One Third of a Dog

I realized I didn't get a chance to announce here that Grace is part of the family!  Well a third of her is at least!

My parents will be co-owning Grace as a potential breeding girl for her breeder!  Due to her puppiness and some complicated family matters, Grace is continuing to live at my house and will be for another few months.  

My optimistic plan is to continue training Grace in obedience and potentially show her in the obedience ring (and possibly agility) when she is older.  I am hoping that her foundations will solid enough by the time she moves in with my parents that the transition to less training time with me won't be much of a setback?!  

Grace has really grown up to a fantastic dog.  Very confident.  Super outgoing.  Eager to work.  Obsessive with cookies!
And so far not quite as gigantic as I had pictured!  Currently, she's 6.5 months old and the exact same weight and height as Zumi.

She is still a very clumsy girl and struggles with body awareness and unconscious drumming of her feet so many things are progressing slowly in her training. But I'm really having fun seeing her mature!

Right now the things I've been paying the most attention to are:

Marker cues: Pretty good with various food reward cues of coming to hand, chase a cookie, and reward from the dish.  We are just introducing a room service marker cue of waiting in place.

Chin rests/sticky targets: Not really on verbal cues, but an understanding of chin rests to my hand in front of her, chin rest to the floor, sticky target of the side of her face to my hand in heel position.  And she's doing well with learning to ignore my hand movements and touches in prep for exam work. 

Pivoting/heelwork:  Great understanding of how to move her body to be parallel.  Mainly working right now on getting her position further back so she's not forging.

Fronts: With a chin rest target she can pivot with me and side step and is working on short tosses.  

Position Changes: Using front and/or rear foot targets and right now all of her understanding is for front foot still criteria.  Of the 6 possible combinations, the only one not introduced is down to sit as I plan to do rear feet still for that.  This area is where we've had a lot of delays due to Grace's foot patters while waiting for cues or even in the offered stage.  But things are coming together and she's starting to get the verbal cues for sit/stand/down.  So far all the work has been in front of me, not yet in heel/side position.

Articles:  She has a fairly good understanding of doing a chin rest alert to a pile of metal lids.  Grace is a bit prone to giving up and guessing if she can't find the correct one quickly but we are seeing improvements. I've just started adding in canning rings as "distractions" and she's had 1 session learning to do a pile of canning rings and going to a retrieve alert.

Newer skills that I've started include:
- Go outs: Teaching a nose touch to the stanchion.  She really wants to arch to face the right side so I'm working against a wall and using reward placement to encourage her to stay straight as she touches.

- Marking: Transitioning from learning the cue/signal to look at food on a lid to marking an empty lid and nose touching it.

And I continue to wait for a puppy of my own!  The litter I was planning on had only boys and I know I do best with girls!  The wait continues for another potential litter but the mom was in a split-heat this February and wasn't able to be bred then...


AKC Open

I'm a bit late with our AKC obedience trial report from last week.
Spoiler alert- things we have been working on were good!  1 Q.  But some stress.

We had 2 runs on Saturday in Open B.  Still experimenting with the B class with seeing how she does with not having heeling first and possibly having the retrieves separated.

I was very surprised when I arrived to see that Zumi was a lot more stressed than usual.  And by a lot I don't mean she was having a panic attack or was visibly worried to people who really didn't know her.
She sniffed a lot on our acclimation walks without encouragement from me. Usually I have to repeat my "go sniff" cue often and really encourage her to check out the grounds as I know she needs it but she thinks about wanting to work instead.  This was not the case at this trial!

Calmer in general.

The exact same location as the CDSP trial a few weeks ago, but the atmosphere is always different at AKC!  Or there's a possibility too of the weather effecting her.  It was cold, rainy, and I've been wondering if Zumi is developing some storm phobia with some weird issues she had last summer.

It wasn't enough that it effected her ability to do her ready to work protocol when I told her I was available.  And I hoped she would h

Trial #1
The first trial run had the cue discrimination exercise first.  Down-Stand-Sit.
Our first time doing stand at a distance in a trial!!  And since Zumi didn't want to lie down at her first AKC trials in open 6 months ago (for the "old" down get the leash), I used her "sad" (head down) cue that we have been working with lots of rewards.  I was super happy to see that she snapped down right away!  And no problem doing her stand!  Or sit.

