May Training Plans

April's progress

1. Scent Work- Huge round of applause for me since I actually forced myself to do their scent articles almost every training session!!! I believe Lance had just started doing 3 metal articles at the beginning of the month and now he is doing 5-6 articles with a mixture of metal AND leather! Things are going really smoothly with Lance on this.

Vito progressed from 2 metal articles at the start of April to 4 metal articles now! Overall he is good at thinking about which dumbbell to bring back but he still sometimes gets stuck on grabbing the first one he sees. With both dogs I am still sitting on the ground about 2 feet from the pile, no formal stuff yet.

2. Freestyle Routine- Mostly fail. Lance still has the same tiny bit of routine planned out as before. But I guess I did actually practice doing the moves in it a bit and did some stringing of it together without the music. Very little though. And Vito still doesn't have an official song although I have a few in mind and one that I'm heavily leaning towards.

3. Tricks- Mostly checked off. I participated in 2 Go Click Challenges, and fixed another one from the end of March. I didn't have time to do the last challenge and the current challenge is the drop on recall which I obviously have and am mostly happy with on Lance. Vito I do not want to practice this yet but do a lot of fast drops in motion already, drops at a distance, and throwing treats to practice downs while racing towards me.

I also did some work this month on some of the many tricks I've started and never completed. Such as Vito limping, Lance limping on his other front foot, Lance "marching" in heel (not just in front), and Vito's penguin (moving forward in a beg). All are a tiny bit further along, but still incomplete.

4. Frisbee- YES!!! I ended up not premacking the disc for the ball as I went to a club day event that featured MN Disc Dog and found out that Vito really is nuts about the disc too! As long as no other toys are present Vito is just as crazed over the disc and I can even produce some toller screams. So for now there will be no thrown balls outside in the yard, only discs. Oh and at the event everybody LOVED Vito!!! And he was catching like crazy for them and will now catch for me as well as long as I can try and throw somewhat properly.

May Training Goals
1. Scent work- I still need to do this as often as I can. I would like to get Lance working the full pile this month (12 articles) minus the formal crap. Vito needs to start working on leather as soon as he gets a bit more confident on the metal.

2. Tricks- This time I am going to pick a trick and stick with it! I want to have a finished trick instead of just being in progress. Vito's WILL be limping on his front right, and Lance's WILL be marching in heel and "up" in heel.

3. Train outside!- It's nice out and I need to get myself outside and training. Mainly getting some jumps and my board out and doing agility work. Try and work on the freestyle routine outside as well with Lance and disc with Vito!

4. Go to an obedience run through with Vito- I want to see where the little one is at and work on having fun in the ring!


Ring Expectations

Dawn asked a question on her blog on whether one of her dogs was ready to enter a obedience trial. This got me thinking since I haven't really thought about when I would be ready to enter Vito in novice. I have decided that the following are my criteria, in some what of an order from most important to least:

1. Vito must know that the ring is a fun place to be. It's not a stressful place where mommy acts all weird, but a predictor of fun things! I don't really care if we Q in the ring but want him to be relaxed and confident. To do this I will need to go to several fun matches or at least run throughs and play!

2. We have a way to transition between exercises and keep his attention. I am a big attention trainer and this point is one I give the biggest attention to in deciding how well we did in the ring/practice/anywhere. Lance does tricks in between exercises; I'm not sure what Vito will do. I can easily get Vito excited without any toys or treats but he can get too revved up and I'm not sure that's what I want in the ring. I am partly debating if I want to keep Vito in constant "working" mode and never release him between exercises. This would be a lot more training though to keep his attention for the full novice ring time.

3. He can do a full novice heel pattern without verbal encouragement during it. I learned with Lance that I want silence to be seen as something good and not as a lack of feedback. Actually this point also extends to all of the other behaviors in the ring, but it's most obvious during heeling. Overall we're pretty good on this as I've kept this in the back of my mind from the start when teaching heeling.

4. I'm confident in his ability to perform each exercise to a level that could maintain itself many trials without needing to be retrained. Basically I want a heel that I would be happy with to take into the utility ring. It doesn't need to be perfect, and never will we reach perfection, but I want something to be proud of and don't want to have to retrain everything down the road. His foundations need to be strong so that we don't have as many issues cropping up later. I expect issues to crop up down the road, but I want them to be more proofing issues rather then figuring out he never knew something in the first place. This is much more ambiguous criteria but I think I am getting close.

Anything else you would add? Or what is/was/will be your criteria and why?


