Puppy Grace!


 Not my puppy, but I do get to start her for a few months!  The definition of "few" isn't worked out yet :)

Her name is Grace and she's from Zumi's breeder.  Actually, she's a puppy from Cougar!  Cougar is the little mountain lion I had for just over a month when she was around 4 months old, 2.5 years ago!

Cougar puppy!

Grace is a pretty calm, snuggly puppy, but has actually surprised me with her puppy spunkiness too.  Cougar was quite low key for just 4 months old and so far Grace seems a bit more animated.  It'll be interesting to see how it progresses!

The first 3 days have mainly revolved around crate training.  Crate training is the one thing I just hate about puppies!  Grace has quite a large lung capacity and had no problem screaming or whining for hours, but at the same time she's actually quite relaxed.  

Grace will eat treats at anytime, and doesn't look remotely panicked in her fits.  Just upset!  
Most of the time we've worked on the xpen as an easier introduction to being crated.  She really is progressing quickly and I expect that in 2 more days she will be completely fine crated or penned.  Easy puppy. And she's apologized for ruining Netta's nap!

 I've also slowly started the process of having Grace learn to wait patiently while other the other dogs get "trained."  She gets to wait in her xpen while I drop in cookies and do super easy stuff with another dog at mealtime.  Lots of cookies for Grace, nothing exciting happening with the other dogs.

Since I don't do station training with my dogs, they just get to roam around while another is trained, as long as they don't get in the way, the plan will eventually be the same for Grace.  This skill is a big priority for me as I feel I can't devote even my tiny mealtime training with the dogs until the new kid has the rules down!


UKI Trial- We can qualify!

Last trial of the year!!! And Zumi's first trial back since the UKI open. 

Saturday was apparently the best trial she's ever had.  4 runs, 4 qualifying scores, and all beautiful.  She ran fast and clean.  I've never felt so excited as I did on Saturday!!!  We actually qualified in a jumping round!!
Here's jumpers and "agility":

But our startline sucked.  Walking on the first run up a few feet before stopping and sitting when I looked back.  The rest she didn't walk but major vulchering to the point of lying down and squealing. 

The sad thing is I know exactly why we have this issue and I know how to fix it.  It keeps cropping up, I keep fixing it, but then I let it slide again and surprise surprise.  I need to make it a priority.  I don't let her actually break before my cue in practice, but I don't emphasize pausing before my release and I'm sure she's gone on my inhalation and movement many times.  The good news is that it always starts rearing it's head in practice vs it being a "trial only" issue of over arousal.

Sunday was not so well.  More startline issues, worse than Saturday of course!  And while errors were all my fault, there were lots of errors.  We managed to run clean in the last of 5 runs, others all off courses, usually multiple!

Here's our standard/agility run!

Vito came along on Sunday for the Masters Heat challenge runs.  Such a good boy.  He always makes me feel better about my handling :) 


TEAM 4 Baseline

I decided to seize today's nice weather and Daddy napping with the toddler to actually train my dog!  Win for me!

I decided to look at the TEAM 4 test behaviors to train some new things and yet still have a ton of carryover for our AKC Open prep work.

We haven't officially put anything together yet for this test but I was confident that she had the foundations necessary for it.  Indeed looking over the test items today it was more so the putting together of the various chains that were new for us, not the skills themselves.

So I decided to take a baseline.  Run through the test and see where she was at:

1. Send to target with distractions, position changes, recall.
Send to target between distractions went well!  I know Zumi can struggle with this and we've done quite a bit of work on it in the past.  3 position changes on a single cue, check.  We've been working those cue discriminations for open and it paid off here. I just have to remember to pause longer!

Recall on a hand signal only- oops.  Zumi "knows" this but apparently not well enough to do it out of context.  Recall signal after a go out and with her toys out just wasn't there.

2. Big figure 8 around distractions.
This one surprised me!  Zumi left the distractions alone fairly nicely.  Well I guess she did almost try to steal one after the exercise finished from the previous exercise!  But the big problem here was stopping as we heeled!

In her defense, we have been practicing our moving sits, moving stands, and moving downs recently!

3. Retrieve and pivoting away.
This one is just so hard for Zumi!  She squealed, but did ultimately turn with me both times.
And then spat out the dumbbell, likely due to all the snow in her mouth!

4. Moving stand, drop, return to heel.
Good girl on the actual exercise. But a lot of auto marking ahead before we started!  We'll  have to work on doing heeling starting out towars the go out area!

Here we took quite a big break.  I'm not sure what grabbed Zumi's attention but she clearly wasn't ready to work.   I thought it might have been the 2nd retrieve item the way she was searching but I'm just not sure!  Either way, I tried to be patient as I told her to take a break, and then yet another break when she wasn't really ready again.

5. Backup-position change- broad jump
This was the exercise I was the least certain about.  I'm sure I've backed her up in front of a jump but not enough to have her think!  I was actually surprised that she did catch my cue eventually and back up vs just jumping!
Didn't sit on the first cue though!

6. Articles.
Good girl!  I've actually practiced articles a small handful of times the last few months which is much more than usual for me!  She had no problem in the snow.

I was pretty pleased!  Big takeaways to work on are:
- recall signal with distractions out and after a send away.
- pivoting away from a thrown item with more confidence, less conflict.
- actually heeling, not stopping!
- backup cue when in front of a jump.
- heeling starting from the go out spot.


Open Obedience

Well we went to the AKC obedience trial today!  Zumi was entered in Open A for her 2nd trial.

I was both happy and worried when I saw that the steward for Open was a child.  A lovely young girl who did a great job stewarding all day!

It's just that Zumi wasn't well socialized to kids and she's very nervous by them.  A recurring them in some past problems we have had with Zumi working in both agility and obedience trials.  A problem that is purely my problem, not a fault of the club and certainly not a problem that she was there stewarding.

I was optimistic that since the girl was older we would be fine.  I could keep Zumi in "drive" and hopefully have her not even notice her.

That didn't' happen.  Zumi saw her right away as we were getting ready to enter the ring and started worrying.  She recovered really well as we got to run to the heeling setup spot and heeled relatively well.  Some lagging. A few glances to the steward table, and a brief moment where she cut behind me to heel on the wrong side.  But trying hard and playing with me before the figure 8 setup.

Then a little worse.  Zumi needed to sniff the girl and did some ducking away.

At the start of the cue discrimination, she was still a little worried and not able to focus on my first cue to stand.  NQ.

But then I was really proud of how she pulled it together!
No squealing on the first retrieve!  Just a tiny squeal on the retrieve over the high.

She did her down from a sit for the stay, complete with a "sad" chin rest!

Lesson learned for me.  If there is a child steward, even an older one, I should just pull.  Zumi tries hard, but she can't quite handle it.  And it's certainly not worth pairing that stress with a trial!


Obedience Training

I happen to have entered Zumi in an AKC obedience trial this coming weekend.  Apparently, I didn't really plan well with training time.  Looking at the calendar, the only practice we've had outside of my small living room since the October trial was one. The week after.

