Vito in 2013

Same video review from earlier here:

A year of ups and downs.  Quite a few increases in medications and lots of false hope.  Read the recent post from our behaviorist visit earlier in December for more of an update.  Short version is that 2014 will be the year of starting over.  Fingers crossed that the weeks of weaning off Fluoxetine and then waiting for the new drug to kick in won't be completely unbearable.

I am happy to report that Vito is actually doing really well in our motivation building, generalization attempts.  Still in a semi-retired state from competitions, but is doing well in CDSP trials.  He competed a total of 8 times this last year, much more than in previous years.  The best part is that he has been happy every single time!  We've still had some struggle with checking out the judge and ring stewards, but it's gotten better with every single trial.  The recent trial in October Vito did tons of happy toller bouncing!  And of course his trial last weekend was also focused and happy, just minus the bouncing.  We're sticking in the Open C class to keep his confidence up.

In practice I've continued our massive work on ring entrances and have expanded that to include taking off the leash and heeling.  I've also worked heavily on Vito being the one to choose to engage with me versus me expending tons of energy into trying to excite him, usually by showing him the prize up front.  This has included working on our personal play skills- mainly letting Vito bark and jump on me.
Lately this has been expanded into going to new places and evaluating how quickly Vito is ready to work with no toys/food on me.  After the first test, we then work on leaving the toys far away and trying again.  Progress is happening very quickly these last few months compared to the solid year and half it took to just get entering the ring happy and attentive.  I've been a slacker this last month and half so I'm hoping to pick back up where we left off.

Vito continued to have a good year in agility from the progress we made in 2012 of not worrying about judges and ring crew.  Vito had one incident of running off to bark at a ring steward, way back in January, and it seemed more of a happy visit than a scary one.

He finished up his USDAA advanced standard and pairs title and I decided to move him up to masters in his least favorite games of jumpers and snooker as well.  In NADAC he finished up his open versatility title by finally completing jumpers and chances.

In training we continued our work on powering out of wraps and tight turns as Vito has a hard time coming back to extension.  I also tried to fix his constant pulling off of jumps.  I'm not quite sure what finally worked, but Vito has had much improvement on both issues.  In practice it's not uncommon now for him to remain fast, happy toller throughout all his runs in a group class, even in courses that have lots of tight sequences.  Vito is pulling off way less jumps as well and most I can now say are honestly my fault.  We've had an unofficial break the last 3 months where his only training has been the weekly group class.  Hopefully when I restart training in the new year we will both be fresh and continue to improve.

I wrote this post right before Vito's NADAC trial this past weekend.  I had written:
"In trials Vito didn't make any significant changes with his running style.  His screaming at the start is not a predictor of how fast he is going to decide to run.  Lots of variation in speed from run to run.  He's super cute about it though and has also discovered that Momma doesn't care at all if he breaks a start line stay.  I think I'm finally more relaxed about his speed difference though.  Vito's not really worried at trials anymore, seems to have a good time, and has some really amazing runs every now and then."

And now I get to add that for at least one entire weekend, Vito decided to run in a trial.  The best way to end the year!

We didn't do much of anything this year.  I had started strong and was beginning to teach him the following tricks:
1. Grab his tail- I did get him to bite his tail.  Took a while as grabbing a body part was not a crazy idea he thought his mother would have.  We never got a hold of any type.

2. Walking in slippers- Vito's digging behavior was relatively new the beginning of this year so all he wanted to do with the slipper was hike it backwards.  We eventually got standing on, but then I got bored when I realized i needed sturdier shoes that would force him to aim for the opening versus squish it.

3. Repeated jumping in front of me- Actually I spent a ton of work on this trick.  First idea was a nose target to my hand gradually raised.  That was very frustrating for Vito.  Added in my leg to jump over and made some progress, but he really, really did not want to raise his hind end.  Lots of rear end dragging behind him.  Very similar to our disc dogging issues before he was retired.  It took months of off and on work and clicking only the best efforts to get nice jumps over just my leg.  Then I added in going back over the other direction.  More work.   Now Vito has much nicer air time but he still needs my leg and will tend to cheat at times by dragging his rear.    Amazing how hard this is for him and how easy this is for all 3 of the last puppies I've raised.

Goals for 2014
1. Continue working really hard on his obedience engagement and generalization to NEW places.  Re evaluate and see if just maybe he could do my club's AKC trial in October of next year!

2. Actually practice obedience things besides engagement.  Like fronts while retrieving.  And go outs.  And stuff.

3. Continue experimentation that was recently started, and then put on hold, of not having Vito's ball on me when practicing agility.  Instead, practice having him leave it before entering the ring to help mimic trials.  See if this is a possible reason for speed issue in trials.
Otherwise, relax and and keep having fun as long as Vito's having fun.

Muttsandaklutz  – ( January 2, 2014 at 10:22 AM )  

Wow, what an overall fabulous year for all of you! So good to look back and see all of the progress that's been made. Can't wait to see what 2014 brings you guys!

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