Friday, February 25, 2011

Running At Your Dog - While He's Weaving - A TRICK!

This is a BLAST to teach your dog.  He will need to know how to weave 6 & 12 weave poles, with you in different positions.  The best way is to work yourself, the handler, around the clock, you can be standing still and your dog is weaving.  You can use a toy or food container as a target. 

What’s great about this trick is your dog has to focus and think about his job!  It helps him really understand independent weave pole performance.  It prevents the handler from doing the ‘Weave Walk’!  You know that stride that is different in the weaves than anywhere else on the course.  Don’t believe me?  Watch your videos! 

Will you ever use it on course, not likely!  So, what’s the point? After teaching this trick you will be confident your dog understands his job.  It’s a challenge.  It’s something unique and different. It’s fun!  And because you CAN!!!!!

So, how to do you teach it?

I’m going to assume your dog has strong weaving skills.  If not, you’ll want to work on improving overall performance, BEFORE attempting this.  Meaning, if you’re using wires to work around the clock, you are not ready to work this trick.  The last thing you want to do is to demotivate your dogs weave pole performance.  The purpose of this trick is to build confidence, drive and desire!

You’ll need a dog, a set (or two) of six weave poles, a toy, or treat sock of some kind to use as a lure/target.  I didn’t use a clicker while working this trick.  The dog already knows the behavior; I’m just changing handler position. 

Leave dog at one end of the poles and walk to the far end of the other.  Turn, face the dog and drop the toy.  Release them to weave.  Place with the dog and the toy when he gets to the end.  Repeat this a couple times, moving off to one side or the other of the poles.  You are no longer directly in front of them, but the toy is still about 10’ from the end of the poles, as a target and reward.

This next part is probably the most difficult.  You need to be PATIENT.  Leave the dog at one end; take up your position at the other end of the weaves, maybe 2’ off to the side.
Drop or toss the toy 10’ past the last pole.  Release your dog and as he enters the poles, lift up one foot.  That’s it!  Just lift it.  This is generally enough to cause the dog to wonder if they are right.  If they finish the poles, HUGE PARTY!!  If not, start again. 

You are NOT moving forward at first! You are just picking a foot up.  If the dog is having problems, make your foot movement even less.  HUGE PARTY for successes!! 

SLOWLY – I can not stress this enough – take a step.  For Seeker, this was the most difficult part.  Once he figure out he could weave taking one step toward him, it was a breeze!  Take the necessary time on this part, do not rush!  MAJOR PARTY for successes!! 

DO NOT scold for incorrect weave pole performance.  If you do, you’re not getting the point of this ‘trick’.  You can NOT build confidence and have fun if the dog needs to be concerned with doing something right.  This is what causes all our performance issues to begin with.  Just have FUN! 

Once you have one foot, you’ll add a step, then two, etc.  Soon you’ll be able to walk toward him while he’s weaving for his target/toy reward.  Work up to a slow jog, then a full run.  It’s really a BLAST!!!

Have fun with this!

After all…’s ONLY A TRICK!! 

For other Weave Challenges-

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Skateboarding! It's Really Only a Trick!

This trick has been sitting on the shelf for about a month,
patiently waiting it's turn!

Here it is Carol!

You’ll need a dog, a clicker, some treats, a towel, and a skateboard.

Mine came from a co-worker’s son.

He no longer used it, the size was perfect!!
So ask around, you might just fine a FREE one!

It’s also helpful if your dog will do the previous trick,
“four feet in a box”. 

One thing I’d like you to notice in the video is how much food reinforcement I’m using.  Be sure you’re giving enough reinforcement so the dog keeps trying!  If you wait too long between reinforcements, your dog will get confused, and you won’t progress as fast.  This is true with ALL your training! 

To begin, place the skateboard on a plush carpet or a towel.  Your goal here is that the skateboard is stable, but can’t roll, or move in any way.  It’s probably easiest if you sit on the floor at first, so you can steady the skateboard (sb) between your knees.  You’d prefer that it not go shooting off and scare the dog, or break something expensive.  (Insert - Not responsible for damages disclaimer here.) 

