Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Long Sit

With the exception of the long sit and down, we seem to be ready to trial in open. In working with Tibby Chase, she suggested that we first get Wyatt really comfortable with the sit by treating him as I touch him on the chest and back and by then working with on leash sits by my side. The next step has been sits with me in front of him working up to four minutes and making sure they are rock solid and without a lot of the shifting around and resitting of the past. Well, we have now worked up to 4 minutes with me in front and my next step is add distance. I am wondering what I should if he does start shifting and/or going down again? I can back up in my training (go back to being closer to him) but what about in the moment?

Some other things I have been wondering.

For go outs, what is the next step after doing go outs at a long distance? Combine with the sit? Fade the target? When I tried to do some without the target, Wyatt got confused and started looking back at me as if to say "Where's the cheese?"

I am going to write to Tibby and ask her and will report back here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Utility Tips

I received this tips for Wyatt and me when we took a private lesson with Tibby Chase. It was very helpful and I have been practicing some of these changes already.


Give signal, wait, and then give verbal command – not at the same time! That way you can fade the verbal command. I was giving the signal and command at the same time.
Use come signal that I have not used in a while, forward motion to chest.
Can Wyatt see my sit command or is it too much in front of my body?
Use barrier? He tends to anticipate a down too much from drop on recall training.
Note that there is no sit before the stand for signals.

Scent Discrimination

Go closer to the gloves if the dog is having a problem.
Can also reduce the number of articles and put them farther apart.
You can also keep playing by using the same scented article. I used to always do only one leather and one metal article.
Proof this wherever you can!
If the dog makes a mistake, don’t reward but also don’t correct. I used to use my “oops” word and have him try again. Now I just take the incorrect article and try again.
Use a chair to get the dog used to having the articles nearby and behind him.


Don’t worry about position number 2 initially.
Our left pivot really needed work, which I was not aware of. I was doing a rally left finish with me moving a lot and Wyatt waiting and then coming into position. You have to pivot as a team on an imaginary pie plate. Warm up with some left turns then practice pivoting by using luring. You put your left foot in front of the dog and lure him by turning your hand outward as you pivot.
Keep your hand level for your signal. Also, I was doing this incorrectly. It is one movement not two. I was giving him a watch command, waiting for him to see the glove, and then moving my hand and saying find it. It is supposed to be one continuous movement of the hand.
You can put a treat on the glove. I never did this and he seems to be fine without it.
Look at the glove and not at the dog. I was looking at the dog.
Note: I made these changes without difficulty with the exception of the left pivot, which we are still working on.

Directed Jumping

Keep the 3 parts separate initially (the go out, the turn and sit, and the jumping).
Combine the go out and the turn first.
Add distance to your go out as soon as possible.
Using a target on the far gate, the dog should lock in visually to the target before going out.
You can move in close to gate and just practice the turn and sit part.
Give your “come” command while the dog is still licking the cheese.
Note that the sit is a verbal command only, no signal. I was using a signal too.
Start with jumps close together. Lead dog carefully through the jumps, have the dog do a front, put the dog in a stay, and gradually separate the jumps.
Note that you pivot while the dog is in the air.

Moving Stand

Wyatt does this very well but can be fearful of strangers. Get loads of people to examine him while treating him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wow - Tracking

I never knew tracking could be so much fun until yesterday. First, day care called in sick so I rushed to bring the baby with me to tracking. I had to stop for a doughnut (I never have doughnuts) but managed to get there in decent time. We were the last to go. The instructor rushed us along because we had laid tracks when it was very wet and dewy and the sun came out strongly and was drying everything rapidly. She thought that this was the equivalent of aging the tracks much more.

I laid a track for her with 5 90 degree turns and 50 legs in between. I did fairly well but need to mark my corners better on my notes or find obvious corners. I felt like I should not stop and take notes much so I would not create scent pools but I guess this really just applies to corners. I also need to tally my 10 yards increments as I go along because sometimes I lose count when I switch attention to other things like articles, flags, and corners.

So we were finally off to do our track after everyone else ran theirs. As we approached the flag, I mistakenly took off Wyatt's buckle collar before getting the harness on. He ran to the flag and sniffed around for the first article! While not a good practice to continue in the future (always get the harness on BEFORE removing the regular collar), it showed that he knew what he were doing even before I gave the TRACK command. How did he know? And it showed that he was into the game.

I praised him and got the harness on and off we went. The track was visually obvious on this day (to the humans anyway) so I had a real good sense of when he was on the track. After a few slight stops when he drifted to the wind side to air scent, he really stayed right on that track. And his head was down (at least for a whippet). The instructor has a golden and she told me Wyatt's head down would be her Golden's head up position! He kind of bobs hi head as he goes along. He found all the articles very well including one I has stepped up because I did not see it. And best of all, for the 2 corners, he just keep cruising right on down the track. The instructor said he really nailed it! I had no idea tracking could be so much fun. We have a long way to go but I was very encouraged.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

NADAC - What I Learned

I mentioned previously that I had some great insights last weekend at a NADAC trial even though we did not Q very much.

