CDSP Trial

I ended up taking Zumi to a CDSP obedience trial this morning.  I went back and forth over whether I should go since Zumi has had very little training since I went on restriction 8 weeks ago and has had absolutely zero training in the last 2 weeks and way less exercise.  But ultimately I wanted to get more CDSP trials under her belt before we hopefully do some AKC trials next year.  I knew her attitude would be great still, a very good chance of having great focus, and it was just the precision that I thought could be thrown out the window.  I was thinking of entering Zumi in the open level for today but decided to stick with novice.  I pictured Zumi doing a quick victory lap with her dumbbell as she sometimes likes to do when she's super excited and I envisioned lots of slamming into me on her fronts.

Zumi surprised me by really holding it together.  Pretty much no unexpected precision issues at all.  She showed some issues on her halts like I expected and on her finish.  Both things we are (well *were*) working on in practice.


This makes it Zumi's 4th time in the novice ring, so her first leg towards her "novice championship" if we decide to complete all 10 legs for that title.

And in other news, Netta had a very big day yesterday.  She had her CT scan in the morning that was clear and let me breathe a huge sign of relief.  And then when I came back in the evening to visit I saw that her little box was empty!  They had moved Netta upstairs to the NICU for less critical patients!  She now has her own room with a pull out couch that I can use in a few weeks for when they want me to start staying the night to work on feedings with her.



And Netta is starting to actually be awake now for at least a small portion of the time when I visit!  She turns 32wks today from the pregnancy count, and officially is 11 days old.

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Netta Rose

My little girl decided she wanted to see 2016 and arrived November 29th.  10 weeks earlier than expected.  3lbs, 5oz and and 15.5in tall.  Welcome Netta Rose.

 

As suspected with the bleeding occurring at the 24 week mark, I had a partial placenta abruption.  Managed to keep her in for those 6 additional weeks though!  Since she is so early I am officially a NICU mom.

Netta is doing spectacularly well though.  She graduated off of breathing help within 2 days and is doing well on her own now with just the occasional apnea spell as to be expected due to her underdeveloped nervous system.

She will be in the NICU for at least 6+ weeks as her body continues to develop.  Right now there's not much for me to do for her but visit and hold her per the limits I"m allowed.  Since the first two days holding is now less restricted unless she needs her cool shades and tanning bed.

We will be at the one week (31wks) mark tomorrow and there's a good chance she will even be "eating" just my milk by then, fortified with extra stuff to help her.  It will be several more weeks before she is able to nurse.  

I am grateful to those who took my dogs while I was in the hospital and to those continuing to help babysit Vito so I can go visit her.

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Losing her Mind

Well it's official, Zumi has lost her mind.  With the less training and general mental stimulation she's going insane when out "in public."  Flailing, whining, and more flailing at people when at the obedience club and at work.  Doesn't matter if she knows them or not.

When we come home from work she immediately grabs a toy as soon as we exit the garage and hit the yard.  And then she does at least 6 full laps of the yard and about a dozen more half laps.  All on her own.  I think the fenced portion of our yard is about 100x100ft.


Sorry Zumi.
Luckily she's still being very good at home.  Super excited to go out and do something if I flinch, but otherwise waiting as patiently as she can.

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Single Obstacle Work

I've been a little quiet lately as not much has been happening on the dog training front.  I had a bit of a scare a few weeks ago with my pregnancy and was put on restriction.  Restriction sucks.  But since then I've had a chance to talk to my doctor and we lifted some of the restrictions, mainly I can walk as much as I want to now :)


But dog training is still a bit limited due to the whole no dog's punching me thing.  I've resumed more obedience training with the dogs.  Since Vito's entire personal play repertoire is pretty much jump on mommy, he's doing a great job with all the turning I'm doing now to get him to jump at my back.

Agility training has been more stalled.  No sequence work at all.  But since so far fall in Minnesota is being extremely good to us(!) I still have my agility equipment in the yard and have recently started working on single obstacle work.  Goal is to work more on independent weave poles, dogwalks, and maybe a bit more understanding of verbal cues on one jump until I'm forced to put the equipment away for winter.  

I tried taking some dogwalk pictures today since we're just not sequencing it anyways!  Plus the dogs think a pre-placed toy to target is way more fun and easy than actually listening to handling.


One one jump work I'm not really working towards verbal only performance of the various ways to take the jump, but just trying to get a tad more clued into the fact that I have verbal cues and needing less help motion from me to do them.  Zumi is actually pretty darn good with limited speed.  Since she loves her dogwalk there and almost always brings her toy to the top of it after doing a victory lap, I decided to appease her this week and work on adding more speed to her 1 jump work.  A lot more errors!

With Vito we're just at 1 jump with limited speed.  He needs more physical support from me to do the cue and also in general we're still working on keeping bar up.  Vito gets VERY excited with a ball in my hand and this brings out bar knocking regardless of whether the jump is at 12in or 22in and whether I'm running or not.  I must say that Vito has improved with this though!   



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Zumi's First AKC Trial

This last weekend Zumi was also entered at the AKC obedience/rally trial for her very first AKC experience.  It wasn't until after the trial that I realized I'm not sure how many AKC trials she's actually been at just to hang out.  Lance was injured shortly after Zumi arrived in our house and Vito certainly hasn't been trialing in AKC.  Somehow it slipped through the cracks that while she's been to some CDSP/WCRL trials a puppy she likely didn't make it to many AKC.  Which really shouldn't be a big deal at all, except AKC trials really are a different environment.  As I mentioned in Vito's summary, the stress in the air is just higher.  Dogs are even more in tune to that stuff than we are!

Zumi was entered in rally novice for 2 trials on Saturday and 1 on Sunday.  I didn't expect her to have any issues and I figured rally was a very good introduction before we started obedience trialing.
Overall she was incredibly eager, had great focus, and did a really nice job in all 3 runs to earn her first AKC title, RN.

But I was also surprised to see the environment effect Zumi much more than I've seen at her previous CDSP obedience and WCRL rally runs this past year.  Stressing UP just a tiny bit.  I learned that Zumi's verbal down was broken, even when starting from a sit.  She could lie down 3/4ths of the way but just couldn't do a full down without hand help.  Didn't seem nervous or stressed in the classic way, but was stressing up that little bit and eagerly anticipating moving forward.  And this was outside of the actual ring!  Zumi's left-about turn was also broken which I didn't discover until we got in the ring for the first trial and she tried to weave through my legs, and then just happily bounced out of my way on the reattempt.  Outside the ring it remained broken until we got home.
Little things.
I used quite a bit more praise during her 3 runs then I've used at her other trials.  I just felt like while her focus was there it was more breakable.

Here is her first run of the weekend with the failure to do a left about!


And here is her last run of the weekend with me helping out her downs:


At this point I want to get her in quite a few more AKC rally trials and more CDSP obedience trials before I put her in AKC obedience.  I want to have the option of giving her some quick praise if I feel she needs it and just more support.  But overall I'm happy with her performances and think we're on a good track for a long and happy obedience career.


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Vito's AKC Attempt

Yesterday Vito was entered in his first AKC trial (we did rally this time and not obedience) in exactly one year.
Last year at this time he had a complete meltdown at the trial, very worried about the judge in the ring and for whatever reason continued his panic attack even outside of the ring.  Usually Vito is pretty darn relaxed at dogs shows until he steps across that magical threshold into the ring itself where all the pressure of people watching and the pressure to work gets to him.  But for whatever reason he panicked that day last year.  And we haven't been back to AKC since.  Actually it was shortly after that trial that I began my obedience experiment with Vito and began to play with not his stress issues but his motivation issues.  That was extremely interesting but meant that Vito also did not enter any CDSP obedience or WCRL rally trials until last month.  I was excited to see that Vito was able to be a very sassy and happy Toller in his WCRL runs but also knew that it wouldn't really mean anything for how he could handle the AKC environment again.