Your dog will more than likely sniff the sb to see what it is, (click/treat) c/t. Placement of reward is on the sb.  At first we’ll reward for simply getting close to the sb.  Then for putting one foot on, two feet on, etc.  This is where your ‘4 feet in a box’ trick really pays off!  Do NOT get greedy here, it’s better to reward for small improvements, than to rush to get 4 feet on quickly! 

Once the dog is consistently offering to get on the sb, remove some of the towel bulk.  If you were on carpet, move to a less dense carpet.  This will allow the sb to wiggle a bit.  Proceed as above, c/t often.  Placement of your reward will still be on the sb, with your goal being that dog facing the front of the board, vs. the side. 

Now flatten the towel even more, or if you have carpet that will allow the sb to move a little, that is fine.  Again, please be careful that breakable items are not around, as the sb can shoot out backwards when you least expect it. 

Depending on how your dog progresses, along with your own physical limitations, you can stand up when needed.  You could also sit on a chair and hold the sb between your feet,
just be sure it doesn’t flip up and hit you. 

Your placement of reward is going to come off the board a bit now, to encourage the dog’s head to be at a more level carriage.  Mix it up, sometimes the treat is on the sb, sometimes it comes from you.  You’re aim will be for the dog to have 3 – 4 feet on the board, it may start to move a bit at this point.  You should click and treat the movement, especially if that 4th foot is pushing off. 

You might also choice to build some confidence with the dog pushing with just he’s two front feet on the sb.  This is going to be up to you and what’s best for your dog.

Once he’s confident at above, you’re ready to move to a smooth surface. Again, make sure you’re away from breakables, and obviously traffic.  A training building (without mirrors!!) might be good, or an empty parking lot.  If you move to a new area, this can impact your dog’s confidence level and add distraction, so please don’t rush here.  You’ll still be c/ting often! 

Work through the steps above and I’m sure you’ll be skateboarding in no time!!! 

Seeker actually prefers to tug for his reward outside, than treats, so don’t feel like you can play tug.  It’s easier to train the beginning with food, simply because you can get it more quickly and won’t wear your dog out as fast. 

This is great way for dogs to get use to movement. 
A wonderful ‘pre-teeter’ work exercise!

It’s just plain fun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Your Agility Breed of Choice.......

Do you ever overhear people talking negatively about their 'breed' of choice?
Such things as, it's not a Border Collie, but we can live with it. 
I know it's not a Border Collie, but it's the breed we like.
(insert breed here), doesn't like repetition like the Border Collies.
You can't train (insert breed here), like you train a Border Collie. 
He runs like a Border Collie. 

Why would you put your breed down?
This is just doesn't make sense.  
Our first agility dog was a Bichon, I know your thinking....
"you don't have another one do you?"
Care to guess why? 
Nothing could compare to our 'little white' dog. 
I don't think it's fair to get another one until it can have it's
'own' identity and not live in Molly's shadow.

Those that have what's considered 'non-traditional' performance 
dogs should be so proud of your accomplishments!  
Why in the world would you even 'want' to compare it to a Border Collie? 
Why apologize for having the dog or breed you love?  
That's just crazy!

Here in Iowa, we have some of the most amazing agility dogs!

Angel, the Bichon, is not only cuter than anything, 
(okay...a bit partial here), she's a little speed demon! 

Then there's Addie the Cardi?  
Are you kidding me, she's SMOKIN'.
You'd better have your legs warmed up when you run this one!

These are dogs to aspire to!  
They are consistently winning their classes and 
getting invited to the Invitational.  

Heck with the BCs, give me one of these girls!

Please do NOT get a BC for agility.
Get a BC because you LOVE the breed!

