Thursday, August 29, 2013

more meatballs

This week, I set up a portion of our standard runs, swapped the teeter for a tunnel.  DOCNA always does the same standard run twice, just in reverse.  So, I got to practice both runs without having to reset the course.

I tried them out with both dogs. More meatballs.

Despite not having done agility in months, Oreo sailed through - blind cross, front cross, rear cross, start line stay, serpentines all perfect!  He did do one off course tunnel, but I loved how he was charging toward it, so that wasn't a fault in my book.  He was a dog on a mission!

Chewy still struggled in many parts - broke his start line, went around the first jump, blew past me to go in a tunnel, balked at a rear cross, and practically got stepped on during an attempted blind cross.

My first thought - it was easy for Oreo, because he has more experience.

My second thought - it was easy for Oreo, because I've had more experience handling him.

Probably a combination of the two.

My conclusion - Chewy and I need to work together more often, with lots of rewards, so that we can figure each other out.   Plus, I need to simulate our trial startline at home, even go so far as to use a leash to bring him to the first obstacle, so he knows his job when we go in the ring.  That way we can start off on the right foot.

Maybe the turkeys will cooperate and walk by, so I can have some random distractions too!

We tried the sequence again the next day (even more meatballs), and it went much better for Chewy.  Practice does make a difference!

I set up numbers 3-10 (with a tunnel as #8), and did it in both directions, like we did at the trial.

Here's day two:

Oreo was perfect as usual.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

find the box

We are a bit behind on our nosework homework.  I realized that I was moving too fast, which resulted in some holes in our training, so I back tracked for over a week, building the background skills.

I also think my training sessions were too long, which was causing frustration (me & the dogs). Now, I set a 2 minute timer to keep myself from overdoing it.  We do two 2 minute sessions a day.

At this point, Chewy is a bit ahead of Oreo.  Chewy REALLY gets the idea that finding the scent and staying with it means REWARD, even if he is a bit chaotic about the whole thing.

For this game, there are four identical boxes.  Three are dummy boxes, and one has the scented tin.  He needs to find the scent and stay there.

Oreo is still a bit cautious, and wants to check with me to make sure he got it right.  He's made a lot of progress though, so I'm really pleased.

Here is Chewy showing the next step.  I have the source tin in one hand, treats in the other (similar to our very first game).  The twist ~ I try and lure him away from the scent with the treats.  If he stays at the tin, I bring my hand back in and reward.  He did awesome at this game!  This is only his second time playing.  The only time he flubbed up was when he timer was about to go off.  That's why it is so important for me to keep training short, before his attention span starts to waiver.

Both dogs are really enjoying these games, and now follow me to the basement every time I go down there, even if I'm just doing laundry.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

what my dog did

List of things Chewy did during his agility runs today:

  • went UNDER the tire (the first obstacle)
  • went around a jump (another first obstacle)
  • went around a few more jumps
  • saw people walking down a hill, so he ran away from me and started barking at them, like a watchdog, right in the middle of a jump sequence
  • went to the fence to sniff out the people & dogs
  • visited ring crew
  • did a dead stop on the teeter
  • missed a contact (maybe two)
  • missed an obstacle discrimination
  • had a perfect jumpers run, but was overtime due to fence visiting
  • refused to sit at the startline - all four runs
  • was one of THOSE beginner dogs that I used to laugh at
  • made me REALLY miss running my velcro dog
  • made me laugh
  • made me shake my head and roll my eyes
  • made me realize we have a lot of holes in our training
  • made me realize that maybe I should practice more than once every 6 weeks or so
  • looked cute no matter what he did
  • got meatballs at the end of each run, because he's cute and I'm a lousy, lazy trainer, who is asking my dog to do all sorts of strange things

Still a superstar!
What Oreo did:

  • barked in his crate when it was Chewy's turn to run!
  • did lots of tricks (even ROLL OVER!, several times) under the tent, where there were many people/dogs close by! without doing the counter terrorism perimeter check!
  • walked around the ENTIRE place without freezing or freaking out!
  • got lots of meatballs for being cute!
    Forever a superstar!

Monday, August 19, 2013

mishmash monday

 Bored this Monday?

OK, let's play a game.  Can you spot the hummingbird?

A couple weeks ago, we had round number three of baby robins.  Mama reused the nest above our lamp. Not sure if it was the same mama or a new one.  Four more baby robins.

When they got this big, they started looked crowded up there, so we put some cushions down on the ground to help with their first flight.  As far as we know, all of them made it safely.
I keep seeing them search for worms on the driveway.  Why aren't their parents telling them that that won't work?  Is it the robin version of tough love?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

getting interesting....

OK, now our nosework is starting to get a little more interesting!

Put two identical containers (with holes in the lid) on the floor, and bring in the dog.  One container has the scented tin inside.  Dog needs to "search" for the scented container.  Reward, reward, reward, reward when then get it right! Reward again.

Yesterday, Oreo's lightbulb came on, and I think he's really got it now!  Yea Oreo!

Chewy is doing well too.

Next step will be to have 4 identical containers ~ 3 dummies and 1 scented.

We've had lots of people/trucks at our house lately for the garage construction.

When the dogs start getting really amped up/barking about men & trucks, I've been bringing them to the basement to do nosework.  Completely distracts them!  It's awesome.  But, I think we'll all be happy when the construction is over!

Monday, August 12, 2013

mishmash monday

Some of my favorite shelties (Saturn & Eva) have been seen posing on ATV's lately, so when Jeff had his ATV out to move some stuff around, I attempted it as well.

I think I picked the wrong dog though.  We cheated, and Jeff had to hold Chewy up there.

