Saturday, December 31, 2011

Double Box Seminar

I'm off to a double box seminar with Rylie this morning.  We did one in the fall and since then we've (well mostly I) have been practicing timing so I'm excited/hopeful to see if we have improved.   The weather has co-operated and it seems like it will be as warm as we could reasonably expect (and maybe a bit warmer than that) this time of year.  Tomorrow it's more of the same (except a bit more advanced I think) with Max.  Then formal agility training is over until March.  I'm going to concentrate on tricks training and handler training through the winter so that will be okay.  We will hopefully continue to get together with our practice group from time to time as well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Belated Christmas

Christmas has come and gone in the nest and Computer Dude has already flown the coop to head back home.  Engineering Guy will be with us for another week and we are enjoying having him home for his last extended stay.  Training really suffered over Christmas but hopeful we'll get back in the groove now that our schedules are getting back to normal.  Each dog has a half day agility seminar this weekend and then our agility training is done until mid March.  We are hoping to get in a couple of trials.  I'd like to qualify for regionals with Max this year but since they are so close to home I will be there and volunteer if we can't compete.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Empty Nest - not so much :-)

Both two legged kids are home this weekend so the nest has been pretty full.  Both are leaving again today.  Engineering kid is coming back home tomorrow (after his interview for a REAL after graduation job) but has to go back to school to write one more exam, then both will be back for Christmas break.  It is lovely having them home - even more so because I know that this will likely be the last time either of them is home for an extended time.

One of the things I was looking forward to was having them help with some of the multi person exercises in the recallers course.  That was pretty much a bust.  The only males capable of maintaining criteria in this house are the four legged ones!  Oh well.

We have been busy with training and practicing and I wasn't planning to enter any agility trials until spring.  Our regional competition this year may have to limit entries.  If they limit by competition level (which I do think is probably the fairest way) Max will probably not quite qualify.  I have to decide if I want to try a couple of trials this winter and hope we've fixed our contact problem or just to wait until next year for regionals.  Either way it's only going to be 20 minutes from my house this year so if I don't go as a competitor I will go as a volunteer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I mostly post about agility but I do train other things.  One of the games we play is giving the dogs the choice to try and steal their own reinforcement (food from the floor etc.) or be rewarded for making the good choice to ignore it. I had played this game with my dogs somewhat halfheartedly since they were pups.  They were very good at it BUT they knew when I was playing and when I accidentally dropped something that they could get to before me.  I've never really worked too hard to teach a "leave it" command because that assumes that I see something before they do.  Last winter Engineering Dad dropped an advil on the floor by accident.  Before leave it had left his mouth a dog had scarfed it down.  I had both dogs vomit immediately and in for blood tests a few days later.  It turns out it was Rylie that got to the pill first as his tests came back with elevated kidney levels.  They did even out so all is well.  Anyway I decided I had better redouble my efforts with the It's Yer Choice game.  Yesterday I accidentally dropped Rylie's probiotic pill - it skittered across the floor in front of both Max and Rylie who only looked at it and did not make a move towards it.  Now you do have to understand that Rylie gets this pill as a treat.  I was pretty pleased with our progress.

We went back to the dog park yesterday.  This is the time of year I tend to go - the weather isn't always conducive to getting in our daily walks during the week and I can stop in there while doing errands - yesterday it was nail trimming.  What I forgot was how much rain we got this week.  Rylie was a muddy mess and needed to be hosed off.  Max needed his feet hosed.  Both Engineering Dad and I needed a full change of clothes.  We did meet another Cavalier though.  He was 10 months old and looked like a Mini Max.

Today was class day.  Max and I had class in the morning and then I switched off dogs and brought Rylie to a practice group that we have.  One of the other trainers in the group is also doing the recallers course.  After practice we played some of the games with Rylie and Jam.  I am so stoked that I got to play with Jam.  He is a young Golden Retriever (not quite two).  He was totally awesome - he came when I called him even though he doesn't know me from Adam and I was even able to call him off his toy.  I know his trainer has worked really hard with him and it shows.  Rylie was able to sit in his chair while I played with Jam - holy distraction Batman!  When it was his turn to play he caught on to the game a bit too quickly.  "Gee momma will give me a treat - the nice lady will call me and give me a treat, then mama will call me and give me a treat.  Maybe I can make this treat business happen faster if I just run back and forth between mama and the nice lady).  He is pretty smart - when we were practicing sequences this afternoon I kept messing up my positional cues.  By the third try Rylie had the sequence aced so it didn't really matter what I did!  Maybe if I let him watch the video he can get it right the first time!

Friday, December 2, 2011


I'm very excited to be doing Susan Garrett's recoilers course again.  What makes it extra exciting for me is that we seem to have quite a lot of Cavaliers on course this time.  I know there have been some before but the new course format helps us connect.

I do feel like a bit of a fraud taking a recall course.  Cavaliers love their people so much that I don't think recall is usually much of an issue (except for Max and squirrels) but on the other hand I have to work a lot harder than most border collie or golden retriever owners to get enthusiastic tugging from my dogs (I know my own fault  - I didn't keep it up as much as I should have when they were pups) so it all works out .  It's a wonderful community and really supportive.  I feel like I've grown a lot as a trainer since I have been involved in the recallers program.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dog Park Saturday

For the most part I am not a huge fan of dog parks.  We have a dog park in London that is far above and beyond any other dog park we've been to.

We haven't been to the dog park since early spring but decided to take a trip there today.  The dogs get SO excited when we get close.  Even though they haven't been there for awhile they seemed to realize where we were going.  It didn't disappoint.  Had we stayed out of the small dog section it would have been perfect.  As Engineering Dad says "Large dog owners train their dogs and small dog owners don't seem to think they need to".  While I obviously don't agree with him I will agree that the people who bring their large dogs to the London dog park DO spend time training and socializing their dogs.  The closest we've come to having a dog behave inappropriately is occasionally a large young dog doesn't quite realize that they can't play with small dogs quite the same way.  This did happen today when a large german shepherd type dog thought Rylie looked like a good play toy.  Engineering Dad managed the situation by getting between the dogs (even though Rylie would have preferred to jump into his arms) until the GSD owner called the dog away.  The other thing that happened today was a Doberman dared to take Rylie's stick away from him.  Rylie was shocked (most dogs follow his rules - if I have it - it's mine) but gamely followed the dobie back to her owner.  The owner threw the stick for Rylie while trying to distract the dobie but she chased him down and took it again.  Poor Rylie - not a bad lesson for him  though and not a nasty word was spoken.

When we were done running around the regular section we ventured into the small dog section.  I really don't like it there at all. There was a Min Pin who was continuously being scolded.  I think it might have been for trying to escape the park.  The owner finally tied it to a bench.  I really wanted to suggest that if he just moved away from the entrance and encouraged his dog to engage with him instead of scolding it he might have better success but Neil makes me bite my tongue when other people's dog training methods annoy me.  

There were three cute fluffy energetic dogs who were very sweet.  One of them was playing frisbee  - Rylie thought THAT looked like fun but got told - EXCUSE ME THIS IS MY FRISBEE!  Rylie is much better at picking up social cues than he was a year ago so he took the hint.  I credit this to the border collie girl in our class.  She's pretty crabby.

As we were getting ready to leave Max was attacked by a shih tzu.  This dog was probably not even half Max's size but was pretty nasty.  Max was such a good boy and didn't retaliate.  He's fine - no skin was broken.  He's the one who walked beside me the entire time at the dog park and didn't spend any time exploring (no squirrels or bunnies apparently).  That's what led Neil to remark on the untrained small dogs.  It's strange but the only time we've seen aggression is in the small dog section of the park.  We do tend to steer clear of it - my dogs don't really "play" with others and are more interested in people so the size of the other dogs around them doesn't really make a difference.  They are happy to say hello and run together but that's about it.