I get the building once a week before teaching classes.  But my night is Wednesdays and then it was Halloween, leaving to travel to Florida without me a few days early, staying another 4 days with friends driving her back, then the Thanksgiving holidays.  That leaves this Wednesday as our 2nd practice in over a month.

Unfortunately, it's shown with her arousal in retrieves again.  I just doodle on little things before dinner, mainly fronts and finishes.  The occasional retrieve has had more whining and even worse, back to some jolting forward on the throw. 

Zumi really needs her ball reward for dumbbell retrieves, not food!  The higher value ball reward actually helps to calm her excitement for the dumbbell as well as more satisfying victory laps to relieve some energy.

At least I feel like I'm tackling her other issues that showed up in the trial.

Down from a sit for the stay exercise was almost non existant in the trial.  She needed a 2nd cue on all 3 trials, even with a stupid hand point.  So I practiced added a little more excitement to the down, getting her used to hand point as I almost never do it, and adding in her "sad" chin rest to the ground to make it more of a trick. Plus "sad" is more down than down and it never hurts to teach "more"!

And then her finishes.  This isn't just a trial issue as it certainly shows up in practice.  On the left finish she usually is great, but sometimes can be a little wide.  So I'm doing left finish + side step.

And on the right finish, we do consistently have the problem even in practice where she doesn't come far enough, tucks her butt behind me.  It's why I rarely do it in a trial.  For this I started doing lots of cookie tosses forward before she fully completes the finish.  Also mixed in some right pivots so she has to go further than expected to come up to heel.

Here was Saturday's session on the down and finishes:



Zumi and I headed down for our first agility championship event, the US Open, last week.  While I had taken Lance to the AKC obedience invitational I had  yet to do any type of big agility event before now!  Vito's car anxiety kinda limits how far we usually go.  But Grandma had Vito and the toddler all week to let me fly down to our first big event and Zumi hitched a long drive down with friends!

She even got to hit the beach the day before the trial started to run with border collies!

The event unfortunately had us in the group where our very first run of the weekend was the official "Round 1" national run.  I expected Duckie to be really high and a little whee! with obstacle scoping and handled it with layering a jump in order to get further ahead for a blind. 

Zumi had other plans in apparently being just the tiniest bit lower in arousal than usual and a little sticky.  She got the layer in the sense she didn't come in, but she also didn't take the jump on the other side.  I really wish we had a do-over after seeing that this bit of stickiness was a constant for her runs! 

Overall I thought she did an incredibly great job with the environment. She held all her stays over 4 days and 9 runs.  She ran fast.  And except for the very last run of the weekend, we actually had zero "off courses" that weren't just a skipped obstacle in the sequence. 

Mainly it was just me struggling with maintaining the amount of connection with her that she needed.

I can't wait until next year!  And hopefully I'll actually get some regular training sessions in with a slightly older child once the ground is thawed again!


10 Years

Vito is officially a double digits dog.  He's finally 10 years old!  Vito has been going on about 14yrs old for several years now, going grey at the age of 5.  There have been numerous moments over the last 10 years where I didn't think he would ever make it to this age.  I thought for sure we would have to say goodbye to Vito at a young age. 

Yet we made it.  And he's taught me more than any other dog will ever teach me.  Has launched my passion for creating ring confidence in dogs.

And I truly can't imagine loving another dog more than I love Vito.

Vito's 10th year also marks the 10th anniversary of this blog. I started this blog to chronical my training journey with a new puppy and my adventures in discovering dog sports.  It evolved to include many more puppies from dogs I puppy raised to be service dogs, fosters, a returned puppy, a Zumi, and much more stories.  It hasn't always been kept up over the years but it's still kinda kicking after 10 years!

Happy belated Halloween from the crew and my mini kling-on. 


Zumi AKC Open!

Well we did it!  Zumi and I entered our first AKC trial in a year, our first time in Open, and my first time with the new rules last weekend.  2 attempts on Saturday, 1 on Sunday.

My goals for her this last weekend were
1. Confidence.  Zumi is my sensitive girl and while she's even half of what Vito is in terms of anxiety, she is sensitive.  The AKC atmosphere isn't easy for her.  So I was hoping for heeling that was energetic and the ability to not worry about the judge.

2. Duration :)  aka not anticipating anything.  The retrieves were my biggest worry of course.
I had officially given up on not getting squeals on her sends in a trial environment. Practice is actually going very well, but it's also still very easy for me to replicate a squeal if I wanted to!  1.5yrs of working on the squeal and we haven't yet made it.  So I said it is what it is, we will keep practicing on not squealing, and we will start showing too.   I was hoping for eye contact before I sent her, and no actual anticipation.

And I'm happy to say that both goals were met!!!  Zumi had perfect ring entrances with energy and focus on me during the leash removal, transitions, and I didn't catch any worries at all with the judge!

Heeling/8- Her heeling wasn't super drivey, but she was right with me on all 3 heel patterns.  We had a minor issue on the figure 8 in the first trial with a small lag the first quarter, and a bigger issue on the 3rd trial with it. 

I was also an idiot during that trial and went left with her on the figure 8 when I should have gone right.  I always go right.  Right for drivey dogs, because why not!, and right with more laggy dogs because I want them to practice getting up and going.  I might get a lag right away, but I tend to get better recovery.  Going left I think stressed her a little and then we just didn't get our get up and go on so she crossed to my right after the first loop.

Cue discrimination-  All very solid in terms of position changes!!!  I even did one trial with signals only!   We did discover a minor issue of walking on the stand stay after I left. Well minor on trial 1, major on trial 2- basically no stay at all, and back to minor on trial 3.

Drop on recall- All beautiful.  Well on the 2 she stayed.  Because clearly related to the other exercise, Zumi didn't want to stay while I walked away.

Retrieve on flat-  All eye contact before the send!  Some without dancey feet!  And 1 of them had no squeal (trial 2)!!!!

Retrieve over high- All with eye contact!  Trial 3 had no squeal!  We had some punching on the fronts though :)

Broad: No problem cutting the board and I generally stood in the middle.

Sit stay: No issues. 

Down stay: did not want to lie down on the first cue.  all 3 trials needed a 2nd cue. I even gave an exaggerated down signal on the 3rd trial and nothing.   No problem with me leaving and getting my leash though.

So 2 NQ's and 1 should have been NQ but ended up a Q.  The last trial I screwed up and blurted out "down" as I gave a hand signal to lie down.  Well actually it was my hand that blurted up as I planned on the verbal.  I immediately recognized my mistake.  When I talked to the judge after the show I thought I was discussing that error and she told me it was considered a substantial deduction, but not an NQ.  But I realized when I got home that I think we were discussing different things.  I'm pretty sure she thought I was asking about the repeated cue to lie down on the stay-get your leash exercise, not the accidental double cue on the drop on recall!  Oh well.

Trial 2, I thought this was her best one!

And Sunday's trial.  Our worst one.


0 for 10

Zumi had her last UKI trial this weekend before the US open cutoff.  And actually her last UKI trial before the big event.  I was hoping for those 3 stupid jumper Q's and the trial scheduled lent itself well those opportunities!  Between the master heat jumpers and the regular jumpers, she had 2 jumpers Friday, 3 jumpers Saturday, and 1 Sunday.

