Friday, May 30, 2008

A great post by Jo Sermon

I hope she doesnt mind me posting this here. I thought it was great advice and I know some people dont belong to the Clean Run yahoo site. So here it is.

>We were primarily discussing what P- really is and whether taking a>dog off the startline is P- or not.

OK, this seems to be where people need the most help.On a personal level, I find "taking a dog off the start-line" too long aprocess to really be linked to any particular behaviour. Which part is theP? Picking the dog up? Dragging it by it's collar? How does the dog linkyour actions with movement, which is otherwise heavily rewarded in agility?Lets face it if you don't go for the high-drive herding dogs - which iswhere most advice of this nature comes from - if you have to work formotivation, then you spend a lot of time rewarding motion, encouraging adesire to move. Why you'd want to punish it (reduce it) in an agilityenvironment escapes me. It's really only handlers who can take their dog's"want" or "drive" to do agility for granted that can get away with thatsort of behaviour.If you use a NRM (non reward marker) you're really saying that there is noreward available for that behaviour and in the usual form that is just asignal to try something different. What would make sense in this case is touse a conditioned punisher. You often hear people using them "no", "excuseme", "I don't think so". If your timing's good, you should be able to linkthe punishment that will follow with the action. But again, this is movingback in time to the days before we knew how to properly build behaviourwith reward. Punishment has a lot of fallout and if you use it on a regularbasis you'll find that a lot of behaviour reduces, not just your targetbehaviour. The dogs that are trained successfully this way are the oneswho's drive to do over-rides any fall-out from the punishment, for the restit's disastrous.So what to do?My first advice is for the people who have yet to step foot in the ring.Take your start-line stay and generalise it. I know shows in the USA aren'tas big as they are here, but the principle still applies. The dog that canstay at the start-line at his nice small class, in a familiar environmentwith people he knows and dogs he knows is in all probability going to haveproblems when he arrives at a 12 ring agility show with all the chaos thatthat entails if that's the only training you do. So take your dog out andabout. Again I know life is different there, but think a little and ifyou're going shopping, take your dog with you and see if he can hold hissit AND explode out of it in the car park. Where else could your dog go andtrain that will take him and you out of your comfort zone? Football match?Can you train somewhere you can hear the crowds cheering? Fun fair? Outsidea train station? At the beach? It's easy to make excuses, better to get outand do some training! :)Next if you have a hypy dog, do you ask everyone to be still and quiet whenyou train? Why not get your class mates to clap and cheer? Ask your dog tosit when another dog is working. Do you stand and chat at class, or use thetime to your advantage? What situations get your dog excited? USE them totrain, don't avoid them. At home ramp it up a little, ask your dog to sitwith food on his paws, a toy between his legs. Can he sit whilst a toy isthrown past him, if you put a bowl of just cooked sausages 2 ft away?(That's REALLY tough for a Lurcher BTW ).Next look to your release, test it, does your dog fully understand it? Isit clear? Do you inadvertently give it on the way out to your lead outposition (think about the people who hold a flat hand up - how close isthat to a jump signal and do you really want your dog to have to make thatkind of discrimination in the ring?)? What happens if you give your releasewith no movement and no body signals? If your release is linked to movementare you sure you don't release your dog when you lead out?Moving on to shows, if you take your green dog to a trial, you're puttinghim in a position that he's never been in before. So why ask for a 4 jumplead-out? As with anything else when you up the distraction levels, lowerthe criterion. Why not stand next to him, verbally reward and then release.If that's OK, try one step away, two steps away, 3 steps away. Build itslowly and build on success. If you reach a point where you find your dogcan't cope, make a note of the situation and go away and train for itbefore you ask for it again. In training work to extend what the dog iscapable of offering, in a trial work well inside the dog's comfort zone sothat you can build on success.If your dog is nervous or unsure, do you really need to leave him on hisown at the start line? Wouldn't it be better to let him build a littleconfidence in you and in the ring situation before you start pushing theboundaries?The difficulty with established start-line problems is that a dog has beentaken into the ring and over faced. Add in a nervous handler who is nodoubt behaving differently and you have a dog who is missing his usual cuesand is now guessing. Most dogs have a higher history of reward for movementthan they do for stationery behaviour and so it's not too surprising thattheir guess work inevitably leads to movement. Now their handler is worriedand the next time they'll either shout a little or repeat words (most ofwhich the dog hears as "blah blah blah"). Now they're beginning to set thescene for confrontation. In a short while as they enter the ring they areboth up tight and ready for the by now inevitable confrontation that willfollow. No amount of training away from the ring will alter that in anyway. Removing the dog from the ring does nothing to help either as in manycases the signal for removal also signals the end of the stress andconfrontation and is therefore rewarding for many, which is why thebehaviour increases rather than reduces.If the above sounds like you, then the first thing you both need to do isrelax and have some fun. Desensitise the cues that are at presentassociated with confrontation and make a new association with happyconfident fun. Run with your dog for a while until he's relaxed. Most dogsafter a few months or so of competition will begin to relax, most dogssettle into competition all by themselves if you don't wind them up in thea/m way. Once your dog is more relaxed, you can begin to ask for somecontrol behaviours on the way in, a down at the corner of the ring awayfrom the start line until called in, a sit until released, and then a sitwith one pace away etc. All the time watching the dog closely for signs ofstress and having someone monitor you for signs of stress. What the dogneeds is a calm confident handler with clear signals and a clear release,breath out and relax! Little by little is the key, set the dog up tosucceed, don't over face him.At the end of the day agility is supposed to be fun, if it's a battle andis detracting from your relationship with your dog, is it really worth it?I agree that the amount of control you have at the start line, willaccurately reflect the amount you have during the round, but for many dogsthat doesn't happen right from the beginning; for some the agility scene isjust too much stimulation and handlers need to set realistic aims in thatsituation. If you know your dog isn't going to wait, what's the point inasking him to? What do you think he can do? Ask him to do that instead. Inthe mean time work on self-control not imposed control. Work on your downstays whilst your class mates are working, ask for sits at the door, waitsin the car, waits for dinner bowls. Self control. Little by little is thekey and if your dog can't sit in class, don't expect him to in the ring :)Appologies to Cathy for hijacking her post and apologies to all those whohave written asking for help, I hope this goes some way to helping.Regards,Jo Sermon, Beardies, one small Lurcher & one even smaller x.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CGC class

