, but it worked out fine. Nice wraps. Plenty of time. Didn't get point greedy, because for me any snooker Q is a good one.

Fullhouse was typical-fast, fun. Jumpers was a fun course as well, I'll try to remember how I ran that one as I really was impressed with both Griff's work and my ability to think on my feet. I'd planned a front cross in two different spots but didn't decide until the run when I determined which made more sense.

Anyway, 3-4, and a nice NQ standard run. Griff did well. I was proud of him and a little sad because he seemed tired before Jumpers, although once on course you couldn't tell it. I guess he's grown up.
Back tomorrow...I need to get a more mellow hobby...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Training break

Haven't been working on much lately except game play with the puppers, namely Frisbee. Today, we had retrieve and tug in the front yard for two sessions of 5-10 throws! That's pretty good for a dog with not a lot of retrieving drive. Baby steps.

Griff and I have a trial this weekend. We'll see. I'm sure Jackpot will be a frustration due to our lack of distance skills, and we usually crap out in colors, but we'll see if we can't get at least a few Qs.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Agility league part two, puppy class, and a bit on other stuff.



Been taking the Aussies on some urban forest hikes lately. Usually, we see 2-3 people and maybe one other dog, so it's a great chance to practice recalls and check ins while getting a little exercise for the human, and a lot of running for the dogs. I love the trails this time of year, while the leaves fall silently it's like an autumnal snow storm, but not so cold.

Zig had his third 2x2 seminar, and he is now weaving six poles reliably from both sides, including before and after a jump and with a send to the jump and poles from some distance. He also, accidentally on my part, did 12 poles twice yesterday at the barn. I did not plan to try him out since the barn and the poles are brand new to him, but he sent himself and did all 12 perfectly. You can bet he got a jackpot for that! His contacts are taking some work, because his speed is great, but he almost can't slow enough to hit two on two off. I am torn, because I don't want to slow him down in general, but he needs to hit those contacts. I don't want to do running contacts with him. I think he'll need the pause (or I will, so I can catch up!) We need to add some jump grids into our training, and slowly begin working more sequencing. Right now, I don't ask him to do more than 3-4 obstacles at a time, one sometimes if it's a difficult skill. But he's coming along. God, I wish I had my own barn/field/lawn and equipment!

Griff continues to give me trouble with distance work. Like, he has none. We've subbed for league twice, and both times, it's been a distance (fast, jackpot) style game. He just doesn't get distance work. I am so frustrated, because we never ever address it in class, and I've never trained it, so I don't know how to teach him. I slowed him down and made him too dependent on me, and it is seriously biting me in the ass. I think the best option is to find an instructor who can do some private sessions with us and show us how to train it effectively. And preferably one who doesn't pigeon hole us because he's not USDAA/AKC titled and we'll probably never get there.

Class has been frustrating because although we've worked with the same trainer for years, she consistently underestimates us and doesn't give us the opportunity to learn better skills. Yes, my timing on front crosses will often be poor, I struggle with them. But I've taught him a lot, we've worked hard, and if vet school didn't get in the way, and now my crappy work schedule, we'd be a lot further along in our titles. He's a good little worker, and I really want to become a better handler, and I feel like we are constantly being belittled and not helped to get to the next level. Sooo, I hope to find someone who can work with us one on one and give us some new skills, or at least some exercises to work on.

Too much to ask?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zig does 6 weaves

video

Taught with the 2x2 method. Much easier than channel weaves, although we still have some interesting "choices" (mistakes), like the night he decided to nose touch the first pole and enter on the second. Still need work on the right side entry...but coming along!

League and baby dog class

Griff and I subbed for NW Agility League last night. We can't participate since I work Tuesdays and the last two  meets are Tuesday nights, but we agreed to sub if someone needed to be gone. First night apparently two people did! I haven't done league before but apparently every night there is one standard style course and one games course. They post the course maps (who knew?) and you are encouraged to practice ahead of time (just not the day of).

The standard course was a fairly straight forward (level 2 CPE) style course. The game was called chances, and alack, it was very similar to a jackpot course. There was a line the handler couldn't cross and it required two tunnel-contact discriminations (the dog had to go out and take the tunnel instead of the contact obstacle that was closer to the handler).

