Monday, October 31, 2011

Nettle's Second Retrieve Lesson

Okay, so this is a few months ago!  

Sometimes things just get pushed to the side!
I'm just glad I still have the video! 

Nettle had her first retrieve lesson shortly after I got her, in the middle of June.  We’d just starting our ‘shaping/clicker’ learning, and it wasn’t stellar, so I just put the retrieve aside for awhile and worked on some other behaviors.  Hindsight, I sure wish I would have taped that session! 
In a nutshell, the session went something like this: She would look at it, and I’d click and place my reward on, or near the object.  She would push it with her foot, and I would click that.  I was clicking almost any interaction with the article, then she'd walk away. Finally I just put it away, what is the big hurry!  We'll come back to it once she's learned more about learning, and I've learned more about how she learns.  I think we need to do this a little more often.  Why is there a time line when things need to be learned?   
Two weeks later, I pulled that article back out, and what a difference.  We’d learned more shaping behaviors by then, and she’s learned that if an object was present, then chances were I’d want her to interact with it.  Latent learning at it’s best!  She acted like she’d been doing this for awhile.  I even decided to see if she’d take it from my hand, which is something that’s required at Apprentice level of water work, and she did.
I added a metal spoon, and there wasn’t any problem there either. 
I taped my whole session; it’s 5 minutes in length, and longer than I’d normally work one behavior.   It’s rather a boring clip, but if you’re struggling with your dog’s willingness to retrieve, it might be helpful?  
Most importantly, don't be in a hurry! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Get Out Of Novice??

(Bill and Kruz - June 1999 - Nov A)

I heard several people discussing the Novice this weekend, and it got me thinking.... 
Should you really get out of Novice as fast as you can? 
Maybe; Possibly; Could be???
My answer would be: ‘It depends on the dog.”
Novice tends to be pretty wide open, encouraging full extension running. 
It seems like the obstacles are all 20-25’ apart, 
and you really don’t have many options for handling.
The courses are pretty much, RLH!!  (Run Like Heck)
Novice courses can be ‘deadly’ for dogs that would prefer not to collect, 
lacks a good balance of handler vs. obstacle focus, 
and that tend to flatten out over a straight line of jumps. 
If you have a dog like this, 
it might be good advice to ‘get the heck out of Novice’.
For others, it might be smarter to stay in Novice.  
For those dogs that lack confidence, lack motivation,
or haven’t found the joy in the game, it might pay off to stay.  
I realize some would argue that these dogs
shouldn’t be competing if they have any of the above, 
but let’s face it, it happens. 
Sometimes you don’t even know there’s a problem until you enter. 
Some dogs stress ‘high’, some stress ‘low’, 
so your first trial is somewhat of a ‘crap shoot’.  
It an assessment of where you are, 
and what homework you have ahead.
Nina was a dog that lacked confidence in the agility ring. 
I would not have thought they would be a problem.  
She was fine at home (who isn’t), and at the training building.  
Her first Novice weekend was horrible!  
It was a 3 day AKC weekend, and I’d stupidly 
entered her in both JWW and Stnd all 3 days.  
What was I thinking!!  
She qualified 5/6 runs, and I suppose
some people would be thrilled with that.  
They were slow, unconfident, 
and to be honest, not fun.  
So, we had some homework to do when we got home. 
I entered Nina in 3 more weekends of Novice agility throughout that summer, 
(one or two days vs. two or three), just to build confidence and joy.
Our focus was attitude, not matter the Q, and she has well the number
needed to move into Open.  
Seemed rather silly to move her up, w
hen we were struggling with confidence on the ‘simple’ courses.  
Nina went on to become a really nice agility dog. 
For those thinking about entering Novice, 
you might want to break up your days at a 3 day trial (Friday/Sunday), 
or only enter one class each day.  
That way, if you end up with a glaring ‘training hole’, 
you won’t have the opportunity, or feel the need, to keep your turn. 
You can go home and work on it.
So, I guess when you are asking yourself, 
do I move up to Open, evaluate your dog. 
If it’s right for both of you…DO IT!! 
If it’s not, don’t move up just to avoid having to stay until the end of the day. 
Now…if you ask me if you should move out of Open…….YES!!!  
Seems to me that often the open courses are more difficult than the excellent!
Enjoy the Journey…..
It never lasts long enough!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Uncle Seeker

Seeker is an Uncle!!
Is he excited? 
No, he doesn't even know what it means.....
I'm excited!

Aren't they cute!
I rather fancy the weird white one!
Go figure!

3 boys and 1 girl 

Maybe in a few years we can get another one?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A New PWD Water Exercise?

We took the dogs swimming out to Sandy Beach last Sunday.  It’s quite possibly the last swim outing of the year.  What a beautiful day, and although the water was a bit chilly, once you were in, it was fine.  The dogs didn’t seem to mind one bit.

It’s quite apparent that next year I’ll need to take Nettle swimming without Seeker.  She can’t seem to focus when there’s a Border Collie tail around.  She ‘thought’ about grabbing Kruz’s once, but didn’t follow through with it, funny how that is.  I do wish Seeker would tell her to stop and really mean it, as I can tell he’s not happy about the ‘tow line’ either. 

I think I might have to suggest a new water exercise to the PWDCA (Portuguese Water Dog Club of America).  The exercise would involve the ability to latch onto a Border Collie’s tail and then proceed to be ‘towed’ out, and/or ‘towed’ in.  This of course would require that PWD owners have a Border Collie willing to have it’s tail pulled.  Not a high likelihood of that, I suppose.

