Vito APDT Rally

Vito tagged along to Lance's CDSP trial this weekend.  I wasn't sure how his anxiety would be from the car ride and just in general being crated at a trial so I didn't enter him in anything before hand.

He was extremely anxious on the drive down but settled in beautifully into his crate, even sleeping for great portions of the trial.  When I took him out he was sleepy but perked up nicely to eat treats and tug with me.  So I decided to enter him in one round APDT Rally, level 3.

He did well but since we were first I didn't feel I had enough time to warm him up from his nap in the crate.  We lagged a little bit and then NQed on a send to the jump when Vito jumped up at my hand going out as he thought I had a treat in it!  Didn't even see the jump on that first attempt but we redid it just fine.  The bonus exercise was a retrieve which Vito brought nicely but started yawning as he fronted.  I thought he was just mouthing it so I didn't grab it as I didn't want to reinforce the mouthing.  By the time I realized it was a yawn it was fallign to the floor :)  He did grab it again as soon as he was done yawning.

Day 2 Vito was again anxious on the drive down but started to settle down about halfway.  He did great at the trial again so I decided to enter 1 more round of rally level 3.  This time I had more time to warm him up but he started to go a little flat before we entered the ring.  I am not sure if it's a training issue or not.  He lagged a bit in the beginning but did start to connect more by the end of the run.  All our fronts sucked.  We did qualify this time although technically the judge should have given us an NQ.  I gave Vito a treat after the moving stand-walk around and that is not considered a "stationary exercise" by APDT.  Oops!  The judge was generous and just took points off.

I'm not sure when Vito will be entered again in any obedience or rally but it was nice to be able to play with him a little bit this weekend.  I'm currently hypothesizing that his car anxiety and increased anxiety at work is due to his increase in fluoxetine.  The vet thinks it's a long shot but we're going to give him 2 more weeks at his current dose to see if he levels out and then cut him back and consider switching meds, again.


Lance CDSP Obedience

CDSP obedience trial this weekend.  Two trials each day and Lance was entered in all 4 runs.

#1 Open- Q and Title!
More distracted than usual.  Did great when working but in between exercises he seemed kinda scattered.  More forging than the past trials.

The running broad jump was not really a team exercise!  Lance shot off and I ran to keep up.  He took several strides after the jump before I called him back but at least we were in no danger of cutting the corner!  He then danced around in front position before going to heel.

Drop on recall was not as snappy as I would like.  Retrieves were fine minus the finishes.

I was really happy with his go out.   It wasn't straight, he veered off a few feet to the left, but he went out happily and touched the gate like a good boy. 

This run got Lance his CDX-C title and I moved up him up to utility for his other 3 runs.  I really wanted to have Lance in utility where I can give him treats and encouragement before putting him in AKC utility!

#2 Utility- NQ
Lance was much more focused this run!  Still forging like crazy.  Did his signals really well and thought about taking the jump on the recall.  He ran right to it but then veered off at the last second!

He found his article and had no hesitation on the return!!!

Go outs were entertaining.  Lance headed straight for the jump on the right, took it and paused for a tiny bit, looked at me and then confidently ran to the other jump before coming back and fronting.  On the 2nd send he went straight for the jump again but this time I tried to interrupt him and send him back.  I unfortunately didn't even use the right words but I doubt he would have gone out if I had.  Lance hopped back over the same jump and came to front.  He tried so hard!

I was happy with both glove sends.  On the first one he looked at the jump on the return but I called him back to me.  The second time he had the middle glove and came straight back.

Moving Stand he moved his feet again as soon as I left him but was good for the exam itself.  His finish was horrid.

#3 Utility- NQ
He did his go outs!!!

The signal exercise was done very close in and not near a jump so Lance didn't have to think whether he should take it or not on the recall.  Articles were again fast and happy.  And his go outs were both lovely all the way to touch the gate and straight :)   Our first glove send was #3 and Lance veered for for #2 so an NQ.  The judge had us repeat #3 again on the 2nd send and he did great.  The moving stand Lance again moved 2 steps when I left but was perfectly fine with the judge kneeing down for the exam.  Another horrible finish.

