Zumi- Bird Love

Still continuing our gun dog training adventures.  The biggest struggle remains the use of actual bird wings, attached to a bumper.  We successfully mastered taking treats in exchange for the bumpers int the house. Yay!

Outside we are understandably back a step.  Bird outranks other motivators, by a lot.  Because she is a good girl and has a solid foundation, Zumi is still willing to do a nice take and hold outside.  Some minor mouthing is happening when learning how to move with it (just to her platform) and sometimes when releasing it to me.  I just calmly interrupt her and try again.  But as Zumi will only pretend, half heartedly at that, to play with her toy she is left with praise and getting to have the wing in her mouth again as a reward.

This was yesterday's session outside, her very first one:

Today we made slight progress in that she seemingly understands by "playing" with the toy she gets the bird again.  It is completely fake playing with the wussiest mouths and retrieves ever.  But I'll take it.  Eventually she really will need to play for real, both so I have an actual reward and because of the WC test for Tollers requires "tolling" aka repetitive fetching along the shoreline before each of the water marks.


The Video- 2015 In Review

My favorite video of the year.  No sad things exist, just fun times.


2015 Review

The end of another year.

Needless to say this was not the year I had in mind for the Corgi.  His herniated disc occurred in January that set the tone for the rest of his year.  Crate rest, complications with facial paralysis, and then forced retirement from agility.  No last run, just done.  Obedience I had hopes of continued playing in utility only, no broad jump again.  Lance did a small handful of runs in AKC and then he decided he was done doing that too.

Mostly Lance is doing well with just pet dog activities.  Very happy to run around on walks, although he occasionally limps after trips where he runs a lot.  Otherwise Lance doesn't seem to showing any signs of pain in every day life.  Happy Corgi.
We will continue to do the occasional Cynosport Rally trial and CDSP obedience trial where he doesn't have to actually jump.

Vito's year didn't go as planned either.  Vito had a muscle injury that needed rehabbing that took out the majority of the summer.  Thankfully he seems fine now.

With Lance out of agility, Vito and I only did 1.5 NADAC trials this year.  The injury starting during his 2nd trial.  Not sure how much NADAC we will be doing in the future, just not my favorite courses for how I like to run with my dogs.  The USDAA trials we managed to do around his injury we had fun. Very few Sad Toller runs and mostly we're on track and happy in agility trials.  Working on speed will always be our goal but our average continues to go up.  Vito even earned his very first Super Q in snooker and earned his masters gamblers title.  Things I never thought would happen.  Still don't know that an ATCH will be possible with him, but we're having fun and getting quite a few Master Challengers Q's!

Vito earned his preferred CDX title in AKC early this year.  But his attitude just isn't there for AKC.  We took quite a few more months off and then tried again.  And Vito had a meltdown, very nervous of the judges and even flipped out in just the environment itself.  CDSP has continued to go well though, with quite a few very happy Toller runs.  Even earned his championship Open title (10 Q's) and his Utility title in CDSP.  It's amazing how much the environment between CDSP and AKC trials effects him.

And for the past 2 months we began an experiment looking at the issues of choice in work and building the value of personal play.  Taking away all food and toys in his obedience work and leaving in the ability for him to say no.  It's been interesting!

Vito started out the year doing amazing with life.  Huge streak of no panic attacks in the car.  Being very calm at work.  Handling change.  And then he hit rock bottom in July.  We increased his drugs and re placed him back on a 3rd drug that was succesfully weaned off late last year.  It took awhile, but Vito is currently in a good place again.

The little Duck's first full year with us!  Love this dog so much.  Normal!  And very, very eager to learn and do.  Over the past year we have worked on foundations for obedience, agility, disc dog, and recently started gun dog training.  I don't know where our future in dog sports will take us but we're going to have a solid start for whatever the road takes us.

She even competed in "puppy" rally with WCRL, getting lots of treats for being in the ring and focusing.  Her first title.  And a few weeks ago did level 1 with even more focus, and more cookies in the ring :)
Technically competed once in a disc dog trial, with rollers thrown.
Has done a small handful of agility run throughs in different places as well.