Standard was pretty simple and Griff had no problem except a knocked bar after the A-frame (????) I figured we were going to blow the chances course but really wanted to try to get some distance practice. You could step over the line at any point for a 20 point fault, but I was hoping not to. Gambled on time not running out....Set him up ok but of course he took the jump and immediately went to the dog walk as it was closer to me than the tunnel--called him off and sent him to the tunnel, took a bit of convincing but he did do it. No problem with the three jumps, but then of course wanted to take the frame instead of the tunnel, and it took me a lot (well, 10 seconds) longer to convince him to take the tunnel that time. But he did take it! so I should be happy about that. So I will.

The puppyface started in a midpoint baby dog class last week, which means both Aussies have back to back classes Mondays, but means that I am no longer in the Monday AM class which was kicking my butt and teaching me a lot. Sigh. I can't drive down there twice a week so it's a necessary evil, but I'm sad about it. I kind of have mixed feelings about starting Zig there, since I feel like there are some aspects of training that I've missed with Griff, but I really wanted him in a class. I can always move him if I find something closer. I don't like teaching contacts the way we are (luring), but I will try to keep clicking them and ignore the critique I always seem to get when I use the clicker in class. He showed no fear except of the shoot, didn't think it should come down on his head, so we will have to work on that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Old dogs, new dogs


The old man wanted a walk in the worst way a few weeks ago, so we went to the forest nearby and he got to mosey around. One blessing of being old, he can no longer run away from me, so got to be off leash for awhile. He very much enjoyed sniffing leaves and peeing on bushes. The simple pleasures...

The puppy saw contact equipment for the first time on Friday. He was, not surprisingly, quite excited about it. The A-frame was only partially elevated and it was just a 3/4 dog walk, but he thought both were very fun. If I don't mess it up, this guy will be fast! He also got some needed balance practice and more work on the dreaded phone book, bleh. It did scare me a little at one point that he was running so fast down the dog walk his feet came off the side, but he held on. It makes me appreciate having a dog who is (mostly) well trained on the obstacles.

Griff and I had a much better agility class today. We are still the worst, but we are learning a lot since the courses are so much harder and everyone else's skill sets are so great. Not the worst deal. I still get embarrassed, like when I was so excited he got a difficult weave entry that I neglected to realize he'd done so by cutting behind me, oops. Nice dog, shame about the handler indeed. But he did do some nice serpentines, only had one weave bobble, and nice contacts.

Need to work some 2x2 with Zig today, probably need to bring them inside rather than get poured on. He hates wet grass.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Being the worst

Griff and I just started a new agility class (well, same instructor, different group of dogs). Two handlers I know, both experienced agility competitors with relatively young dogs. The other two I've seen at trials, but don't know.  We have the dubious honor of being the worst in the class.

I am going not to care because a. it's a better learning situation to be in than being the best, b. we are out of practice after being off a month or more, and c. well, it's just agility. Heh. But I did feel a little embarrassed, which is such a stupid emotion. Poor Griffy had probably no idea what to think of me. But we will persevere and get better because of it.

It did remind me that a. we haven't worked contacts in a long time, b. you can't expect distance skills you haven't trained, and c. be careful what you wish for, or you just might get it. I was always trying to get Griff to focus more on me in class because I didn't want a runaway dog, to the point now where he'll try to jump over a tunnel rather than take a jump because it's closer to me. Arg. My fault.

It's funny how ego-driven we are, no matter whether a big, life-or-death situation, or our hobby, we can still get all mixed up in "performing" well. I will go lick my wounds now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fleet Feet trial 9/10-9/11/11

Soooo, agility. Status of agility training has been a bit sketchy since the last trial. I was so frustrated at times by our lack of progress, then following sickness in both myself and my old man dog, I missed most of agility class for August. We did do a 2x2 weaves workshop, which, at least in practice, seemed to really help Griffy with some weave trouble he'd been having. We practiced weaves and jumpwork at home quite a bit. No contacts, no long courses. With Zig, I took a class based at least loosely on Control Unleashed, and since he's turned 1, started some jump work with him. I also (very slowly) have started some 2x2 weaves with him (just one set so far).

We had to sign up for the September CPE trial long before I knew we'd be taking a month off class. I was not at  all sure how it would go, considering Griff hadn't see the arena, a piece of contact equipment, or even run while another dog was nearby since July. And, Saturday, it turned out, was predicted to be close to 100 degrees. Eek.

