Tuesday, June 30, 2009
This trick is a work in progress. I am still relying heavily on the clicker and treats. Oreo is having a lot of trouble walking in a straight line backward. He wants to circle. I guess that is probably an innate movement, given his herding instinct.
Therefore, I have been training this trick with him wedged between me and the storage unit Jeff had built us. When we went outside to film the video, he was a bit out of sorts!
"Where's the furniture Mom?"
This is harder to teach than you might think. A dog's natural instinct (at least for my dogs) is to sit when you face them up close.
I taught Oreo this trick by pushing a treat into his nose and nudging him back. It didn't take him long to figure out I wanted him to move backward when I said "scoot".
Once he was doing that, I moved on to the heel/backward method. We still practice both.
Misty is less inclined to sit, so it was actually easier to get her to scoot. She is used to getting treats for doing nothing, so she didn't feel like she had to sit to get rewarded. However, I only get a couple steps back from her, and then she stops and will sit if I don't give her a treat.
Here is where we are so far, but I am going to be working more on this trick. I think we have only just begun.
I think in this video it almost looks like I have a strings tied to Oreo, and I'm able to manipulate him like a marionette.
I assure you - no hidden strings were used in this video! Just Zuke's mini treats, and Oreo's endless adoration for me! LOL!
Monday, June 29, 2009
I decided to try the sequence with Misty, minus the weave poles. I like to try stuff with her, since she is so much slower, I can really concentrate on my handling.
Yeah well, I guess I was not very clear, because she kept getting sucked into the tunnel, when I wanted her to take the jump behind the tunnel.
Misty's so funny. When she finally got it, I could see her brain working so hard. It took so much concentration for her NOT to go in that tunnel.
When I was getting ready to take the dogs for a walk this morning, the voice in my head said, "you should bring your camera."
But my brain forgot. It forgot the poop bags too.
Wouldn't you know it, there was a beautiful deer in the cemetery this morning eating breakfast. The closer we got, the more interested the deer became in us. Instead of running away, she took a couple steps closer. It was so cool.
I hope she'll be back tomorrow.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I tried sequences 1&2 yesterday, and had so much trouble getting Oreo to the jump behind the tunnel. He is so accustomed to me being on the other side of the tunnel exit. Even with me calling his name the whole time he was in the tunnel, Oreo still came out looking the opposite direction.
Here is a video I shot of our practice. It was hard to get all the obstacles in the video. He got it eventually, but with a lot of stutter stepping. I'm hoping to try sequences 3&4 today.
I am also trying out the flying circle startline routine that was in the Jenny Damm article. We already use that a lot in class, because it is a natural movement for Oreo. I never thought of using it in a trial, because I thought we'd look like dorks! It seems like it might work better for Oreo than having him sit, which gives him time to look around and get nervous. Glad to have our method validated in a magazine!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I took the dogs over to my parents' house last night, since my sister and my two nephews (ages 3 & 7) were visiting from out of town.
My mom's friend and her granddaughter were also visiting.
The dogs got a dose of extreme socialization!
While the boys went swimming, Kara, age 5, took charge of Misty. She wanted Misty to walk around the yard with her. Misty wanted to stay by my side. I gave Kara some treats, and Misty started to follow her wherever she went.
Misty even sat and gave her paw.
After about a half hour, even shy Oreo had to see what all the fuss was about. He walked over to Kara, and took treats out of her hand. He also offered his paw for Kara.
That was a big step for Oreo. Usually he won't take food from other people, unless he is very close to me. Kara was very gentle, and soft spoken, so I think that helped.
When the boys got back home, it got much louder! Oreo didn't quite know what to make of it all.
We sat down to eat dinner, and Misty stood right next to my eldest nephew, who proceeded to feed her an entire piece of pizza.
Theo said, "She isn't going away."
Nope. She was in love.
After dinner, the boys went outside to play ball. I brought Oreo outside, thinking he might want to play ball too. He preferred to hide under a chair. I think it may have been the baseball bats that were freaking him out.
Oreo did let both the boys pet him, without trying to squirm away. He also performed his bag of tricks.
Overall, I was very pleased with both dogs, given the unusual situation I had put them in. I was also impressed with all the kids for being so gentle and patient with the dogs.
Hopefully, this experience will help Oreo build confidence. I gave him lots of treats, meatballs and chicken, to make it as positive as possible.
Friday, June 26, 2009
In the jumpers round, Oreo was faster than all but 3 out of 17 dogs who ran the level 2 course. Two of those dogs were running in the 20 inch group - so they had much longer legs!
So, I've decided I am going to stop worrying about speed (like Diana suggested yesterday!). Instead, I'm going to focus on building confidence, because with that Oreo will get faster.
