Disc in December!

This has been the best winter ever!  With no snow on the ground I've been able to continue playing disc with Vito.  We take a nice walk down to the park and then he gets to play. Throws long and low reduce risk of spaztastic jumps.  Sometimes I even take Fi and Lance along to run.  Fiona is showing a strong interest in the frisbee and even Lance is having fun chasing after rollers.  If I'm lucky he will even bring one back :)

Vito playing some disc.  No plan just having fun:



Baby Bjorn 12/30/06-12/27/11

Rest in peace Bjorn.  His initial name when we got him was Baby and of course that didn't stick with us.  However Bjorn means bear in Norwegian and for some reason being Baby Bjorn seemed to fit him.  

Bjorn was the biggest thief in our house.  All the ferrets love to hoard things, but Bjorn was the greatest at it.  His favorite thing to steal was pens but he would eye any new object.  Successful thefts have ranged from a hammer to an extremely large Loofa doll dragged under a 1/2inch closet door.  He's also had wrestling matches with Adam over who gets to have the Wii remote.
Everyone who has met the ferrets loves Bjorn the most.  He had the softest fur and was the most patient ferret for being held by adoring fans.  Of course he was still a ferret and couldn't tolerate being still for too long.
Bjorn was a ladies man.  His best friend was Molly and I know she will miss him terribly.  He was also Lance's introduction to ferret play, teaching him just how hard he can bite their tails before ferrets strike back.
Goodbye buddy.


CDSP Obedience

Today was a big test for Vito.  I wanted to see how his anxiety would hold up being back in the obedience ring and a CDSP trial is the perfect place since they allow praise during exercises and treats in between.  It was also a very small trial so Vito would feel less pressure from people.

Run #1
I thought Vito did pretty well.  He was a little bit stressed setting up but held it together nicely.  A few times he scanned the audience and he eyed the judge before the drop on recall but mostly he remained working, even if it wasn't as enthusiastically as I'd like.  Vito even retrieved the dumbbell when it landed right at the judge's feet.  Miraculously Vito even did a mini go out despite our very little practice in it.  We qualified for our first Open leg.
Video here

Run #2
I debated about entering Vito in a second round but decided to go for it.  The trial environment itself doesn't bother him at all and he was still working with great attitude outside of the ring.

A few more glances at the judge in the second round during the set up and heeling but then I felt he did a better job of remaining connected in between exercises and was more excited about his reward then in the first run.  Until he thought I dropped a crumb before the retrieve.  I got him back but then on the send I said take it and Vito took 2 seconds to sniff the supposed treat spot before getting his dumbbell.

The last exercise is where he fell apart.  Right after I set him up Vito became distracted by a team warming up right at the ring gate.  He looked over his shoulder and on the third look I backed up to get his attention but Vito barked.  I thought I still might have him but he barked another time, I of course step on his tail and of course Vito starts reacting more heavily so I excuses ourselves and exit out the back.

Thankfully because it was CDSP I had treats in my pocket and I was able to reward eye contact and moving with me.  He was still very focused on the other end but I was able to back up towards it, staying in front of him, and then back off by moving forward away the other end.  He was quiet within 30 seconds and relaxed within another minute or two.
Walk of Shame Video here


Lance did 2 runs of CDSP Utility today.  Except for thinking he was the Incredible Hulk on the first run and crashing through the jump, he did very well!   We qualified the second round to get leg #2.
Video here


Merry Christmas!


Vito on Clonidine

Vito started on Clonidine to help his car freak outs and general anxiety on November 24th.  He started on a very low dosage and I've slowly been increasing it since we aren't seeing any adverse side effects.

Initially it seemed to help him, even at the lowest dose of .1mg.  But after a few days the anxiety was creeping back.  Which each increase the Clonidine seemed to help but then backed off or fluctuated.  Some times he would be completely relaxed on a drive to a location but freak out on the way home, or reversed.  Currently we are at .25mg and initially it seemed to go the same.  Some good trips, some bad.

