Vito in 2012

The Toller's review of the past year.

Vito had just started seeing a behaviorist about his anxiety issues and had started a new drug last November.  We also decided to decrease his Prozac and hope that his separation anxiety wouldn't come back.  Unfortunately it wasn't long before it was very evident that Vito needed the much higher dosage.  Even after the increase it took a long time for Vito to be OK with being left alone again and it seems as though he will always need a regular schedule of 1-2 short absences per week before he can be left for a long, 5hr, time.

His car anxiety has been a bumpy road.  It's been a year and a half since it came out of the blue and decided to stay.  Clonidine was started at the initial behavioral appointment and we saw immediate improvement.  Unfortunately it seemed as though Vito was developing a tolerance for it and started progressively building back up to full attacks.  In July of this past year we had a recheck with the behaviorist and added in Diazepam (Valium) to his list of drugs.  His anxiety immediately shot down and Vito started to even close his eyes in the car, but then it came back up again to low levels.  After a few months and an increase in the dosage, Vito finally seems to be on a stable track.

As for his general anxiety, Vito had actually gone weeks without having a vocal reaction to people.  The move to a new cubicle at work helped to decrease the stimulation a lot and he has been sleeping a ton even when I'm not at my desk (which is often).  He had a very rough week the last week at work when I was hardly ever at my desk (17 puppies, ahh!!) but I am hoping our return will be back to normal.  Vito still gets overstimulated easily and it can spill into anxiety but since it typically only happens at gatherings that aren't dog trials, it's not a regular concern.

The year started out a bit rough as I tried to figure out ways to keep Vito connected with me warming up and walking into the ring.  With advice from Loretta Mueller and Silvia Trkman's Ready, Steady, Go dvd, I worked hard on finding that magical routine.  I found his favorite trick was a reverse chest vault and played with that before going into the ring.  I finally taught Vito to bark/scream on cue and encouraged it on every start line in practice and trials.  It took a long time and when June hit I felt it was all for nothing.  I was able to keep Vito focused on me instead of looking at people to stare at, but his intensity in warming up and on the course was still way down.  But in July it finally started to click and in the few trials since then I've never been prouder to have the obnoxious screaming dog at the start line.  Vito even started to run a bit on courses that didn't have the contact obstacles in them and we finally moved out of novice jumpers!  I now have high hopes that Vito will continue to enjoy competing in agility with me.  Our last trial was in October but we have a USDAA trial next week.

Training wise, my focus has been on 4 areas.
1. Rewarding weave poles a lot more since those tend to suffer the most when Vito is running slower.
2. Powering out of wraps.  Vito gets sticky on me on turns and has a hard time going back to extension running and obstacle focus.  When I remember to practice, I've been working on tight wraps and then chasing after me/a thrown toy.
3.  Stopped dogwalk!  For now, I've given up on my inability to practice turns after Vito's running dogwalk and added in a stopped option.  We started our training in August and for the most part the stop is fully trained.  I still have to do lots of release proofing but the actual stop vs run part is good.
I am extremely happy with this decision for us.  Either full extension, or full collection, no more in between stuff for Vito.  I've yet to cue a stop in a trial but I'm guessing I won't be using it that often.
4.  Trying to figure out how to keep Vito more obstacle focused instead of being so sticky on me and pulling off jumps.  Vito does very well and can even do distance quite nicely but he does not like it if I have to send him and then go.

Vito is still in a semi-retired state.  After a great private lesson with Nancy Little, Vito and I have worked extensively on ring entrances and long waits in heel position.  We did a few days of CDSP obedience and a day of APDT rally this past year solely because of the ability to reward in the ring at those venues.  I learned that only 1 run per day is plenty for Vito; the 2nd run was always too much although I didn't try a 2nd day of trialing to see how that would go.  Vito earned his CDX-C this past year with scores in the mid 190's.  My absolute favorite run of his was in July when Vito did one run of APDT lv3.  It started out rough with Vito glancing everywhere once I stepped into the ring, but after the first 3 seconds of heeling Vito decided everything was OK and he was happy to play with me!

In October I thought we would try our return to the AKC ring, in rally of course.  It started out rough with Vito again needing to check out the environment as we walked in.  Our ring entrances/setups seemed to help but unfortunately the first sign was a moving down walk around and it was too much for Vito.  Perhaps if it was later in the course he would have had more of a rhythm going and been ok with it but so early on it was a no-go.  On the positive side, I was able to transform into complete no-care mode and ran Vito around the rest of the course.  It worked and Vito finished the rally course forging, bumping, and prancing :)

There will be another CDSP trial in January that I am planning on entering Vito in Open again, but I guess we will hold off on more AKC for awhile.

His favorite sport!  Vito was able to show off our work on impulse control by his ability to not only walk onto the field without screaming and punching but to also make eye contact with me when holding a disc!  We were starting to master leg vaults and reverse chest vaults; 2 things that dictated where Vito took off for the disc.  In all other tosses of the frisbee, Vito still was a maniac and leapt from directly underneath the disc and spiraled.

In May we attended another Pawsitive Vybe seminar in hopes that Ron and Apryl could help me to keep Vito safe.  They laid an extensive plan involving set point drills, cavalettis, and other things to get him to collect sooner.  Many dogs have a similar problem to Vito, but in fixing the degree of severity that Vito was exhibiting we were in new territory. I was a guinea pig and one inexperienced in the world of disc.  After a terrifying accident at a competition in June where I purposefully tried to keep all tosses low to the ground to eliminate his take off decisions, Vito entered a state of semi-retirement.  We worked on our set point drills but saw little improvement without the equipment.  Although with disc being 3rd on our list of priorities I can't say that I put full effort into the plan.  In August Vito entered full retirement and at this point I don't have any hope of pulling him out.

Off and on work with the following tricks:
  1. Foot stall.  Been wanting this for a long time but it's SO hard for Vito.  We went back to 4ft on a small book but then had to shape Vito to step on it front feet first, THEN back feet. Vito prefers to get the back feet on and then back up the front feet and I think that's part of the issue with the foot stall.  Then upside down trash cans were mastered and now we're to the point where he'll jump on Adam's feet as Adam likes on his stomach, feet up.  I'm still having to help balance Vito initially.
  2. Itchy.  I love this trick!  Vito learned how to scratch his ear with his back foot.  Shaped off course, since I don't capture :)  Not fully mastered, like all our tricks.
  3. Crawling leg weaves.  Vito crawls as he weaves forward through my legs.   Not fully a new trick as he already knew crawl and already knew leg weaves.  It's not a smooth trick yet as I still have to bend over and point to keep Vito from standing up.
  4. Jump into my arms- from the SIDE.  Had to reteach Vito's jump up to me trick as the previous version was taught from the front.  Even as a puppy this was wiggly and scarey!  My real reason to change it though was because Vito would get confused with the reverse chest vault he learned last year and would no longer want to be caught.  Now it's more clear to him what behavior I'm asking for.
  5. Moon.  I'm working with Vito on moving from a down to a bow so it looks like he's mooning the audience :)  Essentially it's just his "tada" cue proofed from a new position.  It's actually been quite hard!
  6. Scratch board.  Our most useful trick!  Vito files his own front nails on a board now.  Still haven't been able to shape the back feet into any scratching motion though; all I'm getting is marching of the back feet. 


