Saturday, January 30, 2010

heated up the place

Boy is it cold. I thought our agility class might be canceled due to the frigid temperatures. My teacher went in the building at 7:30AM and it was 2 degrees or so. By the time we got there around 1PM, it was 40. Not bad.

I had to crate Oreo in the building, and I left Misty at home. Too cold to leave them in the car today, even with the sun shining.

Oreo didn't want to go in his crate at first. Really unusual for him. Typically, he drives into it, seeking safety. No, he wanted to watch the people setting up the course, and mingle. I fed him lots of treats. He accepted treats from a new person this week. She was very quiet, and waited until Oreo had adjusted to her presence and was ready to take the treats from her. Then, later in the day, she came back, and stood near us with her dog. I gave him lots of treats for that. Then, she gave Oreo a treat and he took it right away this time. Progress. Baby steps. It is nice when people step in and know what your dog needs, without you even asking for their help.

Oreo did great with the agility sequence. We had some difficult weave entries, but he got them every time. He did a fly by on the jump after the A-Frame our first run. My teacher said there was a crate rocking back and forth (a dog was in it)very close to the jump, and Oreo noticed that. He also kept taking the wrong entrance on the first tunnel. Other than that, he heated up the place. On every teeter, he gave me amazing eye contact. I think it was because the teeter was at the very back of the building, away from any scary stuff.

I had my teacher video our last run. I always feel like Oreo runs faster and happier in class, than at league and trials. I wanted some proof. I think I got it.
After this run, my teacher came over to hand me my camera, and Oreo put his paw on her arm and wouldn't let go. Sweet. More progress.

There were at least 10-12 people and dogs there, but it was so quiet during my run! All you can hear are the heaters blowing. They know Oreo gets distracted by noises, aren't they kind to help us out like that?

I also got talked into running the most intense border collie on the planet.

Uh yea, I'm glad that's not my dog. He kept looking at me like, "You are the stupidest human on the planet, where's my mother?" I love to watch his owner handle him though!

compare & contrast?

to my blue merle girl:
And you all thought Misty was so sweet.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

my first fall

I feel I must explain yesterday's photos.

Please don't think I dress my dogs in raincoats every time it rains.

I only do so when it is DOWNPOURING and I know they have to GO. And I mean, they've been holding it for 8 hours.

Last night at agility class, I had my first official agility fall. Yes, I've had a few in my backyard, but this was my first one in public.

Oreo and I were at the end of a sequence involving back to back serpentines. I was trying to turn to pull Oreo through a couple jumps to send him on to the weave poles, when I felt myself start to waiver.

"Oh, I'm going down.....I can catch I can't....I'm going down...."

Crash. At least I didn't land on my face or any equipment. I got up, sent Oreo to the weaves, and he seemed completely unfazed by the entire incident. Huh. Some teammate.

I'm fine. No physical injuries, but no one was calling my moves "ballerina-like" after that run.

Overall Oreo had a great class. My teacher had set up a course with 6? jumps in a huge circle. We did serpentines and 270's. Each sequence started with a tunnel. I must say, Oreo's drop n' go was super. He really charged into the tunnel.

Oreo did one fly by on the first A-Frame. I think it was stress. It was teeter, tunnel, A-Frame. The teeter was facing the people, then he entered the tunnel heading toward the people. I think he got stressed, and just came toward me, rather than doing the A-Frame.

I brought him back to the teeter, and put myself on the opposite side of the tunnel exit to block the view of the people when he came out. It worked, and he did the A-Frame just fine the rest of the night, no matter what side I was on.

Other than that, Oreo was speedy and really fun to run with.

Misty played escape artist again. I know I said I was going to put the cover on the pen, but I didn't. She's such a goofball.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

tricky t-day ~playing hoops/take one

I was beginning to think we'd have nothing to show this week for tricky t-day. None of our new tricks have progressed enough to show off.

I bought Oreo a basketball hoop (Jeff had to modify it for us) on Sunday, and video taped Oreo's first experience with the hoop.