Broad: Good.

Figure 8 and Heel:  Here is where she struggled.  Not horrible, but not great.  Mainly some lagging, especially with the figure 8.  The figure 8 needs to be a priority for our training going forward as apparently it's now a common area she gets a bit worried.  Especially after the child steward experience a few months ago.

Drop on recall, happy.

Retrieves: She stayed for both!  No dancing.  Squeal only over the jump, not on the flat.  And much better fronts!!!  And holds!

Stand stay/leash: Stood on cue!  Stayed! I think she may have taken a tiny step when I left??

So we passed for our 2nd Q in open.  Score not the greatest.  The judge was lovely and had quite a sharp pencil for everyone!

Trial #2
Different ring, different judge.
I was hoping she would be more comfortable but it was worse.  Heeling was laggier. Figure 8 especially was effected again.

On the positive side, she stood nicely on the cue discrimination (started in a stand) and on the stay get the leash.  We've been working on those stands with distractions!!  She did move a little bit though before I turned to face her before the cue discriminaton, no movement at all on the leash exercise.

Stayed on both retrieves, small squeal on the send again for the ROH only.  Nice holds.  Another win for training! AND I even had to do a rethrow for the ROH as I threw it too short and she called off!!!!  Came to me nicely and played while I waited!!!  Win for training again!

Nice transitions between exercises and setups!  Both trials!

What we failed on was exactly what she did at the CDSP trial- not staying in her sit for the drop on recall.  Just like the issue she was doing with the stands, now it just happened for the sit.
I turned around, saw her standing quite a way from where she was left, and threw up my hands to invite her to run to me.

Going Forward
I need to make it a priority to work Zumi in different environments, environments with pressure like AKC is for her.  Run throughs likely not going to happen as it's now almost an hour drive without traffic, and run throughs are of course during rush hour.

But what I can do is go to parks. Parking lots.  Home Depot.  Take Vito and the toddler too of course as they can't be left.

For the exercises themselves, I  know they aren't the main issue but training can still help both build value and replicate mild pressure to work though in a happy way!

- Figure 8's
- Stand stays
- Stays in general
- Retrieve calmness


Zumi Obedience Update

Whew, it's been a busy last 2 months!

Here is where Zumi has been at with her obedience training.  Since the January AKC obedience trial where she moved on her stands or didn't stand on the fist cue, I've been trying to replicate that issue in practice.  My guess is it is a pressure issue with the judge.

In practice, I was occasionally successful early on with having someone exciting standing behind her, but overall she nailed it.

So I then moved to upping the excitement level and playing with rewards in front of her.  This did successfully replicate the problem of not standing on the first cue!

In addition to working on the stand, I continue to work on her db arousal issues.

Here's a compilation of a recent session with the stand and db:

This last weekend we had a CDSP trial and I'm happy to report that she didn't move at all on any of the 6 retrieves over 3 trials.  Good girl!! Still some squealing on each ROH, but not always on the flat.  She did do some mouthing of her db on the front, worse the first run of each day vs the 2nd run on Saturday.

Zumi did NQ in her run on Sunday due to moving on the DOR recall.  This was the first time she's done that to me in a sit, not a stand:

And here is Saturday's run where we did qualify!:

This weekend we have another AKC trial, the first since the January trial and it's at the same location.  This time I have 2 runs on Saturday.  Wish us luck!


Grace 16wks

Puppy Grace is growing fast!  22lbs at 16wks of age! 

She is one nice puppy.  I am in love with how confident she is with absolutely everything.  LOVES people.  Loves climbing and stepping on things.  Great natural focus.

We are still working on potty training and not chewing things.  She hasn't been the easiest puppy in those regards, but at least she no longer will have an accident when crated!  Phew!

In training, the biggest thing Grace has struggled with is still feet.  She reminds me of a  miniature schnauzer (sorry schnauzers!) with how they like to "drum" when excited.  I don't think she's aware of her up and down foot movement at all and that's making it hard to train stillness of any type.  Even when her feet are on something she still moves them often.  My go to behaviors of chin rests, slow cookies and doggy zen work aren't helping much.  