Lance in 2012

A look back at Lance's year in training.  (video from the last post is here, if you missed it!)


Lance had just earned his UD in December of last year.  Going into this year I wanted to get half our legs for our UDX, well that didn't happen!  We only did 9 days of AKC this past year and Lance only got one coveted double q that was sadly obtained the first time we tried.  Since then, Lance has NQed on 7 out of the 9 utility attempts, usually on one little thing.  Most of those little things have been on the signal exercise which oddly was his best exercise when we were still in the A class.  And of course in the open ring Lance went down on his long out of sight sit stay 4 out of the 9 attempts.

Despite those issues, I am feeling confident for the upcoming year.  Lance is still figuring out the B classes and he sure is trying hard!  I am always amazed with his happy attitude in the ring and cherish that above all else.  The stay issue we are having again is what worries me the most.  I do not know how help Lance through what I see as the only time in the ring he stresses.

Lance also did some CDSP this past year and earned his UD-C.  He also did one run of APDT rally level 3 to earn  a leg towards the 3X title.  

Training wise, I have finally gotten a sit box to help with finishes.  It blew Lance's mind in the beginning as he would come around to heel only to discover that his front feet were off the board;  Imagine that, forging corgi!!!  The other issue that we have only started tackling these last few weeks have been getting rid of all the cookies in the ring.  So far I have only done a few sessions at the club, but it has gone drastically better than I had imagined! 

I am happy to say that Lance has had only 1 change in his contact criteria this past year!  At the beginning of the year I had decided to do managed contacts with Lance since I felt so bad about messing up yet another attempt at running contacts in 2011.  Lance was happy with the decision :)  Then he got too happy with the decision ;)  I re-x50-trained his contacts to a 2o2o on the dogwalk and 4on for the aframe.  Stopping the corgi has been successful, although he is not always completely sure what type of option I would like, surprise!  Occasionally Lance slips back into the 4on the floor which is what started these last 2 years of re-training to begin with.

This year was also the first time I have seriously addressed Lance's jumping issues.  Previously I have done a few jump grids off and on but not long enough to know if they would help or not.  I was also reluctant because Lance wasn't having difficulty doing the bounce style of jump grids I was doing.  I started Lance in a test study this past July for a program called Hit the Ground Running.  It has been a tremendous help to Lance in gaining confidence.  We are still working through the program and I know that even when we finish the exercises it will still be a continued work in progress.  I had dropped Lance down to jumping 4 inches in practice and competitions right before starting the program and there is a good chance he will stay there forever.

We have been working off and on for the following year:
  1. Frog legs.  Sigh.  Surprisingly hard to put on cue for a dog who does this all the damn time.  I need to get better at capturing!  But I have managed to shape this decently well.  Lance doesn't have it on a verbal only cue, but if I very lightly touch his butt while he is in a down he will kick the back legs out now.
  2. Limping in between my legs.    Lance can now limp and spin in a circle with me while in between my legs!  One direction/foot is way easier than the other though.
  3. Scratch board.  I also taught Lance to scratch the board and grind down his own nails.  Unlike the toller, I'm also having good luck teaching him to do the back feet too.
Goals for 2013
  1. Make Lance's obedience training in practice look closer to trials.  Meaning get rid of his dependance on food in order to perform.  I've talked a lot on this subject already in past posts, but I want to reiterate that I do not plan on using any type of physical punishment in our training.  Training will always be his choice. 
  2. Continue to practice our finishes using the sit board.  I am hoping it will help him be straighter and less forged.
  3. Continued work with the HGR jump program.  Also practicing and proofing Lance's stopped contacts to help him gain confidence and trust that it is what I really want.


2012 Video in Review

The magic of editing: 2012 in good part's only.

Actually 2012 was a pretty decent year.  Vito certainly thought it was better than 2011 and Lance at least got some attention instead of being overshadowed.  Reflections on our goals coming later.


Using corrections, positively

I consider myself a positive trainer.  I also use corrections in my training.  Here's the deal, a correction does not have to equal "punishment."   Training has come a long way, even balanced trainers shout out against abusive techniques such as kicking, stringing a dog up, and alpha rolls. 

Many positive trainers use negative punishment; removing access to the reward.  The dog doesn't sit?  Don't give the dog a treat, don't throw the ball, don't open the door to go outside, ignore the dog...  But I think that for sport dog training that isn't enough.  Your balanced trainers will agree, saying that you can't train a dog to reliable levels by simply withholding the reward.  Now don't misunderstand me.  I think you can get really far in training by simply setting up your training so that you have great control of the rewards available AND have taught your dog a solid foundation so that he knows how to gain access to those rewards.  Without the use of any physical OR verbal corrections you can train a dog to do some pretty remarkable things among very heavy distractions.  The dog develops self control versus being told what to do all the time.

However, I still think that sticking to the negative punishment quadrant is 1. severely limiting when you get to advanced levels and 2. almost impossible.   At some point when a dog understands the exercise you need to start diminishing the dog's reward schedule.  Of course where a balanced trainer defines a dog as "knowing" something and where a positive trainer defines this line is often drastically different.  But regardless of where that line is defined, one has to think about fading the food/toys.  In agility where the runs last about 30seconds and the activity is much more fast paced, this rarely becomes an issue.  But in obedience where a team is often in the ring for 4 to 8 minutes, or even longer outside the U.S., it needs to be addressed.  Positive trainers often suck at this aspect, thus my vow to work hard in the New Year to increase the value of my personal play and severely limit external rewards in Lance's training.

Back to my point, when a behavior is past the shaping phase a dog needs to know if he was correct or not and the lack of reward can NOT be the defining marker.  In the ring, silence has to equal good so training otherwise invites a whole host of problems.  I know I initially struggled on this with Lance when we first started trialing and Lance thought the absence of a treat meant he was wrong. The great news is that the more positive your training becomes the less harsh your corrections need to be.  Even Bubba the Schipperke who could care less in the beginning what I thought of his actions, became quite sensitive as our relationship grew.  But only to me of course, to others he repeatedly gave the finger :)

In my training, I can think of 2 type of corrections for the dogs.  First, I prefer to interrupt the wrong behavior immediately.  Apparently what usually comes out of my mouth is an "oh buddy!" or my similar phase of "dude!!!"  Said in an upbeat voice, the sole purpose is to let the dog know we're going to start that attempt again and it's often accompanied by clapping or even some light playful pushes on the dog.  A happy interrupter.  In technical terms, I think this type of interruption is positive punishment.  It doesn't use pain, even mildly, but it is an aversive to the dog.  I think of it as slight nag, albeit a happy one.  In some cases this is followed by me quickly running back to the dog to replace them, like when doing signals or directed jumping.  And then on activities where the dog is positioned around me such as heeling, fronts, and finishes, I like to quickly exaggerate their error so the dog now has to work harder to be right.  Crooked front or finish- I side step the other direction.  Lagging- I speed up.   Look away for a second- I'm likely in the opposite direction by now.  I think you get the idea.