We still have a long way to go. For starters, I want to be able to throw him the ball, have him catch (is dribble asking to much?), and dunk it! Then, the possibilities are endless. Think of the alley oops, and then I could teach him lay ups with his paws.....

This video is more of a blooper reel. I don't think Oreo really gets the concept yet. I didn't feel that "aha" moment.

At least we have a hoop (found on a bottom shelf at Target, on clearance). I had been using a paper bowl with the bottom cut out. Jeff came home one night and saw the bowl sitting on the table. He said, "Oh boy, should I ask what that is? What? Are you teaching Oreo to shoot baskets?"

Boy, does he know me well or what?

Oreo has made progress on this trick since we shot this video on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully in a month or two, Oreo will be able to show off some spectacular Jordanesque moves. Here is his first slam dunk (although Jeff is telling me it is an alley oop, tells you how much I know).

Theo & Miles....this one's for you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

tunnel snooker

Our league runs went well today. Oreo didn't go around any obstacles at all today! I thought that was a sign of improvement.

However, during our standard run, his head was like a bobble head. He noticed everyone, and turned and looked. Therefore, we didn't run the straightest line, because he wasn't focused completely on me. Amazingly, he did the course perfectly. I did give him at least 5-6 treats throughout the 14 obstacles course, which I had planned to do, even if he had been focused.

I didn't get that run videoed, as I knew it would be a lot of stopping for treats.

Next up tunnel snooker! I hoped all Oreo's rubber necking would be out of his system and I could run this course for points. I really wanted to try this game out. However, I did not have a back up plan if something went wrong in our opening. I'm a little fuzzy on the rules if something doesn't go according to planned.

Oreo never lets me down though! Right?


We got off to a rough start at the first tunnel. We had some confusion on the start line, the scribe was motioning to me, and it was so loud I couldn't understand her. I didn't realize we had to be behind a line. I thought I could just be at the obstacle. Finally, I figured out what she was saying, but it threw my game off.

I think we cheated a bit, because I'm pretty sure I carried Oreo over the line, then we ran into each other.

After that, Oreo ran great. He had two head turns, but other than that he was focused, and we finished the whole course. I may be wrong, correct me please, but I believe we got 41 points!

Here is the map, you can click on it to make it bigger, I drew in our path for the opening, after the "6" jump, we did the closing, which is sequence 2,3,4,5,6,7 for newbies.

silly saturday

Sorry this is grainy, shot it at night while trying to read my book. Hard to concentrate, due to Oreo's antics.

I edited out lots of circling around the table, and missed trips to various rooms to find other hiding spots, as I was too lazy to get off the couch. When Jeff came home, he went in the bathroom, and said, "What happened in here?" I guess the bath room throw rug was completely askew.

Yesterday, we practiced drop n' gos into a tunnel in the yard. I put a treat tube at the end of the tunnel. Oreo was really reved up, and barreling into the tunnel to get to that treat tube. Hope that helps for our runs today, since both our runs will start with a drop/go/tunnel!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

tricky t-day ~ hug your sister

When teaching the double dog wave, Oreo decided he wanted to put his front paws on Misty and "hug" her. Being it was kind of cute, I decided to put it on cue.

We've been practicing here and there, and I thought we would use it as our trick this week.

Boy, when I watched the video, I realized how stressed this trick makes Misty! She's usually pretty laid back and tolerant of Oreo's antics, or so I thought.

Misty was doing a lot of tongue flicking (not to mention showing her teeth!) throughout the whole thing. I've always given her lots of treats for allowing Oreo to touch her, but now that I see how she really feels, I think we'll call it quits on this trick! I want to embrace Oreo's creativity, but not at the expense of Misty's tolerance level!

Oreo and I are working on "limp", and sending him forward and then having him walk backwards through my legs. He's doing well, but not video ready. We're still working on doing a handstand, but I don't know if he'll ever be able to do that without support. It seems so hard. Even when I was a gymnast with good upper body strength, handstands were tough. It was much easier to do walkovers, than to steady yourself in one place.