Let's see: good stuff. Fullhouse: startline stay. Weaves were 1/2. I didn't correct since it's a time issue. No problem with teeter. Ran pretty fast. Q and 2nd (due to points). Bad stuff: weaves were 1/2. One knocked bar.

Standard: nicely run course! No complaints. Both sets of weaves perfect (both 6s). No knocked bars. Q and first.

Snooker: Weaves 1/2. Otherwise, no complaints. Did not make it all the way to #7 but he didn't need the points to Q. It was a very low qualifying snooker, mostly because 5 and 6 were combos and the course was so long a lot of people were running out of time. He q'd and took 2nd.

Jumpers: Pretty good run-now he's in level 5. No complaints, especially due to how hot the day was.

Sunday:
Jackpot: perfect jackpot execution, read reverse flow pivot and rear crosses well. Weaves 1/2. Q! Not very high scoring, since I forgot that in jackpot weaves are only worth 3 and not 5, but it was ok enough. We don't have distance skills so Qing in jackpot is hard for us.

Standard. Beautiful run that I messed up by forgetting where I was going. Caused him to knock a bar, but he still q'd. Perfect 12 weaves. Q and 1st even with 5 faults.

Wildcard: nice run. Weaves perfect. He was a champ. No complaints. Q.

Colors: nice run, good weaves. No knocked bars!!!! YAY!

My main disappointment is that his weave pole performance, while much improved from last trial, was still only about 2/3rds accurate. Not good enough for AKC. And geez, that's all we've been working on! It was mostly about not searching for the correct entry still. He was much better, but still not as solid as I'd hoped. Gotta keep working it, maybe going back to just two poles.

Most of the frustrating things about this trial were other people. People complaining about the CPE rules, the judge, other trivial stuff. One "friend" who likes to take support, can't give it. A dog tried to eat Zig's face, and the owner was a bit annoying about it. Too many people yelling at their dogs in the ring in the name of "training" and thinking that rules (such as the new no gates closed rule) did not apply to them and their dogs.

But it was nice to hang out with several agility people that I really like but don't see often. So many people are friendly, supportive, and just out to do well and have fun with their dogs. I just have to ignore those who aren't.

I am still debating about when to neuter the shrimp. He's 13 months, and I have him on the schedule for the 23rd, but I am kind of hating doing it. I wish his breeder would weigh in for me, but she's not been answering my emails. Hmm.

off to prepare for a six day week! BLEH!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Agility musings

Griff and I trialed this weekend for the first time since March. Zig came along for the experience and socialization. With the wedding and June being such a busy month, we haven't been in very aggressive training for about 2 months. It was clear this might be the source of some of our issues.

We entered all 8 CPE classes. First was jackpot-Griff was attentive and his opening was fine, but the closing was a traditional jackpot with a distance jump tunnel layered with two jumps closer. You sent them into a tunnel, angled towards the far jump but still requiring comfort at distance. We just don't do distance, especially with layered obstacles, since jackpot is the only class that uses it and we don't run NADAC. So naturally, after coming out of the tunnel Griff oriented towards me and "out jump" wasn't enough to make him take the far jump-end of jackpot. I wasn't disappointed with it since I can't expect him to do what he hasn't been trained to do!

Standard-we had weave trouble, which we corrected. Should have been 5 faults but a q. Somehow, they marked us as a 15 point major fault. NQ. I am pretty sure it was a scribing error, but nothing to be done about it.

Wildcard was a nice run, and we finally got out of level 2 colors! Fullhouse is always a fun run.

Standard II on Sunday was the problem. The first four obstacles were tough. Jump to dog walk but set at a right angle, so if the set up wasn't just right it was a difficult entry, and Griff was nervous as soon as we walked out. He never, ever shows ring anxiety, he will occasionally knock bars if my direction is late but he doesn't seem to worry about it. This was different. He wouldn't get into position on the start line, kept looking back at the dog that was leaving the ring, and then when I sent him over the jump and onto the dog walk, I took my eyes off him for a split second and he tried to cut behind me instead of going onto the dog walk. We recovered, but after the jump were the weaves. We had a complete weave breakdown. At first, he popped the 10th pole, so I took him back to fix it. Then we popped at the third, then the tenth, then he acted like he couldn't weave at all....such a strange thing. SO....stupidly too late, but finally I gave up and just ran the rest of the course, knowing he'd get an NQ but wanting him to end on a good note-and he ran the rest of the 14 obstacles perfectly. Strange. I don't know why the stress behaviors were so bad.

