Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun, Fun, Fun

Stopped at MPSC on the way home from work this evening.  Lots of folks there so no chance to just hang out with the dogs.  I don't think that they cared too much since one of our friends had his nephew with him.  The nephew (embarrassed to admit that I don't know his name) is a real nice kid, about 13 or so I guess, and is into baseball.  FINALLY, someone who could really throw the ball for them!

Worked on barking with both of them and then let the boy throw the ball for them.  They are both POOPED!!!   I was thrilled that both dogs (Tor, too) would play with him.  This is the first person that Tor has played fetch with other than me and after a few runs he was perfect.  Came straight back to the boy, jumped up into his arms, and gave him the ball very easily.  Really, really pleased to see that.  Plus, it was just fun to see a young kid having so much fun with a couple of really cool dogs :-)

Vic loaned us his bungee line.  I was surprised to see how much happier the dogs were to work on that.  Gata's bark & hold was much more intense using that than a standard backline.  But boy does it STRETCH!  Gata probably was lunging 4-6 feet on it.  Definitely impacted where I had to stand with the tug.

Tor is funny.  He is a terrible demand barker but he can't really bark when his prey drive kicks in.  He is so easily aroused/over-aroused.  So will have to work on his barking in a much calmer manner.  Got some OK barking by essentially creating a "demand barking" situation with him on the bungee line and me rolling a ball around on the ground with my foot just outside his reach.  Though he barks pretty much every time I shake out anything or slap my shoes together or whatever movement/noise combination you can think of, the clatter stick resulted in over-arousal and no barking, for now.  We'll keep working on it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Great Sunday

Just got back from playing with the dogs in the rain :-)  Gata and I are DRENCHED, Tor is pretty dry.  Tor will get his turn to work in the rain eventually.  He just got lucky this morning that it didn't start to pour until after he was done.

Both dogs are doing great.  Well, I guess Gata was doing her best to cheat on her Agility pot work this morning.  But I can't really blame her for that - running around pots is pretty boring.  So I gave her a break and changed over to our favorite cone game using the pots instead of cones.  We haven't done that in awhile and she loves it.  She did great.  I even threw in a couple of downs on her way to different pots (simulating the SchH send out) and she did great - sliding stop to a turning down.  Really nice stuff from her and absolutely full of herself.

She is also doing great in SchH these days.  Will trial her a couple (2 or 3) times this year with an emphasis on quality of performance in all 3 phases.  Essentially seeing what kind of points we can get.  Her out of motions are coming along but need to work on those all the time.  Her send out is doing great.  Her long down is also coming along but have learned my lesson on that one.  We will continue to practice with gunfire on a much more regular basis.

Tor had a blast this morning, too.  He didn't mind the light rain/drizzle that he was working in though he did stop to shake now and then.  He's really coming along in all aspects of the work.  His "Out" is pretty consistent on both me and Dave.  Think I will start having other people play tug or helper with him so that he generalizes the behavior.  He had a really good time Friday night at club.  His "Out" has gotten good enough that he got to do some new, fun stuff with Dave.  Got to do a few short puppy long bites and a couple escape bites.  He thought that was just plain fun and came flying back with the puppy sleeve :-)  One nice thing about him is that he brings the sleeve back with as much youthful enthusiasm to Dave as he does to me.  Really happy to see that.  Don't see any suspicious behavior in him around people at all these days.

Now to decide what indoors stuff to do for the rest of the day :-)   I don't mind getting wet now and again but don't mind staying dry either!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

OMG - What a crazy dog :-)

Which dog???   ... Tor - an absolute freak of nature :-)   He has done a couple of things in the last couple of days that absolutely boggle my mind!

Incident #1: I've been working a little on exposing him to different surfaces and having him jump up on things because he didn't seem to want to and I wasn't sure if it was because he thought he shouldn't or because he had a thing about surfaces.  So have been having him get on and off things wherever we go.  So I was out at MPSC on Thursday evening playing with the dogs.  Decided to see how Tor felt about getting on the picnic table that we had done a few days earlier.  I know it is impossible but I swear that he "levitated" onto it and off of it with barely a twitch of a muscle.  I was so shocked the first time that I had him do it 3 or 4 more times and he did it exactly the same way!  I have never before seen a dog jump like that.  Next time I go out there I am taking the video camera to try to record it.  Really freaky!  I don't know that it will mean anything with respect to any of the training or competition type stuff that he will be doing but it sure was cool.

Incident #2:  Gave the dogs a light morning since we were at club late last night and both worked really well.  Took each out at the park individually and played around with high reward schedule for a ball.  Tor has to work a little harder to get the ball than Gata does just to build that understanding in him.  Gata knows the game extremely well.  Just doing little stuff with Tor - starting to make him find "heel" position or something approximating it, stuff like that.  Anyway, he comes flying back with the ball and stops about 6 feet from me to go poop.  He dropped the ball and went about his business.  I stepped over and picked up the ball and he stopped pooping, mid stream, poop hanging, to get ready to work.  What kind of dog does that???  I had to give the ball back to him before he would finish going to the bathroom.  And, to think that his tug drive is even higher than his ball drive!

OMG ... what have I gotten myself into??  Truthfully though, he is one cool dog.  I'm sure that the day will come when I will wish that he had a little less drive or self-confidence or ...   But until then, I am having one heck of a good time with this puppy :-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Socialization Needed ...

Tor really is quite a twirp.  He can be so charming and turn around and be a complete and total punk a heartbeat later.  But, I guess that's why puppies are so cute :-)

Before I forget, his right front pastern seems fine again.  I can't say for sure that it was Panno but suspect that it may have been.  He is just growing like a weed and is all legs.

We went for a nice long walk this afternoon rather than working.  So both dogs had a bit of an excess of energy.  Had them both on front pull harnesses and flexis - probably my first mistake was taking them together.  Everything was going well.  But it became clear about 1/3 of the way into our walk that Tor's ridiculously high prey drive is creating some confusion for him.  He is happy to see people now but seems to think that men are bite objects, probably because most of the men that he gets to meet end up playing tug with him.  He didn't bite anyone and it was clearly an attempt to initiate play but I'm not sure that the guys that he jumped at would have thought it was much fun.  So time to spend more time on that stuff again.

He also really wants to chase bikes/bicyclists.  It didn't help that we were over by Google and most of the bikes over there have colored inserts in their wheels that really catch the eye.

So, I guess we will be going out in public more and making a particular effort about socialization again.  Funny how that has changed.  He used to be just a little edgy around people in a very different way.  Now he is quite happy and confident and that creates another problem.  I guess I will have to do this without Gata along.  Need to really pay attention to him during this work.