There are a slew of tricks I'd love to teach Oreo that involve taking something in his mouth. I'd LOVE to teach him to put his ball in a basketball hoop! However, as soon as I get the clicker out, he refuses to "take" anything except a treat. Any ideas? I'm going to try and teach the ball in a basket without treats, but I'd also like to teach him to roll himself up in his Hawaiian blanket.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A-Frame A-OK

Despite Oreo's foot bumps, I brought him to class today. He was walking, playing, and acting fine, so I thought we'd go at least for the social aspect.

I went in with the attitude, "whatever Oreo felt comfortable doing, we would do." I had him jump 8 inches, instead of 12.

The course was mostly jumps, with a couple tunnels, 6 weaves and the A-Frame.

There were a lot of people there today, so I left Oreo in the car, until two dogs ahead of him were running, then I brought him in the building and started feeding him treats. He was relaxed and watching the dogs run. After our run, I fed him some more treats in the building, then put him back in the car until the next round.

Due to league, trial, and weather, we haven't been to a Saturday class since mid December, and one of our classmates noticed an improvement in Oreo's demeanor.

She said that he still seems shy, but not intimidated. That made me feel really good. Oreo even let her pet his chest, then Oreo put his paw on her arm when she did so! Wow. That has never happened.

Oreo's runs were great. He did the A-Frame 4 times, and never hesitated or went around it.

Isn't that great? The mystery thickens.

We ran an intermediate course twice and then a masters. Oreo aced them all, with just a few minor bobbles, probably my fault. He rules.

A father, mother, son group that does DOCNA with their border collies was at class this week. I love to watch them run their dogs. One is named Oreo. But it is their middle child (dog) I like the best. He is so intense and driven. She put a treat on a target at the bottom of the A-Frame. The dog did a perfect contact, looked at the target, ignored the treat, because he'd rather go on to the next obstacle than stop to eat. Amazing. I could never handle that dog, that's why I love to watch them.

With so many people, the class lasted 2 and a half hours. I was proud of Oreo for having the stamina to last through the entire class, especially midday. He's more of a morning dog!

On my way to agility, I passed people ice fishing on a lake. Then, since it was above freezing, I passed a person on a motorcycle. On my way home, I passed people sitting outside having a barbecue. Only in the Northeast do you have a picnic in January, because it hits 38 degrees.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oreo's foot

Diana was the first one to respond to my last post. She suggested checking Oreo's feet and toes. Of course, I did so right away! Diana has had her own problems with the A-Frame, so I consider her an expert.

Immediately, I thought about the day of our class. About 2 hours before our class, I had taken Oreo & Misty for a walk. One street still had a heavy covering of salt. My street didn't, otherwise I wouldn't have left the house without putting their boots on. At one point in our walk, Oreo stopped walking, and just held his back right foot up in the air. I stopped and rubbed the pads, trying to get any grime out. Then, I had them walk on clean snow the rest of the way. I didn't think much off it, as he seemed to be fine after I cleaned off his foot.

Yesterday, when I checked Oreo's feet, I found three small, white wart/pimple like things on the edge of one of his back right paw pads. Not sure if they had been there before our walk, and got irritated by the salt, or if they were caused by the salt.

He does seem to be holding his weight slightly differently at times.

Since last night, I have been putting Vitamin E on the bumps, then putting his boot on so he doesn't lick it all off. I'll watch the bumps over the weekend, and bring him to the vet if they don't go away.

Guess this could explain the A-Frame avoidance!

Although he can't be in too much discomfort! He's been running around like this!

Thanks to everyone for all your helpful advice! Oreo is a wacko! Who knows what his problem is! I can use all the advice I can get!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

some space

We had a small class last night, yet Oreo was still a bit off. Not sure why. The other dog in the class was growling in the crate while we were walking the first course, so maybe that made Oreo uneasy?

Still, Oreo was able to work with me. I simply used a lot more treats than usual. I waited for him at the end of each tunnel, and treated him just about every time he exited. As the night went on, he got more relaxed.

Our biggest difficulty seems to be the A-Frame. Even when it was the only obstacle, and it was directly in front of him, he went around it. He didn't even go on the side where I was. I don't quite understand what the problem is.

