Chuck at 12 months!

I finally compiled a video of the Chucklet from footage taken around his birthday.  I like how it actually makes me look like I train the dude.


UKI Trial

The first UKI trial in the twin cities!  I still don't know what venues I want to compete in with Vito but UKI is on my potential list if we can get more trials here.

Gamblers- NQ
We did the dogwalk twice and both times Vito ran through nicely!  His 2nd one was more confident than the first one so he hit even lower.  Vito slid off the teeter though.  I don't think he's been on a non rubber teeter in a really long time.  I reattempted it and then Vito hesitated a bit before going to his 2o2o.  3rd time was the charm.  Oh and he also popped out of this weaves in the middle but I apparently didn't notice as I was surprised to hear the judge call out a zero.  His gamble was good but he knocked the last bar so no Q.

Agility- NQ
Not a good run.  Vito was very distracted at the start, again, and even jumped really really weird for the first jump.  He actually landed on all 4 feet.  And then he fell off the dogwalk for the 2nd weekend in a row, of course this one was not rubberized.  Unfortunately I totally saw coming as I didn't shape a very good line to the dogwalk and I saw him going up at a bad angle.  Poor guy :(  I wasn't quite sure what to do as he seemed ok and I don't think UKI doesn't let you redo obstacles on runs not declared for training.  Vito chose to do the outside loop of the teeter, and then the aframe to be done.

Snakes and Ladders- Q
Again not the greatest run.  I had successfully gotten Vito more revved up and focused on the obstacles at the start line but then he found his daddy with the video camera.  He was just staring at Adam and doing some screaming at the start line.  If I would have been thinking I could have tried switching what side I started on to be in between the dog and his dad, but I wasn't.  And Vito did the first jump and then screamed his way to jump on the divider and bark at Adam.  More screaming as I tried to get him to do the 2nd jump.  The rest of the course went ok but Vito was doing more bouncing than running.  His dogwalk wasn't great but it wasn't a leap.  He just didn't run it confidently and took an extra stride.  I guess I'm jut happy that he somewhat ran it despite falling off his last attempt.

Sunday's only run.  Vito was slow again and a bit wide.  Also hesitated on geting into his 2o2o on the teeter.  The dogwalk was a very nice contact but he still wasn't really running it and added an extra stride.  I completely shaped the approach to it as I saw the angle was the exact same as yesterday's and didn't want to risk another fall.

Despite all my negative comments above I was pretty happy with how he did this weekend.  He listened well and made all his dogwalks despite being a bit hesitant.  All aframes were excellent!  Things to work on:
- Have Daddy come to more classes and stand with a video camera.
- We need to work on better attention at the startline.  As soon as Vito thinks we're ready to go in the ring he stops wanting to tug.  He'll take treats and will focus on me but I think the lack of tugging is the first sign that when we walk in the ring he wants to check out all the people.  He will stay but usually doesn't sit very quickly and doesn't keep his attention on the ring in front of him.  This has been an ongoing issue at trials.  I have had some success by getting him to watch the dog running in front of him but that's not really addressing the issue.
- and of course more experience on different dogwalks and teeters.

The corgi did 3 runs this weekend since we're still retraining his contacts.  No Q's.

Gamblers had an aframe in the gamble and we ran by it, his choice.  I didn't support it at all except for a little arm that way late anyway and was ok with Lance's decision to skip it.

Steeple chase was a nice run but of course he stuttered quite a bit and knocked a bar.  Only one at least!  At one point he also thought I wanted a rear cross so ended up back jumping it when he saw I did not.

Snooker I was really happy with and we made it through the opening with 3 7's.  Then I completely screwed up and decided I could make a front cross out of a straight tunnel and I was way late.  I got in his way and he knocked a bar.  


How to: Teach your dog to hold

I hate teaching the holding part of the retrieve.  I save it for last as I think both the dog and I have more fun when we're moving around.  (Click here for my retrieve training).  However getting a solid hold on an object without mouthing is important in the obedience ring and a necessity for the service dogs.  No one wants a punctured juice box brought to them!

Luckily the majority of dogs won't mouth if they are moving fast enough so for most service dogs you can get by with just focusing on a solid retrieve to hand or lap as long as the dog is really working at pushing the item into the persons hand.  Without formal hold training the dogs can also usually heel with an item in their mouth and also do a quick rise up to a desk and drop/bring an item without mouthing as neither task requires the dog to be standing still.  However I still would love for all the dogs to have the ability to sit or stand and hold an object without crunching it to death or rolling it around in their mouth so I try and teach a nice hold if I have time.  And with my dogs it is a very fun trick and great for pictures!