Last week Miley did really well in class. Everything was perfect. She wouldn't take any treats. I was using Natural Balance rolls. I'm not sure why she wont take any treats, was she not hungry or was it to hot? Sometimes she is just like that but always keeps working. It was 80 degrees out and were are in a non-air conditioned building with the doors open. But she performed well and she seemed happy. So this week I decided to bring a hot dog with me because I know she loves hot dogs. Now she was very unfocused. She kept barking at me and other dogs. She still did well but just not as well as the week before. The temperature was a lot cooler to. When I got home from work it was 91 degrees, but then we had a big rain storm. When I went to go to class it was now 65. So between the hot dogs and the cooler temps she was just a little hyped up. The only thing that was a real problem was when she was being touched and petted. One lady bends down next to the dog and starts petting her on her chest, then goes to the ears, then the feet etc... The other lady bends over the dog and Miley didn't like this at all. She kept trying to back away. I think it was just to much for her. She doesn't like being petted by other people much anyway, but when they are over her, she couldn't take it. I wonder which way the person who does the test will approach the dog. Bend down or lean over?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Silly things Ive done this week

I thought this picture went along with silly things.
When I was running Miley, I was trying to get her to turn left and not go straight into the tunnel by doing a rear cross. I kept saying "right" to give her more info while she was ahead of me. But she was really suppose to go "left". Needless to say she went straight into the tunnel. The next silly thing was, I pulled all the agility equipment off the lawn so my son could mow the lawn. I also wanted to water. I put the stick in the ground weave poles back into the ground. I ran Miley several times and she did well. Something didn't seem right to me but I thought I was just being to critical. This morning I woke up at 4:45am and realized I put the first and last pole slanted to the right instead of the left. Which caused her to enter the weaves incorrectly repeatly. Silly me!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is she running fast?

One thing I want to make sure is that my dog is not running next to me. I want her running her heart out. I want her confident and sure of herself.Do you think she is going fast? She is having to cover a lot more ground than me. My husband said I need to run faster. Which is true. But I think I have said this before, I feel like I'm running and then when I watch the tape I see that I'm not. Practice went well. I didn't realize that I had repeated the exercise so many times. I will be more careful about that. One thing she did while we were at the practice field was she ran on the the teeter. She got half way up and I took her off. I was just walking by the teeter and she went on it all by herself. But I didn't want her to freak out when it tipped so I took her off. Evil teeter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Miley!!!

