Monday, February 14, 2011


Just finished training Gali this evening.  I hate to speak negatively, but our training session was not very successful.  Good thing is it only Monday!!! Warm up was not very good, signals fell apart. Although during the run through - they were spectacular!!! Go-outs are still troubling, but it will get better as the week goes on-- right??

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Yesterday’s Training Session

Yesterday we had a great session of social club. I got to do a few jobs around the training hall and it was nice to have some company. When I finally got to train my dogs I had such a great training session that I felt like I accomplished month's worth of training. For Gali he got to heel and work through a utility run through with many dogs around and people coming in and out of the door. Bonnie helped with the moving stand and both Patricia and Bonnie helped with my little problem of Gali not wanting to jump on the side of the ring where the other dog is working or people are moving around. He had no trouble with it, he noticed for sure, but he motored on through – GOOD BOY!! It felt so nice to have addressed the problem. His heeling was lovely and I spent some time on front and finishes – Gali is awesome at finishes, so that is always fun to work. Sits on his go-out were perfect!!!

I traded Gali in for Ribbon for the rest of the training session. Again it was great to have so many different dogs around. We had 2 boxers, St. Poodle, 2 Min. Schnauzers, 2 Am. Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker, Min. Poodle and 3 Goldens – it was a party. One thing I realized about Ribbon is that she is only medium dog savvy. When she saw Dawn's Min. Schnauzers she was quite fascinated. A few minutes later Dawn wanted to go for a walk with her dogs, so Ribbon and I decided to tag along. After a moment of telling Torin (silly, lovable in your face St. Poodle) that she didn't want to be crashed into they all ran around and had a great time. She tried to lure the Min. Schnauzers into running around in the deep snow, but they weren't gonna fall for that and stayed on the path. Torin, however thought his long legs were up to the task, so they raced through the deep snow, jumping over snow drifts. My favourite thing about having dogs is watching them run around for the simple reason that they feel so good!! So this sight was a real treat. Ribbon got some nice experience running and playing with dogs of two different sizes and she completely enjoyed herself. Okay, back to training in the hall. With Ribbon I worked on some broad jumps, I had some wait problems, because she was still pretty excited from her walk and then I plopped her in front of a jump. I did some dumbbell work and worked on waits and fronts with the dumbbell in her mouth, she did great, once she dropped it as she sat in front of me, but quickly snatched it up and sat without having to be told again. I worked and novice and open recalls and yes I even remembered to work on calling her to front from the drop. She is still not quite sure about that, but she is getting better. When I worked on my fronts I had my ah-ha moment for this session. Ribbon has usually got pretty good fronts, she might be a touch off like a quarter point front (if that point deduction existed) but lately she has been quite off, always on my left leg and her body is not straight. I thought she might be anticipating the left finish, but I realized that her poor finishes started when my back started to hurt me. My right side is quite sore in particular my right leg is hurting. I bet that I am putting more weight on my left leg and twisting my upper body so that I am not in pain. I'm sure that is the answer!! I got my fronting chute out and used it a slightly different way. I put my toes on the cross bar, this helped me distribute my weight better – guess what...straight fronts. Now you might be thinking that it was because of the chute, but earlier she had been sitting improperly in the chute, in fact for the first time she started to sit with her back leg outside the chute, she really didn't want to sit straight, so I think I may have found the answer. In my next session I will try two things:

  1. Place only the bar under my toes and
  2. Get all of my weight in my heels (both of them) – maybe I could also take Advil before training?!?!

Well I am off now to trim my dog's toenails, I am sure they are looking forward to it, and then I have to get the hall ready for the match tomorrow.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Match number 2

Last Sunday I went to the second of three matches with Gali and Ribbon. This was also a new environment for my dogs. Ribbon went in Novice. She did a fabulous job. I remembered to let her investigate the area before asking her to do any work. She had also had a good romp in the snow with her favourite Buhund. When I got her ready to practice some heeling she was fully focused and ready to do her job. I was really impressed. I did a few short sessions putting her back to relax in her kennel in between. I found a corner that was matted to toss her dumbbell around and play some games with drop on recall. It went really, really well. On the strength of her confidence I did my Novice run with food in my pocket but not in my hand for the entire run. I did reward after each exercise and play with her for a few moments. Her figure 8 was spectacular, I was so pleased. In the next door ring Open was going on and she completed ignored the dumbbell crashing against the wall right behind her on one of the about turns. The only problem we had was on her front , she is tipping off to the side as she gets within a foot of me. So I think I will do the next match with her fronting chute in the ring and see if that helps. The finish was better because I did the signal with a lot more umph (if that is even a word??) In open we did everything up to the drop on the recall pretty formally. Before I set her up for the exercise I played with her for a second and then did a random drop. I think this helped her prepare for what was about to happen. She cantered when I called her and dropped very nicely. Much to my surprise I don't think I have taught her the call to front from the drop (oops). She wasn't too sure, so I just aborted it and played with her. Then she saw the steward approaching with the dumbbell and her eyes lit up. I didn't do any waits, front or finishes. I just let her enjoy herself. I kept the jump low, thinking that she was going to be pretty excited and I didn't want her to hit it. For the broad jump I stood beyond the end of the boards and once she landed and pivoted and called her to front (which was lovely) and her finish was very nice. Overall I am extremely pleased with how she is coming along. It doesn't feel smooth just yet, but we are getting there!!

