Scent Articles- day 3!

I'm doing good on my scent article training commitment!  Three days in a row for the Duck :)  And still zero practice for the boys...

Due to Zumi's tendency to grab all the things(!) I decided to put gobs of wet food on the correct article.  This allowed her to actually care about licking and thus some smelling, and gave me time to grab the article as she was licking it and prevent her from picking it up.  My goal was to not allow her to do any retrieving until she at least started to think about scenting first.  

Plan went well!  Likely because Zumi is so young and has way less history of retrieving, it wasn't hard to get rid of the grabbing. 1.25 sessions and the rest of that second lesson she wasn't attempting to pick up anything.  I started taking video for the remaining 3/4th of that second lesson.

Lesson 3 had zero attempts to retrieve so I started encouraging her to pick it up after licking off the food.  Zumi would be a good girl and start biting a different one :)  And then we got a few more grabby retrieves without scenting on some more reps.  But overall I felt good about our lesson today and saw some scenting (for food) going on.  If needed I can always go back to not letting her retrieve, but I think for now I'll continue with the higher amounts of food than I usually do and encouraging a pickup after licking.

For those who are interested in joining training scent articles this month, I've set up a facebook group to provide motivation and shaming.


Zumi 6.5months

In just over a week Zumi will be 7 months old.  Seven months always seems like a big age for me. No longer an uncoordinated little puppy.

Her interest in food is still on the lower end, but not as bad as the re-sudden increase that marked her 6 month birthday.  I can usually get her to work for her food in public if I make the presentation more fun to start with- moving it around and having her chase it.

I can't say that I did all that much training the last few weeks but I'm a sudden surge of motivation again.  Resumed many of her in progress tricks such as hind leg lifts, backward circles, and hugging.

Also have been pretty good about her go out training and Zumi is now pretty eager to run ahead and bop her nose to a solid barrier.  I went back to a bit shorter distances though to work on more strength, but I'm most happy that Zumi seems to understand the concept of going straight-ish versus running to the last spot that was rewarded.  If I move down the wall every 5ft she is fairly good about going to the new correct spot.

Resumed front training.  Not quite sure what method I'm using, more of an introduction to different things.  Luring her for little pivots and side steps.  Her platform.  Chair fronts.

And I recommitted myself to scent article training with Zumi.  This time with a plea to facebook for others to train and shame me if I stop doing it several times a week.

Biggest fun factor is I started running contact training this week!!!  I got my dogwalk recently, something I've been wanting for years.  Zumi's first 3 lessons have just been about running on a flat plank towards a toy.  Basically zero criteria yet other than stay on the board.  I put up some guide sticks to help her but I'm not sure she needs them anymore after the first 2 lessons.  So far her running looks good, but then again I wasn't expecting any difficulty with zero height.
She likes to do a naughty victory lap with her toy before bringing it to me still.

Vito's having fun running over it at a low height.  Actually it's the first time he's actually done real training on a dogwalk in over a year versus just running it in sequences in our weekly class.

Haven't done hardly any other agility training with Zumi since quitting the puppy class.  Occasionally we do some sends and wraps around a wing to chasing me.  Zumi has fairly good commitment and I can continue my forward motion for a 360 wrap pretty well.


Going Online!: Ring Confidence Classes

Exciting news to share!  I've recently accepted the responsibility of taking over the Ring Confidence classes at Fenzi Dog Sport Academy and joining the instructor team!  

I LOVE the ring confidence classes I'm teaching at my obedience club so I am thrilled to be able to help others build up their dog's attitude, confidence, and focus for trial setups.  The ring work I have done with Vito has been the biggest help for him over the past years and then when Denise came out with her online classes I picked up a few more hints to try and help Vito.  We still have such a long way to go, but I look back and see just how much progress we have made.

The next round of Ring Confidence wasn't on the schedule until August so for those who need to think about it for awhile you have time :)  I'm very nervous but also SO excited to jump into the world of online classes!

Because I realized I had practically zero pictures of ME I grabbed the camera and dogs to remedy that for the bio page.  After some surprisingly OK self-timer pictures, I then grabbed the husband to help!
And then it turned out that I had business rights to 2 pics of Lance at the NOC last year and submitted one of those instead :)

But here were some of the attempts at a picture for the page


Rat Introductions

Rattie girls are doing well but not yet living together.  

Penelope is a little nervous about Evie still and I've been careful about letting them interact.  They have done several cage swaps for brief times (Evie is too little to live in the secondary cage with the 1in bars) and have done several short interactions on neutral territory.
The first several times Penelope started squeaking whenever Evie got close to her.  Evie seems oblivious and just wants to see her best friend!  I used a gloved hand to protect Penelope and ward off Evie often.  Twice I tried the two girls in the main cage where I thought it might be easier since Penelope would be a bit braver on her former turf, but nervous Penelope's confidence only went high enough up to be a bit more aggressive towards Evie so I went back to neutral ground.

On day #5 Penelope started to become much more relaxed!  Less squeaking and less kicking Evie away.  Still mainly pretending that her little sister does not exists, but improvement!  And Evie is being slightly more respectful.  Evie continues to do lots of stalking, but is less intense about and easier to redirect than before.

I have hope that by this weekend they will finally be living in the same cage.


Lance's Return

Lance had his return to AKC obedience today since his injury.  I only entered 1 day and only utility as I don't know how I feel about Lance doing the broad jump yet.  But I felt pretty comfortable with Lance only doing the two 8in jumps utility has.

Lance was excited to be at the trial but my hopes weren't high when I saw that his down signal was "broken" in the warm up ring.  Lance would sit.  Since I know he knows the signals well and thus was a stress issue, I praised him and had him run to me to get a cookie.  Another setup and then another sit.  More praise, more cookies, repeat.  And then Lance was doing downs brilliantly again.  But in the actual ring you only get one chance, not three.