But the last several days have been miraculous.  These last days Vito has been given the pills twice a day since he had to come with me at work all day and then to the obedience club in the evening.  They were very long days and while he still isn't doing great at work he has done worse in the past.  But for the car rides Vito has been very calm!  His eyes even seem heavy like he wants to sleep but can't, and Vito is even eating treats in the car now.

Vito panic attacks not even a month ago:

Or one of his original melt downs here

The new calm Vito:

Vito also seems to be able to handle social situations better.  He's always done pretty well just hanging out at obedience/agility settings but can tell the difference between a trial or class type of setting and everything else.  The later makes Vito anxious.  Actually it makes Vito over excited and in turn he becomes anxious.  But lately he seems to be making small steps of progress.  Earlier this month I took Vito and other dogs to work where we were hosting pictures with Santa for the puppy raisers.  Even though it was the same building he walks in several times a week, as soon as we entered Vito knew it wasn't a normal work day and started to stress. The good news is he did not start trembling and stuck with quieter whining as opposed to much louder whines and/or screams.  He was able to look at me when I said his name and calm down within 20 minutes.  (Video here)

At an agility seminar lecture a week later (on speed, drive and motivation!) he needed to watch everyone arriving and was clearly anxious but only whined a little bit, was not over excited, and was able to lie down for most of it.  He reacted a few times to people arriving late but was quieted quickly. (Video here)



Vito in 2011

Same long and heavily edited video as in Lance's post:

A look back at Vito's year.

In February I decided to see our vet about starting Vito on drugs for his separation anxiety and general anxiety.  The behavioral modification that we had done with Vito had helped but Vito could still not be left for more than 2 hours and he had never once slept while left alone.  His anxiety was starting to increase to the point that Vito would again start howling when we were gone.  In public his anxiety was also increasing as Vito was starting to get worried about people watching him while working and overstimulated in any new place.

Vito started with Clomipramine but was only on it for 25 days before I took him off.  Maybe it was too early to tell, but it seemed as though Vito's reactivity was increasing and he was becoming more anxious in his crate at trials.  His appetite decreased a lot on medication and remained decreased for most of this year.  He then started Fluoxetine (Prozac) and after 6wks Vito slept for his very first time in his life when left alone!
The Prozac initially made him very flat so I quit training him and pulled him from his obedience trials.  While Vito was much more relaxed when left alone on Prozac he would often be restless; wanting to sleep but constantly adjusting position every few minutes.  Combined with his general anxiety still getting worse we increased the dosage in July.  After 6wks the increase dosage helped his seperation anxiety immensely.  Vito can be left for 5.5hrs (and likely longer but not tested) and I don't worry about him!  It is a huge relief to be able to get out of the house without worrying about my dog!

Along with our success in July, Vito's car anxiety started.  It came out of the blue and was full blown panic attacks.  Vito restarted Xanax which helped control it but his reaction to the drug seemed to fluctuate.  Some days Vito would act very sedated and other days he seemed fine.  On lower doses the Xanax had no noticeable effect on him.  I discontinued Xanax in September because I hated it and of course his full panic attacks resumed.

In November I finally went to see the behaviorist at the University.  Vito started Clonidine to help with his car anxiety and general anxiety and we are slowly increasing the dosage.  It is still too early to say if we will stick with it or not but so far it seems to be helping.  We also have recently lowered his Prozac since Vito is doing so well on it. Hopefully we can lower his Prozac to a more reasonable dosage.

We didn't do a ton of trials this year so despite Vito competing for 1.5yrs he hasn't actually done much.  Vito's been slow to start showing the world what he's capable of.  This year Vito still did a lot of happy bouncing around versus truly running.  While agility trials don't give him the time to worry that obedience trials do,  there are still times where he will start stressing and chooses to fixate on a person.  The leash runner, judge, or even Daddy have all been targets for Vito fixating on and then going up to say "hi" when the course brings him there.  There has been no rhyme or reason to when he's going to do it but I can always tell when I walk up to the line.  Thankfully it's not too often!

