Fixing the Forging

We have a new technique to try and fix Lance's (well and Vito's) forging!  As most of you guys know, Lance is a huge forger during heeling.  He has gotten a ton better and usually needs only a few reminders in practice, but since he still needs reminders, during a trial Lance can be an entire body length ahead of me. 

What I have been doing to try and correct it is
- to always treat in line with my pant seam or occasionally throw treats behind me 
- do lots of left turns, perhaps even bringing my knee up as I'm turning and look for him to pivot cleanly out of my way (he's short, my knee doesn't touch him!)
- do lots and lots and lots of slow time, only break into normal pace if I'm happy with his position and always go back to slow if I'm unhappy.

My new plan is more of the left turns and slow time, but a different treat position!  Instead of lowering my left hand straight down my side to treat, I am instead treating from my right hand and having him go behind me to get it.  In theory he will forge less since not only is the reward always going to be behind him, but he has to go behind my body to get it!

I'm using the word behind right now as they were completely confused with me clicking or saying yes.  But it didn't take more then a few trials for them to understand that behind just means they get a treat if they go around me to my right side.  I was quickly able to start using it while actually heeling.

I've only done it for one session so I have no idea if it will actually help us or not or if we will stick with it.  I was just so excited by a new thing to try that I just had to share!  It wasn't my idea, I have stolen it from this video:


Vito at the Toller Specialty!!!

I was so excited that the Toller specialty this year was being held in Minneapolis!  What better place then nationals to have Vito's debut in AKC obedience, rally, and agility!

Novice obedience was our first event of the day and Vito was the first dog to go.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  I thought Vito did extremely well though and was very attentive throughout most of it.  Heeling on leash went pretty well although he was a bit distracted before the first left turn and then at the about turn.  He was a little too excited for the fast as he gleefully started to bound ahead wondering what exciting thing we were racing off too!

I went to the right on the figure 8 but it turns out that was a mistake.  Vito was distracted at the start so we got a lag going through that first post.  The rest of the pattern I was happy with.

Stand for exam went perfect!  He did turn and look at the judge but didn't move any feet :)

Heeling off leash went better then the on leash portion.  Vito was more attentive and we had some better turns.  Of course he still got pretty excited at the fast portion.  I guess we know what we need to work on!

The recall seemed to be Vito's favorite portion!  He bounced to me when I called him and happily pounced at my feet.  I am happy to say that he did not touch me though or step on my feet!

Point breakdown:
heel on leash/fig 8- 3.5pts lost
stand for exam- 0pts
heel free-  2pt
recall- 1pt
1min sit- 0
3min down- 0
total: 193.5!

Vito tied for 2nd place but we missed the run off due to me walking the agility course.  So Vito got third place out of 15 Novice B dogs!

Rally went very well!  Vito was more focused than he was in obedience and we sailed through the course without losing any points.  I wish that he would have gotten to do rally before obedience as I think it would have helped him settle down a bit.  Vito had no problem with the fast time during this course.

4 Dogs got a perfect 100 alongside Vito, so we placed 4th with the slowest time. 

Agility- Standard
Agility was outside and it was POURING rain.  It was our first time doing a standard course and I wasn't too thrilled to see that after the aframe was a flip to the tunnel and then a 90 degree left turn after the dog walk.  My plan was to run Vito off the aframe a little ways before flipping him as he hasn't trained for the flip yet and I didn't want to destroy his running contacts.  Vito's plan was to come flying off the aframe and go straight towards the chute which was parallel to the aframe and something I never thought of as an off course.  Dogs had actually been refusing it all day, I think because of the rain.  Well Vito flew through it and actually took the fabric with him, not seeming the least bit fazed!  When it was time to go back through it I just told Vito "go through the hole" which he did, but then was distracted by the fabric on the floor.  Still distracted he runs by the dogwalk, and then hops on it at the side.  He jumps the dogwalk and then is further distracted by the cones to the side of the panel jump.  Every other novice dog also stopped at the same spot!  Since we had already NQed I just keep going and we miss a few more jumps.  Oh baby Vito.  The run was kind've a mess but Vito was having oh so much fun!