Friday, November 25, 2011


One of my goals for the winter is to learn how to shape a bunch of tricks (primarily without luring).  I feel like this will really help my training skills as well as give us more things to do at a trial while we wait our turn.  I want to shape some stretching exercises like bow and sit pretty as well as some just fun/silly tricks.  To get me started (because I lack imagination) I ordered a Silvia Trkman video.  The dogs and I are having a blast.  I have shaped them to get into a suitcase (I'll have to get video because it's just too cute), to walk on my feet, and I have shaped Max to jump into my arms.  Long ago Rylie shaped me to catch him when he jumps so that wasn't something he needed to learn lol!  I'm very excited that Max will do it too now!  I'm a bit stuck on the trick we are working on now, pawing at the face (like hiding behind a paw).  I actually think I'll give that one up for a bit but it has worked itself into a bow/moonwalk behaviour which I think I will develop.  I am beyond excited that the recallers course will offer a shaping section.  I have seen Susan shape one of her dogs to do a behaviour picked by a student and she really is brilliant at it.  It should help keep us busy this winter anyway.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This and That

I have persevered with the easy-walk harness and decided that I like them.  We did have a bunny run across our path yesterday on our morning walk so I am willing to say that it does help with pulling (bunnies are definitely high distractions for both of my dogs).

Our training has been going well - we have a most awesome practice group that meets on the weekend to go through specific drills.  I feel that I am really getting a lot out of it.

Susan Garrett's recallers 3.0 course is getting set to start up.  This will be our third time in it and if possible I'm even more excited.  Although I'm a little afraid to say it we seem to have turned a corner with tugging in our house and I think it's going to make a difference to how we do the games in the course.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekend wrap up

After two full days of trialing I could hardly be more happy with Max and Rylie. 

Max and I kept a really good connection at the start line and throughout.  There was only a little bit of stress scratching and watching the videos he is pretty focused on me.  I lost his attention once in the middle of the gamblers course but that was mainly due to my position and not so smooth handling.  I was able to get his focus back and we continued on.  He did an excellent job on both the snooker run (he was second fastest of all the dogs qualifying of any height) and on the masters jumpers (where I caused a fault by getting out of position).  We have a POA for his dogwalk because he is consistently jumping over the bottom contact.  In training we will put the stride regulator back in.  Hopefully that will help.

Rylie and I struggled a bit with contact criteria (as in he didn’t think it was necessary) and got off the table in one run and flew over it in another but those are things we can fix.  He ran well and on all but one run his weaves were perfect.  I think I could have done cartwheels beside him and he wouldn’t have popped out.  His jumpers run was spot on – we were totally connected and I don’t think he took any extra steps.

I struggled in gamblers with both dogs.  I think they both might have been able to get the gamble but the first obstacle was the teeter and I don’t think there was any way to send to it without going over the line.  With Rylie I totally missed the fact that I was on the wrong side of the line (it was an angled line – not a straight one like I’m used to) so we got buzzed.  With Max I sent him to the teeter, realized I was on the wrong side – rear crossed him to get myself on the correct side and that pulled him off the teeter.    That maneuver made his next teeter performance tentative but luckily we had a few goes at the teeter and I think he’s good.

Full day trials mean spending a fair bit of time crated.  Both dogs are getting more comfortable with this.  I'm also lucky in that being inside the venue is relatively non stressful for them.  Max can be asleep in my arms and when I say "okay" he immediately leaps off of my lap and is ready to go.  Rylie is pretty much always ready to go.  I was able to leave Rylie sit in his chair while I walked the course (I always had someone keeping an eye on him so I didn't have to).  He was usually first dog in so I didn't have the option of leaving him crated until I was done.  I do credit the border collie in his class with his excellent stay.   She has taken it upon herself to tell Rylie off when the thought of entering her personal space (which is quite large) pops into his head.

Max isn't quite so good at staying put and needs someone to play a bit more active role.  Something to work on.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Report

Day 1 of our trial.  We did not get any Q's but I was really happy with both dogs.  Max and I stayed connected at the start line and he ran fast in all three runs.  He missed a dog walk contact on the first run (but my trainer and I have come up with a plan of action for that), took the wrong end of a tunnel on the second run (my fault), and the gamble was just plain hard.

Rylie was a bit of a naughty pants and we had some discussion over contacts as in "Mom you only need me to nose touch in class right? - not here?" which ended up causing us some faults, and a truly evil table placement caused him to fly over it.   Also a broken start line in steeplechase.  Again - the gamble was hard (same one) he may have gotten it but I started off over the line so we were buzzed off.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Yay for weekends

We have a two day agility trial this weekend.  For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to enter the first event of the day both days.  This means that I have to get up at dark o'clock.  Also that I have to warm Rylie up - crate him in the car - speed walk the course and go back and get him as he is almost certainly the first dog on the line and any folk crazy enough to be there that early will also be running that event so I won't be able to count on having anyone hold him while I walk.

I'm going to put my goals for the weekend out here and then report back.  With Max my main goal is to keep connected with him - particularly at the start line.  He stresses at the start line (most likely because of me) and our start is often rocky.  I'm going to try really hard to keep his focus on me.  I'd also like to be able to handle the masters jumpers course as if I'd actually practiced some of the handling before and not just flail around.

With Rylie I just want us both  to have fun out there and hopefully have him do his contacts as beautifully as he does them in class.  He has been following my body really well lately and I hope we can continue to  work as a team in a more stressful environment.

Of course I'd like Q's with both dogs but mainly I just want us to be a team.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Tired Dogs

Today was our first agility day in the barn.  It is Max's regular day and Rylie had a makeup class for one that was rained out earlier this week.  I have two very tired dogs tonight and one very tired handler.

The transition to the barn is always interesting.  There are cats that live in the barn - probably rodents - lots of hay, very interesting dirt (or so the dogs would have you believe), well you get the picture.  As the owner had to get in one more time with the hay wagon all the holes hadn't been plugged with hay bales.  There was a Rylie sized hole at one entrance so there were a lot of things to watch out for.  There was only one other dog in Max's class today so we all had a good workout.  Max did really well - he did take off once after something nobody else saw but he stopped dead when I called him and did come back to me.  Rylie always stays where he is put in class because the female border collie has told him off on more than one occasion when he wandered (intentionally or non-intentionally) into her space.

Both dogs had a hard time with taking the correct end of the tunnel.  With Max it was a pretty hard entry but with Rylie he was just convinced I didn't know what I was doing.  Every time I stopped to reset him he looked at my trainer as if to say "you tell the crazy lady I was right and she was wrong".

We have a trial next weekend.  I'm looking forward to it.  I think Rylie and I are starting to gel as a team and I sense more confidence in Max (which probably comes from me gaining confidence).  We have been running a lot of full courses in class and I think that has been helpful to me.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I generally walk my dogs with a regular harness that clips at the back.  I expect my dogs to walk nicely on leash without pulling.  They generally do but there are distractions we encounter where they do pull so I prefer to use a harness rather than have them yank their necks.  I have tried a head halter on Max when I knew we would be walking around major distractions (squirrels).  I have shaped it to the point where he will walk quite nicely with it and it certainly does help  hold his brain in place when we encounter squirrels but I'm not very comfortable (both literally and figuratively) in using one on such a short dog.  I know the proper technique of sliding your hand down along the leash to the end but the problem is that the end of the leash is only 12 inches off of the ground which means either I need the arms of an ape or  I need to bend right over.  This takes more time than it would for a large dog and there is the risk that Max will be able to jerk the head halter (and his neck) and/or I will put my back out.

I know the regular harness reinforces any pulling the dog does do so I decided to try an easy-walk harness.  I've been using it all week on our walks.  I haven't made up my mind about it yet.  I'm used to walking with the leash in a "J" position.  When I do this with Rylie the leash tends to get tangled around his feet.  Even with Max it slaps at his front leg.  Not sure what the solution is.  I also find the leash itself gets wrapped around Rylie's neck as he is in the habit of changing sides a fair bit so I have been doing a lot more untangling than I normally would have to.  Having said that it doesn't seem to bother either dog to wear it.  I can't honestly say about the pulling as we haven't met up with any major distractions on our morning walked this week (well until today when I had them in their regular harnesses and they acted like they had never been walked on a leash in their lives).