Gata's pad is still quite sore and she licks at it quite a bit.  It's definitely getting better but this one was pretty bad.  A friend of mine is going to loan me a pair of "skid boots" to try on her.  We'll see if she'll wear them.  If she will, I think they might really help her heal up and potentially even prevent more injuries like that.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Trying to give both dogs a couple of light days.  I think Tor may have just a touch of Panno.  His right front pastern area seems just a little sore.  I haven't seen him do anything and he isn't limping but he has yelped a couple of times in the last 24 hours when my hand brushed that area.  He's just growing so fast that Panno seems the obvious choice.  However, it's not like he couldn't have tweaked it half a dozen times over the way he runs and plays :-)   I'm not too worried about it but don't want to diminish his enthusiasm for playing with me so will take it a little easy.

Having said that, I am astounded at how quickly and easily he seems to be picking up on the leash pressure work.  We've only done a few short sessions so far but he really seems to be getting it.

Stopped at MPSC on the way home from work.  Let both dogs out to run around for a little while since no one was there.  Both were enjoying just hanging out on a really beautiful day - hard to believe it is January.  Have noticed that Tor doesn't always like new surfaces so instead of doing any real work out there we just took advantage of the available equipment.  He got up on the picnic table, both of the training tables, and even went across the lower A-frame a couple of times :-)   Once he realizes that it is OK he is fine but he doesn't like to get on things that first time.  Will have to remember to keep asking him to get on/walk across weird stuff.

Did some position changes with Gata, primarily in a stationary heel position for food.  Then did a few out of motions with a few short ball tosses.  And that was it for her.  Let them both wander around again for a little while and home early for a change.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday mornings

I don't know exactly why but I have always loved Sunday mornings.  It's a day where I can occasionally relax and enjoy watching the world go by a little.  Things slow down, I'm not in a rush to get to work.  I take my time with the dogs and usually have a very long outing with them at some point.

That's how it has been so far this morning.  I took the dogs to the park, in the car, so I could control how much exercise each of them got.  Both had a really nice long leisurely walk.  Gata just had a few sessions of position changes and maybe 3 or 4 long throws.  I did require that she work quietly though.  If Gata starts work quietly she will usually stay that way.  Sometimes she will quiet herself as we get going but her tendency in competition is to build and get noisier.  Today she was pretty amped up just getting out of the car.  So as we walked toward the field I asked her to heel.  She took the basic position sitting at my side and was whining.  I told her "No, quiet" and backed up.  I told her heel again.  Her silence earned her the ball.  Did the same thing and took one step forward - she whined.  I told her "No, quiet" and backed up.  Gata doesn't like to back up in heeling position so this is a form of punishment for her.  Plus, it takes her further away from where she wants to be - the field.  Repeated successfully and gave her a short throw.  Did the same thing with about 3 steps of heeling successfully and that was it for her heeling/"Silence" work for today.  After that, she did her position changes quietly (normally quiet for these anyway) and that was it for any real training with her this morning.

Tor got quite a bit more work but in little increments.  With him, I finally started the leash pressure stuff that Michael does.  I'm not exactly sure that I am doing it right although the concept is pretty easy to understand.  Tor seemed to get the hang of it pretty quickly in the straight forward direction.  It wasn't as easy for him when I tried it a little sideways.  But I didn't really push it.  I think this is a process that will take several days to a week to really get.  I will be positively thrilled if it results in a dog that doesn't try to drag me around on a leash attached to his regular collar!  I will also do this with Gata at some point in the future.

Also, went back to some basic obedience stuff with Tor today.  Position changes in all different orientations to me, moving and stationary.  Also continued to work on duration of his positions.  His sit and down are going quite well but have neglected his stand in the different locations and really need to spend more time on that.  Also did a little tiny bit of heeling stuff.

He was really good about everything.  We switched easily between tug, balls, and food today and he worked well for everything.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day Off

Do dogs ever really appreciate a day off?  I think sometimes Gata does if it involves hanging around at home and lots of time petting or massaging or grooming her.  But today, they are both just major pains in the butt!

Gata's left carpal pad is pretty torn up so didn't want to work her and make it worse.  So, I decided to give them both the day off.  Now, they are both here subjecting me to a cacophany of barks, squeaks, whines in the hopes that I will serve them dinner.  They have done absolutely nothing to earn their dinner but both are apparently quite hungry ;-)

We went and watched Franziska trial her German Shepherd, Rudi, for their OB1 today.  They had a nice performance and got their title.  Then we stuck around and watched the BH dog and handler teams.  Made me think of Gata's BH, which was certainly an adventure that I won't soon forget!  Hopefully, Tor's BH will be less dramatic than Gata's was :-)

Plan to rearrange the car and put a bigger crate in it for Tor tomorrow.  Will probably go watch more of the trial as well.  Gata will definitely have tomorrow off again.  I'll have to work Tor on his own, though Gata won't be happy about it ;-)

Schutzhund Practice

Went really well tonight and no more injuries for me ;-)  But Gata tore up her feet a little.  I worked both dogs tonight.  Gata worked great.  Mario was hiding in blind 4 and they were making all sorts of noise down at blind 6 to try and draw her off.  It didn't work and she flew through the first 4 blinds with speed and intensity, checking each one.  She was very happy to chase Mario out of 4 and came flying to me with the sleeve.

Sent her back in to 4 for some barking.  Really nice barking - started as soon as she rounded the corner into 4 and had good duration, intensity, and cadence.  Mario rewarded that with a bite, too.  We then did a little escape with focused heeling for a bite.  I'm always a little confused about the heeling to the escape bite - I can't decide whether it should be focused heeling or whether she should be watching the helper/bad guy.  The trend seems to be to focused heeling.  Her out was beautiful, reattack and drive was also perfect.  Then we put the 100-ft long line on her harness and worked her long bite a little.  She did great with that, too.  So, all in all, a really good session with her.

I'd like to think that the barking drills are starting to pay off with her already but think that may be wishful thinking.  Though on the last barking attempt out at MPSC I ended up putting her back in the car frustrated because she wasn't barking well.  That definitely made an impression on her ;-)

Tor showed real improvement with his out tonight on Dave.  He needed a couple of reminders that when I tell him to out he really needs to comply but very few.  He was actually biting on a puppy sleeve tonight, too.

All in all, a good night for my crew.  Now time for a little sleep ...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Poor Tor

He just can't catch a break.  Not only is he not faster than Gata he can't even steal a stick from her!  He is finding out what many dogs (and helpers) have before him - Gata does not give up what is in her mouth.  She may not thrash and fight to win it from another dog but once she has it she holds it hard and calm and does not let go.  All of Tor's thrashing only leads to him loosening his grip and her stealing it away ;-)  Poor boy.

