Zumi Agility Seminar

Zumi had her first real seminar as an agility dog!  We went to a Lori Michael's novice/open seminar today.  I love Lori and was thrilled she was going be here in Minnesota.  One of Vito's first seminar was with Lori a few years ago and she had some great advice to help men work on his motivation issues, especially with moving from collection back to extension.

Zumi was excited but in her more thoughtful training mode vs the trial Zumi that appeared last weekend.  In some ways then the day was a little lower than her skill level, but there was still plenty to work on and different ways in handling.  Mainly getting her to collect.

This is her final video of a course we spent the day breaking down into pieces:

Working on the opening half.  Serpentines are hard!

And figuring out handling for the back half along with some of her victory lap fun:

Vito was supposed to play Sunday but due to his limping last week I had to pull :(  He hasn't limped since being placed on restriction but better safe than sorry.


Ducky's First Trial!

The day finally came, Zumi's first agility trial!

Saturday started with 3 runs.  I don't know how she knew that it was her turn in the spotlight but she was high as a kite.  I didn't feel nervous at all but she must have been feeding off of something!
Very excited to see all the people there just to watch her!

The first run I ran with not for competition with a toy so that I could reward her contacts and just make sure she had general good focus and attitude.

Because it went so well :)  I did her next 2 runs "for real."  Both were standard agility runs.

Round 1 she missed 2 jumps and started to come into me and run by the weaves, but such a good duckie!  So proud of all her contacts too!

Round 2 was pretty similar.  Orbited around 2 jumps.  Nailed her running dogwalk with a left turn exit but then it was a straight line of jumps.  Zumi took the first jump after the dogwalk and then basically didn't collect at all to actually keep turning and skipped the 2nd jump.  But I was pretty far behind on the weave pole entrance and she nailed a left turn into the poles!  No video :(

Sunday we were back and did 3 more runs.  She seemed quite a bit more rationale and able to think a bit more at the show site. No contact obstacles this time.
Speed Stakes just had jumps and tunnels and round 1 was not so smooth.  There were some difficult lines and Zumi tried hard but just couldn't handle it.  And then she apparently launched her tiny self over the jump WING and not the bar on one of the jumps.  Yup that's about 36in high.  Also not on film.

Round 2 of speedstakes had much nicer lines.  And just 1 jump missed this time, possibly because I really drove into that rainbow jump so she would actually see the bar or maybe just because I yayed.
But look we did rear crosses!  Rears are still pretty hard for Zumi.

Last run of the day was jumpers.  We did our first real lead out!  Although apparently I should have led out a bit further as I was a little late with my front cross.  Ran around another jump. Turning is hard!   But then there was a difficult line after the weave poles and Zumi really did a nice job despite her handler not being far enough ahead to help her!

 I couldn't be happier with how her first trial went.  0 for 6, but such great confidence with the new experience.  Her contacts were even better than I expected too!  I assume there will still be lots of ups and downs with her running contacts training but nailing all of them on Saturday was a huge bonus to my confidence with them!

Only downside to the weekend was Vito.  Vito ran his first run of the weekend as a toy run and was super happy.  But then I noticed him limping slightly on his front right.  Pulled from all of his runs the rest of the weekend :(  I'm sure it's nothing major but UKI is such a great opportunity for us to associate trials with toys and running full speed.


The Mountain Lion

Meet the Mountain Lion.  

Her name is Cougar and she's 4 months old.

No she's not mine!  But I'm going to be caring for her for the next several weeks.  New experiences.  Some training.  Lots of fun.

Corgi thinks she's alright.  But mostly he ignores her because she's already bigger than he is.

Zumi loves her new puppy.  And already is getting a bit tired of her at the same time!

And suprisingly, Vito really likes her!  Vito never likes puppies. Or really even cares for adult dogs.  But he says this one is pretty cool.  Lots of awkward and loud playing!

I've had 4 dogs in the house several times before so it's really not that different. But having 3 dogs of the same breed feels quite a bit different.  It's liked I crossed the invisible line into crazy.  Even when I'm just walking the 3 tollers into a building and don't have the corgi along, it feels completely different than before!  


Shiny New Titles

The Corgi and the Duck got to play WCRL rally this weekend.  Didn't enter Vito since he's still on the Experiment.

The Corgi was sassy.  He did two level 3 runs on Saturday and two on Sunday.
The first run he reminded me that being retired means you can do whatever you want.  Didn't want to sit for his fronts until I wised up and started telling him before he fully got there.
Run #2 he had fun show boating on the last finish when the audience clapped :)

And there was some barking on pivots and of course backing up.

