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.