Vito's CDSP Obedience Trial

Vito was also entered in the CDSP obedience trial this past weekend.  I was hoping for a repeat performance of his last trial, this past January, where Vito was very happy and eager to be in the ring with me.  Since Vito already has his Open title in CDSP, we entered their Open-C class, 1 run each day.  Results weren't quite there, but there were several good points I'll cling too.

Saturday
Vito entered the ring with enthusiasm and didn't disconnect as I took of the leash.  He even did some lovely, happy!, heeling as we went to the mini go out spot.  I wasn't sure how he would handle doing the go out as the first exercise but I didn't need to worry.   We then heeled nicely to the retrieve spot and he did a happy retrieve.  Fronts and finishes haven't even made it to our practice list in about a year, so whatever :)  Moving onto the retrieve on the flat is where Vito starts noticing the judge a bit.  He gave several glances as we set up but does the exercise nicely.  I then try and feed him as the dumbbell is taken back but drop food on the ground for a 5 point deduction and a distracted Toller.  Drop on recall was still nice though (hand signal and verbal both allowed)!

Heeling is where I kind of lose him.  He starts out great as I power off, but then the combination of having an immediate halt called, and me forgeting it was going to be called, resulted in a major loss of enthusiasm.  Vito has a really hard time recovering once he starts to lag, but he actually did a much better job than I was expecting.  Even in practice if Vito decides to lag I usually have to stop as just doesn't catch up well even if we're working on little games to help with it.
We qualify with  a 186.5


Sunday
Vito entered the ring happily and stayed connected with me as the leash came off, but he was more worried about the judge.  3 glances were given before even the start of the first exercise, the drop on recall.  Vito trotted on the recall instead of galloping.  Another several glances were given at the judge while we set up for heeling, with another forward-halt.  In some respects Vito did better than on Saturday.  He didn't lag quite as much and he kept his eyes on me instead of stealing a few glances at the crowd.  Not the pushy heeling I was hoping for, but overall it was ok.

But Vito wasn't quite as up for the other exercises as Saturday.  He wouldn't jump up on me in between exercises :(  At least he seemed happy to follow his hand target.  1st retrieve was slow and again more looking around was done in between.  But then he seemed to perk up on the retrieve over the high.  It was faster and he was 100% with me moving to the mini go out spot.
We qualified with a 187. (Actually we earned a 190 but the judge was mistaken and thought I gave 2 verbal cues on his retrieve on flat to sit in front and I only gave 1.)


We're auditing Denise Fenzi's Ring Confidence class starting this week.  I'm excited to work with some new ideas to help build Vito's fun in the ring.

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OTCH-C Corgi!

It's been awhile since Lance's last obedience trial.  Just over 3 months.  CDSP trial this time- the happy, relaxed sister to AKC.

In CDSP, the Utility B class is more of a Versatility class.  There are 3 different orders with exercises chosen from utility, open, and even novice.

Saturday
Lance had only 1 run and he was very, very happy to be back in the obedience ring.  He sprinted through everything and we suffered some error of precision with gloves being dropped, twice.  I don't think he could of been any cuter.  We qualified with a 216.5/220, order #2.



Sunday Trial 1:
Enthusiasm continued!  But Lance looked away for a second right before my stand cue on the signal exercise, paused, then doubted himself and sat.  A second signal to stand was needed.  Then he sat before I could give the down signal, but happily went into a down when asked and recalled.  The rest of the exercises went without any major bobbles.  He had fabulous heeling, no forging!!!  The broad jump he decided to skip front.  And he was his giggly self on all retrieve opportunities.  Qualified with a 203.5, order #1.  You're allowed to give a 2nd hand signal in CDSP instead of it being a NQ.  Then the judge decided Lance's bonus sit was a major deduction but not considered "anticipation" since he didn't actually do the next cue (down).  I disagree with that call, but oh well.