I'll give it a try for a week or two more and search out some high level distractions before I make up my mid whether I like it or not.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good News

Rylie was back at the vet today and his urine test came back good.  Infection is gone and so are the crystals so yay!  His urine ph is high so I will continue to supplement him with cranberry as I have been doing for the last couple of weeks.

My big boy Max turned three last month.  I didn't actually forget his birthday but time got away from be and it had come and gone before I realized it.  Nearly three years ago we brought home this sweet little puppy.

He's still just as sweet in my totally unbiased opinion :-)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Max and I went to a gamblers workshop today.  I had second thoughts about it when I realized it was for Master Gamblers and Max has only one advanced Q.

What I found out was that Max follows my body very closely.  By making some minor adjustments in my position I was able to give Max the information he required to do the obstacles that I was directing him to.  I was really amazed at the difference.  I always knew that Max has wanted to do exactly what I was asking so it is really cool to learn how to ask him in a way that he understands.  I hope I can carry my learning into the next trial.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poor Rylie

Earlier this week Rylie woke up in the middle of the night.  When I went to let him out he had already peed in his crate.  This is the second time in a month or so that it had happened and I am pretty convinced he was sleeping when he actually peed.  He was soaking wet  both times when I went to let him out and I'm a pretty light sleeper so I think I would have heard him had he woken up and asked to go out.  After the first time we had been very careful about making sure he actually peed on his last outing before bed so I figured that a vet visit would be in order.  It turns out that Rylie has a UTI complete with crystals in his urine.  The only other "symptom" he had which I didn't think too out of the ordinary until he stopped doing it was lately as soon as we got up in the morning he would ask to go out.  My food hounds had always insisted on breakfast first.  After a couple of days of antibiotics I try and let him out first thing in the morning and he looks at me like I've lost my mind.

We went to an agility trial yesterday and Rylie ran by ALL of the contacts (dog walk, A-frame, and teeter).  This is very unusual for him because they are normally his favourite obstacles.  I initially put it down to being a baby dog and nerves on his part but a fellow competitor watched one of his runs and asked if he could have a sore back.  Her dog will refuse contacts when his back is sore.  After she mentioned that I felt bad for calling him back to do each of the contacts (which he did do on the second pass) because I suppose a UTI could cause back pain.  Also he had had a chiropractic adjustment to his shoulder on Friday so it might have been a bit tender.

I think I'm going to limit his activity until our class on Wednesday.  By then he should be feeling 100% better from the UTI and if he still hesitates (he's pretty unlikely to refuse outright in a familiar environment) I'll take him back to the chiropractor.

Max did well in both of his runs but we are running into challenges that show what we need to train so we didn't get any Q's.  Last week we had done a lot of sending to tunnels and building value for the tunnels at home because nine times out of ten I will have to send him to a tunnel in the gamble.  I built so much value for the tunnel apparently that when faced with the choice between tunnel and aflame or tunnel and dog walk he consistently chose the tunnel even though I think I was pretty clear what I was asking for!  Next training challenge will be to work on obstacle discrimination!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CFSO Picnic

We attended the Cavalier Fanciers of Southern  Ontario picnic today.  What's better than a yard full of Cavaliers?  Why new snoods of course!  Thank you Mary Beth.  Mom also won an awesome prize in the raffle.  It was a good day all around.

We were at an agility trial this weekend.  Rylie was in his first standard runs and ran awesome - although I can see that maintaining criteria for him will be important.  This was the most relaxed and "himself" I've seen him in a trial.

My handling skills (or lack thereof) are just not doing Max justice.  I have a plan of action to work on handling because I better get it together before Rylie moves up.  While Max is more forgiving of my bobbles Rylie expects clear concise and TIMELY direction from me.  If it's not forthcoming he'll make his own choices.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Joint Supplements

I have been giving my guys Sasha's Blend joint supplement since I took Max to Say Yes puppy camp when he was about 15 months old.  I will confess that my reason for using it was very unscientific.  Susan Garrett uses it for her dogs from the time they are puppies.  Even though my vet felt there was no evidence that using a supplement preventatively will do any good he also didn't think it would do any harm.  I ask my dogs to do a lot of jumping and I want to keep them them healthy.  I use this instead of the glucosamine chondroitin that I had been giving them.  Of course it seemed only fair to give it to Mindy as well (she was 11 1/2 and although she didn't show any symptoms of stiffness or pain I figured it wouldn't hurt).  When I ran out of the first batch I didn't reorder right away.  What I noticed was that Mindy was a bit slower to get up out of bed and didn't move with quite as much pep.  That sold me on using the Sasha's blend and I've used it ever since.

About a year ago I complained to my chiropractor of having a sore big toe.  He told me I was probably of an age that taking a glucosamine supplement would be helpful (and yes he said it exactly like that - no beating around the bush from him!).  I did and I did find it helped.  One day when I was on the website to order my Sasha's blend I noticed the company made a human joint supplement.  I decided to live on the wild side and ordered some.  Within two weeks of taking the Joint XL the pain in my toe had totally disappeared and I was able to reduce the amount I took.    Of course with no pain I sometimes forget to take it ;-) and I get reminded soon enough of why I'm taking it in the first place.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trial Weekend

This was the first trial where I ran both dogs three runs a day.  I think Rylie is FAR FAR happier being able to do more than one run.

Saturday was VERY hot.  I got to use my brand new silver shade sheets.  Man do they work well.  I covered my mini up with the sheets, left the windows and doors open and it was so pleasant inside with the dogs crate fans going that I didn't even bother putting up the shade tent.

I put Rylie in steeplechase which was the first event of the day.  He knocked a bar which surprised me so much we missed a jump but it was a nice run anyway.  Both dogs were in advanced gamblers.  Both of their contacts were really good but neither got the final gamble.  I have to work at sending them when I am stationary.  I can't remember much about their jumpers runs but I was happy with their speed and focus.  I made a handling error that caused Max to back jump a jump.

Today Rylie's steeplechase was really good but Travis was there and because he is still a bit nervous  he decided to go visiting twice.  Even with that we were clean and just a couple of seconds over time.  His weave entries were awesome and his 2o2o aflame was really good.  Next was gamblers.  After Rylie and I argued about the course yesterday I decided to let him do the dog walk and we were all happy.  He got the final gamble which amazed me because it was tough and we don't have directionals.  Max did well in gamblers as well but I couldn't send him to the tunnel which was the fourth obstacle.  Max ran a lovely snookers run and that Q gave him his Starters Game Dog title.  His jumpers run was lovely but the course I sent him on wasn't quite the course the judge set and we threw in an extra tunnel.  Rylie was a very good boy in his jumpers and got a Q there as well.

Tomorrow we have half day seminars for both dogs.  Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Rylie kicked my butt in class tonight.  I so need to run faster to handle him.  He's such a good boy.  We'll get there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Seminar

I took Rylie to a handling seminar on Sunday.  He did really well.  My legs were sore after three full days of agility earlier in the week.

I'm still thinking about camp.  My goals are to improve my handling by being more decisive and to give myself visual landmarks on course to help me be where I need to be.

It was also suggested to me that if Max has more value for the individual obstacles he will be more confident when the courses become more complicated.  I had to think about that one for a bit because I didn't think he was lacking in value but I realized that he doesn't have the same kind of quivering self control at the start line to that Rylie does.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Agility Camp

I just got back from a three day agility camp.  It was an amazing experience.  There were three incredibly talented instructors who each had a slightly different  teaching style.  I got a lot of great feedback and have some specific things to work on.  My fellow classmates were so supportive of me and each other.  I've been to a few other camps before but this one certainly topped all of the others.

My dogs were just awesome.  I got so many compliments on them and they really did work hard for me.

Another first for me - I drove our motorhome the two hours to camp and back ALL BY MYSELF!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


We had a thunderstorm late yesterday afternoon.  Max only barked a couple of times.  He came right over to me when he heard the thunder so I could do t-touch on his ears.  I put the thunder shirt on him while we ate supper.  I am so thrilled with how he has progressed and from being a skeptic I have turned into a believer of the bach flower remedies.