I look forward to seeing her hit the competition field in 2016!


Merry Christmas

Got some snow just in time for some quick pictures before we loaded up the dogs for a very long drive south.  Betting is now open for how long it takes for Vito to have a panic attack.  Getting lots of extra drugs.

Best photobomb ever.


Sit Signal

I've run into an unexpected problem with Zumi's signals.  Knowing that creeping forward is a common problem in the signal exercises I've been pretty clear how I want her position changes to look.  A fold back down, a lift back sit, and a kick back stand.  Zero forward movement.  So when Zumi started offering scootching backwards a little bit from her down to sit I thought it was cute.  I rewarded it.  A bunch.  I honestly never thought it was going to stick as she didn't always do it.

So now we have this!

Alright I have to fix it.  Motion forwards or backwards is deducted the same, no matter how cute.  She's a little confused as to why I'm resetting her a lot now, but she is starting to get it.


Wing Excitement

Continuing our gun dog class and working on finding a line.  Zumi already knows a look cue from her obedience training but I hadn't quite gotten to really teaching the concept like I will need it for the obedience glove exercise.  The look is solid, the actual send out  if there is more than one option not so much.  Kinda the same issue on the go out exercise to a lesser extent.

So I started working on the directed retrieve, or baby lining, with a dokken and a toy.  Hard!  But look how cute she is now at bringing the dokken to my side!

I also knew that training a sport where the dog has such strong natural instincts are much harder to do positively.  And I discovered my first glimpse into this concept when I bought some wings attached to a bumper.  Zumi's first experience involved quivering and in ability to take any treats when I presented it to her for hold training.  I kept it in my hand and trained exclusively with praise for just biting it, taking it away from her before she could anything else.  A very short session to prevent her from becoming too over stimulated.  Thankfully the 2nd session was already much improved and Zumi was able to think and take treats.  I did several real holds of the bumper/wing.  We will be progressing slowly before adding in more arousal.  I can only imagine the baby steps required when we get to an actual bird.


WCRL Rally level 1!

Our club hosted a WCRL Rally trial this Saturday so I thought I would try Zumi in level 1 for the first time.  She did a few runs in the "puppy class" this past summer where you allowed to give a cookie anytime you want and the courses were shorter.

In level 1 (and all the levels) you are still allowed to give a cookie in the ring but only at "stationary" signs.  While Zumi will not be entering any AKC obedience or rally trials for quite a while still I had no doubt that she could successfully do WCRL rally and meet my goals.  Goals of course being
1) Great attitude and
2) Great focus

With the bonus goal being 3) precision.  We're not quite there on that one yet!  The focus goal also needs some more work on getting her used to the specific distractions that a trial entails- ring entrances, signs, stewards and, judge. But her overall ability to focus is extremely good and I knew look aways would be minor.

Round 1;
I cost way more points than she did!  Total score ended up being 201 out of 210 with 8 points lost due to me screwing up not one but two signs!  At sign #2 I already messed up and started to spiral (like the exercise later in that course) instead of a serpentine.  And then a few signs later I forgot to put her in a sit before I did a pivot and step to the right.  Shameful.  Luckily Zumi forgave me and was a very good Duck!

Round 2:
We both manage to make it through without any big mistakes!  210 out of 210!  I felt her focus was just a tiny bit less on this run through.

Bonus run off!  Since there was a 3 way tie for first place in the A class that means there is a run off with teams doing the first 6 signs again.  I immediately lost at sign #2 because yes once again I screwed up a sign!  Caught myself, praised Zumi, thanked the judge, and then left the ring right away with dorky shame!

The corgi also got to play!  While he is permently retired from AKC obedience and rally, in WCRL he can get a jump height exemption and have the bars resting on the ground.  This lets him still have fun and lets him decide if he wants to "jump" or just walk over them.  We just stick with level 3 as I find it's the most fun with the baby open and utility exercises from obedience thrown in!  Although not a ton of those signs this weekend.