The Q earned us Lance's OTCH-C!
http://youtu.be/4MkKZ1U_-4s

Sunday Trial 2:
Still squirrley :)  Amazing run and not even the slightest forge on the figure 8!  We had the glove exercise again and Lance actually didn't auto mark the gloves on the pivot, either time!  Baseball bonus exercise was a hoot.  Lance ignored my call to sit in the middle, and ignored my 2nd cue as he sprinted off for the middle glove, but then sat and held it nicely in his mouth.  Right as the judge called for me to direct him to #3, the audience laughed and Lance took that as his cue to come towards me.  I signaled for the #3 glove anyway but he was past the center by the time I finished it.  This made the Corgi pause for a second and think.  I decided just to laugh and call him to me but Lance knew I wanted something and turned back for the other glove, still holding the #2 glove in his mouth!  Of course he turned the wrong direction and headed for #1.  By this time everyone was laughing and it took me two more calls for him to come to me and stop trading gloves!  So no bonus points for us.  Since the baseball exercise is only for bonus points, we still qualified with a 198.

Pros!
Huge pro of the weekend (besides the Championship title I guess) was Lance's finishes.  In the online Problem Solving class we took from Denise Fenzi/Nancy Little, his finish was a big topic.  Lance tends to lean away from me when he sits in heel position and his butt can also be behind me at times.  I quickly taught Lance a nose target and have been having him do it after every finish as well as most setups and halts.  The result is Lance doing a task incompatible with leaning out.

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Lance NADAC

Lance got to be an only dog again as we took a long drive to La Crosse, WI early Saturday morning for a NADAC trial.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see Lance's jump program developer/instructor there- on a road trip all the way from New York!

Lance had a fun day but we only went 1 for 4 in the Q department.  I felt a little out of sync for the first 3 runs, but not too bad.


The first run was our only Q for the day, barely.  Almost sent him off course as I pushed a little too early on a discrimination before he fully turned.  Also had a self releasing aframe, and a missed weave entrance which I'll actually take the blame for in not supporting the entrance whatsoever.  His jumping was really nice though!

Round 2 had some wider turns again and then a missed discrimination where he took the fun outer tunnel instead of the dogwalk.  He did a much better job of doing his 4 On for the aframe although it was a little bit high.  1 Knocked bar but otherwise lovely jumping.

On Chances I pass the blame onto the Corgi!  He had fun totally disregarding my serpentine handling and decided to flip out away in tandem turn style, without the tandem, towards a yellow tunnel with his name on it.  I called him off but then he came back and took the wrong jump on his way.

Jumpers was a nice more in sync run. I decided to be brave and run to get 2 blind crosses in instead of doing rears. It's just so easy to rear crosses in NADAC!  Lance had some great jumping for the first half of the course but then knocked a bar on my landing side rear cross.  Some stuttering showed up on the ending straight way as I got too far ahead and slowed down.  First half not videotaped.

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Sleepovers

The dogs were farmed out this last weekend as we headed down to Missouri for a wedding.  Of course the only one I was worried about was Vito.  He went to my parent's house and I was promised he could snuggle in bed and wouldn't be left alone.  I got several updated pictures a day of Vito napping or begging for food.

 Vito was happy to go on some morning jogs and long evenings walks.  And apparently my description of the Toller as an excellent bed mate didn't warn them that he likes to sleep on his side and at a diagonal.  Picky are we!
Thanks for putting my mind at ease.

Lance apparently had a good time and had no qualms about stealing from the lower shelves of an open pantry.  Way to make yourself right at home there Corgi.

Gracie is back in one piece and didn't give the brand new fosters too hard of a time.  I believe they're still hoping to puppy raise for one of the future litters!


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Review: Orijen Freeze Dried Treats from Chewy.com

I don't use a ton of treats in training my dogs.  For the most part I get by with using their kibble for training, even at the club.  But I do need to use treats for Vito's behavioral work so I keep a stash of extra good treats in the car and training bag.  My criteria for good treats are
1) Not complete junk food
2) Irrestible for Vito if he's having a mini meltdown
3) Easy to break into tiny pieces without leaving a ton of crumbs
4) Can handle being left in a hot car and maybe not always getting resealed perfectly without becoming hard as a rock

When Chewy.com offered a bag of treats for review I selected Orijen Freeze Dried Treats.
#1 Easily satisifed being grain free, preservative free, and even single ingredient for those dog's with allergies.
#2 done.  Vito can be picky with treats (unless someone else is giving them!) and he ate these right up.  I've fallen behind on regularly using his scratch board for filing his nails so a nail trim was needed.  We took it slow and he got to stare at a treat then released to eat it for each nail clipped.  Corgis and Labradors not so picky so they don't get an opinion for this review!