We went to Pawlooza in London yesterday.  It was wild and crazy.  Rylie "almost" tried dock diving.  He was so excited but when he ran to the end of the dock (a couple feet high - not regulation) he stopped and said "Are you nuts"?  I was going to let Max try lure coursing but they had stopped running by the time we got back to the course.  I did talk to a chiropractor who works out of London so I was pretty excited about that.  All in all it was a great day and the dogs had fun.  When I was finished talking to the chiropractor Neil said to me "You need to come to the booth two doors down" - you have to know him - to encourage me to stay at an event with lots of people one second longer than absolutely necessary is totally out of character.  Anyway, I was intrigued so off we trotted.  I met a beautiful 9 month old try-colour girl :-).  I don't even remember what they were selling at the booth lol.

Tomorrow night the dogs and I head off for three days of agility handling camp.  I'm excited and nervous.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You know you're old when........

The fur boys and I are on our own this weekend.  Engineering Dad and Engineering Kid have gone on a golf trip.  Last night I settled down to watch my newest video Unleashing Your Dog's Potential and realized I had no idea what settings to push on the remote to get it to play on our new fangled system.  Normally the TV is on sports so it's not like I "get" to use it much.  To tell the truth I didn't even try - that's what computers are for right?

This morning we walked down to the farmer's market.  Both dogs walked really nicely even though the brain suckers (aka squirrels) tried to steal Max's brain he fought back and I didn't have to put on the brain retainer (aka gentle leader).

Next on the agenda is bath and then we are having a celebration for a classmate and her dog who came second at Nationals last weekend!  Awesomeness!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bad Aura?

I seem to have a really bad bird aura lately.  A couple of weeks ago I was walking the dogs in the morning.  I saw this bump in the sidewalk.  It was a baby bird.  Not quite a hatchling but certainly not a fledgling.  The poor thing was just sitting there shaking.  I couldn't see a nest although I'm sure it fell or was pushed out of a nest in the tree.  There certainly wasn't a nest that I could reach.  Now I know you aren't supposed to try and put fledglings back in the nest but I'm not so sure what you should do in this situation.  I suppose it's natural selection.  My dogs wanted to say hello in the worst way but I figured the last thing this poor little guy needed was to be traumatized by monster dogs so we just walked on and left the poor guy sitting in the middle of the sidewalk.

I don't know if my lack of action brought me bad bird karma but last week when we got to agility class I spotted a dead bird stuck in the wire fencing.  I very gently disposed of it before the dogs noticed it.  Last night I was a bit early for class and was standing outside the field watching my trainer work with her two dogs.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flutter and then this little bird kind of skimmed the grass in front of me and did a face plant right in front of my feet. It's wings fluttered a couple of times and then it stopped moving.  I have NO idea where it came from - there were no trees for it to fall out of close by.  It seemed to be walking/running rather than flying but there was no doubt it was dead.  I think it may have had a broken neck but since the poor thing died right in front of me it was still warm so maybe the neck would be floppy anyway?

I just want to put it out there to whoever is in charge of bird karma that I actually like birds quite a lot and if I felt my intervention would have helped the first baby bird at all I would have picked it up.

I was going to google what it means to have birds dropping dead around you but I decided it can't be good and it might be one of those things I'd rather not know.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We took the dogs for a swim today.  They love to swim and it's been so hot that they haven't had much exercise lately.  I think Rylie enjoyed himself.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What do you think

In an attempt to both save money and be more environmentally friendly I purchased these for my dryer.

Shortly after, Engineering Guy came up from the laundry room carrying one and asked why the dog toys were in the dryer?  Apparently those who live in this house think I only buy things for the dogs!

Max seems to be doing better with thunderstorms.  I still have to be awake with him but at least he has stopped barking continuously and is down to just random barks.  During the second storm last night it was enough that I put on his thunder shirt and let him on our bed.  I didn't have to be massaging him so I'd say we are seeing progress.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yay for Contacts

I am training Max and Rylie differently on contacts.  Max has running contacts.  Rylie is learning two on two off contacts (his front feet are on the ground while his hind feet stay on the contact and he touches his nose to the ground until I release him).  We are training this way on the advice of my trainer and it's mostly due to the speed of the dogs.  I need Rylie to stop at the bottom so I have a hope of keeping up to him.  Max will sometimes miss his contact in a trial and I still have to be pretty close to him to make sure he drives all the way down but all in all they were pretty easy to train.

We have been working forever it seems like on Rylie's.  It took him a long time to get decent nose touches and then he had a hard time stopping at the bottom.  Last week he did the entire A frame and managed to stay on it.  This week we added the dogwalk and he did both in sequence.  Yay!  I'm sure this will be a work in progress but I think the next trial he will be ready for an event with contacts.  Which is good because right now he can only do jumpers and he isn't pleased to go to a trial and only get to do one run in.

He had a grand time in class tonight because he got to do all of his favourite things (we were sequencing and I honestly think everything is his favourite )

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fireworks, Thunder, and Agility

After three nights the fireworks are getting a bit old.  Max has been doing really well though.  I used the rescue remedy Friday night but only the thundershirt and massage yesterday - even during the thunderstorm and he was fine.  The only time we had any real barking was when the fireworks were set off after we were all in bed.  We had to bring Max to bed with us both Friday night and last night but a few weeks ago even that wouldn't have helped.  Rylie woke up and vomited at 4 a.m. this morning.  No idea why - it was only the once and he seemed fine immediately after.  He didn't even want to eat grass when I took him outside.  Last summer that was always one of my signs that his tummy was still upset.  He was fine all day today so hopefully whatever it was has passed.

We went to an agility trial for just a couple of runs on Friday.  The best thing I can say about it is that Rylie got his second and last measurement and we no longer have to be places first thing in the morning to get him measured.

Max ran first and his run wasn't bad actually.  He took a few off course jumps but we are new at the masters level and both have a lot to learn so I was happy.  He was pokey at the start but got in a groove pretty quick.

Rylie had to wait a long time after they set his course.  Since he was the first dog I made sure we were ready - but nobody else was!  I guess they lost power so couldn't print out the running order and do whatever else they needed to do.  Rylie's run started out fine and then I realized at the last second that the tire jump was too high - in truth this probably upset my focus more than Rylie but it meant I didn't get where I needed to be and then he saw Neil and Max watching and ran over in their general direction.  We did get to start again because of the tire but I never got his focus back so I just picked him up and left the course when he decided to visit with all the gate stewards.  He is usually very focused so this surprised me but he also isn't used to seeing Neil and Max watching him.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We had another awesome camping weekend (although I'm covered in bug bites).  We took a four day weekend and went to a couple of provincial parks close by.  We got in quite a few bike rides (Rylie has decided to complain about the bike trailer) and the dogs got to do a ton of running on the beach and swimming.  Max got so excited that he forgot that retrieving anything on land is totally against his policy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thunderstorm Seminar

Last night I attended a seminar on helping dogs cope with thunderstorms/fireworks.  It was very interesting and I came away with a few new techniques to try.  Sadly (for my husband and son) the thunderstorm happened last night while I was away and they had to deal with Max barking for two hours.

The presenter is certified in Tellington Touch and Bach Flower remedies, and is an animal communicator so her techniques drew from each of these modalities.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Awesome Weekend

I was really proud of both of my guys yesterday.  Today it was just me and Max.  We were chasing the elusive advanced standard Q and trying our luck at snookers for almost the first time (the first time we didn't last long before being whistled off).

We have been very close in our last couple of standard runs and I told Max that if he hit his contacts a gave me a good teeter we'd head right to the pond for a swim.  He did and we did!  He also came first in his class so that was cool.

Our next run was snooker.  I managed to plan a reasonable flowy path and it worked well for us.  Max was awesome at staying with me - we ended up with more than enough points and finished nine seconds early - another swim in the pond!  We had a second snooker run today.  The most logical path to rack up points involved taking the teeter multiple times in the opening. Most competitors did this.   Since Max has had teeter issues in the past and was tentative yesterday I decided I wouldn't do that to him so we chose another path that only required doing the teeter as the last obstacle.  We got a Q and even though he never wavered on the teeter today I think it was the most fair choice.

