Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Stop?

When practicing agility with your dog, if there is a problem with an obstacle, go back and redo the that part of the course, don’t stop the dog just and redo just that obstacle.  Usually it is the handler’s fault anyway, why stop the dog?   I’ve seen lots of people express verbal and physical disappointment too when something goes wrong.  They complain, stop the dog, and put the dog back on the contact or whatever.    Great way to demotivate your dog.


I have been doing some contact proofing in the cellar using a painted board. Wyatt seems to know his job pretty well but I can fool him sometimes and get him off the contact board without being released. It will be interesting to see if this has impact this weekend.

I have been reading Controlled Unleashed. This book really opens up ideas for helping your dog deal with his or her own stress. Typically, people tell you dogs have ESP and all their stress somehow comes down the leash from you. I have never felt this to be correct so it is good to have some acknowledge that dogs have their own stress. I do feel like our stress does impact them because our handling changes and, yes, we can make them nervous if we are. However, they have their own stress too. I know Wyatt does! So this book is very welcome with ideas to help with the latter.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Teeter or Dogwalk

Very interesting experience at a CPE agility trial last weekend.

They had a dogwalk and there were metal stands under each side piece. About 80% of the dogs were bailing off the dogwalk after going up 1/2 way up the up contact. Before doing that, many of them were crouching down. I did not figure it out at the time and thought maybe the board was bowed or there was something weird on the surface but sure, enough, the dogs must have thought it was a teeter. Wyatt, of course, bailed off. He will bail if something is not right. They took off the stands for the next game and almost all the dogs had no problem. It looked exactly like a teeter from the dog's point of view on top of it. It is so interesting that the dogs clearly saw it as a teeter while we humans took a long time to even figure that out.

Wyatt had trouble with the dogwalk and other contacts on this run and I was a little frustrating. I have been trying no reward if he really jumps off contacts and did not reward him after this run. I am really rethinking that as it was totally not his fault in this case. We also found in class this week that if I forgot to give him his "tip it" cue, he jumps off the teeter especially if I don't pause. I thought in the trial that the cause of a fly off was my motion but now I wonder if I forgot to say tip it. I usually say teeter, tip it, spot, and then OK as a release word. It's a lot to remember. I wonder what else I am doing differently in trials that causes contact problems. (Though he does them pretty independantly at home and in class without much cueing.)

I am going to give a small reward even on a "bad" run and jackpot him on a good run.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

CPE Saturday

Well, we had one good standard run - just missed the dogwalk contact - that one is still difficult for us. We won't talk about the other standard run quite yet but I did learn something very interesting in that one.

Here is a video of a really nice Snooker run we had.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quick Update

Wyatt had trouble last week at obedience class with the group sits. He stood up a few times when I was out of sight and was a little antsy and shifting around. We tried to do too much too fast. It is probally good that he stood though and did not go down like he used to. Finally, I just left him straight out and turned my back for 30 seconds and he was fine. He has been doing 3 minutes out of sight at home. I started to try downs again. I did not practice them for a long time since he was fine and I did not want him to anticipate the downs during the sit. He now sits during the down! So I backed up on that too and am staying close and in sight and doing shorter times. Tibby recommended alternativing sits and down on different days. I decided we are not ready to enter open yet until the sits and downs are really good at class. The good news is everything else is great and I did some amazing proofing at an agility trial this weekend where he did dumbells, gloves, heeling, scent discrimination off leash in the center aisle. I chaired the trial so I could get any with practicing is such as busy spot off leash! We noticed in class that Wyatt will go down if someone else (not me) yells down really loud so I will have to proof that at some point.

We had a bad contact bad Saturday at our CPE agility trial but had a good day yesterday and we got one precious standard Q and one jumpers Q. 3 more standard Q until our championship. I am entered in 4 this weekend so we have a shot. I would be happy with 2 though. I was sleepy Saturday and Sunday I was able to really focus on what was happening in contacts. If he gets ahead of me, I need to call him and talk to him I think and get his attention. If I am ahead of him, looking at him and turned when I need him to stop seems to help. Last year, he had perfect contacts at our home arena but not this year. Go figure.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Class Tonight

I am planning on going to obedience class tonight. Big test will be the long sits and downs. Wyatt has been doing 3 minute out of sight sits at home, which is great. I started on the downs last night. I usually don't even practice these since there this seems to be his preferred, safe position and he used to have a big problem going down on sits with other dogs around. Last night, I tried a 3 minute out of sight down and he stood up. I went down to one minute and he was fine. Note that I don't do the down after the sit but keep it separate so there is no anticipation. I am not too worried about the down which I beleive I can fix but am curious if he will do the out of sight in class. It used to be that he would go down from the sit in sight and he's not doing THAT at class so I guess I should not worry too much.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

CPE Trial Last Weekend

I did a CPE trial last weekend. They had 2 standards each day starting first thing in the morning so I just went up to try and get some standard Q's. Before the weekend, Wyatt needed 5 standard Qs for his C-ATCH. We had contact problems Saturday on the first run. The second run was really nice but he did not get the dogwalk contact which was the second to last obstacle. Tough after such a nice run. I ran Patriot too but did not Q on Saturday. Not my best day.

Sunday was much better. I got 2 nice Qs with Patriot. He runs consistently and steadily. I can't get any speed out of him on the weaves though he does go much faster at home. I have to remember to wait for him and race him out of tunnels. Unlike Wyatt, you have to cheer him a long and not get too far ahead. Wyatt had a great first run but again blew the last contact, a dogwalk. I walked him off the course without comment or a treat figuring he really does know his job now and I can't reward him anymore for behavior I don't want. I think I need to put some responsibility on him no matter so that he knows he can do the job no matter where we are and what is going on. We Qd on the next standard run. He stopped on the dogwalk though it was a bit high and he released from there the judge was kind or he got a toe nail. But I think this will be a good strategy for us. I need to at least see an attempt to stop - no more leaping off. He was definately expecting the cheese after the first run.

We now need four more standard Qs. I have a trial next weekend at our home arena and then a trial with 4 standards the weekend after that so we should be able to pick up a few more (at least!)...