But first here's a look at how March went.
1. Go Outs- This goal had the benefit of being a Go Click Challenge so I devoted extra time to it for one week. I added major distance with Lance and Vito, but we are still having to work up to it each new session. I'm doing a paw touch to a wall or ring gate so one of our issues is going straight. For the most part the dogs are good, but if I'm standing near a parallel wall (ie. sending a dog kind've near the corner) they might veer off to cross in front of me and hit the wrong wall. Or in Vito's case, go to the wrong wall and touch a panel jump leaning against the wall. Really Vito, whack a jump with your paw? What were you thinking?! Oh and I decided against adding the auto turn and sit after the touch just in case they start anticipating that and skipping the touch. While the eventual go out will end up in the sit and not an actual touch, I want to keep the two behaviors separate for quite a long time.
2. Scent Work- I did actually work on this, although not quite as much as I'd like. But Lance has a 100% success rate with only 2 articles, and Vito a 90% success rate with 2 articles. This is also without any aids such as a little yummy peanut butter smeared on top- the dogs are sad. But also happy since I am now working 3 articles with Lance and occasionally help him out with some pb. I don't know why 3 articles is much harder for the corgi then 2, but his success rate isn't bad but not good either. All practice so far has been on metal dumbbells.
3. Tricks- I have participated in Go Click each week even if I haven't posted a video each time. I can't say that they've learned any NEW tricks during March but there has at least been an extra focus each week (Crawl, sticky target, go outs).
1. Scent Work- keep forcing myself to do it. I hate training it, mostly because of the setup involved and how passive it is. But needs to be done multiple times each week.
2. Freestyle Routine- I've mentioned that I am working on our freestyle routines. Have no idea what I'm doing but it's fun! Lance has a song but Vito is still searching. My April goal is to have a rough draft for Lance's moves, pick a song for Vito, and have some sequences done for Vito.
3. Tricks- Do Go Click Challenges each week.
4. Frisbee- Vito is obsessed with balls and only likes the disc. He won't even look at it when there is any possibility a ball might be involved. I want to premack Vito's love of the ball for a fetch of the disc. In other words, Vito must first mouth the frisbee to earn a throw of the ball/tug with the dumbbell tennis ball, then pick up the frisbee to earn the ball, bring the frisbee, etc. If it goes well, teach him how to catch the disc too as right now he only catches balls and sometimes food.
But first here's a look at how March went.
This week's Go Click Challenge was to teach the dog "sticky target" or to have the dog keep it's nose pressed to a target for a duration of time rather then just one quick touch. Vito and Lance have both a paw and a nose touch to a target lid and to my hand, but we have not done any duration work. I don't think it would be that hard to get some time for a paw touch since the dog can continue to look at you and I've done a lot of shaping work with paws, but a sticky nose touch was going to be much harder.
As a twist this week, I decided to try and train the nose bridge that I've heard about from some of the obedience competition lists I am on. From my understanding it is used to set the dog up at the start of each exercise and helps with attention. It gives the dog a job to do so they aren't left on their own to simply look everywhere around the ring as they wait. I don't know if I will ever use this behavior but I figured that it would be a fun thing to train for. And who knows, Vito does seem like the type of dog who is going to need a constant job to do once we start trialing. I'm pretty sure I won't be breaking off to do tricks in between exercises like I do with Lance as it's not hard to get Vito too riled up. A simple good job pat can get Vito all wound up and excited.
Now Celeste does not free shape this behavior but rather uses her hands, a treat lure, and leash pressure to get the beginning steps. But what's the fun in that? So I set out to first teach the dogs to bump their nose on my two fingers regardless of where I held my hand. They were a bit confused at first but of course it didn't take long to get this step down. I then had them target my fingers in heel position so their heads lifted up to do so (yes, this meant that I had to either kneel on the floor with Lance or slouch my shoulder way down!).