It was  a great weekend - it's nice to see things come together - and in Rylie's case particularly see what we need to work on still.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

So tired

A very long agility day today.  First Max had an advanced standard run.  I was really happy although we didn't Q - he missed his down contact on the dogwalk  - he was a bit pokey but did everything else really well so maybe he was just being thoughtful.

Rylie's starters gamblers was next - Rylie gets very high and then he becomes unsure so he was tentative to begin with - I had to send him a couple of times each to the tunnel for the mini gamble but he did go.  By the time we got to the main gamble he was all "I got it Mom - not to worry" - and it was much harder than the mini.  We got a Q.  Max's advanced gamble was next.  I mishandled the gamble causing him to take an off-course and be whistled off but he ran really well and got a ton of points in the opening -getting the mini gamble twice without a blink.

Jumpers - Rylie's advanced jumpers was a wild ride.  We are still learning to work as a team  - because he's so fast I ran as fast as I could to stay ahead (breaking one of the cardinal rules of agility - always stay connected with the dog).  Rylie is very inexperienced so in trying to keep up to me he missed a couple of obstacles.  Clearly I need to support him more.  He did run super duper fast though.  I didn't have great expectations for Max's master jumper run.  It was the last class of the day - he is brand new to masters - and we were both beat after a long day.  He ran beautifully and not only Q'd but came first in his class.  We are really starting to come together as a team.  If I had to guess I wouldn't have guessed that Max's only Q would come in his masters class but he always has liked jumpers.

Max and Rylie's new wheels

This is the bike trailer that allows us to have some flexibility when we are camping.  If we are going too far for the dogs to walk they can just pop in the bike trailer.  Here they are after our hike last weekend.  Funny though - even though "I" was the one who biked 14k hauling 35 pounds of dog THEY were flaked out when we got back to the campsite.  I bought it second hand but it had barely been used.  I had originally been looking for a child trailer but this is a pet trailer.  The dogs enter from the back.  Did I mention it's awesome?  The dogs seem okay with it so far.  They are used to travelling in a crate so it's not that much different for them -except Max tends to let me know (by scratching) when the ride isn't smooth enough for his liking.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I love weekends

Last weekend we went camping in our new (to us) motorhome.  It was the first time we've camped in ages and we had a good time.  The dogs enjoyed it too.  I used my brand new (to me) bike trailer and we went on a 14k bike ride with a stop partway through for a hike.

This weekend we have an agility trial.  We've been working hard on training and it will give us a chance to evaluate where we are.  I was so happy with both of their performances in the last trial we were in last month.  It should be a lot of fun.  I was hoping Rylie would be ready for a standard course but his contacts are not quite there yet so he will just do jumpers and gamblers.  Along with standard, jumpers, and gamblers, Max and I will be trying to figure out snooker.

Next Wednesday I am going to a seminar on ways to manage a dog's fear of thunderstorms.  I'm pretty excited about it and hoping to come away with some new techniques for helping Max cope with the stress.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thunderstorms and Birthday Boy

Thanks for the advice.  I'm going to try the thundershirt tighter and get some rescue remedy.  Meanwhile I'll continue with the classical conditioning.

I did call the vet's office the other day to inquire and felt better (in a misery loves company kind of way) to learn that all the vet tech's dogs were up all night barking too and they were as exhausted as I was.  One of my trainer's dogs broke out of her (wire) crate and she doesn't usually get that worked up.  The thunder wasn't THAT loud so it must have had something to do with the pressure change.  Anyway - the vet would prescribe a sedative but I'd have to give it before the storm (which doesn't work with the middle of the night ones) and it doesn't last long.  So scratch that idea.  It did give me another idea though - I might let Max bark and take a sedative myself!

Just over two years ago this sweet little boy (the dog not the kid in case you were wondering) was born and came to live with us 8 weeks later.  We wanted a spunky pup because Max was only 10 months old himself and I knew I planned to do agility with him.  Rylie is SPUNKY (caps intended).  He makes me laugh every day AND he's challenged me to improve my dog training skills.

Rylie has all big dogs in his agility class.  They are nice dogs and they all get along fine but Rylie MUST have his own chair to sit in or be in my arms.  It finally dawned on me that he needs to feel as big as his classmates so I haul a chair for Rylie to each class we go to.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We had a REALLY long thunderstorm last night.  For the last year or so Max barks at thunder.  It has definitely been getting worse lately.  He doesn't show any other signs of stress (drooling, panting etc.) and he will stop his barking long enough to work for treats however that really isn't practical at 3:00 a.m.

I have tried a thundershirt, classical music - and a combination.  I have tried a (little) bit of classical conditioning by playing storm sounds at low volume but he seems to be able to tell the difference.  Last night he woke us up barking before we could even here the thunder.

Anybody have any good ideas?  I was hoping not to have to go the drug route but I'm fresh out of ideas.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Woke up to a beautiful (but unforecasted) sunny day.  My original plan was to take my bike and ride a 20k trail at our local conservation area.  Common sense prevailed however - since I haven't been on my bike for a couple of years and engineering guy just put a new tube in the tire for me it seemed wiser to take a shorter trip, closer to home.  I biked to the bank to get money to go to the first farmer's market of the season.  I actually biked right by the market but the dogs and I walk down every Saturday morning so I didn't stop.

My farmer's market scores today were asparagus (yummy), homemade bread, organic spinach, and homemade soap.  I just missed out on the lettuce.

It occurred to me while walking down with the dogs how grateful I am that I can walk with them.  It's something I take for granted nearly every day.

Now I have to choose between indoor work and yard work.  I know I'd rather be outside but the dust bunnies are starting to have babies!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My favourite things

On Saturday night I was telling someone that my favourite "thing" is my iphone.  On Saturday night that was true.  On Sunday Max and I went to an agility trial in the rain.  My favourite thing is now my shiny new black rubber shoes that kept my feet toasty warm and dry.

  Sadly my feet were the only part of my body that stayed warm and dry.  I didn't have rain pants (I do now!),  I don't own a hat and I didn't put my waterproof jacket on until I was already wet (yeah I know it doesn't do much good then).

Poor Max was pretty cold and wet too despite the raincoat I brought for him.  I ended up wrapping him in a blanket and sitting with him in the car between runs.  We were supposed to be in three runs but pulled out of the last one.  Despite the weather we both had fun.  Max ran a really good standard run - he   did a couple of off course obstacles but all in all I was happy.  I wasn't sure what to expect for his advanced gamblers run.  It was our first advanced gamblers and our fourth gamblers ever.  He was amazing!  It was a really lovely course and we racked up a lot of points.   I didn't really have any expectation that Max would do the gamble as it was 6 weave poles, teeter, jump.  I  was really hoping we'd be able to manage the weaves.  Well not only did he get the weaves but the same  dog who absolutely refused to do a teeter in January did the teeter fourteen feet away from me and carried on to the jump.  I was so proud of him!

I took Rylie on Saturday.  The weather was much nicer.  He had two good runs and Q'd in both his jumpers and his gamblers run.  We are still getting used to doing full courses so we weren't without our bobbles but he's a really good boy and pays attention.

We've been doing a lot of agility lately and getting some much needed practice on courses.  I'm so pleased with how both dogs are doing.  We're having a lot of fun.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I've been MIA for awhile.  I've been here and reading blogs but life has gotten incredibly hectic.

My nest is no longer quite as empty.  Engineering Guy finished his third year (where does the time go) and is home for what will probably be his last summer.

The dogs and I have been participating in Susan Garrett's recallers course which is just winding up.  I have been lucky enough to attend a few seminars with Susan in person but I almost think that I get more out of the online courses as there is not quite as much material to digest at once.

One of my deepest wishes is that I had been more aware of positive training methods when my Golden was alive but I am a firm believer that every dog comes to us for a reason and I know that Zeus' legacy to me was to make me determined to have a well trained dog without using force or punishment.  I've been so blessed to find my own trainer who is also one of Susan's instructors and who introduced me to Susan's methods.

