3 out of 2 Sits!

Herding group only trial this weekend!

Utility Sat
Mostly a very nice run!  Gloves were first and Lance actually had a very nice pivot and didn't auto mark!  Good articles.  Go outs were our point sucker.  A bit crooked and starting to turn before I called it.  Also barked on both times on my cue to take the jump.  Signals were a bit forgey on the heeling, and he looked like he was about to anticipate the down.  I saw his little butt twitching right as the judge allowed me to give my signal.  Moving stand he took 2 steps to greet the judge early and another during the exam.
We did qualify and actually managed to squeak in a second place for 2 more OTCH points :)

Open Sat
Beautiful run.  Continued doing a great job on his fronts and finishes.  Heeling was great except for two little moments he couldn't contain himself and started forging.

QQ10 was on the line and I held my breath as Lance held his sit!!!!  And then I about died to hear we didn't qualify on the down stay.  Apparently about 15 or so seconds in he stood up and bit his butt, and then lied back down.  Aghh!!!!!  Blew a 198, the title, and possible run off for first place.

Utility Sun
Glovers were first again but it was #1 and for some reason I never pivot far enough to that one and Lance doesn't try very hard to pivot right.  But he got it and was super cute like usual.  Signals were next and Lance did some pretty good heeling.  Just one wide about turn so we're finally on the right track to fixing that!  And a forge of course.  Directed jumping was entertaining.  Lance started turning even shorter than Saturday's go outs, looked at me, and then switftly turned the opposite direction like he was going to go to his go out spot but then took the far jump instead.  Another thing to cross of the list of things he's never done before!  2nd attempt I tell him he's going to go touch the gate this time and Lance takes off before I even stand up to say ready.  Call him back and when sent for real this time, the corgi actually does go all the way to the gate.  But I want him to touch it so use some training in the ring to tell him touch and good boy.
Moving stand was much better, no walking.  And articles were beautiful.
NQ and likely another blown good score.

Open Sun
Lance really is loving open these days.  Another beautiful performance.  Sneezing on the figure 8 and still kept in position!  Actually maybe it prevented some forges :)  Finishes continue to be doing well but a few crooked fronts.

I debated about pulling him from the stays but then decided to do them after all.  He looked pretty confident yesterday and of course I was hoping for a high score.  I came back from the sit and was ecstatic to see him sitting nicely, even with both dogs next to him lying down.  He went into the down very easy (lately he's been slow about doing so in trials) and I confidently left him.  And then returned to my good corgi holding a sit.  Sorry Lance, there's no banking sits for future stays!  Apparently he had another butt biting episode and then sat afterwards.  Not sure if something is going on back there or it's just stress. At least having 2 issues on the down stay is better than 2 issues on the sit!  Score would have been a 197.

He's making me so proud as he's consistently doing amazing in open.  The last 5 times in open, all his scores on the individual exercises have been a 197 to 199.  That is insane improvement.  Of course only 2 of those scores were qualifying due to a blown sit, and 2 blown downs...

Utility is also getting there.  Of the last 5 times his scores all would have been in the low 90's and he qualified in 3 of 5.  Directed jumping is becoming our biggest point sucker.  But I am currently working on that by trying to re-require him to actually physically touch the STANCHION.  I have never taught him to target the actual stanchion as we don't have those gating at the club.  But we recently ordered 1 side of those type of gates so I'm doing some quick training.

Actually a friend video taped his stays for me on Sunday.  He looked so much better than the last times I've seen him.  A bit of stressed when I first left but other than that nothing.  Ears up, no stress yawns, very little occasional sniffing, no constant readjusting of his feet.  On the down stay his head was down for that first minute, until he suddenly sat up and attacked his butt at about a minute.  But then a confident sit stay.  Hope?  But oddly enough he's actually doing worse in practice.  Used to be he would never ever go down in practice. Now he's doing it all the time.  Only in a line up though, never any other time or any other place.