I was happy with Nettle’s swimming style, she’s nice and level in the water.  She lacks some confidence going out very far after she got a bit winded.  Swimming is hard work, so we’ll work on that slowly next year.  Kruz stays in the shallows now, but seemed to enjoy himself.  Seeker, well, he’s a water bum…what can I say.  We had to ‘make’ him stop, he would have happily played out in the water all day.  

(sorry about the color, it was brown vs. red, HONEST!)

Afterward, everyone got a bath.  Would have been a good time to take a ‘family picture’, but alas, opportunity missed! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

6 Months Old - Nettle

How did this happen?


  • Kruz – She likes to lay close to him on the bed, or in the yard.
  • Seeker’s Tail – Okay, she loves to play with Seeker too.
  • Chewing on things!  She likes the hard solid toys, that no one else does.
  • Eating!
  • Being outside.
  • Sleeping on the bed.
  • Splashing in the baby pool, or fish ‘tank’, whichever is available.
  • Chase games.
  • Dig in the dirt.
  • All people and dogs, even if they don’t like her.
 (Kruz 13 1/2 Yrs - Nettle 6 Months)

(Short Retrieve with Distraction = Seeker)


  • Being left in her crate during class nights. She can bark for 2+ hours straight, NOT PRETTY!
  • Not being the center of attention.


  • Bath
  • Nail grinding
  • Bee-Bops – banding her bangs.
  • Jumping up on grooming table – from chair.
  • The Vet.

  • Tugging (would like this to be in the love category)
  • Going for car rides.
 Naughtiness –

  • Jumps on counters and now twice on the kitchen table.
  • Jumps up on people.
  • Mouthing hands.
 Experiences –

  • She’s been to a couple agility trials, (visiting), and while there, worked on ‘holding position’, and tugging.  Not running agility of course! Played some retrieve games outside. 
  • Spent a few nights in a hotel. 

Behaviors – at various levels of ‘proficiency'

  • Puppy Grid Jumps
  • 2o2o – on board
  • Pivot on board
  • Hug a pole
  • “It’s Yer Choice”
  • Bang teeter board.
  • Skateboard
  • Crate Games – all levels
  • Give a Kiss.
  • Spin in a circle
  • “Dig’ around a jump upright – turning tight
  • Swim – going again today, it’s so nice.
  • Short retrieves to hand.
  • Come when called – still a work in progress.
  • Walk nicely with head halter on.
  • Great strangers appropriately (instead of jumping up on them)
  • Attention to me, with various levels of distraction.

So much more to learn!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tsunami in Iowa???

Yes, it's true!
Sunday evening, there was a Tsunami in Iowa!!
Just ask my Goldfish!

(The Face of Innocence??)

A little Background.....

I moved my fish into the house a couple weeks ago.  They are inexpensive feeder goldfish, which I’d used in my ‘barrel pond’.  It was a peacefully quite existence.  The most frightening part of the day was when one of the cats used it as a water bowl. 

As the cooler weather hit, I thought it might be fun to keep them over the winter, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a tank, filter, however.  Goldfish like cooler water, so unlike our dogs, they are perfect low maintenance pets.  A large tote filled with water was the PERFECT solution.  Another plus, they are able to spend most of the winter out on our small enclosed porch. 

It was all good….until the Tsunami struck!!

No matter what you’ve heard……
Tsunami’s are black, 17” tall, 30 lb, little curly monsters.
Our Tsunami’s name is Nettle!

I was sitting at the computer Sunday, playing my favorite ‘mindless’ computer game – Penguin Pirates, when I ‘heard’ the ‘noise’.  A whooshing noise, that only comes from PWD feet paddling in water!  Water??  MY FISH!!!  #%#$&#&%

 Yes, Nettle decided to have ‘a party of one’ and plunge her feet into the 20 gallon tote and DIG! 

I pulled Nettle from the ‘pond’, and I’m trying to hold her still as water is running off her face, and front legs.  Her tail wagging happily as I’m hollering for HELP!!!  Bill of course, was in his ‘man cave’, watching football.  He must have waited for a commercial, as it seemed like forever before he came with a towel.

The Border Collies are both hiding, 
“It wasn’t us!!!  We tried to STOP HER.  It wasn’t us!!”

I’m now frantically counting fish in the debris of shredded water plants, and stirred up goldfish dung….eeewww!!!  One, two, three, and four!!  All still "happily??" in the water!!  That was close!!

I look around the small enclosed porch and notice more water plant carnage.  Apparently it’s fun to grab a water plant, carry them dripping wet to the bench 17’ away, jump up, and shred the life out of them.  
 This of course was prior to giving the fish a cardiac workout!   
Poor little fish!! 

(A dump and cleaning is now in order)

To the goldfish, a large Oscar must be looking like a good alternative to a PWD.

It’s really hard to be upset with her when she’s so proud of herself. 

I guess I’d better go fill up the baby pool outside for a 
couple more days of fun warm weather!   
Maybe that will keep her out of the fish tote for awhile?
Or….maybe I should just close that door? 
No, that would make too much sense!

I shoulda got a Border Collie!!! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dirty Rotten Border Collies

Renee had this shirt on this weekend. 
Black with White Letters.

She owns an Aussie. 

You've just got to love a Border Collie!!

A couple fun clips I came across in You Tube.....

Such nice biddable dogs.
Always ready for a fun game of.......

Monday, October 3, 2011