Monday, November 30, 2009

Wentzville, MO - Thanksgiving Results & Superstitions

Dear Santa,
I've been VERY good this year.

Carrie, Bill and I took Thanksgiving weekend to head to Wentzville, MO. The weather was AMAZING! They could have held the trial outside!

It was obvious to most of MO that the ‘orange’ people had ‘downsized’ for the Holiday. I’m not talking a weight loss program here! I was asked several times where the ‘others’ were, so know you were MISSED!!

We also brought along our own Turkey dinner which we dined on each evening.

Turkey, Martha's cheesy potatoes, yams, corn casserole and pumpkin pie!

Yes, we were CARB LOADING!

Carrie and Addie had an ALMOST perfect weekend with 3 DQs - 6 first places and she was a TOTAL MACH POINTS PIG! Her head ‘barely’ fit in the van on the way home. Thankfully she bought DQ!!! They would have been perfect, but she entered FAST on Friday. Oh well, lesson learned!

What the heck is she doing here???

She's just calling home!


Kruz and Seeker had the run of “one thing” going on!! It seemed almost every course caused us just a minor problem. Of course it was in the EASY part! GO FIGURE!! Seeker did come away with his first ‘official’ DQ on Sunday. The courses each day couldn’t have been nicer!

There was also a horse sale going on over in the ‘big barn’. If you like Saddlebreds or Hackney Ponies, this was the place to be! They all looked very polished and sold CHEAP!! The arena was decorated with Pine Trees and Poinsettias, which we took advantage from Saturday evening. I’m still not sure I like my new ‘point and shoot’, what looks good in the screen is not always what you get on the monitor. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to live with it.

Seeker tried to wear Addie out in the hotel room each evening. I think he was getting sick of being shown up by a corgi! It didn’t work!

Saturday and Sunday’s discussion involved ‘superstitions’. Anything from a ‘lucky shirt’, ‘lucky numbers, to ‘lucky socks’. We finally came to the conclusion that there was a ‘lucky stall’ in the women’s bathroom. I waited longer in line for that stall on Sunday and it paid off!! Do you have a superstition?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Congrats to Sceam and Ann Braue!

Ann and Scream have been selected to represent the
USA at Crufts in Birmingham, England March 2010!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Puppy Class - Week Three......

The puppies seem to be getting use to the idea of ‘class night’ and although they do exhibit some interest in playing with the other puppies, they seem to have a bit more self control. Of course there is an occasional unintentional ‘puppy encounter’.

Some handlers admitted to lacking patience and wanting to help their puppies too much. That's understandable, but in fact your puppy will be a happier and more willing participate if he figures it out on his own. I am not by nature a patient person. I LOVE instant gratification, however, shaping behaviors pay off in the long run and I don't believe I'll need to go back and re-train them in the end. Hum, patience, that reminds me of a comedian I really like. Have you ever felt this way?

The evening began with a math problem! Yes, MATH!! All that was required was to add a couple 9 digit numbers together. Oh, you had to do it in your head. One other thing, I was reading a complicated story problem with multiple numbers rather loudly. Coach was helping with some background noise of his own.

The point of this exercise was not to impress the others with their math skills, but to show how distracting and frustrating it was to try to concentrate on something and have someone chattering about after you.

How does this relate to dog training? When you’re working on shaping a behavior, please be quite and let your dog think. When you’re running an agility course, do so quietly and let your dog concentrate on what he needs to be doing.

This reminds me of an old John Wayne Movie, Rooster Cogburn. Rooster and Eula are sitting out in the woods finishing up some stew. The verse goes something like this, Eula speaking to Rooster. “A wise old owl sat on an oak, the more he heard the less he spoke. The less he spoke.the more he heard. Now wasn’t that a wise old bird.” I know there’s a lesson in there for me anyway.

We worked on some recalls with a clicker, treats and a puppy. Being sure at this time just to use the puppy’s name to call him, click when he looks and give the treat on the handler’s thigh or lower leg. Occasionally taking a hold of the puppy’s collar and giving them another treat. As the puppies became more attentive to their handlers, the pairs began to get closer to other puppies and handlers. They did very well!

Next came the time to show off those TRICKS!! Luckily for the class, I’d forgotten my FLIP at home, so no pressure until NEXT WEEK! Then I promise some BRILLIANT puppy tricks.