The other correction I use, although not very often is pressure.  Stepping into the dog's space, even if you're across the room, can be highly effective in training.  I use a little bit of pressure on Lance's heeling by doing a sharp left turn into him whenever he forges. I don't touch him, but now he has to back up quite a bit to get back into position and get out of my way.  I also use pressure as a correction for getting the signals wrong or moving on them, by taking a step towards the dog and often telling them to back up.  I think as I develop into a better trainer I use pressure less often and corrections in general less often.

I should also add that in my training the dog always has a choice.  I will not force a dog to do an exercise or to train with me.  If the dog wants to leave training then I would take a serious look at my training to see why.  I consider it MY job to try and make obedience fun for the dogs.


Lance- Hit the Ground Running!

I mentioned a few months ago that Lance had been invited to be a part of a test study for dogs with jumping issues.  Devorah Spencer had an "ah ha" moment when she realized her dogs seemed to have preferred landing spots too close to the jumps, regardless of their take off point. She developed a new jumping program designed to encourage dogs to choose better landing spots on jumps.  She named it Hit the Ground Running as it's philosophy aims to increase dog's confidence and speed with less emphasis on perfect jumping style and teamed up with UK agility handler Dawn Weaver.

The small group is now 2/3rds of the way through the program and the difference has been remarkable.  Some of the dogs stuttered badly, some took off very early, and all dogs lacked the confidence to run full out.  Lance wasn't the worse in the bunch.  There were a few dogs who stuttered and took ghost jumps even when running through empty pairs of wings in the beginning!  But I think you can see the difference in Lance has been remarkable.

This is one of Lance's latest practice sessions.  Lance could always do bounce grids before the program, but having to do more than 1 stride in between jumps was always rough!

We still have a long ways to go in the program but Lance is having a blast learning.  Just before we started the program Lance dropped down to 4in.  I don't know if we'll be moving back up to 8in this next year or not, but I'm in no rush if it will even ever happen.


Denise Fenzi Seminar pt2- Lance's work

For those who missed the last post, I attended a Denise Fenzi seminar recently.  I was originally going to work Vito but then decided that I pretty much know where I am at in his obedience career.  We'll keep on training and having fun together and maybe at some point he will tell me he's ready.  So Lance got to go for the problem solving day!

Oh Lance.  It seems as though he was intent on making a liar out of me.  Oh no, I never forge!  Yes, heeling was the main thing I wanted to work on and Lance would not cooperate.  He did forge a ton when Denise heeled him at least.  On the positive side she was really happy with all the things I am currently doing to try and teach Lance to remain in proper position.  I currently feed behind my right leg, do lots of big right circles to try and incite him to forge, do hard left pivots when he does forge, and rarely heel in long straight lines.  The negative is that because she was mainly going off of what I was telling her, she had no real suggestions as to why his forging has been so persistent.

We then looked at Lance's go outs and my comment that he goes out straight and then does a wobbly, cute, little S after the jumps, before the sit.   Of course he didn't do it.  But we pretended and I'm going to start using some guides to help him be right.  She made a comment that he doesn't always know what he's doing but I'm running! and just can't stop!  I know he needs lots more practice on doing go outs in different locations.

Moving/signal stand I got some useful advice from watching her work another team whose dog moves the feet after she walks away.  Lance isn't as consistent about it and it's usually a trial only thing, but I think I'll still play with addressing it similarly.  She had the handler randomly walk backwards towards her dog (all the way back at first) so that the sight of the handler's back didn't always mean the dog was being left, and had the reward pre placed behind the dog.  I did one moving stand under Denise's guidance and of course Lance was an angel again!

I also talked to Denise about Lance's most recent problem of anticipating the down on the drop on recall.  She confirmed that I was on the right track by continued practice of the DOR versus doing a ton of straight recalls only.  I don't like avoiding issues :)


Denise Fenzi Seminar!

I respect anyone who can make obedience fun for their dogs.  And doing so while avoiding force guarantees that I love you!  I had the opportunity to go to a Denise Fenzi seminar this last weekend and even snagged a working spot.  I had been to her seminar here a year and half ago and was super excited to hear her stories again.

What was really pounded into my head is something I've been thinking continuously about since the last time I saw her; the dog needs to work for the love of interaction with you versus food/toys.  Denise never forces dogs to work for her but the goal is to make your training so much like Disneyland that the dog would be crazy to choose not to.  I've gotten a ton better in my training.  I'm a lot more thoughtful about what I choose to reward with food with Lance, I've worked on making the dumbbell, articles, and gloves little toys, and I've used a ton more personal play.  But I haven't yet made that leap into asking Lance if he will work for just ME- no extra toys, no food, and of course no physical corrections forcing him to participate.  I think part of the reason I haven't done is because I get stuck in sciency trainer mode and really want to reward the best responses.  Lance isn't perfect yet on behaviors and I feel like I have to reward those great ones and that morphs into reward every mostly correct response.  The problem is that Lance is never going to be perfect on everything :) but why can't that reward for those perfect responses be acknowledged through the reward of me?!

I admit I'm also a chicken about diving into that.  I will not be forcing Lance to come into Disneyland with me, so I'm going to have to work hard to keep the rides open and get used to rejection.  Denise brought up the fabulous observation that for many dogs, getting rid of the toys/treats is not just a neutral experience for the dog but is actually seen as a punisher.  It's not just the absence of the food but the LOSS of it and until the dog stops comparing the experience to his expectation of eating, it's going to be rough.

Since January is when Lance's obedience trials start up again and I know I can't go through this process in a month, I will be delaying the start of this big change.  In the meantime I'm going to vow to be even more thoughtful on what I reward with food and will at least commit myself to not having the food on my body anymore when in a ring environment.  Of course, Denise doesn't advocate using no food or toys in the learning phase, although the handler should always be a part of that package, so I will continue to use food for some things!

Lance did have a working spot in the seminar so I will continue my seminar thoughts in a few days!


Foundational Tricks!

Today's dog agility blog day is on backyard agility.
I live in a tiny duplex with an even tinier yard that is fenced to be even smaller due to the aggressive and always unleashed neighbor dog.  The few agility equipment I own is stored away until I one day own that perfect big yard; flat and without trees of course.  At least I live in Minnesota where for half of the year most everyone else is in the same position as me!