Agility- Jumpers with Weaves
It was still raining but this run I was actually really happy with!  We made two mistakes and I will take full blame for the 2nd one, but I think the first one is all on Vito.  I led out and did a push to the tunnel but Vito felt like crossing behind me to take the wrong entrance.  He just did not read my turn at all!  The middle of the course I was extremely excited about as Vito had really nice drive and was committing to the jumps well.  The ending I screwed up by telling him "switch" too early so Vito did indeed turn into the tunnel instead of going to the jump.  Good dog!

Wow, I am thrilled with Vito's performances today!  We have some things to work on in obedience, mainly fasts and the turns, but he was attentive and doing very well!  He still acts like such a baby dog out there, something that Lance never seemed to go through.  Agility was kinda crazy but I am still really happy with his level of enthusiasm and drive.  It was our first time jumping 20in in a trial and we had zero knocked bars!  Also the first time in the rain which well, Vito seemed oddly excited about.


Chuck is 6 months!

I can't believe that Chuck is now 6 months old.  He's also 50lbs with a huge dinosaur head.  At home he's still very laid back and easy going.  He likes wresting with Lance and stealing toys from Vito.  Occasionally he and Vito will play some tug of war.  Chuck also enjoys wrestling the kitty and grabbing the ferrets by their heads.  Naughty puppy!  We're still working on teaching him what objects are appropriate toys and what are not.  He just loves carrying something around in his mouth at all times and gets in trouble quite a bit.

Not much new has been happening on the training front.  Chuck has been introduced to all of the service dog behaviors and basically just needs continued practice and fine tuning.

New things from the 4.5months update include:
- Pretty good pivoting in heel and side stepping in heel
- Tugging heavier objects and putting the rope in my hand
- A very solid hold without mouthing.  Gorgeous actually.
- "cleaning up" objects to a basket while I am standing near it.

We are redesigning the puppy raiser classes to hopefully get some more structure and better basic obedience out of the dogs.  Every dog is being tested through the levels and has to pass every single item in each setting in order to move up a level.  Well Chuck failed level two twice because he didn't want to do a "settle" for 1 minute by another person.  Just fine with me, but some playful nipping while on his side with another person, although he wasn't really struggling to get up.  Finally he passed when I requested Chuck do a settle on his back as that is how I clip his nails.  Silly puppy.  So far not enough people have passed to get a level 3 test going but Chuck shouldn't have any problems.  The tough items for level 3 include lots of walking by various distractions, sits and downs at a distance, and a "visit" (chin rest on thigh) to another person 3ft away.

Because he is doing so great with all of his service dog tasks and basic obedience, most of my training is focusing on tricks.  I'm not that motivated to really work with him, but I have been working on crossing his paws, cop cop (walking on my feet), backing up, and occasionally a hind leg lift.  Actually I am reconsidering cop cop as a 50lb dog on your feet is not quite the same as a little corgi and my toes are not happy!


Lance and Chuck's weekend

The other two felt a bit left out so wanted a post of their own.  Both Lance and Chuck got to compete in the long shot competition on Sunday as well!  They entered the impromptu "roller" division, Adam with Chuck and me with Lance.  Chuck went first and used all 3 strikes at the first 10yds as he decided to punch the disc with his paws rather then grab it with his mouth.

Lance had never done any rollers before the day but I quickly went out and practiced with him before hand.  At first he just stared at me, but once he realized I had treats he was all game.  He actually became quite good at grabbing the disc, as long as I had a little cookie for him of course.  He managed to get all of my throws in the "competition" alas all of them were under 10ft.  The third throw was just a hare short so the judges waved us on to the 15yd line and Lance got to go one more time.  He really seemed quite excited by it all!

(picture by Josh Grenell )

Everyone seemed to like camping, even though Chuck was tied up a lot.  Damn Chuckles.

Lance alternated between running around the site, weaving underneath the truck and picnic table, and then soaking in the dirt.


MN Disc Dog State Championships!

The boys and I drove down on Saturday for the final disc dog competition of the year.  It was a two day event so we decided to camp out!

