February Tricks!

 I've been trying to start up/finish more tricks the past two months.

Fi has been working mainly on being a frog.  This was actually surprisingly easy for her even though she never lays with her back legs out just on her own.  I used a pillow and was able to get rid of it in 1.5 sessions.

I've also never actually taught her to cross her paws yet so we started.  She still needs a target out in the beginning of each session but I can take it away for a few reps in the middle before she needs it again.
Vito's been working on itching.  I suck at capturing things as that would actually require having treats and a clicker handy, so I decided to shape it.  It's progressed weirdly and I wasn't sure I was going to get it but I think he's just starting to get the idea!  For awhile I just had a touch nose to back foot behavior; that was odd.

His main other trick has been cleaning up his cross paws behavior.  While I taught him it as a puppy I never got it on cue and it was more of a stretch your foot as far as possible rather than put one foot on top of the other.  It was bad.  I'm pretty sure I've tried a few other times to clean it up but this appears to be one trick I've never stuck with for long.  The good news is we've made much progress and I haven't stopped trying yet.

Other tricks I've been working on off and on have been a japanese dog catch and standing on a small box.  The dog catch is going so-so.  Vito already knew a back stall and is targeting nicely to my lower hand but doesn't want me to hold him on the side.  I'm not entirely sure why since he has a normal dog catch he loves.  So we're taking it very slowly.  The small box work is hopefully to help my goal of getting a foot stall.  Vito already knew to stand in small dish, but once again I sucked at getting a clean behavior so he has always done a lot of dancing around.  3 feet in consistently with the 4th one going in for just a tiny bit before popping out.  We now have duration.  But since I originally taught it as get the back feet in and then step backwards with the front feet, he cannot walk onto the little box cleanly without stepping over and then backing on.  I'm thinking that won't work for a foot stall!

I haven't been working with the corgi as much as the other two.  His new trick this month has been attempt at getting frog legs.  Should have been easy since he does it all the time on his own but it has been the opposite of that.  I said I suck at capturing!  The pillow has not worked that well as he is extremely good at lifting up his back legs to stand on the pillow or tries to crawl with them.  I think we have finally made some progress the last two sessions even though I don't think he realizes it.

We've also been doing some strength work of beg-down-beg.  The corgi thinks it's great fun.  And trying to get a tiny bit of duration to his side leg lifts. 

Cats.  I don't know how we make any progress.  The good news is that even though he still acts like he has no idea the clicker means anything, he is starting to actually offer behaviors.  Sometimes.  We have been working on a little distance on our tunnel, sitting on a little box, our stupid back stall, leg weaves (ha!), and a stay.


MKC Obedience Trial

 Attempt #2 at a UDX leg was a no-go.  But we had fronts! 


Open- Q
Lance seemed a bit off during it but the video doesn't look as bad as I thought.  Isn't that always the case!  Biggest issue was skipping a front on the drop on recall.  At least it was only 1 front this time instead of the disaster at our last trial!  Biggest yay is he again held his out of sight stays!!!  Lance looked stress when I came back and took a second cue to lie down but at least he's holding it.  I'm not sure if he looked more stress because the dog next to him broke and went to sniff the dog on the other side so was removed.  Thankfully he didn't sniff Lance!!!  I hate stays.

Utility -NQ
No sit on the turn.  Thought about taking the jump on the way back but didn't :)  He briefly dropped the glove when he turned back to me but picked it up right away.

Signals -NQ
Some moments of lost focus that resulted in some wideness and then some actual lagging!  Walked when I left him on the stand.  Down signal he sat so I gave a verbal :(

Directed Jumping
Go outs were mostly straight but didn't look as confident.  After the first jump he thought about flying behind me to skip the front but hesitated and I gave a verbal front cue.  Way crooked, but he stopped and he fronted on all the other exercises.

Moving Stand
Forged but has been worse.  Took a few steps as I left and the judge approached.

Nice job.  Especially considering that our run through on Friday night was a disaster where Lance was actively avoiding the correct ones.  I tried a few times and tried to remain happy to not stress him further but ended up just quitting  before I made things worse.


