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!

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

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