Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The things you never stop working on (part two)

Attitude---- I am sure this is not a shock to anyone reading this blog, but your attitude will be mirrored by your dog.  I can remember once showing Megan when I had a really bad cold, I felt like crap and Megan was there to share in the misery.  We got through our weekend of showing, but more than a few people commented on how "down" Megan was.  However, my next statement might come as a shock to anyone reading this blog... Have you tried spending one whole week and not training with food or toys??!!  It is a great way to discover how to motivate your dog with your energy and enthusiasm. When practicing heeling I will zig and zag and make weird noises and move in unpredictable patterns.  I am not worrying about footwork I am only looking for ears up, eyes wide open, interested look on my dog's face.  Skipping is another thing to try.  Playing hide-n-seek is a great way to play with your dog.  Right now Ribbon has to find me after retrieves.  She loves it, she flies out to pick up her dumbbell or article and then turns back growling,  trying to find me.  I might only be hiding behind a chair or in the bathroom and when she finds me we play a game of chase.  Hell, this is the only exercise I get!!  Releasing from exercises is a great time to develop interaction and attitude building.  Play with your dog physically for a few seconds.  Get a hold of the hair on the side of their neck and rough house with them.  Mimic how another dog would hang onto your dog when playing, let go and take off running. 
I am curious to see if you will try it and if you do let me know what you came up with. 
Happy no food training!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The things you never stop working on (part one)

Fronts, Finishes, Heeling, Attitude and Motivation.

Choose one or choose several, but these are the things that you should always keep on your training schedule. For today let's talk about fronts, I think that if you asked your dog what a front is he would say it means to come close and sit. For the handler the definition is different. Mine is: Dog sitting tidily with his spine straight, paying attention in the center of my body. The question is how do I transfer this very detailed skill to my dog? The answer is keep working at it. There are other variables that come into play.

  1. Is the dog trotting towards you or cantering? When trotting the dog reaches forward with both feet to an equal distance, when cantering the dog will be on a specific lead leg. This means that one leg will reach forward further than the other. This might cause the dog to twist his body as he gets close to you throwing off his front.
  2. The dog's focal point can make a difference. Is the dog looking at your face, your hands, or somewhere else? Generally where the eyes are looking the dog's body will follow. If the dog is looking up, in theory he will sit up straighter and have his feet underneath him when he sits. His focus will be center, providing that you are looking where you want the dog to be. If he is looking at your hands he will sit more off center closer to the hand that has his attention (usually the hand you feed more often with). He is unlikely to sit with his feet underneath him because his head will be lower and his feet will be spread further apart.
  3. Is the dog carrying anything in his mouth. Often a dog will front differently with a dumbbell or glove in his mouth. The weight of the dumbbell may change how the dog holds his head and thus how he fronts.
Training Tips
Use a fronting clip (like a target) to help the dog come close enough
Use a front chute (two boards stood on their ends) to "mold" the dog into a straight front. The use of the chute is valuable because it increases the number of correct responses and rewards, with little help from the handler. You just stand there and let the boards do the work.

I will try to get some pictures of these two ideas and post them in the next few days.

Happy Training!!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Training what training

I thought that running your own school would mean that I would have lots of time to train my own dogs and have a facility to do it in. I am discovering more and more that having your own school actually means that you have to take care of business first and then if you aren't too tired or if your to do list isn't too long you can spend some time with your own dogs. Lately what I do with my free time is to take the dogs on walks or swimming. It is fun to spend time with them and it also is a stress reliever for me. I have been make a conscious effort to train my dogs on a regular schedule. Gali is getting ready for Utility in the fall, so I have lots to work on there. Ribbon is learning all her foundation skills and my first goal with her is to have her ready for rally at the border collie specialty in October, which I don't think will be a problem. What I have learned from getting back into the groove is why I do this in the first place. I REALLY enjoy training my dogs. I learn something from them each time. My relationship with my dogs gives me something to be proud of. My achievements with my dogs gives me something to celebrate. My mind never stops taking in the information the dogs are telling me. Does he understand this? Are we ready for matches? What is my next step?

So I guess that having your own school has its perks, I just have to remember not to miss out on them and keep doing the things that got me here in the first place.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome to my blog

I will be honest I have never done this before. I could start at the beginning but instead I am going to start with tonight. It's Wednesday and I get to train Ribbon in a Mixed Skills class. This is one of my favorite classes to teach and I am discovering why so many of my students take it over and over again. In one hour we covered retrieving over the high jump, heeling, finishes, directed jumping, go-outs, sit stays and scent articles. My puppy was completely enjoying training and I didn't even notice the time going by. So, I guess I should give a big thank-you to Kelly Morrow for teaching the class so that I can have fun with my puppy.

It has been 14 years since I have had a Border Collie puppy, I guess Ribbon technically isn't a puppy now, since she is a year old now. I am thoroughly enjoying training her. She is different than my other border collies, she has a great work ethic like my other dogs, but no sense of humour when she is working. It will be interesting to see if one develops. I am a big believer that you get the dog you were meant to get. So the question is why do I need a dog like this? I can't at this stage of our relationship even picture what it will be like to walk into a ring with her and compete. But I am in for the challenges and effort it takes to get there.