Backyard agility not so much.  But there are things I consider crucial to our agility training that I can do inside.  Tricks! Tricks are a great way to work on problem solving skills, body awareness, and to build a dog's strength and balance.  I believe that a dog with a range of tricks has an easier time learning and performing in dog sports.

You don't have to be a great trainer to teach tricks and many don't even require the precision of a clicker.  There are so many great tricks out there and lots of great trick tutorials out there; I can't wait to watch some of Silvia Trkman's DVDs on the subject :)  I wasn't sure where to go with this topic until I started thinking that I know many people who get overwhelmed with it all and don't know where to start.  They seem to get stuck with #1 having the time to do it and #2 not knowing what to train first.

Well the good news is that trick training doesn't take that much time.  You don't need space and you don't need any extra equipment for most tricks other than a phone book or box.  As I mentioned 2 weeks ago in my #1 advice for puppies, I train with my dog's meals whenever possible.  This forces me to make time to train and it takes only 2-10 minutes per dog.

As for not knowing where to start, I've come up with a small list of what I consider the most important foundational tricks for agility.  Meaning that once these tricks are mastered it should be easy to delve into others.

1. Front feet on a target.  Wrap a phone book with duct tape so you start with a big flat surface.  Lure or free shape, it doesn't matter how you start!  But progress until the dog can offer to step on it from at least 5 feet.  From here you can now dive into one of several other tricks such as:
- crossed paws
- drumming
- walking on your feet
- pivoting:  highly recommended.  I would have made it a foundational trick except that it can be more complicated to teach.  Scratch that, it's my blog so this is now
1B. Pivoting.  Teach the dog to move it's back feet around an object while the front feet stay on.  SO important for hind end awareness and leads to super cool tricks such as:
- backward circles
- backwards weaving
- cool heelwork

2. Back feet on a target.  Yes, this is just a 2o2o.  But expand on it to obstacles other than the dogwalk such as a cooler, the couch, the wall!  This trick allows you to build into adding height to the 2o2o for your handstand and hind leg lifts, or provides a great target for teaching backing up.  Again, great hind end awareness!
- backing up (to the target)
- backing up stairs
- hand stands
- hind leg lifts

3. Beg.  Balance and strength are worked on with this trick. 
- squats (beg-up-beg transitions)
- penguin/ backwards penguin (moving in position!)
- hugging a toy
- beg-down-beg transitions

So there you go.  3.5 foundational tricks that are easy to do in a small space and guarantee fun.


Trapped. Life with an Anxious Dog

It can be difficult living with an anxious dog.  Having a dog with both separation anxiety and car anxiety makes it so at times we are trapped.  Vito's been doing pretty good with both but there are some days where he wakes up and life in general is stressful for him.  Unfortunately, Vito woke up on Thanksgiving morning with one of those bad days.

It can be hard to plan things with Vito.  One of his drugs needs to be given 1.5-2hrs before any car ride and another at least 1hr before.  This roughly translates into my wonderful husband stumbling out of bed at 6:30am each day and even 4:30am on agility trial days to give Vito his meds before going back to sleep.  But on mornings like yesterday Vito still wakes up eyes dilated and panting heavily.  Going into a car on one of those days is a disaster and leaving him home alone even worse.  Trapped.

People just don't understand.  Wait, why couldn't you come?  Your dog is on how many drugs?  Even the people that do kinda get it, I'm still looked at as the obsessive or over protective dog mom.

I try.  Sometimes sending him back to bed for a few minutes works.  Yesterday I also tried a stuffed Kong, and then when that failed I tried getting back in bed with him myself.  That worked, until we had to get back out of bed 15 minutes later.  Knowing he likely won't ever be able to left alone for the 8hrs we needed, I threw up my hands and decided to try the 2hr car ride anyway.  That failed miserably and after 20min I called for a ride and had Vito and my husband turn around to spend the rest of the day at home.

Today I'm thankful for my patient husband and for the wonderful blessings that Vito does bring to our lives.


My #1 advice

I've worked with a lot of dogs and have had the privilege of raising several puppies.  With each puppy I find I have even more to learn about dog training but raising puppies is so much fun!  Especially when I'm out with a service dog in public, people always ask me how they can get their dog to be so well trained.  Often they're impressed by a simple sit on cue although oddly they're even more excited if the dog can shake versus if the dog just retrieved my wallet.  The rare times I don't just smile and nod in return, this is the number one advice I give people seriously looking to improve their training skills.

1.  Don't feed your puppy out of a dish.
Ok, I'm not a morning person so I do let my dogs mindlessly eat their breakfast out of a bowl.  But I am more motivated after the sun rises which is why I always feed my puppy 3 meals a day long after their old enough to not need it.  Using the puppies lunch and dinner to train with forces me to make time for a fun training session.  And when you're having fun training for 5-10min at least twice a day, you quickly need to come up with more things to teach!  The puppies learn problem solving skills through shaping, body awareness through all the tricks, and through it all you have a remarkable bond and a somewhat trained little puppy.

I admit I can't keep up that routine forever.  Laziness sets in but by then the puppy is at least 5 months and I have a hard time thinking of new tricks to train it.  My adult dogs I unfortunately only train now with their dinners less than half of the time unless I'm especially motivated by a new trick I just saw!

2. Play with your puppy
No one can ever limit a list to the number one piece of advice!  And really this is my first piece of advice but it's less tangible.  I mean everyone plays with their puppy or they wouldn't have gotten one right?   Hopefully.  But with each puppy I've raised I am working harder on not just playing with toys with me but also playing with me for the sake of being with me.  Discover what type of petting your puppy likes, how they like to wrestle, and what tricks gets em super excited.

Does anyone else have any great advice?


The best invention for cats, ever

I am not a morning person.  For most of my life I've had to get up by 5am to go to swim practice, later that changed to work, and now it's agility trials.  I never got used to it.

So if there is one thing my dogs learn it's to not disturb the momma in the morning.  Regardless of how late I get to sleep in on a weekend, the dog's all know to keep their mouths shut. 

The cat on the other hand has more of a honey badger attitude. 

I keep a squirt bottle by my bed and have become skilled at reaching for it and spraying with my eyes closed.  Sorry Lance.  

I don't know what took me so long but I finally purchased an electronic feeder a month ago.  Since then I haven't had to listen to the cat rustling around the bedroom or jumping onto my stomach even once!

Unfortunately I couldn't find a big feeder that could dispense only 1/8c in the morning so I ended up going with a 4 day feeder where I dish up the food myself.  Review say some pets learn how to turn the wheel themselves, but after constantly chasing him away from trying for the first several days he seems to have given up and I have my sleep back.


Bon Voyage for Bubba!

