Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ultimate Weave Challenge - Iowa Style!

Do you ever get tired of the same old weave pole training?

Does it seems like you're either working entries, or training weaves while coming from a chute or panel jump. ME TOO!!! So this week I decided to put a different spin on weave training. Weaves are fun! RIGHT???

Photo by Marsha Kingsley

So I used the 19" - 'practice poles' to do some distraction work. Until USDAA decides to move to 24" weaves, Seeker needs to stay 'tuned up' on the narrower poles. I personally feel most dogs find it's much easier to do the 24's than the 19's as the dog doesn't have to bend or collect as much. Maybe someday USDAA will change? It would sure make a LOT of people and clubs happy. Alas, that's another blog topic.

Distraction Training! For us, training almost ALWAYS involves Cougar the cat. If Cougar thinks there's food involved, he's there! Gee, this sounds a lot like my friends! Cougar is around so much, that he's not even considered a distraction anymore. Unless he pounces on Seeker, which he does occasionally. I guess that's "Cat Humor"?

I start off our distraction training by dropping toys all over the ground. They were either on or near the weave poles. I even dropped his favorite toy of all time!! The Red SQUEAKY BALL!! Trust me, this is an OUTSIDE ONLY TOY! If you hate your friends, then get their dogs THIS toy for Christmas!

The toys weren't a distraction at all. He was perfect. Of course you'd want to go back and proof this at different angles. Simply work your way around the clock.

Next came food and Cougar! Popcorn! YUMMY!!!! I can hear Bill yelling now, "That's MY POPCORN!" Not to worry, it expired last month, so I'm really doing him a favor! HONEST!
I had Seeker do a trick, gave him some popcorn, and then made sure he watched me pour it onto the ground! I think Cougar was more interested in this part than Seeker.

Through the poles again, no problem. You'd want to work a lot of different approaches on this one as well. Maybe even pick up a piece of food from the ground to reward your dog.

The final distraction for this day involved poultry! They will also clean up the popcorn! Unfortunately I didn't have my flip on, and missed the best weave performance with all the birds. One thing about the "girls", they are only good for 'maybe' one distraction session every couple months. They REMEMBER! Luckily, Tom, the Bourbon Red Turkey, and a few of the other hens are more food motivated.

Since I only get one 'shot' at the poultry, there's no since trying to convince them that we need to work different angles. GAME OVER!!

That was it for distraction for that day. I tried to get Rilda to come out to see if she could distract him. No one I know can make a dog lose it's concentration like Rilda! They LOVE HER!!

Day Two involved Handler Positional Changes.

The positions were: Sitting in a chair, sitting on the ground and laying on the ground.

Seeker struggled with me in the chair, but we were able to work through it. Seeker missed his left entry several times. The right entry he rarely missed. The other positions weren't as difficult, but then he'd already worked through the toughest parts with sitting in chair position.

Here's our Flip Video. I'd rather have used the song - Monster by Skillet, but You Tube wouldn't let me. So, if you'd like you can bring up that song at the same time you watch the video. I like it better that way!

So look for creative ways to train your dog and have FUN!!!

This week we'll work send ahead and call through.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Strong is YOUR CORE?

One of the many things Seeker needs to work on is his core strength. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical when the whole 'exercise balls' for dogs came out. One more thing for us 'dog people' to spend money on. When I had two upper level instructors suggest that Seeker's 26" jumping could improve by working his core, I did a little more research.

If any of you have ever worked with an exercise ball, you know it can be quite a challenging workout. Your core runs the full length of your torso, it works your abdominal muscles, but your back is also involved. Think of your core as the inside of an apple, the part that holds everything else together. By having a strong core, you can reduce your risk for low back problems and have better posture! Okay, I don't care about that, but I do want a Healthy dog!

While Seeker, like more dogs, loves to run, jump and in general, 'be a dog', he's not necessarily getting his 'core' strengthen. I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about getting a 'Egg' for Seeker, but was a bit hesitant at the price. She said she had one she'd sell me, slightly used, as she needed the 'Peanut', which is a bit larger. SOLD!! Thanks Wendie!

Bill was in charge of pumping it up. Having only one functioning arm DOES have it's advantages. Sorry, no video of this, Bill declined the invitation. Party Pooper!

The initial introduction of the ball was rather interesting. I had food, which ALWAYS gets Mad's attention. Heading to the bedroom with food gets Seeker's attention. We do a lot of winter 'trick' training in the bedroom. Soon we had 'brace' egging. Mad would power on, Seeker would knock her off and get his cookie, Mad would push back and get on. I had one dog on with 4 feet and another with 2 front feet on, you get the picture. NOT SAFE! Thus rules had to be put into place.