Spoiler alert, it didn't happen. Not once.

Apparently, Zumi has some weave pole issues.
Mostly not entering.  Either entering at the 3rd pole or running alongside the poles like she doesn't know what to do with them.

We had several would be clean runs that ended with weave pole faults.  :(

And then we had one run on Saturday that had a mini meltdown where Zumi went off course right before the weaves, went off course after the weave and then as she returned to me and I tried to keep handling she couldn't do anything.  Wouldn't jump.  So I took a few seconds to have her jump in the air and reconnect with her and then she finished strong.

sensitive girl.

The last run on Saturday I chose to do a NFC, aka toy run.  It was a jumpers run and I rewarded her weaves (which she nailed just fine) with a ball. Did some more things, then had her weave again when she also did just fine.

Sunday she only had speedstakes (no weaves) and jumpers (weaves) but she could weave just fine.
She must have been feeling sassier as she broke her startline on speedstakes and my handling to try and make up for it was too late.  And on jumpers she had a beautiful run and then took an off course tunnel right at the end before the weaves that no other dog took.  Avoiding weaves? or just unlucky?  She nailed the weaves with her new made up course.

Overall I'm really happy with how she handled on the courses this long weekend.  Lots of beautiful moments.  A few crappy handling moments on my part, but overall

I guess we have some training to do.

I can't say we've done much agility training at all in the last 2 years :(   Obedience has suffered as well, but is still generally easier to do tiny bits at a time, even with a toddler needing to climb you.

And in semi related news, I am going to try to commit myself to a running program if I can squeeze it in or can make it work with a stroller.  I'm not a huge fan of running but would like to not be so out of shape!  No issues with weekend trials, but I'm thinking about those long, long courses that could be present in November!


Zumi TEAM 3

Zumi earned her TEAM 3H title!  It's been difficult to make time to practice any element, let alone the whole thing so Netta accompanied us. 

Level 3 is so much fun!  It's really where all of the foundation behaviors start to come together and you actually look like you're doing real obedience!

In the "H" level, Zumi is limited with rewards (just the distraction reward by the retrieve and then the very end) and it's supposed to be at a place you haven't submitted before.  Well outside our house is both new in that we just moved(!) and new in that I haven't had to do an outside one yet.    As we go into the 4-6honors level we will have to visit new parks or training centers to film!

TEAM 4 will actually be great prep for AKC open!  It will have work on focusing and being calm after a dumbbell throw (as you have to pivot away from it, throw a 2nd one, then pivot back!).  And has quite a bit of position change work that should help the new cue discrimination exercise in open, as well as figure 8 work aroudn distractions, and a broad jump.

The biggest thing we will be focusing on this next month, besides TEAM4, will be Zumi's drop on recall.  Apparently we are goign through a bit of anticipation issues right now with Zumi dropping or just stopping on the recall, before I cue the drop.  A very normal phase!  Just one I wasn't expecting as I thought I worked through that last year!  Apparently when you don't really practice it much at all and the dog isn't 100% solid on it then problems come back ;)

I have decided that I'm going to enter Zumi (well if we can fix the DOR!) in our club's AKC trial the end of October.  Her arousal with the retrieve is pretty darn good in practice now.  Not 100% but close to it with not vocalizing or pattering her feet.  And I'm honestly not sure I will ever be able to fix it for a trial environment.  We will keep working on it and keep shooting for reaching a 95%+ in practice.  And then I'm ok with the "it is what it is" mindset for trials.  At least that's where I'm at right now.


All the Things

Wow, life has gotten busy and summer is almost over!  Here are the last month's happenings!

We sold our house, moved out of my parent's basement where we had stayed for just over 3 months, and moved into our new house.  It was kinda a disaster but things are finally coming together now.  Lots and lots of cleaning.  New floors in the basement.  Appliances that work.  Fenced yard and a potty yard.

The Boykin finally got adopted a few weeks ago!  And yes I did manage to teach him a hold, and a stand, in case you were wondering about his progress :)  I even started working on moving from a stand and hold to a sit and hold for fun!  And more importantly, his new family just adores him.

And now my current foster is a cute litter terrier, Speck, who hopes to be a hearing alert dog!  Aside from some minor terrierness fun, he is an incredibly easy dog to live with.  A welcome change from Splash's high level of training and management needed!

Oh and I got a chinchilla for my birthday!  Meet Kix!

Training wise, still not doing much with my own dogs :(  
Zumi has been able to do more TEAM work though this last month and I'm happy to say she earned her TEAM 3 title and I'm waiting to hear back on her TEAM3H title!  Level 3 is really fun!

I've done a few agility trials with her the last few weeks in attempts to finish up the last 3 jumpers Q's she needs to pre-qualify for UKI's championship, the US Open.  Unfortunately, we seem to be cursed with beautiful runs and then a dropped bar, or I miscue a jump and get a backside instead, or don't get the backside, or...  So still 3 jumpers legs needed and just 1 trial left.  Between the masters heat series and the normal championship level runs we will actually have 6 chances over the 3 days for a needed 50% Q rate.  Which is still 100% higher than our current Q rate in jumpers.

On the other hand, Vito earned his UKI championship title for the "select" division last month!  The IWACs!

The Corgi has struggled a bit these last few weeks.  We're pretty sure he either slipped another disc or has swelling, or something going on with his lower back.  On the positive side, he already started improving in a week before he had his vet appointment.  And he's certainly feeling better being on carprofen!  He's on a bit of rest right now and then we will reevaluate things next week!


Problem Solving a Stand

I've been working with Splash the foster Boykin spaniel for several weeks now in reinforcing standing.  He was dealt a very bad structure (early closing growth plates) and standing is not something he naturally wants to do.  Splash very much wants to sit. 

So I've been reinforcing just waiting in a stand a lot.  A lot.  I  hate auto sits in how it makes pivoting so difficult!  And we've come a long way in Splash at least learning that waiting in a stand pays. 

I thought a higher reinforcement history for standing would make it easier to actually teach the action of a kickback stand.  But we still struggled with my usual methods.  He has an awkward body and I just wasn't communicating what I wanted well.

Back to the drawing board.  I decided to introduce the idea of a rear foot target to get a kickback stand.  I know many people have taught a stand simply by capturing the beginning of a dog backing up.  It hasn't personally been my method as I really like the picture that front feet completely still offers but I thought I would try to blend the 2. 

It was a fascinating progression over several sessions!  But now Splash will offer a stand with a front foot target, no rear foot target needed.

While Splash will also now offer a kickback stand without any target, I'm finding I still want a front foot target as he has some tiny backing up in there without it.  I'm not sure if that's because of the initial rear foot target work or because of his structure.

Right now we are working on actually getting the verbal cue attached before going back to getting rid of the target.

On a side note, Splash is available for adoption for anyone local to Minnesota!  He has been career changed from the service dog program due to his legs.

And on another side note, registration for my Stand with Me class at FDSA opens tomorrow!!!  We can talk anything about stands from teaching a stand in heel or at a distance to getting a dog comfortable with an exam!