We waved goodbye to Bubba today.  Bubba is still in the service dog program but today he went to live with a long term foster until he comes in for final training.  Since he is 10 months old, they will likely have him for about 4 months.

It was my decision to put him into another foster home and did so for a variety of reasons.  Bubba needs to get out in public more and I am notoriously bad at getting to non-dog related places!

Also, while Bubba is incredibly fun to teach tricks to and is wicked smart, our personalities just didn't mesh.  Bubba deserves a home where someone will appreciate his constant need to be close and who won't get annoyed by the 40th time he uses his nose to poke a leg and remind everyone he is still there.  He certainly is one cool dog with a lot of personality!


Dog do it yourself nail trims

Vito hates his paws being touched (one of the many new anxieties over the last 2 years) and by extension hates nail trims. I've briefly worked on this by re-requiring his paw to actually make contact with my hand on shake/paw for more than a half second. Then I worked on Vito allowing me to actually let me hold his paw, but just at the wrist. If I were a good trainer I would have done this daily and slowly added in nail trimmers. Instead I avoided nail trims as long as possible and then flooded him when it finally needed to be done. Vito's a good dog so he wouldn't put up too much of a fight other than trembling. A helper was only needed to try and convince him to eat the best possible meat we had.

Meet our new best friend.

Vito's issue is the paw being grabbed so using a dremmel wouldn't make any difference in his hatred of nail trims. But getting him to file his nails by himself is perfect!

I found a board, bought some non slip tape, and voila! Vito doesn't know the dig it trick like Lance does but it only took about half a session before he was scratching the board with his paws. Vito seems to LOVE it and will even switch paws on his own or do both front feet and once sometimes!
Ignore my obnoxious cheering!

I plan to teach him to do his back nails but so far I haven't started.  I'm sure I could have successfully taught Vito that nail trims were fun, but I am way more motivated to do this!  Counter conditioning is boring for me, operant conditioning is fun!


Halloween Torture

Time for the annual costume torture time!

Lance was pissed.  Maybe because he had to wear pink.

Vito was surprisingly laid back and cool with it all.
Bubba was just confused.
I hope everyone had a great Halloween!


Happy Birthday Vito!

Happy 4th birthday to my Halloween baby!



Lance also went to the NADAC trial this Saturday.  I was glad we were finally indoors where Lance says he is capable of weaving again!  He felt a little more subdued than normal but seemed to run ok for me.

Lance jumped 4in again and really enjoyed it.  There were still a few head dips and a few early take off jumps but huge improvement over a few months ago.  We even did Jumpers for the first time since starting a new jump training program and Lance did great on the straight lines!  Only regular used the contact obstacles and Lance showed he has no idea what he's supposed to do in a trial.  But he tried! 
The run I am most proud of was the 2nd run, Chances.  I thought that was the hardest distance challenge I've seen for the Elite dogs and was not optimistic.  We didn't qualify but got more of it than I thought he would!


Vito- agility dog!

Vito had one of his best trials today!  He was super enthusastic to go in the ring and started his toller screaming without any help from me.  Go obnoxious Toller!  We were often first to go which often met very little warm up, but Vito didn't need much to get him excited.  Sometimes it can take a lot of effort on my part to get him from crate-sleepy mode to play mode but not today!

We even manged to go 4/4 today in Regular, Chances, Tunnelers, and Jumpers.  My handling wasn't the greatest at times but Vito did great! 

Slowly but surely... 


Lance TCOTC obedience trial

Summary: Lance tried for more UDX legs this past weekend.  None achieved, only 1 real Q and another technical Q.  Signals are a foreign concept to Lance and he lost his mojo on articles.  Oh and stays suck.

Saturday was a bust in utility as he sat on my down signal, but other than that it was an ok run.  He kept eye contact on his glove pivot although only mostly dropped the glove when asked (did a very slight tug back).  Go outs were wobbly but ended up straight.  Moving stand was insanely forged.  Never a good sign when I have to walk PAST the corgi after my stay cue!  Articles were very hesitant though.  Lance seemed to fine the correct one right away but searched again a few more times.  He even brought it to me 2ft before having to recheck the pile and ultimately bringing it to me.  The 2nd article was beautiful and fast.
Video of utility

But open on Saturday was one of the nicest runs we have had!  He was much more consistent on sitting straighter on his fronts than he has been and our heeling was less forgy than normal too!  The best part is that he held his sit stay!  Lance went down both days in a trial a few weeks ago so I had feared the problem was coming back.  On Saturday Lance was next to a 180lb great dane; he lost a point for turning away from the big guy on the sit, but held it!

 On Sunday I found out we stood of stayed home.  Lance was much flatter than normal today which made me sad.  Not awful, just not his normal pep that Lance is known for entertaining the crowd with.  '
Utility was going OK in the beginning.  He didn't sit on his glove turn, and returned slower than normal.  Articles were again lacking confidence.  I did metal first this time to see if that would help but it didn't.  He still picked it up and dropped it to research the pile.  He even dropped it again when the judge told me to take it.  2nd article was better but still not speedy.  Go outs were one of the best he's done in a trial though!  No wobbly curves on the sends!  Moving stand was much improved over yesterdays forging.

Signals were a disaster.  Heeling was ok but Lance not only missed the down signal, but also just stared at me for the sit signal AND the come signal!  He was just staring at me like I was doing this weird dance.

Open was better but still felt a bit flat.  Lance almost NQed us on the drop on recall as he slowed to a stop right as the judge cued me to down him.  Everything else went fine, just not a little flater than normal.

On the stays I was worried as Lance was definitely stressed when setting up.  Avoiding eye contact and yawning and he wasn't even next to his great dane "friend" from saturday.  I left and was bummed to return to Lance lying down on the sit.  But as the judge told the 2 other exhibitors who dog's had fallen what time their dog's went down (about 30sec) he skipped over me.  I didn't think much of it and Lance did the down just fine.  As he announced qualifiers who called our number and I asked him again for clarification.  He looked and assured us we had qualified.  I talked to a steward after and she said Lance went down about the 2min mark. 

This is the THIRD time Lance has gotten a "gift" in obedience, although the first on  a stay!.  I've talked to other judges about it in the past and they've all agreed that the judge can't change what he didn't see/hear so to shut about it.  But I didn't feel right about returning for awards, although our score was only mid 190s so not in placements.  In this regard I'm glad he didn't Q in utility as a UDX leg wouldn't have felt right.'

I'm not too worried about our other errors, but I am getting very concerned about about his stay problem.  Two weekends ago Lance was in another obedience trial and he went down both days on the sit as soon as I was out of sight.  Lance had a very hard time holding the sit while going for our open title and now it appears to be back.  I don't know how to fix it.  Lance holds his sit 99% of the time at both schools, home, and work.  I can leave him with other dogs, by himself, with distractions, or completely silent/empty rooms.  I really think Lance feels the stress from me, the other people, and other dogs in a trial and I haven't been able to replicate that.