During our run Lance was the most engaged he has ever been!  And that's saying something as Lance really is my focused and good working dog :)  I think I just did a better job of handling him in between exercises, more like I try extremely hard to do with Vito.  But whatever the reason, Lance didn't do any of the super quick glances at the audience or judge he usually does after our little bit of play in the ring in between exercises.

Articles were first with no real issues.  Even a tighter send to the pile than normal.

Gloves had a very poor pivot to #1.  #1 remains his hardest turn at trials, despite the fact that I think it should be the easiest!  He also humored the crowd by grabbing the glove quickly, dropping it (because he stepped on it??) and kinda flinging it against the wall, and then since it happened so quickly he was already moving about 3ft towards me when he stopped and realized there was no glove in his mouth.  Stared at me, and then ran back and looked for the glove crunched against the wall which he happily brought back.

Signals were third and Lance was Mr. Forgey.  Not too horrible, but certainly pushing it!  Very nice focus though and nailed the stand signal that was suddenly giving him problems late last year.  And then he sat on the down signal like I was expecting.  Because I knew this was a possibility I had already told myself I would praise him and just call him into me when it happened.  I'm glad I thought about how to respond as I do think that response is the best for him right now.  May not be right for every dog, but good for the sensitive corgi who just needs to know it's ok to be wrong.

Moving stand was not so great as the corgi took several steps after I told him to stay and another step on the judge's exam.  He hasn't had that issue in a very, very long time!

Directed jumping also had issues.  On the first go out he pulled up short so I re-told him to go touch and Lance did turn around to continue going to the gate.  On the 2nd go out Lance went all the way out but just stood when I told him to sit so I gave a 2nd cue.

So not the greatest performance back in the ring, but overall I loved his focus and attitude!  Very happy with the Corgi!


Yard Expanded!

We have officially been at our house for over a year now and this spring I wanted to expand the dog's fenced in play area.  While the dogs are boundary trained very well and able to hang out with me in our non-fenced portion while we are actively training or playing, I still wanted a larger safe space to just chill in and not have to watch as closely.  

Initially we made the fenced portion about 70ft x 30ft(?), just big enough so they can run a little bit and do some obedience training in.  We still have our agility field on the other side of the garage that was for training or just a bigger space to let the dogs have fun in.  And I had plans that the area behind the fenced yard would be my obedience field.  

The unused obedience field behind the smaller fenced off section.

I was originally worried that if the dogs had access to a larger space all the time than they (ie Vito!) would be less enthused about getting to train in it.  I knew that going through a gate would help Mr. Motivationally Challenged be more excited!  But my concerns were unfounded.  While Vito did become super excited about going through the gate to train, he was still very excited to do just obedience training in the smaller fenced area for meal training time.  And thus due to the way the fence and property was laid out, the grass behind the fence became pretty much unused all last summer.
Gate to fun-ness.

So now we more than doubled the fenced area!  You can easily see the dead grass that marks where the old fence line was.  Still using cheap utility fencing, but installation is fairly easy and way, way cheaper than chain link!

I still have dreams of getting some obedience ring gates so I can better practice ring entrances and go outs, but for now the dogs are loving it.  It is also highly beneficial for visiting dogs to be able to play or train in a secured area.


Gracie Graduates!!!

Congratulations to Miss Gracie for offically graduating today as a diabetic alert dog!

Gracie moved in with her new mom back in December and they passed both public access and skill test early this year. But today was the actual ceremony along with 16 of her friends.  I got to reunite with my Gracie, make her do all her tricks, and then ceremoniously hand off the leash to her person.

Gracie hadn't changed a bit!  She so loves life :)  Going to be a long time before Gracie is actually mature. But she is doing a wonderful job alerting her mom to low blood sugars!  And as a bonus Gracie is also teaching her mom how to play agility!  They're in beginning agility classes right now so maybe I will some day get to see Gracie showing off at at trial!


Meet Evee!

Rattie friend found! 

Evee is just a baby rattie at 7wks old.  So tiny!

Ended up turning to craigslist in my search to find Penelope a friend.  Surprisingly there's not a lot out there in rescue right now, at least if you only want 1 rat.

She's a brave little girl.  No issues with Zumi shoving her face in her cage and very quick to explore her surroundings.  Already has ventured further than Penelope has!

Introductions to Penelope is not going as smoothly as I hoped.  Initially Penelope was afraid when I put the 2 together in a large neutral cage.  Evee had no problems and tried following her around.  After their 3rd short meeting together Penelope started to get braver, but still nervous enough that she started to go after Evee.  I don't know too much about rat body language so I can't really judge how serious.  But it seems mostly bullying type behavior rather than outright aggression.  Evee is a little nervous now.  So I've settled in to having the girls in their separate cages for awhile now.

I needed to get Evee out of the tiny carrier she had been living in, but my large 2nd cage has 1in spaced bars that Evee can easily slip out of.  Actually Evee spent her first night in that cage with duct taped screen all over the side that I foolishly thought would hold.  I woke up the next morning and panicked when I saw some of the screen down and couldn't find Evee!  After quite a bit of searching Evee was eventually found huddled in the corner of the cage next to the litter box.  Thankfully she was still a little nervous as we had her less than 12 hours!  But thus Penelope is now moved to cage #2 and Evee gets the main cage with the 1/2in bars.

I am hoping that with a little more time Penelope will relax and accept her new little sister.  I have done many slow ferret introductions over the years, but never rat introductions.  With the ferrets it usually took 3-7 days before I felt comfortable housing the newbie with the existing clan.  Fingers crossed it won't take too long for these two!

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