More Front Training

Front training bootcamp is continuing to go well for the Toller.  I am fading my hand guides and Vito is mastering little tiny side steps to fronts and pivots to front with a rope tug in his mouth.  I then switched to Vito holding his little blue puppy and that blew his mind.  Trying so hard though!  Cute little bounces but not really moving anywhere :)  Or the levitating he did as a wee puppy is re making an appearance!

I wish I would have thought of doing this little training awhile ago, and have been motivated enough to do it.  I had thought that working on the easier part of straight fronts after retrieving, or even after a simple hold and wait made the most sense.  If he has a hard time doing a straight approach, how could he do a very hard angle.  But apparently I also forgot that sometimes setting up a real challenge helps to draw focus to the parts you're working on.  In this case hind end movement.  Super closeness was an added bonus side effect.

I swear I am not a giant, nor is our ceiling super short, is these series of crappy photos.

Kitty's front still needs much work :)


Review: Orijen freeze dried cat treats

Chewy.com sent us some Orijen freeze dried cat treats to review.  100% meat.  Zero other ingredients.

I think I'm in love with how small the treats are.  They're about the size of a piece of kibble. Perfect for training the dogs if the kitty chooses to share!

But Luke says move over dogs!  Back stallin Kitty!

Tiny, zero crumbs since no need to break up, great ingredients.  Love.


Catching up, Drug update.

The corgi is confused.  He's not just shedding out a little chihuahua but a sheltie.  Tufting like crazy.

Barely getting started in this photo.

Vito is doing OK with the Fluoxetine weaning process and we're now down to only 20mg, half his dose.  Another month left before he's done and we are on to plan B, or make that plan G?  Still thinks the car is going to kill him in the morning but it's usually safe by evening.  A think a side effect of the lowering is an increase in the naughty, crazy toller I love.  He was so excited to play agility in class last week that his screaming made me momentary forget the course!  And the best part is that he was just as excited about getting to go in the obedience ring on a later day!

But Vito definitely needs his drugs.  Somehow his morning arrangement was skipped one day and wow it made a huge difference.  The morning car ride was panic ridden of course but I didn't think much of it.  But Vito just couldn't calm down once we arrived at work.  The poor guy was trembling and panting when I left to go work the other dogs.  I eventually put him with a favorite coworker and he was able to calm down enough to at least function.  Afternoon drugs helped eventually too.  I hate this fight between relaxation and drive.
The dork does this almost every night when he wants to go to bed.

And Gracie.  She's alternating between finding her mature and responsible self to being a crazy nut.  13 months old now.  I've briefly started some diabetic alert training with her as I can definitely see that as a possibility with her.  So far she loves it.  But we're only on the first step of attacking me while looking for where I hid the scented toy on my body.
Like all the other puppies I've raised for the program, Gracie is a little stalker.  It's impossible to anywhere without a labrador following you.
After being constantly yelled at for not being allowed to shove her head in the shower with you, this is the sight that always greets me when I'm done.

And *knock on wood* the cat might be slightly less angry with a switch to a new food!  We had been feeding him Grandma Lucy's freezed dried food but he was never a fan. He would never actually go on a hunger strike but he certainly wasn't happy with it.  Too bad for him as I'm not about to waste an entire big bag.  Finally finished the bag after almost 3 months of the cat taking it out on us by ripping into every bag he can get his paws on.  Nothing was safe.  He's been eating The Honest Kitchen for a few meals and I'm daring to say he's more content.  We will see.
Obnoxious cat.


#3 Corgi!

It's official!  Lance is the #3 corgi in AKC Obedience!  The top 3 dogs in each breed, plus the top dogs overall, are invited to show at the National Obedience Championship!

Sadly it's in Pennsylvania this year.  Going to try hard to go though!


Working Fronts

I've been on an obedience kick the last few weeks at home.  What a novel concept, actually practicing!
Mainly I've been working fronts with the boys.

- Side stepping in front
- Tiny little waits while he has to side step to me waiting
- Spins to front
- Repeating all the above with various objects

Lance of course is much better than Vito.  Spinning to front can be hard for him and sometimes he likes to avoid the issue by doing a backwards circle instead.