If it wasn't your turn, you needed to be on the bed! Kruz was happy with this arrangement as long as I tossed him a cookie occasionally. Mad and Seek were fine with it, as long as they were NOT the one on the bed!

Mad took to jumping on it instantly. She's funny like that, always willing to try something new, especially if food is involved. She could sit, down, and I could lure her head to each side without any problems. The most challenging thing for her was to not do her 'back up' trick while laying down on the egg. I guess the reinforcements were fast enough?

Interestingly enough, Seeker would happily get on, but had the 'shakes' trying to balance himself. He was working his core! He was also able to sit, down and take food from each side, but he didn't have near the balance as Mad had. It was interesting.

One thing about core work is it really is hard! You need to be sure to take your time working up to a reasonable duration. Try just a 15 minute workout on your own ball and see how you feel the next day. I guess what I'm saying is, take it SLOW!

This morning I took the egg outside so I could do a short video clip. It was rather interesting getting the egg, which needs more air, out the door with one hand. The Egg was a bit slick with the morning dew. This was the first time Kruz had seen the ball. Without someone to steady him I wasn't willing to risk him jumping up onto it. Gideon was all about the cookies! It was his first time exposed to an Egg as well.

I'm going to do a few thing with Kruz on the ball. At 12, I think some caution should be used, I don't want to over do.

Overall, I think it was a good purchase. If nothing else, it will give us something else to play with on a rainy or snowy day. Luckily the Egg can be balanced between your legs. Normally you'd use your other hand to steady your dog, unfortunately I didn't have that option. A 400 plastic kennel held my flip video, Chatter helped his 'cat self' to the Zukes on top of the crate. Cougar was more dramatic and tried to take my attention off the dogs. He was the official, "you dropped a cookie" clean up crew!

The chicken just happened to show up on the video. I was off to get another dog and she apparently thought their might be FOOD involved too! Plenty of distractions! One thing you can't see or hear is "Tom" our Turkey gobbling in the background.

Friday, June 18, 2010

She's in the June AKC Junior News!!

Six-year-old Natalie Spinsby showing her Samoyed (Amber Moon's March to the Sea NA, NAJ, NAP, NJP) to a CD at the trials in Amana, IA the weekend of April 10-11, 2010. She is a third generation obedience exhibiter. She also put the agility titles on the dog and is ready to start Rally now.

Way to go NATALIE & Peach!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Toy and Treat Biased?

Does your dog have it?

When you go to a class or a trial, do you have to have that 'special' toy or 'treat'? Is you dog's toy selection like Goldie Locks and the Bear's beds? This one is too hard, this one is too soft, this one is JUST RIGHT!

If you forget your toy, is your trial weekend ruined? Do you frantically run from friend to friend, or vendor to vendor, checking to see if they might have one? If not, when you get home, do you go on line and order 30 of them? If this has happened to you, your dog is toy biased.

So what can you do?

Make sure you are using a variety of shapes and textures of toys your training.
Don't use the same toy for more than 3 training sessions in a row. Better yet, use a different one each time until you've 'run out of choices', then start over again.

By switching up your toys and food, you'll be worry free next time you forget your toy!! When you ask to borrow, or buy a new one, you can be confident that "He WILL PLAY WITH THAT!" After all, the interaction should be rewarding because YOU are engaging him to play, not because of the type of toy you have.

So go buy some more TOYS!!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ollie -

(photo by Marsha Kingsley)

From Barb -

It is w/ great, almost unbearable sadness that I share this news w/ my friends. For over 12 years Ollie was my best friend, my soul mate, my shadow. He always did everything I asked him to do, and he was almost always w/ me. Ollie was the reason I got into agility and met most of you, and as an agility dog he was darn near perfect:-) Now he is running and romping in the fields of heaven with Ruben and Hailey, free of pain and w/o anxiety. doG bless you my skinny little man. I will miss you so....

MACH 2 Oliver FGDCh60K, TN-E, EJC, NAC, WV-O, CGC, AG1, AG2
March 7, 1998 to June 1, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lake Elmo - USDAA

we spent the weekend in lake elmo, mn at a usdaa trial. the weather couldn't have been nicer! what are the chances of 3 great days in a row?

Seeker is a different dog at 22" jump heights, so going forward we'll be jumping 26. he picked up a few master legs and his team got another Qualifier for nationals. we also picked up 2 LA Legs. those are from team day and are life time achievement awards. you think 3, 10 or 20 legs are a lot.....try 500!!! LOL

Our Team is "three sheeps to the wind", there were some really cute ones. probably my favorite was a team made up of dogs named - Danger , party and crackers = Crack Parties Are Dangerous.

have a great day!! and hug your dog!