Back to Utility! And Corgi Barking!

It's been over a year and a half since Vito last entered the obedience ring.  After our experiment, we had just started doing some rally trials last fall with great results in WCRL but still feeling the stress in AKC.  I was optimistic that Vito could handle the low key CDSP atmosphere and wanted to see where we were at.  I almost entered good old Open like I've done so many times with Vito in the past, but decided to be brave and try utility again with him.  Vito technically has his CDSP utility title, but 2 of the 3 counting scores needed double signals given on the signal exercise so I don't really count them as a Q in my mind.

At the trial I took Vito out a few times  in the hours before his run, just to walk around and sniff things.  I didn't go into letting him offer work or play until about 15 minutes before his run.  I was thrilled that as soon as I assumed the work available pose he took me up on it!  I mainly did some play and a few down signals with lots of rewards before putting him back.

Right before his run I took him out again for more of the same, and then miscalculated our waiting time before entering the ring.  I was a bit worried as he didn't want to do any of our "squish" position, but he did our 2nd style crouching "squish" ok.

And then in we went!


Love his ring entrance and go outs :)  I let him go all the way to gate to take the point losses.
Articles he struggled a bit on both the setup and the actual selection.  It's kinda hard to see the setup, but he was a bit distracted by the whole thing and then his article leaving.  I am proud that he was able to think enough to eventually select the correct one!

Signals I was beyond thrilled.  Some moving on the stand and then travelling on the down, but he didn't freeze or do it slowly!  Vito has always hated downs and he offered me a pretty snappy one here!  My favorite part of his run :)

Moving stand had a few glances at our judge and a wussy call to heel, but still good.

Gloves were ridiculous.  I knew he was looking at the steward when I sent him but I couldn't get him to look away.  Maybe I should have waited longer or just said screw it and reset completely.  Had to check out who was standing suspicously on teh side.  And then very odd with going to both the middle glove and then finally selecting the one farthest away.
On the 2nd glove he again wasn't confident on the seleciton so I helped him.
Both pivots were WAY better than they have been in a trial though!!!

So an NQ, but I was thrilled.  The next CDSP trial isn't for awhile but I'm excited to try utility again with Vito :)

The Corgi also came along and got to do his rally.  He just loves getting to strut around in rally!  So much barking again.  Our new theme!  We alo had a few instances where he lost his auto sit in heel, but improvement from the last trial.  I didn't notice any hind leg shakes in his runs so I think he was feeling better.  Forging was a bit worse again than the fall, but more cute prancing :)



Trial 2 was a bit less barky, but also less left turns- definitely correlated :)  He loves the bonus retrieve at the end :)

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Bunny Ears!

I hope everyone is having a great Easter!!!  

Obligatory bunny ears.

And yup, I totally tried to be one of those parents.

And fail.

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Retraining Scent Articles- One Dog's Guide

I've mentioned before that for whatever reason Zumi had a very hard time doing her scent articles when I was pregnant.  I'm sure I smelled differently with all the hormones, and likely still do.  The other dogs had no problem adjusting but Zumi's mind was blown.  I put off all article work until recently.  When I tried Zumi again on a small pile she was just purely guessing.  Maybe a tiny bit of actual sniffing but mostly just grabbing one when she got too frantic to think any longer.

Scent article retraining!  When Zumi was a puppy I was able to teach Zumi using my food conditioned method and have the retrieve be her indication pretty much from step #1.  (I think I had to interrupt before the retrieve for the first 2 lessons to show her it wasn't just a retrieve exercise.)  This time I knew I had to break it down further and completely remove the retrieve as an option to prevent frantic grabbing.  She has a much higher reward history for retrieving and some of that toller obsession as well!

Zumi already has a sticky target (aka duration nose touch) so was in a great spot to have that be her new indication.  I also decided to go back to using food on the correct article to fully get her back into sniffing mode and cut down on some of her high arousal levels.  A shaping method to article training also works really well, but I usually prefer doing a bit of luring with the food to start.  I just like how it gets the dog sniffing for scent very quickly, especially when we are asking for a scent that they are so used to ignoring in every day life.