Vito has fabulous fronts.  Unless he's holding an object.  I don't think he had any clue how to move his butt if his something was in his mouth.  Lots of me helping to guide him with my hands as a target.  He's getting much better though.  I'm really pleased that it seems that this will also help him keep nice and close on his dumbbell fronts.  Since I'm doing mainly lateral movements with him, he's keeping the close distance I start him at.


UDX leg #9!

Did another 1 day of an obedience trial.

Utility B
Happy, but way less squirrley corgi showed up!   No punching, tossing of items, and no bonus jumps :)   Go outs were 2nd and had his only big mistakes.  First go out was nice and straight but he barked when I sent him to the jump.  Second go out had no barking, but he didn't sit.  Glove #3 was a nice turn but he auto marked the glove instead of waiting for my signal.  Heeling was gorgeous until the last tiny little bit where he decided to forge.  Articles were both nice but the judge disagreed and scored the tiniest of archs on the sends.  But we Q!

Open B
Good corgi!  No major issues.  Lovely heeling, zero forging!  Also I think this was his first run he had zero points taken off on the broad jump!  Lance actually nailed the front!

The long sit I was worried as Lance kept going down even in practice this week :(   Only does so in a line up of other dogs.  But he held it today!  Apparently sniffed so much that the judge took off a 1/2pt but he tried hard.  And we had a run off!  Lance actually won the run off and placed 3rd with a 197.  No OTCH points, but it was our 9th UDX leg!  In 2 weeks we show again so fingers crossed for the title!


The Search

I don't have a dumbbell obsession.  I am a wannabe collar collector, have the normal crazy amount of dog crates, and ok I do have an entire dog closet now in the new house.  But a dumbbell collection was not what I set out for.  The pretty colored ones cost way more than my budget!

But Vito has a severe overbite, practically no teeth on his entire left side of his mouth, and a few missing on the other side.  The search for the perfect fit, one where the dumbbell didn't awkwardly tilt to the ground took awhile.  It's been postponed several times over the years since Vito's been semi retired from obedience and all.  Typically I just show up at the CDSP trials with his *ahem* well-loved cheapy one that we sometimes play tug with.  But even that one can still slide down as he holds it.

Lance has a Max 200 dumbbell that I love so I've done most of our hunting from them.  I also had one brief adventure into J&J.    Most dumbbells I returned.  One I kept in shame of my failed attempt.  It's currently on loan to another dumbbell seeker.

This J&J is really only a 2.5in bit, I swear!

Oh no.

But I think I finally got the perfect fit for Vito.  High profile, high angle, textured bar, from Max 200.



Indoor activities

It's a bit chilly outside.  -19*F outside right now.  Windchill of -40*.  I hate this state.

I got the dogs a treadmill off of craigslist.  Because -18*F.  Oh and I have a goal of using it too.  

Vito is learning how to use it and seems to enjoy it.  We're going slow still and he's learning how to properly hop on and that falling off is no big deal at all.  I'm currently keeping some food in a little dish in front so that he keeps his focus forward versus looking up and sideways at me.

Lance thinks the food is great but he's not so sure about hopping on.  Because of his little legs he has to give a pretty big jump onto it.  This is frustrating for the corgi as he wants to just put his front feet up first and then jump and that doesn't work so well.  It also bothers Lance more than Vito when he slides off the back.  So we're going very slow.

Gracie thinks it's super fun to jump around everywhere like it's a trampoline.


Lance at Land O Lakes

I entered Lance in one day of the big Land O Lakes show.  I typically like to show in the obedience only trials and skip the joint conformation shows.  But with Lance qualifying for the National Obedience Championship this March (#3 corgi!) I figured the experience of a really big show would be good for both of us.  I was certainly more nervous today than normal.