I did get Oreo to do it successfully a few times, but only in one direction. I made sure to reward heavily when he did it, but I wish I knew what was causing the aversion. Is it lack of cues on my part, or does he really not want to do the obstacle?

At one point, both Oreo and the other dog in class, went waaaaay off course. Instead of going over a jump into a tunnel, they went the opposite direction and started doing the weaves all on their own!

My teacher thought since the dogs were taking this initiative, it was a good opportunity for us to work on distance weaves.

So, on our last couple runs, I tried my hardest to distance myself from Oreo at the weave poles. I held back, and sent him ahead. Then, stayed 6 feet to the side of the poles.

Oreo did them with no problem, and I swear he was faster than usual.

Maybe Oreo wants some space?

We'll be going to take another class on Saturday. No league until next weekend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tricky T-day - in a box

Since I do almost all my shopping online, I have a lot of cardboard boxes lying around. I decided to use three different sized ones for some activities with Oreo.

I started with a big box, then went down to the smallest. I tried to get Oreo to jump in and sit. It has been fun watching what sorts of things he'd rather do than jump in and sit. His favorite being, put his 2 front paws in, bow and hide his face. It is really quite charming. I think he is taking that from his "say your prayers" trick. Isn't it funny how dogs can ad lib?

Anyhow, here is our video of the week. After my Saturday post about the excessive cardboard box, I thought I'd keep the theme going. In the end, Oreo learned the trick, but I'm not convinced his butt was in the smallest box. Hard to tell with all that fur. I gave him credit anyway.
I know this isn't much of a trick, but when it's too cold outside you've got to do SOMETHING. Plus, I had the perfect song to go with the trick.

If you make it to the end of the video, you'll see a glimpse of the double dog wave we've been working on.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

when's it going to happen?

I was talking to my sister about how Oreo did at his league match. I told her I was getting frustrated, because he was still nervous.

My sister said, "But, you've been working on it."

I told her how I keep hearing agility is supposed to build confidence.....when is that going to happen? I guess I'm hoping for quicker results.

I decided to go back and look at the video from our very first trial last May.

After watching, I must admit, progress has been made. Oreo is so much better now. More work, time, and exposure is still needed, and probably will be for his entire life. I guess I need to have patience.

It was funny to watch the videos, because I remember how proud I was of him that weekend!

I can't wait to be doing agility outside again!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I need turf

Went out in the cold today for our league match. At least the sun was shining, which boosts your spirits a bit.

This week, they added a lot of ring crew to keep things moving faster. This added to Oreo's stress level, but is good practice.

Our first run I did without treats, and our games run with treats. I only had our non treat run videoed.

Oreo did OK. He dropped a bar. I think he was lacking momentum, because we were moving toward the people. Then, we passed the judge on the way in the tunnel, he noticed the bar setter on the way out, got nervous, and went around a jump. I didn't correct him, and just sent him on to the next obstacle.

Overall, I was happy with the run. Watching the video, we look slow, but I am finding it hard to run on this interlocking rubber matting. I know if I had picked up my own pace, Oreo would have picked up speed too. This run was no where close to the speed we were running in class on Wednesday. Oh, maybe that's because I wasn't running today!

I guess I do better on natural surfaces. The rubber seems too grippy to me. My feet always seem stuck.

Here's our run:

However, even though I wasn't happy with our speed, my goal for our league matches is exposure to stressors. Oreo certainly had that today. I was glad I opted to treat in our second run. I also remembered to meet/greet him at the end of each tunnel. So, I think it was a good morning of training.

little things come in big packages

This small box, which contained a new wallet, arrived in the mail in this box............

Good thing cardboard is recyclable.

Friday, January 8, 2010

back to school

After a two week hiatus, mostly due to my horrendous flu bug, Oreo and I finally made it back to an agility class.

On my way there, the main road was closed due to an accident. The firemen told me to turn down a dirt road, but no detour was in place. It was pitch black out. I had no idea where I was. Thank goodness for GPS. Last time this happened, I got really lost. I am so unfamiliar with all the backroads, and it is so desolate. We had to drive around a lake, but then ended up back on the main road. Whew.

