Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obedience Fun Match

Since there haven't been any other issues in regards to the stuffie-eating incident, I decided to go ahead and go to the obedience fun match tonight. Up til yesterday, I wasn't sure if I was going to do it if he was still unwell. But today was great - no vomiting, and normal bouncy Redders! It's amazing how good puking up a 10" long stuffie arm can be! *rolls eyes*

We went for a 3 mile on-leash walk into downtown today. I normally don't take Red out for a walk the day of a trial/match because I want him to have all his energy intact, but I figured since it was on-leash instead of our normal off-leash run, it would be okay. But even though it was on-leash, I think it tired us both out! LOL

Anyway, we got to the match pretty early because I wanted to simulate the longer wait before going into the ring in a real trial. The match started at 6pm, and we got there at 5pm, while most people arrive closer to 5:30pm for these matches. We were the second team in the building, and the first team hadn't even set up their crate yet! I left Red in the car while I carried in the crate, my chair, and my bag. I set everything up, paid my fee and signed up for 3rd team in line for Novice, then went back out and took Red out to the potty area. He quickly peed a few drops to satisfy me, then we went inside.

We played tug with the frisbee for a little bit, then did a few heeling exercises. After he started to calm down a tad, I put him in his crate and I sat down in the chair next to him and pulled out a magazine. People started to trickle with their dogs, and he was moving around and whining a little, but not loudly. I ignored him.

There were three rings set up - one for each Novice, Open, and Utility. You are allowed to practice in them before the match starts if you want. I thought this would be a good time to practice jumps for Advanced Rally, since I don't have a jump at home, and we will be trialing Advanced in less than a month! Red has not had much exposure to jumps AT ALL. We just started introducing him to them at the last Saturday training session we were at. But considering we can't go every Saturday, I thought this was a good opportunity.

We went into the Utility ring, took off his leash, and started with the 8" high board. At first when I would give the command for him to go "over" and I would run by, he would run around the jump, staying next to me in heel position. So I jumped over it with him a few times while giving the "over" command, and then he got it. We did a few run-bys with him just jumping over it and receiving rewards, then we stepped it up to do some Rally exercises and heeling leading up to the jump, and then making the jump, to received the reward. Then I added an 8" board for a total of a 16" high jump (the height he must jump for Advanced). He was fine - didn't hesitate at all. Then we put it all together and did exercises before the jump, sending him "over", then coming back to heel and going into another exercise. He did AWESOME always making the jump, then coming right back to heel and staying with me. He got jackpots for those (i.e. got to stick his face in the treat pouch!).

It was funny because after we were done, I went to take the 8" board that I added back off, and Red kept jumping the jump over and over to earn treats. I think he likes the jump =) I was really happy that I thought of doing this - I think that was a really productive training step and I feel MUCH more confident about the jump in Advanced Rally now.

I put his leash back on, and went back to our chair and crate. Up til now, he hasn't really liked being in his crates at trials. He hesitates going in there and is restless and somewhat whiney when he's inside it. So I decided to play a game with him - kinda like when I first crate trained him as a puppy. I sent him in, gave a treat, waited a few seconds with the door open, then let him back out. Then sent him in, gave a treat, waited, then let him out. Then I did it with the door closed, waited a few seconds, then let him back out. Then it was a fun game and he would go in there for the next treat. We played with the frisbee again for another minute or two, then I put him in his crate again. I sat down and picked up my magazine again. This time there was no fidgeting, and no whining at all.

We had a good 30 minutes til the match started, and I just sat reading my magazine and Red sat quietly in his crate while everyone arrived with their dogs, making the building noiser and noiser as time went on. After awhile, I put down my magazine and just watch people warming up their dogs. I learn a lot, just by watching more experienced handlers interact with their dogs. And that's why I'm there - to learn as much as I can to be a better handler and help my dog be the best he can.

Open did their sits/downs first, but Novice went right into it and would be doing sits/downs last. When the first Novice team went into the ring, I got Red out of the crate and played with him some more. When the second team was halfway done, we started doing some focus exercises and getting ready to go into the ring.

