Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Aren't we stubborn? It is hard to change our habits sometimes. I have been doing sits and downs in the morning when I have less time. But the floor and basement has been cold in the mornings and Wyatt has trouble with downs in the cold. It took me a long time to change so I do sits and downs at night. Instead, I was struggling with Wyatt. Since I really don't need a down in very cold conditions, it is much easier and will be better for him to do them at night. Easy, but how often do we stick to our guns when things aren't working rather than taking a step back and reevaluating things?

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Site

I went to a different place for obedience practice last night. It is a lot closer (20 minutes versus 45 minutes) but not as good. We got a very small space (Wyatt was the only open/utility drop in dog) and it was cement. There was a barking dog initially in the space and the whole place was loud and chaotic. It was good that Wyatt got to work with a male teacher though and a big guy at that. He was afraid but worked OK and got through everything. This place was good proofing but I think I will go back to my other class and just drop in here once in a while for proofing. One of the stress indicators was not coming in close enough on the retrieves. He could come in closer in general. The teacher has a good idea for that. Put some cheese on a clothespin hooked to your pant leg. This would be for regular retrieves without a dumbbell. You would not want to use this with a dumbbell since they would drop the dumbbell. However, it should transfer to all retrieves.

Monday, February 18, 2008

NADAC Practice

We had a great NADAC practice yesterday with Lynn Smitley. She is a keen observer of what is going on physically between you and your dog. I believe she is a gym teacher. Must be where she gets it from. Wyatt did great with super contacts. We put a hoop on his up contact to prevent him from slamming into the up contact like he usually does. It worked great. It felt funny not to hear the crashing sound. It must be MUCH better for his body. By the end of class, I was able to get a really big distance from him for the Chances courses we were running. Chances courses, in NADAC, contain 1 to 3 distance, discrimination, and directional challenges. He also did great discriminations between an A Frame and a far tunnel at a distance. Lynn taught us how to use a "switch" command to change your dog's lead. For me, it is an opposite arm command that I already do but adding a verbal command and using it at a distance.

Patriot did great too. He still needs hoops for his running contacts and does not work as far away as Wyatt but he was very motivated and fairly fast. That running contact is a great feeling that you can keep on booking it without stopping at all. Patriot really worked to keep up with me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Disappointing Practice

Had a tough practice last night. Wyatt had trouble with the jumps, leaving too early and hitting the jump twice in a row. We backed him up and he did better. Some folks thought he needed 2 strides before the jump. I am not sure. He just seems to misjudge jumps once in while but I am going to try giving him some more room.

He also went down right away on the out of sight sit when we all left (including the "judge".) Going to ask the judge to stay by next time in case he needs a little reminder. She also suggested working spefically on the beginning part when everyone leaves. I came back and set him up again and he did fine. I suggested to the teacher that she check out the difference in our dog dogs during the sit. She saw what I see - how Wyatt's conformation really makes sits and downs difficult though I know he CAN do it. I am also going to have the teacher treat him randomly during the sits and downs. This was the first time I stayed out of the room the whole time without doing a lot of peeking and letting him see me.

He also came up 3 times during the down. This, I believe, is related to a cold/discomfort issue. I am going to put something under him when we do the out of sight down at practice until it is warmer and until we get the sit. At home, I work on both so I will do an out of sight with him on something and do an in sight with him right in front of me so I can fix any problems. Well, I guess I have a baseline to from anyway.

I should try to remember the good parts too - great heeling with almost no lagging and a perfect broad jump and a really good retrieve on flat. The teacher, who is an AKC judge, said I should substitute our other dog (who looks similar to those that don't know them) for the sits and downs. He was rock solid last night. I could not tell if she was kidding or not; she seemed serious! But obviously I would rather get him trained to do it himself. He is so good at everything else though and doing a lot of utility. I sure hope I can get him through this!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Utility Workshop Part 2

Here are some things I picked up at Esther Zimmerman's utility workshop.

1) She watched me heeling with Wyatt and suggested I make really sure I don't turn my shoulder back. I think she was talking about when I stop. I tend to look back and treat him back. She suggested I treat Wyatt forged a little instead. This could help with the ever present challenge of lagging whippets!

2) I learned a great game for the turn and sit part of directed jumping. Throw a visible treat like cheese a short distance. As soon as they are head down for the treat (and no later) give the sit command. The dog will turn and sit nicely. I also treat when they sit.

3) Use different methods to teach the directed jumping go out. I was only using 1, which is a target on the ring gates. I am adding a second method that uses a hula hoop. Put a hula hoop near a ring gate. Put a treat an inch or so past the hula hoop near the ring gate. Start close. Give the go out command. Give the sit command at least initially so the dog sits in the hoop. Wyatt is still getting used to the hoop. He would not sit in a small hoop so I got bigger one.

4) This was really good since Wyatt can be a creeper. Teach an explicit drop back down by luring the dog down with treat towards and under the dog's chest. The front should drop, then the back legs. This makes the dog drop back without moving forward.

Hope these are helpful. Esther teaches at Master Peace Dog Training Center in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Utility Workshop

Dawn and Patriot and Wyatt and I took a utility workshop Saturday with Esther Zimmerman. She has put a UDX on a schipperke, which is the highest title ever for that breed. She uses all positive training and she was a very enthusiastic and skilled teacher. It was a beginning utility workshop so I did not learn tons of stuff but I did pick up some very helpful little things, got some great proofing, and some good feedback from her on my heeling. Dawn learned tons of stuff and it was perfect for her as she is just starting out in utility training. I'll post specific tips I learned later today or tomorrow.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Rally Stats From AKC

This table comes from Curt Curtis of the AKC via Marita Patterson. The formatting was lost in email so I am reposting it here. I beleive what this data shows is that the increase in rally entries is slowing but still growing. However, the number of rally trials is increasing at a greater rate resulting in less rally entries per trial.

Number of Events
Number of entries
Average number of entries per event

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wyatt Rocked

We did run thrus Sunday and Wyatt just rocked. I could tell there were some ring nerves on the first run because he barked at me when I had to take him around for a funny weave entry. However, every contact was rock solid and he was super fast and super focused. Man, I just turn my shoulders and he is off on the next obstacle. I almost think not trialing and taking classes for a while is making him better. I think I am right in only doing NADAC and run thrus for a while so I can redo any missed contacts. I think the uncorrected missing contacts on the first run of day set up a bad pattern for Wyatt. Next stop - try for a NATCH!