House and a weird retrieve

Wow it's been a busy month!  Lots of exciting changes completed and coming up.  We are still living in my parent's basement but our old house officially was signed away and keys turned over yesterday.  And *knock on wood* we are set to sign for and move into a new house the last weekend of July.  Plenty of room for child and her things.  And the good news is that my new yard will definitely still work for agility.  Large, flat and very few trees!

In training news, Splash has surprised me with throwing me something completely different in our retrieve training than I have seen before.  Of the hundreds of different dogs I've personally put retrieves on over the years I have yet to have a dog offer this interesting behavior:

He cracks me up!  This is actually an improvement. I've been selecting for open mouth along with the lip catch on the bar and you can see he actually is opening his mouth now a little bit. 

Today's session Splash did actually give me 2 very tiny open mouth OVER the db bar so I'm optimistic that we are on the right track. 
I just don't think I could have taught this lip catch thing if I tried!


MN Agility Cup

I took the tollers to the first annual (hopefully!) Minnesota Agility Cup this past weekend.  It's not affiliated with any organization so no potential for legs and titles. Just really fun "international" style courses, a laid back atmosphere, and of course the draw of winning big bucks!  Or at least the opportunity to win back your entry fees.

I was really surprised at how few competitors were there.  This is what agility is all about to me!

The courses were super fun.  And super long.  SO much spacing between obstacles that we're just not used to here.  And I think they ranged from 200-240 yards each.  I learned I am way out of shape.  Not that it was really new to me, but it sure made me think about the upcoming US Open this November!  Of course I'll only have 1 dog and more time between runs so that will help. But still.  Considering doing some sprint training....

My dogs weaknesses weren't new, but they were certainly highlighted this weekend.  No hiding from them on the international style courses!

Really Zumi was very over aroused and didn't get better.  I think the wide open spacing really kicked her into gear.  She still handled very well and I was proud of how she did this weekend but we do have our work cut out.

So my to do list includes:
- Actually training a strong "here" type cue so I don't have to do really lame handling to try and push away from the tunnels calling out to my dogs.  I've always just given up hope and call my dogs name as I see them sucking in and of course they always just go in...

- Startline stays with Zumi.  (Well and Vito technically too, but it's Vito and he knows I don't care with him.  He definitely broke every startline this weekend.)  Zumi I thought was fixed.  She was back to sitting up nicely and not scooting.  But major breaking, not just but scooting this weekend. On the positive side she did respond to her back up cue to help reset her!
- And the teeter stay?  She broke on the last course too!

- Trained threadle cue.  I was actually really proud of Zumi as she did a double threadle with me pretty far behind, but it could be a lot better.  And I know it's not consistent.

- Dogwalks.  Our lack of training with Zumi shows.  Some great ones, some leaps.  And all were straight exits...

Zumi technically won the 20in class with her billions of off courses, and Vito won the 16in select class.

Zumi round 6 agility.  240 yards...

Vito actually ran very well.  This trial was my potential last trial with Vito as I wasn't sure if he would put up with me trailing him anymore based on the last UKI/USDAA weekend.  But he was running great even though it was an insane amount of yards and way more than the 2 runs per day I had been doing with him.   So I guess he rewarded my greediness and I'll just keep an eye on him until he tells me he's really done.  He's certainly doing well physically.

Vito's final round. 230 yards.  His 7th run of the weekend!:


FDSA Camp Trip

Last week I escaped home life to go to the FDSA camp!  I didn't think I was going to be able to go this year but thanks Mom for babysitting Vito and Netta!!!

Of course camp was amazing.  Fun to meet people I've only seen online and wow there were a huge variety of breeds! 

I brought Zumi to camp to be my emotional support dog for all the socializing required, and because I wanted the opportunity to work with her in that type of environment.  We played in the empty rings about twice a day working on ring entrances, heeling and then a mix of exercises from gloves to go outs. 

Mostly I worked on Zumi dropping the ball at my feet when I put my hands behind my back in order to work. 

I usually train with her tug toy (still primarily fetch) and Zumi's great at offering that drop and knowing it starts work vs how I cue another toss.  But I haven't been applying this type of consent cue to her agility training when I use a ball.  With some brilliant reminders from lectures at camp I decided that I really needed to have this clear opt-in signal from Zumi in her agility training too.  I know the ball is harder for her drop since she loves to just squish it!  So instead of just trying to start right away applying that to agility I thought I would bring her ball to obedience work where she at least already knows the routine.  Baby steps!

The first few sessions were  difficult.  She chose to lie down and squish her ball more than work.  And that was ok!!!   We can't ask our dogs if they are ready to work and then ignore their answer!  But it definitely improved over the few days at camp.  I know she's not ready yet to do that in the context of agility but we will get there. 

I managed to break out the tripod to film her last little session of work with the tiniest bit of heeling, retrieves, a break, and then more retrieves.   And of course her dropping the ball work. 

I'm also pleased to report that Zumi really settled in well with her hotel stays.  April was her first and only hotel stay before this trip and she was a little stressed when it was just us in the room whenever our roommates were out.  She also went off her food.  This trip I was prepared with a bag full of different brands of kibble!  Zumi actually ate pretty well with her mixture of different foods, not even picking out her normal kibbles out of the mix like she did last trip.  She was also much more settled about being in the rooms even with different roommates and hotels! 

And I slept the best I've slept in 18 months.  Amazing. 


Retrieve Arousal Levels Update

I've been continuing to work on Zumi's little squeal with her dumbbell sends.  And I'm excited to say we have made another breakthrough, however small!

I've been trying the following ideas to help bring Zumi's arousal level down with her dumbbell:

  1. Doing work with the db on the ground for awhile before sending.
  2. Throw the db and heel away, then eventually mark and send her to it.
  3. Throw random objects for her to retrieve from keys to water bottles to anything else I find around me.
The first idea wasn't really new to her.  Zumi is very used to having her dumbbell and other stuff on the floor while we work and doesn't really obsess over it.  It's primarily the excitement of the throw that gets her, but it was good to revisit this idea to make sure it wasn't an issue.

The next idea was something I again did a while ago with her but haven't done in a long time.  This is still mildly difficult for her.  Zumi can turn away from the db and do work but I can see some slight hesitation on the turn away.  Occasionally if I'm heeling and halt facing the db I can see Zumi give the db a quick glance.  That toss before doing work certainly gets her arousal level up.  However when I eventually mark and send her to the db she doesn't squeal.  I will be doing more of this work in her future.

The final idea was doing formal retrieves of different items.  Zumi already knows how to retrieve random items, although she's a little rusty with being smooth with the pickup and delivery.  I do a quick warm up with each item by handing it to her to hold before setting her up and tossing it.

This has been the biggest help to her arousal issues in the last few weeks!  No squeals at all on sends to different items and then I can even throw her db pretty far and she still doesn't squeal! I think the reason for this is because she is thinking so hard on HOW she is going to pick up the awkward items that it just tones down her adrenaline a bit.  It's hard work!

I'm not sure if this will continue to help as her confidence increases with being able to smoothly pick up all the items, but it's at least been an interesting route!