We have been prefect in class, rarely having a problem. However, at trials, we have many NQ's almost always a blown contact or off course. I beleive both Wyatt and I - mostly Wyatt - is faster at trials (and he is already very fast in agility!) What do I do - slow down at trials? No, agility is about speed. Speed up in class - hard to do. Lynn Smithley suggested of these to use distance more. That will help handle Wyatt when he is faster at trials. I have thought of this before but I really put it into action at this trial and it worked beautifully. One example was in tunnelers. There was an opening of 3 tunnels in a row. However, you had to pull your dog off the straight line to the third tunnel and do 90 turn to a different tunnel. Typically, I would not have been able to stop Wyatt from taking the third tunnel. I might have turned (too late or not enough). I might have tried to call him off. What he does in this case is very dutifully look at me and see that I am still pointed where he is headed and keeps on going. This time, I called him when he was in the second tunnel and made very sure I was pointed 90 degrees to the other tunnel. He also gallops during tunnelers so I was a good 15-20 feet away when I called him off. He went right for the correct tunnel. On this course, I continuned to work him at a large distance succesfully. Unfortunately, I got lost for a split second and sent him to one incorrect tunnel. But the strategy worked. In another elite regular run, Wyatt got a really tough distance gamble without difficult. So it is clear that he can work at a distance but I need to change my handling to allow him to do so succesfully.

My previous goal has been to increase our Q rate at trials but I realized that this was too unspecific a goal. Instead, at this trial, I picked spots where I have been having problems and tried to anticipate them and improve. This also worked great and was very satisfying to improve even though we may not have qualified. I think I am getting close to being able to generally put the whole thing together at trials.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Utility Lesson and Tracking This Week

I am looking forward to a private lesson with Tibby Chase tomorrow on utility level obedience. I have been training it for a while but have never had an intstuction or feedback except for some books. I really enjoy training it and Wyatt seems to love the challenge. Hopefully, I am basically on the right track with my training. Thursday, we will do some tracking. I have not been practicing tracking since the last time out but at least I will go this week. I need to try and go once a week if can.

Few Q's But Lots of Learning

I had a really good weekend at a NADAC trial. Wyatt and I earned only 1 Q but boy, I learned a lot. I will write about it this week.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rally and Conformation Saturday

A friend asked me to show his bitch in open conformation totally spur of the moment because he had a conflict with a paid client. I reminded him I had little experience but he said to go for it. I did not feel much pressure but this bitch Tilly must have been in heat or close to it because Patriot kept trying to mount her (and almost succeeding) right outside the ring! I only had a little kid to hold Patriot who is pretty strong so it that was interesting! Patriot seems to like those Mariki bitches because he has bred 2 others (almost 3 - I wonder if anyone has shown a dog and a bitched "locked together".)

I did a decent job with the bitch and did everthing for the judge pretty well (she moved well for me) and stacked pretty well. Anyway, the judge liked her and put her up first for 1 point. What a little thrill you get when they put you in the front of the line. My first show points in my second time showing! That was fun.

So I had to decide between Tilly and Patriot for BOB. A nice lady who also showed in open bitches agreed to show Tilly. Patriot was terrible at point and very distracted with Tilly. On the go around, he was sniffing her trail, head down when he could. The judge was right there after I put him on the table (he was first) and I did not have time to stack him great. The judge asked me if he had ever been measured and he is well under the limit so that made me wonder about the judge. Anyway, I did not show him that well. He got BOS but was the only dog and Tilly got BOB. I will have to do a better job keeping him away from the girls in the future. I guess you can show a dog in heat. That suprised me.

Patriot and Dawn got their RN Saturday which was nice since they don't do rally that often.

Wyatt was in Rally Exc B and Rally Advanced B. We are trying for our RAE and he had 2 double Q's already.

It was a bit hectic with conflicts with breed but we had a great baby sitter on site with us so that helped a lot. Wyatt went first. He did OK in Exc B but not as good as he usually does and we squeaked by with a 73. He definately does better indoors and in cooler weather where we have been scoring in the 90s. We got an 80 in Advanced B so we did earn another RAE leg. Maybe I did not proof him enough. I usually do more run thrus with treats only a the end before a trial. Also, I did not bring his favorite treat cheese (I did bring in but it would have melted in my pocket with the heat. But we managed a double Q. 7 more to go!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Drop On Recall and Group Sit Progress

I went to Tibby Chase's open/utility drop in class this week. Once again, great class with lots learned. The highlight was seeing how Wyatt was going on drop on recall. He did a really nice drop, much like the good ones I have been seeing at home. Tibby said it was great and would only result in a 1/2 off in terms of creeping. The instructors emphasize the instant and total drop so much, I was not sure if it was ready or not. Except for the group sit, he is about ready to try in open. On that, I had him do a one minute sit on leash right in front of me and he was rock solid. So I am continuing to work on a relaxed sit at home. Tibby showed me a way to get the dog comfortable with sitting by giving lots of treats while you add some stress by touching the dog. Then you work up to sits by your side and then sits in front and then add distance and other dogs. It will take a while but I do now have hope for the group sit. Wyatt was hesitant to get the dumbbell when I Tibby was close by (I had to do a multiple "find it" command so we will work on that too. In utility, he is having some issues with scent discrimination all of a sudden so I have reduced the number of articles and made it less formal and am working back up.