I find it very time consuming and have yet to find one easy force free method that will work for the majority of dogs.  I use a lot of experimentation and am continuously looking for new ways to explain to the dogs what I want.  Here is the list of ideas I have successfully tried, please comment on other methods that work for you! Also note that some of these methods won't work unless your dog already has a retrieve.

*db= dumbbell, but start out using whatever item the dog enjoys retrieving.
*with any method the click ends the behavior so I could care less if it falls to the ground when I click.
*Remember to click when your dog still has the db in its mouth.  If anything try and click early as being late with your timing will just reward the dog for dropping it.

1. Pure shaping- While either holding the db and presenting it to the dog or by having the dog pick it off the floor, gradually delay your click so the dog is holding it for longer and longer.  Remember that a dog who starts out with a 1/4sec hold and jumps to a 1/2sec hold has just doubled their time!  You can also try clicking when the dog offers a little bit of a tug back on the db while you’re holding it.  If the dog is trying to tug then they have a tight grip!  As with any metIhod, if the dog mouths at all, even if they don't drop it,  I immediately remove the db from their mouth and try again.  The goal isn't just to get duration, but to get duration without mouthing!

2. Two Grabs- Require the dog to mouth the db twice before you click.  In theory the time between grabs will gradually shorten until the dog gets lazy and offers one tiny bit longer hold instead. 

It will first look like grab……grab click.  Then grab..grab click.   Grab.Grab click.  And finally grraaabbb jackpot!

3. Distraction Held Out-  (my favorite method!) First your dog has to know to maintain eye contact with you if you hold food out.  This should be a strong automatic reflex where the dog really works hard to find your eyes and ignore whatever distraction you are holding out.

Now give your dog the db and immediately hold some treats out to the side or drop them to the floor.  Your dog might hold it without realizing it since his brain is so focused on trying to avoid looking at the treats.  Click any baby hold your dog just offered.

If you can get a tiny hold this way then start setting the food on a table that is within arms reach.  Now when you give the dog the db start reaching towards the food, if your dog drops or mouths the db then return your arms to your side.  The goal is to grab a piece of food off of the table before clicking.  Then grab the piece of food and bring it towards the dog before clicking, etc.

Edit: Apparently a variation of this method has the name reverse luring.  I've since had good success with the open/closed fist in teaching the hold.

4. Position changes- Since it is easier for the dog to hold the db when moving, see if you can get the dog to do tricks while he has the db in his mouth.  Cue a down/beg/heel/spin/whatever while the dog is walking towards you with the db in his mouth or after you give the dog the db.  The dog will likely drop it at first but eventually will start multi tasking and then you can ask for two tricks in a row.  If you get up to to two tricks in succession you can start delaying the time between the tricks until you have a baby hold while the dog is standing still.

5. Visit- Assuming your dog knows a chin rest behavior, ask the dog to do so to your lap or your palm with the db in his mouth.  You might first have to place the db already on your lap/palm and click the dog grabbing it.  Work up to the dog grabbing the db and then moving into position and holding it.  The db should be resting on your body so all the dog has to do is keep his mouth on the db.

6. Tugging- Using a tug rope or favorite soft toy play a game of tug of war with your dog.  When you let go see if your dog will remain holding the rope while you do a short little tug on the rope hanging out the side of his mouth.  You want the dog to tighten his grip so that you can’t tug the toy out of his mouth.  Play another rousing round of tug of war and then attempt the hold again.  The dog should be anticipating the game of tug to start up any minute so should keep a firm grip on the toy.

If your dog has a fabulous tug to open doors you can also try getting him to continually hold the rope so that a heavy door remains open.  The dog would have to tighten his grip against the pressure of the door trying to close.

Please add to this list if you have another method for teaching a dog to hold an object.  I am certainly not an expert in this area and want new ideas!  


Simple Joys

We got a new doggy bed and of course everyone was excited.


I will defend it!

Vito likes to flip it upside down

Even the kitty takes it over.

Ahh watch out Luke, Chuck wants your bed!


Ok, we'll share


Happy Birthday Chuckles!

Chuck spent a good portion of his birthday in a crate at the agility trial.  But we made it up to him by giving him a pigs ear when we got home.

I swear I did not give him the pigs ear like that.


March NADAC Trial

Our first trial since the new year!  Freezing cold today.  And the dogs were disgusting.  Well at least one of them was.

Proud of himself

Vito wasn't running full out this trial but wasn't as bouncy as his first few trials last year.  We qualified in 2 out of our 4 runs Saturday, and 3 of 3 on Sunday.  2 of 3 dogwalks were good, except for falling off once.  And he got all his weave entries for the first time in a trial!

Chances Novice-Q
A nice run to get our novice Chances title.  No issues.