Grand Little Miss Miley
Miqelon Grand Pish Posh X Ch. Oakdale acclaim to Fame

Today is Miley's first birthday. I want to send a special thank you to breeder Adrienne Scott and her family for letting me have this wonderful and talented dog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Teeter , Ugh!!!!!!!

So Miley wont get on my teeter at home at all. She just runs by. Great. I guess I'm going to put it back on the adjustable base and lower it all the way down again. I'm thinking that I will never put her on that teeter at the training field again. Well, she didn't get on it on Monday but we worked on banging and treating. And just doing that has caused problems. On a positive, she is running through the stick in the ground weave poles without any hesitation. So that is good. I'm not sure what is going on with her. Things she did well, she is now hesitant on. I didn't practice the dogwalk yesterday but Ive notice the last few days she is stopping and looking at me on the straight plank like she is unsure what I want her to do. I don't think Ive change anything I'm doing but obviously something is amidst. And last but not least she just kept running her own course yesterday. I couldn't get her to do rear cross . I read an article in the new issue of "Dog Sports" and it talked about rear crosses. I thought that my using my arm over the jump was causing her to drop the bar on Monday. So I didn't use an arm at all. Maybe that was the problem. I don't know. Yesterday was all very weird. Nothing was working. So we just stopped.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Teeter trouble and then some

No class this weekend. Everyone was at a Rhonda Carter and Jen Pinder seminar in North Carolina. I went to the training field to work on the teeter trouble. I think the problem is the noise. So we worked on me banging the teeter and giving her a treat if she stayed close. We ran some dogwalks and did some handling work. She kept getting sucked into the tunnel. As I was thinking about things, I realized my dog finds contacts and tunnels very rewarding. Ive decided this week to not work on contacts or do any tunnels. I went back out the the training field yesterday after walking the dogs at the park. Again we worked on banging the teeter and giving treats. She did a little better. I also had Guiness run over the teeter with Miley watching. I need to bring another person with me to run Guiness over the teeter while I just work on giving Miley treats for not being scared. I also worked on jump sequences and Miley did very well. I wish I have video taped it because 3 times when I rear crossed she dropped the bar. So I must be doing something wrong.
The only bad thing that happened was with Guiness. Miley likes to chase cars, while Guiness likes to chase bikes. I was letting the dogs run round at the practice field and I didnt see the person riding the bike. All of a sudden Guiness is running and dives over the teeter and under the weaves with guide wires that were next to the fence. I just didn't react fast enough, all I said was "no" . He hit the fence. ( The fence is that square wire stuff that is attached to wooden post ) Luckily he tucked his head just before he hit. He seemed fine but that was very scary. Why didn't I call him off or say "wait". "No" doesn't mean anything to him. We went home after that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Running contacts, again

Here is Miley running the contacts with the stride regulators. I know they are very big stride regulators but that's what it took for her to acknowledge them. I first did it with the dogwalk at 2 feet off the ground. Now its 3 feet off the ground. I probably will keep it here until I don't see the hesitation that I'm seeing when she is going down the down side of the DW. Just a side note: when Miley hears the video play she starts running around the room like she is looking for the equipment.

Today my handling was terrible. I didn't put any video of that on here because I would be embarrassed. Hopefully next time I will be better. When I watched the video I wasn't moving to cue her. I'm not sure what I was thinking.

CGC class

I went to a CGC class last night. Mostly to get Miley working around other dogs. There were only 6 people in the class. Eight people signed up. Everyone felt that they needed to work on loose leash walking and jumping up on people. We practiced loose leash walking and how to get your dog to come back to you if the leash gets tight. O'course Miley walked great the whole time. Heeling right at my side looking up at me and doing the sheltie prance. Which just cracked me up because she never walks loose leash on our walks. I told them they needed to bring in some bunnies, cars and joggers to really see how my dog walks. She doesn't have a big problem with jumping up on people unless she is really excited. So no matter what I did I couldn't get her to jump up. I guess will just have to practice these things at home. One thing that I found out was, the CGC isn't a title. Its not suppose to be written at the end of the dogs name. Its just an award. I didn't know that. Learn something new every day.
Running contacts: I put" big" stride regulators up on the dog walk yesterday. I had to make them big so that she would really have to think about what she is doing. I watched the videos over and over trying to decide where to put them. I'm only using 2 because of how long her stride is on the dogwalk. It was very successful. I ran her again this morning and it still worked except one time she took a huge jump. Not good. I felt is was dangerous. So I immediately sad,"no" and we redid it. That time was in the zone.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The good , the bad and the ugly

When dogs play like this, it always reminds me of those seals you see on T.V. It cracks me up.