UKI & USDAA weekend

We had one more agility weekend this past week with the tollers!  Split the weekend from an indoor UKI trial  and an outdoor USDAA.  I was torn between my greater lover for UKI trials and actually getting to play outside!

Saturday was UKI.  Thanks to her big points she earned from her master standard run at the midwest cup she only needed a single game Q to get out of senior and into the championship level.  Zumi really ended up sailing through senior, especially considering how long we spent in novice!

She managed to earn that in a gambers run on saturday.  Sadly no other Q's.  Nice runs, listening SO well without any over arousal issues at all.  Just a stupid refusal on a backside serp, or doing a bonus backside, or sucking in out of a straight tunnel....  All my fault. 

This was one of my favorite runs on Saturday.  I missed that she didn't make her DW until seeing the video.  Then at the end I don't think I really cued the bonus backside but I sure didn't cue the front of the jump either!

Sunday was a gorgeous day to be outside!
Gamblers was made for Zumi but somehow we still didn't get it. Sigh, zero masters gamblers Q for Zumi so far...

Standard was clean though!  And she listened to her pleading "come, come come" cues for the DW turn! I knew I was going to do a late blind before the aframe but it worked and we managed to be clean!

A super Q in snooker too!

And a jumpers run that she oddly went around the outside of a jump and then sucked in later off another jump.  Maybe just tired at the end of the day?

I thought Vito was running pretty slow in all his runs this weekend.  It wasn't until I got home and actually looked at videos that I saw it didn't look as bad as it felt.  He wasn't fast, but he was still trying.

This was Vito's first run of the day on Saturday and it felt like a death march. But doesn't look too bad!  Video always makes it look better :)

He did seem to get faster over his 3 runs on Saturday.  It doesn't help that jumpers always been his hardest.

But Sunday was definitely slower.  Snooker should have been a super Q run with points but he really was plodding and ran out of time at the 10th weave pole of the last #7 obstacle in the closing.  Oh well.  He made someone else very happy to earn their ADCH with that last super Q!

Standard we did a random backside but at least was faster than that snooker run.

Maybe he's liking indoor trials more now in his old age?! Or he's just Vito and I never know how he's going to feel like moving!

Boykin came along and did pretty well with offering focus to the best of his 4 month old ability!
However when I did let him say hi to people he was way more mouthy and jumpy then he's been recently!!


TEAM 3 Practice

Now that the weather is finally nice and we can train outside I've been doing more TEAM 3 stuff with Zumi again.  All the exercises are very familiar to her and have been for a while.

The challenge we are working on now is putting stuff in sequence.  I'm always amazed at how behavior can break a little when you start jumping right in from one exercise to the next!
We have great flow and connection between exercises, it's just the confidence of getting it correct on the first time without any little warm up!

It's not always the same thing that "breaks" but of course there's always 1 little thing!

So no actual testing yet.  I'll practice going from exercise to exercise, but not always in the same order and no hesitation to break something out and work on the little pieces again before trying the full exercise.

The exercise that has surprised me the most that she's struggled with on the first rep is the retrieve with distraction!  I ALWAYS have Zumi offer to spit out her toy and than work on the dumbbell with the toy on the ground still.  So I was shocked with Zumi several times went for the toy during our test practices.

I think the added difficulties were:
- I was the one to put the toy on the ground, not Zumi offering to drop it

- I practiced ending the heeling portion then going to get the toy where it is located off to the side.

This must look to Zumi like I'm getting the toy to reward her great heeling when really I'm just going to get it for the distraction piece and plan on playing with her AFTER the retrieve.  I bet if rewarded her with the toy first then set it on the ground it would look more similar to our usual training setup and be easier for her.

Other little issues that have cropped up are
- anticipating the 2nd position change!  A little bit of a suprise as she's done so well with position changes and waiting, but not a huge shock.

- Angled front after the mini go out/directed cones.  Zumi typically has pretty great fronts from cookie tosses and cone sends but this is making me aware that it's not consistent yet on that "first" rep. The one that really counts!

I've been doing a lot more cookie toss fronts in the house and I've been able to replicate some issues.  If there's not much space behind me after the front she's more likely to be slightly off in anticipation of turning for the thrown reward vs being sent through my legs.  And if I put the reward behind her she has a hard time fully turning her back to the reward even if she's not trying to look at it.  Zumi wants to be slightly angled to the pressure.



The Boykin foster is doing well.  Eating things, well mainly wanting to eat things has been a struggle still though.  He's mostly doing well with ignoring items on the floor that aren't dog stuff (huge win!) but he continues to amaze me with what he will try to get into.  Yesterday I left him in his xpen with a nylabone and his bowl of food while I went to get breakfast ready.  When I returned I found he had pried off the rubber bottom of the stainless steel bowl and had ingested a chunk.  Thankfully only a 1in strip.

I've had others tell me that ingesting items is a normal spaniel thing.  I think that's crazy if they are right!  How do they not get blockages?!

Boykin's training is going ok otherwise.  He's super eager and loves his cookies :)  Not jumping up towards hands or just to punch me in general has been a bigger struggle than I can remember with other puppies.  He quickly learned to wait for food delivery and give eye contact, but motion from me results in boings again.  Boingkin is more representative of his name.

It has turned our pivot training into me teaching the "find heel" while I stand still before I teach "maintain heel" while I actually move around the perch.

Here was Splash from a few weeks ago working on actually focusing on his target and not punching me:

And here he is this past week finally working on me taking a step forward to have him maintain heel.  He's still bouncing with my movement but is actually trying to stay on the perch now!

Splash also is doing x1000 better with his recalls!  I know how environmental spaniels can be and Splash certainly was the most tuned into sniffing and staring at things out of the other dogs I've raised!  But he likes his cookies and usually can be snapped out of sniffing to run to me.  Still a long line!

I am undecided still if I'm a spaniel person or not!  He's super sweet, cuddly. Very closely bonded to his people to the point that I'm recommending Splash have regular foster home vacations every month or so just to get him comfortable being with different households and not stressed about it. 
He just spent a weekend with another foster family and did well! 


UKI Midwest Cup

It's been quite the busy month!  We packed up and moved most of our belongings into my parent's basement or into the shed.  Finding time to go back to our house to actually finish cleaning it and empty the garage has been difficult!

But before I dive into some of the updates I wanted to brag on Zumi!  We went to our first "big" competition this last weekend, the UKI Midwest Cup.  It involved our first trial with an overnight stay.  

Zumi wasn't thrilled with the hotel whenever we were by ourselves. She paced and stood at the door, and wouldn't eat any of her food.  But when our roommates were in the room she was happy, relaxed, and seemed to feel more certain that it was where we were supposed to be.  Zumi also decided she could eat kibble as long as it wasn't hers.

I wasn't sure how she would handle the trial environment but she kept her wits about!  Her startline issues seemed even better than they have been at the local shows!  Day 1 had a little pitter patter and at least 1 run with a quick scoot, but by day 2 she was pretty solid!  

Our jumping type runs were our weakest point but that's true in our local shows too.  She tries, just a few wheeee moments where she can't quite turn.  Some my mistakes, some hers. Her 2 standard runs were my favorite.  