Good Corgi.  4 for 4 Q's and it finished up his level 3 excellent title (10Q's).  Apparently I haven't entered him in much rally over the years as Lance always qualifies and it still took 5 years.

Showboat at the end.

Duckie's growing up!   Zumi also had two runs Saturday and two runs on Sunday.
She finished up her last level 1 Q and then moved up to level 2.  First time off leash!!

Cute little offered moving stand randomly in the middle of heeling!

Day #2!

The last run of the day was slightly too much for the baby.  She was still a good girl with some pretty darn mature focus.  But there were a few brief look aways and I just could feel her energy a little lower.  But another Q and thus earned her level 2 title this weekend.  Maybe level 3 the next trial in July!

Biggest issue for her this trial was really the slow time.  She wanted to sit in 2 of the 3 runs that had that sign.  Since speed transitions is something I'm still training in practice this didn't surprise me.


The Obedience Experiment- 5 Months

Vito has been continuing our no food/toys obedience with choice experiment.  It technically has been just over 5 months since Vito has received a traditional reward for working with me in obedience although sessions have been roughly once a week this past winter.  Vito has also gotten rewards still for his work in agility, gun dog foundations, and recently nosework.  I am also certain that Vito has zero confusion between what sport we are doing and whether rewards are going to be forthcoming or not.

I think my last update was mid Janurary, 2.5 months in.  At that time he had a 100% rate of working at the club but was hardly choosing to work at all at home.  That changed.
Less than a month later (probably only 4 sessions) Vito was happily sniffing around the ring at the club but was choosing not to work at all.  He would come in for butt rubs and to check in with me and then would go back to sniffing.  Didn't look like stress sniffing in any way, just a dog who loves, loves to sniff and take in all the information he could.  Very relaxed when coming over to me for some rubbing.

A few more sessions later and Vito was back to sometimes working and sometimes not.  Working sessions were incredibly high energy with an extremely pushy and vocal Toller.  Accuracy not quite there, but the intensity was high.

Due to his inconsistency and me being ready to experiment with another change, I decided on 2 changes that started the last week of February.
First I started putting him on leash for our sniffing sessions and walked the ring with him for several minutes.  Pointing out things to sniff and crumbs to lick up and praising him.  Then we would go and just sit together in the middle of the ring where I would pet him if he wanted to be petted or he could continue to happily air sniff.  If he looked like he was done and would maybe work, I would invite him.  Otherwise we would just sit together.

And secondly I added the addition of a toy at the very end of our session, separated from any work he may have done.  So if he chose to work, at the very end we would go back to just sitting on the ground and petting/praising him for being a good boy.  Then after a bit I would stand up and get him a moderately valued toy and just tug/toss it for him with no asking for any other behaviors.  A free toy that would be given regardless of his decision to work.

Because I made 2 changes at once I can't be entirely sure what has caused a bit of difference. I first thought it would be the toy.  That even though it was unrelated to work, he would connect it.  But I'm not so sure.  Vito hasn't shown any signs of seeking out the toy (that I might not even have in the ring) nor of looking expectedly while working/not working.  In our jackpot training we've done previously there were always at a few moments where Vito would look to where the toy was to at least ask me if he earned it yet.  I'm not seeing that now.

I do think the on leash exploration with me followed by the restriction has made some difference.  Likely less to do with the support/inclusion of me and more to do with the restriction afterwards.  Vito loves to air sniff just as much as ground sniffing, but I'm sure being limited gives him greater incentive to do something with me with his choices more limited.

Anyway, currently for the last several sessions Vito has been working almost every time and has been almost butt tucked in his work.  Calm and happy sniffing the ring, calm lying down, then suddenly high as a kite and stressing UP.  Whether or not I wanted the dumbbell to be his primary reward it certainly has become it.  At first his high behavior worried me a little bit.  Major stress?  But now that I've been able to do a session at home (yay spring!) I haven't noticed that much of a difference.

At the club last week:

At home:

This last week at the club was a bit more relaxed.  So relaxed I didn't think he was going to work.  But he did and was still pretty intense, just without the panting and butt tuckedness.

We're going to continue this journey for a bit longer before transitioning back to traditional rewards.  If this has done nothing else it has taught me that we rely way too much on our food/toys to keep a dog working versus truly giving them a choice.
And hopefully it has increased the value for playing with me.  And his dumbbell :)


Three Boxes

Nosework adventuring continues with "hiding" one box around and getting the dogs comfortable with holding their nose target even after running to the box.   This has been difficult with both Lance and Vito due to wanting to retrieve the box to me or wanting to paw with the added excitement.  I think they finally got it!

