Toller Obedience- Advanced Teamwork Trial


Sat- Wildcard Open

Very happy outside of the ring!  Heeled perfectly all the way to the ring and then lost it a little bit.  Wouldn't look at me for taking of the leash and jumped on the steward coming up behind him.  Setting up in heel for the first exercise he wouldn't fix himself to line up straight and kept glancing around him.  But then we took that first step and he turned it on!  Thank God!  There was a few more glances in the heeling and I ended up giving him a 2nd command (likely unnecessary as he glanced away right at the fast time.  But mostly he was attentive and drivey in the heeling.

Jumped on me nicely at the finish of heeling and played with me on the way to the figure 8.  More looking at the stewards coming in and again he had a hard time setting up in heel.  But then he did a fantastic job of staying focused and driving for the actual figure 8!

Basically the same issues for the drop on recall, retrieves, and broad jump.  Looking around on the setup and slow to sit but great attitude on the actual exercises.  Actually I think he did less looking around at each new setup.  And for the first time in a recent trial he actually did a beautiful broad jump!

Our "Wildcard" exercise (get to skip 1 exercise) was the long sit.  We joined the group stays at the down stay where Vito did his very first out of sight stay in a trial.  He seemed confused going into the ring and setting up, and then even more confused when the judge moved us from the end into the middle (in catalog order).  But the stay itself seemed relax as far as I can tell.

During awards Vito was absolutely fixated on the stewards with the milkbone biscuits.  I could get him to do a sit stay but he would not look at me and barely move to turn away.

Sun- Advanced Teamwork
The big day!  Outlook was not high for actually passing the exercises.  I just hoped that he wouldn't lose confidence and be hesitant about not knowing what to do.  Confidently failing is what I wanted!

So yeah, we failed every single exercise other than heeling for a grand total of 30 something points out of 200!  Even the down in motion which he should have nailed, we failed the call to heel portion.  I'm not sure what he was thinking!
But awesomeness!  I am so happy with how he handled the ring and I think that is the most fun we have ever had at a trial.  There was a little glancing around in the heeling but it was even better than Saturday's Open run.  And then he got his toy in the ring!!!  And then he confidently brought me back a little plastic fire truck on our scent object.  Happy, wrong, Toller!

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Goodbye, again, Miss Gracie

Gracie moved in with her new mom yesterday!  Hopefully their training together will continue to go well and she won't be coming back to me yet again.


I had Gracie the longest, by far, of all the service puppies I raised.  I admit the house feels really empty without her.  Py makes our count of dogs to 3, it really just feels like I have 2 dogs and a puppy.  Or maybe it just feels lighter because 4 dogs was a little crazy, at least when one of them is still learning all the rules.

 We did get to go to the lake a few more times in the bonus extra month I had her.


Last family picture.  Somehow it seems fitting that she didn't want to come further up and join the others for the shot.  She's moving on to more important things.



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Pyra 12 weeks

Since Py turned 12 weeks I've taken her to the nice disc golf park a few times to swim in the lake and run on the paths.  She is pretty darn independant on our walks and really doesn't care if she is abandoned while she checks out a good spot.  Luckily Pyra really likes her food so she is mostly coming when called and also likes to check in every now and then to beg for some more.
Some more accidental swimming! But only did it once and then has been careful not to get too far in the water.


She seems to have come up with her own solution for couch overcrowding.

Vito is pleased.  Until sometimes she falls on top of him.

At this point we're nice and settled with her routines.  Almost too comfortable in that it's easy to forget that she's still a puppy and really does need constant watching.  But Py knows about watching other dogs train, mostly uses the rock potty area without prompting, chews slightly less on naughty items, and runs to her crate when asked.  Too easy.

And on Neurotic Toller days, Vito will even play with her.  Meaning he will growl very loudly the whole time and pin her to the ground often.  But he's in a play bow the whole time so Py can clearly stop panicking :)  Actually she does really well with all the dog's she has met, including Vito.  Very confident and bounces back easily from being pushed around.

New thing we worked on this past week was re-visiting hind feet on a box.  She had done one session a few weeks ago but then I stopped due to some confusion and struggling with Frog Legs.  Frog still sucks, but it's going a little better.  I also introduced nose targeting a dumbbell for the start of formal retrieve training.  And we've recently started to do some pivoting in heel without her little perch.  Biggest hinder in that training is her tendency to auto sit.  I've learned from previous puppies that I really don't want the sit at heel introduced so early as it interferes in fluid motion when they're still learning.