And to add insult to injury, Gata was also schooling him on the strategic use of speed and acceleration in the park this morning.  He just cannot catch her.  He cuts the corners and she just turns on her turbo boost for a moment and accelerates away from him. 

Really fun to watch them run and play in the park this morning.  No toys involved, except for the stick that Tor picked up and Gata stole ;-)  They also like to wrestle a little.  As usual for Tor, he gets over aroused while wrestling and starts to play too rough.  I usually step in quickly to break it up.  However, Gata took matters into her own hands this morning and told him off seriously a couple of times.  Very rare instances of Gata actually getting angry (or something like that, though I am anthropomorphizing here).  Tor seemed to recognize the difference instantly and wisely high tailed it out of there. 

I was quite happy to see that since Tor normally seems to like to fight.  Hopefully, this bodes well for the future with the 2 of them.  I hope that Tor will allow Gata to rule the roost but am not sure it will turn out that way.  Fortunately, though Gata is very dominant she is not obnoxious about it and has previously been quite happy to allow other strong dogs in her home.  Clearly she and Tor already have a pretty good relationship.  I just hope it stays that way as Tor gets older and spends less time in the x-pen.  I guess time will tell ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Catching Up ...

Things have been a little crazy this week.  Basically, I'm spending too much time working my dogs to write about it!  So, I'll try to summarize what has been going on without going in to too much detail.

I've been really working on the morning ball sessions with 1 dog waiting while the other dog gets the ball.  This has worked fantastically well with Gata.  However, it wasn't working so well with Tor.  He tended to really fixate on Gata and had no interest in food as a reinforcer for good behavior.  And, in fact, his behavior wasn't good - leaping and lunging and barking for all he was worth.  So, I tried a higher value reward with him - the tug.  That is definitely working.  He still watches her take off but then refocuses on me and plays tug vigorously.

He is clearly conflicted about it.  He thrashes and does alot of high-pitched whiny vocalization, especially as Gata returns with the ball.  However, it is getting better with practice as is his ability to refocus on me after I throw the ball for Gata.  It would probably help if I had the tug in my hand, but only have 2 hands and between Tor and the Chuck It they are already full.  He is outing well even with all the conflict.  So think this is a positive game for him though it is clearly a difficult game for him, too.

Another interesting observation about Tor.  The first time I took him to a different park with lots of people around he really lit up when a young child and her father stared and pointed at him.  There have been quite a few kids around in some of the parks that we have been going to lately and he seems to be trying to drag me to them.  I don't exactly know what he would like to do when he got there but he seems to be relaxed and happy while he is trying.  So, I think this is a good development, too.

Poor Gata, she gets the short end of the stick a little these days.  In the morning, she comes flying back to me with the ball only to be ignored as I continue to work Tor on the tug.  In the evening, she usually has to wait until after I work Tor for her turn.  However, she is the dog that gets the run of the flat, sleeps on the bed when she wants, and benefits from my insomnia by getting numerous massages :-)   All in all, I think she does OK but I have to remember to make sure that she get special attention sometimes, especially during work.  She loves all the other stuff, but she really loves to work with me :-)  And it is always a joy to work with her.

Have been working on her positions in many different ways.  I am definitely switching to the new command "Tomber" for the down - less baggage.  I decided to work on her moving down for the next week or 2 by practicing the AKC OB down on recall exercise.  I am rewarding every correct down, regardless of how long it takes her, with a ball thrown behind her.  Hopefully, in a few days time, her down will be much faster.  Part of the problem is that her recall is so darn fast to start with.  It's a good problem but definitely makes it harder to down.  Still, we'll keep working on it and see how it goes.

Also working on those stays with backward releases using either a thrown ball or a stationary, placed ball.  Need to do these over and over again with her in all positions.  Also doing more stays with Tor in both the sit and down.  With him I am trying the - don't move from your position until I release you approach rather than using a "stay" command.  The stay command has always done as much to hurt as help with Gata.

Stay tuned ...

Weekend of Fun

It has been a weekend of primarily fun dog activities.  Friday night we went to Schutzhund club.  Gata worked for the second time (I think) since Regionals.  She was so happy!  Of course, that means that she is also a little more dangerous than usual ;-)   Which means that she split my left brow open by shaking the dead sleeve when I bent over to take it from her ;-)  There was a brief but impressive amount of blood running down my face and I now have a lovely cut and bruise above my eyebrow and a partial black eye.  I'm not quite sure how I'll explain this at work tomorrow, especially since I got a hair cut this weekend and you can actually see my eyes now ;-)

Gata was really wound up to work though and was actually a little munchy/hectic on the sleeve at first.  That's very unusual for her.  She has always been known for her deep, hard, calm bite more than anything else.  However, I have also noticed that she has gotten more munchy on the ball lately.  I don't know if this is behavioral, having to do with Tor's arrival, or if her teeth are sore, or what, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.  After a few bites she settled down and her bite got better, too.  We went back to basics and just did some targeting work and a little bit of heeling for a bite.  She was very, very happy.

I thought that she was satisfied doing agility work but she made herself pretty clear Friday night.  She really prefers being a Schutzhund dog ;-)  Or who knows ... maybe she wants to do both!

Tor spent quite a bit of time working on his outs at club on Friday.  Overall, it went very well but he definitely needs more work.  He was very good when just outing various tugs in my hands and less good when outing off the pillow in the helper's hands.  So, we'll just keep working our program.  So glad that Dave is on board for this part of it :-)

Saturday and Sunday were more unusual days.  Both days started out with a work session in our home park.  Saturday we did some socializing with the behaviorist from work who was out walking her old Boxer at the same time.  That was really great, especially for Tor.  He is getting much better about people, but I'm a little careful when things are busier.  And things were definitely busier in the park on Satuday.  He doesn't want to be their new best friend but is happy to say "hello" and then focuses back on me.  Perfect.  Good with both Carrie and her husband, Nick, and their dog.  Really thrilled with that.  Gata was fine, of course, perhaps too friendly ;-)

Sunday morning was just a more or less normal early morning session in the park.  Both dogs did fine but more of a just blowing off steam kind of session.  No particular focus for either one of them, though I guess we are continuously working "Outs" with Tor.

Saturday afternoon we went to visit some friends.  Gata was absolutely flabbergasted that they were more interested in seeing Tor than in visiting with her.  I think her feelings are still hurt ;-)   She is a very sensitive dog :-)  Tor was perfectly well-behaved around them.  We all went for lunch and then headed back home.