The atmosphere of AKC trials are just different.  There is a lot more stress in the air.  Ring entrances are typically more crowded with nervous handlers.  Dogs are more "traditionally" trained and you will see a lot less play around the rings.  People still love their dogs and are trying hard to do what's best, but in general stress levels are higher even if you as a handler are able to stay relaxed. 

So at the trial yesterday I knew that we might not even make it into the ring.  If I was going to enter the ring with Vito I wanted to see if he would happily play with me outside of the ring before our turn and start the engagement on his own without needing much effort from me.  And I am happy to report that he was able to do that.  He even showed his sassy side again with doing a little bit vocalization at me and we worked on a few quick squish-release to play-reward sequences before our turn.  Our final release into the ring started great, and then he saw we were not just playing near the steward table (like we had successfully earlier in the day) but going into the ring and he lost a bit of focus.

Because I think it's important to share successes, mistakes, and in general what my philosophy is towards my dogs I'm going to analyze the video I have from Vito's run.  Pretty boring analysis but maybe interesting to some!



Video starts just a few seconds after my release, 360 turn with Vito (maybe with a high hand touch?), and about 3 steps of heeling.
You can see he's focused until we get to the table and then he starts staring. I pause and hope that it's enough for him to refocus on me. It is.

3-6sec he is capable of giving me pretty eager eye contact as we step through the ring and approach the startline/judge.
6-10sec is sketchy as the leash actually very lightly restrains him from greeting the judge. In Vito's case, and really in most dog's cases, greeting isn't because they are happy to see the person but because the dog feels stressed and conflicted.

10-17 is our leash removal. I pause my first attempt to remove it as Vito is trained to look at me during removal and I want to see if a quick restart is enough help to both remind him of his job and to also give him a tiny bit of time to settle in. I'm actually fairly happy that he was able to refocus so quickly. If Vito had not been able to offer me focus at this time it would have been a very time to re-evaluate and consider leaving the ring as odds of it improving are low if you can't get stationary focus.
18-22 Another sketchy focus area while waiting to start. Vito's glancing at the judge and worried about him standing so close. A point where I again should have considered leaving the ring. Ultimately I decided in those few seconds to see if moving out and AWAY from the judge would allow Vito to relax or not. Right decision? I don't know.

23- I praise Vito as soon as he moves with me at the start. But it's not enough as Vito does not feel safe enough to continue without checking out the judge.
26- Vito reconnects with me pretty much as soon as he gets to the judge. I actually ask him to do a hand touch to see if he can jump up in the ring and engage with me. He can't do it. More feedback.

30-36 For better or worse I decide to continue as he is giving me focus again. Unfortunately it's a crappy first sign that involves a stay with his back to the judge. Continued heeling would have been so much better! A few more glances at the judge and moving his feet to come to me but holding it together.
36-40 He connects with me as we move to sign #2 but energy is lower. Certainly not in risk of being a forging toller
41-42 Second sign also not a good one for Vito! He knows backing up very well but doesn't want to do it with the judge behind him. I am thrilled to see that Vito is still keeping focus on me though and I move on without any attempt at re-doing it. Praise to Vito for trying.
42- tiniest glance to judge as we move away. 44- Hand touch cue given to try and drive Vito up to heel and get him moving more. Of course I know that due to his lagging position at that time he couldn't actually do it and I take it away before he gets there. In this context it's a light and playful tease as hand touches are heavily rewarded with Vito and are used frequently with him to reinforce more energy.
45-50 Here I'm thrilled with the increased energy he actually did give me. Trotting more and feeling pretty good.
51- Looks away when I look away to see what's next and a bit slow to start with me.
56- Catches up nicely and then looks away again at the environment.

1.01-1.02- I know that if Vito isn't feeling it then downs are the first to go. Here he does his down pretty quickly but does need to look away again. I wait until he's looking back to cue the sit.
1.05-1.08- Happy prancing toller again!
1.09-1.21 two more glances at the judge. And another few seconds of needing to look around after his stand cue. I wait.
1.24- Left turns are pressure and you can feel Vito just lose a bit of energy on it.
1.32-1.36 is more pressure halting into a wall followed by a left pivot. Bit loss of energy from Vito again but keeps focus.
1.40- Connects after the jump but not completely focused on me until 1.44. I praise him again when he rejoins me.
1.49- much better left turn in terms of keeping up his energy level.
1.51-2.05 pretty good but 3 tiny look aways in this serpentine.
 2.05-2.07- back and doing pretty well.
 2.08-2.14 as we approach the gate Vito is a bit unsure again. Lots more looking around and conflicted between looking at me or looking at the people.

Looking at this, am I happy with Vito's run? Personally I am thrilled with Vito's recovery. He was stressed and able to not just go through the motions but actually give me many moments of nice enthusiasm. However I will not be showing Vito in AKC again for another long time. Vito is trained to look at me during heeling and it's pretty darn well proofed against distractions. If Vito is happy and relaxed his focus point during heeling is so second nature that he doesn't need to even think about it. Therefore deviation from that is a very good indicator for him on how he's feeling. Taking away the first 42sec of the run, the minor look aways he does during his run are just that, minor. But they still add up to extremely good feedback for me. If your dog doesn't have the same criteria then it's obviously not a good indicator for you! Adding in the issues at the startline and I don't feel comfortable trying Vito in another AKC trial at this time.

I don't need a perfect dog but I do need a happy and relaxed dog. Continuing to enter Vito in AKC trials would likely deteriorate his performance more. "Ring experience" is a myth. In a trial you're extremely limited on what you can do to support your dog's performance and overall you're not really helping your dog learn that trials are a happy thing. You may think your dog is learning that nothing bad happens to them in a ring, but dogs don't view events the same way we do. Now simple exposure to the environments with no pressure attached is a very good thing! IF your dog is relaxed in the environment you can work on your dog choosing to engage and play with you despite the feeling of stress in the air. And of course lots of ring confidence games.

If I wanted to prioritize Vito and really see if I can get him back to AKC I would need to put in a lot more work then I've done. Traveling to the traditional obedience clubs for their run through nights (lots of stress in the air!) and work on our ring games. Showing up to AKC trials and just hanging out, playing if he wants to. And lots more work with gradual people pressure in different environments. But the truth is that while I am not giving up on Vito and am still going to continue our work in obedience/rally, it's not a priority for me. So it may very well be another year before I see if we can try again. Hopefully I can continue to use CDSP/WCRL runs as a partial evaluation of how Vito does in a trial. In those cases the pressure of the judge and stewards remain the same but the overall stress in the room is WAY down. And with the allowance of food at certain points (or anytime if I go into training mode) I can actually reinforce Vito's good decision in a trial setting. Of course I still need a happy and engaged dog entering the ring or risk digging an even deeper hole!

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First Obedience Title

Yup, Zumi now has her first official obedience title of CD-C!  Friday night one trial of CDSP/WCRL was offered and I took the crew after work.

Zumi
Based on last weekend's success in novice I entered Zumi again for her 3rd leg.  I was getting her all warmed up and almost ready to go in the ring when I started to feel really light headed.  Damn hormones.  Thankfully I at least had the sense to tell the stewards that I would need to be moved down a few dogs and went to sit down, drink, and eat a little bit.  My crate was too far away so I put Zumi in a down stay in the corner next to me.  I honestly wasn't sure if she would be ok going into the ring with me when I started to feel better as my little Duck looked a bit concerned!  When I first stood up and released her she did not want to follow me.

