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.