Go Click Challenge- 2 paws vs 4 paws

The last Go Click was a discrimination between having 2 paws on an object and 4 paws on it.

I was worried because the last discrimination training I did (nose vs paw target) was a pain in the butt. This challenge had some the same complicating element of being 2 behaviors on only one object, but somehow it was way easier! I don't know why it was easier, maybe because they had to fully commit to one option and thus it was impossible to do both behaviors at once whereas they could offer both a nose and paw at the same time earlier? Or because it was easier to interrupt the wrong behavior by taking them off the object before they had a chance to switch to the 2nd choice? Or perhaps since it was a more active trick the dogs had more fun and thus were less stressy about it?

Both dogs are hovering around 80% accuracy right now and I'll probably leave it like that. In real life (agility) their 4 paws is the table and Vito's 2 paws is the teeter with Lance not evening needing a 2o2o.

Oh and Vito got in some extra distance practice the last session as his "box" kept moving and sliding towards the wall. I decided to just see what happened and while his discrimination accuracy went way down, Vito had no problem doing both behaviors at a distance.


UKI Fun Match- Vito's 1st match!

The dogs and I headed for Minnesota's first UKI agility match! It's a brand new venue and one that I'm really excited about. I'm too new to agility to really know what I like, but so far I'm loving the tight courses with lots of challenges for the handler. The European flavor at today's match was great and I'm looking forward to the real trials!

Unfortunately today sucked for Lance. I guess he wasn't that bad, but he was just lagging today and wasn't really into any of his runs. His 4 on the floor were good on both dog walk and aframe but he dwaddled during the execution of the obstacles. Today was the first time doing 12 weave poles in a "competition" and Lance missed the entry and popped out early on the first set, but did well the other 2 courses.

Vito had his first time in ring today though! I did them as "training runs" so took a toy out onto the field. His first time on the course he did one jump and then did some mini "stranger danger" barks and ran up to a bar setter for about 2 seconds before connecting back with me and doing his weaves. I tugged with him then and continued one jump before hitting the aframe. His contact was in the yellow but was really high, but he did his 2 strides so I rewarded him with a tug anyway. Then he did another jump to the teeter and completely flew off it! I think he realized what was happening because he did try and stop but was just too late. On the repeating of the teeter he stopped in a 4 on position before going to our 2o2o. And then was the dogwalk which I attempted twice. I left Vito in a down stay as I ran to the end of the dogwalk to place his toy and ran back. He was pretty high up in the contact each time and I'm not really sure if he jumped (from our criteria) or not. Basically he was wasn't running as fast he normally does so it changed his striding from the beautiful dog walks he has been doing in class.

I was really bummed after this first run. I wanted to break it down and reward a lot, which I did, but Vito had the completely opposite reaction then what I thought he would have. If anything I thought Vito would have been over the top and stressing high, but instead Vito really wasn't that into it. He wasn't running fast and just seemed out of it. And his contacts all sucked.

Luckily Vito's 2nd (and last) run was AMAZING! It was an easy jumpers course and this time I took his ball in as a reward. We had to redo the weaves since he popped out in the middle, but that was the 2nd obstacle and after that he was ON! Vito was fast, really fast, and we didn't make any more mistakes. I had planned on stopping in the middle to reward him with his ball but never did since was just so fast!

So Vito is definitely not ready to trial yet, at least not in standard agility. After the jumpers course I really felt like entering him in some trials but I don't think that's wise yet. I did run the course with the ball in my hand so I'm not sure how much that contributed to his intensity and how well he will do without it.


Ferret thief

Lance was a complete idiot in training today. We were working on a discrimination challenge for Go Click and he was doing ok, when all of a sudden his food disappears down hole. Lance lost it. I had set his food dish on top of some of ferret furniture (see picture below) when naughty Opie poked through the top opening and managed to spill the dish all the way down the toy.

I put Lance in a stay while I shake the tube upside down, throw Opie aside, and repeat until I think I recover every last kibble. But we resume training and Lance has reverted back to kindergarten. He repeatedly mobs my hand with his kibble, keeps offering his "speed bump" trick, goes back to mobbing my hand, grunts, and just acts like an idiot. Apparently the thought of a ferret making off with his dinner was too much for the little guy.


CPE Trial

Lance had a CPE agility trial today, our first trial not at the U of M equine center.

We qualify in all 4 events and earn a new agility title! Lance got his CL1-H today for qualifying in wildcard to match his snooker level 1 Q.