Ive been trying to video my practice sessions just so I can see what is happening. I reviewed the video from Saturday and I really felt like Miley was running slow. But then yesterday she was on fire. I just couldn't believe it. Not only was she fast but was picking up cues very nicely. (come to heels, push and pulls) It was great. I think it was because the high temperature outside dropped 10 degrees because of the storms that came through.Then yesterday I raised the dogwalk about 4-5 inches. And she started just barely making the contact. Ugh!! I was so depressed. I started thinking I should just do a 2o/2o. But I really don't want to do that. I think it will confuse her right now. So after a few hours I watched the video again of the contacts and it wasn't as bad as I thought. She is striding through the contact about 50% of the time. I just need to work it some more. I think I might put a target down again and see how that works.

I know I haven't posted about Guiness. He is doing ok. He can at least run in the house and play with the other dogs without limping. He does ok running in the yard. But if I do any agility at all, he will limp. So no more agility for Guiness. He still seems happy to me so that is what is important.

The ugly? That's just the picture I posted. It looks ugly but they were just playing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Here is what my daughter gave me for mothers day. They are real stamps with my dogs pictures on them. Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The heat is on

For the last several days it has been over 80 degrees after 8 pm. at night. Miley is miserable. I can only work her a few minutes before she is just to hot. Poor Miley, its going to get a lot hotter. Once summer starts it will be between 95-104 degrees everyday. Even this morning it was 72 by 7am.

Dogwalk: I moved the dogwalk up 5 inches and she is still in the yellow. I will keep it there for a few more days and then up it again. The hit-it board is not a hit. She hates it. I cant get her to run to it no matter what I do. Treats , toys or movement doesn't help. She just saunters up and puts her front feet on it and looks at me. I feel like she is saying " ok, I did it. Are you happy?" I decided to forget the hit-it board. I am using the clicker for the bottom of the dogwalk and a-frame. She was hitting the contact on the a-frame but not running all the way to the bottom. So I back chained it a couple of times using the clicker at the bottom and she seem to understand now. Or at least she is now running all the way to the bottom.

Weaves: This week I decided to start weave pole training. She has done some weave pole chutes but not a while. I was planning on using a WAM to teach her like I did Guiness but it's not working so well. She is just not understanding to go down the middle and step over the poles. I even shortened the WAM to 3 poles. It didn't help. So I decided to use the stick in the ground poles and slant them. That way there is no poles down the middle on the ground. I think maybe that was the problem. She is much smaller than Guiness.

Training: I took her this morning out to the training field. We went at 7am since it was already getting hot. No problems at all with the chute. We worked on the teeter that she doesn't like. I lured her on it 3 times and left it at that. Not the way I want to train a teeter but I'm at a lost on how to fix the problem. As soon as it starts to tip, she wants to bale. Even if I'm holding the end so it goes down slower. So I figure , each time I go out there I will work a little on it. We did some jump training. All that seemed to go well. A few misses but not much. Before starting she kept barking at the horses who were feeding right by the fence. But once we started training she ignored them. She ignored the cars too, until the last one . I was able to call her off. So all in all a good practice.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sometimes you get lucky!

I was walking the dogs this morning. I usually walk them very early so it is still dark out. There are about 150 houses in my neighborhood that is all cul-de-sacs (sp?). We are surrounded by woods. While walking we run into bunnies everyday in peoples front yards. I think the bunnies like all the flowers. When the dogs see the bunnies they go crazy. Guiness I feel sure I could recall him back to me if he would get loose. But Miley is a different story. I work on this everyday but I haven't been able to get her to look at me or step toward me when ever she sees the bunny. The bunny has to get about 15 feet away before I get her attention again. Its a work in progress. Some how today when she saw the bunny she got away from me. I'm not sure how. Next thing I know she is chasing the bunny down the side of a house which leads to woods. I cant see her because it is pitch black. I'm thinking " I'm screwed". She will never come back and Ive just lost my dog. But as luck would have it, I called her and said "ready , ready , ready" ( agility stuff) and she came back. Not all the way ,so I could grab her collar but close enough that I could get the leash. She still wasn't looking at me, she was looking back in the bunny's direction by so what. She came back. Thank god! So sometimes you get lucky.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I chickened out