Our Border Collies are easy to live with.
I'm assuming you mean they are bouncing off the walls full of energy. 
I hate to tell you, this might be true of some Border Collies, 
but more than likely it's true of a lot of other breeds as well. 
Just like any other dog, given a job, they are very easy to live with. 

Border Collies like repetition. 
Really?  Where did that come from? 
I don't think anyone likes to do things over and over 
without a worthwhile reward.
Take flyball for instance.  
There's a lot of repetition....not all those dogs are BCs!

Does your dog love to play fetch with a ball? 
Nothing much more repetitive than that.
Why do they like it? 
The reward is worth the repetition. 
This means, you need to do the same in your training. 
Make the repetition worth doing over!!

You can't train this (insert breed) like a BC. 
I'm not sure I understand this statement at all.
What makes it different?
Does it like positive reinforcement?
Does it eat?
Any animal can learn with positive reinforcement.
Been to Sea World lately?
(no, me either...never in fact)
Let me see you ear pinch that Killer Whale!
Why do they perform the same behaviors
over and over again?
There are so many wonderful, beautiful, fun, 
fantastic dogs out there. 
 It breaks my heart when people put their own dog down.

We have been so fortunate to have
had the absolutely most brilliant dogs in our house.
I'm not sure how that happens?  
Each one is totally perfect to us!
We've talked about it often, how lucky we are.

My wish for you, is that you see all your dogs as we do ours!

Hug those dogs!  
They bring you so much!
No matter the breed!
Don't sell them short!
Aspire to be the BEST you can be!
Trust me, you will be!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Trick! Vinnie Putting His Toys Away!!

We're Proud to Introduce -

Our VERY First "Guest Trickster"!! 

Marsha Kingsley and Vinnie!

 Thank you for this fun idea!!! 

(Vinnie - Picture stolen from his Blog) 

"Put Away Your Toys"

This is a fun trick to teach you dog – you have to get all those toys put away some how!!

Before you teach this trick, your dog should have a reliable retrieve to hand (yet another fun and useful trick!!)

First – get together lots of good treats, a basket (or tote or box) of suitable size for your dog to put toys in, a clicker and several different toys. I like to use different toys so your dog won’t fixate on one toy and only be able to put that toy away. You want him to be able to put all his toys away. For teaching this trick, however, I would recommend using toys that are smaller and not “floppy”. The floppy ones tend to get hung up on the edge of the basket and not make it all the way in.

Start out with the basket beside you and toss a toy for your dog. As he brings it back, place your hand over the basket. When he places the toy in your hand, let the toy drop into the basket (click for your dog dropping or releasing the toy). Gradually increase your distance from the basket and fade your hand from the dog’s picture always clicking for the dog dropping the toy in the basket. After all those years of retrieving to your hand, it’s not easy to learn to drop it away from you!! Remember to give lots of praise and rewards!! Start leaving your dog on a stay and placing the toys around the basket to put away. Retrieving a thrown toy is very different for some dogs than retrieving a toy that has not been thrown. Start asking for your dog to put away a couple toys between rewards. Pretty soon, you’ll have that house all cleaned up!!

This is a really fun trick to teach and can lead to lots of other fun tricks… A couple that I can think of: teaching a dog to play basketball with one of those toddler basketball hoops, throwing the trash away, putting cans in a recycling bin, etc…

Now go have FUN with your dog!!

If you're interested in being a guest Trickster.

Please contact me!! 

Show us all what fun YOU are having! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

200K! Way to go CARRIE!!

Carrie is the name of our 2003 Honda Odyssey. 

As we left for a USDAA Trial in Lawrence, KS this weekend, I knew it would be the big FLIP in the odometer for Carrie.  So, I had my camera ready to take the picture!  As luck would have it, right as we’re going through downtown Kansas City!!  Bill’s driving, our Garmin, “Jack” is yapping, and I have my hand and camera between the steering wheel and the dash.  Try explaining THAT accident to your insurance person!  (speaking of Jack, he learned a NEW word!!  Turn “Sharply” – Seriously Jack??  Get a LIFE!!)  