Utility B
Squirrley Corgi showed up.  Articles were first and we were about 5ft from the high jump.  Yup, bonus jumping.  Both times.  Gloves were following and the number chosen for the day was #2.  The judge goes though the normal rattling of where the gloves are and then calls for #3.  I barely hear and pivot towards #2.  I realize what happened, but the judge chuckles and I send Lance to #2 like he meant to say.  The naughty corgi veers off to the #3 glove!  And the judge laughs some more and tells me that technically he did say #3 and isn't going to NQ us!  Heeling is next and Lance actually does a decent job although got further into forging as we went.  Good signals and Lance even refrains himself from punching me.  The corgi rises up both feet in the air and then stops right before actually touching me.  Good corgi.  Some slight moving on the stand during the exam.  Go outs were good considering it was directly to the back of another ring.  Lance was just slightly crooked on both sends and I know I need to practice that setup more often.

So technically Lance qualifies and with the big show craziness taking down half of the playing field, Lance actually places 3rd for 1 more little OTCH point!

Open B
Lance brought his A game.  Awesome fronts and finishes.  Some tiny sliding on his drop on recall he did such a fast down. Comes from a pretty decent size angle to take his jump returning on the retrieve over high.  Heeling is beautiful with only some slight pushiness on the slow time.

And then he lies down on the sit.  Pretty much as soon as I was out of sight.  Big sigh.  He had a streak of 8 sits in a row going on too.  Lance would have scored a 198.5 and have taken 1st place too.  

So the good:
- Perfect about turns!  No wide sight seeing!
- Really working hard on his fronts and finishes.  Even had a slight distracted moment coming in from the drop on recall and Lance fixed himself perfectly in the last foot.
- Zero barking!
- great focus with all the crowds.  And of course I had many spectators come up to us afterward and tell me how much they enjoy watching him.  Especially after that utility run!

the needs improvement category:
- bonus jumps
- moving on stand for exam
- go out straightness
- and of course the long sit.

We trial one day next weekend as well.  Back to a much quieter, obedience only venue.



The Toller did a day of USDAA agility today.  I told myself to relax and not worry about any gift of speed after last weekend's happy and fast runs in the NADAC trial.  Vito hasn't done a ton of trials at this location and it can be harder for him as there's very little warm up space and crowded entrances.

Gamblers was first and I knew that the teeter being the distance obstacle, and from an over 90 degree turn wasn't really going to happen.  But I picked what I though was a nice flowy and fast opening for him.  Going into the ring Vito did only the tiniest Toller Scream and was looking around at all the people behind him.  His run reflected that as while it wasn't a bad run, it didn't have any zip at all to it.  Vito even hopped off the teeter after getting all 4 feet on.  I don't think he has ever refused the teeter before!  I stopped very briefly after that, got him to yell at me, and then continued with our opening.

Standard was next and Vito was in a much better mood.  Tons of screaming at the start.  There was a delay as we walked to the line, but Vito was thrilled to yell at me and do his favorite vault trick.  The run started with decent speed and unfortunately the dogwalk setup was the most demotivating setup ever.  Tunnel wrap to the upside, then a tight turn to the table which was very close.  He looked at the judge starting the table count, but I got him back focused on me and Vito sprinted the rest of the course!  We actually qualified too!

Steeplechase was his last run and Vito continued to be sassy.  To do anything to avoid having to do a rear cross I took a risk and decided to sprint the opening line and try very hard to get a blind cross in after the broad jump.  I was too late and Vito headed straight for the wrong opening of the tunnel, but he loved it!  I continued on like nothing happened and Vito continued to run.  Pulled off a jump after the aframe, but other than that it was a very nice run.  The two sets of weave poles didn't even create Sad Toller.


Vito in 2013

Same video review from earlier here: http://youtu.be/YxrFrdrCU1g

A year of ups and downs.  Quite a few increases in medications and lots of false hope.  Read the recent post from our behaviorist visit earlier in December for more of an update.  Short version is that 2014 will be the year of starting over.  Fingers crossed that the weeks of weaning off Fluoxetine and then waiting for the new drug to kick in won't be completely unbearable.

I am happy to report that Vito is actually doing really well in our motivation building, generalization attempts.  Still in a semi-retired state from competitions, but is doing well in CDSP trials.  He competed a total of 8 times this last year, much more than in previous years.  The best part is that he has been happy every single time!  We've still had some struggle with checking out the judge and ring stewards, but it's gotten better with every single trial.  The recent trial in October Vito did tons of happy toller bouncing!  And of course his trial last weekend was also focused and happy, just minus the bouncing.  We're sticking in the Open C class to keep his confidence up.