Did my dog's get better recall through this course - honestly I'm not sure as I think their recalls were already pretty good.  I know I have learned a tremendous amount about dog training and how to work through problems.  The other thing that happened is that my relationship with Rylie has improved dramatically.  Rylie is an awesome dog  - he has always been a Daddy's boy.  He loves his momma but he follows Daddy around and it's sometimes hard to keep his attention if Daddy is in sight. That has  been great for working distractions.  This course has changed that dramatically without even trying though.  What momma wants - momma gets cause momma is da bomb!  Max has always been a momma's boy and I don't notice as much change in him but I have to say I'm super excited in the changes in Rylie.

This week I switched up their classes.  I took Max to class with the baby dogs because I wanted to work on his teeter (which he did without a second thought -so go figure).  We had a starters jumpers run set up  because a couple of the dogs in the prior class were going to be competing in their first trial.  My trainer challenged me to get a front cross in at a certain obstacle.  I figured not a problem since Max isn't exactly a speed demon - well he fooled me.  He rocked the easy course.  The second time around I got the front cross in but only because I sent him and let him find three obstacles on his own.   He beat me to the finish.  My trainer said any time Max beats you consider it an awesome run - and I did!

Rylie went with the older dogs and the sequence was a bit trickier.   I found I couldn't send him to the same extent and I couldn't keep up with him either!  We do have some work to do but it was great fun.

Both dogs did realy well in class with strange dogs.  I love Cavaliers - they are so adaptable.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I love my dogs

I just have to say how much I love my dogs.  They rock!  They did great this weekend at our agility trial.  Max had his best run since November in the standard class.  He refused the teeter so we didn't Q but everything else was spot on and we were connected through the whole run.

Next we did snookers for the first time ever.  Again he was awesome.  I miscalculated what he would see and he ended up taking an off course jump so we got whistled off but I was happy with what we did accomplish.  He did awesome in his jumpers run and did get a Q (and first)

Rylie only had a jumpers run today and I just have to say how much Rylie rocks my world.  Our starters run was the most fun I've had since I don't know when.  My trainer said the "right" thing to do was lead out three jumps.  I asked her if she thought Rylie  could handle that because we hadn't really preacticed long lead outs?  Her response was "Do you want your Q's in starters or in masters?"  I decided to trust Rylie and our training and led out to obstacle four which was a tunnel.  When I release Max from that distance he is often tentative because (I imagine) he's not sure he heard me and doesn't want to break his start line.  Rylie on the other hand is all "I saw her lips move so she must want me to go".  I had two small (but not serious) bobbles at the beginning of the run when I wasn't prepared for his speed and then we both ran like hell!  I didn't mess up his Q this time.  He was the only dog running at his height but I'm pretty sure he ran faster than most of the border collies (nobody has ever told him he isn't a border collie!).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Agility Trial This Weekend

This weekend the dogs and I are at an agility trial close to home.  Today I had Max entered in three runs and Rylie in two.  Can you say exhausted?  Max ran in the advanced standard class first.  He did really well and ran fast.  We didn't Q due to two jump refusals - most likely due to my handling - I'll have to watch the video but I was really happy.

Next I had both Max and Rylie entered in Starters Gamblers.  There were only four dogs at their height so they were nice enough to move us into the #1 and #4 spot.  Rylie ran first.  It was a bit of an experiment and I honestly had no idea what to expect.  I started him with the weaves because they are his favourite thing but he popped out almost right away.  My trainers voice saying "when young dogs are stressed the first thing to go is the weaves" echoed in my ears.  Regardless we carried on and ended up with enough points.  Rylie didn't get the gamble which was a tunnel and two jumps working 10 feet away from me.  That surprised me because usually when he locks on to a line he has it.  I'll have to watch the video and see if I pulled him off unintentionally.  He thought it was all great fun though and it was a good learning experience for me.  I didn't think my brain was capable of remembering two courses so I planned to run Max the same course.  Since starting with the weaves didn't work for Rylie I got brave and changed my plan.  Max hopped on the teeter and decided he wasn't moving even though he'd done it without issue in the standard run.  It wasn't a fault as it was starters so I called him off and carried on.  He didn't initially get the gamble but we had enough time that I was able to send him over the jumps and he got a Q.

Next came Rylie's starters jumpers course.  He ran really really well and did exactly what I asked of him.  Unfortunately what I asked was to go over an off course jump.   Oooops.  So he didn't get a Q but he didn't care he had fun anyway.   He'll get to try again tomorrow.  Max's advanced jumpers run was next.  I managed to keep my wits about me and direct him around the right course so he got a Q.  He's just that bit slower than Rylie that gives me a bit of time to think during the run.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mindy Part 2

Thank you all for your kind words about Mindy.  She was special and we miss her.  She wasn't perfect though.  Two of the funniest (now) memories I have of her are:

One night when she was about 4 she got up in the middle of the night.  I let her out and very unlike her she didn't come immediately back in.  She was a princess and it was the middle of winter.  She usually didn't dilly dally about getting her business done.  I called her but she didn't come.  I put on my Sorels and coat over my pajamas and grabbed a flashlight to see what was up.  There was Mindy in the middle of our backyard eating a rabbit!  I can only assume she caught it and killed it.  Either that or it dropped dead in the middle of our yard.  Once I got her in she thought it was a good idea to kiss my face.  EWWWWWW!

In her last summer (she was 11 1/2) I heard her barking outside.  I went out and she was barking from under our deck.  The deck is just about ground level and I had no idea how she got under.  I was pondering the fact that I'd probably have to rip off a deck board to rescue her when shooting out from under the deck came a racoon with Mindy in hot pursuit.  Max was also outside so he joined the chase.  At least Max had the good grace to look at me when I called him (although he decided I just wasn't interesting enough), Mindy didn't even break stride.  They chased this racoon around the yard two or three times before he escaped under the fence.  He could easily have stopped and fought and taken them both out I think.  Needless to say we found the entrance and closed it off so he couldn't get back and the dogs couldn't get back under.

Mindy with Zeus our Golden

Showing who is the Queen of the castle

Again - showing who is top dog

Not even Mindy can resist Rylie's charm but his head is not allowed near her ears (too much ear pulling from puppy Max)

Monday, March 28, 2011


It was a year ago this month that we lost Mindy.  She was such a special girl.  She was everything  a Cavalier should be (energetic, fun loving, loving) and she was responsible for my love of the breed. Mindy was eight months old when we got her and stayed my velcro dog from that day on.  In this picture she was 11 and still had a ton of spunk.  The only thing I ever trained her to do was sit but she was such a good girl she always did what I wanted without me asking.  She would have loved being an agility dog.  She will always hold a special place in my heart.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This and That

I haven't posted in a little while.  Our trial a couple weeks ago was interesting.

The Good
- Rylie was awesome.  He got his starters jumpers Q and ran really really well.
- Max got an advanced jumpers Q - he ran pretty slow but that gave me time to think about handling ;-).
- Max did the teeter on the standard run without even a second thought.  Silly me for worrying.
- Max was tugging with me in the waiting area before his run - this is HUGE for us.
- Both dogs were awesome travelling and at the hotel.

The Bad

- I felt that Max was pretty stressed.  The one video I have does show him wagging his tail but he was moving REALLY slowly all weekend and he left the ring on the one run we had on Sunday.  He's never done that before.

I was considering not putting him in next month's trial but we got back, went to class and he was happy as a clam.  It might be that he just needs to get used to different venues.  I know he picks up on my stress but I didn't feel I was terribly stressed.