Vito back to Rally

Vito was entered in AKC Rally this past Sunday.  One day only and exactly 1yr since his last attempt.  My hopes were high that after the great results of our APDT rally attempt this summer and our since extensive work on ring entries, that Vito would be relaxed and happy.  This trial was also held at our normal obedience club and even though open and utility were held on the agility side, Vito's rally ring was the exact same ring we practice in weekly.

Results were mixed.  He warmed up nicely and even relaxed beautifully by all the other rally dogs and exhibitors hanging out at the entrance area.  Waiting to go in the ring we played the food flick game suggested by Denise Fenzi (and I think invented by Kay Lawrence?).  He loves that game and focused really nicely for me.  But as soon as I got near the actual ring gates he changed.  Vito wouldn't jump up on me when cued and began looking around the room.  Going in the ring he remembered our burst through the gates game and did a great set up. But then I had to take off the leash and Vito again started checking out and took a few seconds to sit. 

The first sign was unfortunately a moving down-walk around.  A behavior that Vito is great at, one that also requires not only a stop of the fun heeling but concentration on the dog's part.  I thought Vito burst off the start nicely with me as we had practiced a billion times in our ring entries but he froze on moving down, managing to sit for a few seconds before turning to me.  I then went into crazy mom mode and practically ran around the rest of the course with him.  Pumping him up and not caring if he sat for everything or if we even stopped at all the turn signs.  It worked as by the end Vito was even prancing and bumping into me!  Of course we NQed on several signs.

I am SO happy with how he finished that run.  But I admit I'm really disappointed with the start.  I had delusions that Vito could handle starting in rally again and now I don't think he is ready.  I should have had our getting ready to go in the ring taped as I felt the 30sec before entering the ring was the worse.


Stay or Go?!

My verdict on teaching both a running and a stopped dogwalk... happiness.  Neither are anywhere close to being the fastest or best executed dogwalks, but we have understanding, and yellow!  I was so worried I was going to screw up his running and worried I would have painful creepage for the stops.   

Video shows "eh" results; I can live with that.  I have goals to teach "the next dog" how to properly collect for turns after a running dogwalk, but I think I am finally going to be content with Vito's simple run or stop answer.  I've just barely started sequencing before the dogwalk now so we still have a bit to go.  He's also quite dependent on my motion at this point.

I'm mostly happy that our break from agility due to his accident was pretty short (3wks) and he didn't show any hesitation about going on the dogwalk again!

The corgi wants to say that confusion still reigns a bit on my end for his contacts, but that he is taking control for me.  His answer is a slightly creeping 2o2o on the dogwalk and aframe, with the occasional 4 on for both as well.  I am slowly accepting his decision and leadership in the area.  Bow to the corgi.


Moving Day

Change is hard for the Toller.  That's why when the new office space was finally ready at work I wasn't looking forward to moving my stuff and the dogs.  After 2.5yrs of coming to work with me he had just started to get used to things in the last few months.  I could FINALLY leave Vito in my cube while I trained dogs and not have to ask my coworkers when I came back how he did or tell just by looking at him.  Vito had even started sleeping under my desk the 2nd half of each day.  Proof of awesomeness:

This past Thursday the move to a new space began.  And *knock on wood* the Toller is adjusting fabulously.  Whining has been minimal and he has even slept under my new desk by the end of that first day!  Bubba says he has had a harder time understanding why he isn't allowed to just jump over their new barrier.
 Excellent supervisor. And who doesn't have a cone of shame sitting on their desk?
 And look, his leg is healed up nicely!
Fingers are crossed that his relaxed attitude continues.


Bubba 9 months

Bubba is almost 9 months old now.  He has finally settled down and intense zoomies around the house are now rare instead of the every day occurrence.  Bubba is a dog who bonds pretty intensely and always wants to be near by.  He could care less about Adam and snubs his nose at anyone else in his world who asks him to do something.  But he's constantly trying to poke me with his big nose while I sit on the couch (next to Vito of course!) and is just in heaven if I actually touch him with just a foot.  On the big pro side, our Robot training worked and Bubba no longer has a tantrum when I leave him, un-kenneled.

In public he is doing a pretty good job of behaving and trying to be invisible.

Of course being a Schipperke, we get stopped constantly by people!  A skipper what?! And then it's always the adults, never the kids, I know I shouldn't pet but... as their hands are outstretched towards the dog!
For those who remember the note at the end of the last update, Bubba did go down to our prison program and stayed 3 weeks until of the adult dogs came for their final training.  He gave his handlers a pretty hard time down there and apparently they told our prison trainer No more Schipperkes!  The prisoners might have to suck it up again though as IF Bubba continues through the program and is selected for diabetic alert work, there will be a good chance of him going back down there to finish his scent work training!


Vito on Drugs- Update!

It's been 3 months since Vito's recheck with the behaviorist.  I'm daring to say that Vito may finally be doing CONSISTENTLY better in the car.  He now takes treats on 99% of car rides and is starting to dip into my actual relaxation side of my rating system.

And because I'm obsessed with my dog, I present graphs.  Graph #1 is the first few weeks after starting Vito on Diazepam/Valium.  There was an immediate improvement as prior to starting it Vito was slowly seeming to develop a tolerance to Clonidine and was having more and more days of reaching level 2.  After adding in Diazepam Vito had a few times of resting his head down and even one day of sleeping!  But most car rides he was still reaching at least light panting.

Graph #2 is August through now.  Vito's dosage of Valium was slightly increased a few weeks before this starts.  I dare to say that there are many more days where he's slipping past my "calm" rating of zero to the relaxed side!

As for his leg, things are looking really good.  The stitches themselves look lovely and the major bruising is finally going down.  Vito is walking around just fine but is still on restriction from having any fun.  Thankfully he is a really calm dog at home so it hasn't been too difficult to tell him to just go back to bed.  Friday we have our recheck at the vet.


The Corgi's Weekend!

Due to Vito's leg injury, Lance was thrilled to be the star of the show this weekend.  On Saturday he got to play NADAC and Sunday he played in obedience.  If you watch the first minute of the utility video you will see an impressive catch by the corgi :P

I wouldn't have entered the NADAC trial if it wasn't for Vito since Lance does much better indoors than outdoors, but up to St. Cloud we went.  Our first run was Chances and it was a laughable disaster.  Lance only did about 6 obstacles and I'm pretty sure only the first two were in sequence.  He just kinda ran wherever, taking an obstacle if they were on the way to a tunnel, and then completely blew by the weave poles to exit. 

At least it seemed as though Lance was focused by our regular run.  The course was oddly un-NADACy in that other than the first 5 obstacles there were many don't take what's in front of you moments.  Our contact criteria was the same as the last trial (wow!) not that Lance actually did what we've been training on either obstacle (surprise!).  They were also the first non rubberized contacts he has seen in a long time.  We qualified with our one main bobble of turning with me too early off a hoop.