Both dogs also progressed to doing a tiny discrimination test with 2 boxes and then 3 boxes.
I need to develop a better plan for dealing with errors as I'm not very consistent. I certainly don't want silence to mean try again so I will vow to do better.

It's interesting to watch the differences between Lance and Vito.  I think Lance is doing just fine but he's not as confident and not obviously using his nose as much on the hidden box game.  Vito has always loved sniffing and is much more clearly using his nose.

This is Lance's 2nd time doing the 3 box discrimination task and it looks as though this is really going to help teach him it's a scenting exercise.  It helps that the setup is already very familiar to Lance from his scent articles training.

Vito on the 3 boxes.


Aframe and Jump work

Although we had 2 more snowfalls since I planted the agility equipment last weekend, I think we're going to be in the clear now.  70's predicted later this week!!!
And I officially had our first spring agility practice this weekend.  Vito did some simple 2 jump work at 22in with my plan to gradually increase excitement and have him still keep the bars up.  I brought out Zumi's favorite toy, the rubber stick, which is pretty darn low on Vito's excitement scale.  So all bars stayed up :)

Zumi worked on the aframe, set to 5'6", and as expected she was all over the map with her striding. Definitely needs to get more comfortable with her running aframe!

Only two more weeks until her agility debut!


Happy Birthday Corgi

Lance turned 9 years old today.  Still one more year of single digits.  

Doing fantastic with everything since his IVDD last year.  Enjoying running around and going to parks still even though.  I'm not limiting his activity other than not taking him out two days in a row.  Lance is a frequent limper now after days he does running.  Thankfully it's just starts a few hours after he naps and then only lasts a day at the most.

 Love this special boy.


Spring Planting!

My husband said to me today that some people do spring gardening.  We plant our yard with agility equipment.

Yesterday there was snow on the ground covering the entire yard for a few hours.  Today there is green again and we planted our equipment. Spring in Minnesota...

Tollers just hopped on the dogwalk uninvited and hung out for a bit while we were busy.

This spring's plans for the tollers include
1. Working on Vito keeping up the jump bars when really excited.  Not typically a problem in trials when he's a bit slower but in class it's becoming a rather big problem!  Especially since I've done more jumping at 22 in class recently instead of 20!

2. Zumi's aframe, dogwalk, and weaves. All 3 need a lot more understanding of exits.


Another New Sport

Apparently 2016 is the year of adventures in dog sports.  With Lance being completely done with agility and obedience (minus maybe a few WCRL or CDSP trials where he can jump no height) he is looking for something to do.  Very sassy corgi at home!  I've still been doing a tiny bit of obedience training on nights he comes to the club with me and I've occasionally done some conditioning work at home.  But I do best with structure.  And the Corgi certainly needs to do something.

Enter nosework.  Ordered my first kit from a nice local company!

I'll be honest, I'm not expecting to fall in love with the sport.  The diabetic alert (scent trained) dogs at work are my least favorite to train of the 5 types I work with.  Maybe because it's less concrete, less control?  But maybe this will be different for me.  At least there's a lot more "hunt drive" to the training vs waiting around for the scent to just happen.  I'm sure the dogs will love it regardless of my feelings!

Lance's very first session yesterday.  Since he already has an amazing trained sticky target to my hand and to a target, this first lesson was just about doing the target to the little tin.  And then I added in a 2nd non scented tin to maybe get the tiniest idea across that some sniffing is involved in this.

Vito is going to play along too.  Vito has always been a sniffer on walks instead of a runner and he is amazing at finding the tiniest scraps ever of tennis ball remnants.  Vito used to have the honor of finding all the lost ball toys in the large yard at work even when under feet of snow!

Vito's first session yesterday was pretty darn similar to Lance.  He also has a fabulous sticky target.  (Reverse luring is amazing for teaching one!)  So today's session focused on both Lance and Vito doing the sticky target to a plastic container.  Lance did a pretty good job with only a few paws.  Vito thought the game completely changed and was all about whacking it with his paw.  Since his session was much more amusing than Lance's, here is Vito from today:

At this time Zumi is not going to be playing along.  Too many other sports to get foundations solid on!
But if you're interested in learning more about nosework, there's a great class at the Fenzi Academy!

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