#4 Utility- Q!
Our first utility leg!!!  I completely messed up the signal exercise.  I forgot if I was supposed to stop with him on the stand or if it was a moving stand so I stopped mid step and then I forgot to give him a stay cue as I left.  Lance started coming with me but stopped when I actually did give him my stay signal.  Scent articles were good except for him starting to finish on the judge's cue :)

Go outs were great!!!  Lance was happy and again ran to touch his gate.  The first send he ignored my sit cue and turned around to bop the gate again.  I gave him a 2nd command to sit which he also ignored but stayed out there looking at me.  The 2nd send out was good and I gave a more firm verbal sit.   Gloves were good, we had #2 and then #1.  I saw Lance looking at the jump on his 2nd return so I told him to come.  Moving stand Lance wasn't as sure about the judge kneeling down this time.  He took a step and leaned away, but at least he didn't move as I walking this time.


Woo hoo!  I am so glad a CDSP trial was offered so we could play in the utility ring before we venture into AKC utility next month.  I don't know if Lance is quite ready to do go outs in new places but he is having a blast with everything.


Training Changes

After the Denise Fenzi Seminar I have managed to make a few changes in my daily training.  Mainly making the dumbbell and scent articles more fun!  And with the changes I have actually practiced scent articles almost daily with the corgi as compared to my usual x2 a week in a good week.  Click for me!

I've been breaking out of the traditional article set up and have been putting the articles in odd places.  On top of the couch, under the coffee table, and in the bath tub.  Recently I have even started to hide the entire pile from him.  And Denise was right, Lance stopped stressing if he had the right article and instead focused on how to get to the pile or finding it all together!  Zero freezing over the pile and his selection time is becoming faster and faster.  He is having a blast and that is reinforcing me to do them more often.

With Vito I've been focusing on hiding his dumbbell.  I've done it a few times without any external rewards but now I'm starting to do it with dinner as he is more likely to eat when doing this game.  I can tell that he is liking his dumbbell more and I know that if I try a bit harder I can turn the db into a valued toy.

I've also been working on changing Vito's go out behavior from a paw touch to a nose touch.  Not directly related to her seminar, but a change I've actually committed to because of it.  Vito's always been hesitant about pawing the ring gates and had been skipping the touch altogether to just push his butt up against the wall.  I was ok with that behavior but I realized that by letting him switch back and forth at will I'm not having the clear criteria I need.  Hopefully a nose touch will make Vito happier.

Loretta Mueller was also kind enough to see my boys last weekend and lending me support in my running contacts endeavor.  I had stopped training Vito on turns after the dog walk almost 2 months ago since I wasn't getting anywhere and was confusing the crap out of my poor dog.

I'm now going to start requiring Vito to look where he's going before releasing him as his focus on me instead of the jump is likely contributing to his issues.  I'm making it a new rule on the start line as well.  And we're just going to move the jump very gradually, no rushing things.  Patience :)

The corgi is just messed up!  I think I've worked up to 90% full height about 4 times now, always starting from almost scratch each time as he starts stressing.  This last time it was going great rewarding every attempt with the manners minder and extra good treats for the times he actually ran through.  But then it all came crashing down again when Lance started stressing over the behavior and started to refuse to eat the treat from the MM when he didn't hear me praise, started slowly walking down the plank, or even offering going up the board to restart but refusing to come down.  While I try to remain upbeat I know he feels my frustration.

Since I've done the same plan 4 times and have failed 4 times, Loretta has suggested we try something new :)  Back to kindergarten in just building value for being on DW, especially the end.  Lance's tension at getting to the end of the plank is obvious and he purposefully flies over the lava contact zone even when walking down it.  So getting him to eat from the MM again (that didn't take long!), putting it close to the end, letting him offer going down.  I've done a few shaping sessions where Lance gets to choose when to go up and when to turn around and come back down.  I'm also working on being quiet the entire time, just letting the beep be the marker and letting him think.  My praise puts too much pressure on the corgi.