Pretty sure Oreo would have posed nicely, but he was too lazy to come down off the deck for a photo shoot.  Maybe next time.  I think Oreo would look better against the red too.  Chewy is more of a Kawasaki green dog.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

sniff it or whack a mole?

The next step in our nosework class is to put the birch filled tin inside a plastic container with holes in the lid, and repeat the process we used with the tin.

Once they are going to the container regularly, you are to place the container on the floor and click for sniffing it.

Oreo ran into some difficulty with this step. He kept wanting to target the container with his paws, or even pick it up with his mouth! Oh boy, this dog has too many tricks up his sleeve.

So, I'm going to back track, to make sure Oreo understands that the name of the game is "sniff it", not "whack a mole" or "hold". I really think he doesn't understand why I am giving him something so easy to do. Maybe it will get better when we move on? It's as though he's thinking, "Sniff the box? Usually you want me to do something waaaaaay more complicated than that. It can't be just sniff the box. Let me try showing her other stuff."

Finally, you place the container on the floor, and bring the dog in the room, and they should initiate the search/sniff right away. Chewy is progressing rapidly. Although he thinks the game is ~ come in the room, jump on the bed and THEN find the scent.

Had to take Chewy to the vet last night. He was hacking, and then having a lot of trouble swallowing.  I was afraid he had something stuck in his throat.

Turns out he most likely ate a bee, which stung him on the way down.  His throat had a tender spot.  The doctor gave him a steroid injection, told me to give him some benadryl, keep his collar off, and gave me his cell phone number just in case.

About an hour after the shot, he started improving dramatically.  Whew.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

intro to nosework

I signed up for an online nosework class, because I've been having trouble finding one near us that wasn't "obedience" based. I wanted to try something new with Oreo, and our behaviorist recommended nosework.

Fenzi Dog Academy offers many different kinds of classes, by really good instructors, and different pay options as well. If you're a gold level, you pay a lot, but you get to submit videos and ask questions, etc. I opted for "bronze" - since it was the cheapest! I basically get all the instructions, and can watch other people's videos and read comments, suggestions, questions, etc.

This week, we've been working on part one of homework one.

I got this nosework kit from

First, I have to put on rubber gloves! You don't want to contaminate the smell. Then, using tweezers, I have to put q-tips covered in birch scent into a little tiny tin.
Then, you close the tin up and throw out your gloves.
Then, you bring in the dog! 

Put treats in one hand, tin box in the other, and reward the dog when he sniffs the tin hand. 

Sounds easy, right? Maybe for the dog! I have such a hard time coordinating the treats, clicker and tin. You're supposed to reward at the tin, which makes me a clumsy fool, especially since my left hand is basically a rubber chicken.  Dork is me.

Oreo is doing well, but, surprisingly Chewy caught on quicker.   I think that is because I've taught Chewy almost exclusively through shaping.  With Oreo, I used a lot of luring.

If you make it to the end of Chewy's video, it shows him really "getting it".  He stays at the scented hand after he gets a treat, rather than going back to check out the treat hand again.

That's the goal ~ to make the birch scent more valuable that the aroma of the food.

For Oreo's first nose session, he offered me every one of his tricks before he sniffed my hand!  It was cute, but I was beginning to think that mere sniffing wasn't challenging enough for him.  Now, we're making progress though.  Oreo also "gets it" at the end of his video.  I think he's really going to have fun once we get past the basics.

Hopefully, after a few more sessions of this, their noses will be staying on the tin in between treats.  Then, we can move on to part 2.

I know these videos are quite boring, but I thought I'd share them in case anyone was interested, plus, in a few weeks, they will make me feel better to see how far we've come.  Don't feel obligated to watch!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Chewy did it!  He qualified for the DOCNA nationals!

Our first run was a bit sloppy.  It started with a tunnel, and a looming dogwalk on the exit.  He was supposed to take a jump, but the dogwalk was calling him.  Luckily, he came back to me just before his toe hit the dogwalk (an off course is an automatic elimination).  Then, he flew by the first set of 6 weave poles.  I was worried about the set of 12 poles coming up later, so I brought him back and got him thru the 6.  Then, during the 12 poles, he came to a stop after the 5th pole, gave me a heart attack, and then kept going and did all the poles.  Phew. He's never stopped before.  He either does them all or pops out and moves on. Maybe he saw a cute girl walking by?  Anyhoo, because of our weave pole bobbles, we ended up over time by 2 seconds, but since I had no other faults, we still Q'ed!  

Our second run was a bit smoother, but he popped out of the 12 poles. This time, I took the 10 faults (you're allowed 13 faults), and kept going, so as not to earn any time faults.  It was the right move. The only bobble we had was a flip from the dogwalk to a tunnel.  Chewy really wanted to head back up the dogwalk. That run we finished two seconds under and q'd again. 

When I did DOCNA with Oreo, we ran the "select" division, which allowed you to run 15% slower and 4 inches lower.  I always heard people talking about the DOCNA times being hard to beat, but never understood what they were talking about, because Oreo never went overtime, and he was slower than their dogs.

Now that I'm running the competition division, I get it!  

After both runs, Chewy got to go play in the big pond area, and I think that was his favorite part of the night.   
Despite his recent success, Chewy is not allowing superstardom go to his head.
Chewy says, "It was no big deal really.   My real talent is singing, er howling, but for some reason, there are no ribbons for that! Anyone want to start a howling competition?  I suggest we start tomorrow at 5:30AM. That is the preferred time to howl, dontcha think?  Usually if I howl at 5:30 I get to have an early breakfast.  Whoohoo!Whoever howls the longest and loudest wins! Who's entering?"