Puppy Workshop with Melanie 12/7/08

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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 🙂

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Rue Sports Foundations Class Report 12/4/08

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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.

Training goals for Rue.

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1.  Try to keep what I want her attitude to be (bold, confident, fast, drivey) in the forefront of my mind any time we go to train.

2.  Continue to do restrained recalls, push back and chase, and recalls from a stay as often as possible.  Try to change my direction every 10 feet or so and stop to tug often.

3.  Take her to two new places each week and play games, work on commands and tricks.

4.  Continue to shape her to put all four feet in smaller containers.  Right now she’s putting them in a 6×8 inch cardboard box.

5.  Play on the buja board often.

6.  Teach her as many new tricks as possible including weaving through my legs.

7.  Ladder work.

8.  Continue with flat work and cones.

Teetering…

Miles rocks!  We didn’t have class tonight as our instructor is out of town, but I brought both dogs with me to PBH so I could work them briefly before and after teaching Pet Obedience.  I saved Miles’ work to after class so that I could use the ring that’s normally occupied by our Novice Sequences class.  We took his dinner (chopped up raw chicken) into the ring and I set up the scary teeter with a chair under the down end and played the bang game with him.  He was excited to play and didn’t care that the teeter was in a totally different spot than it was yesterday.  I did about 8 reps with the chair under the down end and then took the chair away.  Miles didn’t miss a beat and offered to launch himself back onto the teeter for bits of his dinner.  He jumped on at the pivot and then flew to the end.  After a few reps of this I decided to add throwing his favorite ball on release.  WOW was he excited!!  We ended our session with a few turns through the weaves and called it a night.

Rue was amazing as well.  Poor thing has a hurt tummy again today and woke me up last night whining in her crate.  She only made one peep, so I didn’t take her out because she didn’t make any other noises.  When I finally took her out this morning she had very loose stool…guess that’s what happens when you eat unidentified wild animal poop like it’s going outta style–ew.  Because of her tummy issues, we witheld her food for the day.  By the time I saw her tonight she seemed great, but I’m sure very hungry.  It worked to our advantage though because she was VERY motivated to work for the cooked turkey I had with me tonight.  We spent a little while working on some simple tricks outside of the arena and then I got her revved up and sent her around a cone…she was MOVIN’!  We did about 5 reps before she seemed to slow down and start to sniff.  I got her back enough to do another trick or two and then ended the session.  After I worked with Miles I took Rue out again, but this time into the small field.  Again we did some tricks and then I got her revved up and sent her around a jump wing.  She’s never seen a jump wing before, but intuitively knew what to do.  Once again, she was moving really good.  I did a few post turns and a few front crosses trying to keep her reward level high and then we ended with a few tricks.

What I learned tonight:
– Miles is really gaining confidence in so many areas.  I need to keep it in perspective and make sure I don’t push him too fast.
– Rue appears to do best when very hungry.
– I need to end sessions with Rue WAY before I think I need to.  She’s a wee pup after all with a tiny puppy brain.

Training Update 11/30/08

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So after 5 days of vacation/Thanksgiving holiday, I have some good training news to report!  Both dogs have had some breakthroughs and I feel like I know Rue much better.

For Miles, the major goal for this past week was to work on our new teeter training method.  Since my private with Melanie last Sunday, Miles has decided that he REALLY likes this game.  In fact, he’s loving it so much that he even played it on the scaaaary aluminum teeter today at PBH in the freezing cold pouring rain!  Right now I’m working on lowering the end faster, but still controlled.  The teeter is at full-height at home, but half height at PBH and maybe even a bit lower for the scary teeter.

Here he is at home on the 28th.  Note his speed and general demeanor.

Compare that to today at PBH with the aluminum noisy rickety teeter.  He’s a little slower at first, but picks it up at the end.  He’s never ever gone past the pivot on this teeter and he’s been quite nervous about any noise it made previously.

We also did the bang game on the same noisy teeter today.  He’s never played this game on it either….

For Rue, the main goal was to have fun with her.  I need to figure out what gets her going and how to tap into the drive I know she has.  Melanie suggested that I take this week as an easy week and just work on things that I knew she’d succeed at–easy money as she put it.  I also was to try to get some more speed out of her with our chase games and cone work.  It became apparent early in the week that she was a little off her game…come to find out her tummy was bothering her and she had some icky poops Tuesday and Wednesday.  She’s also teething so I know tugging probably hurts her.  In fact, we started the week with her having 3 adult canines coming in without the baby teeth falling out.  They were occupying the same socket, poorest girl.  As of last night she lost the last baby canine–yeah!!

These were her cones last week.  Lacking speed and drive….

Here they were on the 27th.  I got rid of the target and just tried to get her to run with me.  I was met with moderate success, but she was distracted by Miles standing in the agility ring.  I also think she still was feeling the effects of her tummy issue.

