Zumi's First USDAA Trial!

I have another more serious post coming about obedience training, but first I'm bursting with pride with my little girl!  Duckie had her first USDAA agility trial this morning!  It was technically her 2nd agility trial since we did the UKI trial 2 months ago with a mixture of toy runs and runs "for real."  This time there was no toy option and it was also her first experience doing agility outdoors away from our backyard.

The maturity difference and general confidence in her from 2 months ago at that UKI trial and today's trial was absolutely huge!  She actually found her lines this time and had zero incidents of running around obstacles just because Wheeee!  Zumi was x1000 calmer and focused walking into the ring.  Didn't hesitate at all with the tire, spreads, or the long chute (although she did slip coming out of the chute in standard).  And had way more focus on my handling!

Zumi had 3 runs- gamblers, standard, and snooker.  And we actually qualified in her first two!  Her very first Q's in agility!

Zumi's only real issues were with her contacts.  And that didn't come at all of a surprise to me.
Her dogwalk was very leapy in gamblers and I think part of it was her lack of experience with me layering an obstacle. In standard it was the exact same exit angle and it was very pretty :)
We didn't do any aframe in gamblers and in standard it was a pretty high hit.  In snooker I told myself to keep moving forward to support it better but she needed more than just the tiny bit of motion that I gave her and didn't even add in a second hit.  On the positive side, this was Zumi's first and last experience with a 5'10" aframe in a trial!  The new lowered height takes effect next week!  I don't feel quite as bad now about not practicing that much with the taller height.
And her stopped teeters all made me very happy.  Even did her nice bow on 2 out of the 3!

And because the good news kept coming, Zumi actually measured to jump in the 18" class!!!!  The cutoff is 17.5" which Zumi is very close too. She also likes to stand on her tippy toes and pretend she is almost an inch taller sometimes.  But I got her looking down and now we're 1 measurement down, 2 to go!
I entered her to jump 22in this trial as I didn't think it was possible to get her down.  I'll try entering at 18 next trial and see what happens!  I certainly feel more comfortable jumping her 18 long term than 22!


Sport Camp!

It's been awhile since I've posted!!  This last week was spent driving down to Missouri for the Fenzi Dog Sports Camp.  It was my first experience attending and I chose to volunteer my time helping the other instructors.

The atmosphere alone was worth it.  So many positive trainers in love with competition obedience and other dog sports all in one spot.  You just can't replicate that inspiring environment!

I took Zumi with me (non working spot) as I thought she could benefit the most from experiencing such a loud and busy venue.  An amazing coworker took Vito in for several days and swore to have no life so that I could actually go.  And Lance stayed at home with Adam.

Zumi did great.  Mostly she was in a crate but she got to come out and play during lunch and at the end of each day.  I was impressed with her ability to offer engagement in a crazy place and I mostly too advantage of the ring to do some ring confidence games.  Enter the ring and party!  We also did some setups and heeling up to people for leash removal.

And I learned that Zumi is not ready for obedience trials. Yet.  I was proud of how she could offer great focused ring entries without a toy on me.  She could even play in the ring with me, no toy.  But what she couldn't quite do was transition from work to play to work again without that toy in a smooth matter. Sure she could do it, but not without a bit of disengagement and wondering about that reward.  Before Zumi is ready to trial those transitions in the ring need to be seamless.  The exercises are the easy part, the in between stuff is the hard part!  At home she might be fine, in a new place she was just not quite there.
So I made it easy on her and rewarded frequently.  The new environment was not the time to work on more delayed rewards.

Zumi also had the opportunity to try dock diving again!  Her 3rd attempt at the sport with her other two tries never quite getting her to the actual dock.  This time it was an outdoor pool which I think helped her quite a bit.  There was still no actual ramp to practice on but there were some stairs leading into the pool.  I spent her first turn just working her from the stairs to try to build her confidence.

Her second turn I warmed up with the stairs again and then decided to try the dock itself.  Some hesitation but she jumped!  Well plopped in really.

But repeated it!  And then I ended our turn.  I have hope that if she gets to try it again she will be off the dock after a quick warmup.  And maybe would actually jump instead of plop.

I had a blast at the camp and I will write a separate post about the most important concepts of sport that were repeated again and again throughout the camp.