Next was the challenge, duration. I originally set out to simply select for only the slightly longer nose touches and build duration a 1/2 second at a time. Wow was this hard. It reminded me of the battle to get a solid hold on a retrieve and the months it took to get there. But thinking of this sticky target behavior as a holding an object reminded me of a method I had heard of a long time ago in shaping a hold. Sue Ailsby's (ah I love her!) Principle of Laziness states that it's easier to hold something then to grab it twice. So in retrieval work when all you are getting is mouthing of the dumbbell, start to make the dog do two mouths before you click and treat. It might look something like this:
grab-no click- dog is confused and gives you dirty look-grabs again-click/treat!
grraaabbb click/treat Jackpot!!!!!
Basically the dog is getting faster and faster between each grab since he knows he won't be treated in between. At some point the dog will think something like "hey, why don't I try just one longer grab instead of tacking off my mouth just to put it back on again, seems a whole lot easier!" And of course that longer grab is your first mini hold of the dumbbell!
I had never tried that method before because I just couldn't get myself to stop clicking the very mini holds I was getting as I was trying to just select the slightly longer ones. But of course as their range was only .2 seconds long to .5sec it was basically a crap shoot and it was extremely difficult to pick out the .5 seconds holds from the .2 seconds hold. Doing this current challenge though inspired me to give this 2 grab method a shot. Of course I would be asking for 2 nose touches rather then 2 bites, but the concept of getting duration was the same.
Very interesting! The 2 touch method enabled me to start working on duration much faster then just the normal shaping method. Of course you still have to switch over to just picking longer holds pretty quickly as pretty soon you are no longer asking for 2 touches, but it seemed to give me a head start on it. We still have a long way to go and I am still getting 2 quick little bops on a pretty regular basis. I also cheated a little bit and tried holding a treat above their head with my other hand, but that only seemed to confuse them as they stopped focusing on my fingers and just stared at the treat. It did allow me to just rest my fingers on their nose while their head was up, but I didn't have any upward pressure that I will need.
I'll also admit that I was pretty frustrated by this challenge and I think I started working on the hold before they really understood to touch my 2 fingers when they were held up high. Vito is doing much better then Lance but it's probably because I'm not as frustrated with him. Lance keeps trying to lift one of his paws in the air at the same time and it's really pissing me off. Ugh, I'm sorry Lance!
Saturday was spent at Lance's 2nd NADAC trial.
First event of the day and I had no clue how it was going to go. This would be the first time doing the contact obstacles in the ring and I had planned that Lance should be ready for it by this trial. And we would have been, if I hadn't just completely switched Lance's dogwalk criteria 3 weeks ago because of impact concerns. I figured that Lance would stop at the bottom of the dogwalk and aframe but wasn't sure what flavor of stopped performance he would pick from. Either way I decided that I wouldn't care what he did since the poor guy is probably very confused.
It started jump-dog walk which I was glad for since I figured Lance would have good drive on it. And he did drive to it, but then he slowed down on the up side and looked a little hesitant. As I shouted out praise he quickly sped up again. I'm not sure if the ever slight hesitation was due to the slatless rubber contacts which he hasn't seen much of before, or simply because it was his first time on the dog walk in a competition. But guys, what I'm most excited about is Lance nailing his four on the floor! He didn't stop in his old 2o2o, he didn't even lie down in that position but actually downed right after it! It wasn't perfect, but I am very happy. Then there was our first aframe-tunnel discrimination test which I pushed him out for and he also got! And once more he nailed his 4 on the floor, although crooked again! Oh, and weave poles were great too! What a perfect way to start off the trial! I'm not willing to bet anything that he would do those contacts perfect again, but I'm still very proud of the corgi.
Lance had a great drive through those first tunnels! No need to look back at mom, he knew where he was going! Some of his turns were a little wide but I'll take it with the speed he had going and hopefully it will tighten up with experience.
Last event and Lance was a bit slower but it was an easy course and we had no issues.
Obedience trial this weekend!
Watch Saturday's video.
Heel Free/Figure 8: 2pts lost for forging, and a lag on the figure 8
This was an experiment for me. I usually heel with my hand held at my waist. Even though Lance is short and in no way will an arm being down interfere with his heeling, I feel like my hand being up is an extra cue for Lance that we are to heel, not just walk nicely. But with the forging issues that we have I decided to try something different. This past week I alternated heeling with my arm up and heeling with it swinging normally and Lance looked better with it down! I know many will be saying "duh!" right now, but it just didn't occur to me before. I know I probably shouldn't be trying something so new in the ring but I don't care!