#3 was way easier than I thought it would be.  I've used some freeze dried treats before that have been extremely difficult to break up to the point where a knife was needed.  These treats were soft and easy to break.  Downside to soft was that it inevitably left some crumbs as I got too small.  Since most of my treat breaking and doling out is done in the car while I'm driving, my front seat is still littered with crumbs.  Oh well, if I remember not to get them down past 3 servings per treat I'm still ok.

#4 is still holding true.  They seem hardy enough for me!

Thanks Chewy.com!

Disclaimer: While we were given these treats free in exchange for a review, I honestly really liked them and would add them to my small list of store treats great for training.

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Soccer Blast NADAC trial

Finally a weekend where the AKC folks don't get to steal Soccerblast!  The boys had a NADAC trial this weekend.


Lance
Awesome.  4/5Q's on Saturday, only a knocked bar in jumpers kept it from being a perfect day.  We did have a little discussion in round 2 of regular where Lance barely hesitated in the yellow of the dogwalk before leaping.  An "excuse me!" prompted him to lie down and then further thought had him about to get back on the dogwalk before I decided he had enough.  No issues after that :)  

Lance actually managed to get a Chances Q on Saturday too!  Actually I was shocked to see that the results had us as an NQ and I rushed back to review my video tape.  No evidence of fault was found.  Talked to scribe then the judge.  After much, much review of tape, the sacred Q was granted to us. 4 down, 9 to go.

Sunday 2/4 Q's but still did a fantastic job.  Chances had a pretty tough serpentine at a distance, but not just laterally away from the handler- the jumps were actually perpendicular.  We didn't even get the first switch out.  In regular 2 he also took the wrong entrance of the tunnel, made it much harder than it needed to be.  Silly me thought he was committed before he was.

More issues of stopping just above the yellow on his contacts appeared.  It seems as though the first time doing each contact each day is hesitant, while further ones are perfect.  At least it's going in the right direction.  Some stuttering occured too, usually towards the end of the courses.

Here's my awesome corgi:

Vito
Saturday had a happy, happy, happy Toller for round 1 and 2 of Regular.  Speed demon in round 1.  Round 2 wasn't quite as fast but I couldn't find a way to avoid doing a rear cross and then while it turns out I had time to do a blind in a second spot my brain didn't fully grasp that option at the time.  Chances was slow, but a good dogwalk at least!  Jumpers was a disaster of pulled off jumps by the end.

Sunday Vito was Sad Toller for all 3 runs.  Aframe did not seem to be a happy making obstacle like it usually is.  The dogwalk still was though as he speeded up after it in Touch n Go and actually finished at decent speed.  Sadly in Regular Vito was moving at such a slow pace that he was 9sec slower than yesterday's course of similar yardage. The Corgi even beat him...with stopped contacts.  Ouch.  He popped the weaves at the 10th pole on that course too, but we didn't fix it.

Here's 2nd happiest run.  1st happiest had camera malfunction:

Looking forward to his rollercoaster climbing back uphill.

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Gracie- 7 months

Time flies; The Labrador is 7 months old this week.  She gained 3lbs this last month to make it to 36lbs.  It looks like she better go through a growth spurt quickly as she's falling behind mini Fiona's progression!

Gracie is turning out to have the perfect temperament for service dog work.  She really loves to work, really loves to please and gets super excited about praise, and still has a great overall calmer personality.  It's hard to see that calm side some times at this age, but it's there!  At this stage she has zero issues that concern me. The main thing with Gracie is continuing to work on impulse control- all training issues.


I've gone back to having other people do basic doggy zen with her.  While Gracie has fantastic control around food with me, she thinks it's perfectly alright to launch herself at other people.

But on the pro side, she's re-graduated to being trusted being left in my cubicle without having to be crated.  Her previous earned freedom was taken away when she started eating my 2ft barrier board to keep the dog's in.  She had also started leaping over my board whenever anyone interesting walked by.  Manners seemed to be relearned these last 2 weeks, fingers crossed.

I admit I haven't done much formal training this past month with her.  I've been focusing quite a bit on Lance's obedience work with help from his Denise Fenzi online class.  (New classes start in August, highly recommended!).

Trying to think of things she knows now that she didn't know since our 6 month update.  Hard due to lack of actual training!