No matter what the trick, remember to get the behavior ‘before’ you name it. Seeker is getting pretty good at his skate boarding, but I still haven’t named it! I don’t LOVE it yet.

We worked on some ‘agility’ equipment. Remember to find yourself a plank to work that ‘pouncing’ into position. An elephant board works WONDERS for rear end awareness. Use a large box as a tunnel. Speaking of boxes, is your puppy putting all 4 feet in his yet? If so, maybe it’s time to down size and get a smaller box?

Don’t forget your ‘jump circle’. It not only builds value for the jumps, it helps your dog start to get some obstacle focus. You’ll want that down the road when we start working on zig zag jumping! Okay, so that will be NEXT SUMMER! Remember Michele, no matter HOW HARD you SQUEEZE the CHEESE, it will NOT CLICK!! LOL

Again, these behaviors should not be named until you LOVE what they are doing. For example, having them offer going back and forth through the tunnel is GREAT!! You can name it as soon as you have 100% certainty they are going to do it every time. If not, what’s the harm in waiting a little longer?

One more thought before I close this post. Something we haven’t talked about yet, but I don’t want to forget to tell you. Please do not let your puppies run down an open ‘chute’ of weave poles. Think about what information you are giving your puppy. “I see a row of poles and I should run by them as fast as I can!” Is this the behavior you really want to see from your puppy? Now, think about if you “name it”, you’ve just told your puppy, when you see a row of poles I want you to run past them just as fast as you can. No wonder we have so many weave issues!

My hope is you will continue with your shaping and ‘naming when you love it’ training. Then, when your puppy is 12-15 months (or older), we can talk about 2 by 2 weaves. By then your puppy will know “how to learn”. You’ll have a FANTASTIC relationship and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly (literally in days) they learn to weave.

In the mean time, have fun loving, squeezing, training and ENJOYING your puppy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grand Prix N Steeple Chase - USDAA

We traveled south to Lawrence, KS over the weekend to attend a USDAA trial.
Seeker is in Starters, which is the entry level. This was his second trial and it continues to be a lot of fun.

The biggest difference between AKC and USDAA is the jump heights.

AKC jump heights = 8/12/16/20/24.
USDAA jump heights = 12/16/22/26.

The 22” jump height cut off is 21” and under, thus those that fit into the 20” class (22” and under) in AKC, may find themselves jumping 26” in USDAA.

For those that enjoy running multiple times a day, USDAA might be a good choice for you. The “Titling” Classes include; ‘Standard’ and it does have a table. The table position is ALWAYS a down (sorry Michele and Packer!). They also have games; Jumpers (no weaves), Gamblers (the gamble is at the end of the run), Snooker (you learn what red jumps are!), and Pairs (you run with another handler/dog and have to hand off a baton).

Just when you think that’s enough, they have the
Tournament Classes!
These are the classes that qualify you for the
USDAA National Tournament.

Grand Prix which involves all the standard agility equipment,
minus the TABLE!!

They also have the Steeple Chase, which has jumps, tunnels, broad jump, the A Frame and Weaves. One day you do the weaves twice, the next day you complete the A Frame twice. I guess I should tell you that the only way you get to run the second day is if you Q the first day. (It’s complicated!! Well, not really….just at the moment I’m finding it challenging to explain.)

This is the PAY OUT CLASS!!

Yes, you win MONEY!!

So, let me tell you about Seeker and Dervishes Tournament Class results.
Both classes were on Saturday. I think that’s the norm?
Being so experienced with this venue and all, let’s say they are.

Dervish runs the Grand Prix in FINE fashion with a clean run and a Q!
Seeker also runs clean and gets a Q!
We are all very happy and getting a little full of ourselves.
It was a LOT of fun.
You must be clean and under time in Grand Prix to Qualify.

So, off to Steeple Chase! We have the A Frame twice today.
Most USDAA handlers run through contacts,
but since our boys are younger we hold ours for a second.
Dervish runs, does a great job, but drops a bar. BUMMER!!!!
Seeker also runs well and RATS, was that a bar down too!!
So, we’re very happy with their runs, but disappointed with the bars.
Well, next time!!

