We said a quick good bye to Zumi for a few months!
She's staying at her breeder's house.  Some astute readers may have noticed that Zumi had been looking a bit chunky recently and has been missing from the last few posts.

Yup, puppies!!!  Zumi is the proud mom to 2 daughters born April 24th.  Mach and Sonic!



I'm a Grandma!  
And no, we won't be keeping one.  Not a good time ;)  



I took the dogs  to a new park today and was excited to see that there was a nice dock.  A nice empty dock!  I had brought along a toy for Vito and decided to try some dock diving practice.  We got in one fun rep.

And then on our 2nd attempt Vito landed right on the toy and it was enough to sink it under the windy waves.  :(    Moment captured in bluriness....

Saddest Toller.  Really Sad Toller.  Obsessive Toller.
Luckily Vito did recall back to shore without the toy.  Something that just a year or two ago I would have been terrified of Vito spinning in circles in the middle of a lake forver and ever until he drowned.  But recall he did.  And then immediately went back out.  Repeat until I finally got him away and tried to go for a walk.

Will a stick make you happy?  Ahh,  crazier face!  And then right back to looking after having obsessively fetched it.

And then Vito went feral.  Well maybe not fully feral, but only semi domesticated.  Wanting to range far and looking frantic.  Recalling, but still no brain to stick around in his allowed range distance.  So we turned back.  And eventually needed to be put on leash for our return as now we were headed back in the direction of the lake and his long lost toy.

Sorry buddy.



Recently Vito has really been showing me how far he has come in obedience and agility.  He's been the club a good handful of times now since my return and has always been ready to work in just about 5 minutes.  It's felt good.  My dog can do things!

But he keeps me humble too.  Spring is here with all its new smells as well as my recent planting of the agility equipment.  Yesterday was especially gorgeous out and I wanted to work with Vito on our reward sequence in agility.  Mainly watching his ball being put down, happy and focused walking away to the startline, then choosing to shove his head back through the leash and going to sit in front of his ball.

Vito had different plans. Plans of sniffing the spring air, and probably munching on some sweet grass too.  Rejected me and my silly games.  I could have easily brought out the ball, teased him with it, and got him obsessive over it in just a manner of seconds.  But that wouldn't have accomplished much of anything.
Oh well.  There's always another day!

Boring video of a dog who did not want to work.  Usually I don't leash up during acclimation time, but I wanted to actually use the leash in the work I had planned!


Back to Utility! And Corgi Barking!

It's been over a year and a half since Vito last entered the obedience ring.  After our experiment, we had just started doing some rally trials last fall with great results in WCRL but still feeling the stress in AKC.  I was optimistic that Vito could handle the low key CDSP atmosphere and wanted to see where we were at.  I almost entered good old Open like I've done so many times with Vito in the past, but decided to be brave and try utility again with him.  Vito technically has his CDSP utility title, but 2 of the 3 counting scores needed double signals given on the signal exercise so I don't really count them as a Q in my mind.

At the trial I took Vito out a few times  in the hours before his run, just to walk around and sniff things.  I didn't go into letting him offer work or play until about 15 minutes before his run.  I was thrilled that as soon as I assumed the work available pose he took me up on it!  I mainly did some play and a few down signals with lots of rewards before putting him back.

Right before his run I took him out again for more of the same, and then miscalculated our waiting time before entering the ring.  I was a bit worried as he didn't want to do any of our "squish" position, but he did our 2nd style crouching "squish" ok.

And then in we went!

Love his ring entrance and go outs :)  I let him go all the way to gate to take the point losses.
Articles he struggled a bit on both the setup and the actual selection.  It's kinda hard to see the setup, but he was a bit distracted by the whole thing and then his article leaving.  I am proud that he was able to think enough to eventually select the correct one!

Signals I was beyond thrilled.  Some moving on the stand and then travelling on the down, but he didn't freeze or do it slowly!  Vito has always hated downs and he offered me a pretty snappy one here!  My favorite part of his run :)

Moving stand had a few glances at our judge and a wussy call to heel, but still good.

Gloves were ridiculous.  I knew he was looking at the steward when I sent him but I couldn't get him to look away.  Maybe I should have waited longer or just said screw it and reset completely.  Had to check out who was standing suspicously on teh side.  And then very odd with going to both the middle glove and then finally selecting the one farthest away.
On the 2nd glove he again wasn't confident on the seleciton so I helped him.
Both pivots were WAY better than they have been in a trial though!!!