In practice I've continued our massive work on ring entrances and have expanded that to include taking off the leash and heeling.  I've also worked heavily on Vito being the one to choose to engage with me versus me expending tons of energy into trying to excite him, usually by showing him the prize up front.  This has included working on our personal play skills- mainly letting Vito bark and jump on me.
Lately this has been expanded into going to new places and evaluating how quickly Vito is ready to work with no toys/food on me.  After the first test, we then work on leaving the toys far away and trying again.  Progress is happening very quickly these last few months compared to the solid year and half it took to just get entering the ring happy and attentive.  I've been a slacker this last month and half so I'm hoping to pick back up where we left off.

Vito continued to have a good year in agility from the progress we made in 2012 of not worrying about judges and ring crew.  Vito had one incident of running off to bark at a ring steward, way back in January, and it seemed more of a happy visit than a scary one.

He finished up his USDAA advanced standard and pairs title and I decided to move him up to masters in his least favorite games of jumpers and snooker as well.  In NADAC he finished up his open versatility title by finally completing jumpers and chances.

In training we continued our work on powering out of wraps and tight turns as Vito has a hard time coming back to extension.  I also tried to fix his constant pulling off of jumps.  I'm not quite sure what finally worked, but Vito has had much improvement on both issues.  In practice it's not uncommon now for him to remain fast, happy toller throughout all his runs in a group class, even in courses that have lots of tight sequences.  Vito is pulling off way less jumps as well and most I can now say are honestly my fault.  We've had an unofficial break the last 3 months where his only training has been the weekly group class.  Hopefully when I restart training in the new year we will both be fresh and continue to improve.

I wrote this post right before Vito's NADAC trial this past weekend.  I had written:
"In trials Vito didn't make any significant changes with his running style.  His screaming at the start is not a predictor of how fast he is going to decide to run.  Lots of variation in speed from run to run.  He's super cute about it though and has also discovered that Momma doesn't care at all if he breaks a start line stay.  I think I'm finally more relaxed about his speed difference though.  Vito's not really worried at trials anymore, seems to have a good time, and has some really amazing runs every now and then."

And now I get to add that for at least one entire weekend, Vito decided to run in a trial.  The best way to end the year!

We didn't do much of anything this year.  I had started strong and was beginning to teach him the following tricks:
1. Grab his tail- I did get him to bite his tail.  Took a while as grabbing a body part was not a crazy idea he thought his mother would have.  We never got a hold of any type.

2. Walking in slippers- Vito's digging behavior was relatively new the beginning of this year so all he wanted to do with the slipper was hike it backwards.  We eventually got standing on, but then I got bored when I realized i needed sturdier shoes that would force him to aim for the opening versus squish it.

3. Repeated jumping in front of me- Actually I spent a ton of work on this trick.  First idea was a nose target to my hand gradually raised.  That was very frustrating for Vito.  Added in my leg to jump over and made some progress, but he really, really did not want to raise his hind end.  Lots of rear end dragging behind him.  Very similar to our disc dogging issues before he was retired.  It took months of off and on work and clicking only the best efforts to get nice jumps over just my leg.  Then I added in going back over the other direction.  More work.   Now Vito has much nicer air time but he still needs my leg and will tend to cheat at times by dragging his rear.    Amazing how hard this is for him and how easy this is for all 3 of the last puppies I've raised.

Goals for 2014
1. Continue working really hard on his obedience engagement and generalization to NEW places.  Re evaluate and see if just maybe he could do my club's AKC trial in October of next year!

2. Actually practice obedience things besides engagement.  Like fronts while retrieving.  And go outs.  And stuff.

3. Continue experimentation that was recently started, and then put on hold, of not having Vito's ball on me when practicing agility.  Instead, practice having him leave it before entering the ring to help mimic trials.  See if this is a possible reason for speed issue in trials.
Otherwise, relax and and keep having fun as long as Vito's having fun.

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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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