Saturday Vito competed in catch-22 with both me and Adam, and also did his first novice freestyle routine!  Vito needs to learn how to conserve energy as he always flings his body into the air to try and catch when he could just wait a second longer and actually catch the damn disc much easier.  He looks like a complete spazz and we have a lot of misses.  At least Vito is very much enjoying himself out there!

During freestyle Vito actually did quite well and caught most of them.  I on the other hand was not planning on entering so didn't have any routine planned or even a sequence.  I took 4 discs on the field which is double the amount I had ever practiced with at one time.  I clearly remember thinking at one point, "huh, I'm all out of discs, now what?" and then quickly realizing I had to move and collect some of them again!  While I really felt I wasn't ready at all to enter freestyle, I learned a lot from that 1minute and feel much more confident now.  I need to remember to do some of the few simple tricks he can do when the disc is out such as spins and turns and weaving.  And of course remembering to move while he is running out to catch and gather some discs would be good too.

Sunday was a longshot, a distance competition and then 15sec freestyle.  Vito actually started out really well for me and was catching my throws instead of just bouncing them off his nose!  We made it to the 4th round at 25yds before getting our last strike and eliminated.  15 second freestyle was both a wreck and a huge highlight.  On the positive side, Vito did his first complete backward circle with the disc being out!  He got sick of waiting for me to throw and offered more then one of them!!!  Then he actually tried to do his backward weaving, was half way successful and threw in another offered circle and caught his flip throw!  Then I had no clue what to do, panicked at still having time left and bumbled for the last few seconds.


Scent Articles update

I've been a good girl the last two weeks and have been doing scent articles with Lance and Vito almost every day!  I'm also really happy to say that my determination has been paying off and Lance is getting much more confident about the exercise.  Previously he would do very well with finding my dumbbell on every send but the first one.  That first send Lance would run out, sniff the right one and look like he's going to grab it, but then hesitate and work the rest of the pile.  Almost always he would would stop and look at me.   Usually I smile and don't say anything and then Lance goes back to work.  Sometimes he would eventually bring me back the right one but othertimes he would pick it up and drop it several times.  This was only on the very first article, any sends after that would be nice and snappy.  He would even do this if I had only a few articles out.

But that is all written in the past tense as I have seemed to stumble on an easy fix!! I had always started with the metal dumbbell as that is what we first used when learning the scent work and I figured I should get the harder one out of the way.  By simply switching to leather first Lance is much more confident and doing great!  He then has no problem by the time I get to metal.  I usually do a few of the leather before I switch so I have yet to see if Lance could do metal on the 2nd send.  I am very psyched about his performance though and see ourselves one tiny step closer to being ready for utility.


Sunday NADAC

Today the boys went to a NADAC trial.  I think it was our last outdoor agility trial of the year and the weather was very windy and a bit chilly off and on.


Vito has grown recently (about 5lbs the last two months!) and I didn't think he would measure under 18in anymore.  It was very iffy at his first NADAC trial the end of May and sure enough he was over today.  I chose to run in skilled and still run him at 16in for a bit longer.  We do practice at 20in during class but my classmate pointed out that the titles are the same and he's still young; there's no rush to jump him higher on the wet grass.

Weavers Novice - Q 
What a bouncy boy!  So happy to be out there, I just wish Vito would focus his energy more horizontal then vertical.  We had to redo the last set of weave poles as Vito didn't get the entry.

Tunnelers Novice  - Q
There's some of the speed from my boy!  We had some wide turns but I felt Vito had some good drive and least he was actually running rather then bouncing.  Yay Vito!

Chances Novice - Q
My favorite run of the day!!!  This was an extremely hard novice distance course as there were two tunnels side by side and the dog had to take the outer one at a moderate distance.  We rear crossed into it, I pressed on the line and was shocked that Vito actually took the right entry!!!  We had a little spin away from me after coming out and I really think it was because Vito thought I was going to do a rear cross.  It actually makes sense due to the way I was facing.  But Vito sends back out and we finish nicely with the weaves at a pretty close distance.  Go Vito!!!!