I drove past MPSC on the way home so decided to stop and work the dogs.  Tor's out while back-tied to the pole showed definite signs of improvement.  Very pleased with that.  And Gata did some barking on the pole.  She definitely wanted to do some bitework so that was our compromise.  Both then got to play a little bit of ball out on the field.  Then took them on a little stroll loose together.  Tried to get Tor to follow Gata over the A-frame but he was having none of it.  Not too concerned about that.  Plenty of time for that later.

Sunday we skipped tracking but played in the park a little early.  Then took them both for a stroll on the Stanford campus.  Really beautiful over there and always see unusual things.  Not much happening but both enjoyed their walk and took the joggers, bikers, walkers, etc. in stride.  Took them out to MPSC in the evening to chat with some friends at club.  Didn't work either of them but did walk them.  Tor thought that all the dogs barking must be on to something so he decided to bark, too.  Need to stop that right away!

I think a good weekend was had by all.  They both seemed to get enough exercise and also practice some things that needed work.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Game to Build Needed Skills

I have been trying out a new game with the pups the last couple of mornings.  Plus it saves me a little time in the mornings, which is a REALLY nice added bonus.  The game goes like this

1. Take both dogs to the park with me at the same time, has to be a safe park but most of them are at that time of the day.
2. Take along a Chuck It and ball and a tab and a light weight ~3 or 4-foot leash.
3. Put the tab on Gata and the leash on Tor.
4. Make them take turns when I throw the ball.
5. I signify which is to run by saying "Gata, get it" or "Tor, get it" as I throw it.

First of all, it is safer for both of them.  There was way too much bump and run stuff going on if I let the two of them chase balls together.  Secondly, it makes both of them work on their self control and impulse control.  Tor needs this much more than Gata, but Gata doesn't like watching another dog run for the ball much either.  I hope that I will eventually be able to take them both to the park and throw the ball for them while they are off leash and direct which of them is to chase the ball.  It's a lofty goal given how ball crazy these two are, but definitely worth the effort.  Plus, I think they will both learn some necessary skills in the process even if we never quite get to the goal.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ho Hum ...

Not that much to write about tonight but am trying to develop a routine so will write anyway ;-)  The dogs are both doing well.  Each progressing toward their own goals.  Both coping with the change in routine quite well.  For Gata, it is a little like going back in time to when she was a puppy and went with me to work every day.  For Tor, it is a bigger change.  But he seems to be handling it just fine.  Both are a little more demanding at home in the evening but I guess that's not too surprising.

Tor is starting a little bit of heeling finally.  He's pretty funny to work with because he really does stalk me most of the time.  I have to move very smoothly with him or he goes into "freeze and stare" mode ;-)   His focus and intensity is great, but the stalking is pretty new for me.  Hopefully, we'll continue to make progress.  His "Out" gets better every day.

Gata is just a hoot.  She seems to be really enjoying the old routine.  She is happy to get in the car and go to work every day.  She comes out happy to work and is on "High" pretty much the whole time.  The only thing that she doesn't like is when I take Tor out of the car first for exercise after work.  She's used to going first in all things ;-)   She's got a little bit of the "Princess Complex" going on.  Truthfully, the way I've spoiled her, she has every reason to have a "Princess Complex"!

She was very happy today.  I couldn't sleep very well last night.  She always knows when I am restless and usually gets up on the bed.  She knows that she'll probably get a nice massage during the wee hours of the morning when I don't really want to get up but can't sleep either.  She got about 45 minutes of massage today before I finally got up :-)

We're taking pasta and homemade bread to the Schutzhund club tomorrow night.  This will sound sort of pathetic, but I'm throwing myself a birthday party and nobody knows it :-)   I'm not taking any birthday cake, though.  That would just be too obvious.  Besides, I prefer cherry pie ;-)   I may have to bake one of those over the weekend to celebrate.

I can't believe that I will be 48 on Sunday.  It seems so old.  Sometimes when I look in the mirror I hardly recognize myself.  I wonder who that middle-aged fat lady is.  I don't feel that old.  Where did all that time go???

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Progress & Complications

Tor's program of outing more and more different tug toys in different places seems to be paying off.  He is starting to see tug as more of a 2-participant game now rather than a game that he has to win all the time.  He's starting to do his positions for a tug reward and the speed of them is almost up to what it is with food.  So that's all good.

The weird thing that I've noticed with Tor is that after training sessions that are quieter and calmer, as opposed to "all on", where I spend a significant amount of time petting him, stroking his face, etc. he is immensely more possessive of me when we get home.  He is pesky and willing to take on Gata to try to get closer to me.  This is the second or third time that I've seen this with him.  Today we were working on some down stays.  I would return to him and stroke his face (rather than giving him treats which I didn't have) and then reward with the tug.  To finish up our exercise session this evening we went for a nice walk around the park that we visited.  Since he was pretty tired by then we stopped a few times to just chill out and I would just pet him and talk to him during those times.  He is an absolute pain in the butt at home this evening.

I know it sounds like he is starved for attention but, honestly, he gets lots of attention.  He's a very affectionate boy so it is easy to give him lots of attention.  Yes, I have to balance it out with Gata in mind but he really does get plenty of attention.  Plus, it seems like it is only about the attention that he gets during a work session or outing that counts.  I can spend more time playing with him at home or let him out of the x-pen for longer and I don't see the same thing.  I can't really explain it but it's definitely real ...

Anyway, both dogs had fun this afternoon.  Tor ran retrieves and played tug for 2 different toys - a linen tug and a jute frisbee.  He did well with both and was able to switch back and forth between tugs and ball easily.  His positions for a tug are definitely improving.  Most of his outs were very good.  Maybe 10% were slow or required a second command.  Definite improvement.

Gata practiced long send outs on the park field.  I sent her to a sign in the middle of the field.  Played around with timing and direction of the throw.  Some after the down and either behind her or beyond me.  Behind her to emphasize that she could keep going; beyond me to give her that opportunity to really sprint that she seems to love.  I also marked and threw the ball past her a couple of times on the run out when she was running well.  She has a beautiful send out but once she knows a location she starts to anticipate the down.  This seemed to work well today but we'll have to see what happens in the future.  In the past when I have messed up her send out, she would turn to look at me and occasionally spin on the run out.  Will keep my eyes peeled for any of that stuff.

Finally, they are both quiet :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another of Gata's Eccentricities

There is no way to write this blog and be objective about the dogs or my feelings for them.  So, I'm going to say it in public ... Gata makes my heart smile :-)  I can't help it, all I have to do is look at her and she makes me smile.  All of my dogs have been very special, and each one a little more in some way than the last.  But, Gata ... I don't know.  I just didn't know that I could love a dog (or anything) so much :-)

OK, but Gata does have some weird characteristics, too.  Though weird usually just means that they make me laugh.  Anyway, she has developed a new obsession.  She has taken to fixating her attention on the tube of Burt's Bees lip balm in my bathroom.  She stares at it while I am getting ready for work, but only in the morning ...  I find this vastly amusing and somewhat confusing.  My response has been to allow her to smell it when I put it on.  Truthfully, I think she wants to kill it.  She settles for sniffing it and I usually dab just a little of it on the tip of her nose :-)   Her eyes get huge and she sticks out her tongue very slowly to taste it.  It makes me laugh even typing it up :-)  She has done this for about a week now.  She's a funny dog.