Our last trial, in October, has been the first time that I felt we were really connected.  Vito was excited, he actually ran with some speed, and walking up to the startline he kept his focus on the job at hand.  It was also the first time I switched our waiting in line plan (1-2 dogs away from our turn).  I didn't keep tugging, didn't offer treats, and didn't have him do any tricks.  All we did was crouch down and let him look at the ring.  The last week of December is our next trial so I'm hoping we can get the same results despite it being so long since the last trial.

This year his running contacts have been doing fabulous.  There were several months this summer that I spent trying to get turns off the dogwalk and I felt like we were starting to make progress.  But then I stopped going to practice after we moved further away.  Vito's doing a really nice job of listening to me and turning on the flat and I'm happy with not messing with driving all the way down.  I don't think he missed a single dogwalk or aframe in (his limited number of) competitions this year!!!

Because of Vito's increased anxiety this year and the effects of the medications, Vito has done very little obedience or rally this year.  January and February Vito was still doing pretty well and wasn't on drugs yet and during those months he earned his last leg for his AKC Rally Novice title, two legs towards Rally Advanced, and his first two legs towards CDSP Novice Obedience.  After that time, any trials entered were done as tests to see where he was at and I only entered one run or ended up pulling him from other runs because of his flatness.  During those test runs, Vito did earn his last legs towards his Rally Advanced, CDSP Novice, and APDT Lv2 titles.

Most trials Vito has been very laggy and flat.  Now that the drugs are sitting better with him the flatness is gone, but he still has some anxiety about the ring.  I believe it's the pressure of a crowd watching him as he does better in less crowded areas and tends to be worse the closer he is to the entrance/stewards.  I've taken him to 2 run throughs the last month and Vito is doing a much better job of working through the pressure.  We will be entering a CDSP trial next week where I can give treats in the ring.  My hope is to have a happy dog!

Vito still loves it but I don't think he's any better at catching discs!  The dog is just so intense and won't actually collect to jump nicely.  The result is lots and lots of late jumps and tipped discs.  I've been learning to throw long and low and Vito can do pretty well as long as that disc stays out ahead of him.

We've also been working on eye contact and impulse control ever since the Pawsitive Vybe Seminar in May.  While he is much better about not screaming or punching me after a few throws, Vito can now even give me eye contact when asking for that first disc!  Walking onto the field is much improved but still not consistent.  I think this self control work  has come a long way towards Vito being able to think and do his tricks when I have a disc in my hand.  Still VERY hard but it's now possible!

This year I pushed myself and we did our first few freestyle routines.  I didn't actually have a set routine in any way but figured it was about time we do it.  Vito has placed first in the novice division.

We didn't work on too many tricks this last year.  Vito hasn't been too excited about his food ever since he started medication and my usual training time is with their dinner.  We did get duration on his paw over his nose (finally!), taught light switches on a lowered switch, and recently learned to drum.  I also played around with getting Vito to hug a toy while begging, but most of that work was Vito thumping his legs towards his chest!

Goals for 2012
1. Obedience: My number 1 goal is to have a happy dog.  I would love it if Vito could get back in the obedience ring next year but I won't do it if I think it's going to stress him out.

I plan to work on obedience in different environments, hitting as many run throughs as I can
Working on entering the ring behavior, finding a way to get him ready to work immediately rather than having him do a wakeup routine first.
Work on out of out of sight stays around the house and in other areas.

2. Agility:  My hope is that Vito starts to shine this year.  He's been happy and now I hope that happiness turns into actual running :) 

Work as many trials I can so I can enter more trials this year.
Start doing USDAA with him and see if I like it.  Continue doing NADAC because I like distance work and I'm hoping that the flowiness helps Vito to be confident to run fast.

3. Disc:  Keep Vito safe!

Practice throwing more so I am more confident in my abilities
Develop an actual routine or at least several sequences I can draw from to combine.
Keep working on impulse control and develop a way to walk out onto the field consistently without Vito screaming and punching me.

4. Increased exercise: This last summer I started running with him and I shocked myself by not hating it too much.  Of course I quit as soon as it got a little cold.  But Vito really needs more exercise so I want to make it a goal for me to find a way to exercise him more in the winter and then hopefully start running again next spring.