Disc Dog Seminar

Ducky and I had quite the adventure this last weekend.  Just the two of us headed out for a disc dog seminar and since the longish drive was made even longer due to construction I decided to camp there too.  This was the second time Zumi has gone camping, but her first overnight without the other dogs.

I must say it was really nice to not have to worry about any "special" rules like I do with Vito.  I could crate out of the car, I had the freedom to say "Yes!" to going out to dinner (even though we ended up just ordering pizza in) and she was just so relaxed and good.  The only issue was getting Zumi to drink.  I've discovered that she won't always drink much at all when at trials and apparently the heat and duration of stay didn't tempt her much more.  Wouldn't even eat ice cubes and Ducky loves her ice cubes!  So I'll have to look at getting a water supplement or something else to make it taste good enough to drink for her.

And we had a pretty good time at the seminar. Certainly getting me more motivated to actually practice the stuff with her and even more importantly to practice my throwing.  Zumi has done hardly any disc work despite my intentions, but at least she has a solid foundation with biting, tugging, and dropping.  We worked on adding a disc  for the first time into our "dog catch" that had kinda broken after I taught her to rebound off my hip.  
Then added her first time catching a disc after a leg vault vs just taking it from my hand.  That was painful, and extremely colorful reminders were left.  I immediately ordered a leg wrap when I arrived home!

We have a small disc dog event this Sunday with UpDog's Funkey game- a little of agility+disc in a snookerish type format.  


Water Work

I have briefly resumed our hunt trial training to begin water work!  It had been awhile since Zumi's last work with the real duck, and of course it was too cold for water practice then.  She has done plenty of toy retrieves in water last summer but nothing with formal rules about delivery (and really Zumi does zoomies with her toy!) and zero work on a retrieve being on the other end of the pond.

Luckily we have a small pond just behind our property.  Not the greatest pond, but if you're willing to walk through long grass and lots of ticks we can practice without ever having to get in the car and go for a drive!  

This past Saturday I took Zumi and her dokkens for practice.  Started out by throwing them in the water and then gradually progressing until it landed on the other shore.  Zumi needed lots of encouragement to get back in the water and not "run the bank" but she was successful!  I also learned she needs lots of practice with successfully keeping her mark after swimming.  If it landed anywhere at all in the long grass she had no clue where it was anymore after her swim.  
Day #1:

On Sunday I returned and this time took her dokkens and a real duck.  Her first throw of the dokken she was back to needing encouragement to swim back to me vs run again, but then she was solid!  And it's a pretty tiny pond, so easy to just run around!  I brought Adam with so he could drop the duck as I knew I couldn't throw it across.  Just a little bit of encouragement and then she rocked that too!

I think the biggest issue with her still is going to be willingness to immediately pick up a brand new duck in a new location.  We need to take her show on the road!


Nosework- Food Distractions and Interiors

Still plugging away at the boy's nosework practice.  We started splitting out the odors from our cocktail and now both are doing birch only or anise only.  Just haven't gotten out the 3rd tin to work on only clove but I don't expect any issues.

Finally ordered some sealable boxes to officially work towards the ORT test.  Not sure if I'll ever compete in nosework but I at least need concrete goals to work towards.  There was some minor confusion the first session with a partially sealed box and the tin not being visible, but that went away quickly and now both dogs have their boxes sealed.  

And we just started proofing with food in a box!  This is their very first session with food out and I used ventilated containers for both scent and food.  Lance fell for it :)

Vito was pretty solid until I started rattling it:

They continue to get better with find the tin game being on vertical surfaces.  I suspect their search times would get much faster if I actually aged their hides, but I'm not really motivated to do that yet.  So they deal.  This was their first time searching in the bedroom.  Vito finds it pretty darn fast.

Lance picked up on the area but then got lost sniffing in his crate a few feet away for awhile.  He took about 90sec to find the same location.

For being essentially a hands off sport I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would.  Still very last on my list but I'm happy that I'm at least somewhat motivated to stay practicing with it.  I know the Corgi is having fun getting to do something and the Toller is kinda in the same boat right now.  


Goodbye Cougar!

The Mountain Lion has left!  We said goodbye to her Sunday evening and her mom was just so happy to see her again.

Made a little video for her mom!

She got to experience the pool before she left :)

I'm the duck?


And I admit the house feels empty with just 3 dogs!  I'm sure Zumi will be enjoying her rest.  Zumi put up with a lot from Cougar even with Cougar finally learning to settle down.