I canceled Miley appt. to be spayed. Here is the story. Sunday I went upstairs and it was hot. "Aren't you kids hot"? , "yes". I look at the thermostat it reads 81 degrees. I check the temperature is suppose to be, 76 degrees. The air conditioner isn't working. So I tell the kids to open their doors so maybe some of the cool air from downstairs will go upstairs. My daughter opens her bathroom door. Next thing you know the dogs are all eating pads out of the trash. Yuck!! Miley wont eat string cheese or french fries but she will eat a nasty pad. Who knows how much everyone ate. Then Monday morning Miley is dry heaving on our morning walk. But she ate half her breakfast so I figure that she is ok. The air conditioner guy comes and we pay a fortune but at least the air conditioner works again. I come home from work and Miley is vomiting bile out her mouth and nose. Do I use the wait and see approach? If she gets worse at night and I have to go to the emergency vet they change 100.00 just to come in the door. Or do I just go the my vet now. What if she had a pad stuck in her intestines? I choose to call the vet and they want to see her. I take her in. The feel around, she feels ok. They want to do x-rays. Ok, and I ask if they can get a low enough picture to see her long bones and make sure her growth plates are closed. I know he thought I was crazy. I told him why. x-rays looked fine just FOS ( that's a medical term meaning , full of sh--). Lots of poop in her intestine but no obstruction.. Her hips look good and growth plates are closed. They gave her two shots to stop the vomiting and some can food. Monday night she seems fine. Wednesday she seems fine but didn't poop all day. The other dogs have been pooping pads but not Miley. She is not acting sick at all so she must feel ok but Im still worried. Wednesday morning she finally poops. Yea!! But yesterday when the vet call to check on her and she hadn't pooped , I decided to cancel the spay. I didn't think is was a good idea to do a spay when your intestines is full of poop. ( hey how many times can I say poop)

Now some thoughts on the dogwalk. Ive been watching the videos I have on her running both high and low. What I notice is where she is hitting the yellow zone. On the high DW, she right above or just at the yellow zone. On the low DW, the more reps you do the higher up on the yellow she goes. So I think she needs more strength training and more reps to help build that strength. And to stop when I see her start to hit higher on the yellow.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Ok ,Im posting this video because it took me so long to find the software, edit the video and down load it. Because of all the effort and time it has taken me, I'm posting it. You can now see how much air she has under her when running the dog walk. When I watch other peoples running dogwalk ,their dog is very close to the board, even in slow motion. So maybe she isn't a candidate for a running dogwalk. I'm not ready to give up yet. As seen in the post below she now hits the contact with the dogwalk at 2 feet off the ground. I'm still working on the hit-it pad so maybe she will understand what I want from her.

Look how Ive grown!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

running contacts

So here is video of Miley doing her running contacts with the board at 2 feet off the ground. I know she misses her entry coming back. I'm not sure why. I had run this sequence right before this video and tape it but you couldn't see the bottom of the board. But on the first session she made the entry every time. So maybe she was getting tired.

No class this weekend because the instructor was sick. So we went to the practice field and she did great. She read the pinwheel without a problem. I did front crosses and rear crosses without any problems. We practice with the hit-it board. They only negative was she didn't get right in the chute a couple of times. She went in and then turned around. We haven't done any chute practice in a while , so maybe that was it. She also wouldn't get on the teeter. I had even put the table under the end. The teeter is all metal and very light. Something about that teeter she doesn't like. I'm not sure what to do about that. The best thing was I was able to call her off chasing after cars every time except once. I think about 10 cars came by. Yea!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

stride regulators

I watch video of Miley running the dogwalk. Then I watch Barb Davis video on running contacts. I decided where to put the stride regulators. The first pass, she would hit the yellow contact. But the 2nd pass , she would jump it. So I would adjust the stride regulators and the 1st pass after the adjustment , she hit the yellow. But again, the 2nd pass she would jump it. This happened every single time. Do you think, she thinks, she is suppose to jump the yellow area? It became very funny, like a game to her. "let me figure out how I can still jump that yellow area after she has moved those bumps." So, I lowered the dog walk to about 2 feet off the ground and now she is running through the contact zone. I was thinking of teaching a hit-it plate, but guess what? I cant find a yellow mouse pad.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Running Dogwalk

Here is Miley's running contact. She is barely in the yellow and it's an AKC zone so it bigger. I wish I could put it in slow motion so you could see it better. I'm working on that. If you hit the play button on the bottom left of the video ,on and off you can see the stride better. The stride from the flat part of the dogwalk to the first part of the down ramp is a 5 foot stride. I think I'm going to use stride regulators to change her stride. I moved the hoop several different places and it hasn't changed anything.