Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hide and Seek

If you ever want to see if your dog cares if you are around or not, try this little trick...

Red and I went for a quick off-leash walk down the trail by the pond and on the way back around the pond, he wasn't paying me much attention or watching where I was going. So while he wasn't looking, I went and hid around a large tree and waited... He looked up, looked around, and when he didn't see me, he started to panic. He didn't know which way to start looking first so he started running back went back the way we came. I whistled from my hiding spot and he turned around, listening and quivering, all the while getting more and more visibly freaked out that he couldn't find me. He was positively panicking! I started feeling guilty and popped out of my hiding place with a big grin on my face. He laid his ears back, his expression clearing, as he bolted toward me - clearly relieved I was there.

Then we went back down the trail and he trotted off ahead of me. I side-stepped behind a tree and squatted down to watch. After a few seconds, he turned around, saw I was gone, then bolted back down the trail toward me. Of course he found me right away, and by then he had caught on to the trick I was playing on him and stayed closer after that, keeping a close eye on me. =)

Moral of the story - he better pay attention to mommy or she might disappear!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another rally practicing session

Here is a video from today's practice session:


We did more heeling exercises today. Including right and left turns, right and left 360's and 270's, and right and left about turns. Plus some finishes, a lot of 'halt sits', a 'halt sit down', and a 'call front 1,2,3 steps back'.

My main purpose was to stop treating for every little thing. I want to treat for perfect movements only. Also, I wanted to work on treating with my left hand - which is very hard for me so this is still a work in progress. The only thing I need to be more aware of is how I hold my right arm - it should be straight down at my right side, not up toward my chin or folding over my middle. It's hard for me to think about everything I'm supposed to be doing all at once (attention, footwork, next exercise, treat hand, leash hand, etc). I'm sure the more I do it, this trivial stuff will come more as second nature and I won't have to think about it. But I'm still learning and trying to get to that point...

Red is still sitting crooked or out of position on finishes - I didn't include these in the video though. It's hard to hold the leash and lure for a right finish, so I have to practice that one off-leash first to get him in the correct position. His left finishes are much nicer, though he usually crowds me, and likes to step on my left foot with his right front foot. I have stopped accepting these as acceptable finishes and require a retry. He must not touch or lean into me, or step on my foot for these.

His call fronts are getting better since I've stopped luring him. He does really nice ones on the last exercise of the video. I should've jackpotted him for it, but didn't think of it until I watched the video back. I need to remember to use the jackpot more.

I found these handy-dandy little crunchy treats at the pet store for like $2.00/lb. They are tiny and the perfect size for training. Beats cutting or breaking larger treats into smaller pieces.

I have been using his show choke and leash for training. My thinking is that when his normal leather collar comes off, and he is only wearing the choke and the lightweight nylon leash, it will be a signal that its time to work. I don't know if he will make this connection, or if I should even bother, but that's what I've been doing lately.

Also trying to make our training sessions more fun and upbeat instead of dull and boring like a drill sergeant =P

I have posted these last two videos to the Yahoo Rally Obed group and have received so many helpful replies and emails! It's been great and I'm really enjoying reading and posting on that group =)

Well, I think that's it for today! Thanks for reading =)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First post!

This is my first entry in Red's blog. Thinking back, I should've started one when we first got him as a puppy at 10 weeks old, but too late for that now... But you can view photos and updates from when he was a baby at this link: http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-related-chat/4105-red-xiii-photos-updates.html. It is his thread on Dobermantalk.com, a Doberman forum. I figured I could use this blog to track our training progress since we are just now getting started in obedience sports.

A little background first... James and I got Red from Lori Gorr of Gorrmae Dobermans after we bought our house, which has about an acre completely fenced backyard. He came home when he was 10 weeks old, ears up in posts, and cute as can be. Our 2 cats, Cloud and Titus, have taken a long time to accept him - and even now, they mainly avoid Red if they can, though they aren't afraid of him anymore. Red just wants to play!

Red was very quick and easy to housetrain - only had 2 minor instances when he started to squat to pee, but we caught him in time to whisk him outside. Other than that, he's never gone in the house. He was also easy to crate train, which meant he didn't mind sleeping in his crate at night, and while James and I were at work. At about 13 months old, he started being allowed out of his crate at night, and by 18 months old, we stopped crating him when we went to work. He has never chewed or destroyed anything - he knows what are appropriate chew toys and what isn't, even during the teething stages. He was neutered at 11 month old. Everyone who has met him just adore him - even people who normally don't like dogs! He is a big goof ball and is a joy to be around.

We we originally got him, I never planned on doing any sort of competitve sport with him, but during our basic training for everyday manners, I discovered he LOVES to work! He will do anything for a "cookie" and is a very fast learner. I started teaching him more advanced obedience such as heeling. The heeling was the basis of everything else I've done with him and has blossomed from there. After seeing what he was capable of - and willing to do - I just kept going with the training, and eventually enrolled in an intermediate obedience class. Not to brag, but Red and I were in the top of the class and our instructor, Michelle, thought we showed real potential to continue onto competitve obedience sports. She has even invited us to train with her private group on Saturdays mornings who are working their dogs toward CDX. Working with these experienced dogs and handlers gave me a whole new perspective on obedience and where we could go from here. Michelle introduced us to Rally Obedience, which she does with her dog, and I've been hooked ever since!

In the meantime, Red obtained his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certification at 16 months old, and the TDI (Therapy Dog International) certification at 18 months. My long term goals include getting the Rally Novice (RN) title, then getting his CD (Companion Dog) in traditional Obedience. Then moving on to Rally Advanced (RA) and Excellent (RE), and then CDX (Companion Dog Excellent).

We are competing in our first ever Rally trial on Friday, October 31, 2008 and hopefully get the 1st leg of the RN title. I've even put a countdown on this blog counting down the days til the trial. The newest video on my YouTube channel is of Red and I practicing Rally exercises. We've still got some things to work on an polish, but I think we're on the right track for our first trial. =)

And once we receive his TDI ID card in the mail, we can start doing therapy dog visits to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, etc. I am excited to start doing some community service with him and educate people about the breed.

Well, I think that pretty much brings us up to speed on where we're at today! I am planning on keeping this updated - especially with training updates - since it will help me record our progress for improvement.

Thanks for reading!! =)