This was her 2nd session.  I put a smear of food on every repetition.  I usually prefer to use my honest kitchen mix as a smear as I can get more watery juices than a thicker blob, but the peanut butter was what I had available.  In this session, I still needed to praise as soon as she found the correct article.  Then I had to hold it in my hand in order to get Zumi to do her nose touch or she would want to keep searching for more food.


In the next session, I started having Zumi do her indication without my hand help.  She sometimes still left the article to reexplore but started settling in as we went.


And I think 2 sessions later I filmed again.  Here we no longer are using food on the article except for the first rep.  I also start doing a few food tosses so that she's coming to the pile with some speed.  This is much harder for her and while she doesn't make any mistakes in this session there is some franticness.


For the next few sessions still working on about the same step.  The first repetition Zumi usually needed a tiny food smear to help calm her and keep her confidence high.  Then I no longer reapply the food and am working on having Zumi search after the food tosses. I waited awhile to go back to a retrieve indication with her rings or dumbbells as just the little added excitement had some errors creep in.  When Zumi guesses wrong I have her come out of the pile and do a short down while I feed her for being calm.  Sometimes I need to have her do some other calm tricks such as a chin rest so she doesn't go back to the pile frantically.

Finally, Zumi has started showing signs of being ready to at least introduce retrieve items as a distraction.  I am still having the correct article be a lid, but will start having a ring or two present in the pile.
Today was Zumi's first session with the retrieve distraction.  And of course she falls for it!


In some ways, this re-training came at a good time.  Starting June 1st I am re-running my online scent article class!  While I've gotten to help many teams start articles from scratch or work on fixing issues that have cropped up on the way, it had been 2 years since I've had to do the actual skill training personally!

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Obedience Run Throughs

I'm ashamed of how long it has been since I've been able to get to an obedience run through.  Both tollers need practice applying our ring games to more of a trial environment.  But I took advantage of one pretty close to home tonight to do exactly that!

With Vito I was impressed with how quickly he was able to offer focus outside the ring and ask to work. The environment certainly felt "lighter" than most run throughs before an AKC trial so I'm sure that had a lot to do with it.  When it was his turn I told the ring steward we were going to do our own thing.  I started with a ring entrance, leash removal hand off, and then immediate play.  I repeated that a few times, leaving the ring briefly in between reps and loved that Vito was extremely pushy and super focused.  The last rep I did a bit of heeling and transitioned with play for a short recall.  It was exactly what I wanted for his trial experience.

With Zumi I did a bit more actual work.  I kept the judge in the ring and started with an off leash heel pattern before playing with her and leaving the ring to start rep #2 where I repeated the plan.  She had great energy and overall I was pleased.  I did discover that she definitely noticed the adjacent open ring with a stolen glance on an about turn and more of a stare on the final halt when she heard the dumbbell land.  Things to work on before her next attempt!

It was also great timing as I'm running my online Ring Confidence class right now!  I just released the lecture on what to do at fun matches :)


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Getting Outside

I love going to parks with the dogs.  They have so much fun running, sniffing, and if you're the corgi then also peeing on all the things!  I am also extremely lucky that since moving close to the edge of the cities suburbs there are quite a few unpopulated parks around here and depending on what neighboring little town I'm in there often aren't even leash laws- just dogs under control.  Which is good as I just don't do leashed walks anymore other than the occasional neighborhood walk.  I just love watching the dogs get to run and sniff at will.  And dog parks I find terrifying plus the fact that with Vito's ball obsession it is out of the question anyway.


Now that I'm home with Netta I'm trying to make our walks more than just a weekend
thing.  Trying to master the art of babywearing.

With the weather warming up now I would love to get to daily romps with the the tollers and a few times a week with the Corgi also coming along.  He loves going to the parks to run but his legs shake once we're home and he sometimes limps.  More limited visits work for him.

There are 2 skills that are a necessity for my trail walks.  One is a recall and the second is a stay.  I realize that when I do come across people on the trails they're not usually expecting to see 3 off leash dogs.  So the instant I see a person I call the dogs and put everyone in a sit on the side of the trail.  Just as I don't want to be bothered by others, I don't think it's fair for my dogs to go up to people or other dogs even for just a quick sniff.  People who let their dogs wander up to other people and other dogs are my biggest pet peeves, no matter how polite the dog seems to be.  You're not in a dog park.  Your dogs do not have the right to "say hi" and invade others space.  I admit I've failed this on one of our park walks this week.  My dogs were gathered near me and knew not to approach the person at a distance but I wanted to get a little closer before having to stop and wait with everyone.  When the nice person shouted out in greeting to me the dog's immediately rushed to "say hi."  I learned that their impulse control on greetings isn't as strong without that stay!