Gali gave me some more problems... I shouldn't really say problems, because he always tries so hard. He missed the second article because he got distracted by some dogs barking quite furiously not far from the ring and then grabbed the first article he found when he put his head down. The other two articles were great. For signals I decided I was going to be really picky and make sure Gali dropped on the spot, no forward movement at all!! As soon as he moved one front foot, I told him "No" and walked towards him and reset the exercise. I gave a drop signal and he dropped in place. I praised and fed him. When I walked back to the other side of the ring to do the sit signal he had his chin on the floor (looking like his cute little self). I gave the sit signal and he rubbed his chin on the floor and wagged his little curly bum at me as if to say, "Well if you liked that down, you are going to love this!" I know it wasn't the best training response but he was so cute... I laughed. We did get through it and moved on. Moving stand was great. My go outs were not, he came up short (thinking about the sit I have been working on no doubt). Then he wouldn't jump the bar jump that was closest to crowd, this has happened before, so I really need to work on that. Maybe tomorrow during social club I can get people to stand there or heel with their dogs while he does the jumps. I still feel like we are ready, next week I will go into preparing to trial mode. Practicing things in sequence and being more sporadic with my rewards.

Oh by the way Ribbon's Novice run is posted on my youtube channel. Just search for Ribbon Novice Feb2011. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Well that was interesting...

On Sunday I went to a match with both my dogs. I ran Ribbon in Novice twice. When I was warming her up around the different areas of the match, which also had conformation and announcements over a loud speaker from time to time, Ribbon was having a hard time focusing. I tried stationary attention, I tried lots of verbal encouragement, I tried a correction she still had a hard time giving me the kind of focus I know she can give. So I stopped, relaxed my body posture and released her. She immediately started sniffing the floor and acting like a dog in a new park for the first time. I felt silly for making such an assumption that she could work to her highest potential anywhere. For about 5 minutes we just wandered around and I let her be a dog. I put her away and got Gali out for some fun warm up drills. When Ribbon came back out, she was ready to rock and roll. She heeled through puppies coming up to sniff her as she heeled by and baby in a stroller, announcements on the loud speaker. I learned my lesson about her warm up. She needs to explore her surroundings and take some time before she can get down to business.

Because of her first warm up attempt I revised my plan and did my first run through with food in my hand. She worked VERY nicely until we were heeling along the back wall and she noticed a gap in the mats and dropped back out of heel position. I stopped after one step and we repeated that section with some collar tension and verbal encouragement when she stayed in position. The rest of the pattern was very nice. For the last leg of the pattern (right turn, slow) she was jumping up to my hand because she thought I should have fed her earlier, but I just kept heeling and she settled in for the final about turn and halt. Her figure 8 was excellent. Heel free was great and she gave the gap on the floor a small look but kept working. I did get her rev'd up before we hit that location to try to keep her mind off of it. Recall was nice, but I felt so wimpy about my finish that she reacted lacklustre. I have to be more definitive about what finish I am going to use and give my command with confidence. Stays were fine.

Her second run I had food in my pocket but not in my hand and a played with her a lot more between exercises. Ribbon responded to this very nicely and we had a lot of fun in the ring together. On my heel on lead I faded off the wall so that we would be further away from the gap. She glanced at it but kept working and then didn't notice it all on the heel free. So mission accomplished there. Figure 8, stand for exam and stays were great again. I need to work on her halts; she is starting to wrap her head across my legs. I wonder if I am changing my head position too much. I will have to think about that while training this week getting ready for the match on Sunday in another new environment.

Gali was his normal happy self. Heeled beautifully and was very upbeat in the ring. On articles, he got thrown off because the judge asked me if I was ready after placing the article in the pile. I nodded my head which Gali seemed to thing meant go to the pile. I gently called him back to reset the exercise. He seemed to think that I didn't want him to go to the pile. Because when I sent him again, he took the article off the chair. So we restarted the whole thing and it was fine, both articles were great. I will have to get someone to help me set that up, so that I can practice it. Another drawback of training alone I guess. Signals were fine, moving stand was fine. On the first go out I let him touch the wall and asked him sit, did the jump on my right, no problem. Set him up for the second go, sent him and didn't let him touch, when I asked him to sit, he laid down. So I officially have a problem with this. I worked on it a little bit, but then just moved on to complete the exercise. This will be high on my list of things to practice this week. Always nice to have a challenge.