Wendy Pape rocks!!

To anyone who’s never met her, go do it!  I promise you will not be disappointed.  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that I learned this weekend, but I tell you I’m a changed woman!

Seminar Day One:  Private lesson

Friday I had a 1-hour lesson with Wendy.  It was supposed to be with both dogs, but we really spent the vast majority of it on Rue.  Wendy has worked with at least one Gaylan’s dog before, so she kinda knew what to expect from her.  Boy did she have her number!  We worked mostly on ways for me to help our relationship, which is something I’ve been struggling with for quite some time.  We’ve made big strides over the last couple of months, but there’s still room for improvement.  Rue used to spend most of class time eating grass or trying to visit with anyone but me.  Now she hardly thinks of leaving me and is very focused.  However, I can’t say that she’d leave anything she was doing for a chance to hang with me.

Wendy’s assessment was that I need to add in some corrections (as opposed to the mainly positive methods I’ve been using) and also that I need to provide more consequences for things that she does or doesn’t do.  Attention to name was one thing we worked on.  At first Rue wanted nothing more than to eat the wood chips on the floor of the arena we were working in.  After a few nose bops from Wendy’s foot she stopped the goat behavior, but still was looking for other things to do than engage with me.  She had me call her name while she was distracted and, as expected, she ignored me.  I then left the arena and waited.  When I returned I ignored her, waited for her to get distracted and again and then said her name….she turned immediately.  I of course praised her highly and Wendy said “Whoa, it ain’t that great.  She just looked at you, but didn’t come over.”.  Apparently I’m too nice.  So I need to harden up, provide more consequences, stop using baby talk, and don’t reward her with petting as she doesn’t like the last two things at all…oops!  Also no treats for doing anything within her comfort zone (ie. the house).

Poor Miles got 5 minutes of time to have Wendy watch his a-frame performance.  I’ve been debating about what to do with this for a while now…really since last summer when I realized that he had dysplastic elbows (mild).  He was trained with 2o/2o but I hated him slamming himself into position, so I’ve started to early release him.  This has led to confusion on his part (understandable) which has caused him to perch at the top and then  go uber slow down the frame.  So we decided that I would do a “modified running contact” with him and just basically trace his path down with my hand and verbally reward him for hitting yellow (he would hear nothing and get no reward for missing).  I think this will be best as I don’t want to go through a whole retrain on the frame because a)  I don’t have a frame at home and b)  I don’t want him to do this obstacle repeatedly in order to correctly retrain.  We’ll see how this goes…..

Seminar Day Two:  Motivational Games

For the first part of this seminar we weren’t allowed to use any toys (and no treats allowed at all for the whole time) and we had to go out in front of everyone and play with our dog.  Based on how she was during the private, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  However, I crouched down and bopped her shoulder and took off runnin’.  She fired right up and chased me and wrestled for a good bit, then I had to stand up grab her collar and give her two pats on the shoulder as a way of telling her the game was over.  Rue read that well and went off to sniff for about 10 seconds, then came over to me and searched my eyes, sat and stared up at me.  I praised that and just when Wendy was about to correct me for praising her, she remembered that it took the better part of an hour to get that behavior the day before and reportedly got goose bumps 🙂  I waited for her to get distracted again and then fired her right back up.  We did 3 cycles of on/off play and then we were done.  Rue NEVER looked at the crowd!

Unfortunately there were so many dogs in this group that wouldn’t engage that we spent a lot of time on them.  We only got to do one more exercise which was toy play.  Again we were to engage our dogs first with just us and then present the toy.  Wendy showed us how to control the game and again we worked on the on/off switch.  I’ve been doing a lot of this since she was a puppy, but it was great to see her engage so quickly and to tug with such intensity in this situation.  What a good girl!

Seminar Day Three:  Masters Handling

This was Miles’ chance to shine since he kind of got the short end of the stick during our private lesson.  This was an all-day seminar so I knew we’d get plenty of time to work with Wendy. 

We started with a very challenging course and she had us run it like a trial (ie. we walked on our own, ran without rewards, and got whistled off if we did something really bad).    Our run was horrible….I was stressed, Miles didn’t stop on his dog walk, I was late with a front cross to the teeter and he had to readjust for me, I mishandled a 180 out of a tunnel and he back crossed me, and then I gave up at the end and didn’t handle a serpentine at all.  Her report:  I comment too much on negative things (I need to shut up unless I’m telling him to do something or I’m praising), I’m not allowed to fix anything ever again especially in trials, and I’m mean.  (Funny she said I was too nice to Rue, ack). 