Then it was our turn:

On-leash heel: Horrendous. The judge said I looked like a "drunken sailor", LOL. I seriously was all over the place and didn't walk a straight line at all. Red's attention was off in la-la land and I was paying more attention to him then to where I was going. We kept bumping into each other. It wasn't pretty.

Figure 8: Better than the on-leash heel. He lagging a bit on the outside posts so I slowed down a little and urged him to keep up. I took the inside post too tightly and Red kept bumping me as we came around. The judge said to give him more room on that inside post, and bring my knee up to push him back out if necessary. I have an arm's length allowed between me and the post, and I have long arms, so I should use that room. Then sits at the halts were pretty nice and got better/quicker the longer we went.

Stand for exam: Excellent! This is the one exercise I don't worry about with him. He is spot-on every time. The judge said "nice" when he went into his straight stand, I moved out ahead, she did a pretty long and thorough exam on him - longer and more than a judge during a real trial would probably do - and he didn't budge. The only thing wrong on this exercise was that I went too far out away from him. The rules say 6 feet and I was more like 8 feet, so I'm going to have to practice how to gauge how far 6 feet is... count my steps or something. That would be a really stupid thing to lose points for!

Heel off-leash: MUCH better than the on-leash heel according to the judge, and damn near perfect. Red's attention was much better and I was able to look up ahead of me to watch that I was walking in a straight line. I feel much more comfortable for this, and so did Red, apparently, and it showed. Now I know what everyone says about the off-leash heel being better than the on-leash! You'd think it would be the other way around but its not! My only guess is that Red felt like he needed to stay with me more since he wasn't tethered to me. That's my only guess, but even his attention was better. I was very happy with this.

Recall: Red came in pretty straight. Straighter than he has done in the past, but still not the way I would like. He kind of archs around while he's running toward me - I'm not sure why he does that. I took a couple baby steps backward to line him up when I realized he wasn't going to sit straight. By then, there was only maybe a foot between my body and the fencing (though I didn't realize it until I had him finish right). He squeezed behind me into a perfect finish. The judge was impressed that he finished so nicely having no room behind me! So anyway - yeah, still gotta work on coming in straight...

Then we were done. I had my treat pouch on, but only gave treats inbetween exercises. I did talk to him somewhat during exercises, especially for the on-leash heeling when we were doing so poorly, just to get him to focus on me. I talked a little in the figure 8, to keep him from lagging and then praising when he was with me. I can't remember how much I talked during the off-leash heel, but I don't think it was much - maybe for the turns but that was it.

Since they were doing sits and downs last, we had to wait for everyone else to go. There were 11 dogs total doing Novice. I played with Red for a couple minutes, then put him back in his crate, where he spent the next hour, completely silent and only stirring when a little miniature Schnauzer came right up to his crate screen door to sniff. I still don't know how comfortable he is in there, he spent most of the time, half-sitting. But as long as he was quiet and not fidgeting too much, I was happy. I spent the time watching the other teams' runs and taking mental notes to myself about how people train their dogs and how I might incorporate some of the things into my own training. When the last team started their run, I got Red out and played with him for the remainder of that team's run. Then finally, it was time for sits/downs.

Long Sit: Ok. He didn't break position at all, but he sorta had me uneasy at the beginning. He had his ears down and was sitting like he was really thinking about going down, or picking his butt, one of the two... but he didn't. As the time went on, he looked more solid and I relaxed a little. After the judge gave the release, I quietly praised and rewarded while he stayed in position. Usually during class I really praise after that and he sorta jumps around - but that's because we do 3 minute sits in class and I'm more happy when he doesn't break position (considering we had a really hard time with this exercise at first), and this was only the 1 minute.

Long Down: Excellent! He rolled onto a hip and stayed rock solid the whole time. Kept his head up and looking forward, and ears erect. He did great! So proud of him - he got a BIG handful of treats after that one =)

Then we were done! Took him out to the car, and then went back in to pack up the crate and everything. I think that was a really productive match - not for the Novice run, but for the other stuff. The jump - we made HUGE steps on that, and the crating for long periods. That is the good thing about these matches - it simulates trial-like environments and he can get more used to being crated and everything. So all in all, a success! Now I have one tired puppy... =D

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Got the stuffie arm!