Taking a Step Back ...

New Goal for Tor: 1000 outs in lower arousal situations on a variety of tug toys before we up the ante.  Will help him to generalize the out to different locations and toys before we make it harder again.  I expect this to take roughly 10 days to 2 weeks.  I doubt that I will keep an "exact" daily count ;-)  Though this may represent a step back, we will definitely be way ahead in the game if he learns a reliable out.

Gave the pups a light day today.  Turned out great because we had a lovely, COLD rain this afternoon.  Each dog got a couple of nice outings with plenty of free throws using the Chuck It at a couple of different parks.  Tor also did some outs at each of the parks.  He definitely reacts differently to the different tug toys.  Used the bite pillow at our home park this morning and he was all wound up - vocalizing and thrashing alot.  Used a regular tug at Charleston Park this afternoon and he was both less vocal and less thrashing.  I think this will be a good approach with him.  Time will tell.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to Work ...

Hopefully, I can manage my time better this week.  Still trying to figure out how it is all going to work with the dogs and the new job.  So far it is OK, but felt bad that the dogs didn't get more exercise last Wednesday and Thursday.  I will have to work late again this Thursday so will see if I can come up with a better plan this week.

This morning I took both dogs out at the same time at the park (in the dark).  Gave them a few long throws, which Gata retrieved.  Tor does his best to beat her to the ball but he gets a little distracted by his desire to chase her ;-)  Gata is definitely still schooling him a little but it won't be much longer ...

Then we walked around the park with the dogs off leash to go to the bathroom.  I was also taking advantage of the opportunity to practice recalls with each dog.  Interestingly, Gata decided that Tor should not be allowed to recall to me.  She convinced him that he should not get too close to me and lodged a very loud and physical complaint directly with me as well.  Definitely having some jealousy issues both ways with these two.  They are both very possessive of me and very obvious when they disapprove of my interactions with the other.  This is definitely something that I will have to address.  I'm sure that at higher levels of activity it will be worse so need to think of several different options.  Can almost certainly use food treats to deal with low level stuff but Gata has a tendency to lose all food drive when she is really active so may need to come up with something else to use in those situations.  Definitely need to think about this some more.

Stopped at MPSC after work again today.  Let both dogs run around a little to start out.  Both needed a potty break and I like to let them be dogs a little.  It is a safe place for those sorts of things :-)

Tor: used the harness and a back-tie to work on outs again.  He definitely gets way more jacked up playing tug out there than he does in our park and his outs suffer.  It could be a new location, the pressure of the back-tie, the frustration of misses or ???  that is causing the conflict with the "Out".  I suspect that it is a combination of things but don't want to reinforce it.  He is a pretty "tough" cookie for such a young dog when he wants to be, so need to rethink this.  I think it might be better to focus on continuing to out everything he picks up at home and do a lot more of it in our park with different toys and forget about doing it elsewhere or with other people for awhile.  I'm a little afraid that he's going to get too determined hold onto whatever before that "out" becomes a reflex.

Ended with a little bit of work on the right side blinds with right-handed turns again.  He started to get it and I was able to move farther and farther away from him.  He thinks this is great fun and loves to chase the ball.  Eventually, I will reward blinds with a bite pillow but for now the ball serves the purpose of continuing to build the pattern and speed that I want for the blind search.  He was definitely pooped by the time we finished up.

Gata: She was again jealous of the work that I had done with Tor.  So I put the harness and back-tie on her and worked on her barking a little.  She has a tendency to stutter in her barking, which loses us points.  This is the first time that I've worked her on barking so didn't ask for too much.  She got it pretty quickly and the first few rewards were pretty quickly to let her know that I was asking her to bark.  She thought this was great fun and was killing the pillow and pushing me around all over the place.  She really is a very physical dog and has no qualms about using her physicality against me ;-)

Let them both run around some more while I put things away and we were done for the day.  All came home to a nice RMB for dinner :-)   Happy dogs!

Tor about got his wish to wear an e-collar or bark collar after dinner.  He wanted out of his crate and carried on in his worst, most annoying squeaky puppy dog voice.  I was about ready to kill him.  He's lucky that I am determined not to approach him when he starts complaining or I would have strapped a collar on him and started that lesson on "Quiet" means "Quiet".  Fortunately, he did finally shut up.

Weekend Warriors

Started out the day with a nice walk to the park, a few throws (how can the 2 of them lose the ball when neither of them ever loses a ball alone) and then some tracking.  Met a friend down in San Jose near the airport.  The grass is definitely longer and rougher than anything we've tracked so far this year.  Early morning, plenty of moisture, wind is very mild, temp in the low 40s.  Ground is pretty hard though.  So conditions are moderately difficult overall.

Tor - roughly 100 paces, evenly spaced through 3 legs, left turn and a right turn.  Grass made it difficult not smooth, very patchy and ground underneath was pretty hard.  I didn't make it any easier by having my footsteps too long.  He did well but definitely not his best track to date.  I need to remember that he is just getting started and make things easier for him when the conditions warrant it.  He has plenty of time to learn what he needs.

Very pleased by the way he handled having Vic around with us.  Payed no attention to him walking alongside me while we were tracking and said a relatively friendly, polite hello as we walked back to the car.  Confident and social but not overly friendly - perfect.

Gata - roughly 250 paces, serpentines early, technical turns to end, 4 articles.  Worked all directions.  Tracking was good, nose deep, mostly footstep to footstep, but a little fast.  Wanted to walk the articles.  Not surprised by that given it was her first track in deeper grass.  Was ready for the first article.  I lost the second article and she totally walked it.  Third article was OK.  Fourth article was good.  Need to do better than that.  Have to figure out how to mark the articles so she can't walk them in the next few weeks while we make the transition to grass.  Transition to grass is a difficult time with her.

Afternoon session for each dog consisted of just fun stuff at the park for both of them.

Tor: Position changes starting out with food rewards to build the speed and fluency, switching to tug/ball to start the transition to toys, and ending on food to reinforce the positions and speed.  He thought this was great fun.  Also did some hand touches.  Have done those previously but this time I had food in one hand and made him touch the other hand and then get the food from the other hand to reward him.  He has a hard time working away from the reward and has a very low threshold for frustration so this is very hard for him.  He did well though and was getting it pretty well by the time we finished.  Then a few long play retrieves and he was done.