We were then allowed to run the part of the course that we really messed up on, so I got to redo the teeter through the end.  I was also allowed to use a tug toy to motivate him in the beginning and to reward him in the end.  Miles liked his new tug toy so much that he wouldn’t let go and ended up hyperextending my right thumb.  I heard two pops as this happened and felt immediate pain.  My boy is building quite the track record in human injuries….lacerating my hand while tugging at Christmas, head butting Melanie and making her bite the inside of her cheek off, pulling me over ring gates and bruising my thighs, and now spraining my thumb!  WTH dude?!  Anyway, he was *much* happier this time and ran it perfectly…and I was nicer 🙂

We did several other sequences most of which he nailed.  I still need to work on FC timing and other little things, but we’re really moving well as a team.  I was very impressed that Miles stayed in his crate while not working and was very quiet!  Considering he scratched his way out of the soft crate last week in class, he did amazingly well (we repaired the crate at home and he didn’t even try to escape again).  Even more amazing was that the crate was under an EZ-up tent…something that in the past he would have never walked close to let alone under and certainly not go in his crate!

So all in all the weekend was a HUGE success for me and my pups.  I cannot wait to meet with Wendy again.  Melanie and I are going to try to get down to Tampa either this summer or this fall for more classes, yay!

Gaylan’s Mad About Rue, CGC!!!!!!!!!!

Yup, that’s right….Rue passed her CGC test this morning!!  I couldn’t be more proud of her today.  I honestly did it on a whim as I heard there was a club locally putting it on for $5 and I had time to kill before the seminar this afternoon.  Rue acted like a champ…like she’s been doing obedience her whole life of 10 months!  I couldn’t get her attention off of me (except for the part when she had to walk politely past another GOLDEN, ack).  I got her back quickly though and all was not lost.  She did amazing on the stay portion and had the fastest recall I’ve ever seen which was punctuated at the end by her leaping in the air at me and barking, haha!  She was SO happy!  She also had zero issues with the supervised separation.  Basically she just hunkered down with her head between her paws and waited patiently for my return.  So stinkin’ cute, I swear.  So she got her first title, from what I’m sure will be a long list, today 😀

Miles training update 4/23/09

First of all, there were some GREAT shots of Miles from the DKC trial!  It’s so cool when I compare these photos to some that were done last Fall as you can just tell he’s much more drivey and happy 🙂  Here’s a link to a slideshow of some of the better images http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/AlbumSlideshow.aspx?a=587765

As for training, we went to a local outdoor facility for a drop in class last night to work further on teeter generalization, etc.  Miles was soooo happy there even though the field is lined on one side by a kennel full of barking dogs!  There were only three dogs including us in this class so lots of personal attention was given, which was nice. 

We worked a couple of challenging sequences both including the teeter.  He had zero issues with the teeter, wahoo!  We also worked on our dogwalk contacts since I blew them off over the weekend…bad handler!  He did awesome!  I haven’t even worked on proofing him against my movement in his 2o/2o on anything other than the a-frame at PBH, so I was uber impressed with his ability to stop with me still running forward each and every time.  Such a good boy 🙂

I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by saying this, but I really feel like he’s over his teeter problem.  Even more importantly, he’s showing much more confidence in new places which is so awesome!  It will be a true test to see how he does in a week at the King trial as it’s in a horse arena…not fully enclosed, but covered and with lots of interesting sniffs.  We’re planning on another trip to the indoor facility for a drop in next week to help with that transition.

Oh and we’re meeting with Wendy Pape for a private tomorrow, yay!

Durham Kennel Club AKC Trial Day Two 4/19/09

It was a much milder day today with good cloud cover and I was actually a little chilly when arrived around noon time.  Of course I was dressed as if the weather was the same as yesterday, so I was relieved when Melanie offered to let me use her jacket since she was leaving.  Despite my shivering, I knew Miles would be MUCH happier today without the added stress of the heat.

When I arrived I got the news that nearly all of my friends and fellow PBHers had double Q’d today, so I was hopeful that the luck would rub off on me as well.  I looked at the course maps and both looked to be easier today, so I was really feeling Karma on my side.  However, when it came time to walk the Standard class it became obvious that it was going to be a difficult start.  This judge really had great courses, but they were designed with several tempting off-courses in every run.  I planned to do a one jump lead out and try to book it out to put my front between obstacles 3 and 4.  With this plan I felt that I would be able to give him a lot of good lateral cues to keep him off of the very tempting a-frame.  Unfortunately, I allowed others to convince me that I need to put my cross between 2 and 3.  I was afraid that would give him too much forward motion cues, but I suddenly doubted my ability to get that far down the line.  As expected, Miles read my forward motion and jumped number 2 in extension (good boy) and headed towards the a-frame before realizing that I was changing leads.  With him at 24″ there is far less room for error and we unfortunately dropped a panel on the number 3, sigh.  After that I knew I could relax and just run, so that was kinda cool.  Miles didn’t like the placement of the a-frame near the crowd and did a creep down into his contact position (need to figure out a way to change his performance to a running frame anyway).  After that he looked awesome!  Miles CANTERED up his teeter and never broke stride across the dogwalk either, yahoo!  I was so excited that he did the teeter so well today that I forgot to do any handling for the weaves…oops.  Oh and I threw my leash at the timer and scibe…it got stuck on my finger….haha! 

We got it together for JWW though and this time I didn’t listen to anyone else 😉  He was naughty at the start line  so I had to have him sit and then he stayed fine.  I’m super proud of this run.  I got my front crosses in on time and he looks great!  I know that he can go faster, but I was definitely very impressed with how comfortable he was at this trial site.  My friends had something to say about my run apparently….