Anyway I decided to go ahead and enter him in the trial.  My trainer will be there so she can watch us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rockin' Recalls

Last summer the dogs and I participated in a recall e-course put on by Susan Garrett.  We were provided with a new game every day for 30 days (among other resources) to help build a better recall.  We loved it and I did the exercises with both dogs.  Susan has asked those of us who have taken the course to make a video to post on her facebook page to promote the next offering of this course.  I thought I may as well share mine here as well.  It's my first crack at actually making a video (as opposed to just recording).  It was fun.  I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Fun With The Sturdi Bag

By yesterday I consistently had this - Note the dirty look Max is giving me "I can't believe you want me to lower myself to this!"  I had to play with both dogs - I was calling them out of their crates and rewarding them when they ran right back in (or scrunched in Max's case).  The first time I did that Max came out, took a look and joined Rylie in the bigger crate.  It's big enough for one but not really big enough for two.  I had to laugh.  When he realized that wasn't going to get him anything he went back into the bag.  He's still not thrilled but I think realizing he could get in and turn around was the ah ha moment for him.  On Saturday he was backing in - which works fine for me and looked kind of cute actually.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shaping fun

I was recently challenged to shape a new behaviour in my dogs.  Now I'm not very imaginative, so I was still thinking about what to shape when my Sturdi Bag carrier arrived in the mail.  I ordered this carrier  based on Sara's review at  Kosmo and Faith and the idea that someday I might take my dogs somewhere on a plane lol!

I decided that getting in the carrier would be the perfect thing to work on my shaping skills with.  The idea of shaping is not to lure the dog with a treat but let them offer behaviours and reward those you like.  Rylie had the first turn and within two minutes I had this.

This is more a testament to Rylie's love of crates than to my skills as a trainer though.  Rylie actually stayed in the carrier for 20 minutes later that evening while I talked to my Mom on the phone.

With Max I have been working on a lot of teeter skills - including banging the teeter down and sitting on the tippy board.  Our first attempt gave us this:

In hindsight that should have been a very predictable response.  One of the cornerstones of this method is that when starting out it should be very easy for the dog to be successful and difficult not to have success so I set up the environment differently for our next session.

My hope was that he wouldn't be as likely to try and flatten the bag with his paws and he certainly couldn't sit ON it.  I had to put something on top of the board because that is the board we have been doing the teeter training on.  I did learn from my first attempt and I knew his first inclination would be to interact with the board as it has been so heavily rewarded.  I soon got this:

By the fourth session I had this:
 Now you can see he isn't too relaxed in there and he hasn't got all the way  in it again but he will happily put 2/3 of his body in.  He is a fair bit bigger than Rylie so I expected this to take longer with him.  Since we have no plans to actually need this I have a lot of time and I'm certain he will be able to lie in it comfortably.

Rylie enjoys it so much that I've decided to continue to use it for him.  I have been holding it a few inches off the ground (in front of my body so it can't swing away) and he jumps in.  He thinks that is an incredibly fun game.  I'm fairly certain I could take him on a plane tomorrow and being in the carrier wouldn't stress him out at all.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Double Box Seminar

Max and I went to a double box work seminar today.  I think I took away some awareness on my timing and positional cues that will be incredibly helpful (as long as I can remember it).  None of the information was new to me as Max and I had been to a longer double boxwork seminar last spring but I find as we move along in our journey I get different things out of it.

I considered bringing Rylie as well but I didn't mainly because of Max's new stresses about car rides.  It was probably just as well.  I think Rylie would have done pretty well although he doesn't quite read my cues as quickly as Max he rarely needs more than two attempts at something before he gets it right.  There wouldn't have been time to swap them in and out of the car though and when we work at our training arena Rylie barks for the entire time I am doing a run with Max.

The coolest thing is that we met two other Cavaliers.  One was a black and tan boy with the same sire as Rylie.  He reminded me of Rylie in the way he went hell bent for leather and he was also a face licker.  The other one was a tri boy- and I love tri's.  It was a bit of a challenge to keep the three Cavs apart.  They do know their own breed.

A Golden Lab girl developed a crush on Max.  Apparently she NEVER goes off to visit other dogs but wherever Max was she wanted to be licking his butt.  He didn't complain but he was a pretty big distraction for her.

We learned a lot and a three hour seminar is probably just the right length for us.  Towards the end Max was getting tired of sit stays and starting to wander as I walked the course but all in all he was a VERY good boy.

One little adventure was that my GPS died halfway there.  It wasn't as bad as it could have been because I had printed off directions on Google maps.  I did go out of my way however because after hearing turn left, turn right, I knew I had another right turn coming and when I got to the next town I realized I'd gone too far.  We did manage to get there just in time (which to me=late) and I didn't have time to go to the house and use the washroom so it's a good thing I only had ONE morning coffee.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Training Weekend

Well our afternoon at the arena was a bit of a bust.  To start the afternoon off Max fell off the top of the dog walk (about 5 feet high).  He landed on his feet and didn't seem any the worse for the wear.  I made a herculean (for me anyway) effort NOT to fuss over him and got him right back up - which he did without hesitation and fed him a handful of treats at the bottom.  I thought he might be stiff yesterday but he really does seem no worse for the wear thankfully.

When we got around to the teeter all was going well - we had progressed to the full teeter.  I asked my friend to watch and he did it once when she was watching and then just starting stopping in the middle.  His tail was wagging and he wasn't acting stressed but he was just not interested in finishing the job.  It perplexed both my friend (who has had teeter issues with her older dog) and I.  All we came up with is that the continued repetition might feel like poking him in the eye with a sharp object so any teeter work I do I'm going to stop at two reps and move on to something else.  I can't wait for my trainer to get back because I seem to be making matters worse.

Rylie of course was Rylie - "just tell me what you want and I'm so there".  I'm almost certain he found cat poo to feast on while I was working with Max so I guess I'll have to bring the crate next time.

After the arena I had to go to Petsmart.  The arena is about 15 minutes from home - halfway between home and the city.  For some reason even though I wasn't rolling around on the dirt floor I looked far dirtier than the dogs!  I contemplated going home and cleaning up before heading to a place with people but decided what the heck so off we went.  Of course there were many people and dogs to visit with in Petsmart on a Sunday afternoon.  I take comfort in the fact that none of them knew me!

My body seems to want to catch a cold - I am hoping I can convince it that it's not a good idea.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm Back

Engineering Dad and I were away for a week in the (not so) sunny south.  It was a relaxing holiday but I missed the dogs like crazy.  They stayed with a lovely couple who have been taking care of my dogs since we moved here 11 years ago.  I'm pretty sure they had a good holiday too. I was thrilled this morning to be able to take them out for a walk without boots or coats (well except for me - I'm a bit of a wuss that way).

I think we are going to head to the arena this afternoon for a bit of exercise and training.  I have an idea for Max's running contacts to hopefully remind him he has to run to the bottom as he has been leaping off.  He still hits the contact 95% of the time but a more experienced handler told me at our last training session that it's something I'll want to fix before it becomes a problem and I think she is probably right.  We'll also see how he feels about the teeter after being away from any teeter training for nearly two weeks.

I'll work contacts with Rylie too and some handling exercises for both.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I need to go back to work tomorrow to rest up!  It was a busy weekend here in the nest.  Nothing exciting - just busy.  Saturday morning we went to the arena to train.  Max's retraining on the teeter is going well I think.  Before we were done I had moved to just an 8 inch table under one end of the teeter and he was going over without stopping (he wasn't running but I'm okay with that because I don't want him getting bounced again).  The masters dogs were there practicing so there were a lot of dogs in close proximity.  One BC even decided to come and check Max out when he was weaving and he kept in the weaves - Good boy!  We were set up close to the weave poles and Max did the same thing to another dog despite my best efforts.  I think I'll have to keep him on leash when there are strange dogs around because he's too interested.

The masters trainers were pretty impressed with Rylie's weaves - he really is stinking fast.  Rylie is not at all impressed when I train Max and he lets me know about it in no uncertain terms.  Yet another reason why they shouldn't be in the same class I guess.

I drove into the city to shop (by myself) Saturday afternoon.  By the time I left the mall it had been storming and it was a really miserable drive home.  The socks and hand lotion I got weren't worth that drive.

I had a work project Saturday night and Sunday morning - after that we went to the dog park.  I think dog parks are Max's favourite place in the world because he just runs and runs.  We went back to the arena this afternoon to train by ourselves.  I mostly worked contacts with Max since we needed that.  Rylie just wanted to run and jump.  I tried a decel exercise with him and he caught on the second time.  I was pretty impressed by that.  Max and Rylie both aced the serpentine exercise I set up from our workshop in December.  I hope that had something to do with my timing getting better and not just the fact that they are both brilliant!