 Although since she's in the thrones of heat Zumi's not exactly going anywhere.

The boys are still amazing about it.  Lance is basically like a monk.  I questioned him about his saintness and he just stated that he has no balls, duh.  Vito has been doing some flirting back but he's listening super well to my no shenanigans speech.  And Zumi is majorly flirting, but also still quite the bitch about changing her mind if he even looks like he's going to take action.  I'm hoping she will be done pretty soon.


First Dock Diving Trial

Vito was scheduled to compete in his first dock diving competition yesterday.  That was before his little injury of course.  Timing just sucks.  I decided to take him and have fun anyway though.  Maybe we will regret it, maybe not.  He's done a few laser treatments this last week and has more scheduled and of course zero issues seen since he hasn't done any agility work.

So we went, good plan or not.  Vito has only had the 2 practice sessions before, back in mid March.  Dock diving isn't really something I plan on seriously training for, we just want to dabble.  It was an interesting experience as I haven't been a newbie at a competition in a long time.  Completely clueless on not only how trials run but really the sport in general too!

Unfortunately I thought it was a really sad experience for a newbie.  I've remember my first obedience trial, rally trial, agility trial, and disc dog trial and this was by far the least welcoming.  It's sad when an AKC obedience trial is more helpful and welcoming than this!  I love obedience, but man I know AKC trials aren't exactly new exhibitor friendly!  Really my negative experience wasn't with the sport itself though but with this particular organization.

We were one of the first to arrive at the trial and after finding a place to setup, I walked Vito around the site and went to check in.  It was in a parking lot of a shopping center so I'm sure they had many visitors, but I clearly had a dog in tow and was looking for help.  I was ignored and wasn't sure I was even at the check in table.  I guess I was as eventually I was turned to and was checked off a list.  I excitedly shared that I was brand new(!) and all I got back was crickets.  Shuffled back to our setup to wait for the pool to open for warm up jumps of which I had no clue when that would start.

Vito was actually doing really well with everything.  Until he saw one of the organizers jumping their dog.  Then he began his Toller Screaming!  Was able to keep him mostly under control and calm-ish at the crate.

Eventually heard the announcement that the pool was open for warm up and went to stand in line.  Left Vito with Adam so that he didn't have to lose his mind just standing in line.  Finally Vito's turn!  We went up the stairs and I didn't even know there was a little gate that slid across to prevent the dog jumping off the ramp part until I saw others using it.  Luckily Vito didn't need it!  I really thought he would be hesitant at first so I had him all the way at the edge for our first throw.  Vito screamed his head off and leaped in :)  And then he proceed to keep accidently pawing his frisbee and pushing it under water.  The guy had to get the pool scooper to grab the toy and Vito wouldn't come up the ramp, instead he kept freaking out over his sinking toy and/or trying to get to me up the dock itself.  I apologize several times and state that I'm new but the guy doesn't say anything back really.  I just promised that I'd use a different type of toy later.

After hauling Vito out I get back in line to try again once I see everyone has gone.  But then exit when I can tell there won't be enough of a break before Vito runs for real.  He's listed as second.  Second, but apparently it's really first as the first team is the owner's dog and I don't realize it's not one of the practice jumps.  There's no briefing or anything like at other sports I've been to, we just start.

First throw I hold Vito maybe 8ft back from the dock and release him as I throw it.  He goes 10ft!  And apparently that's 1in over the novice division!  Yay Vito!  I used a bumper toy as I didn't bring any other type of frisbee  and don't really know if another disc would work better with Mr. Flaily or not.  Vito is the only dog around that I see in a life jacket :)

Throw #2 I try having Vito back a bit further and pretty much release and throw again.  But the toy doesn't really get out ahead of him before he takes off and Vito's jump is 8ft 6.

Then we wait.  It would have been nice to get some pointers but nobody talked to us or even gave a welcoming smile.
I didn't have Vito registered for any jumps at the next hour as I wasn't sure what was normal and thought a break would be good.  But since Vito was having a hard time fully relaxing in the environment I thought I would go see if he could move his jump up.  I waited until it looked like the score table was done announcing awards and looked free.  Apparently I was wrong as when I asked my question I was snapped at and told to wait until everyone had picked up their awards.  So I sat on the curb right next to the table and waited.  And waited.  There was a bit of activity but then pretty much nothing.  Finally after 15min of being ignored but obviously waiting I stand back up.  I am at least turned to now and asked if I have a question (not in a polite manner).  Apparently the answer was it's full so we waited.  Vito did relax for a little while before he started getting antsy.  It reminded me of his first few disc dog events where Vito didn't yet understand the structure.  Vito likes rules and routines so it didn't take long for him at disc events to understand about turns and relaxing when it wasn't his turn.  I'm sure that if we go to more dock diving events Vito would start to get it.