Who knows where this will lead us but at least he's happy being on the DW again.  Right now the MM is 3ft out and Lance is doing great walking down or at a trot.  He still can't run it without stressing over the end and jumping it.  I'm hoping that confidence will bring speed.  Not exactly Silvia Trkman's philosophy but I've clearly screwed up her method enough anyway.

His aframe is still a nightmare but I can't expect much out without practicing it!


Vito's Panic Attacks

For the last week Vito has been having major panic attacks in the car.  It has seemed to come out of the blue and I alternate from being extremely frustrated to just wanting to cry.

Vito used to sleep in the car.  Even if I just drove around the block he would pass out.  Since I don't leave him alone that often he goes in the car a minimum of x2 every day and can be as high as x6 on some days.  A few months ago I started to notice that he had stopped sleeping even on long trips, but still lied down nicely and relaxed.  I'm not sure when that started to happen.

Last week it changed.  We drove 2hrs to get some agility help and he did fine on the way there. Didn't sleep, but was fine.  After the practice we started to drive to a friend's house and he panicked.  Major panting, so much that I thought he would have a heart attack.  After 20min I pulled over to the side and offered him some water.  That made it worse.  Vito wouldn't even look at the water and started loud whining.  I get back in and drive another hour before pulling over to a gas station.

I took Vito out and and sat in a quiet grassy area.  I gave him 3mgof Xanax but Vito started to calm down almost immediately, drank water, and even took treats.  We waited about 45min before getting on the road again.  The next 40 minutes Vito did some light panting but remained in a down and was ok.  Until I arrived and Vito fell out of the car.  It's another hour before Vito can walk in a straight line and 2 more hours until most of the effects wore off.  I had previously given Vito 2.5mg of Xanax when we were moving but didn't notice any effects.  Apparently 3mg on an empty stomach (he didn't eat breakfast) was a bad combination.

Vito has freaked out on every drive since that trip.  He pants so heavily I'm scared he's going to burst and his whole body trembles.  I've tried removing his harness and he tries crawling into the front seat and on my lap.  A crate doesn't help, holding his collar so he has to lie down doesn't help, and he won't eat treats, even his absolute favorite of smoked sausage.  He does it in my car and in Adam's truck although he is slightly better in the truck. 

Video from this past week:

I'm resorting to using Xanax again and trying to find the right dosage.  1mg didn't help, but I think 2mg did.  On a drive to disc today we gave him 2mg of Xanax 45min before leaving and he seemed to calm down the last 10min of the 45min trip (and panicked the first 35min).  On the drive home he slept the entire time!  So we will try 2mg again but 1.5hrs before leaving.  This means the days Adam works before me he will have to get the toller up and pill him bright and early.

I just pray that whatever has triggered his car anxiety magically goes away.  Changes that I can think of:
- We moved 23 days ago.  Wouldn't the car stuff been triggered much earlier?
- Heat.  It's hot and we don't have AC except for a bedroom window unit.  The car DOES have AC.
- Upped his Prozac from 20mg to 40mg.  But I'm not expecting to see changes yet, it hasn't even been 2wks.

 On the positive side, I've been leaving Vito home alone more often for 1-2hrs at a time and he's doing great.  This past Thursday I left him for 2hrs and Vito SLEPT the entire time!  Here is a happier picture


Fiona- 11wks

Fi is a really good girl. To good of a girl for my preference.

My proudest accomplishment is that she is finally bringing objects to me.  She still does a bit of wanting to play keep away but not a ton.  Actually Fi is now bringing me too much stuff!  Stuff such as plastic baggies and shoes.

Forced cuddling at work.

Here's video from last week.  She just turned 12wks on Friday and is 15lbs.