So, I’m up at the scorers table and come to find out that
you don’t have to be ‘clean’ in Steeple Chase!
Dervish and Seeker each had a 5 Point fault
(5 added seconds to your time)
for a dropped bar, but if you’re ‘fast enough’
you can still qualify!


A certain percent of the class moves into the finals
and as long as you weren’t eliminated
(AKA – have an off course),
you can get in! YIPPEE!!!
We’re both in the finals the next day!

Of course when I tell Wendie she thinks I’m making it up.
Geez, why do people think that! I would NEVER kid about a Q!!!
So, we’re on cloud 9 again.
We’re making plans on how we’re going to spend
all our cash after we win it the following day.

NOT SO FAST!!! You have to Qualify in the finals first!!

Luckily, Finals is just for fun and cash.
You don’t have to Q the second day in order
to earn your Q for Nationals.

Sunday we had weaves twice, A Frame once.
The course looked challenging,
but I was pretty confident we could do it.
Wendie was too, and she showed me how
she was going to do the ending.

She’s so smart!!
I decided to it that way too.

We walked and walked and finally we’re ready to go!!

Wendie and Dervish are off running!
Over the frame, into the weaves, tunnel, jump,
jump, chute, broad, jump,
weaves (rear cross)…Dervish pulled out of the weaves.
Not a HUGE deal, it’s only a Major Fault (5 pts),
they head into the end 180 and circle,
the last wrap and Dervish blind crosses
Wendie and takes the off course “DEATH” jump. UGH!!!!

Seeker’s up.
Looking great until the second approach to the weaves.
I just HAVE to front cross and end up driving him to an off course
The rest of the course was nice and Wendie’s closing idea worked nicely.

Bottom line, both boys LOST their LUNCH MONEY!!
Seeker lucked out as I found a DQ gift card in Bill’s billfold! G

It was a lot of fun and we look forward to playing again some time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

USDAA - Lawrence, KS

We just got back from the Casa De Canine of Greater Kansas City -
USDAA Trial in Lawrence, KS.

We had a BLAST and both Seeker and Dervish did extremely well!

I'll post more tomorrow 'if' I find the time.

Seeker took his Skate Board with him to KS.
We got a few practices in at the trail and hotel.

Here's a short clip of him 'testing' it out in the
parking lot at the hotel.

I think he's actually GETTING IT!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Puppy Class - Week TWO!

Guess who got a SKATE BOARD!!!


Our Floors and Base Boards will NEVER be the same! G

Night Two of Puppy Class was action packed!

First off, a review of the first 3 Phases of Crate Games.
It sounds like several of you need to spend a little more time on
Phase I – Building Value for the Crate.

Seeker did a Demo of Phase 3 – Yer Out Yer In and the ‘Collar Grab Game’.
You should all start playing this as soon as you have graduated through Phases 1 & 2.
Remember not to play too many back to back games of ‘Yer Out Yer In’.


We moved on to our “Clicker” Training/Shaping behaviors.

Key things to remember –

DO not try to help the dog! What I mean by this is mindless chatter while the dog is 'thinking'. He should be working out what you want by trial and error. He'll know he's right when he hears the click and gets the treat. Think of it as if you were trying to figure out a math problem in your head, and someone is continuously chatting at you and asking your opinion. It would be hard to focus, right? The same is true for your dog. Let him think!

Shaping creates a better problem solver.
It also creates a confident and happy worker.

Split the behaviors into their smallest components. (vs. lumping it all together)

• Body awareness (yours and your dogs)

How will this help Agility?

It will help your dog learn -
• How to get on an obstacle.
• How to get across and obstacle.
• Control body at contact. AKA – rear end awareness.
If something goes wrong you can split out the key pieces.

The Down side of clicker is that you can accidentally teach a behavior you didn't want.
Only the dog knows for sure what he thinks you are clicking.

Criteria – the more specific you can be, the easier the behavior is to define.

You can ask for 'more' from your dog, if you are getting an 80% success over 2 consecutive training periods. If less than 80%, give it more sessions and possibly ease up on the criteria. Sessions should be very short.

Too much work time without a cookie = a puppy that quit trying.

If your puppy is struggling, then you are probably asking for too much too soon.
You'll want to break your components down further.
You'll also want to get a behavior you can "PAY them for" to get them back into the game.