Our next trial isn't until the 4th of July. I think my last post indicated it was this coming Saturday.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Mommy says, "Misty!"
"Why do you keep saying my name, mom?"
I used my clicker when Oreo was on the dogwalk, and clicked when he was on the down plank.
I asked one of my classmates, who gives great advice, what I could do to make Oreo go faster on the dogwalk. She said, "I don't think Oreo is that slow on the dogwalk. I think he is slow in general, because he is sticking close to you. Why don't you try sprinting next to the dogwalk."
During our last turn, I sprinted past the dogwalk and Oreo really picked up speed - he was almost running on the dogwalk. I clicked for that. Of course, there was no one nearby for him to stop and look at. Next week, I may have some classmates sit near the dogwalk, and be "ring crew", just to prep him for Saturday's trial.
If it had been a human baby, I would have been completely grossed out.
Today, he was a buyer.
Usually, salesmen are easy sells. I don't know why.
Jeff really wanted this car. Unfortunately, the seller was having "seller's remorse". Jeff handed over the cashier's check, but the seller didn't want to take it. He wanted to "think about it over the weekend", even though he had already agreed to sell the car to Jeff.
So, Jeff had to "sell" the car to himself. Jeff had brought the owner over to our house. Showed him around the garage. Talked himself up. Jeff told him, "You never drive the car. It is just sitting in your garage. How is that a good use of your money? Think of the things you could do with the money I give you." Jeff even offered to go play a round of golf.
(I wish you could have heard the conversation. It was so entertaining.)
After about an hour, Jeff was able to convince the owner of the car, that if he sold it to Jeff, the car would be getting a good home. As though it were a puppy.
I told you, Jeff can sell anything. He can even make other people sell things to him.
And if you know Jeff, this car will be for sale within a few months. Maybe he can sell it back to the original owner, for a profit of course.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Well, of course he can! He's Oreo!
I kind of confused him at the end, I said "cross" and he was already crossed. Poor dog.
Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but I think Misty's hearing has improved since I've been putting the Zymox in her ears. She barked at the word "cheerios", is responding more to her name, and generally is in a better mood.
I went to Howe's Caverns with my mom and nephew yesterday. It is 52 degrees down there all year round. I wore a fleece jacket to keep myself warm. I hadn't worn the jacket in awhile.
In one pocket, I found a bunch of stuffing, clearly from the inside of a well loved dog toy. How it ended up in my pocket is beyond me. In the other pocket, I found some hardened Zuke's mini treats.
Even 140 feet underground, I'm carting my dogs' stuff around.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It has been raining a lot around here. So, we've had a lot of time to practice our indoor tricks. Ludo requested that we work on "paw" tricks this week.
Oreo and I have been working diligently on his "criss cross trick". Yes, I know you've all seen Oreo cross his paws. Even cross them while he begs. Oreo crosses his paw almost as much as he sits, in hope of getting a treat. Crossed paws have become a default behavior for him. If I don't give him a treat for sitting, he goes immediately into a down position and crosses his paws.
Today, you will see Oreo cross his OTHER paw! This was quite a challenge. Basically, I had to teach Oreo his left foot from his right foot. I learned that skill myself in 1st grade. So, I guess Oreo is now as smart as your average 6 year old, and he didn't need a red and yellow ribbon tied to his shoes (therefore he could be smarter!).
Sorry the video is dark, but I shot it on a rainy day.
Thanks to everyone for all your nice comments about Misty's ears!
Monday, June 22, 2009
She is not responding to her name, or other key words (treat, cheerios, snacktime...) . No head turn, no tail wag. Nothing.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Here's our second run.
You can see from the photos how distracted Oreo gets on the dogwalk. In one photo, it looks like he is doing some tongue flicking, which is a calming signal. I think we really need to work on building his confidence on the dogwalk over the next few weeks.
No agility class this week- my teacher is on vacation! So, that gives us two more classes before our next trial.
Luckily, our next trial is DOCNA. So, it will be a smaller trial, and on home turf. There is a USDAA trial the same weekend, right up the road! Trial season is in full swing around here.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I've watched dogs at agility trials jump into their owners arms after their runs, and thought, "Why doesn't my dog do that?"
Oh yeah, because I never taught him.
So, for the past two weeks, Oreo and I have been working on this trick. The steps were featured in this month's Clean Run magazine. I also had instructions in my favorite trick book. I combined the two styles, and came up with my own. Perhaps I should have stuck with just one set of instructions.
At this point, we've kind of plateaued. I think it has a lot to do with my inconsistency in getting a good grip on Oreo when he jumps. Oreo's always squirming around in my arms, because I think Oreo lacks faith in my ability to catch him. With good reason.