Throw #3 I tried to have Vito wait in a down stay. Didn't work so well!  And I'm not great at splitting my focus ahead of me vs on my dog and had the worst throw of the event.  Way to low.  Vito jumps 6.5ft I think.  We just keep getting worse!

Throw #4 I try the down stay again.  Still from a very short distance.  Vito does a bit better job and while my throw is late it's at least higher.  Somehow he managed to jump 10ft again!
Since that 1in puts him out of novice and into open we have zero chances at ribbons.

I would do it again.  But maybe with a different organization.  Both Vito and I tried our hardest even though neither of us knew what we were doing.  And this was also a great reminder to smile and be welcoming to newbies at every event I'm at.


Cougar's Last Week of Training

We're down to Cougar's last week with us.  She's 5.5 months old now and really has been an easy puppy.  Laid back, cuddly, and confident with everything.  Of course that self confidence does get her in trouble!  But Cougar really is starting to "care" and pay heed to our warnings.  Our house is never clean and Cougar doesn't pick up objects to chew on as much anymore.  She's starting to come the first time she's called.  And Cougar did finally tone down the constant wanting to play with Zumi.

Training wise the biggest feat I think I accomplished was getting Cougar to think around food.  My first goal with her was getting her to understand that staring at food did not ever cause it to land in her mouth.  It was all about moving away from food in order to get it.  I have no problems training with her food bowl on the ground anymore and she doesn't get nearly as stuck anymore with shaping.  Still a work in progress but I'm happy with her progress in such a short time!

Other tasks trained:
Heelwork: Great pivots on a perch and mostly is pretty good about doing tight pivots off the perch and a bit of side stepping on both my left and right side.  Does tend to cheat still at times and that pesky auto sit she had can get in the way.  I think I mostly succeeded in breaking that auto sit ;)  We tried some heeling backwards but she's not quite ready for that.

Fronts: Lured between my legs to teach her to come close, straight, and do a tucked sit.  We are now working on getting her position slightly less between my legs.  Cougar is working on angled fronts right now but struggles often.

4 Feet in a box: Something we played with early on but haven't done in a while.  A very hard exercise for Cougar!!!  We struggled with the big box, finally succeeded and never got the smaller box.  Controlling her back legs is hard!

2o2o: Cougar learned that back feet on an object pays.  She can back up to 3 feet to get into position but this is a very hard exercise for her and it makes sense considering how hard the 4 feet in exercise was.  Cougar has only recently started to learn coming forward into the 2o2o position on her box like she would for beginning agility foundations.

Out around a cone: Cougar is working on distance and can still get stuck staring at a cookie in my hand.  Her max is around 8ft but usually we are sticking around 3ft to build more confidence.  Just recently I started rear crosses on the cone and sending sometimes to 2 cones before rewarding.
I found it fascinating with Cougar that it has been difficult getting her to run on either the send or the return.  Even with me running away or throwing the reward she just happily trots after :)

Beg: Just started this last week!  Cougar likes it because she can stare at the cookie.

Reverse through my legs: I started this trick to help with Cougar learning to backup in heel position.  Cougar has a solid 1ft backup to end up between my legs and we're working on both distance towards me and maintaining backing up once she's between my legs.

Scootch: Cougar offered backing up in a down her second week with me and I ran with it.  We had a short distance built up but I haven't visited it recently.

Retrieve: Here is where we made the least progress.  When we first started she of course wouldn't move away from my food hand to interact with an object but we worked through that.  Progressed from nose touches (and quite a few paw attempts) to biting.  And she was just starting to get tiny holds and then we stalled out.  I think her teething played a big role here so I put this on hold.

Moving Downs: Just started!  I think yesterday's session was her 2nd introduction to the concept of lying down from a walk.  With the help of a food hand to keep her focused and I ended up pushing my hand slightly in towards her chest to get more of a fold back as Cougar wasn't consistently folding the way I liked.

Here is a long video of Tuesday's training session, just edited out the times I went to grab more food.

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

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