But she's such an eager worker that once I got playing with her again she seemed just fine.  Indeed she pulled off another performance I couldn't have been more proud of.  One very happy Duck.

Halts need work, which I knew.  I was less surprised on the bit crookedness on her pop stand for the moving stand exercise based on last Saturday's trial.  And she also repeated that imprecise yet happy fling on her left finish.
But her 3rd Q with a 198 and high in trial again.


Vito
I also entered Vito on a whim this trial for rally again based on last week's fabulous result.  And again Vito told me he was ready!
Actually I ended up having Vito out of his crate a bit too early as it didn't take him that long to go from sniffing/looking around to asking me for work.  Of course it always helps that he can smell the ham pieces I had in my pocket for his reward.  Quite the step up from just kibble.

Vito had a very enthuisastic and forgey entrance to the ring! And overall was kinda pushy and not really wanting to backup on his pivots- which for Vito is actually a pretty good sign, even if it's a bit naughty!  His finishes were just as naughty as he forged/crabbed on every one.


Lance
And the corgi.  Sassiest he has ever been in a trial.  If I thought he was barky last weekend he pretty much doubled it.  Not just barking on the pivots and backing up portions which is pretty  much a given now days, but I think he barked at every single sit and every down.  Man he loves being out there though.  So,so proud of himself.

There will be yet another obedience/rally trial report soon as my club's AKC trial is this weekend.  I've entered Zumi in her first AKC trial, although rally at this point and not yet obedience.  There's 2 trials Saturday and 1 trial Sunday and she's in all 3 with the potential to get her rally novice title if all goes well.  I actually entered Vito too, well before he had an opportunity to do these 2 WCRL trials.  Vito is also just in rally. I admit I'm nervous to see if he can handle the AKC environment again.  Even though it's our training club it's also the site of his biggest meltdown ever last year.  I'm repeating to myself over and over again that if he is not pumped up and eager to go in the ring then we won't bother even entering the ring...    And the corgi of course is fully retired from all AKC due to the whole not jumping thing.  Plus I just have no interest in getting an RAE on him with AKC rally where he could jump 4in and possibly tempt me.

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BOTH boys in Rally

Aww, I forgot to un-draft my brag on the boys last weekend!  I was very proud of Vito so here is my late brag!

The boys were also at the trial last Saturday but were in WCRL rally instead of obedience.

Vito
It's been 12 months since Vito has last been in a trial for obedience/rally with his last experience ending in a total panic attack after I excused us from the ring.  Granted that AKC obedience which is a harder environment for him to be in than CDSP/WCRL trials.  I debated about entering Vito quite a while before sending in the entry as I don't know that we have really made much progress in Vito's willingness to start work lining up with my timeline.  I was pretty sure general trial stress wouldn't be an issue in this environment as he had started to do really well in CDSP trials before his awful AKC meltdown.  But I decided to enter Vito in WCRL rally so that the work would be way easier for him. After entering the rally trial I looked and Vito hasn't done WCRL rally since 2013 when he got his level 3 title.

I don't really think of Vito as a "rally" dog like Lance and Zumi can be.  I think of rally dogs as "doodle" dogs getting more excited with all the rear end awareness tight pivoting, and ok with all the starting and stopping.  Whereas some dogs are more "flow" type dogs.  I wouldn't say Vito hates all the pivots and stopping but he doesn't seem to get as excited by it as the other two.  It's mainly the easier work and not having to deal with transitions that made me choose rally over obedience for him.
I was very much doubting my decision to enter Vito at the trial but decided that he would let me know if he wanted to try it or not.  If I couldn't get him to do a happy and engaged ring entrance than we would just be done.

It actually turned out that Vito was very excited to work and eat cookies before his turn.  He even barked at me a few times and we did several mini "Squish" practice with releasing to play then his cookies for his turn.  Our ring entrance was very excited!  And then he did look around a little bit so I waited to start.  But on our first step he forged!
And then of course he glanced away and found the food bowl distractions set out at a later sign.  Such a hungry toller!  I got him back, after he shoved his head completely in one of the bowls and quickly had him do 2 hand touches in play with him before continuing.  Vito was half with me at that time as his brain was still really on the food bowls.  Our 90 degree pivot Vito pivoted far enough so that he could stare directly at the bowls.  Starving Toller!  I chose to re-do it and then give him a cookie for his effort.  And then Vito realized that Mommy having cookies was way cooler than cookies he didn't know how to get from under a trap in a bowl...
By the time we got back to the bowls Vito was mostly back in good dog mode and did fine.
Despite Vito's little adventure I was extremely happy with Vito's run.  He seemed very relaxed and happy in the ring, not at all stressed about the judge or people outside.  Vito kept working after making a mistake and didn't lose any motivation.


There's another WCRL trial next Friday that I might do with Vito.  And then I had sent in a single rally entry a few weeks ago for my club's AKC trial.  With both I'll just have the same plan of evaluating how he is outside the ring and letting Vito tell me if he wants to continue or not.

Lance
The Corgi came along for 2 rally runs.  He loves coming to trials and hamming it up with everyone.
Trial #1 was extremely nice.  Great focus and really working some precision.  Just did a fun bonus jump towards the end when we were doing a "fast forward from sit" and Lance thought that would be a good time to run extra fast and out over the nearby jump.

Run #2 Corig was sassier.  Much more forging.  Several barks.  Very proud corgi.

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First Novice Obedience Trial

Ducky had her very first time in novice obedience on Saturday!  We did 2 novice runs in CDSP where I felt brave enough to enter her due to the allowance of food between exercises and extra praise.  Technically this was her 2nd time in the obedience ring as I did the last minute entry a few months ago with Starters Novice at the CDSP trial.

The first trials she blew me away.  Confident ring entrance and beautiful heeling, just a tad forged in my opinion.  Happily played with me in between all exercises.  No issue with being interested in the stewards on the figure 8.  Actually we ended up with a "bonus" figure 8 as both teh judge and I forgot that it's off leash in CDSP so we had to re do it.  The exercise I was worried the most about, the moving stand, went beautifully as well.  Not even a glance at the judge during the brief touch.
Nailed her front over the jump (hard for her even in practice to collect herself!) and just didn't complete her finish properly.
Zumi ended up with a generous 199 and high in trial.


Trial #2 was a few hours later and I made a slight error in judgement before her run.  The CDSP ring and the WCRL rally rings were looking like they were going to start at the same time (the boys were in rally) and I kept looking back and forth to see if I should move Zumi down to the end of the obedience order or keep her where she was.  At the last minute I decided it would be easier if I ran her first so I could then fully concentrate on getting Vito prepared.  I ran to get Ducky out of her crate and warm her up.  I had a decent amount of time but I think she could have used more to settle her in and I'm sure my adrenaline was higher.

Zumi started to fixate on the nice steward (in a happy really want to greet way at least!) just moments before we were to enter the ring.  I waited a little bit after the judged called us, but she mentally wasn't where I needed her to be on entering the ring.  Thankfully she does have a trained squish behavior and that really did help get her to move with energy and focus past the steward and into the ring itself.  Then she had a few more glances at the audience in general and a bigger look at the walking steward as we passed each other, resulting in a poor halt.  For the most part I was proud to see how she was able to control herself and mostly focus.  In the first trial I don't think I gave any praise during the heeling (as is allowed in CDSP) but this second run I gave several words of praise during both the heeling pattern and figure 8 as I could feel that while she was doing a pretty good job of focusing her energy level was a bit lower.  This run she also slammed me on the recall, but did a better finish.
The judge scored us a 196 for her 2nd leg.