Whenever a student in one of my classes tries to throw me a pen, I say, "Don't throw it, I can't catch." They say, "But you're right in front of me," and throw the pen. The pen always hits the ground. "Wow, you really can't catch," they say.
Told ya so.
Here is a video showing how I taught Oreo, and where we are now.
Here is the far more entertaining blooper reel!
Poor Oreo. Perhap this isn't a good trick for us.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Toys, leashes, coats, harnesses, training books, magazines, dog boots, towels to clean paws, walking gear for me (hats, gloves, reflective vest, pepper spray, odometer, etc.), etc., etc.
I think it came out beautiful, and it hides all that "stuff" perfectly. I had looked in catalogs and stores for something like this, but nothing seemed to be exactly what I wanted. I drew a picture, and Jeff built it just the way I wanted (and for a lot less money than I would have paid elsewhere!).
This room once had a small wicker furniture set that we never really used. Now, the room will be a true "mud room", which is what its function has become, since it is right off our deck. The best part, I think I can now fit a jump or a set of 6 weave poles in the room. So, in the dead of winter, during an ice storm, I can get some agility practice in!
Although Jeff did a great job perfecting his anal retentive skills on this project, I think he is happy to get back to chopper building.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Our standard run was great as well. Unfortunately, during our run they realized the clock had not been reset. I heard a buzzer go off, but I kept running Oreo through the entire course. Oreo had a perfect run. No faults, and very little looking around.
The judge came over to me, and said, "I have no doubt that you met standard course time, and I will give you that, but it could effect your placement. So, you can rerun the course after all the other dogs have gone."
I agreed to do that. So, our second try was purely for time. They took our zero faults from our first run. All Oreo had to do was all the obstacles.
This run was a bit slower. Oreo stopped on the dogwalk to look around, which he didn't do the first time.
So, when I went to see how we did compared to the other dogs, I was shocked when I saw the number "1" next to Oreo's name!
Yep, we came in First! Out of 7, and several of them were pretty darn good. I really was not expecting first place.
So glad I took the judge up on her offer!
Standard course time was 68 seconds, we ran it in 42.64.
Here is the video of the beginning/end of our first run. My camera guy shut the camera off when the person said "stop", so we will never know what Oreo's real time was on that run. I was hoping to watch the video and find out. Then, you get to see his first place run.
These CPE courses seemed very easy to me. I'm glad we started at level 2, not Level 1. I think we could have even started at level 3. We'll see how we do when we enter some of the games though. Strategy is not my thing.
"Can I just take a nap now? I think I've earned it!"
Friday, June 12, 2009
Boy, I continually underestimate my dog.
He was fine. When it was our turn, the previous dog was taking forever to get out of the ring. Oreo just sat in front of the jump, looking at me, waiting. Then, when I said "go", he took off over the jump and over the A-Frame.
I was so happy he was doing the obstacles! I had worried he would just run around the ring in nervous circles.
The only two places he got held up were the teeter and dogwalk. Someone laughed really loud while he was on the teeter, and Oreo almost jumped right off. Luckily, he looked back at the teeter, I clicked, and he finished the teeter. He also stopped to look around on top of the dogwalk. Typical Oreo behavior. I clicked as soon as he got refocused.
Overall, we were out of the ring with no mistakes, and I'm sure we would have been under time.
I had signed us up for a second run thru, but decided to just go home and let Oreo relax. I didn't want to over do it.
We have some competition tomorrow! I'm excited to see how we do, compared to the other 12 inchers in Level 2!
Wish us luck!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Three books had dogs as main characters, so I thought I'd share the titles, in case anyone wants to add them to their summer reading list. Even if you are not a dog person (OK, most of you are), these would be good books regardless.
The first book came from my cousin, who sent me an advance copy! She works for a publisher, and was sending the book to people who review books & write blogs. Since I have a blog about dogs, she thought I should have a copy. Thanks Michiko!
The book is called Heroic Measures, by Jill Ciment. The book's main characters are an elderly couple who live in NYC with their dachshund, who suffers a sudden paralysis.
The story is told from the point of view of both the couple and the dog. I especially liked hearing the dog's point of view! However, the book is not all about the dog. It is also about house hunting in NYC and a charming married couple.
It is a touching novel, that I recommend, especially for dog people. You will see yourself in this book.
The book's publication date is June 30.
Another book, narrated exclusively by a dog, is Dog On It, by Spencer Quinn. This book was recommended by my Dad, who I am sure laughed out loud while reading this book! It is a mystery/private investigator book. This is a "read in one sitting" book (unless you have to stop and train your dogs). Light read, beach book (or in my case, deck book).