So an NQ, but I was thrilled.  The next CDSP trial isn't for awhile but I'm excited to try utility again with Vito :)

The Corgi also came along and got to do his rally.  He just loves getting to strut around in rally!  So much barking again.  Our new theme!  We alo had a few instances where he lost his auto sit in heel, but improvement from the last trial.  I didn't notice any hind leg shakes in his runs so I think he was feeling better.  Forging was a bit worse again than the fall, but more cute prancing :)

Trial 2 was a bit less barky, but also less left turns- definitely correlated :)  He loves the bonus retrieve at the end :)


Bunny Ears!

I hope everyone is having a great Easter!!!  

Obligatory bunny ears.

And yup, I totally tried to be one of those parents.

And fail.


Retraining Scent Articles- One Dog's Guide

I've mentioned before that for whatever reason Zumi had a very hard time doing her scent articles when I was pregnant.  I'm sure I smelled differently with all the hormones, and likely still do.  The other dogs had no problem adjusting but Zumi's mind was blown.  I put off all article work until recently.  When I tried Zumi again on a small pile she was just purely guessing.  Maybe a tiny bit of actual sniffing but mostly just grabbing one when she got too frantic to think any longer.

Scent article retraining!  When Zumi was a puppy I was able to teach Zumi using my food conditioned method and have the retrieve be her indication pretty much from step #1.  (I think I had to interrupt before the retrieve for the first 2 lessons to show her it wasn't just a retrieve exercise.)  This time I knew I had to break it down further and completely remove the retrieve as an option to prevent frantic grabbing.  She has a much higher reward history for retrieving and some of that toller obsession as well!

Zumi already has a sticky target (aka duration nose touch) so was in a great spot to have that be her new indication.  I also decided to go back to using food on the correct article to fully get her back into sniffing mode and cut down on some of her high arousal levels.  A shaping method to article training also works really well, but I usually prefer doing a bit of luring with the food to start.  I just like how it gets the dog sniffing for scent very quickly, especially when we are asking for a scent that they are so used to ignoring in every day life.

This was her 2nd session.  I put a smear of food on every repetition.  I usually prefer to use my honest kitchen mix as a smear as I can get more watery juices than a thicker blob, but the peanut butter was what I had available.  In this session, I still needed to praise as soon as she found the correct article.  Then I had to hold it in my hand in order to get Zumi to do her nose touch or she would want to keep searching for more food.

In the next session, I started having Zumi do her indication without my hand help.  She sometimes still left the article to reexplore but started settling in as we went.

And I think 2 sessions later I filmed again.  Here we no longer are using food on the article except for the first rep.  I also start doing a few food tosses so that she's coming to the pile with some speed.  This is much harder for her and while she doesn't make any mistakes in this session there is some franticness.

For the next few sessions still working on about the same step.  The first repetition Zumi usually needed a tiny food smear to help calm her and keep her confidence high.  Then I no longer reapply the food and am working on having Zumi search after the food tosses. I waited awhile to go back to a retrieve indication with her rings or dumbbells as just the little added excitement had some errors creep in.  When Zumi guesses wrong I have her come out of the pile and do a short down while I feed her for being calm.  Sometimes I need to have her do some other calm tricks such as a chin rest so she doesn't go back to the pile frantically.

Finally, Zumi has started showing signs of being ready to at least introduce retrieve items as a distraction.  I am still having the correct article be a lid, but will start having a ring or two present in the pile.
Today was Zumi's first session with the retrieve distraction.  And of course she falls for it!

In some ways, this re-training came at a good time.  Starting June 1st I am re-running my online scent article class!  While I've gotten to help many teams start articles from scratch or work on fixing issues that have cropped up on the way, it had been 2 years since I've had to do the actual skill training personally!


Obedience Run Throughs

I'm ashamed of how long it has been since I've been able to get to an obedience run through.  Both tollers need practice applying our ring games to more of a trial environment.  But I took advantage of one pretty close to home tonight to do exactly that!

With Vito I was impressed with how quickly he was able to offer focus outside the ring and ask to work. The environment certainly felt "lighter" than most run throughs before an AKC trial so I'm sure that had a lot to do with it.  When it was his turn I told the ring steward we were going to do our own thing.  I started with a ring entrance, leash removal hand off, and then immediate play.  I repeated that a few times, leaving the ring briefly in between reps and loved that Vito was extremely pushy and super focused.  The last rep I did a bit of heeling and transitioned with play for a short recall.  It was exactly what I wanted for his trial experience.

With Zumi I did a bit more actual work.  I kept the judge in the ring and started with an off leash heel pattern before playing with her and leaving the ring to start rep #2 where I repeated the plan.  She had great energy and overall I was pleased.  I did discover that she definitely noticed the adjacent open ring with a stolen glance on an about turn and more of a stare on the final halt when she heard the dumbbell land.  Things to work on before her next attempt!

It was also great timing as I'm running my online Ring Confidence class right now!  I just released the lecture on what to do at fun matches :)

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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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