Agility Ups and Downs

The Toller had a short day at the USDAA trial this Saturday.  Many pros but also one big check on the negative side.

Gamblers- NQ
It took awhile for Vito to start tugging with me in our warm up, although he still remained engaged with me and wanted butt rubs.  He did a great job of entering the ring and not staring at anybody, even though I actually set him up facing the timer and scribe.  We all had to start with that jump and I wanted to do the dogwalk second but it was really bad approach if you started from the traditional side.  I was the only person to start from the opposite side but the wrap made it a perfect approach and there were several dogs who slipped when started the other way and weren't fully trained in squaring up.
Anyway, I was really happy with run!  Vito seemed really confident with some decent speed for him!  I unfortunately didn't do a smooth rear cross to the gamble, got too close to the line, and I knew Vito would turn in to me after doing the chute since we almost NEVER practice the chute.  So he crossed the line and while I was successful in sending him back out we were .24 seconds over time.

Standard- Q
Our warm up was still a bit slow to start getting into it, but then he really got excited.
The opening was almost identical to my gamblers opening and Vito ran the dogwalk even more confidently.  It was beautiful!  He did slow down in the weaves but recovered after the table.  Vito actually slid into his automatic down for the first time in a trial, but didn't quite get his elbows 100% down so still needed my verbal cue.  I was super happy with this run!

Pairs- Q
Disaster.  I used Vito's tennis ball in warming up which he really enjoyed.  But right before entering he stared at a man watching the ring.  He didn't react, but Vito got excited like he thought he knew the person at first and then just stared when he realized he didn't.  I thought I had him as we entered
and took off his leash to set him up but then Vito transferred his fixation to a ring worker (female) sitting at the 2nd obstacle (the chute).  Major reactive barking.  Since they were still setting bars I tried moving away and Vito easily came with me but still tried to bark and stare past me as I body blocked.  I moved again but it didnt' help.  The "go" button was pressed as I crouched down in front of him and my brain froze as I was trying to decide what to do.  Vito decided for me as he took of barking at the worker although did take the first jump.  He rushed her and then excitedly jumped on her.  She ignored him and I was able to call him back to me after about 5 seconds.  He then did the chute which was right there but barked again and curled back to go another few feet to her.  This time he came back almost immediately and was very fast and focused as he finished the rest of the very short course which even included the teeter.  He did a great down as I passed the baton to my partner.  Since she was clean and fast we managed to qualify.

I have no idea what triggered the huge difference in the last run versus the first one.  He was a bit more excited from his ball versus tugging, but not too much more since it's not like he gets ball obsessive at trials like he does in other places.  It had been 7 hours since he has his Clonidine which is right at the point where it wears off for him.

I have no idea what I should have done on that last run even if my brain had kicked in before Vito decided for me.  I see 2 options.  #1) Try and get him back, but accept the fact that Vito needs to check out the person and then finish the course or a short sequence afterwards to show him that it's no big deal and agility is fun.  I know that there is no risk of Vito harming the other person.  #2) Immediately re-leash Vito and pull him from the course as he's barking.  According to my notes, Vito has reacted at an agility trial 7 times, including Saturday's, and 1 time at an obedience trial.  2 of them have been to his Daddy who he suddenly notices watching.  1 of them was to the spot where he thought his Daddy was standing but really nobody was there (and it was more mild barking and jumping at the wall since he couldn't react to anybody.)  2 of the episodes have been to judges where Vito will react at the start line but will run the course until he gets to judge's location.  And then there was 1 mild barking episode to a leash runner and Saturday's big episode to a worker.  Our 1 obedience episode was to a loud dog and handler warming up right at the ring entrance.  There have been a handful of other times that Vito has stared at people in the ring and outside of the ring without reacting or running up to but it is still not a common occurrence.  If I do notice Vito staring at someone outside the ring, I have been successful at getting Vito to calmly walk up the person and get cookies for hanging out near them.  Once we get close he takes a quick sniff and is fine.  I don't think he has ever done reactive barking outside of the ring at a trial, but if he does get in reactive mode it is impossible to get him back without backing up to a very far distance or alternatively letting him approach the person despite his barking.