Touch n Go was our next and last run.  While I was babysitting his aframe to see if he would stop 4on I forgot I had to turn him after it and sent him straight ahead before quickly remembering and telling him that I lied.  Too late! 

Another attempt at a UDX leg!   Utility was first and I quickly found out Lance was feeling squirrley!  If you watch nothing else, watch the glove exercise from 20-40sec!  Lance sprints out to the correct glove, tosses it a little bit in the air and then actually catches it in his mouth.  Then he tugs on the glove when I go to take it.  The other exercises were not our most accurate performances but he at least doesn't try anything creative.  We sadly NQ on our 2nd go out when he went crooked and then took the wrong jump, barking at me as he made his choice.
Biggest pros- No feet movement on either stand!!!

Open was next and while he still seemed distracted and wanting to head out in between exercises, he did a pretty good job.  Biggest point losses were his slower down on the drop on recall (with accompanying grunt!) and auto finish on the broad jump.  The heeling pattern was the longest one I have ever seen, with us going down one side 4 times and 3 right turns!  But Lance's heeling is definitely improving as we only lost 1 point total between the figure 8 and pattern!
Biggest pros- Held position on his stays again!  His head was even down when I started to walk back after the long down!!!



Poor Vito had an accident this morning. I was setting up open ring time before going into work this morning and was having Vito do the dogwalk.  But Vito loaded badly and fell as he reached the top, some how scraping himself on the way down.  Major hysteria and screaming ensued until I actually picked him up and hugged him to me. 
 Needless to say I packed up my things, left a note on the door, and rushed off to the nearest clinic.  I also have to give Vito props for doing an amazing down stay when I shoveled the other 2 dogs in the car and got ready to carry him.

I think Vito went into shock as he was SUPER relaxed while waiting at the vet's office.  I admit it was nice having my neurotic dog so calm especially when we had to wait for an hour.

They partially sedated him for the stitches and I asked for the drugs to be given in the exam room with me holding him.  The injection was done just fine but 30sec later Vito started screaming just as bad as when the accident happened!  When he finally stopped in what felt like an eternity, the vet poked in and apologized for not warning me that with anxious dogs they often react strongly to feeling the drug!
All stitched up!
 Unfortunately Vito did not have a good rest of the day.  I carried him into work with me and tried to set him up with his favorite person there.  But Vito would not lie down and just kept crying :(  Even when I could be with him he was only happy if I sat on the ground with him and let him snuggle into me.  I ended up loading up the boys and leaving work early just so I could set him up at home.  He was very greatful and has been passed out on the bed next to me ever since.

I'm not sure how long he will be on restriction for.  The vet didn't think anything was broken but she had to remove some tissue that was already starting to bruise and die.  With the location of the wound he doesn't want to put much weight on the leg right now.  We will just wait and see.


The Good Morning Dance

This is what Vito does 90% of mornings.

The funny thing is he is not a morning dog!  Often times Vito won't even get out of bed to go outside with the other dogs in the morning and when he does finally get up sometimes he will just look at his food dish and then turn right back around to plop back in bed.  But every morning whether he eats or skips it he does this happy morning routine.  Even if Adam is still under the covers Vito will just plop down right on top of him to dance!  The only mornings Vito does not do this is if I'm the one still in bed :)

Vito does have mild allergies but they aren't enough of a problem for me to look into the source.  He has enough issues I'm dealing with so a little eating of his foot every now and then some itching is ok with me.


Ring Entries

The past few months I have been focusing heavily on one small but important aspect to Vito's obedience training.  At trials Vito would usually warm up pretty well but the second we walked into the ring he would disconnect and look for something to stress about.  Even during our practice time it wasn't always easy to get him to wake up at the start without a lot of effort from me.  Although once I got him going things were crazy and fun.

Ever since our lesson with Nancy we have been working on ring entries and set ups.  Race into the ring and sit in heel position waiting.  Wait-wait-wait and then one step of heeling before partying.  Now we're to the point where I'm taking 2 steps in, remove the leash (a former big trigger!), and then race to the set up point.  A different set up point each time and sometimes a few more steps of heeling.  If I'm not getting a connection with Vito as we walk into the ring, I exit and ask him if wants to try again.  The past few sessions I've started to add the additional pressure of having another person stand in the ring giving orders and crowding us.

This video is from one of our sessions 2 weeks ago.  Vito wasn't quite as enthused as I'd like when I ran to the set up spot, but I could sense his anticipation in waiting to take that first step and am happy with his first, forged, steps!  We'll work on not forging later :)  I know if I can keep his focus and excitement for those first few steps of heeling then I got him for the rest.


Separately we're also starting to work on down time.  Vito needs a lot more work on transitioning between exercises and also not disconnecting when having to wait.  I'm hoping waiting in heel position is going to help with that, but I'm also having him do a 1+min down stay while I ignore him and then have him do a heel set up on the release.  Of course we have a huge party after!

My next plan is to re-work on fading the food and toys and focus again on just playing with me.  This is something we were pros at during one point but when his anxieties increased this went out the window.  Hopefully he will feel comfortable enough to start this in a few more weeks?


Wish List for an Instructor

The topic for this latest Dog Agility Blog Action day is What Makes a Good Coach.  I have to admit that I wasn't too inspired by this topic.  Unlike many people who only have maybe one or two options available to them, I live in a major metropolitan area where I have several fabulous instructors to choose from.  Unfortunately, my financial situation is gloomy and we manage to play the sports I love purely through a work in exchange for classes system at the local club.  I really do love my current instructors dearly but beggars can't be choosers.  Of course a great instructor doesn't always directly correlate between national events won and their ability to help others.

 So here are some of the things I've treasured dearly about my current and past instructors and some things I wish we had a bit more of.

1.  Working with each team's chosen confines and strengths.  I love it when an instructor who doesn't personally do blind crosses is able to give advice on where to properly put one in for a team who utilizes them instead of chatizing a team for a poorly executed one.  Or helping someone figure out how to handle a sequence if they have physical confines.

A good coach should be helping the team in front of them, not just try and make little models of their own handling.

2. Pushing each team to try something different or just with more speed, greater distance, and tighter turns.  While a coach does need to respect a team's choice of handling system, everyone needs encouragement to be better handlers.  I have been disappointed with some instructors since it seemed like just getting through the course cleanly was the only goal.  Push me, criticize me!  I expect to sometimes be upset when leaving a lesson from a great coach as I'm pushed beyond my comfort zone.  But as long as I'm not pushed outside of my personal philosophy of training I'm ok with that!