Gata: Did some Agility distance work again.  She thinks this is great fun and loves to jump the pots with these big, long cross-country style bounds.  It's really wonderful to watch - she is such a graceful jumper.  Alternated those with a few sets of positions for food reward.  She also had a great time.

Got home and the dogs zonked out for the evening.  I think Tor was well and truly exhausted for the first time since he came to stay with us :-)   It only took 3 days in a row of really significant physical work ;-)  Just think how much fun it will be to wear him out when he is a fully mature dog - YIKES!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday :-)

What a great day to be a dog :-)  I was VERY tired this morning but decided to take the dogs to the club again and let them have some more fun.  It is really great having access to the field and blinds.  I may complain about the surface of the field and the holes from time to time but it is great to be able to use it whenever the cops aren't on it.

Both dogs got to run around the property for a little while at first and then each got 2 working sessions.

Tor - put his harness on him and used a line to backtie him to a pole.  Then we played tug with pretty much every tug toy or pillow in the car.  That's a pretty big collection of tug toys ;-)  The emphasis was on the "out".  But with each toy he started getting it better and better.  Every time we changed toys he went through a brief period where he really wanted to own that particular tug object.  But he is definitely getting the idea and a few more sessions of that sort of work should help cement his out.  Ended by giving him a few bites off the pole so he could launch and carry a little more.  Also playing tug with him every time I let him out of the x-pen or a crate with whatever toy he brings me.  We tug and out and tug and out.  I think his "outing" problems will be short lived.  Happy puppy :-)

Second session with him was just fun play retrieves and running through all the different culvert tubes.  Too many people had shown up to work on blinds again.  But it doesn't really matter at this point.  He got to run and play and have fun with me.  A happy, tired puppy :-)

Gata - She got out of the car and ran over to where I had been playing with Tor, grabbed one of the bite pillows, killed it and then brought it to me and shoved it at me.  She made her point - she worked for the bite wedge ;-)   She was thrilled to be working for a bite and was really killing it with each reward.  I think she's a little jealous ;-)   We continued to work on silence and combined that with the bite wedge to work on her out of motions.  She thought that was just grand :-)   Her heeling was on fire.  Had to figure out how to reward that with a wedge but managed OK.  For the out of motions we concentrated on the sit and stand as the field surface would definitely contribute to her not downing all the way.  Right now I am trying to focus on speed of response and don't want to complicate that by asking her to down on surfaces that I know are hard, for whatever reason.  Will deal with that in a separate session.

Also did a little bit of work on her long down with gunfire.  No problems but am not going to fall for that one again.  We will continue to work on it - hate losing those 10 points because she thinks it is the start of her fun.  She had an absolute blast and made it clear that she would like to do more heeling for a tug :-)

Second session was running the blinds.  Again used backing up to punish talking at the start.  She seemed to get the idea pretty quickly.  Blinds were fast and tight.  Little bit of confusion about direction of turn on left side blinds but expect that from time to time since I switched the direction of the turn on those blinds with her.  Rewarded her intermittently with the bite wedge.  Tried to reward her after 5 but she said "No way, Jose" and went to 6.  Of course, there was no one there so no reward.  She ended the morning a very happy and tired dog :-)

Nice leisurely walk at mid-day.

Afternoon/evening session in our home park.  Worked each dog on basic OB stuff on the concrete playground area and then played ball with each on the grass.

Tor - sits and downs for a tug.  The speed of both suffers significantly when he is working for his tug/ball rather than for food.  Will need to make sure that I continue to work him for his food rewards to make sure that he doesn't lose the fluency of his response.  Typical problems - hover butt in the sit, elbows or butt up in the down.  Waited him out or retried depending on my instincts as to whether he was going to make the final position or not.  Did not use a no reward marker with these, just more or less lured him into a new position with the toy.  Again out the tug and play a little in between attempts.  So lots of play and only a little work ;-)  Think that's what the balance should be with him at this point anyway.

He is great at retrieving the ball, even in the dark.  Too bad that when I let the 2 of them chase the ball together he is more interested in chasing and wrestling with Gata and the ball frequently gets lost as a result.  He never loses it on his own.

Gata - little stuff that I always forget to work on - fronts, finishes - specifically flips since she tends to get a little lazy about getting her butt in.  It's more fun to jump high and try to body slam me ;-)  Her around finish is generally quite good but probably should spend some time on that, too.  Recalls and stays.  Started using the command "Aller" as another recall command.  Intend to use it as the command for the down on recall.  Don't know if it will help or not, but maybe.  Also did a few down on recalls.  Am taking a slightly different approach since we're in no rush.  I am rewarding every correct down no matter how long it takes her and throwing the ball behind her to reward.  I've heard that this will help the dog learn to down sooner.  Since she doesn't like to down and does want to get to me, I don't know if it will work all that well but we'll try it and see.

Finished up with some long throws on the grass.  She doesn't lose the ball in the dark either ;-)   Such good dogs :-)

TGIF :-)

I think we're all happy about that :-)   I'm definitely liking the new job but we all needed the week to come to an end so we could enjoy more training and time together :-)

Took the pups to the MPSC field as soon as we were done at work.  Had plenty of daylight left to work both dogs.  Started with Tor and finished with Gata.  Thought about doing 2 sessions with each but decided it would be easier all the way around to do a single seesion with each of them.

Tor - just puppy play stuff, lots of outing his tug, position changes on the field, and we even started working on running the blinds.  Started on the right side blinds.  Will teach him to run high side on all blinds, that means right hand turn on right side blinds and left hand turn on left side blinds.  Since he naturally turns left handed, it will probably be harder to run the right side blinds though he's so athletic I'm not really worried.  Just did a couple of little luring him around the blind.  When he did the turn in the correct direction I threw the ball for him.  I then ducked into the blind and called him into me there.  If he came from the correct direction, I quickly rewarded again.  Did that a few times and enough for his first session on blinds.  Will get the right handed turn pretty solid but not entirely finished before starting left side blinds and then start working on distance and stringing them together.

We ended up by running through the big culvert drains that are kept out there for no apparent reason.  Good puppy exercise plus it teaches him to run away from me to get his reward.  His default is to stare at me and will his ball/tug into his mouth ;-)  Tor had a great time running through those and didn't seem to care that they are a little slippery :-)

Gata - position changes and heeling.  Worked on reinforcing the concept of "silence".  Decided to make it a little less tedious for both of us by changing the consequence from being put in the car to backing up (away from where we were heeling).  This works really well when heeling onto the field (thru a gate) and heeling into start position to run blinds; where there are very obvious visual markers.  I liked what I got with it but am not sure that it will work as well if she starts talking once we're on the field.  I think I will try it for awhile though and see if it works.  It is definitely something that could be used in competition between exercises without being noticed as opposed to taking my dog to the car.  So, definitely worth playing around with a little.