Jumpers Novice - NQ
There was a delay at the start so I got to rev Vito up a bit before going.  I really think it worked as the first several obstacles were quite a bit faster then he has run in a trial before.  Alas he didn't like my front cross to a serpentine (was I late?) although he took the sequence ok.  I unforunately tried to rush to get another front cross in and pulled Vito off a jump.  When going to fix it he shot into an off course tunnel and we NQed.  The rest of the run went ok although it was an awkward rear cross and Vito never regained his speed.

I really am happy with how Vito is progressing. He was much more focused on me at the startline, seemed more confident and committing to the jumps, and is actually starting to run a bit more than bounce. We're actually qualifying more then we NQ now too!

No video of the first two runs.

Weavers Novice - Q
Lance was very very excited and I thought he had some great speed going.  It was a really nice run as well except for him completely driving by the middle set of weaves.  Not sure why, but we restarted and were fine. 

Regular Open - NQ
I was not happy with this run.  Lance missed an easy aframe/tunnel discrimination to take the tunnel.  Then when I got him on the aframe he did his jump which I don't like but this time he didn't even land into his down.  Then he was slow on the dogwalk and had a really crappy "floor" where he didn't down until several steps after hitting ground.  His contact performances really pissed me off as it is not the criteria I am training.

Tunnelers Open- Q
We had some wider turns but I felt it was a really good run.

Chances Novice - NQ
The same hard chances run that Vito nailed.  I was very happy that Lance also got the two tunnel discrimination challenge but at the end he completely shot by the weave poles.  He crossed the line when I called him back so I went in to help him since we already NQed.  But Lance still couldn't weave and even popped out of them early.  I am not too thrilled since this was the second time today Lance ran by the weaves.

Jumpers Open - Q
A good run with no real mistakes.  He did knock a bar but the judge apparently didn't call it.

Not my favorite trial of Lance's.  We had some weave issues today that bother me but most of all I am worried about his contacts.  Lance did not want to do his 4 on the floor today and is still launching off the aframe at a trial.  He may have hit the yellow today (I think) but it still makes me shudder the impact that has on his joints.


Apparently anyone can have a service dog!

EDIT: This post receives a lot of hits on people wondering about service dogs.  I want to clarify some things, and also link to an updated FAQ on service dogs here:

1.  A service dog is different than a therapy dog.  In order to take your dog to any public place you must have a disability, AND your dog must be trained to do a task to help in that disability.  Therapy dogs do not have public access rights, even though they often visit nursing homes, libraries, and hospitals they must be INVITED.  If you do not have a disability and a dog trained to help, please do not hurt the rights of those who do by putting a cape on your dog and pretending.  It is a slap in the face of everyone who needs a dog's help legitimately.

2.  There is no legal requirements to get certification for a service dog.  So if you truly have a disability that your dog has been trained to help with, you do not need to buy "certification" papers online (worthless!) or go through an organization.  Your dog does need to be well behaved and it is often recommend that your dog be able to pass a CGC test and public access test.  Both are very basic manners tests.  Also, any business has a right to kick you and your dog out of a store if the dog is not under your control and is being disruptive (ex. barking, jumping on shoppers, urinating...) even if you and your dog are eligible for access rights.

3. The ADA does not cover dogs in training; public access for service dogs in training (SDIT) are up to each state to set their own laws.  Some states do NOT allow SDITs public access, while some states only grant SDITs public access if they are from a certified organization or with a certified trainer.

Back to original post:

I am so pissed off right now that I just have to comment on a news article.  I got a link to an article off of Cesar's Way website that is announcing Junior becoming a "service dog." 
Junior gets his Service Dog certification!  Junior recently received his Service Dog certification from The United States Service Dog Registry (USSDR), an independent registry service that offers self-identification for Service or Assistance Dogs. 

I'm so proud of Junior," Cesar said. "He's been an amazing helper to me and so many dogs, and now he can continue to share his balance with the rest of the world in his service." 


Now I don't know if Cesar Millan has a disability so can't really comment on the legalities of calling Junior a service dog.  Although really being a service dog has nothing to do with helping other dogs and the rest of the world.