So, for the most part, I'm skipping any work on position changes as even when folding into a down I don't like how her paw lifts up.  

Eye contact work with doggy zen games are also coming along very slowly as while she will offer looking it's with lots of that stupid drumming.  She's doing much better learning more active behaviors with the zen hand such as sending out around a cone or to a target.

And I guess since this is turning into the post of what is hard for Grace, I'll throw in retrieves too!  I was actually planning on teaching Grace the stationary hold first instead of my usual approach which teaches the pickup and movement to my hand first.  More so because it's a popular method and while I've used with a handful of dogs at work I haven't done the technique that much with puppies besides The Boykin.

Grace told me she wasn't going to be that puppy!  When I was trying to work on duration I just kept getting repeated crunching.  It's like she learned bite, bite again, bite again, "why aren't you rewarding me, I'm biting again!!"  vs bite and just keep your mouth on it.  So I went to slowly moving it away from her to try to get her to bite and really grip it as it's moving- a trick I've done often in the past.  Nope, lots of talented crunching while walking.  

Oh well.  Switching to teaching the movement piece first is going well.  She's picking it up really well and just starting to really target my hand.  I'll be going back to stationary holding pretty soon it looks like with how fast she's progressing!

The other big thing I'm playing with Gracie is the stuff from my Bye Bye Cookie class.  No emphasis on actually getting rid of rewards, just emphasizing that the reward can come from different places.  She's way more food obsessed than my other tollers and needs work on really thinking around the food!  Although looking back, I guess even puppy Zumi liked food more than toys so perhaps time just colors my perception!


Rough Trials

This winter has not been especially great for Zumi's training!  Ice, fridgid temps, then snow dumps.  Excuses.

Two weekends ago Zumi went to our CDSP obedience/ WCRL rally trial on Saturday.  2 runs in Open obedience, 1 run in rally.  

The first obedience run started a bit rough.  Not horrible, but a bit distracted on setups and some moving away from me.  We qualified, but it just wasn't a connected run.  
Oh and we had a rethrow again on the ROH jump that I didn't know about until we were waiting forever until Zumi finally couldn't take it and left me.  That's when I looked up and saw the judge was in the process of picking up the dumbbell.  She doesn't handle rethrows well to begin with, and having waited SO long with trying hard to not scream or leave early was just thrown out with her anticipation.
But overall I thought she had to poop. And I was right in that as soon as we went out she did poop.  

Then that didn't explain that her next run, rally, had similar qualities of meh heeling.  Not really distracted, just laggy.  

Her last run of obedience she seemed better.  Much more connected with me, more energy for sure.  But we didn't retrieve.  Not once. Zumi left me to walk several steps on the 1st retrieve.  So I called her back and was going to move on but the judge let me do it again.  Same thing, so I moved on without releasing Zumi.  Retrieve over the high, essentially my 3rd throw in the ring was the same thing.  I think it was a combination of a stressy day for her plus the added rehearsal int he first trial of leaving me without any cue on my part.

The bad news/good news is that I've been working on it with her this last week and have been able to replicate it.  If I let the dumbbell hit a wall so it makes an apparently exciting sound, she will start walking towards it.  So I've been having her lie down, I pick it up, and then come back to give her cookies and do some heeling before trying again. Not sure if that's a good approach for her or not!  I dont' want to create more stress with the exercise, but the same time I need it very clear that moving does not lead to a release....  Overall I'm trying to have more easy short reps than the ones I challenge her on.

UKI Agility
Then last weekend Zumi had a UKI trial.  And we had more issues with her startline/release.  This particular location seems very tough for her as I think all of her startline issues have started here.  This time it was worse as while she mostly actually stayed put (still difficulties with the initial stay after lining up, before I left), she ran around the first jump in her last run Saturday and 2 of her 3 runs on Sunday.  While Zumi has been known to do that, it's usually in a particular setup where I need to be at an angle on the lead out vs an approach like these courses had.

So not a great month so far!!!

I am curious and a bit scared to see how she will do the next 2 weekends. No trials this week. But I did end up entering her in an AKC obedience trial back on our home turf this coming weekend.  And then the following wekeend is USDAA at the location she usually stays well at!


