Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interval Training & Proprioception Work

I'm trying to get into the habit of doing what I intended to do with this blog - keep track of my training and conditioning activities with the dogs! So this is going to be a hybrid entry - partly logging activities and partly talking about some new training goals.

Interval Training with the Twin Tervs this morning (I call them the Twin Tervs because I am sure that my neighbors can't tell which dog is which when I have them out individually :-)  In fact, I'm pretty sure that some of them don't even know I have 2!)

Goal: 3@4
Achieved: 2x4+3; Both dogs clearly tired at that point.
Temp: 33F, Warmer than it has been lately
Ground: Still frozen with a soft, wet layer on top

I started both dogs on 10-Squared Racing supplements about 3 weeks ago. Genesis on a daily basis, Revive after a more intense cardio workout, and Kelp on a daily basis. Love their products. I've used them previously with Gata and noticed a significant improvement in her overall endurance and it was definitely easier to keep weight on her while using them. Unfortunately, I did not increase their exercise enough or reduce their food rations enough at that time. I now have 2 relatively fat dogs - Tor less so than Gata. So, our conditioning routines are going to have to progress slowly to make sure that they both hold up to them. And Gata is also going on a diet :-)   Ahh, my poor baby :-)

Another training activity that I am starting on with them over the winter months. I would like to work on their proprioception and potentially be able to cue them to do specific things with a specific foot/leg. I think it would be great in general, but also am thinking about other exercises to help Gata with that old injury.

To start with I needed to work with Tor on clicker training! I had done some work with him awhile ago but haven't used a clicker with him in long enough that he forgot it. So, we worked on charging the clicker. The first step is to teach them a "Perch" - where they back up onto an elevated obstacle with their back feet. So we started on that last night. I've done a little bit of this with both of them in the past but not enough for it to be fluid.

I used a large platform that I had built a few years ago to practice positions on. It's about 4-inches tall so an obvious step up for them. Plus, with the larger platform I didn't have to worry about them backing up crooked and missing it or only getting 1 foot up, etc. I'll work on smaller and taller obstacles later.

Gata got it quickly. Tor would much rather turn around and step up onto it. But once he did it a couple of times he seemed OK. Since Gata picked it up so quickly, I transitioned to the next step with her - putting just 1 back foot on it. She got this pretty well, too. Interestingly enough, she would only do with her left hind last night. Don't know if that is just coincidence or if putting weight on her right hind in an elevated position is sore. Won't draw any conclusions about that yet but will keep an eye on it.

Both dogs are happy and content with a bit of work this morning and a nice breakfast and a recreational bone to chew on in my absence :-)  Anyway, that's it for now.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Biking and Such ...

Having so much fun with the dogs these days. They both are really enjoying the biking and are getting really good at it. I'm still not comfortable enough with the whole process to take them out after work. But I think I can take them in the early morning. There won't be much traffic in the neighborhoods. In the evenings people are coming back from work and after school activities, in the mornings not so much going on. Hopefully, we'll be done before people start heading out for school and work. Took them out both yesterday and today. They get better and stronger pretty much every day. I checked out a new circuit with Tor yesterday to avoid the dog aggressive Swissy in the neighborhood. I'm not sure his owner can control him and he's a big dog and Tor would fight for sure if that dog caught up with us. It was a really good route with quite a few options for expansion.

So today I did a slightly longer version (about 3 miles, I think) with both dogs. Tor did great - basically provided the motor all the way. Gata started cramping up a bit in her right hind from the old injury, I think, toward the end. So I slowed way down and we finished at a much more relaxed pace. I'll give them tomorrow off from road work and try to pick it up again early morning mid-week. Maybe I'll try for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then off again on Friday. That way they'll be rested up again for the weekend.

 Training with Cindy has been lots of fun, too. I can't say that we are doing anything all that unusual or spectacular but just doing little stuff that is fun for the dogs, and helpful (and sometimes even educational) for the people :-) Her dogs are very nice. Groovy is way cool - great attitude and would do almost anything for her. He really wants to please and he seems to really enjoy agility. We were doing some clicker work for pivots and basic heeling stuff this week. What fun :-)

 Doing a little bite stuff with my dogs as well. Nothing major, just lots of little foundational stuff using the Frabbo bite wedge. I can't believe how much easier it is on my wrists and arms to catch them on that than a regular bite pillow. Wish I had known that earlier ... probably would have done lots more stuff with Gata myself. Tor is just ridiculously motivated to do bitework. His food drive is great, his toy drive is better, and his tug/bite drive is higher yet. It's crazy how much he likes bitework. Gata is really liking it these days, too. I think part of it is that they both are just happy to be working and doing anything. With all the crazy disruptions to their training schedule the last few months they don't take training and outings for granted anymore.

I did some whistle recall work off the ball today - just to see if I could. Started with Tor. He did FANTASTIC. Of course, for him the tug is higher value than the ball. At one point, he didn't even want to go for the ball - just waited for me to whistle. So, I had to increase the value of the ball by giving him a few free kicks. Then we had to take it back a couple of steps to make sure that he came back for the tug rather than go for the ball. But he definitely got the idea very quickly. Really neat to watch the way he learns new things - he processes things so quickly. Contrary to Tor, Gata likes the ball best. Initially, she was really into the tug, too. But after a few free kicks at different points in the process she decided she would rather go to the ball for her reward. I know I shouldn't have, but I let her choose her reward. This has been one of her weird issues all her life - valuation of toys and their ability to shift very rapidly and dramatically. She has gotten a little better with age but it is still there. It used to just drive Michael crazy ... Oh well, that's my girl - good, bad, and everything in between :-)