training resolutions

It’s the second day of the new year and the new decade. I like the sound of twenty ten. Other than some global worries in 2009 along with the rest of the human population on earth, it was a good year. Scoop is almost 10 months old, and I am starting to get itchy to train real agility with him. I am only a couple months away from starting to teach weaves and contacts and I can’t wait to see what he looks like jumping big jumps.  I think I have heard that it is out of fashion to make new years resolutions, but IF I was going to, I would resolve the following:

  • Decide how I am going to teach Scoop’s aframe and then get busy finishing up the training of any aids I need so that in a couple months I can get down to really putting it all together.
  • Proof my handling and motion drills on the flat so I am ready to apply the skills to real jumps. Do my motion drills every day that I am home, and put all my energy into them.
  • Teach a nose touch in 2020 position. Scoop already has a 2o2o behavior and I taught him to nose touch a plexiglass target. Now I am ready to teach him to nose touch the target while he is on a short board. I am going to work on this skill every day I am home, so that by the time he is a year old I will be ready to backchain it at the bottom of the dogwalk and teeter.
  • Work Scoop on stays and positions and playing around dogs and handlers when classes are going on here at power paws every day that we have clients here on the property. He still really wants to visit with everyone, and I am happy he is friendly and outgoing, but when he is at the end of the leash working with me, I would like his undivided attention.

This is what Scoop and I worked on today…. prior to the non-new years resolutions:)

Distance stands and sits.

I placed Scoop in a stand, moved away from him a variety of distances in the living room, then asked him to sit. I want him to sit (or down or stand) wherever he hears the command, and not move forward out of the position he is in. I got some really good fast sits and he did not step forward. I tossed the treat or toy to him as soon as he sat and said break at the same time so that he could jump out of position to get the reward. I also worked down to sit from a distance which I find much harder. I placed Scoop in a down, moved  3 to 10 feet away, a different distance each attempt, and then gave Scoop the cue to sit from the down position. It all worked well until I had a bit too much distance from him, then Scoop wanted to move towards me before he sat, and in a couple instances he did not take the sit cue at all. I will work on both of those this week with lots of reward. I think the ability to change positions, or take cues in place at a distance from me is important. It is the beginning of distance work, albeit stationary.

We did a refresher course this morning on sit, down, left,right, stand, close and side. All cues that  are verbal only, no body language information. I cue a position, then reward, then cue another randomly, and then move on. It might go like this sit-c/t, down-c/t, stand-no c/t, close-c/t, down-c/t, left-no c/t, right-c/t, down- no c/t, sit, c/t etc, etc. Sometimes I reward each position, sometimes I skip a reinforcement or skip a few reinforcements. I do a session maybe a minute long, then play and start over or pick a position to add duration (sit, down or stand stay) or go into a heelwork routine up and down the hallway and around the living room.

Scoop occasionally has a glitch in remembering his left command and will offera totally different behavior or he slightly turns his head but does not move. I know I have pretty much ingnored the left and right cues the last couple months, use it or lose it is one answer for the issue. With a young dog that is learing lots of new skills, this is pretty normal, just a reminder to me to not forget to use all our skills at least once in a while.

My family

My dog and human family is mostly pretty healthy and I am happy that I have been home the last couple weeks of this holiday season to spend time with my husband and all our dogs. I thought I would share some updates and a photo of each of them at the begining of this new year.

Jim and I take a Christmas photo each year with our dogs. This year I decided that only our oldest dogs got to be in the photo. Riot and Swift, littermates, turned 14 in August and here we are with them in a photo taken in December 2009.

Marcy took this picture of Riot holding her namesake toy a couple years ago. It is my mostest favorite. My friend Nancy Louise Jones printed it for me in a 3 foot square image and it hangs centermost in my living room where I can stare at it daily. I had to have a small one too for my office so I can see her pretty much every minute I am in my house:) Riot is in her second year now of living with renal failure.  She is on a special home cooked diet and gets sub-Q fluids, and has no visible effects of the disease. She still hikes the fields with me daily and while seeming to be mostly deaf as a doorknob, every once in a while she surprises me and turns around and comes to her sign song nickname of riribabydog. I decided there is one good reason to teach your dog that your smiling face and clapping hands means you are very happy with something your dog did for you. You can use it when they are old and must rely on your body language, hand signals, and reading your lips for cues to what you are feeling. Ever tried seeing if your dog reads lip? Mine do. I can mouth their commands without any vocalization and if I have direct eye contact they usually take the cue.

My second oldest border collie Wicked, will be 13 in February. She is a bit gimpy now and then but still playful and active and would knock you over if she thought she could get to the gate first to get to the field for her hike. She and Riot retired just a couple years ago after they received the Platinum USDAA award for 500 lifetime legs. That is Wicky catching air over the A frame. 

Panic, my oldest boy dog, was 9 in November. He is sadly retired from agility because he started having epileptic seizures a few years ago. He has only had 8 seizures in his life because he is on some pretty potent medicine; but since he had 5 of those seizures while doing agility, I decided I could not risk his life and my sanity with the possibility of it ever happening again. He does a few tunnels here and there (his favorite obstacle) and demos a few low obstacles for a student once in a while, and he leads the pack on our walks.  I cry sometimes thinking of the fun we had over the years competing together, and really really miss that aspect of our life together. It is all about the memories now and he and I enjoying his health and freedom from seizures; he has not had one for over a year.

 Ace is 6 now and had a really nice competition year. We finished third at the European Open and third in  the usdaa steeplechase finals and 4th in the Grand Prix and took home a handful of ribbons trophies and plaques from the event. He is fun to run, easy to train, and my only competition partner at the moment. This is a photo of Ace and I at the EO just after the awards ceremony. The event was great fun and getting to be on the podium was even better. Ace is a great training and traveling partner and I appreciate him more every day!

Happy New Year one and all, I hope you have set some training goals with your puppy and that you are looking forward to starting your competition career with your youngster, as much as I am with mine.

NJG

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