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!


Stand retraining

I officially decided that I am going to be retraining Zumi's stand at a distance.  Zumi has understood a verbal only stand cue since she was a puppy. 

She actually has 2 cues.  "Stand" which was supposed to mean kick the rear feet out and keep the front feet still.  And "Pop" which means lift the front feet in the air and land in a stand. 

Zumi added the flair of all 4 feet popping up in the air so I never really got to the stage of defining if I wanted her to walk the back feet out behind her when her front feet were lifted (like I traditionally teach the pop) or if I wanted the rear feet still so the front feet would pop forward. 

In heel position, she has a pretty solid verbal discrimination.  In front of me I let the criteria blur.  I didn't want walking, it had to be a true stand with 2 feet completely still.  But I let her kinda blur the style lines.  Zumi started adopting more of her "pop" style with less flair, so only the front feet lifting.  And since I hadn't defined that for her it meant she did it with rear feet still and front feet forward.  An ok style.

But since there never was any real reason to have a stand at a distance for obedience, I again kinda let criteria slide so that sometimes Zumi moved just a few inches with her back feet.  Not bad, but certainly something that would start to break down with the pressure of a trial.

So a few months ago I went about trying to fix that with a rear foot target to isolate her back feet, and/or reward placement with her reward behind her.  But while Zumi was doing very well, I was finding it really hard to see what exactly she was doing.  Did the back feet move a little bit or not?

And that led to me scrapping the whole thing and starting over.  This time I'm going for front feet still, rear feet kick back.  Much easier for me to see at a distance. 

Usually I would go to a front foot target, but that didn't go over very well with Zumi.  She's so used to rear feet criteria that her brain wasn't handling the switch.  Platforms are also just a big rear foot target for her.

A piece of broken pvc from a jump standard was brought into my house a few weeks ago for my jump bar in the TEAM tests.  It made a nice "L" and I adopted it for a very sad looking PVC box. 
My new target.

Here was today's session on using it.  She's had a handful of sessions already with the box to learn that I didn't want her front feet to move forward.  Zumi does make that error x2 here and I have her back into the box to eat her cookie.  I also make the dreaded "just one more" rookie mistake!

In February I am going to be teaching another session of my Stand with Me class at FDSA.  A class 100 % devoted to all things stand from teaching a stand cue to teaching the exam!  This session will be the first time I talk about getting a stand at a distance.  Preparation for the new AKC open exercise command discrimination!


Pivot update

Zumi and I are still working on those pesky left pivots.  I think we are making progress although I admit it's super hard to see what her butt is doing without a mirror!

Incidentally, I discovered that she is way better at keeping parallel when I use a toy as a reward instead of food! Our house is too small to train with a toy though so those sessions are limited to at the training club and before her agility class.  

Here is our progress from tonight. Lots of butt behind still, but getting there!

We continue to plug along in our control around the dumbbell.  While progress is even slower, we are at least continuing to improve.  Zumi hasn't vocalized on our db send in awhile and I've even done a few very short tosses over a jump.  However, distance still needs to be very short or she starts vulturing again and has a hard time offering me that focus in order to be sent. 

I am continuing to only do dumbbell sends with a toy reward as for whatever reason that has been our biggest breakthrough!  


Fixing Left Pivots- Butt Behind!

Zumi passed her TEAM1 run and now we're on to TEAM 2!  Fun stuff! 

But the tiny bit of Zumi's rear end being behind me when pivoting on the perch in TEAM 1, is being exasperated in the 2nd level test of pivoting on the ground.  Those little foundations always rear their head!

Zumi's known pivoting for quite awhile but clearly, I wasn't paying super close attention to whether her butt was behind my legs or not.  Training is always a balance, and in my quest to get Zumi understanding I wanted her butt close I got it too close!

The TEAM level 2 test requires the dog to be within 30 degrees of straight, and Zumi likes to really straddle that line and even cross it once I start pivoting! 

Fixing the Pivot!

To fix it, I'm trying to swing the balance of where I reward the opposite way.  I'm so conditioned to feed on the outside of dog's head, add left spins before rewarding, and maybe even pass the reward behind me.  All those things can help get the dog to think butt IN, problems both Vito and Lance can be prone towards.  

Zumi is opposite, at least at the moment.  So now I am swinging the opposite way.  Feeding in front of my leg *gasp* or more commonly asking for a nose touch in front of my left leg before rewarding.  If I'm using a toy I'll have her come forward to get it in to help bring that rear out.

Reward placement is such a huge part of training behaviors!  The thought of feeding where you want to be is valid, but when you're trying to change a behavior it sometimes best to over correct and exaggerate what you want the dog to do!

Luckily this appears to be the only issue holding Zumi back from a clean TEAM 2 title.  Wish us luck!

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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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