Obedience Seminar pt2

Ok, since you guys asked I will go into a little bit more detail of the Denise Fenzi seminar. I WAS going to leave it up to Crystal  to really think and explain the important things I learned :)

Probably the most important thing for me was the necessity of inserting yourself into everything instead of relying on food and toys to reward the dog.  The obedience ring is a long stressful time to go without external rewards so if you're relying on them in practice and even treating up to the trial gate and treating on the way out you're only making a clear contrast between ring and practice.  She doesn't think that will get you past a UD, maybe a UDX but certainly not an OTCH.  

As for silence=good you just have to make sure you're quiet before the click and don't mindlessy chatter to your dogs.  Hard I know!  Start slow and build up.  But the other side of the coin is that then you MUST tell the dog when they screwed up.  It's punishment, but it shouldn't be mean spirited and certainly not  hurtful.  Denise likes to use a happy voice to tell her dogs she appreciates the effort but it's not good enough.  A playful tap of the dog or "where's my dog!" the moment the dog looks away, forges, is crooked, etc.  The dog knows the difference between your genuine happiness with them and your praise to keep them in the game.  Silence has to equal good so it can't be used when the dog is wrong.

I highly recommend you become a friend of her on facebook so that you can see the excellent videos she puts out of her training sessions.


Obedience seminar!

I loved, loved, loved the Denise Fenzi seminar the past 3 days.  I'm happy to say that most of the stuff I'm already doing or at least knowing that I should be doing it, but it was great to see it done on so many different dogs and watching the results. The only downside of the seminar was that I really should have worked Monday instead of Sat/Sun since it would have given us more time for our specific issues.   Most of it was about play and weaning the dog off of food and toys and onto playing with you.  Being a group of positive trainers, we all reward our dogs way too much and exasperate the difference between in the ring and out of the ring. 

Playing with me something I've worked hard on with Lance the last year with great results in practice.  I know I still use way too many treats but knowing is half the battle right?  But this is one area I've really struggled with Vito.  I've been really frustrated with him these last several months and I know it's been complicated by a combination of his still present general anxiety and the reaction to his meds.  When he's up I love training him but am still looking for a way to reward him without getting him growly/barky.  But a lot of our training sessions he's been the opposite and I have to work really hard to get him to engage with me with any sense of spirit behind it rather than just going through the motions.

I worked Vito for the first two days of the seminar.  Day 1 was great although honestly I didn't need to be working Vito.  For the most part he was up and happy to play with a toy.   Day 2 was too much for Vito. I think the stress of being crated in a different room, although still very close, was too much for him.  I moved the crate in with us the last third of the day but it was after our turn and he didn't recover too great anyway.  He really wasn't that bad but he was way more sensitive than normal and I only stressed him out more by trying to play with him in our normal way.  Too much pressure for him, plus I just couldn't stop looking at him when he was lagging and it only increased the problem.   I'm not used to him lagging!  On day 3 Vito didn't work except during the break but he was doing much better. I left the crate in the presentation room the whole day and he slept during a lot of it.  When I took him out to work he was mostly happy and engaged.  I guess now I know.  .

Here are some of the changes I need to make.  They're not the most important things I learned in the seminar, but are the biggest things I need to fix:

- Build value for the dumbbell since it is one reward you can actually take in the ring.  I actually started to treat the db more as a toy a few weeks ago but hadn't done a whole lot with it.  It shouldn't be too hard to do with Vito if I just bring it out at night when he's in a playful mood and remove the other toys as an option.  With Lance I'm going to do more of hiding the db and letting him search for it.  I started pairing the hunt with treats so he gets the game but hopefully he will transition to hunting for the love of using his nose and then that will build value for the db itself.  Vito loved that game within 2 seconds.

- Silence equals good.  I'm pretty good about being silent with my dogs and immediately "correcting" mistakes while heeling but on other exercises I'm not as good and it's likely confusing them.  Mainly when working fronts, pivots, and finishes is where I tend to screw up and revert to silence=wrong, praise/treat=good.

- Carefully watch how I'm playing with Vito so that I don't overpower him when he's feeling stressed.  I think fixing the way I play with him will really help this new "on meds" Vito.