Wildcard- level 1
Pretty straight forward, although I screwed up and didn't talk to Lance when he went in one of the straight tunnels. This resulted in him shooting out fast and taking an off course jump instead of turning towards me. Bad handler.

Snooker- level 2
This was fun! The course wasn't that hard so I decided to go for it and try for all 3 7's! We make it as Lance had no problem reading what side to come to and ignored the jump standing next to me when I called him off the start line. He had some really tight wraps that I'm quite proud of! This run also got us the highest snooker score so Lance won a bag of dog treats!

Standard- level 1
I pushed Adam to run Lance in this since it was a really easy course. Considering that Lance can count on his 4 toes how many times his daddy has ran him in practice he did really well listening to him. Lance was a bit more distracted and made some wide turns but managed to get all the obstacles except for one knocked bar. His contacts were horrible though. Lance did a down in a 2o2o position on the dog walk instead of his 4 on the floor, and then crept down the aframe real slow although manged to get his 4 on the floor on that one. He almost missed the tire but I think that was more due to Adam's handling then anything else. I am proud of both of them though and hope that Adam had enough fun to do it again!

Jumpers- level 3
I had fun in this course! I got lots of front cross practice in and Lance had no problems.


Sticky Target pt 2

I was unhappy with the results of the last Go Click Challenge to train a sticky target so I decided to re work it. I still plan on training a nose bridge, but I thought it might be best to start over and first teach duration on something other then my fingers. It's what they've had more practice on and would be less frustrating for all.

I am very happy with the results! This was Lance's result in only 3 sessions,, and while Vito took another couple sessions they both understand the concept. As you can see in some of the footage Lance does a few bobs now and then which is left over from the 2 bops I started with in order to get the first little bit of "stickiness."


Happy Birthday Lance!

Happy 3rd birthday Lance!!!

Remember when?


Go Click Challenge- Fronts

This past week the challenge was to improve the dogs fronts for obedience.

Since this is where Lance looses multiple points each trial it was perfect!  Unfortunately for Lance, we didn't get that many practice sessions in where we could work them at a distance.  Lance is usually pretty good at finding front from odd angles, pivoting in front, and side stepping to his right for fronts.  What he is not always good at is doing them at speed under the pressure of a trial (and side stepping to his left).  I can't say that we really made any progress this week.  Actually Lance was much worst on his last session this week then he was on the first session.  Damn dog!  It was really just an off day today when I filmed as Lance just started sucking at the aspects he is usually good at.

Vito is also decent at finding fronts from odd angles, pivoting in front, and sidestepping in front in both directions.  I guess I practice these aspects more often then doing recalls at speed, since Vito also sucks at getting a good front when he is blasting across the room.  This is also the one area where Vito still steps on my feet as he comes again, although I have managed to get rid of it on any close front.  Besides slamming on my feet, Vito also tends to come in crooked to my right as while I always treat directly in front and have them in both hands, I usually give the treat from my right hand.  Bad trainer.  And last but not least, Vito tends to over correct his stepping on my feet by sometimes sitting too far away for my liking.  I also don't know if I made any progress this week with Vito as he too had a crappy session today during filming.  Not as bad as Lance's, but still wasn't pretty.

Update:  I wrote this yesterday and reworked them again today to take new video footage.  I'm much happier, although still not great.  Bad days and good days...


Easter Teacup trial!

I headed over to Lance's first Teacup agility trial for some day of show entries today.  My first impression was oohing and awwing at how cute all the obstacles were!  I want a baby tunnel!

Lance did pretty good.  I was really happy with his jumpers run.  He also did two rounds of standard and did well.  Lance did his 4 on the floor after the dog walk and aframe each time; although on his first aframe he needed an extra reminder as he didn't get it right away.  For some reason though in the 2nd standard run Lance blew off the aframe and I had to double back to get it.  I have no idea why as he was on a direct path to it and it's not like I did in any crosses to it or anything.  When he finally did do it, Lance did a beautiful 4 on the floor however it also made me worry.  He was barely in the yellow even though he downed pretty much as close to the obstacle as he could get.  Although it is also possible that his back feet hit the yellow again as he landed in what could be a possible 2 on 2 off, it's hard to tell from the video.  Either way I don't like the impact that would have on Lance's shoulders.

Overall I'm happy.  He felt slower then normal, but perhaps it's because the courses were so much tighter then normal.  Regardless, I am definetly doing teacup again!  The courses were fun and the obstacles just so cute :)  I just wish I had been there for some of the fun games I have heard so much about!

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