But I can comment on this next section:
Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a Service Dog?

Although not required by law, your dog should be trained to follow both specific and basic obedience commands, as well as display non-aggressive and sociable behavior in order to be considered an effective Service Dog. It is recommended that any potential Service Dogs undergo at least 120 hours of professional training to obtain the necessary skills and demeanor. USSDR suggests that every candidate complete the Public Access Test created by Assistance Dogs International, Inc., to fully assess your dog’s ability to function as a Service Dog.

If you would like to learn more about how to register your Service Dog, check out the USSDR website here.

This call for other people to make their pet dog into a service dog is unbelievable.  There is not one mention of the legal requirements involved.  Not only does the individual have to have a recognized disability, but the dog has to be able to perform specific tasks to help out.  I would LOVE to be able to take Vito everywhere I go.  He is well trained so we wouldn't cause any nuisance and it would be so much easier on the both of us with his separation anxiety.  BUT by calling him a service dog it would not only be against the law but it would be a slap in the face to everyone out there who has a disability and relies on their dogs for help.  It really disgusts me that Cesar basically challenges people to do so.  Shame on you Cesar.

Apparently he must have already received enough complaints that the article has been taken down off of the website.  I am hoping that Cesar is just really ignorant about what a service dog is.  I would just find it hard to believe though since even the "certification" from the USSDR talks about what service dogs do.  And you would think that with all of the people surrounding Cesar that they could have directed him to a therapy dog organization instead.  Of course that would actually require them to take real tests instead of just filling in a form over the internet.


September Goals

August Progress:
1. Straight sits- Lance had started to wrap his little tush behind me on his halts and finishes.  I did a lot of right pivots and side stepping to my left so he had to work on pushing his butt out.  I am happy to say that it really has gotten better again.  It's not perfect but at least when he's crooked he's not almost perpindicular to me anymore.

2. Go outs- Again I haven't done as much with this as I wanted to.  I feel like I am motivated to want a complete go out, I'm just apparently not motivated to actually go someplace to do it.  I can only practice this one in my tiny house so much before we stall in progress.  Bad trainer.

3. Scent articles- Fail.  I was lucky if I did it more then once a week in class.  We are obviously no further on confidence with Lance and working on distractions.

4. Tricks-  This is one I did!  Lance and Vito both are really starting to get the "face out" trick where they side step with me while their butt is to my feet.  They both are much better at going left so we're starting to work more sidestepping right and then pivoting while facing out.

We've also worked on "close" where the boys face perpindicular to me, head at my right hand.  We work on moving in a box shape so they side step towards me, back up while I go left, sidestep away from me, and then move forward while I move right.

September Goals:
1. Shape up Vito's obedience to get ready for the novice ring!  I've entered him in Toller Nationals since it's being held here in the Twin Cities in a couple weeks.  Vito will be debuting in novice obedience, akc rally, and akc agility including the standard class!!!  I don't think I would have entered him if it wasn't nationals but since it is I figured I might as well give it a go.  This means that I really have to step up my work with Vito this month since I usually leave him on the back burner when it comes to obedience.  I specifically need other people to be a "judge" for his stand for exam and then to work on Vito collecting himself for his recall so he doesn't step on my feet.

2. Running Contacts- Recommit myself to working on Vito turning off the dogwalk.  He's been doing great with a stick in the ground to show him where to turn, now it's time to start fading the prop.  Oh and on a weird side note, Vito has been STOPPING on the top of the DW when I practice before class.  During class he's fine, but before he has gotten it into his head that I want him to stop.  He just looks at me and waits to be released where he will then run down nicely.  I hate it and I have no idea why he thinks I would ever want this.  It has happened both today in class and last week.

3.  Scent articles- sigh.  Maybe I'll try and get myself to do it before bed everynight.  It can become part of my routine and then maybe I'll actually do them.

4.  Chuck- I've gotten lazy with Chuck and need to remember to work the little dude too.  Now that I'm not feeding him three times a day I don't have that extra forced practice session.  I have gotten approval to teach Chuck any trick I want so I want to start having fun with him.  I'm thinking a rear leg lift and crossed paws...

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