Our first exercise involved getting our puppies to put their feet in a container.

We had some pretty great success with this.
As your puppies become more successful, your box can get smaller!

Why do this exercise?
You get to interact with your puppy.
It’s a great relationship builder!
It’s a great shaping behavior!
Body awareness for your dog.
It’s fun!
The most obvious reason for me...
I've got 5 cookies, 30 seconds and a clicker...and...
….Because YOU CAN!

Seeker can actually get into a smaller container!
He likes this game.
He's funny like that.


Next we played our Dumbbells.
No, not the weight lifting kind!

We began shaping the behavior of a dumbbell retrieve!
These puppies did BRILLIANTLY!!
It was so EASY!

Why pick up things you drop on the floor when you have a perfectly
willing 4 legged friend that’s able to do it for you!
Not to mention they are closer to the ground than you are!


We also played another Susan Garrett Game.
It’s Yer Choice.

What a wonderful way to teach Impulse Control.
It fits in so well with Crate Games and the whole ‘getting your dog to think’ process.


Finally we ended the evening with some chase games.

Remember to work on your tugging with your puppy.
Be careful not to over power them and be careful of the puppies that are teething.
We don’t want them to associate tugging with pain.

Remember you need to have a NEW trick ready to show us next week!

Seeker will be demoing his Skate Boarding Skills!

Seeker says,
"This would be easier if I could just chew these round things OFF!"

Have FUN with that PUPPY!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AKC Muscatine - Sunday Results

It's all fun and games until....someone 'breaks a knee'!!!
You think I'm kidding?

Well, I'm probably incorrect about the knee, I 'heard' it was a dislocation, but it did NOT sound pleasant. It occurred in the first class of the day, 24" Exc JWW. NO, it was NOT an Orange person as I'm sure you are all thinking JEFF and BEA! It did involve a 'cougar', yellow lab however. Hum...First off, the gender was wrong, secondly, Bea is in the 20" class. She left the trial in a stretcher and seemed to be in good humor. Her husband had her dog and seemed to be leaving to follow them to the local hospital. There lies the difference between a nice loving husband, and one that will "catch ya later", as there was still Standard to run yet.......hum....would Bill go or stay?? Good Question!

We really hope she's okay and back to running her dog really soon!!!

Title results today!

Jet and Mary Beth finished a MACH 2!!

Wendy and Dervish - AX!

Melinda and Phoenix - AXJ


Let's not forget PAULY!!!

So many really nice runs this weekend.
The audience was really 'into' the runs!
It was a lot of fun to hear the cheering!

For Seeker, we came away with some homework.
We need to gain more confidence in our wraps and rear crossing the A-Frame.
I just need to keep my head in the game for the entire 25-45 seconds vs.
taking the occasional NANO-NAP!
We had fun, bottom line, that's what matters!
Out next event is USDAA in KS.

I'll continue to work on some videos this week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

AKC Muscatine, IA - Saturday Results

The Muscatine Agility Club held their first AKC Agility Trial today and did a WONDERFUL job! Maybe it was just the zillon cookies Laura made!! WHO CARES!! They were delicious and we had a lot of fun.

A couple new titles to report, which is always fun!!
Coz and Barb finished their AX today!! GOOD JOB YOU!!!
Seeker and I got out of the Exc A JWW class! YIPPEE US!!

There were many Q's today!
Terry and Rippy had a couple FABULOUS runs for a DQ!!

Everyone had some wonderfully positive things to take home.
We also have some 'take aways' that will help us get BETTER!

Here's a clip of some of Saturday's runs.
Okay, so no clips from file was too big!!

I'll work on it Sunday night!


First one....

Number Two!

Number Three....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Puppy Class - Week One

The first night of puppy class was an active one.

Following introductions we talked about what makes a great companion dog and a great performance dog. Interestingly enough, they are almost exactly the same things. When you think about it, you want a dog that is well behaved at home and in public. One that is quite in a crate, will walk politely on a leash, and probably most importantly, come when it's called!