My fault for the knocked bar for being in her way, but she listened the whole run!  And even turned off her running dogwalk to get the weaves and not suck in the tunnel!  

Gamblers was a phenomenally smooth run for 3rd place. Sadly I earned her a refusal in the snooker closing which knixed our chances at a medal.

Day 2 really came together for us.  She was much more handler focused overall.  That meant she didn't make up for my handling on that snooker run, but not as wide of turns.

Standard on day 2, biathlon agility, I wasn't thrilled with my conservative handling of a turn after the wall jump but hey at least I avoided the 2 tunnel trap possibilities with it! And I sadly got rewarded for my wussy approach by coming in first place of the 20in class.  So many border collie E's...

But apparently, Zumi got 3rd for biathlon of all the 20 in dogs!  I left the trial for our long drive home before knowing we would be on the podium.

And her final placement for all 8 classes of the cup was 4th in the 20in class!  We made a lot of mistakes, but the courses were eating dogs left and right.   Super, super fun courses but challenging!

I'm glad we went and now I'm even more excited for November's UKI US Open!


The other dogs trialed too

Alright so Vito did CDSP obedience on Saturday for his 2 very happy runs.  Zumi also did 2 runs in obedience and then on Sunday was back with the Corgi for 2 rally runs each.

Lance always loves to show :)  His first run was actually quiet. Only 1 left pivot type sign though :)
The 2nd run had the backup sign 2nd so that got him nice and warmed up for all the barking!

I noticed that a lot of his halts in the 2 runs were quite rocked back and sloppy.  Lack of training? Or a subtle sign of his age creeping up on me?!

Here's his sassy round 2:

Saturday had Zumi's 2 runs in Open.  Her 3rd trial in the open class and definite improvement but yet still a long, long way to go with her vocalizing.

Open run 1:
I need to speak up with my "yes" response to the judge for the go out!  She looked up at me during the wait, but I'm thrilled with her eye contact on me instead of vulturing or whining! No squeal on the go out send either!  I chose not to step over her on the return.

On the retrieves, you will notice my "beg" cues at the start of each one, something I've just started in this last week as it has really helped her not vulture in the agility ring. 
The first ROH my stupid too short throw did not help her calmness!  Only a little pitter patter feet!  Of course the rethrow was too much and she scooted forward.  More vocalizing on the release and a nice punch to my legs on the front.

Scooting and whining on the ROF and of course another bark on the release.  Too much for the Duck.

A very thoughtful recall though!  She actually came at a more controlled pace waiting for that down cue!
Heeling was focused nicely! 

Broad jump...  I apparently am incapable of giving the cue early enough to get a nice jump.  I always feel like I give it too early the few times I convince myself to practice it and then I end up with Zumi jumping straight over it but being so far ahead that she goes all wide and cuts me off....  Better than ticking the jump I suppose.

Run 2:
Order #1 this time.  We didn't quite enter connected.  I think I accidentally said "ok" after the leash removal and while that should not cue a toy, I'm suspicious she was looking for one... 
On the heeling she did the weird thing with wanting to cross behind me as we approach the ring gates to turn left on the far wall.  Recovered pretty well after that though.

Broad jump I'm not sure.  She's pretty much never walked on the boards before!

No scootching on the ROF, but a small whine while she looked back at me.  Barked on the send.
A little more whining and vulturing during the ROH throw and barking on the send.

On the mark for te go out I'm pretty sure she was looking for the db in the judge's hand or at least looking for a retrievable item.  And then I accidentally said "ok" again in response to the judge but thankfully she didn't fully leave!  The scream on the send here didn't surprise me.

Rally on Sunday she did runs in level 3.  Good girl.  A litlte disconnected at the start again of the 2nd run, but still listened and was fully back by the 4th sign. I was super happy that she collected for the recall over 2 jumps :)

I'm happy with Zumi's runs but at the same time I'm also not quite sure what to do for the future.  Progress has been made, especially in practice, but she's still showing the same vocalizing and feet movement on the db sends too much.  And I find it fascinating that if I throw her toy out there she usually is perfect- no vocalizing at all.  She might still patter her feet depending on what toy it is though...
I'm just not sure how to keep progressing and at some point even take it into a trial without the vocalizing!


Vito Does Obedience

Tollers had a CDSP trial this Saturday!  I was so proud of Vito that he deserves his own post!

I entered Vito in 2 runs for the first time in years.  Open and utility!  Apparently, it was even his first time doing open in over 3 years!  I wasn't sure how he would do with the 2nd run as motivation can be hard, but since he's been doing so well with energy in training and choosing to work that I gave it a go.

Open was the first trial.  So happy!!   I'm pretty sure this was by far the most comfortable he has ever been in a trial too.  He said Kristen has a very unassuming presence :)

Such cute forging on the start of his heeling.  I will never tire of seeing him do that in an actual trial!

Good old Vito still has issues with ticking the broad jump with the running version even at a sad 24in!  I was clearly never able to fix that, at least consistently.  Not that we've really done the broad jump in ages.

Skipped front surprised me with how comfortable he was acting in the ring.  Usually that shows up more when he's worried about the judge.

And I forgot to call the early sit for his go out to let me go behind.  I've been wanting Zumi to go all the way and just forgot with Toller.

Then utility in trial 2.  More happiness!! 

I don't know what was up with his sit signal.  Signals are usually turning out to be one of his best exercises, a nice change from the corgi! 
Articles happy.
Gloves I held the mark signal as he was looking at the jump for the first send and was looking at the middle glove for the 2nd send.  Definitely our weakest exercise still.  I have actually been practicing them though!


The Boykin!!

Hello Boykin!

Before you ask, no it's not mine.  I'm not that crazy!  Well I guess I am, as he's still going to be staying with us for awhile!  The Boykin, also known as Splash, is a recently donated service puppy in training! 

I know it's the worst possible time to add a puppy into my household with a 1yr old baby and getting ready to sell our house, but he's a Boykin!!  I've had a few people tell me I would like Boykins and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with one in real life.   They were on my possible future dog list and now I get to see what at least one member of the breed is like!

So far I just love his personality!  But he's also been the most difficult puppy I've ever had in my house.  Not in terms of spastic energy (you can't beat Bubba the schipperke!!!) but in terms of wanting to chew on and eat ALL the things! Yum yum! 

Yes actually trying to chew off pieces of tug toys, carpet, paper.... and swallow them.  I've had puppies want to destroy things but not actually try to ingest. 

And Splash is the mouthiest puppy I've had too.  We are utilizing xpens and very closely supervising him with Netta.  When he's excited he's like a leaping crocodile!

But he's learning rules very quickly.  Lots of opportunities to practice don't chew that, chew this.  Don't bite that, bite this.  Boykin finally cares now when I try to interrupt what he's doing.

He's actually the only puppy I've ever had to use an xpen with.  I know xpens are very common and I've recommended them to many but I've simply have never needed one.  Every place we've lived has always been so small that with a baby gate and a closed door there is just nowhere for the puppy to go and be out of sight!  I've certainly utilized crates when I have had to go shower or something.  
But Boykin is my first puppy who just needs that extra level of management.