Round 1:
Happy and kinda sassy corgi.  Did not want to sit at first!  And then appeased me and had no problem after that 2nd sign.  I thought it was a nice run but he felt a bit stiff compared to normal, not quite as smooth of a worker.  A little sad for me, but he was still having a great time.  Earned a 209.

Round 2:
Happy and much better moving!  Felt just like old times and earned a nice 210.


More Gun Dog Foundations

Having a blast working on this new sport with Zumi!  I think we have mastered the whistle sit in a play context.  She will do a great sit in motion after running after me and even while tugging.

The whistle come has been started and I found out I suck at making repetitive pip-pip sounds.  I have been told I need to learn to use my tongue to stop it more than trying to to multiple blows.

I am currently thinking that I'm going to do all of Zumi's hunt training on my right hand side.  I know that I am going to have slightly different criteria on her field finishes than in obedience and am going to be way less precise about it.  While Zumi could easily learn to tell the difference between the 2 sports, I figure this will make it even clearer to her.  Unfortunately while I did teach her the side position when she was a baby, I don't think I've worked on it since she was like 4 months old.  I certainly didn't get to verbal only and real heeling on my right.

It didn't take that long to get a hand signal finish back with cookies.  Now we're working on doing it with added arousal (can't yet do a functional side with a toy in my hand) and with a dokken in her mouth.

Have also started place box training with Zumi.  Adam made a largish box that apparently Zumi gets to sit on.  Progress has gone faster than I thought with only minimal confusion trying to offer a down and a 2o2o, both confusion with agility obstacles.  

And as promised, here is the Amazing Corgi.  Way cooler than those tollers he says.

And if that isn't a win for positive retrieve training I don't know what is.  23 pound corgi retrieving the weight and size of a mallard on his first lesson.


Visitor, Again

Mr. Moo was only here a few days before being reunited with his mommy.  We had 2 nights of being back to a 3 dog household before unexpectedly taking another dog home.

Tabor decided he needed a stress break from the kennel but also needed to be available to keep working with his client and needed continuation of his diabetic/mobility dog training.

He's a really good dog and has been super easy to have.  One of my favorite dogs I've worked with.  Reminds me a LOT of my tollers with just a bit of labradorness thrown in.  Such an obsessive boy.

Zumi and Tabor are an odd mix.  Lots of weird play, gremlin noises, and raised fur.  But yet both instantly call out of play, and give each other quite a lot of breaks even without me.

WTF Zumi?

So much awkwardness.


Vito UKI

A 1 day UKI trial on Saturday!  I entered Vito in all 5 runs so that I could do 2-3 of them as toy runs.  I ended up alternating with runs 2 and 4 being toy and the the others real.  Interestingly enough his fastest runs were #1 and #5, well minus the portions after getting the ball on the 2 toy runs.

I again did the toy runs as normal as possible with a 2nd ball hidden in my pocket and making a big show of putting ball #1 down outside of the ring like usual.  I'm pretty certain it fools Vito despite his amazing nose and he gets so fixated on things that he doesn't actually think.

Qualified on 2 of the 3 normal runs- steeplechase and agility.  Jumpers was run #3 and he knocked a bar as well as came off a jump.

Only have video of the last run and at least it was my favorite of the day!  I think that is the fastest teeter Vito has ever done in a trial!


Vito Experiment- Session 22

The no food/toys obedience experiment has continued!  Slowly due to lack of daylight.  But have done 22 sessions now.

At this point we don't have any consistency of whether Vito chooses to work or not.  But when he does work it's very engaged, fairly high energy, and he rarely checks out now once he has decided to start. Precision isn't fully there.

A lot of has evolved into the dumbbell being a reward.  Not the direction I was planning on taking it but maybe it is the best route for Vito.  I let him carry the dumbbell around through a lot of the work so it's still a lot more personal interacting than just fetching.


Treadmill Time

I've started up the dog's treadmill work again so they don't lose their minds in the dark evenings.  Vito loves it.

Zumi thinks it's a blast but hasn't yet fully mastered the art.  Getting a lot of cookies and learning how to swallow and keep walking at the same time.  She also finds it super fun to walk for a bit and then stop moving so she shoots off the back and tries to jump back on as fast as possible. It's crazy.  

