Miles and Rue at Sugarbush Farm, NY 12/29/08

So here’s the cool update from today.  I rented a ring out in the boonies today that ended up being a 40×80 space inside a really cool barnish type thing.  It had a dirt floor, but certainly had enough space and equipment for my needs.  I’ll be going to run-throughs there this Sunday too.  I didn’t change much of the course set up since it had a straight run of 4 jumps on one side and then lots of other equipment that I could add in once he was comfortable. 
Anyway, I brought Miles in and he was definitely stressed with all of the smells and sights.  I stayed outside of the actual ring first and waited for him to give me some attention.  We then did some fun tricks for meatballs and he seemed to settle in.  I then took him in the ring and he was again worried and sniffy.  We did some fun tricks and then I brought him over one jump and had a party.  I repeated the one jump=party a few times then did jump-tire-party, then jump-tire-jump-jump-HUGE party.  I could definitely see him start to relax.  Here’s the video:

So then I did a few short sequences with jumps, weaves, and tunnels.  He did great I think!  I also eventually got him on all of the contact equipment and even did teeter games (except for the latest one as I just didn’t want to push it). 

Rue did awesome as well.  When I first brought her in she was totally engrossed in the dirt floor–I think she sniffed every particle.  I actually took her in the ring and did my whole “go sniff and wait for attention” game.  We went around the whole ring this way and by the end she was happily walking with me and didn’t want to sniff anymore.   I was able to engage her very quickly and easily in play and then had a fun time doing some cone work with jump standards.  We had so much fun.  She was very fast and drivey and MAN did she want to tug!!  I couldn’t get it away from her towards the end–not sure what I could have done, but I nearly had to pry it out of her jaws.  I felt good about that though because in times past she would have easily left me to go do her own thing. 

The other thing I did with her (that I didn’t video because the battery was dying) was use a teeter plank that they had permantly mounted on an 8″ PVC pipe and shaped her to run back and forth on it.  By the end I had her really running that thing!  She rocks.

We’ll see how the run-throughs go this weekend…..


Miles Run-throughs at Highgoal Farm, NY 12/26/08

I took Miles to run-throughs at an indoor arena the other night to see how he’d be with this type of venue.  It was VERY crowded with dogs and people everywhere and barking dogs crated all around the ring except for one side.  I had to wait for about 50 dogs to go before it was our turn!  I brought Miss Rue in first to play with her and work on focus and tricks.  She did great and didn’t care about the surroundings at all!  I even shaped her to “bow” amoung all of the distractions–little scum 🙂 
Miles on the other hand was very stressed when I brought him in to acclimate.  I have NEVER seen him this bad–he was vibrating with fear and shaking all over, poor thing.  I spent some time just doing TTouch and he calmed down enough to take food from me and do some simple tricks at which point we left and then played a little outside.  The rules for these run-throughs were that you couldn’t use food, but you could use toys/clicker/etc. (there is a trial there this weekend, so they didn’t want food on the floor).  I was a bit nervous about how he’d be when I went to bring him back in and I waited until the very last second to go get him.  Much to my surprise he was excited to come out of the car and didn’t fight me to go into the building or into the ring.   Anyway, here’s the video:

I should have taken more time and just played with him at first.  He was fearful of the tire for some reason and I let him stress about it WAY too long unfortunately.  I was happy that he was willing to come back to me and get frisky and seemed to want to work, but just couldn’t let go of his fears.  I was conflicted between trying to nag him to connect versus just letting him look around and decide for himself that he wanted to play.  Not sure what I should have done.  He was happy to get his ball, but then didn’t want to come back with it.  On the other hand, he tugged on it with me before the last two jumps.  He also chased the ball towards all the scary people/dogs at the end which was HUGE for him.  Furthermore, he carried the ball out of the ring to his treat bag, ate his dinner outside of the ring, and then barked at me to give him his ball back.  So all in all I think it ended on a good note, but I wish I had been there for him more while in the ring.  I’ll be renting a different indoor ring a few times this week and doing another set of run-throughs at another place next weekend.  I hope I’m doing the right things….