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Last Agility Trial of the Year?

This weekend was our last USDAA trial of the year.  Possibly our last agility trial of the year depending on whether or not I'm able to physically run at the December UKI trial or if I"ll feel too fat and exhausted.

The dogs were good.  Vito had some mixed results in terms of running speed but he was sassy on all his start lines and actually kept up most of his bars.  In a total of 6 runs he knocked 2 bars.  I was getting worried about Vito being able to jump 22in still but I think he really likes running on the mats.  Vito went 3 for 3 on Saturday, but 0 for 3 on Sunday.

Zumi also had a very nice weekend.  Some very mature stuff, of course with little mistakes also thrown in to prevent us from qualifying.  I feel like we're getting there though.  Only sped by jumps in her zest to just run twice, both on the same course and first run of the weekend.  Got all her weave pole entries.  Nailed all her contacts.  Still liking her off courses but none of them were super crazy far off her line off courses so I'll consider that progress.  The only real problem that surfaced this weekend was seeing Daddy on the sidelines who showed up for 1 run on Saturday and 1 run on Sunday.  SO excited to see him there and had a very hard time focusing entering the ring, especially on Saturday.  I think that was her really only "naughty" run all weekend as she transferred that distraction level off her dogwalk exit to do a super tiny glance and then a much bigger run off at the very end where she skipped the last jump and went to a punch a bar setter sitting along that wall.

Videos!

Zumi's last run on Saturday was Steeplechase and it felt like the first time we were truly a connected team on course in a trial.  On a Big Girl course too!  Sadly we were a little wide before the broad jump and she entered wrong.


And then Zumi's not super great standard run on Saturday with the Daddy distraction.



Zumi's jumpers on Sunday.  Just pulled off a jump after a rear cross which I actually should have expected since she's not super experienced yet with extending after them.  And then a bonus tunnel and what was her 2nd knocked bar of the whole weekend.

Vito had almost identical course in Master Jumpers on Saturday, just a few different angles.  I handled it VERY differently with the Toller!  Super fun to compare Vito's and Zumi's different styles!

Vito's Gamblers.  A Q!!  Very few dogs were able to flip out the farther end of the tunnel after the weaves but Vito did it!!


Saturday's Standard.  Vito was in no hurry on this run but we made it through.  Sassy on the table resisting the down.

Vito's Fancy Jumpers run on Sunday.  A refusal and a missed backside.

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Last Outdoor Trial

Vito
Vito gets to go first as this was one of his best trials of all time.  Especially great since we've been struggling this year!  Happy Toller both days, and even Super Happy Toller on Sunday.
Sassy guy broke pretty much all his startlines :)  and had fun cursing at me before lying down on the table both days too.

No Q's for us on Saturday.  The bar knocking issue was there in standard.  Jumpers I'll take the blame for pulling him off a tunnel.  And Snooker was 100% me as I very smoothly and purposefully sent him over a wrong jump.  Sigh.

And on Sunday he managed to go 3 for 3!  Snooker he was sassy and extremely creative but I managed to think on my feet and do a completely different plan in the opening.  Sadly Vito's plan was not Super Q worthy, my plan would have been...  In standard he was pretty darn happy.  And jumpers was one of the top 5 jumpers run the Toller has ever done.  The opening was fairly technical and Vito still remained happy and actually ran!  Sadly not on film.

Sunday's Standard:


Zumi
Ducky started out much more in control this weekend than the last trial.  And then kinda became a little wild again on Sunday.  She sure has a lot of fun!
Issues remain collecting to get her weave entrance if she has a lot of speed built up and finding the jump vs just running whee!

We qualified in 2 out of 7 total runs, jumpers on Saturday and Pairs on Sunday despite a weave fault on her end.

Saturday Standard.  Almost!  Missed weave entrance, a knocked bar, and wanting to skip the jump before the dogwalk.  Pretty dogwalk :)


Sunday's Standard.  Missed weave entrance again and then came off the teeter side.  Missed a jump before the aframe which led to the wrong end of the tunnel.  And then oddly enough went around the last jump.

Sunday Jumpers.  Pretty good girl with 2 missed jumps.  1 oddly enough due to practicing an obedience go out??  I have no idea what possessed her at around 17sec to start heading to a fence post...

And that wraps up the last outdoor trial of the year.  We have one more USDAA trial left this year and it's next weekend.  I'm looking forward to trialing Zumi at the location she has class every other week.  Hoping that maybe she will be in slightly more thinking mode?

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The Big Reveal



Yup.  The dogs are going to have to share me next year.  A baby sister is on the way.  Clearly they look thrilled with the news.

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Using Run Throughs Wisely

I finally had the opportunity to do an obedience run through with Duckie.  Sadly it was only her 3rd time at an official event and she will be 2yrs old in a few weeks!  Not the amount I wanted to get in by now.

With my local Ring Confidence class just ending and my new online Ring Confidence class starting in two weeks I have the topic of run throughs on my mind.  I have a very specific plan on how to use my 5 minutes of ring time to get full benefit for future trials and I can't say it looks anything like what I watch everyone else doing during their time.

My goal for a run through is to continue my ring confidence work- attitude and focus.  I don't see any point at all in going through a full formal run and listening to the "judge."  Time and time again I see others doing that and all it usually results in is a stressed dog.  Either the dog is a bit down in attitude and focus which the handler completely ignores, not supporting their dog, or corrects like crazy in order to teach him that he can't get away with that behavior in a trial and usually results in the dog developing even more stress towards that exercise.  Even happily interrupting and resetting an exercise in a positive manner can add stress to the behavior, something I want to consider very carefully in a trial environment.  A run through is not the time to teach or fix a behavior before your show.  The dog is either trained or he's not.  In the majority of cases if your dog shows up in a trial with the same level of attitude and focus he shows in practice than the exercises themselves will be there!  Of course that is what makes trialing so hard!  How do you get that attitude and focus in a trial?!

Ring Entrances
So that was my plan tonight with Zumi.  Attitude and focus.

I started with step one of my ring confidence work.  Or in Zumi's case I actually skipped straight to step two as I knew without a doubt that Zumi would be able to offer me great focus from being released from her waiting position to entering the ring and setting up in heel.  I also had strong suspicions that she could do more than just a few steps of heeling with the energy/focus I wanted but I didn't add that in right away as being too greedy had the potential of backfiring and adding stress to this trial like environment.  So all we did was enter the ring- setup in heel- and had a gigantic party.

Left the ring after that first party and waited again for her to push me to work.  Repeat.  Since I wasn't greedy and it went well I added in removing the leash before the party.  Then slowly added more and more trial like behaviors into the mix each time I re-entered the ring and saw that she wasn't just handling it well but was excelling.  I know I looked like an idiot to the others waiting outside the ring and that added a tiny bit of stress. Perfect.  Just enough stress to replicate some trial like feelings for Duckie to experience without actually doing anything difficult.

Because Zumi has had a lot of experience with this type of work, just not in a formal show like environment, I was able to progress quickly with her and actually do bits of heeling and simple versions of other exercises she knows well.  I even did all of it with her toy on the stewards table, putting her in a sit and bringing the toy to her whenever I wanted to party.  But with a dog who has already started trialing and showing signs of stress, or a dog less experienced with ring confidence games, I would stick to pure ring entrances=party.  Exit and try again if the dog shows he's still ready to work.  Rushing through steps and trying to get to the actual exercises will only degrade the hard work you've put in.  Baby steps!