I thought Lance did pretty well with the new look. He forged right away in the beginning and I'm not sure if that was due to uncertainty of my arm being down, or his normal excited/distractedness of being in the ring. After the first turn he settled in pretty well and didn't seem as bad.
Drop on Recall: 4pts for no sit
Lance dropped really nicely, but decided to skip the front. It's possible I caused that from my head position. I was looking at Lance when I called him and usually I then move my eyes/head down to look in front of me but I forgot to do that this time. Instead I remembered a bit later and I think I made a really awkward movement.
Retrieve on Flat- 0pts lost
Retrieve over High- NQ
Drat. Lance was enthusastic and it was going nicely until the dumbbell suddenly fell out of his mouth right before coming back over the jump. If he hesitated it was only slightly so I'm not sure he even fully realized what happened. He didn't drop it on purpose and he wasn't mouthing it so I don't know what happened.
Broad Jump- .5pt on front
Again Lance had a really crooked front. He's been coming too far over the right and this is the one exercise I have him finish right so I am debating about having Lance do his left finish now. Usually in practice I don't ever do a finish after the broad jump but I suppose he could have learned that I go right in trials.
Stays- 0 pts lots
He held his stays!!! I am so so happy! There was even a delay again after the sit stay as the little dog next to him decided to run off toward the exit. While we waited for her to return and get set up I had Lance do his high fives and wave but he still seemed stress. He wanted to leave but listened well. But Lance was still down when I came back in!!!
I'm very proud of the corgi! I'm a bit bummed that we managed to pass the stays and happen to get a NQ on what I think is just a fluke with the dumbbell.
Heel Free/ Figure 8- 3.5pts lost
I again heeled with my arm down. But I think there was more forging today then yesterday, especially on the far wall. I am very proud of his figure 8 though, I think it's the best one we have done to date. The judge took off for both sits but I thought they looked fine.
Drop on Recall- .5pt
A tiny slower drop then yesterday but at least he came to front this time! We lost the 1/2pt on the front.
Retrieve on the Flat- 2.5pts lost
I don't think I breathed for a second as Lance dropped the dumbbell. But this time he immediately went to pick it up and deliver it to me. I think today's drop was due to excitement and just not getting a good grip.
Retriever Over High -0 pts lost
Broad Jump- 1.pt lost
Lance was crooked again on the front but not as bad as yesterday. I went with the left finish. He also ticked the jump
Stays- 0pts lost
We do it again!!! Before both stays Lance wasn't looking at me so I got a little worried. He did at least turn his head to me as I told him to stay and I held my hand signal a 1/2sec longer to make sure he was paying attention. But he stayed!!!!
I am so relieved that we qualified (192)!! We still have 1 Q to go but at least he held his stays two days in a row. The dumbbell issues were kind of odd but I don't think I'm going to make anything of it, things happen. I did get a talking to after the class by judge, prepare yourselves...
Ready? Ok, the judge told me that having Lance do his tricks in between exercises is considered the dreaded "training in the ring." I am giving Lance a command, hence the training. Apparently asking for a down, sit, or even having the dog jump up to touch your hand is ok, but not rollovers. He didn't take off any points this time but said that he could and other judges likely will.
I talked to my instructor after and she said that technically he is right. The rules are very vague and the judge can interpret them to mean that tricks are training. What I don't understand though is how can having the dog jump up (on cue) be fine but not a rollover (on cue)? I don't think I'll change my routine. Rollover is his favorite trick of all time and it serves as a good reward and release of tension. If a judge wants to hit me for it then I'll take it. I just won't be showing under him ever again.
This week we worked on crawl! I taught Vito to crawl as a puppy but we didn't do much with it so it's been awhile. He picked it up pretty quickly again so I moved on to getting rid of the treat lure and starting to crawl while alongside me. We also had fun crawling in a circle around me!
I wasn't sure how far I would get with Lance. I have briefly tried to get Lance to crawl in the past but always give up. It's so hard to tell if he's crawling or not with his stumpy legs. All attempts to make it easy by having him "crawl" underneath my bent legs end up in me falling over laughing as Lance slams through. I think we made some decent progress this week though. I'm not sure if his style of crawl is the best he can do because of his body shape or if he can get his hind end lower.