I hope both dogs will be tired enough that they will sleep well tonight - I know I will.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Operation Bang for Beef

That's what I'm calling my teeter retraining project.  The board Max is on has a PVC pipe attached underneath to make a mini teeter.  When it tips it makes a really loud bang.  We've been working on rewarding the bang with a hunk of stewing beef.  When I first brought the board back out I thought it was the tip that Max was leery of but after it banged loudly on the floor and freaked him out I realized it was the bang.  We went to putting a mat under the bottom to muffle the bang and now we have moved into the kitchen with full bang for the first time. Max is sitting here waiting to be released (after his reward).

I'm also doing this exercise with Rylie a) because Rylie will not be left out and b) I think Max's tentativeness comes a lot from not regularly practicing.  He can't eat beef though so he kind of gets ripped off in the treat department but shhhhhh - don't tell him.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bath Time

Hopefully you sleep with one eye open Mom - we don't approve.

Training Weekend

We went to the arena yesterday to train.  There were some dogs there that neither Max or Rylie knew so it was a good distraction.  We got in some good distance work.  Max is still having issues with the teeter - and with the car for that matter.  I do have a plan around that.  I bought a pound of stewing beef separated it into small packages.  I know he loves beef so I'm going to reward him like crazy when he bangs the teeter and gets in the car.  You have to know that I love my dog a lot because the thought of touching raw meat gives me the heebie jeebies.  I do most of my cooking without ever touching the raw meat with my hands!  He's such a good boy - and the way to his heart is definitely through his stomach.  I just have to be patient and not rush him.

Rylie was amazing!  I wish I had a video camera.  When he does the weaves he throws up such a cloud of dust behind him that I think I should rename him Pigpen!  He was great at the distance work and every bit as good as Max at following my body signals.  He got really annoyed when Max was stressing over the teeter because he wanted to show him how to do it!

Today we went to the dog park in our nearest city.  I love this dog park.  I don't want to jinx us but we've never had an issue there.  All of the dogs appear to be with someone (as opposed to some parks where dogs have followed us around and been annoying to my guys without me ever being able to identify who they were with).  Max is Mr. Social and feels the need to say hello to pretty much every dog.  Rylie has a strong preference for black dogs.  I had to call Max out of one scrum of three much larger dogs play wrestling because I was pretty sure he was going to get squashed by accident.

All in all it was a good weekend.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Max has always loved going in the car.  This week when I took him to the vets he wasn't so keen to get in. He had slipped a little bit while jumping in last weekend so I put it down to that and lifted him in.  On Saturday when we went to practice he was his crazy self when he saw me getting ready but then he ran to the car and back to sit at the door.  Again I put him in the car but as our drive was a bit longer I noticed that his lip was quivering.   The same thing yesterday when we went to get his nails clipped (I know - not something that is likely to relieve his stress) and then to the dog park.  He seemed okay on the way home.

I have put this down to being more stressed than I realized in the crating area last weekend at the trial (he rides in his crate in the car).  My thought is to take him for short car rides whenever I can (whenever possible to do something fun - but sometimes just to go get gas or go through the car wash) but I'd certainly like to hear any other advice.  I also took the flexible crate to the arena and switched off dogs in it on Saturday - neither dog was in it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time - I'm hoping that will help.  Both dogs sleep in their wire crates at home and will go in them without prompting whenever I am in the room.  I suppose that is the key though - they can always either see or hear me.

Our next agility trial is in March and I shouldn't have to leave in in the crating area because we are visiting my son and the hotel is very close to the venue.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This and That

We went to the arena today and practiced the tricky bit of the advanced jumpers course from last weekend and the gamble.  Even after a few tries I was still bobbling the handling of the jumpers but both dogs were able to follow my handling and both dogs did the gamble we set up.  It took Rylie two tries but I was pretty excited.  I do think there is something funny going on with Max but I can't put my finger on it.  He's just been acting a little off.  The workout certainly tired him out but it just seemed to give Rylie more energy!

Rylie is a silly boy.  When he wants to play ball he can become quite annoying and bark to get your attention.  As a consequence he gets his ball taken away.  One day I guess he had all of his balls confiscated so ever resourceful he asked to go outside.  He came in with a chunk of ice that he dropped at my feet for me to throw for him.  How on earth am I supposed to resist that?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Agility Weekend

We went to an agility trial this weekend.  Max got the final starters standard Q he needed for his agility dog of Canada title.  It was NOT a pretty run and we have some things to work on but it was good enough.  He also got a Q in his first advanced jumpers class.  I was pretty excited about that.  I had one handling bobble but Max is a good boy and waited until I figured out what I wanted to do.

Rylie had his first ever run and he did awesome in his starters jumpers class.  I thought I could use a rear cross with him but he isn't ready for that so it caused him to have a fault.  I was proud of myself that I could change my plan and hustle my not so little butt to give him a front cross at the next arm change.  Although he  didn't Q he was the fasted of the four dogs in his class.  I was pretty excited about how well he ran.

One of the problems with our training facility is that it isn't large enough to set up  a whole course so the only practice we get running courses in in trials.

I have a plan for the rest of the winter for both dogs - more contact work for Max and mostly handling for Rylie.  We don't have another trial until March.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Well the nest is once again empty of human offspring as we put engineering guy on a train back to school this morning.  Computer Dude left on the 29th and has already put in one week of his work term.

Max and I went to the barn........oops I meant the arena yesterday morning.  I met two of our classmates there.  Peanut the pug/terrier and his handler have about the same experience as Max and I - Peanut is a bit faster though.  The other lady has a lovely Sheltie called Maddie May.  Maddie is a bit more experienced and her handler has a lot of experience - her older Sheltie is a masters level dog.  She set up some gambles for us to practice as Peanut and Max are both in their first gamblers class.   She also said she'd walk the course with us next Saturday and help us plan our route.  Max and I also practiced the teeter and weaves.   The teeter is certainly not Max's favourite thing but I think it's coming along.  His weaves were awesome.

Today I took both Rylie and Max to practice.  Max and I worked some more on the teeter and I had both Max and Rylie run the (very easy) sequences that someone had set up.  I realized that the tunnels have amazing sucking powers for both dogs so I will have to be cognizant of that next weekend.  Rylie really is stinking fast and my brain is going to have to work double time to anticipate what he is going to see - there is no doubt he drives a line.  He did pull off the tunnel today when I called him though (but I only called him because that was the line he saw in our previous try).  The advantage is that the advanced jumpers is the class before starters and they usually aren't terribly different.  I will be able to see where Max wants to drive and hopefully handle accordingly with Rylie.  All in all it was a fun couple of days in the arena because we could work on the things that we needed to work on.

It was interesting training both dogs together.  They haven't both been in the arena at the same time .  Engineering Dad was with me but in the end I had to have one dog on a leash while I ran the other because the one not running  wanted to get in on the action.  I can see if I go alone I'll have to bring a crate because there is no way I'm going to get either to sit on a table and wait patiently for their turn.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Long week

My training has sucked this week.  It's year end at work and I've been putting in longish days.  By the time I get home I'm too tired to do a lot in the way of training.  I have come up with a recipe box with games from our summer recall course - my thinking is that if I'm stuck I can pull a game out of the box.  Over the winter I am mostly trying to work on toy/tug drive and contacts.  We did do some targets this week.  I am having a difficult time fading the target and still getting the nose touch.  I guess that means that we just aren't ready to move on.

Tomorrow Max and I are going to the arena to train.   We have entered our first gamblers class at the trial next weekend and it would be nice to get in some distance work.  We haven't done much  distance work and I have no idea whether Max will be able to do the gamble or not.  My mind thinks that the gambles in starters aren't horribly challenging but I will report back if I've changed my mind after attempting one!  My main goal tomorrow is to work on the teeter and weaves.  Max bounced off the teeter at our last trial.  I didn't have him back on a teeter until last week and he was very tentative, so I'd like to go back and make it more comfortable for him.  We haven't done a lot of 12 weaves ever so I try and practice whenever I can.