I decided to try working on a recall to side and then running off with her since I wasn’t having much luck with other methods.  I had been working our chase games and shadow handling by starting this way if I didn’t have anyone to restrain her.  I tried the Push Back and Jam with her, but that seemed to demotivate her–like it insulted her.  I think she likes this method better…i lost her at one point because Miles was barking at the neighbor dogs and it scared her a little bit, but she got it back.

Goals for Miles this week will be to continue to work on all teeters at home and at PBH.  I will start to let it free fall an inch or so as long as he maintains his speed and drive.  Also, continue to proof our weaves and work on handling skills (“grab the collar”, big stride front-cross, post turns, 270s).  Other things to work on are weaving through my legs backwards, perchwork clockwise, 4 feet into a small box and jump chutes.

As for Rue, we need to continue working on speed and drive with our flatwork and cones.  I plan to continue working on the buja board and general shaping.  We’re working on 4 feet in a small box as well as perch work.  I also need to work through all of Linda Mecklenberg’s recall-to-side behaviours.

Puppy training update 11/20/08

I’ve been having some issues lately with Rue.  I’m not sure what’s going on with her (or maybe me), but I feel as though she hasn’t been engaging with me as much as I’d like or as much as she had been.  I started noticing this trend during our new class “Sport Foundations”.  It’s a pretty good class, but it is a lot of pressure for little Rue.  At not quite 5 months old, she’s being asked to be focused on me throughout a lot of distractions.  We’ve been doing restrained recalls in parallel with other dogs doing recalls among other things of that nature.  I think it’s a great concept and something that I wish I had been able to do with Miles, but it is a lot for her.  Don’t get me wrong she does really well, but towards the end of the class I can tell she’s ready to check out. 

Something that she’s always done is eat grass….when she’s bored, when she’s stressed, just for fun.  She doesn’t just eat grass, she pulls it out by the roots.  In giant clumps.  This is not exactly good for a nice lawn or a nice agility field!  Last class she spent a good bit of it ripping out grass.

It was suggested to me by my instructor, not the teacher of the class, that I should never work her for an hour straight.  That doing so would very quickly undo the very bond I have been working so hard at forming.  Sigh. 

So the plan became to try crating her during class to give her downtime and to work Miles during those times if needed.  Tonight was the first chance I had to try it out and it really did seem to work!  The first part of class was about 15 minutes long and was a game of “monkey in the middle”.  Three dogs and handlers were in a circle playing and the dog in the center was to work on obedience/tricks/whatever with food.  Rue did great with the playing…I’ve finally figured out how to get her really fired up even without toys!  She’s so funny when she gets going too…she sounds like a gremlin!  We had a lot of fun doing that.  When our turn came to be in the middle, she rocked there too.  Totally focused on me and did a variety of tricks.  After that we went to work on cones.  Now the cones is the area that Rue did great in last week–totally focused on the game and having fun.  Today we worked on them at home and she was less than thrilled.  The same attitude held true tonight, so I put her in her crate and took Miles out to play.  He had a blast!

Next up was teaching them to go around our legs behind our back to the other side.  We were told to do it by luring them around behind us and rewarding them on the other side.  I taught this to Miles as an obedience “finish” where he moved from a “front” to a sit in heel position.  I’m not sure if I’m going to do the same with Rue or not and so I kind of fooled around with it in class, but was just having fun.  I’m not big on the luring thing with her, but I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, so we just did a few and then played before crating her again.

She was very into our next exercise which consisted of walkng through a plastic ladder on the ground and eventually a mini agility “course” of walking on different surfaces (plastic, wood, and cardboard) and then through the ladder.  Rue LOVES to walk on things, so that was easy and fun for us.  Then back to her crate she went.

The last exercise we did was to have them drive to a loaded target.  I haven’t done too much target work with her because I’m not sure how much I’m going to use targeting.  I did shape her to nose touch a target, however, just in case.  What I wanted to see with this exercise was if I could get her fired up enough to run to it.  This is another thing I’m having issues with–getting her fired up about something.  She’s so serious all the time when we are working.  I was able to get a few good ones in by restraining her by her collar and saying “ready ready readyyyyyyyy” and then releasing her to the target with a “GO!”.  I will need to work on this more. 

So in summary, the things I learned from last night are:
1.  She needs to be crated even if just for two minutes in between exercises so she can recharge.
2.  I can get her fired up by crouching down at her and grabbing at her feet and saying “haha…I’m gonna getcha!” until I annoy her enough that she starts becoming a crazed gremlin-like puppy.
3.  She gets frustrated quickly if she doesn’t understand what I want.
4.  It appears that dogs and other things in the enviroment are more exciting than me and I don’t know what really jazzes her up yet.
5.  She’s a very different dog from Miles, which isn’t a bad thing it just makes me work more 😉
6.  I need a plan.