Here's the's a little blurry.
We were exiting at 55+ mph.

I do like the Casa USDAA Lawrence, KS trial. 
I must, because it’s a darn awful long drive at 5/5 hours one way. 
It’s got to be the most boring drive ever!! 
The people at the trial are nice, everyone chips in and works. 
There are worker prizes! 
I won a JUMP!
GO ME!!!

Seeker got a much needed Steeplechase Qualifier,
 and won a whole $8 on Sunday!!   
Bill and I promptly spent it at the Bethany Dairy Queen! 

I met the cutest Boston Terrier pup ever!
 He was 9 weeks old and cute cute cute!! 
His name is Metro! 
I had to tell her about the movie with Metro Man! 
How totally fun is that!  Great name!! 
I wonder what I’d look like running a Boston?

Seeker got a 3rd Master’s Pairs Leg! 
Thanks Jennifer and Wired!!

Seek had a fantastically fun run in Jumpers on Saturday,
with some lovely tight turns. 
What a BLAST!!
(Double click to make it larger)

Now Back to Carrie………

How can you love a van? 

Are you kidding me?

This van has been a HUGE part of my life for the last 7 ½ years. 

She has taken us to multiple classes, seminars, lessons, trials (both agility, and water). 

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve slept in this van.  She carries our dogs, trial gear, and friends without a complaint.  She’s been hit by a ‘blind guy’, a deer, and had her tires peed on by strange dogs. 

Way to go Carrie!!   

Here’s to 200 more!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

USDAA - Handler Workshop - Rules

USDAA - Handler Workshop - Rules Review

Saturday February 12th, 2011
1:00 -3:00 PM
Quad City Dog Training Center
2390 West Lake Blvd
Davenport, IA 52804
Cost $15 per Person
Learn the Rules of the USDAA Games -  For Humans Only
        Walk a course and plan your strategy-
Have some FUN!!!
Presented by Tammy Etscheidt
General overview – of USDAA Classes
Followed by non-standard class review:
Pairs Relay
QCDTC is having a USDAA Trial hosted by 
RACE on March 5th and 6th
Please see this link for premium list -
(If you attended the 4RK9s Morning Training session - Quite Crated Dogs are Welcome)

Please contact me @
if you're planning on attending.

This way I'll be sure to have enough handouts and course maps.  


Monday, February 7, 2011

Understanding - Ian Dunbar

This has an important message for all of us. 

I've had a few people tell me that they will not teach the "Pat Down Search" 
trick because it will teach their dog to 'jump up' on people.  

If they are doing that now, this trick had nothing to do with it.  
Not to mention, this trick has nothing to do with jumping up on people. 

If the dog is jumping up on people, it's because it's because that's 
what it's been rewarded for.  Please be considerate of those that 
trying to work on this bad habit.  Don't say, "It's okay", and proceed 
to pet the dog while it's up on you.  Instead, take a step back, wait 
for the sit and reward freely!

Your friends will LOVE you for it!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Retrieve To Hand - It's Really Only a Trick!

(You’ll need this for NEXT WEEKS Trick!) 

First off, a disclaimer.  There are MANY ways to teach a retrieve.  This is just the way that’s worked for me.  If you have a different method, WONDERFUL!!  Just make it fun for BOTH you, and the DOG!

(The video will get you started.......)

Does your dog know how to retrieve?  I’m sure the majority of you are going to say, ‘YES’.  If you were to throw a ball, Frisbee, or a toy, your dog will go get it and bring it back to you, is that a retrieve?  I think that’s GREAT, but to me, it’s not a true retrieve.

My definition of a ‘True Retrieve’ is a dog that will happily and willingly pick up anything, and deliver it to hand.  It could be a glove, spool of thread, car keys, ruler, dollar bill, ANYTHING!  Now, let me clarify here that it should be ‘safe’ for the dog to pick up.  For instance, if you drop a steak knife, it’s probably NOT a good idea to ask your dog to pick it up.  There should be some ‘common sense’ used here. 