Lance has never been a huge fan and I didn't have him do it much at all last year.  This winter I'm thinking I will need to make more of an effort as he doesn't have as much of an outlet anymore.  So far he's fine on the slowest setting possible.  


New Adventures in Training

I've decided to begin a completely new adventure in dog training for me!  A new instructor has joined us at FDSA and starting gun dog lessons!  When Vito first came home I thought it would be fun to dabble in it but without anyone to give R+ guidance my dedication didn't last long as I moved onto other sports.  Still not sure I will be all that committed with Zumi but I set myself a goal of getting her WC at least.  Certainly not looking to be a forerunner of the super, super, super small positive gun dog community.

Jumped right in and got my Dokkens delivered!  I am clueless and didn't realize how big mallards are.  All of the dogs were capable of retrieving it but it wasn't easy for the dogs to know where to hold it.

So then I ordered a teal, a puppy gun dog bird, and will started training with that first.
Much better.

Also got a shiny new whistle and starting to teach her the whistle sit!  Since I know Zumi is great at offering sits I know she wasn't quite getting the cue in this video yet.  I added distance and movement pretty quick to help give her more contrast on the whistle being the cue.  Note- not in the homework, if this was a stupid idea I only have myself to blame :)



This is Mad Eye, aka Moody, aka Moo!

His new mommy picked him up only on Wednesday and then had to leave for EO agility tryouts on Friday.  So new friend for the weekend!

We worked on not eating all the things.  Especially carpet.

Meeting a cat.  Meeting the rats.

Zumi has ran and ran and ran outside at every potty break.  And there's a lot of potty breaks.  Doesn't care that Moo isn't really capable of much chasing.

Of course he's the wrong color scheme for my house.


Service Dogs in Public

Several years ago I posted a little rant about a celebrity posing with their dog's "service dog certification" from an internet company.  That post still gets tons of hits from people googling everything from how to get a service dog to how to take their dog everywhere.  I also recently got contacted to "review" products from a service dog certification site with the tagline on their home page reading "now you can take your dog everywhere!"  Instead of a mini rant, I decided to be more polite and factual.

To those searching the internet, I have your answers.

What is the difference between a service dog, a therapy dog, and an emotional support dog?
Short answer, a therapy dog's job is to help others thru various means of comfort.  A service dog/assistance dog's job is to help an individual with a disability by doing trained tasks that alleviate that disability.  And an emotional support dog's job is to just exist to help comfort an individual with a mental disability.

So in order to take your dog to any public place you must have a disability, AND your dog must be trained to do a task to help in that disability. Therapy dogs do not have public access rights, even though they often visit nursing homes, libraries, and hospitals they must be INVITED.  Emotional support dogs do have special housing and airplane rights, but they do not rights to go anywhere else in public.

What are the legal requirements to get certification for a service dog?
There are no requirements to get certification for a service dog other than you having a disability and your dog being trained to alleviate it.  So if you truly have a disability that your dog has been trained to help with, you do not need to buy "certification" papers online (worthless!) or go through an organization. Your dog does need to be well behaved and it is often recommend that your dog be able to pass a CGC test and public access test. Both are very basic manners tests. Also, any business has a right to kick you and your dog out of a store if the dog is not under your control and is being disruptive (ex. barking, jumping on shoppers, urinating...) even if you and your dog are eligible for access rights.

Note: The ADA does not cover dogs in training; public access for service dogs in training (SDIT) are up to each state to set their own laws. Some states do NOT allow SDITs public access, while some states only grant SDITs public access if they are from a certified organization or with a certified trainer.

Can I train my own service dog?
If you have a disability and you know tasks a dog can help you with, then the short answer is yes.
But if you're looking at running out and getting a dog for that purpose than think very hard about the process.  Even large service dog organizations have a high number of dogs that make wonderful pet dogs but just aren't up for service dog life.  You have no guarantees that your dog will not only enjoy doing the tasks for you, but will also be happy going out in public.   Public life can be stressful for many dogs.  Despite being repeatedly told do not pet, service dogs are accosted by the general public on a regular basis and will encounter everything from screaming children running up to very loud arenas and dressed mascots.  If planning to train your own dog be prepared that your dog may not be well suited for the task and know how you will proceed if that is the case.  There are pros and cons to getting either a puppy or an adult dog but both scenarios need a plan B.  In any case, training your dog will still take a minimum of 6 months with an older dog or 2yrs with a puppy.