Snooker-I played it safe with the points and he did perfectly, no stress, perfect attentiveness, blew past 6 weaves first but then executed them perfectly. Jumpers course-he saved our ass, did great. Much more like the Griff I am used to.

There are a few things to note about this trial:
1. Competitive people are everywhere, even in a "fun" sport like agility. They can make you feel bad about your progress even though objectively it is right where you expect it to be.
2. I should have been more careful when reining in Griff's forwardness. He now checks in too much and won't necessarily run a line if I am too far, even if I am cueing him correctly.
3. I cue late too much in trials.
4. I need to trust the front cross.
5. I need to make sure my training efforts are in line with my training goals, and not feel bad if the results reflect the efforts. Not everyone can be a fanatic, and if you train at a specific level, that is the performance you should expect.

Zig was great at the trial. I wish I had him further along, but he was awfully mellow in the crate and attentive out. However, he is certainly more aware of his testicles, and I am thinking I really want to neuter him at 12 months. Maybe I can make it to 14-16 months but don't think I can make it to two.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Foundations and Grown-up Agility

Zig's foundation class:

Did a better job of being motivating. A new schnauzer in class necessitated me working harder at being fun and keeping Zig with me. We've got two on two off phone book. We've got good jump drive over the standards. We've got the beginnings of circle work. We're getting very good stays even in front of the jump (which he desperately wants to take). We've got tug! We get distracto-pants during the last minutes esp when he's waiting to run his mini courses.

Grown up agility

The class I'm in is not challenging enough for us right now. Tried to spice it up by adding some distance practice but the course really wasn't set up for it, didn't work too well. I think most of the people in the class run AKC novice which is much different than where we are. Which is who knows? I know I want more distance work, I wish I'd done more foundation work with Griff-especially jump work. Need to start puppy jump grids more vigorously with Zigster. Weaves and contacts were especially good tonight. Not a bobble at the startline. Why only when I can least afford it (ie, colors run that he blew) does he break his stay???

I want an incredibly toy driven dog for my next puppy. I've decided.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My puppy hates shaping

We have been having a devil of a time with the "phone book" exercise in Agility Foundations, namely, get two back feet on the phone book. We had little trouble with two front feet but 1. changing the game 2. expecting back feet when dogs have much less control/awareness of them and 3. trying to increase criteria have left me with a very frustrated puppy! He's started vocalizing when I get the phone book out. I feel this exercise is kind of dumb but my instructor insists this is the way I should do it (no luring, no teaching to back up first without the phone book). Today after finally (sort of ) nailing two back feet on, she wanted us to do a sit on the phone book. This just about broke my puppy (although , or maybe because, he was frequently offering a sit on the phone book when two front feet stopped working).

He's also having some difficulties with focus/motivation right now. I hope it's just an adolescence thing, but I suspect it might have something to do with his handler :(. I am afraid somehow I'm dampening his motivation, by not making it fun enough, decreasing frequency of rewards, or being too predictable.

I'd really like to find a rally class we can take, but my schedule is so busy none of them are fitting in, sad.

Wedding planning is taking over many spare moments as well.

engagement shots and dogs



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Class notes

Problem areas:

1. Playground monitor-Zig occasionally still defaults to herding behavior and tries to bust up other dogs' playtimes.

2. Leave it-haven't worked it at all

3. Still doesn't like hands over the head. At all.

Good stuff

1. Sat and greeted two strange men outside of class very politely.

2. Worked for a strange MAN quite well (this was actually a little annoying, as the guy was shoving sausage in Zig's face to keep him with him, but I suppose the practice was good for Zig, so I'll try not to be too annoyed.)

3. Nice off leash heeling.

Stays still so-so.

Puppy in the nice chair

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Puppy intermediate class

Holy moley, wish I had video of my puppy heeling all around the room at class today off leash,around the other puppies, balls being thrown, treats being dropped...such a good boy.