We broke up into pairs to play the "Human Clicker Game". I find this very helpful for those that haven't worked a lot with Behavior Shaping or Clicker training. In this exercise, one person is the dog, the other the handler. The 'dog' gets to choose her 'rewards'. Last night our 'dogs' had a choice of peanut butter m&ms or skittles. Our handlers randomly selected a 'trick' to teach their 'dogs'. We learned the importance of timing and placement of reward. Some 'dogs' were much more 'clicker savvy' than others. Meaning they were much more willing to 'offer behaviors'. This would indicate a solid understanding of shaping. Try something until you get it right!

Here's Kathy showing that "She can be TAUGHT", sitting nicely on her mat!

Meme showing us how you should use "Placement of your Rewards"!
Becky being a "GOOD DOG" is following the cookie with her mouth!
Meme wants Becky to place the bar on her forehead.

This game is really a lot of fun.
Not only that, it really shows you are BRILLIANT our dogs are!

It was time to begin the first 3 phases of Susan Garrett's Crate Games!
One thing I did notice is the quality of treats being used.
You do not want to use the "same old" training treats for crate games.
You want something truly TASTY for your dog!
Not necessarily something 'new', but SPECIAL!
A treat your dog would walk on hot coals to get to.
(we will not be walking our puppies on hot coals)

Phase ONE - I Love my Crate

Your hand goes on the door, puppy will learn to sit.
Reward, high and to the back.

Here's Beth and Jeep.
Jeep is so smart!
Hand on the door, he is sitting.

Phase TWO - Be a Gambler

This stage involves challenging your puppy just a little.
You want him to be successful.
Open the door confidently and feed a cookie.
Work up to being able to put your leash on without
the puppy coming forward in the kennel.
Puppy moves forward, door gets shut.

Phase Three - Yer Out, Yer In

We're finally ready to let the puppy out of the crate.
Clip on leash and reward puppy for staying sitting at back of kennel.
Release the puppy - you might have to encourage him out.
Standing on leash, wait for him to decide to go back in.
When he goes in, HUGE PARTY!!
Do not play back to back games of this.
Do more Phase Two in-between.

Here's Carol -
"I don't know what all the fuss is about? My puppy is PERFECT!"

Next week we'll move to phase FOUR and some other fun foundations games to play with your puppy. We'll also Name our Crate! We haven't called it ANYTHING up until this point. We're letting them make the decisions to go in on their own.

See you next week! Remember to bring a pop or water flat.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

AKC Height Card Policy Change!!

Effective January 1, 2010, AKC changed the Jump Height Card policy. Jump height cards (including copies) do not have to be submitted to the trial secretary nor are jump height cards required to be shown during check-in. If a measurement is necessary, it is the exhibitor’s responsibility to have their dog(s) measured prior to running. Please advise if your dog needs to be measured.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Puppies are MAGIC!

They are also TERRIFYING!!

How can that be?

You bring home your new puppy with visions of
what you'll 'accomplish' together.
Those dreams vary from person to person.

There's always one common thought however.
"I don't want to 'Screw it UP'"!


There's been so many changes in regards to
animal training and methodology.
Much of this training involves finding
what's reinforcing for your puppy.
I personally think these changes are GREAT!

Puppies are like a lump of fuzzy clay.
You can actually mold what they like.
Be creative!!

Seeker LOVES toys.
He'd take a toy over food any day!
So, in order to create more food drive
I turned to my handy dandy clicker.

I would play a short intense game of tug.
Then click/cookie about 5 times.
Then play more tug.
More Cookies, etc.
Maybe two - three sets a session.
The cookies/tug toy were in my hand the
whole time we played tug or click/treat.
This way I could switch back
and forth any time I wanted.

He'll now happily work for
both food and toys!

On Monday I'll be starting a new 4 week puppy class.
I'm really excited to see how it goes.
We'll be working on
Impulse control and shaping behaviors.

Hopefully I'll have a few posts
to share along the way.

During our first class we'll tackle the first
3 phases of Susan Garrett's Crate Games!
How Fun will that BE!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our Newest Orange Crew Member

Zachary 9/22/09

10 lbs 13.6 oz and was 22 1/2" long

The newest member of the Orange Crew!
Yes, he DID go home in this outfit!

He's now 5 weeks old and up to 13lbs!!
He's a strong little guy and we're
pretty sure he'll be running one of the
Shelties at the ICDOC trial in December!

BTW, that shirt is a 2T!
It's for a 6 month old.
Way to go Zachary!