Often time’s dogs will go and get something, because it’s moving.  It’s their natural prey drive at work.  If the object isn’t moving, there’s no reason to pick it up.  So, this is where we’re going to begin, picking up a stationary object.

You’ll need a dog, a clicker, treats, and an object to pick up.  I like to start with something soft, and smaller in size.  A couple suggestions, puppy hunting bumper, or those green Zanie moon soft dog toys, they are both a great shape!  You may need to take into account your dog’s size, and the object you are working with.  For a little dog, you may want something smaller.  It really doesn’t matter what it is, only that it’s easy to pick up. A sock tied into a knot will work too! 

I start by sitting, or kneeling on the floor.  I present the object by setting it in front of me.  Most dogs’ natural curiosity is going to cause them to head toward it.  C/T and place your reward on the object.  C/T each time your dog approaches sniffs object.  You are building interest her.  Do not give any verbal information at this point; do c/t any interest in the object.  Reward OFTEN! 

Once you’re dog is going immediately to the object and ‘nosing it’, you’re ready to get MORE!  Wait for the slightest indication that they are going to open their mouth, C/T.  You should be pretty good at watching your dog’s behavior if you’ve worked through the prior tricks.  The progression will be, mouth opening, picking up object, then to hand.  Although some dogs might move through these steps quickly, be patient. 

If your dog is tempted to grab and run away with the object, you haven’t been rewarding the dog for touching object enough.   He shouldn’t want to grab and run, he should want to stay and get rewarded.  If he does grab and run, simply ignore him and put your treats away.  When he gets bored with the object, put it away as well.  Don’t make a game out of chasing him down.  As a last resort, you can tie a line on the object, but I don’t think you should need to do this.

Once your dog is reliably bringing the object to you while sitting or kneeling, you can stand and repeat the same process.  The object is literally at your feet.  When the dog is brilliant at picking it up and bringing to your hand when you’re standing, you can “name it”.  I say ‘Fetch’, some people say ‘Take It’…you can call it what ever you’d like. 

Now, slowly start ‘placing’ (not throwing) the object a short distance away from you, maybe just a foot at first.  SLOWLY move the object out, and reward often!  I personally don’t use a ‘hold it’ command – I never have.  If the dog is dropping the object on the way back, I don’t say anything and wait for them to pick it up again and verbally praise.  For me a retrieve is held until I ask for it, so no reason to add another command.  This is totally up to you.

When the dog is able to retrieve a stationary object 15’ away, you can throw it.  Begin with a toss 1’ away, then 6’, then 1’, then 10’, etc.  This way, the dog understands that you don’t need to throw something ‘Chuck-It’ distance in order for them to retrieve it. 

Then move to more complicated objects of different shapes, sizes, or weights.  You can start back at square one at first.  You’ll be amazed how quickly they catch on. 

This is such a handy ‘trick’ for your dog to learn!  Soon they can be transporting objects back and forth between people.  Last night, Mad took our Garmin, named “Sybil” to Bill.  Mad, ‘fetch’, then, go to Poppa.  Why would I want to walk 15’ if I didn’t have to!! 


Would it be quicker to just grab that ear and give it PINCH!!  OUCH!  Why would you want to?  I don’t see that as fun for dog or handler.  There’s a better way!  


Have fun!

It’s only a trick!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

MACH Rippy and Terry Ryan

Rippy, along with Terry, earned their MACH 
on Saturday 1/29 at the Scott County 
AKC Agility Trial last Saturday.  

What a fantastic accomplishment!!! 

Rippy is Terry's first agility dog - his Novice A dog.  
Not every dog and handler can earn a MACH,
from Novice A - MACH, it's even fewer.
20 Double Q's and 750 Points

Congratulations Terry and Rippy!  

What a special team

We are so glad we got to be there!!!