Visiting dogs get the long line until they prove themselves.  I love my biothane long line! I try to give a warning or a recall before the dog hits the end of it in order for them not to become reliant on the leash tension being the cue to check in.

The other part I need to figure out is how to babywear and still use my fun camera.  I don't quite have the solution yet!



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Masters Agility Dog!

Zumi had her last agility trial for awhile this past Sunday.  She needed 1 more standard Q to earn her advanced title and do the fast track option to be eligible for masters in everything.
And she did it!  Didn't quite turn tight enough off of her running dogwalk and ended up going around the jump, but since there are no refusals in advanced I was able to save it and continue on. Phew!


She also entered in Biathlon for the first time and did way better than I expected.  Not very trick by biathlon standards, but still!  Managed to qualify in Fancy Standard and listened pretty well in Fancy Jumpers.  She was able to push to the backside of a jump with a tunnel straight ahead not once but twice!  She couldn't handle the temptation of the tunnel at the UKI trial two weekends ago so I was very proud of her thoughtfulness here.


Running 2 dogs in the same class was exhausting though.  After Vito ran I sprinted outside to do his quick chuck it ball throws.  There is no way I can cheat Vito on that promise, he definitely expects it.  Then sprint back inside to get Zumi warmed up for her run just 7 dogs later.  I suppose it could be worse.  This was more than double the amount of 20in dogs I have seen run in a trial since it became a height class this year!

Vito qualified in both MC Biathlon runs.  And broke his startline each time.  Love Toller :)

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Obedience Practice

More obedience this week!
Zumi is being restarted on her article training as it's been about a year since she has last done it successfully.  She seemed to have a difficult time finding my scent when I was pregnant so I just put it on the sidelines.  I'm restarting with food on the article and went back to lids as she was WAY too retrieve happy.  I was able to originally teach her with a retrieve indication from the start as while she was excited, Zumi's retrieve drive wasn't nearly as strong as it is now.  I'm sure we will get the scent work back quickly but it definitely needs retraining.

Vito I planned on using a lot more food rewards in this session as I had been focusing a lot on working with personal play and any rewards off my body.  I'm wanting to work more on precision and proofing challenges with him now which would require more rewards.

I found in this session that Vito had a difficult time doing slow heeling with a right turn.  He thought it was an invitation to do his "behind" reward cue (it does look similar!) so I did some proofing to tackle that issue.  Then later on in our session I found an issue with Vito not sitting when cued on his go out.  Going all the way to do his touch trumped the value of the sit.  Personally I would much rather have that problem than the opposite!  I did some cookie toss sits to remind him of sitting at a distance before putting it back together.

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Getting Back to Obedience

I've started back teaching again for the obedience club since Netta's arrival.  Just one night a week but this also gives me time to train my dogs before class.  They haven't really done any obedience in months besides some tiny drills in the house.

Zumi has mainly been working on 3 things
1. Go outs- Still our main issue of not taking the jump on the way out.  She's great with cones and really has improved a ton with this issue over the year but it's still a real choice for her.
2. Retrieve over the high- Opposite issue of our go out :)  Zumi's super strong desire to fetch makes it hard for her think on off-centered retrieves.  She has no problem playing this game with targets and food all around the clock.  But must fetch as fast as possible!
3. Finishes.  A new problem that wasn't there before our long break.  Zumi has been cutting her left finish short and also seems to occasionally be confused on what her "around" cue means.

This is the first half of our practice session this week, focusing on the 2nd two issues.


Vito has still been working on our main goal of engagement and choosing to work.  Overall that has continued to go well.  He even seems to be sniffing less before we start work- a problem that cropped up after our experiment a year ago (with a lesson to me on how to structure it differently next time!).  So I've been adding in some more instance on precision for him, not just his free for all.  Slower heeling.  Active proofing to get him thinking on his finishes.  And still lots of reward for fast, fold back downs; a lifetime issue for Vito.

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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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