- I also got some ideas for Vito's bumps into me on halts.  More of what I've been doing, right pivots, but actually doing them more and also not inadvertently rewarding the bumps on my right sidesteps.  I am to try some drifting into his space but not a ton since he's a sensitive dog.

- Make scent articles harder for Lance, not easier.  He's a worrier and a way to get him to worry less and think more is to start putting the article pile in unusual places.  Under a chair, behind the tv, etc.  Make it fun and never ever correct him for getting it wrong.  I'm also going to start withholding party (for right) and (light praise) for wrong until he gets all the way to front so he has to commit more to the article.

- I showed her treating behind me and on my right for Lance and while she hadn't seen it before she thinks it will work nicely for Lance along with my backing up but doing it with a harder turn



Fiona has been very helpful during the move.
This last month has been extremely crazy for us.  We were renting a basement of a friend's house and she decided she had to sell so thus we had to be out.  We had a months notice but with 9 pets and no money, finding a place to live is no easy task.  The only option available to us is finding a duplex.  Of course you slowly work in the pet aspect after you get the showing and we only have "2 small dogs and 3 ferrets."  I couldn't lie on having the ferrets.  They DO have a smell and I knew it would get us evicted if the landlord ever happened to stop by.    But the good news is we finally found a place, with only 10 days to spare! We couldn't exactly be picky.

We moved in this past weekend.  The kitty went on meds a week ago in order to prepare for the puppy and the move.  He's had blockages before due to stress of foster dogs and we had already decided if he has urinary troubles again we will have to consider rehoming him.  While he doesn't act stressed with new dogs and actually flaunts himself in their faces it's not safe nor in our budget to have him get blocked again.  Fingers crossed he seems to be doing just fine.

We picked up a new couch left on the side of the road..
Vito also went on Alprazolam again.  We've been giving 2.5 in the AM and 1 in the PM to try and calm him down.  It's been very stressful for him this weekend but I think he is doing ok.

The place itself is ok.  It is a very small 1 bedroom duplex.  Most of the doors were off their hinges and we're missing half of the screens.  Lance got locked in the bedroom for a few hours when the door handle broke off and I need to take the pliers in with me to the shower so I can turn on the cold water.  But it really isn't that bad.  We took some extra fence panels from work and fenced in a very small yard for the dogs along the side of the house About 9ft wide including a little cement walkway and the length of the house. 

 We're still waiting for our internet modem so forgive me if I haven't been around to visit blogs and stalk on facebook.


1 Week of Fiona

Well Fiona is shaping out to be an odd cookie.  Very jumpy, barky, bitey on one hand but normally a pretty sweet and calm girl.  I'm personally hoping the feisty side wins out at least a little bit.

She is a big cuddler.  Very content to be cuddled and passed around to admiring fans.  And very responsive to any verbal corrections  I don't exactly want a sensitive dog but it certainly does help training!

Fiona is super independent with her toys.  We are working hard on playing tug which she enjoys, but she would much rather have the toy all to herself.  She really wants me to chase her and a toy but I've told her that is never going to happen.  Since puppies usually like bringing a toy to their favorite spot, I've tried intercepting her route.  She thinks it is great fun to try and squeeze by me at the last second.  If I wait for her at her doggy bed she gives me an evil glare and changes direction.  I really need to move to a hallway.

And while she's learning to give me fabulous eye contact while walking, she can be insanely stubborn when she doesn't want to go in a certain direction.

Lance is in love.  Usually he's a puppy fan but still grumbles for 3 days or so.  But with Fiona he only grumbled for about half a day.  Vito is doing fantastic in pretending she doesn't exist.  He's doing so few evil faces and even lets her cuddle near him or *gasp* even touch him!  Actually he's tried to play with her twice.  The first time his loud growling and in your face play bow confused her, the 2nd time he was done within 30 seconds.

She had her first outing this weekend to Petsmart.  I am happy to report that I recognized when she had to pee and saved the situation by rushing her outside :)  I unfortunately forgot treats so the outing didn't go as I planned but she still offered some lovely attention loose leash walking, and downs when I stopped moving.

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