Lance in 2011

Another year almost gone!  Here's my yearly wrap up video!  The great thing about editing a video is that I can pretend all the frustrations and issues didn't exist and only show the good stuff :)  I took a lot more footage this year so sorry about the 10min length, but of course it easily could have been 30!

I'll write up Vito's year in a few days, but for now here is a look back at Lance's accomplishments in 2011.

We had done one graduate open trial in December and we did a few more in the beginning of the year to earn 2 legs.  Lance gained confidence as we went although we struggled with self doubting on the articles, straight go outs instead of to the glove location, and taking bonus jumps on the directed retrieve.  After a Denise Fenzi seminar in July I made some changes and Lance's problems with articles disappeared!!! Later that month we went to a CDSP trial where Lance earned his CDSP open title and even got a leg towards CDSP Utility.

In September I became brave enough to try our first AKC Utility trial!  We did a few trials where Lance attracted quite the crowd with his happy attitude and we earned our UD this December!!!  

Lance didn't do much rally this year as he only needed 1 leg for his APDT RL3 which we earned in April.  He also took over Vito's APDT runs so has 1 double Q towards an ARCH.

Poor corgi.  Lance's proofing towards his 4 on the floor was going really well and he was nailing it in trials!  But I was still very unhappy with the safety of Lance's aframe as he would launch and then fold up his leg to smash into his down at the bottom.  In February I decided to go with a running aframe and since I was already retraining I added in the dogwalk.  I spent all summer working on running contacts with him every morning before work.  We made a lot of progress in the dogwalk but then it would fall apart as Lance would start to stress.  Rebuilt it multiple times until I finally decided to give up in September.  And the aframe was just a wreck.  Now since I can't bear the thought of retraining the corgi again, we are going to managed contacts.  No criteria on his part :)  His dogwalk is actually going really well, likely do to all the work put in this summer.  The aframe I'm still not sure how to handle it without him flying into space.

With our contacts retraining, Lance did very few agility trials this past year.  When he did compete we only entered runs without an aframe or dogwalk.  Lance still has a major stuttering issue on the jumps and it hasn't been a priority for me this past year with all the contact training.  It's part of the reason I have decided to focus only on NADAC with him.  I like doing distance training and more hoops mean less jumps.  Although the greater distances between obstacles actually results in more stuttering as Lance seems to do better on twistier courses.

I wasn't very ambitious this year in our trick training.  Several tricks were started, failed, and restarted multiple times.  The attempted tricks:
- Hold a toy in his paws, while sitting up.  Semi accomplished. Lance really gets the concept and reaches for the toy when presented.  He also understands his feet have to come together.  As long as I hold an end, it looks beautiful.  But if I let go Lance tends to spike it to the ground.  Sometimes we have it but usually it's balancing on his chest.  Lance has tried to tell me it's impossible for corgis but I don't believe him.

- Drumming.  Win!  Lance learned to drum his front paws on a cookie tin.  He also thinks he has to drum his back feet at the same time...

- Cover nose with paw.  Fail.  I've wanted this trick with Lance for a long time but just can't get it.  He'll swipe at his nose but has no duration.  Or he'll have duration but without his paw actually making contact.

- Backwards hind foot limp.  Fail.  I managed to get one step backwards while he's holding up his back leg.  But mostly it's a lot of grunting, hopping, and kicking  a nearby dog with his back foot.

Goals for 2012:
Work towards Lance getting his UDX, earn at least half of the QQs by the end of the year.
Work on at least one new idea to fix his forging during heeling, especially on the starts.
Figure out a way to handle his no criteria contacts in agility :)


More Kitty Training

I've still been training with the cat a few times a week.  Luke still likes to rub, rub, rub against me wanting me to just give him the food already.  I'm not so good at raising criteria with a cat.  Sometimes I think I'm asking too much too fast and other times I think he's playing me for a fool.