I found out that Zumi's second turn in the ring was a bit too much.  We still had several nice ring entrances but occasionally struggled with taking the leash off when she could see the dog in the adjacent ring having fun with their dumbbell.  So we backed up.  Literally actually.  We just calmly exited the ring and I waited for Zumi to decide she was ready to work with me again.  Which due to her temperament and training didn't take too long.  In the future I think one turn for Zumi is enough, at least for right now.

Choosing to Work
Vito also came along to the run through.  But unlike Zumi, I did not register him for actual time in the ring.  Vito has even more experience with Zumi in the ring confidence games, but I also knew that with the trial environment it would be unlikely for Vito to choose to work at a set time to actually take advantage of ring=fun type games.

So instead this particular location had plenty of room along the edges of the ring and in the exhibitor area to just hang out on leash and let Vito decide what he wanted to do.  I let him sniff around, let him stare at things, and occasionally asked him if he was ready.  Vito told me "no" repeatedly and I respected that.  He will offer me great eye contact, but I know Vito well enough that just eye contact is not a true indicator of being ready to work.  Vito could smell treats on me but I never pulled them out.  I knew that if I pulled out a cookie I could likely get Vito excited enough to overpower the environment but that was not my goal.  In a trial you don't have rewards to overpower the environment.
I also knew that I could ask Vito to do his squish behavior which has been trained/classically conditioned enough that when released from the position Vito will immediately engage with me and with some energy.  But I didn't want to do that either.  That trained squish I only do when I already have a dog.  Using it before he's ready to work will have the effect I want, but the more it's used that way the more it's like withdrawing money from an account versus building that behavior up to be stronger.  I only want to use it that way in an actual trial, if I have to.

So Vito and I walked around a bit, stood around a lot, he got a few butt rubs and some crouching down next to and I just supported him.  And at some point Vito surprised me by actually telling me he was ready.  Still in just the extra space outside of the rings I started personal play and a bit of heeling, and then brought out the food.  I repeated this a few times, releasing him back to sniff/stare after each cookie reward to see if he was done or not.  Only once did Vito tell me he wanted a bit of break.  We didn't play/train long, less than 3 minutes before I put him away.

And I was happy with my decision not have Vito get actual ring time yet.  If you are not yet sure if your dog will engage with you outside of the ring without being shown their rewards then you are not ready to be doing a run through yet.  Instead focus on visiting different locations and just hanging out.  Having an official ring time puts too much pressure on yourself to try and get the dog to work at just that moment.

And of course if you need help with these concepts or want a more concrete plan for  prepping your dog to enter a trial please come join my Ring Confidence class starting October 1st!

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Rattie Bonding

I've had the boys for over a month now.  Evee has been fully adjusted and living with them for awhile.  Splat really looks up to her and I'm pretty sure he brags that Evee is his cool older girlfriend.  Evee has a "just friends" look on her face though.


Splat is a funny dude. I imagine him as a cross country runner who is very obsessed with nutrition and fitness but still a really twiggy body.  He runs on the wheel a lot.  A lot.  And he will take maybe 1 treat from me, but then refuses and hops on his wheel in regret of the snack he did consume.

Spork pretty much just sleeps.  I swear there are days I never see him as he is naughty about burrowing under my cage liner no matter how hard I've tried to stop him.  I poke him to try and rouse him out sometimes but I can just feel him grumble and try to ignore me.  Spork does run on the wheel sometimes too, likely from Splat's guilt trips.  Mainly Spork just wants to eat and sleep.


I feel like a horrible rat mom often.  The boys are still awfully skittish of me.  I can't bribe Splat with food and Spork I can't even get to wake up to come see me.  They're really not coming out of their cage much at all as they're not brave enough to venture out and they don't want me to grab them.  I'm not sure what to do differently.  Penelope didn't take long at all to come out and explore- she was the naughtiest and bravest rat ever.  And Evee followed her like a good side kick.
Splat wants to follow Evee but will only follow her on top of the cage.

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Obedience Training

I haven't shared much of The Duck's specific obedience training lately.  Mostly we're just practicing skills once a week, twice if I have the time.  The Ring Confidence class I'm teaching and have her in is going very well, still surprising me with her maturity.  Specific skills are still way more of a work in progress.

Main things we're working on right now are her go outs.  Still so hard for her.  Actually that's not entirely true anymore.  Zumi is usually very straight now if there aren't any distractions near by such as the jumps being closer than usual placement, a cone kinda near, or something similar.  Then she almost always succumbs unless I start close enough to the spot that the distraction is less obvious.
But the work is paying off in making the real utility picture easier now!
The actual directed jumping portion needs quite a bit of work too.  Still very hard for Zumi not to come straight to me.  Wants to jump on the way out and not jump on the way back!

We've also been working on her moving down vs moving stand.  The moving down seemed to break when I started focusing more on the stand and she's just starting to piece together the difference.

Fronts with a item in her mouth are hard so I've recently started using a platform.  Less so for me to think that Zumi is actually thinking about the angles, but more to teach her about collection.  Zumi's a good girl and doesn't do her victory lap with her formal retrieve items in the way that she does with her toys, but I can tell that she SO wants to and this leads to less thinking on fronting as soon as she has a bit of speed with the dumbbell.  Close up we've worked different angles and are making progress.

And finally the broad jump.  I've been working on Zumi taking the broad jump and not cutting the corner no matter where I stand.  I vary my location from the normal spot to starting all the way back at her side.  I used a cone for awhile, now nothing.

This was Zumi's last session at the club.  I love using toys to reward her whenever possible, but sometimes I use her dinner to train.  Not too exciting, most of the session is on the moving stand vs moving down.

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The Obedience Experiment Conclusion

For those who followed Vito's experiment last winter/spring I never really posted it's conclusion.  Last update in April was 5 months in.  I did another month before ending the experiment, kinda took another few months break, and resumed obedience training in August.

The experiment of taking away all his food/toy rewards wasn't all unicorns and rainbows.  It certainly didn't have the results it had when I did it with the Corgi but nor did I expect it to.  Unfortunately the dogs who I think can benefit the most from really building up the value of personal play and choosing to work are also the dogs who will really struggle with it.  The dogs who naturally have great "work ethics" are likely going to excel whether they go through a learning stage like this or not.
Vito can come off as a high drive working dog, but it's purely obsession that masks his naturally low energy, low work drive.  His experiment was painful.

The last month (and remember it was still extremely few sessions each month) I tightened up Vito's freedom by keeping him on leash.  He still had full control of whether he wanted to work or not, but less choices of what to do during his time.  We would walk together around the training building and let him sniff all the things, but then I would stick to one spot.  It didn't bother Vito at all as he was still pretty darn content to lie down and watch the world.  But I do think it helped.

Actually we did have 1 downfall of doing this experiment.  Vito got in the habit of being able to sniff and explore the area before working.  Acclimation is a GOOD thing, but Vito was past the point of needing to directly acclimate in the working area vs just outside of it.  All the sniffing and crumb finding he practiced for months was quite the rehearsal.  If I had done the on leash exploration earlier in the process I think it would have helped.  For the most part, 1 month back now into jackpot training and criteria for choosing to work outside of a ring, then full focus in the ring, and Vito is back to not checking out of work to explore.  Except weirdly enough the exploration kinda seeped into agility training at home.  I never quite using toys in agility but all summer Vito runs out into the agility field when it's his turn with happy helicopter tail exploring the yard, searching for a non existent ball, for a few minutes until he runs back to me ready to work.  It's a bit odd.

I do think the pros of this experiment are still many, even for dogs like Vito.  Vito's personal play skills increased.  His value for his dumbbell increased.  He fully understands choice in working or not working and it was thrilling when he did work even when he knew there was no rewards.  Even now with the introduction of rewards back into training- still never on my body- we can go quite a long time before a reward.  It's a bit more like the rewards are a bonus than the sole reason for choosing to start work.
Precision is still slowly working it's way back, but I think it will get there again.  At least the precision errors have remained due to excitement errors and not lack of effort.  Mainly we have forging, crabbing, and creeping.