Today the boys went out to Cloud Nine for some open agility. I am very proud of how they did! I wanted to work mainly on the dog walk but did some short sequences as well.
Vito had some fantastic running dog walks especially after I exchanged the lower level toy for the tennis ball. I think that he has been doing better with the extreme value of the tennis ball rather then the other toys since he gets in full sprint mode and doesn't break his stride at all so goes all the way to the end. When he's running but not sprinting, Vito's stride isn't quite the same and while it still looks good it's just not as pretty :) Vito also weaved nicely, had some great serpentines and actually did really well with a tricky rear cross. I am still debating about what to do on his teeter. We're still practicing our 4ft on stopped behavior but he's not driving all the way to the end like I want. It looks good but not as good as I know it can be. So in the back of my mind I'm still contemplating doing a 2o2o or running. The running teeter scares me though since I know how much Vito LOVES the teeter and I don't want him flinging himself into space.
Lance also did well today even though I flipped his world upside down, again. I was working on his 2o2o on the dogwalk and Lance was doing pretty well, he was actually driving into position instead of slowing down and being hesitant. But everyone there commented on the whacked up position his body was in while doing it. His head was high, his long body was curved and it just didn't look comfortable. Plus now that he was going faster into position his front feet were doing more of a slam into the ground. So I played around with asking for a nose touch at the bottom to keep his head low and he did well with that but his back was still not good. I think that he's been doing this all along but I didn't notice as much since he was slower and I don't really know what to look for. So just because I like messing with Lance's understanding we are now going to be doing 4 on the floor on the dog walk. I brought out his mat, put it at the end, and then tried to get Lance to do the down at the end (which he knows from the aframe). At first he would just down in the 2o2o position, or one rear toe, put after a few attempts we did the whole dog walk and he was flying over into a perfect down at the end. I was VERY happy with the speed, no weird stride changes, and it just looked nicer. Unfortunately this means that we are back several steps in our training, again.
I know I'm a little late with writing out my plans thi month, but here it goes anyway. But first here's my update on how February's goals went:
1. Go outs- I wanted to add in distance for our paw touch to the wall and I did! Lance has been great at sending to a wall or gate from 20ft away and is going very enthusiastically! He is punching the wall pretty hard but is doing much better on doing a soft touch to the ring gate so he doesn't knock it over. I haven't yet added the formal turn and sit aspect yet although I have been clicking and bringing the treat to him so Lance normally sits on his own somewhat near the wall.
With Vito I haven't been doing as much practice with this but we have added some distance in, about 8ft.
2. Side- I wanted the boys to learn how to heel on my right. Well overall they are both doing well with pivoting in side but walking still needs a lot of work. They are not crossing over but both of them are being very wide and forged. So I've been trying to use a wall whenever I can.
3. Random stays- I failed again. I have been working on Lance staying more but not as often as I'd like and not as random. I've inserted them back into training sessions and having Lance stay while I train the kitty or Vito, which is very stressful on the corgi but I don't think it's as helpful as the seemingly random in the middle of the day stays. We have been able to do a few stays in new places.
4. Tricks- This I have been doing again! Thanks to the motivation from Go Click Challenge, we have been practicing at least one trick a week. I've also still been trying Lance's hug a toy trick when I remember but we seem to be stuck. He is begging and purposefully touching the toy with both of his paws but he still seems to be swiping it down more then trying to grip it. And Vito still can't limp without the support of my hand.
1. Go outs- Continue building distance. Add in the turn and sit for Lance but after he touches the wall/ring gate.
2. Scent work- I gotta start training this with the boys. If anything is going to hold us back from doing utility this is going to be it. Both have had only a very brief introduction and have a long way to go. I just haven't been able to motivate myself to train it!
3. Tricks- Do the weekly Go Click Challenge. Even if the dogs already know the trick there's always a twist I can add to it or work on getting a good verbal cue. It's fun to do and so far has motivated me the most to train my dogs. I just need something like this for my formal obedience work!