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Panic Now- Advanced Teamwork Entries

Our club's obedience trial is coming up this weekend and we're offering the Advanced Teamwork class again this year.  Basically it's Utility+ for those not familiar with the class.


While I really haven't practiced any of the exercises this year I decided to enter Lance in it both days just for fun.  I have convinced a few other members of the club to enter on Sunday and actually I only entered both days just so if someone else entered Saturday they wouldn't be alone.

And then I entered Vito on Sunday.  I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking.  Vito also hasn't had any practice with the exercises this year.  Just a little bit off and on since I mailed in the entry form 3 weeks ago.

Here's where we are at, in practice.
1. Heeling-  No problem doing any turns in slow time or fast time. Yay!

2. Object pickup and placement- Well Vito does have a very good distance sit and hold with an object, but we're at maybe 75% success with that piece as sometimes he ignores the sits and just comes.  Direct to cone was pretty easy, additional sit has same success rate as the original sit.  Drop at a distance, good.  Come without object only 50% success.  He really wants to bring me the object!
Chances of getting through the exercise, at home, moderate to low.

3. Scent work- I thought for sure this would be in the bag for Vito as he usually really likes scent articles and I rarely practice.  And then I tried it with all the new items and his brain exploded.  Frantic searching at first.  Thankfully I've done it a few times since then and he seems to get more relaxed with each session.  I think our chances of getting through the exercise is high.

4. Seek back- I don't know, never practiced!  I think this is one of the more simpler ones, especially if the dog sees the item drop as you heel.  If he doesn't see it then I'm not entirely sure Vito would go on my command to get it.  I think he will twitch and then send on a 2nd command to search.

5. Moving stand/sit/down- Moving stand and down should be easy as we do practice this on a regular basis as part of our heeling.  Moving sit I expected to be hard as Lance had a really hard time learning this last year.  But Vito's doing well.  Chance of success is high.

6. Baseball Gloves with DOR- Hmm, also not really practiced more than once.  Vito has a drop on recall and in theory should know the 3 casts.  Actually doing so, probably low.

7. Distance control sit/down/stand- This one I actually do practice with Vito quite a bit to help our signals.  He can have the most beautiful verbal stand at a distance.  Until he just twitches.  Chance of success- moderate.

8. Send Aways- ha!  No chance of Vito getting this one.  I think he could go to the cone, but he's not confident yet to go straight out vs veering off the wall/gate that we're standing right next to.  Then going parallel with the ring gates to the box is a foreign concept.  I've had a few lessons and there's no way he will even have the tiniest chance of getting it by this weekend.

So overall Vito kinda knows all the exercises minus the last one.  Fingers crossed the judge chooses Vito's best exercises!  But even then, I know our chances are even lower at a trial than in practice.  Stress will cause him to doubt himself and he will forget everything he knows. It should be entertaining.  Lance will only be slightly better with his odds again.

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Back to 1 Jump Work

Have I mentioned recently how much I love having my own yard and my own agility equipment?  I haven't had the time to use it as much as I hoping this summer due to my teaching schedule, a few strained muscles, and of course trials.

Having the ability to practice agility outside of the club has dug up a huge hole in Vito's jump training.  I have a bar knocker.  The issue hasn't really been there at trials except for a little bit this last weekend.  And at his agility class he rarely knocked bars as well.  But it had been starting to crop up recently at his class the last few months.  Mainly on tight turns.  Now at home it's been showing up constantly.

I've come to the conclusion that Vito just doesn't see keeping the bar up as part of his criteria in jumping.  It wasn't/isn't so much of an issue if he's not running full speed.  But when he's very excited his brain kinda falls out and he doesn't make much effort at all to not hit the bar.  Since at home he's extremely excited to play agility and earn his ball there is mass screaming and mass bar knocking.  I've gone back to 1 jump exercises and his success rate is not high.  Perfect if I bring out food as reward, really bad with any toy.  I've been trying to slowly raise the height of the bar and have almost zero handler motion, but progress is incredibly slow.

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Pyra 11 wks

And just like that the socialization window is starting to close as Pyra turns 12wks old tomorrow.  Nagging questions of whether we went enough places, met enough people, experienced enough different noises, surfaces...


Pyra did go to her first agility trial this weekend!  Mainly stuck in her crate (quietly!) but she did come out for some tugging and a few treats.  Going back and forth between the two rewards certainly needs some more work.  The Duck is all about food these days.

And we knew it was inevitable but she made it up to the taller couch this week.  Vito's couch.  He's still doing a pretty good job of pretending she doesn't exist!