He met a four year old Aussie owned by our instructor today and it was like instant breed recognition. He leapt for him like "hey, we're related!" Got a little reprimand from Sawyer for that, but took it well. And, he made friends with the Blue Lacy that he was snarky with from week one...boy that pup changed in personality! Not at all leaping at other pups' heads like night one. I've never met a Blue Lacy before, they are cute.

I'm so pleased that he is so much less concerned about being in a room full of other pups now. He is more relaxed, happy to interact but prefers to work if it's working time....such a good little man.

Got to get some updated pics. Here's a cameraphone one with big brother.



Ziggy Intermed and Griff

So after complaining about a. lack of toy drive and b. driving time to class, I decided to skip agility on Monday and work Griff at home, so we did some jump work and stay practice (while I cleaned my car in the front of the house). Griff wanted to inform me that my last complaints about his lack of tug drive are bullshit, so he happily did long downstays and heeling for retrieves and then tug games. So there, he sez.

I did not brag on the pupper either. Last week in PI, we had loose leash walking practice, which Zig did, off leash, in heel, around the other pups and people. Only occasional distractions when someone couldn't remember we don't walk our dogs right up on top of another dog. He also played during free play and only tried to herd twice! Beautiful recalls out of play as well. He's S-M-A-R-T. He loves his fur tuggie (only gets it during training) and was happy to work quite hard for it. So yay for Zig too. We'll see how tonight's class goes. He spent ten good minutes retrieving his babble ball last night, so he'd like me to mention that my concern about his retrieve is perhaps not warranted (well, he sez bullshit too, but I told him he was too young for such language).

Agility foundations was cancelled for this week, so I really should spend some time trying to free shape two back paws on the phone book some more, but this exercise frustrates me so I put it off.

Zig is getting longer than he is tall, I hope it's just a freakish growth spurt and not a sign that he'll be longer backed.

This rain is making me nervous that our engagement photos on Saturday will be of two wet people and four wet dogs. Awesome.

And in totally non-dog-news, I am glad Glee didn't jump the shark with its original songs episode. I was worried. But Blane and Kurt storyline was so sweet, and I thought Lea Michele was much more Rachel from early season one, slightly off-putting but endearing. The original songs, well, the good ones were the outtakes (Trouty Mouth? Big Ass Heart? Hell to the No! greatness!) I must say, Sue needs to get back to the Cheerios where she belongs. And we need more Artie, and Mercedes needs some romance in her storyline! Do I sound like a fan dork? Sorry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

shaping frustration

Playing more shaping games with Zig, and finding he is not what I'd call a fiend at throwing behaviors. Since we've played so much on two on two off phone book work, his first attempt is to put paws on the object, then walk over it. If that doesn't work, he'll sit or lay down by it, as if to say, see how good I'm being! I was trying to shape him to pick up an object (in this case a light nylon bag). We got two feet on, walking on, four feet on, nosing the bag, then scooting the bag with a foot. The funny thing is, he will pick up anything off the floor, especially things he shouldn't all the time. He would not, however, even attempt to mouth the bag flat on the floor. When I held it up, he did put his mouth on the strap, which I clicked and rewarded, but as soon as it was down on the floor, here went the two feet on again. He just doesn't seem motivated enough to throw many behaviors out there, or have I rewarded him too much for stationary calm behavior?

It's frustrating, I really want a better retrieve and more retrieve drive, and I figured shaping the pick up and give would be a good place to start, but apparently he's not going to greet frustration by trying different things, but by laying down and offering good dog behavior. Seems a silly thing to complain about, but sometimes I worry he is growing up to be too mellow?!?

Sounds nuts, but Guinness stopped wanting to play with anything by the age of 2 and never found it particularly reinforcing. Zoe likes to play by herself and will tug but I never could use it much as a reinforcement because her shyness issues made her shut down in classes. Griff will retrieve well and I can use a ball as a reinforcer in class, a tug is less reliable. Zig seems to prefer to tug, but outside doesn't think toys are of much interest. *Sigh* I really wanted a toy nut.

In other news, driving is getting really old and it's going to cost me Griff's agility class I think. Since it's an hour to work each way, it is becoming harder to get motivated to drive an hour on my day off to Griff's class. If I could time it with work it might be easier, but then he'd have to spend 10 hrs in the car or time in the clinic, and I'd rather he not have to be exposed to that environment. *sigh* I guess I'll have to start putting out feelers for a closer class.