Touch N Go Nov- NQ
Should have been an easy straight forward run but Vito took an off course at the start.  The Aframe was straight in front of the first hoop and the tunnel was curved away but guess which one Vito took!  He zeroed in on it right from the start.  I didn't fix it and we were fine until Vito fell off the dogwalk!  He seemed ok afterward so I wanted to have him redo it.  Vito was a bit slower on the dogwalk but hit his contact nicely. 

Weavers Novice- Q
Only 2 sets of 6 weaves as the club apparently didn't have their 3rd set along!  No issues getting his entries in a trial today, I was very happy with this run.

Jumpers Novice- NQ
Vito knocked the first bar.  Other than that it was a nice easy run.

---- Sunday---
Regular 1 Open- Q
Great dogwalk!!  It was the 2nd to last obstacle and a straight shot to the hoop.  He did a really weird jump at one point.  I'm pretty sure my handling was not the smoothest and Vito looked like he was going to take off but then hesitated a half second and ended up pouncing straight over it.

Regular 2 Open- Q
Vito was way distracted at the start.  He was smelling the air before we walked in, not sure if he realized his friend Megan was here or what.  Then he decided to stare at the bar setter and walk away from me towards the leash runner.  I got him back, he yelled at me, and I just went with a running start.  The dogwalk was second and it wasn't his best contact.  I don't think he jumped but almost strided right over the yellow.

Tunnelers Open -Q
A fun fast course.  Vito did great although me may have slipped in a tunnel.  Either that or he just slowed down a bit in one.

I pulled him from half of his runs since I didn't want him doing the contact obstacles until we're done retraining.

Chances Novice- Q
Lance was squirrley, probably because not really getting any warmup.  I thought he was going to go over the first jump as soon as I took is leash off!  I almost tripped over him at one point but he had a lot of drive this run and easily handled the distance portions without help from me.

Weavers Novice- Q
Lance collected just fine for his weave poles this trial!

Jumpers Open- Q
A nice run but Lance knocked a bar in the middle.  Apparently the judge didn't call it.

Chances Novice- NQ
Should have been a really easy distance challenge but Lance just didn't get it.  I ran out of room to support him and Lance just didn't drive out to get the middle jump in the pinwheel.  There was an aframe at the end and i decided to do it just to see how it would be.  We haven't touched the aframe since I switched him to running contacts so I had no idea what he would do.  Not a real surprise here but he jumped.  At least one  foot above the yellow.

Someone went straight into the shower with me when we got home.


Vito's Meltdown

Went to the Minnesota Pet Expo today to give obedience demos with the club.  I was going to have the corgi and give Adam the toller since the corgi can be quite naughty when he knows Adam has no clue what he's doing.  But plans changed.

On the way there Vito was whining anxiously because we were in someone elses car.  He sat on my lap but it didn't help.  When we walked into the expo he seemed ok until we walked over to the demo area.  I don't know if it was seeing the disc dog booth and all the frisbees he couldn't have, the smell of water from the dog diving area, or just the overall noise in the place but Vito again started to whine.

Exhausted Vito
I switched dogs before the demo started and Vito was able to make it through the first half of the demo ok.  As long as we were moving he actually offered some lovely heeling but still did low whining during the waiting periods.  He completely reached his breaking point during a stay with distractions demo when our announcer brought out a tennis ball.  Vito became very intense and held his stay but it wasn't pretty.  A bouncing ball has always been hard for Vito but today I could tell his brain exploded.  I had Vito sit out with Adam for the remaining portion of the demo and took over with Lance.

I think we were at the pet expo for another hour or so walking around.  Vito seemed fine while we were walking, but still couldn't handle being still without whining.  He would also obsessively lock on to the dog diving area and the disc dogs. 

I'm not sure why today was especially hard for him.  While today was very busy and loud I have never seen any hint of Vito being anxious in a crowd before.  We've go to trials all the time, and the MN State fair can be just as crowded.


Grad Open leg #2 for Lance and...Vito showed up

Lance competed in graduate open again today!

Signals- 3pts lost
Heeling went pretty well.  Forgy as usual and this judge docked us pretty hard for it too I thought.  Lance did move a bit on the sit signal but we didn't get any points knocked there.  All 3 points were taken off for forges.

Articles- 2pts
The first time that Lance didn't  drop the article on the return and stare at me!  He did technically drop it still as immediately going to the pile he mouthed it and it rolled, but I don't think he ever really had a grip on it.  I'm also happy he didn't front to the judge as in class this past week Lance did a perfect front to the "judge" and then kept trying to repeat it on further attempts even though I called him to me upon pick up.  Silly corgi.

Glove- 1pt
Yay, Lance didn't even look at the jumps as he did his retrieve!! He did however finish on the judge's command before I could even think about giving him a signal.  

Moving Stand- 1pt
Lance was a bit worried about the judge putting down her clipboard rather loudly before she approached him, but just moved a back foot and she didn't take off anything for it.  His finish was absolutely horrid.