Zumi Open Obedience

Well last weekend Zumi has 2 more attempts in AKC Open!!  Spoiler alert, no Q's.  But quite a different dog than December's attempt with the lovely child steward!  No scared Zumi, instead a very very high Zumi!!!

The fact that our yard is an ice skating rink these last several weeks did not help.  In the little practice she has had, she has been back to squealing on her retrieves unless it's super close.  Quite the regression from where we had been at a few months ago.  So I was not optimistic that she would be calm and quiet in a trial setting.

This was also our first attempt at Open B.  I was hoping to see whether separating out the 2 retrieves from each other would help, as well as curious on how her heeling would be if it wasn't first.  She is a sensitive girl and doing the heeling with the judge and figure 8 pressure first isn't her favorite even if she can still do it well.

But Saturday's order had the retrieve over the high first. Apparently that did not help her!!  Whee!  I was impressed that Zumi was able to come back from almost running past me on her front to actually be decently straight! 

Drop on recall was good.
Cue Discrimination had a few steps after I left her on the stand, but better than October's trial.  No problem with stand-sit-down.

Heeling I was happier with.  Still some minor looking at the figure 8 stewards, but overall with me and happy. 

Retrieve on the flat was super high.  Squealing and then even dropped her dumbbell in front although she immediately grabbed it and fronted well. 

Broad jump she couldn't hold it together. Just had to walk after I left her.  Flashback to our agility stays which are supposedly fixed!

And the stand get your leash also had walking.

I'm not entirely sure if her walking is primarily an over arousal issue or primarily judge pressure. I'm assuming both, especially since she did this walking at our first attempt at open in October when she wasn't quite so high.

Overall I was really happy with this run.  Lots of stuff to fix but so many good things.  And good to see that her finishes were fixed too!


Sunday was back to order 1 in the B class, so not really any feedback on what will be best for her.
She was a little bit more in control of herself which was good to see. But also slightly flatter.  The biggest thing that I didn't like was she had a hard time setting up for exercises.  Zumi's always had an issue of sitting too far back and this was a bit worse than usual.

Retrieves not much better. Lots of pattering and she even left before I cued the retrieve over the high as I was trying to really pause before sending her.
The worse was the holds.  Lots of rolling the dumbbell and I tried to wait her out before taking it because she had already NQed on the cue discrimination.

So cue discrimination she wouldn't do her down on the first cue. Usually this is her strength! 

Did do her stay before the broad jump at least.
But the stay on the stand-leash was worse.

Well we're skipping the next local trial. But we do have a CDSP obedience trial coming up in 2 weeks and then I'm looking at trying the March AKC trial


Grace 10wks

Little Grace just turned 10 weeks old!  Things have been going very well other than the one crappy issue.  Pun intended.  As Grace is one of Those puppies who doesn't mind peeing or pooping in a small crate.

Her crate training has gone very well.  Her crate is right next to me in the bedroom or right near the action and she doesn't make a peep.  Even when she clearly has to go.

And it didn't help that after the first week she started to have some diarrhea issues! Ugh.
I got so sick of cleaning up a poopy crate and giving constant baths that I decided I'm done with the crate.  On the positive side, Grace loves her baths!

Until the issue is resolved we are only using an xpen to confine her most of the time.  At least that way she can have a bed on one and then wander over and poop at a different end. Hopefully preventing her from lying down in it and painting everything.

Despite the horrors of this issue, her potty training isn't going too bad.  She's one of the few dogs I'm choosing to use cookies with to reward her for potty outside, and we just go out a lot.  I always take puppies out a lot, and Grace is definitely going out more than just "a lot" most days.  There's no safe spot for her if she doesn't actually do anything outside and that's the most frustrating piece.  But she does seem to be getting it.  A few nights without an accident at least!

Netta's been very helpful in training her house manners too!  She likes to say "Grace!!" and then "chew bone" and runs to grab a toy when she sees Grace chewing something she shouldn't be!

She's been on some hamburger and rice the last week so not much training has been happening.  We have a bit of W/D I've been giving her occasionally as well, but things are looking better so hopefully we can resume training.

Mainly we are working on 2 skills
1. Put your feet on things.  2 feet on a perch, 4 feet on a platform, 4 feet in a box...