1. Distance downs- Way better.  Awesome cookie toss downs too and I'm starting to delay the call until she's moving towards me.  Mini drop on recalls.

2. Wait/boundary cue-  I think she gets the boundary cue now.  I do very little "formal" training with it, just kinda use it often in every day life.  Gracie seems to get that when I cue wait it means stop following me and hang out in that area.

3. Crossed paws- Can successfully do with a foot signal about 50% of the time.  The other half she gets confused and wants to do her sad trick instead.  Is great if I point the ground where I want her cross.  (Have only worked her left over right so far)

The end.
Note, the chewed corner on my board...


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Beating the Heat

Summer came abruptly to Minnesota.  The dogs have been enjoying the kiddie pool at work.  Is it odd that the main pool users are all my dogs?


Yup, Bubba hasn't changed a bit.

I love this dog.

Sorry, you won't be seeing any pictures of The Corgi in the pool.  He's staying far, far away from any hint of getting wet.

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Teaching Dogs to Focus Around Food

One of the common things I notice in teaching classes or helping out our puppy raisers is the complete focus, obsession even, the dogs' have with food.  At first it doesn't seem like a problem.  After all, it's easy for the food obsessed puppy to make their owner look good in those beginning stages.  As long as the food keeps coming at a decent rate their puppies are geniuses at following a cookie into sits, downs, spins, and even leg weaves.  Then the treat disappears and the dog acts like he has zero idea of what you want.  And it's probably true.  Cookie trance is super fun to demonstrate with the Corgi, Watch as his little eyes glaze over and he blindly stumbles around.


But it's not just the rookie mistakes I see.  With some handlers even if there IS food in their hand the dog can't do anything other than sit and drool at it.  Those people tell me "But he can't focus with food!"  That problem often rears in more advanced training where the dog actually has to concentrate on what he's doing.  Retrieve training is a biggy.  The puppy can retrieve items when food isn't present, but as soon as the treats come out it doesn't even cross his mind to open his mouth on an object.  In actuality, the puppy has zero concept of a working retrieve. When food is present the puppy isn't in a play mode and is just confused.

Focusing around food is something I work on continually with my puppies.  Free shaping instead of using a treat lure to get behaviors does a pretty nice job of at least teaching pups that food is dependent on them actually doing something, and sometimes that something even requires moving away from the food.

Food in the Hand
Next I do the simple Windmill Game of holding food out to the side and reward the puppy with the treat once they stop bouncing around and look at me to ask what the holdup is.  No little puppy, you haven't yet mastered the Jedi mind tricks to make food fly into your mouth.  Most dogs quickly grasp the concept of choosing eye contact over staring at food so it's pretty easy to graduate to making the game harder by moving the food hand around and then even jostling a bowl of food.

Food on the Ground
Next progression is to put that bowl of food on the ground.  At first just block the puppy from getting the bowl by using your body, rewarding frequently for any impulse control given and celebrating any actual eye contact.  But soon I start asking for simple behaviors.  Can puppy sit? down? rollover? and most importantly, can he do so without rushing to the food bowl after each repetition?  I am the one to physically reach in the dish and grab handfuls of kibble to reward from.  I personally don't release the dog to the dish when I'm done, but rather pick it up and present it to him so that he's never trembling for that magical release.

Adding Movement
So now the puppy can do stationary stuff with food on the ground, but can the puppy choose to move away from it?  Here's where I start asking the dog to do moving tricks such as go mat, touch a target, retrieve, pivot, 4 feet in a box, etc all while leaving the food alone.  When I get to this point the puppy knows really well that he can't release himself to the bowl so I'm really not having to guard it at all.  But we may have to take a break in order to stare at that lovely food dish together.  It sure is a beautiful dish.  Oh, we're ready to go back to work I guess.

Reverse Luring
The last thing I work on is actually using the food's placement in a tempting manner.  This is the Reverse Luring technique used as proofing.  Can the dog go to heel position if I'm wiggling food in my right hand?  Can he nail a perfect front with a treat tempting him barely off center?  Hold that stand stay as I bring treats to his butt?  By working through ignoring the food the dog has to concentrate harder on the task at hand.  This can help a ton in communicating to the dog exactly what position/movement is correct and at what point he's not quite there.

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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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