Puppy Workshop with Melanie 12/7/08


This was our second and final puppy workshop with Melanie.  Both sessions were two hours in length and were set up with different stations.  We were partnered up and took turns with our puppies with the different stations.  Today we did cone work, restrained recalls, socialization on leash with a recall away from another puppy, buja board work, teaching “beg” or “sit up”, fetch, and fast sits and downs.

Here’s how we did:

1)  Cones – Rue was motivated to play for food, we did several really nice sends with good speed around the cone and drive to chase me.  I lost her to another puppy twice and ended up just facing her away from the group and she was able to find her brain again.  We did another few reps and she even BARKED at me coming around the cone once….AWESOME!!  Now we need to build up to doing more than one cone while keeping that same speed and drive.  I also would like to be able to use a toy as a reward rather than just food as it’s more interactive.

2)  Recalls – 1st rep, she took off to the same side of the field that I lost her to during Thursday night’s class.  Melanie was able to step on her leash to stop her and she fairly quickly redirected to me and did some great tugging when she reached me.  2nd rep was better as I didn’t go very far and she was very drivey to catch me and we did some  great tugging.  Our goals for this is for me to continue to be unpredictable (ie. sometimes run away and call her while running, sometimes stop before releasing her and then run, sometimes stop and release and wait for her to get all the way to me before running, etc.).  I will also continue doing sit stays with recalls using the above variations.  I will continue to work her with distractions, but I need to remember not to lead out so far for a while.

3)  Buja Board – Rue did great as usual.  The ball was turned upside down so the tip was a little different than she’s used to.  She got over that very quickly and was happy to play “chase the cookie”.  The goal for this was to foster driving to the board, so were were supposed to push or pull them off and they should react like they’re attached with a bungee cord and fly back onto the board.  No problem with this as we’ve been playing like this for a while now.

4)  “Sit up”/”Beg” – She did great with this as she already is pretty solid with the command.  I tried to work on my distance from her and also reducing the need for the hand signal.  I will continue to work on this at home.

5)  Fetch – Horrible, just bloody aweful.  I got her to play with me at first, but she kept sniffing anytime I’d try to get her to chase the toy at all.  It eventually got to the point that she entered into a massive sniff-fest and couldn’t get her back .  I kept moving to a new spot and trying to get her to engage.  Finally, she engaged and tugged with me so I promptly ended it and sent her to “go sniff”.  She immediately did and then peed–hmmm…maybe that was part of the issue?!

6)  Fast sits and downs – Great!  Lots of tug/toy drive and very into playing and working with me 🙂

Miles teeter and handling private lesson 12/7/08


Miles and I had another private with Melanie today before the puppy workshop in order for her to see our progression on the blasted teeter.  Miles has really been doing well with this method and I’ve started dropping it about 4-6 inches from the ground.  I worked on it at home on 12/4 and at PBH on 12/5 and both times he was a little slower than I’d like, but still happy to play.  He was slow from the get go, not after I started dropping it.

Today he rocked!  Melanie showed me a way to work on building up drive for the release from the teeter as well, so we worked on that too.  Basically once he’s gotten his reward on the teeter, I’m to push him back and say “readyyyyyyyyyy” and release him and run to an obstacle or throw his ball.  He LOVED that!  We worked on the teeter in the big field first at 1/2 height and then went over to the small field to the aluminum teeter as he’s actually been liking this one better recently–go figure.  He did great and we actually brought it up to full height after a few reps and he didn’t miss a beat.  He did lose his canter stride on this teeter, but it was gone from the beginning so we’re not sure what to make of that.  Maybe he was just getting tired of it since we had already done so many reps?!  She said he was still driving to the end though.

After the teeter stuff, we worked on some handling particularly working on the “grab the collar” front cross wrap and then a short course on 10 obstacles with a tricky weave entry and a tunnel under the a-frame flip to the a-frame with 10ft of lateral distance.  Miles killed it!  I had some issues with doing the post turn on the double jump and kept pushing him wide to the off-course tire, but his enthusiasm was unstoppable and he kept working despite my shortcomings!