2. Learning to wait for her food dish cue.  My goal is to get her food bowl to the floor when I'm training and have Grace ignore it as I grab handfuls to train from.  Right now I'm starting this with the food bowl high and working on picking it up and setting it down in different locations.  When Grace turns to me I reward her lots but I'm not yet having any eye contact criteria.

As it gets lower, if she goes to it I try to quickly use my food hand to stop her and reward her for stopping, then move the bowl higher if that location still seems to hard.

I'm just starting to do some occasional reps of teaching her "get it" means run for the cookie tosses, keep ignoring the dish.


2018 Wrap Up

2018 was a busy year!  The baby became a toddler.  Adam started a new job in the spring.  And we moved, not once but twice! 

The yearly video!

Zumi had a big year.  We traveled in agility for our first overnight trip to the midwest UKI cup in Wisconsin, and then our bigger trip just last month to Florida.  She didn't do that great on paper, but I thought she handled the exciting environments really well!  We still have a long way to go in agility for my handling to keep up with her and for continually fixing her startine!

In obedience, we continued to work hard on fixing her arousal issues with her dumbbell retrieve.  And mostly we were successful in practice.  Unfortunately, after over a year of work she *can* still squeal even in practice.  So while I didn't give up on my mission to work on it in practice, I decided that I was going to be OK with knowing she would squeal in a trial and take the points for it.

So we started trialing in AKC Open this October and Zumi has done 3 days of trials now.  I discovered that she actually doesn't always squeal in a trial on each retrieve!  And discovered some exercises that weren't as solid as I thought.  Zumi's down from a sit was broken.  And her stand stay was a bit broken when left near a judge.  While I thought she's done really well at her shows, we have just 1 Q to show for it.

Vito finally hit the big 10!!  Double digits for the Toller! 

Vito still is running in agility, just at 16in in UKI and 14in in USDAA.  He's running well and earned his UKI championship in the select class this year.  Mostly he's down to 2 runs a day and often just one day of a trial.  He could do more physically still, just a combination of money and well Vito has always been a happy couch dog vs agility dog. 

He also did some CDSP obedience again this year at handful of local shows.  Overall doing very well and happy on most exercises.  The gloves remains an issue, primarily if sent to the side that the steward is standing on.  But I'm thrilled with how happy he's being and how he's mostly nailing his signals! 

First half of the year was pretty similar to the last few years.  Some fun coming out for a small handful of WCRL rally trials and barking lots.  Very sassy.

The move from our old house to my parent's basement in April was hard on him.  Lots of stairs and while I tried to carry him often it was difficult to do consistency.  I already was carrying the child up and then another trip for any dishes/laundry and the corgi was just doing the stairs more often than I'd like.  He really seemed to feel the impact.

And then in August, shortly after our final move, he suffered what is likely another disc issue in his back, just not as severe as the original one that forced his early retirement several years ago.  While this one wasn't as bad, his recovery from it hasn't been as great either. He's still sassy and still hides any physical issues really well when out and about at work or if I bring him to visit others at a trial.  But at home he's having a harder time with finding the motivation to get up out of a dog bed to go outside.  Unfortunately, he also likes being in the basement at our new house. At least it's only a half set of stairs down and then he waits at the bottom to be carried back up.

I'm not sure if he's going to be doing any WCRL trials in 2019 or if he's officially retired.

We started out the year with Pippa, the goldador.  We had Pippa for 6 weeks, 6 weeks longer than I wanted to!   Her goldeny personality did not mesh well with me!  She's a good dog though and will hopefully make a great service dog someday!

And this was the first year we've had a puppy in the house in awhile!  In April we picked up Splash the Boykin spaniel puppy!  Unfortunately, due to medical reasons (growth plate issues) he was career changed from the service dog program and we found him a home shortly after we moved into our new home this August.  Splash taught me a lot about management to prevent a puppy from ingesting things!  And it was interesting working with a spaniel's focus outside! 

Then we had Speckles the tiny terrier for a few months while he waited for a client to be their hearing dog. 

And now we have a puppy again!  This time little Grace is not a service dog in training, just an opportunity for me to start a puppy and see how she grows out for her breeder!

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

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