A third book, Izzy & Lenore, by Jon Katz, is also wonderful. Jon Katz is one of my favorite authors. This book includes stories about the hospice work Jon does with his dogs. Powerful stuff. The stories demonstrate how dogs can really touch people's souls, even at the very end.
The dogs are reading, Forever Buster: What a Name! What a dog, we exclaim!, by Martin Rabbett. A year ago, my Aunt Betty sent us an autographed copy, as well as a drawing of our first sheltie done by the illustrator of this book, Donna Burns. Even Richard Chamberlain, the actor, signed our copy, because he had done the reading that day in Hawaii. The story is wonderful, and the illustrations are charming. Warning....it's a tear jerker.
Side note to my Editor in Chief: I know book titles need to be underlined, but blogger only gives you the choice of bold or italic! I went with italic, rather than quotes.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Well, I decided that Misty should star in the video this week for tricky t-day, because she is just so darn cute.
She loves to do this trick (it's one of 3 tricks she knows!), but unfortunately will only do it if I put my hand out. Maybe someday she will do it with just a voice command.
I say "shake" for her left foot and "paw" for her right foot. Misty gets it correct most of the time. Oreo has yet to learn this trick. He gets frustrated and starts offering all his tricks - one paw, two paws, cross left paw, cross right paw, bang, beg, etc.....
Of course, Oreo has to share in the spotlight, therefore here is a short video of Oreo. It shows the great progress he has made in his skill from last week's tricky t-day - distance work. First, I work on sending him to a jump, from very far away. Then, we practice a short sequence that ends on the table, like we would have to do in a jackpot (gamblers) game. I signed us up for our first jackpot run at the end of August, so we have to start practicing now! In CPE level 2, the distance is 0-5 feet, graduating up to 10 feet. I think I stayed at least 5 feet away. I'm really bad with eyeing measurements.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Unfortunately, one part of the jump (a part that held the jump bar) had broken off during shipment. Thank goodness that was the only thing that broke in the box!
I went to the store today to buy some super glue to try and repair it. While looking at the myriad of choices of super glue (there are so many!), I saw the fun tack (poster board adhesive) and thought that might be a better idea. I was just imagining making a big mess with the glue, and ending up with my fingers glued together.
With a little molding of the fun tack, I was able to put the jump back together. I mounted it to an index card with some more fun tack to give it added stability, and voila! Isn't it cute?
When Oreo is really tired, and I mean really tired, he likes to squirm his way under our bed. Sometimes, I don't even know he's there, but usually his tail and nose peek out. Honestly, I don't know how he fits under there, and one of these days he is going to get stuck. I better keep a close eye on his diet!
I took Oreo to class on Wednesday. There was only one other person there. My teacher had set up a long course - 22 obstacles. We did the first 11, then the last 11, and finally put all 22 together. Later, she renumbered the course and we tried something new.
Lots of running! Good thing it has been cool.
Oreo was thrilled to be there. He ran to the ring each time, looking back at me, as if to say, "Hurry up, Mom, it's our turn!". My teacher said, "Wow, what a difference. Do you remember the first day you brought him to the outdoor ring?"
Oh yes, I thought our agility days were over that day.
He did his startline routine. I practiced click/treating when he looked at any distractions, although there weren't many this week. He did look around each time he got on the teeter.
Highlights of the night - Oreo did 12 poles, with no mistakes, every time (and that was at least 5 times), and he wasn't a slow poke on them. We did a beautiful back cross, and Oreo didn't even flinch or glance back, he drove ahead to the next obstacle! I think that was the first time ever for us. That felt awesome.
Trouble spots - obstacle discriminations - tunnel/dogwalk- my fault. I have to get my feet lined up so Oreo knows where to go. Also, we did a jump wrap, and Oreo kept taking the jump a second time. So, I had to work on pulling my body further away from the jump.
Overall, Oreo did awesome. He was fast, made practically no mistakes, and we both had so much fun.
At the end of class, I took Oreo's leash off to put him in the car. Instead of following Misty into the car, Oreo beelined it to the agility ring. Poor thing, wanted to play some more agility. If I was 15 years younger, perhaps I would have run one more course!
We have a CPE trial next Saturday. This will be our first CPE, and our first trial in a new location. I have minimal expectations. Oreo will probably have a lot of trouble with the new setting. I will try, and bring him to the run thrus on Friday, and see if that helps. I only signed us up for two runs. Didn't want to spend a fortune, in case it is a disaster.
The rest of the summer, all of our trials will be held at our school - home court! Yay!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
You see, we won "honorable mention" in Ludo's "guess the guests" contest, and today we received our lovely prizes all the way across the ocean from England!
Just look at how cute they are:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009