Go Out- 4pts
Once again Lance went out to where the glove was previously.  The gloves weren't placed that far back so unfortunately Lance didn't even get close to the gate to touch it.  He started to turn back towards me so I told him to sit at that moment.  Then when I returned he got up to come to me.  The judge has to ask another judge after we were done to see what to do about that but it was ultimately decided it was just minor points since he already completed the main portion of the exercise.

Directed Jump- 0 pts
Yay Lance!

We qualify with a 189 and our 2nd leg. 

Oh Vito.  We did NOT qualify in Rally Advanced today as Vito decided to crash the measly 12 in jump instead of you know, actually jumping.  In his defense there wasn't that much space between the previous sign and the jump, but it was really pathetic!

Actually the whole run kinda sucked.  Yesterday at the open ring time (we played in the open ring) Vito was just off and a bit slow in everything.  Today was the same.  During the warm up I could get Vito to get into his tug toy and could get some nice heeling out of him with a lot of effort on my part but mostly he just wasn't there.  Making eye contact but a bit laggy, seemed to forget how to halt, even his crappy bump into me halt. 


Flying Corgi

Today's running contact session with Lance was more like the old days!  Jump, corgi jump!

I'm not upset at all, I knew we were bound to have a really bad day here and there.  And they weren't all jumps, just a lot of them.  I took a tiny break with Lance to work some turns with Vito (his first session in about 2wks and it also did not go well!) and Lance came back good after that.  More running, less flying.


Snow Pictures!

I hate the cold so it's not often I actually get to take pictures of my boys having fun in the snow.  Thanks Megan for giving the boys an opportunity to run!


Corgi Running Contacts Update

So Lance has been doing running contacts for two weeks now and I've gotten in 10 sessions.  I've been raising the board pretty quickly since he really seems to be doing a fabulous job of running and not jumping.  I have also become an expert on efficiently dismantling the dog walk plank and resembling it all by myself.  When the board got high enough that he could no longer run and jump onto it he started having weird striding and has done much better by resting the down plank on the DW.

I am currently stalled while deciding what to do with his current striding.  I don't think that Lance is jumping but with the board raised to just at the top of the yellow he is hitting higher up than I would want if it was at full height.  I have been rewarding pretty much everything since he is running and not jumping and then I've just been jackpotting any lower hits he gives me.  The problem is at this height Lance really isn't offering very many hits in the "2nd square."  At just a few inches lower Lance has at least 85% in the lower 2/3rds of the contact.  Here's a snippet of some of his attempts at the nicer height vs the slightly raised height, in slow mo of course:

I know that Silvia really emphasizes running over all other criteria so I'm not sure if I need to be stressing over feet placement at this point in the game.  Any suggestions on if I should go back to the slightly lowered height, stay at this height and keep jackpotting lowered hits, or even raise it since he's not jumping?


March Goals

February Progress:
Another lazy month.  I need spring to get here!!!  Did manage to get some work in but the majority of their dinners have been fed out of a dish.

1. Tricks- I wanted to continue Lance's work on holding a toy in his paws but instead I ended up working more on duration of his hind leg lifts.  I also restarted adding in nose targeting while holding his leg up in hopes of getting a hind leg limp.  I found it works better using a target instead of my hand for targeting.  I think Lance is really starting to get it!  He doesn't need my hand pointing to his back leg anymore and will hold it for several seconds.  Still a bit confused about the multitasking but is doing well.  Who knows if it will lead to limping though!

Vito I did a little work on the handstand but not much.  He just really wasn't into working for his dinner much this past month and was lacking energy.  He did learn how to flip on the low lightswitch at work.  Not a real one though, he's too short.

Chuckles I did actually free shape a trick without a prop!  At least the start of one.  We're working on limping with his front leg and are currently on duration of his front left paw while in a stand.

2. Scent articles- I did start work on them again although not as much as I'd like.  Lance has been stressing about them so I've gone back down to a really small pile and standing close by.  It seems to be helping and Lance is happier about them again.  Vito continues to have no issues with this at all.

3. Halts- No idea how to fix Vito's bumps into me.  Haven't worked on it since I don't have a plan.

4. Fronts with the db- Vito actually is coming in closer on his fronts with an object.  Not all the time, or even most of the time, but there are moments where I actually have what I want!  I don't know how since I haven't thought of any new approaches.  Still a major work in progress.

5. Gloves- I did work on them maybe once a week with Vito.  So far the shaking of the glove seems to have disappeared!!  We're working on really speeding up the return and fingers crossed it's eliminated that glove shake.

March Goals
1.  Running contacts and more running contacts.  I swear it's all I'm doing now. 

2. I don't know.  I'm in a winter funk.  No more snow!

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