Up next:  Wendy Pape seminars and privates then away for indoor AKC (yikes)!

DKC AKC Day One 4/18/09

It was a rather hot day with the high being around 80 degrees which was about exactly the time that Novice was running.  This presented a challenge since there is no running water at this site and I know Miles is not used to the heat yet.  So I brought a large supply of water bottles and was able to at least wet him down somewhat before his runs.  Today should be a little cooler and at least with some cloud cover.

Anyway, Miles was amazing especially considering he’s never been to this site!  The Standard course was first and I can’t say I was completely confident that he’d do his teeter.  I had several back-up plans that Melanie and I discussed so I was prepared for whatever happened.  Mostly I wanted whatever happened on this run to increase the likelyhood that he’d be successful on the second day.  The course was really quite easy with the only trick being right at the beginning to cue a turn after the second jump to avoid the off course chute.  I definitely was handling conservatively as I know we could have pulled a better time, but I wanted him to build his confidence on this run.  Well, he rocked it.  No hesitation on the teeter at all.  Obviously I’d love to have him get to the point that he’s cantering up it as he does in practice, but he didn’t hesitate at all about getting on and didn’t even think about the pivot which is all I could ask for at this stage, yay!  After that point I got some speed going and he looked great!  A little slow with the weaves, the chute and the dogwalk, but those are other places of stress for him.  I pushed him past the last jump, but we fixed it and ended up in 2nd place due to the refusal there even though we had the fastest time 🙂  Here’s the video:

The JWW course was very fun.  I definitely pushed for speed and was the only one who attempted the front cross in the beginning.  Most teams opted for a rear before the weaves which most dogs didn’t read well.  I got so far ahead of him towards the end that I forgot to slow down to cue a turn.  He ended up slipping on the grass because he had to turn when he landed and ended up taking down a bar, dang it!  Oh well, I was super impressed with this run.  I’m starting to let go of the leash a little and trust him more which is so much fun!  We had the fastest time at just over 24 seconds!

We’re heading back in a few hours…wish us luck!

Getting psyched up for my weekend…

Miles and I are trialing in AKC at a new site not too far from home this weekend.  I’m starting him over in the Regular classes, so he’ll be jumping 24″.  We’ve been practicing at this height for several weeks now and he looks really great.  I’m totally pumped to go up there and smoke the JWW courses, but I’m of course a bit worried about the Standard courses.  We’ve actually never entered an AKC Standard course to date since he didn’t have his teeter and we’ve been working on overall confidence in general.  So wish us luck!!  I’d love to breeze through the Novice stuff right away so we can get some more challenging courses going.  What’s funny is, if we Q in pretty much every single AKC run coming up we could qualify for 2010 Nationals…how’s that for a crazy goal???  Haha!  I like to aim high 😉

Oh and Rue had a perfect 100% board session tonight.  The lawn was mowed, but other than that it was set up the same as the other night.  Go figure!

Indoor agility and dangerous fences

Well, Miles and I survived our trip to the indoor agility facility for our drop in class Tuesday evening….well barely.  Miles really did great, but we had a little mishap while I was leaning over to try to get some treats out of my bag and Miles got spooked and jumped over the little fence separating the ring and took me sailing over it too, except I landed on top of the fence with my thighs and proceded to superman myself into the ring.  Most awesome.  I now have two HUGE bruises on both thighs that are just now starting to feel a little better.  I could barely walk yesterday 😦

However, aside from that event he was actually pretty comfortable.  They had the finals course from this year’s AKC Nationals set up and we ran it in two parts.  For those of you who saw the finals or know the course it is pretty difficult to do without a two -jump lead-out.  After that you have chute, jump, jump, teeter, tunnel, jump, 180, tunnel/dogwalk discrimination (which is where a lot of teams faulted).  So here were my concerns: 1.  Leaving him on the start line with a lot of people and dogs very close behind him (this concerns him to have stuff behind him) 2.  a strange chute being the 3rd obstacle 3.  the teeter.  All of that right after getting there seemed like it would be too much, but he did so great!  No issues with leaving him in a stand-stay.  He read my lead-out push into the chute and had no hesitation about going in it, so I rewarded him after that.  He picked his speed right back up again, had a small hesitation on the teeter (but he got on it-yay) after which I stopped to reward and then finished by getting the discrimination and had zero hesitation on the dogwalk.  Yahoo!  The instructor then had me run it again without stopping to reward and he looked amazing, very fast and confident and no longer hestitating on the teeter. 

The second half of the course was laid out a little different than the original course just due to spacing which made the triple after the weaves very awkward.  I tried it a couple of times by keeping him in my right and crossing in front of the poles to have him the rear the triple.  He didn’t like that much and kept pulling out of the poles when I crossed in front.  So I tried it with a rear at the poles and he LOVED that!  Very fast and happy. 

We finished the evening by running the whole thing and I thought Miles was just brilliant!  Yay buddy!!  We’ll be going back in a couple of weeks 🙂