Here is a long video of Vito's training session on Wednesday.  The first 3 minutes are of absolutely nothing.  I am waiting outside the ring to see if Vito is going to choose to start work or not.  There are no rewards on my body.  Then Vito does decide to start work and once we enter the ring he stays in work mode until I decide to have him sit and bring over some treats for him.  I then repeat the process of exiting the ring and waiting.  The 2nd time is much shorter and I cut the video off once we make it back inside.

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USDAA Trial

The tollers had another agility trial this past weekend.  USDAA.  Just one more outdoor trial left for the year!


Zumi was a wild child.  She certainly is not lacking confidence. Wheee!!
There were good things.  Nice start lines, not even vulturing that much.  Nice aframes, even with 1 flip to a tunnel we haven't practiced!  And some nice dogwalks and weaves.  
Turning though was another story.  Actually she seemed to get worse in that department with every run.  Her first run on Saturday she was super responsive, almost too responsive as her rear cross "switch" cue seemed to me turn immediately and not actually take the jump.  That improved over the 7 total runs over the weekend but then she seemed to lose the ability to turn all together.  A single step from me meant run 20ft out.  

We had fun at least!  And actually we did end up with the single Q she needed in Starters Pairs to fast track her to Advanced in all the things.  It wasn't exactly clean as Zumi ran past a jump to head to her aframe, but off courses are just extra time in pairs and her partnering run was still under.  So 1 for 7 runs, and really 0 for 7 in the clean run department.

It was Ducky's first time doing pairs though!  She ran 2nd both days and was completely solid on her stay.  I left the leash on Saturday until I had the baton in my hand just to make sure she wasn't going to interfere.  But Sunday I took it off early and we just waited together.  
This was one of her wildish runs, but not her worse!

And her standard run on Sunday was pretty decent too.

Vito was Sad Toller on Saturday.  Well for those newer to the blog, Sad Toller really isn't sad, just slow.  Vito is perfectly happy to go out there and do his thing, just doesn't see any sense of urgency whatsoever without a ball in my hand.  And in this case Sad Toller also meant knocked bars.
On Sunday Vito was much more Happy Toller and running. Well kinda running. He actually improved each run and by his 3rd and last run on Sunday I thought he was moving pretty well!  Just a little refusal at the end of Fancy Standard to make a 0 for 6 weekend.

This was Vito's happiest run:

Only 2 more trials left all year, both coming up in the next month.  

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Getting Ready for Obedience Trials

I recently started another round of Ring Confidence at my training club and with a vacant spot in the class it was the perfect nudge I needed to have Zumi be a half student (only participates in the 1 dog at a time stuff, not the group activities I need to coach) and start actually prepping for obedience.  I have been training actual exercises and pieces of the exercises about 1-2x a week (with always thinking I'll train more!) but the real ring stuff that needed training I haven't done much with other than little introductions off and on (mostly off) for the last year.

So now I have a concrete route to achieving my goal of starting obedience competitions with her in the spring.  And Zumi has surprisingly blown me away with her success these last 3 weeks.
I don't know who has been training her as it certainly hasn't been me!  Maybe she's just growing up.
Today we practiced heeling up to and past a person with food and then handing over her super exciting dumbbell to a helper.

Things that really need to be worked on:

Squish- her waiting position outside the ring.  Zumi has a fabulous energetic release with immediate focus, but she's not always wanting to get into position (just wants to go!) and isn't waiting very long in it when I do get her in.

More people pressure.  It's my main focus in this class with her and it's going well, but I'm not taking the current success for granted.  Zumi LOVES people and at the same time is also secretly a sensitive and underconfident little girl who is sensitive to pressure.  We need all the practice with stewards/judges approaching, talking, and just being close!

Things I think we have nailed are:
Personal play/ transitions between exercises.  Zumi loves her jumping in the air and loves to play.  She also has very fast setups.

Delayed reinforcement.  I've stepped up our jackpot style training these last few weeks, really after being suspicious with that being a part of her focus issue at the agility trial in August, and it has been going well.  Zumi has no problem starting work without seeing her reward, and has no problem continuing to work without a high rate of reward and with the actual rewards at a distance.  It's a little early to tell if that's simply because her desire to jump and interact is so high, or if it's a bit of optimism that surely she will get a reward any second.  If it's the latter than her performance will start to dip a bit in the coming weeks and we will just build back up with a more clear understanding of the new rules.  Optimism is great, but it needs to be grounded in reality or it won't hold up in trials.

Ring Prep is my absolute favorite topic.  It can be super frustrating at times especially with Project Vito which has spanned multiple years, but I love helping others learn how to train for the little things and how to be a good handler for their dogs in the ring.


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More UKI Trials

Zumi (and Vito!) has had 2 more agility trials these last 2 weeks.  Definetly getting more comfortable with the routine.  She has no problem watching me set down her ball anymore as we get ready to go in the ring and wants to offer some lovely heeling on many of her entrances.  No issues with being distracted by people at all anymore.  And this last weekend was her first experience running on real turf.

In her actual runs she's gaining speed.  I think I finally know what it's like to have a dog that can be even faster in trials than in practice, not that she's slow in practice.  Issues with going from extension to collection have shown up.  She's been great if I can be right there, but at a distance she's a bit of hit and miss on actually turning tightly.  For the most part she's listening pretty well.  Number of Q's over the last 2 weekends (UKI trials!) have been extremely low.  But no major issues cropping up.

Start lines are teh biggest issue.  Not in breaking her stay but reverting to the horrible vulturing that she used to do and had improved greatly on.  I feel like an idiot as I repeatedly give her the sit cue/signal to have her straighten up multiple times as I lead out.

Dogwalks have been pretty darn good.  Maybe 75% very low hits, and 25% on the higher side?  Not sure if any actual misses.  Aframes were awful 1 hit downsides at the first trial, all misses, but this last weekend all 3 aframes were beautiful.  Teeters have had another flyoff (2 total now in trials), an early release, and the rest have been goodish.  She's not doing her 2o2o all the time, sometimes doing 4 on instead.

Weaves are having some issues with collecting for the entrance on soft turns to them.

And we have had a few instances of running around the outside of jumps because you know turning a little bit is hard.

Overall I'm very happy with where Zumi is at in agility.
I don't know if I shared my disappointment at her last USDAA trial but it's offical, Zumi did not get her 3rd measurement to be 17.5" and jump 18.  The judges were very nice (I actually had both measure!) and they just couldn't get her there.  So 17.75 is her height, jumping 22in in USDAA unless they raise the cutoff.  Current plan in USDAA is to jump her at 22in until she gets into masters and then reevaluate if I want her in performance at 16 or not.  It  just gives me the most options going forward and right now I think she looks really good at 22.  UKI she gets to jump 20 and I think that's perfect for her.

A few videos from the last 2 weekends.
Standard from this past weekend.  Just missed the jump after the dogwalk!


Standard round 2 from 8/20. I love, love the dogwalk turn :)


Jumpers from 8/20.  Tunnel sucked her in from the weave entrance!


And Vito got to play too these last 2 weekends.  We don't really seem to be in sync yet from our break.  Getting so many more refusals like he used to do, especially on wraps when he just stares at me sometimes and doesn't take the damn jump in front of him.  And then I do toy runs as UKI allows that and he's perfect.  Toller loves his ball.