Even with complete lack of training Dad, John and I ran the Shamrock Run Sunday. Worst feeling race I've ever run although I don't think our time was much different than last time. Next year I really want to do the 15 K since they get medals. My knees were being assholes but that seems to be what I'll have to deal with if I want to run at all.

Crappy cell phone pic pre-race.

Monday, March 7, 2011

slacking, slacking, slacking

Short update...

Zig is in two classes right now, Agility Foundations and Puppy Intermediate. Agility foundations uses the Greg Derrett system supposedly which I'm not sure how similar it is to the way I've trained Griff, but there are definite differences. For one, no targets on the ground are used. We are focusing mainly on handling exercises such as focus, heeling with attention, jump drive, teaching two on two off (which is done with a clicker and shaping, and is slow going). We have run tiny"courses"-two jumps with no bars, table, tunnel, so a very small amount of sequencing. I wish I had my own equipment so I could start him on contact equipment but I guess slow is better than nothing. He does pretty well, it can take him awhile to warm up to shaping exercises in class but he's got great jump drive, loves to run the mini courses, his heel is coming along (for one of my dogs ;) ) and he's working on impulse control when the other dogs are running.

In puppy intermediate, which is our second time through the class, my main concern is getting him more comfortable around dogs his own age. He seems to have the most problem with pushy puppies his same age. He does well with younger ones and is very respectful of older dogs, but somehow pups his own age he seems nervous about. In particular, the really boisterous in your face types that like to launch into play before proper intros set him off. We will see how it goes. I also want to keep him thinking that people are a good thing. He barked twice at strangers yesterday on our walk, but one was a whole group with a boisterous dog. The other was a man in his backyard with an aussie of his own. Zig woofed but seemed to want to say hello, and then when the guy was obviously not coming out of his backyard, Zig laid down and waited for me calmly to finish talking.

Griff and I have practiced some one-jump activities to refresh his jump drive. He didn't knock any bars at his last trial although he did pop a weave pole at 12 which he has not done before (if the entry is clean, usually the whole set is clean). God, what I wouldn't give to have my own set up (and a giant backyard!)

Guinn turned 13 last week. OMG. That dog is amazing. Here's hoping he continues to be my old man.

Zoe is Zoe. Basically a good little housedog, not up for more at this point.

My goals are to finish Griff's level 2 CPE title at the next trial (we need one stupid colors and one stupid jackpot), figure out if I can find a place closer to home to train (getting very tired of driving!) and keep challenging the Zig monster, especially more shaping games, offering behaviors, and increasing play drive.

21/2 months til the wedding, eek!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


to this!
happy almost 6 mo bday Zig!
From this....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ziggy update-5 months

So, Zig has so far successfully completed puppy kindergarten, puppy intermediate, and is in puppy agility foundations. He's a good little worker. He was way more distracted in puppy intermediate than in pk or at agility class, I think because he knew playtime was imminent, or because there was a super-sketch puppy (8 months) in  that class that jumped him twice (the second time was totally due to the trainer's bad judgement and my own, damn). He's the picture of focus at agility foundations. So cute.

So far, he's the kind of pup who can work for an hour straight. He prefers food rewards but will work for special toys or play time with mom more and more. He is a bit inhibited at first to play so we work on it in short spurts (this is out and about, at home play is no problem).

He's finally figuring out shaping-am working on him lowering his head in between his paws and he's getting it quickly. He got two on two off on the contact object quickly. He will throw behaviors at me if he's not sure what I want, which is cute, but need to work on thinking more and not just going thru his repertoire.

My main concerns at this point are: a bit of insecurity around groups of new dogs (he defaults to herding type behavior if he gets stressed). A tendency to food-guard against the other dogs (with chewies in kennel, not if training in groups). A tendency to focus a lot on playtime with his siblings and less with me (my fault). Ongoing socialization with strangers-just need to keep it up. A tendency to startle at sudden environmental changes-the garbage can at class spooked him but we worked through it. He's still obsessed with plastic objects and trading happens multiple times a day.

He's still a shrimp but is up to about 30 lbs, I am happy for him to get his weight slowly and stay rangey, less stress on growing joints.

Would like to start him in a rally class but having trouble finding one...the only one at HGL where we have been training is on a night I work late. Maybe at his agility basics facility?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011