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.