I just did Saturday with Vito this last weekend and skipped day 2 as it was a long drive and I didn't want to push our luck.  I increased one of his drugs just a week ago as car anxiety was starting to come back.  We only got a short few months of bliss since starting this new drug earlier this year...

Here is one of Vito's better runs this past Saturday with just 1 refusal at a wrap and 2 knocked bars.


And a weirder run where we were just not in sync much at all.  And then the poor guy did something at the weaves.


Both dogs get to play again in 2 weeks at an outdoor USDAA Trial.  It will be Zumi's first 2 ring trial, but the rings don't share a gate so will be a nice gradual introduction.   I guess we will just see with Vito.



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Super Q #2 And Starters Standard Dog!

USDAA trial on Saturday for the red dogs.  Too far to go back for a second day as pretty much all of Zumi's agility trials are turning out so far this summer.

Vito
This was Vito's first re-attempt at trialing since his little shoulder injury this spring.  My hopes weren't super high as Vito has been a complete idiot in his class every other week and really at home too.  Foundations dog instead of masters dog.  I had him in 3 runs to kinda test where he was at physically and mentally I guess too.

Standard he was an idiot.  A very happy idiot.  Broke his startline which isn't completely unexpected in a trial, but usually he is a good dog and we play the "know I mean it" game, because well he is Vito.  He apparently didn't think I meant it :)  which left me completely unable to handle his running dogwalk as the 2nd obstacle.  Then he broke his teeter which again left me out of position to handle a tunnel entrance.  He had fun.

Snooker he was magically back to being good toller.  Not quite as high, and in a thoughtful but decent speed mode.  And then he was a little naughty, but completely saved my butt.  I apparently thought I should throw in a spontaneous threadle after a backside in the closing of snooker and Vito thought that was stupid, a 180 was easier and obviously that's what the numbers said anyway.  I groaned and then realized the whistle didn't actually blow.  And then I realized my dog was way smarter than I am and finished the closing.  This magically earned us a super Q of which Vito gets the sole credit.  Super Q #2!!!  I didn't think it would happen again as we don't exactly win on speed when there are the many ties on points.  Our course was 7-7-7 through the closing, but no 4th red that apparently ate people up for time so they didn't finish the closing, or screw ups in general.  It's possible he could get that championship after all?

No video of the Toller :(  There wasn't a ton of people around and I didn't make a big effort like I did with Zumi since she is new at all...

Vito got a massage at the trial too before his jumpers run and checked out pretty well!

Zumi
Zumi's 3rd day of trialing and at the same location as her first trial.  Maybe she likes it here better, but she was way more focused than she was in Duluth at trial #2.  No focus issues at all going into the ring!  Of course there was also a lot less people working in the ring, we were a little short on workers at time.  But maybe she was just embracing her training.

Standard did all the things and in the correct order :)  A little naught on her teeter but did stop and then took a step back when I cued her feet again.  Dogwalk would have been perfect back foot hits but she slipped the last stride.  Judge did not' call it and it was a clean run for her 3rd leg and very first agility title!


Grand Prix was a fun course for her.  She got a little too excited and missed the weave entrance.  Then even more excited and flew off the teeter  like she thought it was the dogwalk. Dogwalk was a bit high.  But I was proud of her very tight rear cross on a jump, something that isn't very well practiced.  And a tandem turn to a tunnel which can always be a bit hard for her.


Snooker and Jumpers were also Qs!
I didn't notice how close the ending line was in jumpers but wow was she awkward.  Clearly Zumi does not know how to bounce jump the closer distance!  I'm shocked she kept the bars up.

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The Rats

In other news over our long break from blogging I had to say goodbye the the coolest rat that has ever lived.  Penelope developed a tumor that grew very fast.  We had it removed but unfortunately during the surgery they discovered it wasn't the tumor they thought it was.  Female rats are sadly very prone to tumors and Penelope's regrew in a much shorter time frame than we expected.  And it grew fast.  We finally said goodbye to her just a month over her initial surgery.

Since Penelope was a stray rat (a fact that still makes me smile and laugh!) we don't know how old she was. We had her for 15 months and she was fully grown when we got her but that doesn't mean much.  The reason why she was a stray was super obvious.  Once Penelope became comfortable, her greatest joy was figuring out how to escape from anything.  She was such a trouble maker!

And insanely smart.  I kinda lost motivation to train Penelope as the months went on, but she learned quite a bit when we were working!  Weave poles!  Rolling over!  Picking up a ball!  And some other little things.  

Evee has been a bit lost without her.  She looked depressed actually.  Evee was never the bravest rat despite my initial feeling that she would be.  Evee never once dreamed about escaping the expen setup.  And while she had no problem interacting with me, she startled super easily.

So I went looking for friends.  Since I spayed Evee when Penelope had her tumor removal surgery (to try and prevent Evee from getting tumors) I wanted boys this time.  Boys are known to be dumber and more cuddly.  I thought that sounded nice.

Rats in rescue were again not really there.  So this time I found a breeder.  I got 2 young boys.
Meet Spork and Splatter.


Splat.


 Spork.


Evee is not thrilled.  She's a bit of a bully actually.  Needless to say they are not moved in together.  But since it took 3 weeks for Evee and Penelope to move in together despite all the rat forums saying baby introductions are easy, I'm at least more prepared this time.

Evee got kicked out of the mansion to live in the temp cage with bars too big for the boys to stay contained in.  She's not happy.


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Catching Up

It's apparently been awhile.  We've been busy, kinda.  And also very lazy.




The things.
Dock Diving
Zumi and Vito went to a dock diving competition 4 weeks ago.  Much better experience than our first time.  This one was hosted by a club and everyone was very nice and willing to answer questions.  Plus having an actual briefing before the event started was helpful.

Vito only had 2 jumps at 11.5ft and 11ft.  Both jumps were larger than the other competition and more consistent.  He kinda did a stay for me on the dock the second turn but wouldn't at all on his first turn.

Zumi wouldn't jump.  I had hopes of her jumping since she finally made it to the dock when we were at Purina Farms.  But no such luck.  I took her 2 official turns and went straight to the ramp.  Even on the ramp she was a bit hesistant to actually enter the water, but of course super excited both before and after.

Then today I drove a ways to actually practice.  Their 3rd offical practice session, first time at this location.  No idea how far Vito jumped but he looked a lot better.  And actually stayed for me during his second set of turns on the dock.  Due to crowdedness each dog only got to have 2 sets on the dock.

Zumi and I just went to the ramp and never tried the dock.  The good news is that she didn't do any of the hesitancy she showed at the actual competition and it was the same setup of above ground pool.  The bad news is she made zero progress from jump 1 to the last jump.  Still eagerly running the short distance to the ramp and then going down the ramp until her feet touch water.  THEN jumping.  She's so happy.  And I don't know how to get her to progress from there.

Disc
Zumi went to a disc dog seminar a few weeks ago.  Had a blast!  We worked primarily on flatwork and teaching me how to time my throw with her striding.  Also taught me a better way to throw flip throws, and a few other little moves for Zumi.  If you're interested in disc, the presenter Sara is now at Fenzi Academy teaching her first class this session!  I'm hoping it will motivate me to actually practice disc.

Agility
Vito is back to going to agility practice, alternating weeks with Zumi in class.  His brain hasn't come back yet since his break.  Seriously, he's an idiot.  Stays are hard for him.  Actually following my handling is hard for him.  All the things are hard.  But wow is he excited.  Certainly not my nice consistent dog who almost never goes off course.
At home Vito is doing better with the listening department but he's still an idiot with jumping.  I don't think it's due to his shoulder still as whenever Vito is over the top excited he has always knocked bars.  Vito has a very hard time with arousal levels.