Rue Sports Foundations Class Report 12/4/08


UGH.  I don’t like this class for us at all 😦  I’m just trying to glean what I can, muscle through, and get  it over with. 

So this was our 5th class and tonight we started with cone work.  There were four of us working on our own cone on one side of the ring while the other four teams worked on shaping different surfaces on the other side.  Rue was distracted from the beginning, but I managed to get three or four good reps between her taking off after a puppy on the other side of the ring and deciding that she wanted to attempt a set of 12 weave poles (honestly I think she thought she was supposed to go around the individual poles).  I definitely noticed that if I cheerlead her a little or really say “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!” when she get’s it right, she’s much faster.  I put her away after about 5 minutes of cone work….the rest of the class continued for at least another 5 minutes (way too long in my humble opinion).

Next we went to the surfaces station.  It was apparently a “course” of cardboard, a plastic tarp, and a wooden board that the dogs were supposed to walk on.  They were in a gently curving line about 5ft apart.  The goal was to have our do lead us to the next “obstacle”.  Rue kicked butt and was joyously dragging me to the next surface.  After 3 or 4 reps on the course, we headed to the wooden plank and were to shape them to walk along it.  Since Rue has done this before, I concentrated on her focusing downward on the plank and ending in a two on/two off postion.  I have no idea how I’m going to train her contacts, but I figure this can’t hurt…who knows.  We also were able to play on the buja board during downtime and Rue again kicked butt.  She won’t tug on the board during class, but will do so at home.  We just played “get the cookie” on it instead.  I put her away for a few minutes after this.

Next up were recalls in parallel off-lead (meaning not attached to the long line as in previous classes).  I asked to leave Rue’s lead on and just let her drag it just in case.  Good thing because after the first recall which was excellent, she took off on me on the second and tried to ascend the dog walk and then the teeter-ugh.  I was unable to get her back even after stepping on the lead.  Against my better judgement, I let the instructor talk me into luring her back to me with food even though I was using a toy for the recalls.  It got her back, but I knew deep down that I should have persevered until I got her to engage with me and the toy regardless of how foolish I may have looked.

The third recall was done with everyone and we were supposed to send the dog ahead of us once they reached us either by tossing a toy or sending to a food target.  Because I really don’t want to use targets, I elected to use a toy.  What I should have done was excused myself from the excercise because our turn was awful.  She seemed ready to chase me so I gave my release word and she flew off to the side of the ring and straight on top of another puppy.  I couldn’t get her back without grabbing her leash and then running away.  I was told to drop the leash and get her to engage at which point she went right back to the puppy.  Frustrated I retrieved her again with her leash, ran away with her and attempted to engage her with her toy to no avail.  She completely disconnected from me and went into a MAJOR sniff-fest.  The instructor came out to help me and again recommended that I lure her away with food.  I told her that I didn’t want to do that because then she would “win” and learn that she was allowed to refuse the offered reward.  I tried and tried and tried to get her back, but to be honest I was very dissappointed and frustrated and I’m sure Rue wanted nothing to do with that.  I ended up picking up her leash and walking away.  She finally gave me eye contact so I broke down and gave her some treats and had a little party.  That was the end of class for us.

Miles finished up the class by assisting with a “monkey in the middle”.

After class, my instructor talked to me for awhile about different things I could try to help our relationship.  She suggested:
– decrease daycare to every 2-3 weeks instead of 2-3 times per week
– I’m to take her out of her crate alone and spend a minute or two engaging in play or something with her before she sees Miles or anyone else
– bring her to work with me
– she’s a working dog and may never have the same kind of relationship with her that I do with Miles.  She looks to me for work, not play.

Miles on the Teeter 12/4/08

I was home sick today (GI virus, ew), but couldn’t resist taking Miles out back on such a beautiful 60 degree day–ehhh, it’s Winter people!!  NC is odd.  Anyway, here’s the latest video.  I started dropping the teeter a little at the end for some free-fall.  Miles didn’t seem to mind a bit.  He’s going a little slower today for some reason, however.  Not sure why, will have to monitor this as I don’t want to lose speed at all.  I also added some movement at the end (tire-weave, or just a jump wrap).