Ended by running blinds with her.  She just loves that game and was flying around the blinds :-)  Both dogs were very happy and tired at the end of their sessions.  A tired dog is definitely a good dog :-)

Stopped by club for a little bit in SJ.  Needed to drop some stuff off with a friend there so we hung out for awhile.  Played around with Tor near the clubhouse.  Have not been focusing on his socialization as much lately and could see a subtle difference.  If that's what he ended up like it wouldn't worry me, just didn't like the idea that he was sliding backwards a little.  So will have to make sure that I continue to work on his socialization.  I think it will just take a little more work than I expected to make sure that he remains neutral to friendly.  Just want to make sure that he doesn't continue sliding backwards, he has come such a long ways.  Definitely don't want him to end up a sharp dog given my lifestyle.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Revision ...

I have to revise my last post.  Tor is not yet faster than Gata.  He is, however, quicker than Gata, has better endurance than her, and is infinitely more obnoxious than she is ;-)   He did not BEAT her to the ball the other day.  He STOLE it from her on the last 2 throws when she was getting tired (she has a tendency to overheat a little and will lay down with the ball when she is getting hot/tired).  Gata made it very clear the following morning when I could see better that she is still fast enough and quick enough to outrun him.  In fact, I think she took a certain amount of joy (and maybe pride) in schooling him a little as she played keep away with the ball.  He did his absolute best to catch her and steal the ball but he was just not up to the task.  I could tell from the look on Gata's face and the position of her head and neck that he was not going to get the ball from her that day.  I had a hard time getting the ball from her when she brought it back to me.  Silly girl :-)

Tor is, however, now as tall as Gata and maybe even taller in places :-)  He's not exactly growing at the same rate in all areas ;-)  I simply can't believe how tall he is at just barely over 6 months.  I am afraid he is going to get quite big.  I hope I'm wrong and that he stops growing soon, but I swear I can almost see him grow before my very eyes.

Training has been a little limited the last 2 days due to long days at work.  Lots of ball retrieves and quite a few position changes for each of them.  Tor is starting to get the idea about working for the ball.  That will be really good for him.  Maybe I will finally be able to exhaust him physically :-)   Somehow, I doubt it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It has finally happened ...

... I knew it was coming, and dreaded it ...  Tor beat Gata to the ball this morning ... TWICE.  It is indeed a sad day ;-(   Gata is no longer the fastest dog on the block or even in her home ;-(

Stopped in a park near work on the way home this afternoon.  LOTS of activity - swimming, tennis, basketball, baseball, kids on the playground equipment, bikes and skateboards on the ramps.  A very busy place.  Took each dog out individually and worked them a little.  Both did great.  Really pleased with that, as each still has some triggers that were present in the park.

Tor - just little stuff; positions, retrieving, tugging and outing, pre-heeling stuff on both sides.  His focus was great; didn't pay any attention to anything but me.  Worked for the ball, the tug, and treats and switched easily between them.  Kept him on leash but gave him plenty of line to have some nice retrieves and throws.  He did fantastic - really impressive focus; paid no attention to anything else - dogs, kids, skateboarders, none of it mattered to him.  He has come a long way in the last 2 months.  There was a time when he would not have done very well at all in that sort of environment.  Really pleased with that.

Gata - Did fantastic; didn't bat an eye at the skateboarders even when one was headed right for her as she was chasing the ball.  I batted an eye at that one hoping that she wouldn't go for the skateboarder.  She didn't, but she has definitely thought that they looked like fair game in the past.  Did basic OB drills - heeling is fantastic.  Working on getting her head straight up is helping with that little bit of crabbing that she does sometimes.  Did some out of motions.  Sit was good, not surprising that the down was slower again in a new location with so much going on.  Also did a couple of down on recall exercises - also a little slow.  Just have to keep working those downs.  Her fronts were beautiful.

She had a really good time.  A side effect of having Tor is that my value has gone up some, especially when it comes to play time.  Plus, in our after work sessions, Tor generally goes first because I know that he is close to his limit in terms of potty training.  I know he can go longer but he's still young and there is no real reason to make him.

It is really fun taking Gata out in a situation like that and playing with her.  She seems to work even harder and more intensely because of the distractions, like I set it up just to test her :-)  She's such a fun dog to start with and between the weather and the new job and the puppy, she thinks she hasn't been getting enough fun or attention!

It's funny.  Having dogs like these 2 makes me appreciate how lucky I have been when it comes to my dogs.  No question that I work at it and do lots to socialize them and spend time training them, etc.  But, I can't discount the luck of getting 2 such fundamentally sound and stable dogs to start with.  Very, very lucky :-)

Tor, thinks that he's not so lucky tonight, though.  When we got home and I was in the bathroom he shredded a pillow from the couch.  I think I gave him a pretty good impression that the end of the world as he knows it was near and put him in his crate.  He's been in there eating his dinner.  Now he's done and is complaining.  However, he has not started barking yet.  So maybe we are getting somewhere with the demand barking.  It's really tough to a be a 6-month old puppy ;-)   So much to learn and those pesky rules about not destroying things ...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Working & Playing

Today is the start of creating our new routine.  OMG, am I tired.  Getting up at 4:00 am to work the dogs before going to work is tough to get used to ;-)  The good news is that my work with Tor on his demand barking is paying off and he didn't wake any of our neighbors this morning at 4:00.  All right, enough of my moaning and complaining, on to the real topic of this blog ... the dogs :-)

Morning outing a little rushed today - each dog got about 20 minutes of ball playing combined with a walk around the park.  Breakfast in the car and off to work.

Though it is hard to get up at 4:00 it is awfully nice to get off work at 3:30 or so in the middle of winter :-)  Today we met up with a friend (F, J & R) and went tracking while it was still light.

Conditions: Park Grass, WET, WET, WET; mild wind

Tor's Track: 3 legs about 20 paces each, 1 right turn, 1 left turn, bait in each footstep
Tor tracked pretty well, he was a little too excited at the start and rushing but settled quickly.  I had walked him before tracking to make sure that he had a chance to relieve himself but he was still too happy to be getting out of the car after a day at work.  Need to consider establishing a calming start routine to tracking for him and/or throwing the ball a few times before we track after work.  For the number of times he has tracked, ~15, he is doing great.  Did not work a head wind with him but got the tail wind and cross wind from 1 direction.  Wind light but still he stayed right on the track though went just a little wide on second turn.