Zumi is doing pretty well.  We aren't practicing too much at home so haven't made much progress with her aframe turns since last posted. Actually I don't think I've touched the aframe.  We have done a few little sequences at home though, trying to kinda keep up with the online class I have been taking this summer.

Obedience
Zumi and Lance went to a WCRL rally trial and CDSP obedience trial last weekend!  I had plans to show Vito but when I looked at where it was held I knew that Vito wouldn't be entered. It's just too crowded of a site and usually very difficult to actually get into the ring.  Lots of pressure usually from people watching and the crating area.  It turned out that this trial was light on entries and with a surprisingly large amount crating from their car I think Vito could have handled it.  But better safe than sorry.

Lance was entered in 2 runs of level 3 rally on Saturday, and just 1 on Sunday based on his last trial in April of being tired on day 2. That held true this trial as well.  Very sassy and barky corgi in rally!  A bit naughty, but always such great focus and attitude.  Sunday he was still sassy but visibly tired so I was greatful he only had the one run.  I would have loved to entered him in utility obedience at this trial but realized that without regular practice it wouldn't really be fair to him.  He's such an experience dog that he could easily handle novice and open without practice, but utility really takes a ton of confidence in the exercises.  Articles, signals, go outs I feel are a little unfair without practice.  So the corgi won.  He has always loved rally more than obedience anyways.

Little Duck got to play in level 3 for the first time!  She had 2 runs in level 3 each day and qualified in all.  I was very proud of her focus in all runs.  She earned her title easily :)  And beat her way too sassy corgi brother


And then I decided to be brave and enter her very first obedience trial.  We did one run of starters novice on Sunday when I realized there was no stand for exam.  She had a few tiny moments of attention lapses but overall I was very proud of her run.  Her stand for exam was the biggest point loser in that it took an extra cue to get her to stand (CDSP judges this portion, AKC would not have).  

I've also been trying to practice Zumi's stand for exam when I take her to the club before I teach on Wednesdays.  She is really doing well.  Now if only I can start finding new people to generalize it to.

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Aframe Turns

Now that I don't have to worry about adding any more height to Zumi's aframe (thanks USDAA!), I need to really start focusing on teaching her turns off the aframe.  Well not so much turning tightly as you don't really need tight turns off the aframe, but being able to handle my different positions and not powering straight forward.  With Vito this was never an issue but clearly Zumi needs to be actually trained on this.  Training, how rare!

I've done a few reps with this at home this last week and thankfully had the great idea to use her pole from the running dogwalk turn training and plop it at the end of the aframe.  I wouldn't have initially thought it would be as helpful since she doesn't really need to go as low on the aframe as I want on the dogwalk, but clearly it caused her little lightbulb to turn on!  We've had some great success!

This was our first session this week both without the pole at the start for 2 awful reps, then with the pole.

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USDAA #2- Discovering People!

Zumi and I woke up well before any human should be awake to travel north for a USDAA trial.  Thanks to needing to be measured, we had to make sure we were there bright and early!

Another measurement for the win though!  And a win for me being brave and asking the judge nicely to measure her again ;)  It's hard to get a young dog to actually relax when they have been in the car for hours, arrive bright and early in a new place, and are SO excited by all the things!  But Zumi re-measured down that 1/4in to be 17.5in and eligible for that 18in jump height!

Then we had 4 runs.
Gamblers she was fast and focus.  Had 2 beautiful dogwalks, weaves, and a teeter.  And kinda messed up a very easy gamble.  But such a good dog!

Then her next run she suddenly discovered the existence of people.  Or maybe it was the further realization I set her toy down combined with the existence of people. Unlike Vito's concerns over an audience, Zumi thought the crowd was there just to see her.
It didn't help that we had to enter the ring late to help out the lovely team before us who could be a bit reactive.  Zumi was excited to enter and immediately tried to jump on a kid bar setter right behind the first obstacle.  And then had several more moments where she briefly left our course to go wave at her fans.  She did come back, but not without several "Ducky!" calls.  One such wide sight seeing adventure caused her to run by the aframe but I continued on.  Overall not a bad run, but I was caught off guard by her sudden interest in an audience when she hasn't shown any signs of caring in agility before.

Before her 3rd run I warmed up with heeling by people and rewarding her when she focused on me.  A little difficult at first, but then she remembered the game.  We still had a hard time focusing before entering the ring.  And then she started fixating on something and I couldn't tell if it was a bar setter or not.  I was able to get her jump up and do some tricks in the ring, but it wasn't smooth and easy.  On the release she bolted straight towards the cone by the weaves.  Luckily just a quick disappointed sniff.  No real sight seeing in this run, but did have some quick winks at the audience in a few moments.  I waited about a second longer on the table to release her as I wanted her to actually look at ME and not her fans, and she did.  Teeter a bit slow this time, and then I purposefully ran her to far forward with her dogwalk and aframe to ensure she hit better.  Manged to qualify though in starters standard!


Her 4th and last run was snooker. This time I warmed up with leaving her ball on the table and going away to do some tricks and heeling before putting her in a sit and going to get her ball reward.  We still had a difficult time focusing entering the ring but had even less winky moments.  My handling was not so great.  Snooker is always hard for me to handle with a purpose!  But we qualify!


Overall I'm still thrilled with where she's at.  The people issue I expect in obedience with her which is why we're not quite ready, but it threw me off guard in agility.  It was pretty minor overall and based on the improvement from just run 2 to run 3 I think it will go away quickly with more experience and some work on it.  Her next agility trial is just over a month away!

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Excellent Obedience Foundations

In less than a month a brand new online obedience titling organization is going to be up and running. I know, some of you have mixed feelings on online titling and I guarantee I had the same thoughts.
But the way this program has come together is completely different than any other obedience organization out there.  Regardless of whether you want new titles or not, you need to check out Fenzi TEAM Titles just to get an extremely thorough progression of training that will take you through novice, open, utility, and well beyond.

Unlike all other obedience organizations that I know of, the TEAM program is about extremely solid foundations.  It mimics excellent training.  Instead of people just training to get through traditional novice (heeling, heeling, and more heeling), the start of retrieves, scent articles, jumping, and even backing up is in the very first level.  Actually you won't see anything resembling traditional heeling until you get to level 4!  The TEAM levels encourage people to have all the little bits and pieces before they move on.  That means teaching the dog how to move their rear end around a disc in heel position.  Teaching true side steps and backing up.  Little doodles that test if the dog truly understand heel position all before you go forward more than 2 feet at a time.

By the time you get to level 3 of the current 6 (eventually 9!) levels, you should have over half of the foundational pieces for traditional open and utility started.  By level 6 you have mastered utility.  Honestly, I've been working my dogs through the levels and none of my dogs can consistently pass level 3 each time I try.  So close, but not quite there every time.  TEAM is not a gimme.  Indeed you will see that the early emphasis on precision (often with props in the early levels!) and the distraction training built in from level 1 will really push your training to be better, no matter what level you're at.  The testing for Zumi has been especially great as it's getting her used to the feeling of formality and flow between exercises all while being at home and without the pressure of other people.

Here is Zumi working on level 3.  Almost!



And I think this emphasis on foundation, fun, and early success (level 1 should be doable with just a few months of excellent training) can help suck a lot of people back into obedience.  People that may have been wandering away to other dog sports.  Or people who just didn't know how to train past novice.  The levels setup will give anyone interested a very serious guide on how to get their training from step 1 all the way up with distractions, discriminations, and precision.

If you're interested in really good training, regardless of whether or not you want shiny titles, check out the TEAM website.  And if you need help in training any of the exercises, I will be teaching an online foundations class starting August 1st going over all of the exercises in levels 1 and 2.

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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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