Vito in 2014

2014 was the year of The Toller!

Anxiety
This past year was the year of starting over.  After being on Prozac since early 2011 and it slowly losing it's effectiveness even with the help of various "quick acting" drugs, I decided to risk everything and begin again with a new base drug.  Amitriptyline was our first try and after several months of that experiment we weaned him off that too.  Vito was not doing well with of any many areas of anxiety.  So we started Zoloft in June.  Vito showed some improvement in his general anxiety but just minimal improvement with car rides, separation anxiety, and changes in routine.  Until mid November.  Out of the blue Vito decided the car was ok.  Situations that used to get Vito frantic and anxious he could now clam down in.  Short departures of 20min were now OK (but no longer).  So right now we're both enjoying this new hope for however long it lasts.  I'm even being brave and attempting to lower his dose of Clorazepate as I would love to get rid of that super expensive drug.

Agility
Vito started out the year with a few slower and sadder runs.  But there were no incidents of barking or visiting ring crew.  And then in the spring Vito started having a few faster runs every now and then.  Only a few runs throughout the year were Sad Making and a handful were actually pretty close to Practice Speed.  Pulling off jumps seemed to be a thing of the past except for on a handful of sadder runs.  Overall this year I was a peace with Trial Toller and Practice Toller.

My main "new thing" this year was doing quite a bit of of running Vito in practice without a toy on me.  Showing Vito where his reward is, and then walking to the first obstacle to set him up and run.  Often stopping mid sequence and asking him to sit while I go get it for him.  I don't know if it helped but my thought was to try and bridge the gap between practice and trials for him.

The other thing I had to focus on this year was 1 jump work for knocking bars.  With the accumulation of speed in practice and insane craziness that went along with finally being able to do agility at home, I discovered Vito
was a horrible bar knocker when aroused.  It's like he didn't know he was supposed to keep the bar up.  We're still struggling, but are improving.  Bar knocking at trials has happened a few times, but since his speed and arousal isn't quite as high mostly Vito is doing well at keeping them up at shows.

And then in October was the discovery of Chuck-It Agility Toller.  For the last 4 trials Vito screamed his head off and ran full speed in a trial.  Not every run has been full speed, but I believe every single run since the use of the Launcher has had moments of sprinting in it.  Fingers are crossed that the magicalness of the Chuck It launcher continues in 2015.

Vito did mainly USDAA this year and did earn his MAD (general masters title).  I was even brave enough to try the Masters Challenger Standard classes 2 times and Vito rocked both courses with no problem making time.  In NADAC he finished up a few elite titles but needs chances Q's to actually get his elite versatility title.  Zero for 5 this year in that class, although the October trial he did actually complete the challenge, minus the knocked bar, and the last trial he did the distance components, just not quite in the right order.  Going away from Momma is not so easy for the Toller.

Obedience
Vito and I did quite a bit more obedience this year.  We actually did a handful of AKC obedience trials for the first time since 2010!  The Pre-Open class (Open, but no stays) was attempted 3 times this year, and the non titling classes of Wildcard Open and the  Advanced teamwork class were each done once as well.

The CDSP trials done this year in Open all went extremely well in terms of attitude.  And several of them were done without any treats given during the run.  The first AKC trial went fantastic and I had a very pushy dog.  Sadly the September trials at a different location had a lot more worry.  Vito was nervous about the crowd, steward, and judges,  The October AKC trial went better.  Vito still showed some worry in between exercises but got better as we went and mostly had nice attitude.  The Advanced Teamwork on day #2 was wildly entertaining as Vito failed every exercises other than heeling. But happiest Toller ever!

This past year I did quite a bit more actual training of the exercises than I have in years past.  I've been so focused on ring prep confidence work that there wasn't time to devote to anything else.  This year I continued our ring confidence work but actually did some training as well.  The main thing Vito needs now is to take the show on the road.

Goals for 2015
1.  Try Vito in AKC Open B.  I don't think the dogs will be an issue for group stay
s as Vito hardly acknowledges the presence of other dogs.  But I do need to practice his sit stay.  And of course general confidence.

2.  Accumulate as many Standard Q's in NADAC and USDAA as possible.  A NATCH and a ADCH might not be possible with the Toller, but he loves standard!  Especially focus on the Master Challengers class in USDAA.

3. Bar knocking criteria in practice.  Continued teaching Vito the importance of not knocking a bar when over aroused.  Practice will likely have to wait until spring when we can work on it at home when he's the most excited.


achieve1dream  – ( January 2, 2015 at 2:33 PM )  

It sounds like he made a lot of progress! I'm keeping my fingers crossed the new medicine continues to work as long as possible. :)

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