Gata's Track: Big, wide open track about 250 paces, 1 right turn, series of big curving turns following the contours of the space, 2 articles, gapped spacing of bait
Gata tracked pretty well, sped up a little in gaps of no bait which is not surprising since we haven't tracked much in awhile.  Good commitment to the track.  Articles good though did not want to down all the way in nearly "standing water" for the last article.  Worked all directions with respect to the wind. Probably need to go back to more technical tracks with her to remind her that speed kills.  It wasn't bad today but she can build speed quickly when I'm not careful about it.

Finished up by playing ball with each of them a little, individually.  Tor on Flexi since park close to the road and don't want to risk him chasing cars.  Gata, of course, doesn't care about cars or much of anything else when there is a ball.  Interestingly, both dogs wanted to go track the tracks laid for the other dogs rather than play ball.  Who would of expected that with 2 ball crazy dogs?

Dogs fed, happy and ready to play.  I'm ready for bed.  Hopefully, it will get better once I really get into the routine.  I shouldn't have let myself sleep in over the holiday ... oh well, live and learn ;-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Demand Barking ...

is the topic of the day.  Tor is a terrible demand barker.  He has been since the day he arrived.  It had been getting better before we started an approximately 2 1/2 week period of back to back house-sitting gigs.  He did very little of it when we were away but it has come back with a vengeance since we've been home.  I have taken the approach of not paying any attention to him when he is barking and only approaching him when he is quiet.  However, I'm not sure how much more of this my neighbors are going to tolerate.  He is nearly doing an adult dog hold and bark in terms of volume and tempo.  It's no little puppy bark anymore.

I think it will be especially annoying when I get up at 4:00 a.m. to use the bathroom before taking them for a potty break and starting our morning routine.  I have moved him into Gata's crate in the bedroom to sleep at night.  He seems happier about that but the little fart is definitely attached to me and does not like it when I am out of sight.  It makes me wonder how you tell the difference between demand barking and separation anxiety?  I think it is just generic demand barking since he also protests if I am doing something with Gata but ...

OK - training progress

Tor is doing well at the little bit of stuff that we have been working on.  We continue to work on "Outs" in play sessions every day.  Changing the toy or the location or whatever definitely ups the ante for him and leads to more problems again.  Definitely need to keep working on this.  His play retrieve is great and he brings the ball back and usually drops it in my hands for another go.  Love that :-)  His position changes are great and he is actually getting sits and downs out of motion most of the time.  I need to work on his stand more to build fluency with the command in all different forms.  Tend to do too many from the sit, which is how we started.  He is also getting the idea about holding the position until I release him.  That is all good.  Heeling is still mostly a pipe dream but he is moving well on both sides of my body, doing spins from either side, and quite comfortable in a "Place" position.

His focus is incredible and I really don't even need to use a leash on him in the park though I still do.  He would think about chasing cars if we were close to the road.  He's shown that inclination a few times.  It's funny to watch him though.  He watches me so intently that sometimes he can't even walk forward because he is bouncing around and maintaining eye contact.  He looks like he is stalking me and contorts himself into some of the weirdest positions.  Too bad we probably won't be doing Ring - it would be incredibly easy to get him doing all the backward heeling.  Maybe I'll do it anyway.  Though I suppose I should start with just plain heeling ;-)

Considering doing Michael's leash pressure work with him in the next little while.  I think he would benefit from it and don't think that it will screw up our tracking.  He definitely has a bit of a stubborn streak in him and I would really like to be able to walk him on a flat collar easily sometime in the future.  Still using a front pull harness for walks with him.  This all holds true for Gata, too.  I may also try the leash pressure stuff with her.  It would be interesting to see how it goes with her in comparison to Tor and if it impacts her tracking.

Gata continues to do really well with her Agility basics.  We did some distance work today.  At some distance between roughly 28 and 35 feet from center her desire to stay close to me outweighs the pull of the pots and she starts cutting to the inside of them.  I started working them individually again with some success but it seems to be a critical distance with her since even that was very difficult.  I think it will be easier for her when I use jumps rather than pots but I should probably do that soon.  We also worked on stays and backward releases.

Poor Gata, she is destined to be forever perfecting the positions that I screwed up with her when she was a puppy.  Her stand is really the only position that is fundamentally correct.  Her sit is beautiful except for the hover butt that she does when she is in full "on" mode - almost any time we are doing out of motions, particularly in competition.  Her down is slowly getting better but I think will always be a little slow and something other than a true fold-back down.

Really need to decide what to do about Tor's demand barking.  I hate to put a bark collar on him but this really can't go on much longer and it shows no sign of going away.  Really have to think about that one ...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Getting Started

I don't know how many people will follow this blog but bear with me, I'm new at this :-)  I have 2 really amazing dogs that I have been known to write and/or talk about ad nauseum.  Since I'm sure that some people tire of hearing or reading about them this gives me an outlet.  I also like to write.

So, what do I want to write about on this, my very first blog entry?  Well, since it also happens to be January 1, 2011, I guess I'll write about my goals for the dogs this year.  I'm sure they will change over time but here goes.

Gata - What to do next with The Amazing Gata Sombra??  She has a few AKC titles - CD, and RA.  She also earned her Schutzhund titles last year - 1, 2, and 3.  This year I would like to get her FH1 and maybe even an FH2 (that DEFINITELY counts as a stretch goal) and maybe start her in Agility.  We have just started doing some basic training for Agility so that's a bit of a stretch, too.  Her foundation is good but I don't have any equipment and don't see spending a lot of money on Agility lessons.  Gata will almost certainly demand that we continue doing some Schutzhund.  She loves it :-)  For me there are 2 issues - 1) money - it is expensive to work on a helper and 2) injuries - Gata is a dog that has been known to injure herself and I hate to see it.  So, we'll continue doing some stuff in Schutzhund but much more selectively.  There really isn't much left to prove with her - she is a very impressive Schutzhund dog :-)  I guess we could also set our sights on some more AKC titles - Obedience, Rally, and Tracking but those could also wait awhile until she gets a little older and isn't as athletically active as she is now.

Tor - Who knows - he's just a 6-month old twirp ;-)  By this time next year I would like to have his BH and have him competing or at least ready to compete in Schutzhund.  That's a lot to accomplish in a year.  He is already tracking pretty well and will bite pretty much anything that you put in front of him but we certainly don't have much Obedience or control yet ;-)  I would also like to have exposed him to a variety of different environments by then so that when he does start competing I won't have to worry so much about distractions.

I should join the ODTC so that I can start taking both dogs to their monthly OB matches.  That would be a good idea all the way around.  OK, I think that's enough for my first post :-)