So, any advice if it were to happen again?  Any advice on what to do with Vito in general?

The pairs run was unfortunately not videotaped but I do have footage of our gamblers and half our standard run:



Best winter ever. 

Obnoxious Lab.

New victim

Break for family photo

Finally brought out a toy!
 I had to have a few discussions with Fi about proper playing behavior.  1.  Don't yank the disc out of Vito's mouth if he caught it.  2. Bring it back all the way to me, don't rely on the Toller to finish your work.


Disc Dog Playdate and Goals

Yesterday I took Vito and Fiona to a disc dog playdate.  My goal this year with Vito is to try and fix 2 issues that I think are feeding off each other:

1. His tendency to not collect for the leap, but over pursue and jump when he is right underneath the disc.
2. His huge head-down outrun each time I send him around.  Unfortunately I've also been rewarding that by doing a lot of long and low throws.  Vito is more likely to not do #1 if the disc is far enough ahead of him and not floating.

Being motivated by all the Pawsitive Vybe videos available to everyone, I came up with a plan.
my plan yesterday was to send him around and only do short 10 yard floaters.  I fully expected him to catch zero discs as I visualized him being 20 yards out before even noticing the disc was behind him, or tipping the disc if he did manage to see where the disc was.

Instead, Vito shocked me by collecting with ease and having the highest catch ratio he has ever had.  Not once did Vito take off sprinting and multiple times he even looked back at me to see where the disc would be.  My best guess is that training indoors helped him by the pressure of the walls and the slightly slippery floor.  Now I just need to find a place to train inside in order to make collecting a habit!

As an added bonus, Vito remembered his eye contact games and only did 1 punch and scream!

Since Vito was doing so well I was able to play with some fun stuff as well.  I finally trust myself on disc placement and timing to let Vito work on vaults.  Thanks to Chris Simmons for the pictures!

Vito has also nailed the reverse chest vault, without a disc.  Working on takes with the disc makes it weird so I guess I better practice the throw before I let Vito.

I also took Fiona out to play for a little bit in the basement.  She would be one awesome disc dog!  Fi already has a great switch between discs and a decent drop it.  I worked on teaching her the around and started doing tiny little overs.   She is one intense little lab!


Cuddle Buddies 2

I posted a post over a year ago depicting the cuddle team of Luke and Vito.  Vito may never seek out the cat to spoon with, but he's quite content to let Luke curl up with him on a daily basis.  The pictures taken since the last post are begging me to be posted.


UKI Agility Trial

The boys and I went to a UKI Agility trial this Saturday.  The courses were not as tight as I was expecting and actually had a NADACy feel to them, even the advanced levels on Saturday.

Vito was in 3 runs: gamblers, agility, and steeple chase.
Pros:  I think we're getting a good warm up routine down.  A mixture of butt rubbs, then tugging, followed by the food flick game.  I guess we won't be able to do the food flicks at outdoor/dirt trials, but it's doing a really nice job of keeping him focused yet also some intensity.   Even when our first two runs were delayed once we had already entered the ring, Vito did a nice job of staying focused on me and keeping excited.  Zero looking at the judge or ring crew.  Running contacts were all in and we didn't have any issues on course.  Since steeplechase was basically one big speed circle he was a very happy boy!  Of course that is the one run where the record button wasn't actually pushed on the video camera.  We qualified in 2 out of the 3 runs and in agility he just knocked the first bar.

Cons:  While Vito seemed pretty confident this trial we still have a ways to go in running.  And although he handled the delays in our runs pretty well I know it sucked some zap out of him.

Lance was only entered in gamblers and the 2nd round of agility.  In gamblers he was a bit fiesty, totally sailing over the yellow on the dogwalk and then popping out of his weaves.  During agility I did a more active job of trying to manage his contacts and I think he got a toenail in on the aframe and dogwalk.  I have no idea what to do with the corgi's contacts still!  At least he always has a blast.  Lance qualified in both runs.

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