Where can I get a service dog from an organization?
If you're interested in getting a dog from an organization know that not all are created equal.  There are zero certification requirements for either an organization or a trainer.  Assistance Dogs International however does have a stringent list of requirements for organizations wishing to apply for membership.  They keep a list of members, and those looking to become members on their website and you can search by service area and by types of assistance dogs certified.

Tell me more about emotional support animals?
The ADA only grants public access rights for service dogs who have trained tasks.  An emotional support dog helps their person by simply being present.  While there have been numerous studies on the benefit of simply having a dog and petting it, this does not qualify as a task and thus does not qualify a dog for public access rights.  So dogs helping those with PTSD need to be trained to do things that help alleviate their owner's disability in a way that an untrained dog could not mimic.

The exception to public access rights for emotional support dogs are housing and airports.  Laws allow emotional support animals to be allowed into rental properties not otherwise allowing pets, and into airports.  A doctor's note prescribing an emotional support animal is often required. 

What about allergies?
Bubba the amazing Diabetic Alert Dog
One person's disability does not trump another's.  Allergies and fear of dogs are not legitimate reasons to deny access to an individual.  In extreme cases, accommodations need to be made to both parties.

What if I suspect a fake service dog?
First recognize that many people have invisible disabilities.  Just because the individual is not obviously blind or in a wheelchair does not mean they do not require a service dog. In addition, dogs of all sizes and breeds can be trained to do service dog work.  If the dog is out of control or not potty trained, regardless of whether the dog is a trained service dog or not the business IS allowed to remove the team from the store.  

If the dog is well behaved and you still suspect a fake, businesses are only allowed to ask 2 questions.  (1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. You can not ask about their disability, require any documentation or certification, or ask the dog to demo the trained tasks.

What do I do if I see a service dog team in public?  Can I pet it?
In general, the answer is smile and keep your distance.  Remember that the dogs are working even if it's not obvious to you.  While most dogs are very good at learning to ignore well meaning people running up, talking in baby voices, and even barking (yes barking...) it gets very old for the person and difficult for the dog to keep 100% focus.  Keep in mind that a distracted dog could miss alerting to a medical event such as a low blood sugar!

Some teams will welcome conversation about their dog (but please don't ask about their disability!) and may even invite you to pet their dog.  But just because one team allows it does not mean that is appropriate for all other service dogs.  Like humans, dogs are individuals and will have various degrees of attraction towards others and thus different rules.

Why is is a big deal if my dog wears a cape so he can come with me in public?
People who need a service dog get confronted way too often based on the action of people bringing their fake service dog in stores.  Even if your dog is well trained, people encountering these fake service dogs often don't realize that true service dogs often aren't allowed to say Hi in public as they are trained to focus on the needs of their person and can't be distracted.  

Most people who rely on a service dog would trade their ability to bring their dog in a heartbeat if it meant that they didn't NEED him anymore.  Going on fun outings with a dog is an insult to those who truly depend on their service dog to grant them more independence and peace of mind.   So please don't abuse the system.


Canine Good Citizen!

Yes the Duck did it!

Only a few nicely timed don't you dare!'s.  Mainly on the brush which she thought was a really cool toy.  And on the petting.  She definitely broke her sit on the petting but didn't jump!

The heeling was actually fabulous. I did quite a bit of praise but she had great focus, great halts, and beautiful left U turns through the crowd portion too.

The separation portion wasn't the greatest, but passable.  I put all my dogs in a down stay at this portion to give them a job to do, even if they don't yet have the entire 3min out of sight yet.  Zumi made it maybe half the time, then jumped up very briefly on the person, then did the tiniest bit of whining before settling into a sit.  The little whining surprised me.

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

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