I came to class prepared to work on tunneling. I feel like Oreo has been nervous about tunnels lately. I wanted to work on drive, maybe with targets. I also wanted to make sure I was always at the opposite end waiting for him. Jules had suggested that months ago, and I have been trying to incorporate it, but old habits die hard. Sometimes I remember, but sometimes I run to the next obstacle. I have been talking to him the entire time he's in the tunnel, so he knows I'm there.

Here is the course my teacher set up:

Well, our first run, Oreo flew through the course. I literally ran into him at the end of the tunnel, because he was going so fast, I couldn't beat him to the end! He was so fast, energetic, and made no mistakes. He was driving into the tunnel. He did his jump for joy trick. He even did 12 weave poles right in front of people, without me putting myself in between.

OK. Guess he's in confident mode today.

I decided to try and keep him as upbeat as possible, by remaining as upbeat as possible myself.

On our second sequence, we made lots of mistakes. Took jumps backward, tunneled, instead of doing the A-Frame. However, I just laughed, and went with it since he was still moving at a good pace. We tried the sequence again, and Oreo did just fine (minus the A-Frame). More jump for joys.

Our last sequence, I completely forgot the course, but I simply kept running Oreo over obstacles, until we got back to number one and started again. He never knew the difference. Then, Oreo did perfectly. He even hit the A-Frame! Wow. It was great.

When I got in the car to go home, I felt so good. Oreo had fun. He didn't have one stressful moment. I think it had a lot to do with my demeanor. I was completely relaxed, and so was he.

Tomorrow, we have a league match. Let's hope I can maintain that relaxed state.

Oh yea, Misty was so relaxed, she decided to do her version of "jump for joy" on the playpen. She succeeded in knocking the whole thing over, while both dogs were inside the playpen. I had two loose dogs on my hands, and one collapsed playpen. Guess it is time to zip the lid on.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

tricky t-day ~ jump for joy!

If you've seen our dinner & a cookie video, you know Oreo can jump high. I've tried putting it on cue, with fancy clicker "capturing", to no avail. Oreo's jumping was purely spontaneous.

I saw Ricky doing his rebound trick, where he bounces off his mom's leg. I began teaching Oreo that trick, and Oreo started just jumping up and down.

Add a cue word, "joy", and finally, I have a dog who will jump for joy on command. Yea!

He was even performing this trick before our agility run thrus. I was shocked he was leaping & twisting for joy in public.

Here a video of Oreo jumping for joy (on cue) and some leg rebounds. He's much better at the jump for joy, since he pretty much taught himself that trick. The freeze frames are intentional.

Misty now thinks jumping on me is a trick. Great. Good thing she's not a big dog. My dogs have never been "jump on people" dogs, otherwise I probably wouldn't be teaching these tricks!

Jump/spin around is now Oreo's default trick (replaces his cross paws). He loves it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

colors run

Dawn asked what made a Colors run different from a Standard run. Good question!

Basically, there are 2 different sequences laid out on the same course. You pick (or sometimes your dog ends up picking) which one you want to run.

I chose the one which I felt had the smoothest line. It was a risk, because it included the A-Frame, instead of the teeter.

Here is the course map. I did the "circle" course, so I followed the numbers with circles around them.

When you are on the course, there are different colored cones for the different choices. If your dog picks the "wrong" number 3 jump, you have to go with whichever course your dog opted to go with. So, it is good to know both courses.

Oh, here's my run in case anyone missed it! LOL.

Hey, Dawn wants to know if she should subscribe to Clean Run even though she's a beginner. Here are my thoughts, everyone else can chime in! Clean Run has some VERY technical stuff that I find interesting, but don't really utilize. Maybe someday I will! Still working on confidence building. However, there are also articles on just starting out too. For example, the past two issues had articles about teaching the teeter to a new dog! Overall, I always find something worthwhile. Plus, I save my issue, because I know someday I may need to reference back. I think I started subscribing after taking classes for about 6 months. Here is a link for three free online sample issues. Maybe that will help you decide.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's CPE trial

Woke up to 3 inches of snow, and lots more coming down. I was coughing & sneezing.

Jeff said, "I don't think its a good idea for you to go today."