Except sometimes it's just too busy and crazy for him.

Only 1 new trick was practiced this past week.  Pyra has been learning to back up towards me, to return to being between my legs.  We are pretty consistently up to about 2ft now, with a treat tossed out to reset her.

Py also started her first Puppy Agility class this last week.  It'll just be fun to have her in a group class while working on those important foundations.


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Chuck it Agility Happiness

I was talking to a friend a little while ago at the club about the Chuck It and how I avoid using one with Vito and avoid walking the dog's where there's any possibility we can run into another person who has one.  Chuck it= brain explosion.  And then of course the light bulb went on as I clearly have not been utilizing Vito's #1 reward.  So I ordered a mini Chuck It launcher which arrived just in time for the trial this weekend.

Oh the screaming.  Vito's Toller Scream at trials has been lessening quite a bit in both intensity and duration.  This weekend he was not shy.  Although since it was an indoor trial it wasn't exactly set up to use as an easy motivator.  We made it work, loudly, and then after each run I ran outside in the cold for a few actual throws.

Saturday
We got our 2nd Master Gamblers Q!  2 Q's in 16 attempts, well overdue!  I think the gamble had a pretty high success rate on the teeter-switch away to the far end of the tunnel.  Most people drew their dog over the line to them and then resent them out from a stand still but Vito doesn't exactly go far from me in trials.  We ran it "in flow" and he actually did it without any hesitation.

Standard was a nice happy run.  Normal slower trial teeter, weaves, and table but overall he was running on his faster side.  Knocked a bar right on a front cross right after the teeter and it looked like just a really awkward take off.

Last run of the day was our 2nd time attempting Fancy Standard and our 2nd Q!  Fun and fast course with quite a few off course opportunities but not a ton of collection needed.

Sunday
First run of the day was snooker and apparently it was too early for both of us.  Not nearly as much screaming as Saturday and  I over-snookered and took Vito by a jump in a 3 part combo.  Realized my mistake and was able to smoothly correct it, but then that put me on a different line and my plan briefly fell out for a second.  Just as it came back to me Vito jumped the wrong way and then back jumped to come back to me.

Next run was Steeplechase and he was screaming loudly again!  Nice, happy run except for knocking a bar on a 180.

Our last run was Standard and this had even more screaming.  And then Vito RAN!  He even did his teeter faster and then loudly sassed me on table!  Sadly he knocked the second to last bar.  Definetly my favorite run of the weekend though!

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Pyra at 10wks

Pyra remains a calm and confident girl.  I'm trying to get her to embrace in her inner sass.  She's certainly bossy and super loud with other dogs!


I'm also trying hard to be good about getting Py to new places as often as possible.  Socializing a pet dog is certainly harder than socializing the service pups in training.  And I'm not going to take for granted The Duck's confidence with new things in the way that it is so easy to do with the labradors.  So we've sat outside a few stores and have had a visit to the soccer fields.

Easy going seems to be her motto in life as Py rolls over for everyone to rub her little belly in a relaxed manner.  Not jumping on people hasn't even come up as something to train for.

Did figure out jumping onto the couch a few days ago.  The world will never be the same!  Vito appears to still be safe though as the main couch we cuddle on is a bit higher off the ground and she can't quite do it.

This week I felt that she really understands the concept of offering behaviors.  Previously she learned that doing certain things got a cookie, but now Py seems to get that she is really in control and can MAKE me click.  That means learning this week is both a little more frantic as her brain starts to whirl through her options and much more purposeful at the same time.

Her old behaviors are faster and a tiny bit more cemented now.
- Spin left and right
- Sprinting into her crate
- Go mat
- Pivoting to heel on a book (and still struggling a bit with pivoting to side without help from me)
- Rollover.  Although I'm trying to get her to offer it and it's not happening yet.
- Leg weaves. Just kinda starting to get without an obvious lure.
- Hand touches.
- Shake and paw. Not quite consistent in aiming for my hand but she's sure getting paw lifts.

New learning includes
- Training with her food bowl on the ground
- Very basic auto leave its.  But not very much emphasis put on this compared to the other puppies as she is too good right now!
- Scooting backwards in a down.  Her current go to behavior!
- Back feet on a block
- Frog legs.  Struggling a bit with this one as she's just too frantic about crawling!
- Up!

Py is 11wks tomorrow and weights 14.8lbs!  Almost a 2lb gain from last week and bigger than both puppy Fiona and Gracie at the same age!

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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