We're working on shake, spin, beg, and jumping up on surfaces I target my hand to, including my back because who doesn't wish their kitty could do a back stall? :)

Cat video:


Fiona 7 months

Fi is 7.5 months  (And only 40lbs.)  She is doing very well in her training and I love working with her.  She has great drive and loves working for a toy as much as she loves working for food.  Big change from the little puppy where I had to work very hard at building toy drive and even harder at being able to do tug with the possibility of food being present.  For a lab she's pretty cool ;)

For the most part her submissive issues are gone.  She is very confident out in public and loves everyone she meets.  But at home we're still having the occasional wussy Fi show up.  Every now and then she will submissive pee when she thinks she could be in a little trouble, even if I'm just praising her for finding a bone.  When super excited she will also pee, especially if she is asked to sit.  And there are also times where she will suddenly hide in her kennel and not want to come out.  Thankfully these situations are rare, occurring a few times a month rather than on a daily basis.  There's hope for her!

Fiona is also a complete teenager now.  Her biggest testing has been with loose leash walking.  OMG my best friend!  Oh, my other best friend!!!


Lance's UD!!!!

The corgi did it!  Leg #2 on Saturday and #3 Sunday to get his UD!!! 
Video proof!!:

I have never been so thrilled about an accomplishment as I am right now!  I didn't think Sunday's performance was his best one (and was shocked at how generous the judge scored us with a 192!) but he certainly keeps his attitude up throughout.  As an interesting side note, Lance has earned all 3 of his AKC obedience titles at this venue!

Now I need to decide how to move forward.  I do want Lance to get his UDX but that's an expensive journey and funds are almost non existent.  With Lance's stay problems he had in going for his CDX (usually sat or stood on the long down) I'm not sure if I should just enter open to gauge his readiness or bite the bullet and enter both since he can certainly use more experience in utility as well.

Breakdown of Sunday's trial:

Signals- 2pts
Not as great attention as usual, he looked away a few times.  I'm not sure what happened on that first halt!  Signals were good and he didn't move on the stand again!  He finished without my cue, went as soon as I started to look down at him.  I had just started to give my hand signal when I saw the corgi already moving but the judge apparently didn't catch it.

Article 1&2- 1pt
Another confident and quick search of the piles!  Lance finished on the judges order on the first send but once again the judge didn't mark it.  I'm not sure how we've gotten so many free passes the last 2 days!

Glove (#2)- 1pt
I turn left to the #2 glove since Lance usually loves his left turns but like yesterday, Lance didn't go very smoothly with me.  I was a bit worried as I gave my mark as he was slightly facing the #3 glove, but since I went straight down with my hand and practically touched his head he never even looked at the #3.

Moving Stand -1pt
Forging was worse than yesterday if one can imagine.  He took 2 steps after I left him but didn't move during the exam itself at all.

Directed Jumping-3pts
Mostly straight go outs but Lance came in a tiny bit before sitting the first send.  Same on the second send but he decided not to sit.


Utility Leg #2

We qualified!!!

Signals -2pts
Right off the bat I screwed up and cost us points by giving a verbal heel.  As soon as it came out of my mouth I recognized my error and grimaced.  But it turns out the judge didn't register my mistake so I actually didn't lose any points.  His heeling was pretty good in the forging department but he got distracted on both the about turns.  The signals were good and this was the first time in a trial that Lance did not move at all after I left him on the stand!

Articles -.5pt
Confident find and no tasting of any! 

Glove (#3) -.5pt
Lance didn't turn very nicely with me although it wasn't too bad.  He also broke eye contact and looked at the jump.  I waited a second for him to break focus off the jump before giving him his mark.

Moving Stand -1pt
Forging but not as bad as his last 2 trials as Lance was at least somewhat with me.  He moved as the judge approached but he at least didn't move as I left as he has been doing recently in trials.

Directed Jumping -6pts
Lance was excited and wanted to go before we started but caught himself :)  Mostly straight go outs and he took the correct jumps without knocking them!  Auto finish after the first jump and the second send out he turned when I called the sit but then decided to turn back to the gate and raised a paw towards it before turning back to me and sitting. 

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

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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