Oh, I'm going!

It took me an extra 15 minutes, but I made it to the trial just in time to walk the course for our Colors run.

Today was our first day running level 3 courses.

Oreo did awesome!!!!!! He was confident and fast. Colors is great for him, because it is a short course.

I sat down after our run, and 20 minutes later, someone came over and said, "Did you check the scores? I think you should."

I knew Oreo had Q'ed and done well, but I also knew there were some really good dogs competing at our height level.

Well, Mr. Oreo came in 1st place. Plus, he beat the second place dog by 10 seconds. Whoo Hoo!

Worth the trek in the snowstorm!

Then, came our standard run. I brought Oreo in the building, and just could not find a place where he felt comfortable. Lunch was being brought in. Doors were being open/shut. Dogs/people were everywhere. He was out of sorts.

I thought our run might be a disaster.

I did the ol' drop and go, and he seemed OK. He hesitated on the teeter when he saw the judge, but I thought we might actually pull it off......until we came back around the facility. Then, Oreo decided not to do some jumps, or the A-frame. I knew I could have brought him back and gotten him over the obstacles. CPE doesn't call refusals. However, I opted to just keep going, clearly something was stressing him out, and I didn't want to make it worse. Just keep him moving.

It was our worst score ever. Last place with 45 faults!!! Ha! It was almost comical to see a number that large next to his name. I'm so used to seeing "0" in our faults column.

Worst score maybe, but I didn't think it was our worst run ever.

Oreo got lots of treats/meatballs after both runs.

Here are the videos of our runs. I put our standard run first. Save the best for last, right?
This is our last trial until April. We'll just do our league matches (& maybe some run thrus) until then, where I'm going to focus on reward, reward, reward, because I have an awesome dog who deserves it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

run thru

Went out on New Year's Eve to do a run thru at our trial site. Talk about being in the middle of nowhere. If I hadn't had GPS, I never would have seen the road to turn.

However, the facility is gorgeous! Wow, wish it was my backyard.

There were a few nested courses set up. However, all had a startline that ran right past where people were sitting/crating their dogs. I knew I didn't want to start in a place that would be scary. I came up with my own plan where I could start right down the middle of the building, and hit the scary spot later.

I had planned on using treats in the ring, but there was a sign saying "no treats allowed". They didn't want to risk any crumbs being on the floor for the trial. However, I saw a few people using treats to get their dogs over the teeter. I'm not a rule breaker, so I left my treats in my treat bag.

They were running tall to small dogs. I left Oreo in the car until the 16 inch dogs started. I brought him inside to a corner where there were a bunch of shelties. He did some tricks for me, and was generally relaxed. He watched some dogs run, and ate a lot of treats. Oreo seemed to know what he was there for.

Here is our run. He starts off slow, but then seems to gain confidence by the 3rd jump. We had a problem on the A-Frame. Jeff thought he slipped. I think he stopped, because I went too far ahead, and then slipped. I brought him back around, to make sure he did the obstacle at least once before the trial.

The only obstacle we didn't do was the weave poles. I didn't like where they were set up. Not condusive to a smooth flow.

I'm confident now that Oreo's new building jitters are gone, and he'll be ok at the trial on Saturday. Now I'll just have to deal with the scary judge and ring crew!

We're going to practice some drop & go's in the yard today, using Oreo's ball as a reward.

It's supposed to snow tomorrow morning, but I plan on making the trek anyway. That's why I got a car with all wheel drive!

I really feel like our 3 league matches have given Oreo a ton of confidence. I am so glad I had the opportunity to join. And we still have 5 matches to go!

Sheltie lovers MUST go check out this new blog!

Happy New Year!


Wishing all our readers a year of good health, prosperity, lots of smiles, camaraderie, and Q's (especially personal Q's).

Here are some great New Year's Quotes, that demonstrate how I feel about this particular holiday. I don't think I've seen midnight in 15 years.

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to." ~Bill Vaughan

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year
in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." ~ Bill Vaughan

"He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool." ~F. M. Knowles

I see the New Year as a sign of summer vacation being just 6 months away! Now, I'll toast to that!