Obedience Run Through #3

Cookies for me!  I went to another obedience run through last Friday with Zumi!  That's 3 total this year, a 300% improvement over last year.  Maybe. I'm not sure how math works anymore.  Either way, a win for me!

This time I did a runthrough in the utility ring and in the open ring and did more of a true runthrough in that I did all of the exercises and not just happy ring play and setups.  I happened to be up in the utility ring first.

I remembered to use the correct, left, hand for this time as it's opposite from my other 2 dogs. She did a great pop stand. But took steps as I left her so I went back and we tried it again.  The 2nd time she stood nicely and had no problem with the down, sit, and recall signals.

I tried a total of  canning rings this time, compared to January when I did the electrical plates and a nose touch alert. I skipped the turn and send and started facing the pile with her.  She sniffed nice and calm, but then started to get a little frantic and just grabbed.  After a full reset she went out and found it right away.  Since I wasn't fully sure if it was a random grab or just a confident alert, I did a 3rd send and she did a very nice job in scenting and finding the correct one even though she ended up knocking it into another article and had to work that out.

I had the #2 glove and while Zumi turned nicely with me and waited to look until I gave the mark, she zeroed in on the #3.  I took a step cloer and re-marked her, same thing. Finally with another step closer and another mark she saw the #2 glove and sent nicely.  I tried the gloves again, with #1 this time and she did well.

Moving Stand:
Meh.  She did a nice pop but didn't exactly freeze on landing.  Still, she locked eyes with me during the time entire exam which I was grateful for.  That judge piece is harder to work for by yourself!

Go outs/ Directed Jumping:
I started 3/4ths of the way but saw Zumi was locking onto the corner where the #3 glove was again.  So I moved up to half way.  She did a great job of looking ahead on her mark, but I wasn't fully sure where she was looking.  Definitely not confident in where.  When I sent her she zeroed right in on the middle stanchion and did a nice nose touch.  Yay!  no problem with the directed jumping this time either.  At least we fixed something!

Send #2 I stood at the half way and she again started to look to that right corner before fixing herself.  This time her send wasn't as great. Ended up at the middle nice and close, but did a weird wobby, zig zaggy run.

Overall, improved from January's run through but still a long ways to go!

Then we were up in the open ring!


I borrowed a clip board and had her place her front feet on it at the start.  I was happy to see no front feet movement with about a 12ft toss!

Drop on recall:
A little slow to drop.  I had her backup immediately once her elbows hit.

Retrieve over high:
I grabbed the clip board again.  This time Zumi did do some pattering of her feet and did a squeal when sent.  Did a nice job finding the jump on her way back though from a crooked angle!

The high jump was located fairly close to the broad jump and Zumi was positive she should take the broad jump and then take the high jump on her way back to front.  She did this twice, even with me calling her.  So the judge stood in front of the high jump the 3rd time!  Zumi thought about it still, but came to me directly instead.

She lost some focus briefly on the about and left turns and her sit was broken on the halts.  The halts I'll take blame for as I really suck at footwork when someone is calling a pattern.  I know I didn't give her any warning at all.  But the about turn and left turns surprsied me.  She

Cue Discrimination:
I used the clipboard again at the start and chose to do sit-stand-down.
Zumi did do a stand on cue for me from 15ft, but did her old rear feet still style even with the clipboard under her.  I praised her and walked back to put her feet on the clipboard before going back out to do the down at 30ft.  For the down she looked away at the utility ring and a dog doing articles as I gave my signal only cue.  When followed up with a down she did well.

In January we did primarily play in the ring and more training mode instead of a real run through so I can't really compare the 2 runs.  Certainly more stuff to work on before AKC ready!


Agility Trialing

February and March have about 1/3 of the total trials I do throughout the year.  Busy weekends!

Zumi has done 2 more UKI trials and 1 more day of USDAA so far with various results.  For the most part she's getting higher.  Capable of doing pretty heelwork and great duration hand touches as we walk in, remove the leash and setup. But as soon as I start moving away from her she starts ramping up.  At the UKI trial last weekend she wasn't even just doing her vulturing but actually started scooting her butt as soon as I left.  I really don't think she's even aware of what she's doing.  

Then she's been vocalizing her way through most of the course.

Thankfully she's still listening fairly well for me about 90% through the course.  Of course my handling is perfect and that results in some off courses, but sometimes she's just been blasting off and completely ignoring my turning cues.  Thinking is hard!

This was her masters heat agility run in UKI 2 weekends ago.  Missed weave entrance and off course at the end, but otherwise listening pretty well.  Awful startline!

This last weekend we did one day of USDAA at the location we train at and the location where she's done so well at the 2 other trials she has this year.  And magically Zumi was back to being thoughtful, holding her startline with wya less vulturing, and just being a good Duck.

I didn't think location really affected her much last year, but maybe it is?

This was her steeplechase run on Saturday's USDAA trial where she won the 20in class!  Many, many dogs went off course after the first aframe instead of turning to the weaves.  

It looks like she still did a tiny butt scoot on this run but no squealing.  And her stays looked better on her other runs of the day.  Zumi even earned her first Super Q in snooker!

Next weekend we're back for more UKI at the location she's been struggling with.  It'll be interesting to see how she changes from one week to another!


Obedience Progress

Happy dance with Zumi's obedience training!

I've done some occasional retrieve over a jump without squealing, and without a ton of front feet movement!  Using a front foot target is definitely helping her control her pitter pattering, even if there's isn't any height to it.

Articles seem to be going well again too.  I feel like it's taken forever to rebuild the skill once she suddenly developed grabbing issues if it took any length of time at all to search!  We graduated from her metal plates a few months ago and have been using canning rings for a retrieve alert again.  I'm still using cones and objects in the pile to force a longer search time and to get calmer moving about the pile.  The first rep is always the hardest for her, but I haven't seen her just give up and grab in several weeks!

And I've finally gone back to working on gloves again with her.  I'm pretty sure we haven't done any glove work in a year, maybe longer.  At least not consistently.  So we're going slow.  Zumi's tendency was always to go to the correct glove and then retrieve it to a nearby glove.  I'm using some targets to try to discourage that.  I'm also holding my mark signal extra long in order to try to make sure she really has the correct line and to discourage anticipation.


Training Silence= Good

A new blog post is up at my training site! 
Looking at how to get your dog to see silence as a good thing, and not get stressed or frantically offer behaviors!

FYI, if you subscribed to the feed from the last post you will need to change it as I officially moved hosts for the new site:


Dumbbell Distance!

I think we're really making progress now with Zumi's retrieve arousal levels! 

I just started using a front foot target to have her wait on and that really seems to be gettign that weight shift back to prevent the foot dancing.  I've used a platform before without success, but I don't know why I didn't think of the perch!

Look at how far I can throw it now!

Her stand is coming along too.  Mainly we're working on anticipation issues now. 
I'm still using a bar in front of her and know I will need to for quite awhile.  Stupid retraining of styles! 


Busiest Weekend- all the dogs! all the trials!