3.  Staying on top of current trends and new techniques, but not changing everything overnight based on the latest seminar.  Agility is evolving quickly and it can be hard to not only be knowledgeable about every new thing but also adept at teaching it to others.  But I think making an investment in a few seminars is a must for any good instructor.  On the other side, someone who rushes home and flips everything upside down for their students, after each new seminar, is only going to confuse their students and result in conflicting philosophies.



The Corgi wanted to share that he too had agility this past weekend.  Friday afternoon we went to a NADAC trial where I told him he could do just one little day of an outdoor trial for me.  The weather was gorgeous that evening so I thought he would agree.

Weavers I found out his answer.  Twice on the first set out of 12 he popped out and I finally said screw it and continued on.  The next set of weaves he looked at it and then turned the other direction to take an off course hoop.  That got a Lancifer! so he came back weaved fine, and did his last set just fine.

Touch n Go was next and the first time since our little re-re-re-re....train of the contacts in a trial setting.  I was just looking for some kind've effort in stopping on the contacts, in any position!  (Technically he now has a 4 ON for the aframe and back to the 4 on the floor for the dogwalk, although he has been throwing in his super old 2o2o every now and then; but who can keep up!.)  Lance made me laugh by stopping just above the yellow on the aframe, and with a plea he came down a few more steps!  The first dogwalk he was confused and stopped 4 on, I told him good enough.  The 2nd dogwalk he did a cute little hop into his 4 on the floor.  This was the only run I got on tape.

Tunnelers he had fun and qualified despite having to run outside.


Crazy Toller at USDAA!

This Labor Day weekend I took the Toller and I to a USDAA trial.  It has been 2 months since our last agility trials!

And oh my goodness, what a comeback we are making!!!  Vito had zero stress about anybody in the ring and was super pumped about going in and each every run.  Sometimes he has made me work really hard to get him engaged with me even warming up, but not this weekend!  I think there were times I even had that obnoxious dog while waiting to go into the ring.  Yes,  I think his toller screams could be heard by everyone.  Even when I seemed to screw up and take him out way too early for each run, my problem morphed into how to keep the red dog from beating me up rather than how to keep his focus.

The runs themselves were ok.  We qualified in 4 out of 6 runs and he even covered for me on mis-timings in gamblers and some late front crosses.  On Saturday he got progressively faster with each run!  Sunday wasn't quite as speedy but he remained excited to be there.  I think we're at the point where his difference in speed, especially notable on the weave poles, is more to do with thinking too hard rather than anxiety :)

I also tried my hardest to talk to him this weekend.  I gave verbals for many jumps and cheered through courses.  But then I watched the videos and I can still be WAY more obnoxious out there!  It's so hard to change!

Adv Gamblers- Q
We had fun doing the dogwalk twice.  Both hits were nice but he wasn't really running.  I also hesitated when I misplanned the buzzer by 2 seconds and Vito barely recovered any speed to get the little gamble.  But he's a good dog so he sent out anyway for a Q :)

Adv Standard- Q
I had to do a late front cross of the dogwalk since we don't have any turns and the good boy barely called off the tunnel.  He recovered speed faster this run and finished up nicely for our first advanced standard Q.  Sadly there is no video.

Adv Jumpers- NQ
I ran right into the ring and started immediately since I let myself be distracted by a conversation.  Vito enjoyed it and had his best run of the day and his happiest jumpers run of all time!  Jumpers is not usually his favorite without the contacts and tunnels to break it up.  He knocked a bar though :(

Adv Gamblers- Q
Vito didn't like my repeat of the tunnel and this slowed him down so he had barely any speed going through the chute.  He turned to me before exiting and took a tumble.  He seemed ok coming out so I paused a bit to rev him and kept going.  Vito did one of his best teeters in a trial on the gamble!  This earned him his first Advanced title!

Adv Standard- E
I thought he was jumping with more difficulty than normal on this run and he knocked a bar in the beginning.  He has never downed automatically on the table in a trial, and this time he barked at me when I finally told him to down :)  But that sass didn't transfer to the weave poles.  I then didn't hold my little cross long enough to keep him off the dogwalk so we just did it twice and skipped the little part with the chute.

Adv Pairs- Q
Super delay before this run but Vito just got more and more amped waiting!  I wish the weave poles weren't second on our half.  I did a very late front cross  in the serpentine :(  After the finish jump Vito just shot out of the ring and ignored my calls to come.  He ran to where I put his ball and then brought it back to me!  Apparently I have to stash the ball a little further away in the future!  I still can't believe my "good dog" did that.
We also got a standard fault on this run, but I can't for the life of me see where on the video.  It's the last run in the compilation video if anyone can spot it.


Runing and Stopped

Two months ago I decided to add a stop to Vito's dogwalk contact.  Vito LOVES his running but we still don't have turns off it and he would often shorten the last stride if I couldn't convince him we were just running straight into nothing.  Turn training just wasn't happening without regular access to train on a dogwalk.  Ignoring the issue has worked really well for NADAC :) but not so much if I'm still thinking of doing some USDAA with him.

There seems to be a bandwagon of people doing both running AND stopped dogwalks now and clearly I'm always one to be a part of the hip crowd!  I'm just really hoping that having either pure extension or pure collection on the dogwalk will make it simpler for both of us.

Vito already knows a 2o2o, kinda.  He has one for his teeter but I can't say he's ever really done one at speed.  Of course the main challenge to our turn training was the same: lack of equipment.  But once to twice a week we've been training.  Starting with a flat plank and slowly adding speed before it via a tunnel.  We then moved to the dogwalk doing just the down plank and there we have remained.  I think our problem is that I'm inadvertently rushing things.  I'm perfectly fine with taking things slow but because of our limited practice times it feels like we have been doing this forever when in reality the number of sessions have been few.

New training plan: help him out more.  Vito does NOT need to be thinking in his training.  I need to re scale back to getting rid of my handler motion.   I also need to make up my mind if I'm to reward him when he misses the 2o2o but does stop off the board.  Currently I'm about 50/50 whether I reward it or not.  I'm torn between setting black and white criteria for him or rewarding his effort and trying to keep his attitude up and brain out.


Lance Cambridge Obedience Trial

Utility- NQ
Lance seemed a bit off when we went in the ring and set up for articles.  Distracted or stressed not sure which one.  We NQed right off the bat as I sent him flying for the pile only to find that he didn't actually fly out.  He took a step and then looked back at me confused.  I resent him and he brought back the right one.  On the 2nd article he again didn't seem to know what to do and looked back at me for a second but this time he flew back out on his own.

The other exercises were ok but his offness continued as he didn't forge, not even much on the moving stand!  Crazy.

Lance still wasn't his spunky self but it was a pretty nice run.  And the best part is that he held both his stays again!!!!



I swear this is all my cat has been doing for the past month.  
 Yes, just sitting in a box.  I think his new hobby borders on obsession.
Annoyed kitty.
 You can't see me!

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