This past Friday I took the tollers to a USDAA trial. Then I packed up so Saturday I could take all 3 dogs to another location for an obedience/rally trial (CDSP/WCRL).  Packed up again, and then Sunday I took just Zumi back to the agility trial.  And to make things extra complicated I had bonus babysitting Cow that I dragged along to the trials, showed in rally, and returned to his mother on Sunday at the trial where we did team relay together. 

Lance played 2 rounds of WCRL rally at the trial on Saturday.  Sassy as always.  Trial 2 had much less sass and less forging although both started to come out at the end.  He earned his level 3X2 title (20 legs after the title) and another bonus leg.  Nice job mostly retired corgi! 

Vito was very happy running his 3 agility runs on Friday!  It was fun to see him run and of course he broke at least 1 startline. Another sassy dog!

And then on Saturday, he had one of my favorite runs of all time in utility!  He was focused and very motivated!  The dork ran to a chalk mark on the very first exercise so we NQed in like 30sec of being in the ring. Thanks buddy.  And then he went to the wrong glove on the #2 send.  I think he's cursed with gloves in the ring.  Of course I could actually try practicing with him....

Zumi continues to mature in her agility handling.  Friday she didn't get any  Q's but she was a very good duck!  On Sunday she ran her very first team relay event and she placed first in her 20in height category and her team got 2nd overall!  Almost all of her mistakes the agility runs both days were refusals after a rear cross.  She turns well, but loses that obstacle focus after them.  And of course I don't do many rear crosses in practice so I can't blame her.

On Saturday I did 2 rally runs with her in level 3 and then an open obedience run.  She was a little bit off I thought.  She was focused about 95% of the time in her rally runs but had some occasional visits to signs in her first run and just some glances around in both.  Her down from a sit was also broken. 
Overall I'm happy with her effort in the runs and see that she needs more practice with focus in different environments.

In open I knew that I really shouldn't have entered her.  Thus my minimal restraint to only do one run instead of 2.  I just really, really wanted to do obedience with Zumi and figured it wouldn't hurt anything in the long run.

Her focus was a little spotty again on the heeling.  Based on her 2 rally runs she did earlier that day it was no longer a surprise to me.  Her second half of the heeling was much better.  Broad jump had a bad front.  Drop on recall was a little slow to drop but she did it.

Then the retrieves, our main thing we've been working on.  Honestly it went better than I expected. She pattered her feet on the toss, but the vulturing was WAY less.  And she offered me eye contact before both sends!  Of course she squealed on the release of both retrieves. 

Go out she didn't squeal!!  and she did that weird arc to the left stanchion again instead of the right. Maybe that's her new thing?

So technically a Q and her CDX-C title.  But a long, long way to go in Open still before she's proficent and has more of a brain. Next CDSP trial is April.  Just 2 more months, but at least I feel I'm on the right track.


Obedience Run Throughs

I have been trying to motivate myself lately to attend some obedience run throughs/open ring time with Zumi.  She needs the practice in not only training with a slightly more formal atmosphere, but feeling some of the stress in the air that usually accompanies such events.

One of the club holds the run throughs every Friday, I just haven't been motivated to drive the 40 minutes in rush hour so sadly Zumi has never been.  Until last week that is!  Yay for me!
I did 2 runs, one in the open ring and one in the utility ring.  And then yesterday I had the opportunity to do another run through at a closer location!  It was much quieter though, so while it was still great practice it didn't have that stressful atmosphere.

Run Through Set #1
Last week's run through started out with more ring confidence and play work before diving into some little bit of training.  Since Zumi was focused and happy I decided to move on to see how her dumbbell work would be in the environment.  I tried to be good and just do 5 foot throws.  And I'm very happy to report no vocalizing!!!  And giving me great eye contact too!  On the downside, she was really vulturing again and moving her front feet forward.

In the utility ring I decided to do more of a modified run through.  This turned out to be a mistake for her.  It wasn't bad by any means, but even with the modifications, she made more mistakes than I would like in that environment.

Signals were good! But I reset a turn.  Not sure if it was the pressure of a judge following or if it was due to my footwork as I told the judge I wanted just a short down and back heeling pattern and she added in a turn. 
Articles were great!  I used 5 of her lids and she nailed the nose touch alert even with the judge standing there!

Gloves she didn't quite see it and ended up veering off of #3 to go to the side gate.  On the redo she nailed it.  I already know I haven't really practiced gloves with Zumi in pretty much forever.

Go out I started half way and she veered off to the stanchion to the right.  On the redos she did well. But needed extra help to get the jumps on the return.  An issue that was surprisingly common for her in training when I was actually training it...  I thought I had fixed it but it's also been a long time since I've done any directed jumping work.

Run through Set #2
Yesterday's event was pure open ring, no judge.  And it was pretty quiet.  I started my time in the Open ring with more of what I did at the other location.   But this time I had her toy left behind on the table.

I did 2 drop on recalls with her and on the first attempt I used just a hand signal.  Zumi slowed but didn't start to drop so I happily interrupted it.  As we raced playfully back to the other side Zumi got a little too wound up with barking and I had her do some sticky targets to calm her down.  I was pretty proud of her for how well she was able to the duration nose touch and relax herself.

The retrieve work was about the same as last week's run through.  No squealing, but moving her front feet.  I chose to walk out and set the dumbbell on the ground for her 3 short attempts.

In the utility ring I did more training again.  I noticed issues with Zumi heeling into a gate and quickly reset two times.  Something I haven't noticed at all with her in practice but will be trying to work on again with her.

Signals Zumi had issues with taking steps after I left her.  Another issue I  haven't noticed at all in practice!

Articles I decided to test her with her rings instead of the flat plates.  She scented and then just grabbed on the first rep, but then did 2 nice ones for me.  Didn't look too frantic at least but she did fumble the return on the last one!

Go outs were interesting.  No squealing, yay!!!  But she was doing a wide arch to her left.  If anything Zumi's issue has always been wanting to do a slight diagonal to the right, not an arc and certainly not the the left!
And then she was wanting to do a fake touch and immediately come back for the reward vs waiting out there for me to deliver the reward.  At one point she even offered a handstand to the gate.  What are you thinking Zumi?!!  Of course I'm not really surprised with the lack of confidence on this exercise considering it's one of the 3 big areas we've been working on (articles, go outs, retrieves!) with her arousal issues.

Funniest go out at 4:35!

My goal this year is to get myself out and about more with Zumi's obedience.  I just haven't been that committed to get her obedience skills really trained and certainly not in different locations.  I would like to make it to the Friday night run throughs once a month with her.


New Blog Site- New Post!

I decided to start a new blog, attached to my dog sport business!  My goal is to do 1-2 posts a month with training advice from foundations to competitive obedience.

This blog will still remain intact and it will still have posts on my personal dogs' training and trialing experiences whenever I remember to post.

I recognize that not everyone cares about my journal style posts of my dogs and thus my decision to not completely move this blog over to my professional site.
Feedback is welcome though!

To start off my new blog, I have my first post up on using zen to get duration behaviors!  It's been 5 years since my blog post on reverse luring and then I discovered this week that I butchered the original technique.  Oops!  So my new post is clarifying how I use the technique I am renaming Zen Keeper for  (Zen Keep Going Signal).  Hop on over to the other blog for more!

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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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