Red vomited up the entire leopard print stuffy arm this morning around 7am. I had locked him in the bedroom with me overnight so he couldn't sneak off to vomit and I would hear it.

I'm so relieved! The only thing I'm not sure about is that there were squeakers in each stuffie's paw and there wasn't one in the vomit. But I had removed one of the squeakers from the toy earlier that night, so I'm not sure if it was the same arm. I can't check, because I threw the stuffie away. I should have saved it.

Anyway, he has pooped two big piles this morning - normal and formed with nothing in them. I say big poops because I gave him about 3/4 can of sweet potato last night with his dinner. That fiber really does bulk up the stool! I gave him a 1/4 can pumpkin with his breakfast this morning to keep things moving on through.

But I think we are out of the woods now. I'm so glad I was around to see him vomit so he couldn't eat that damn thing again!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

RN win photo

Taking a break from worrying about Red's stuffy-eating issues... I received our RN win photo today! I like it =)

click to enlarge

The photographer should be posting some shots of each team in the ring on her website, so I am looking forward to that!


I don't know for sure, but I am wondering if he is vomiting something up and eating it again. Because he vomited yesterday while hubby was home, but he didn't find it til afterwards - just yellow/orange bile, but Red was acting like he was in trouble for something. He vomited again sometime morning between the time I left for work and the time James got out of bed. It was lighter yellow liquid this time near the previous place he vomited. And again, he acted like he was going to be in trouble when I found the spot.

But he is running around, eating and acting ok.

I went poop hunting in the yard today when I got home from work. I found one frozen pile that I'm assuming was from this morning, and a half frozen pile probably from a little earlier this afternoon. Both normal consistency and normal amounts. We went for a walk and he pooped again, a good amount but it was soft at the end. Then he had diarrhea twice when we got home.

So things are moving through, but I'm not sure about the vomiting. Both of us work full time, so I'm not sure how I'm going to catch him doing it unless I'm home...

I'm thinking I will continue to watch him for the rest of today, and I don't have to leave for work tomorrow until 1:30pm, so chances are if he's going to puke something up again, he will have to do it at some point between now and then and I will around to see it. Hopefully he continues to eat, act ok, and pass stools.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today's stuffy-eating update

ok, so he got up with me at 6am, acting perky and normal. Ate his breakfast with the usual gusto. I'm not sure if he pooped or not - he usually runs around our 1.5 acre backyard and poops at the very back fenceline, and it was still dark. I planned on looking for the poop when I got home after work.

My mother-in-law came and checked on him from 10:30-11:00am. She called me at work to tell me he was completely normal, and there were no signs of vomiting or anything. He peed a couple times, but no stool.

James got home at 3pm. I called him from work to see how Red was, and he said he was acting completely normal. I called him back a little after 6pm and he said Red had vomited a large amount of yellow/orange bile liquid sometime between 4-5pm. But was still acting ok. He fed him dinner and he ate it normally. I got home about an hour ago, and Red was bouncy and acting fine. James left the bile spot for me to see, so I cleaned that up. There were no chunks of anything in it - no food, no stuffy or anything.

Then I bundled up to go poop-hunting outside with James' handy police spotlight. It snowed today so I wondered whether I would be able to find any poop from this morning, if there was any. Red came with me and was happily running laps around the yard like normal. After 2 circuits of the entire backyard, and not finding anything, I was getting more worried. Then I realized I didn't hear Red's jingling collar - he had stopped somewhere, which can only mean one thing. I walked over to where I saw him, and he had just laid a fresh steaming pile. Completely normal, formed stool, and a normal amount. I prodded it with a stick and found no evidence of stuffing. I came back in and fed him some more kibble mixed with sweet potato to add fiber and keep things moving along... He ate it with gusto and licked the bowl clean.

I feel a lot better now, seeing that he passed normal stool that was most likely from breakfast this morning. But I'm so confused that there wasn't any stuffing in it... What the hell happened to that arm?? I have seriously searched everything and its nowhere. And what about the bile vomit? I dunno... he's still acting normal and as long as he continues to pass stool, I guess he's fine. But I'm still very suspicious... I will feel so bad if I gave him all that peroxide for nothing!!

I work 7am-2pm tomorrow and James works 12pm-6pm, so there will only be 2 hrs of him being alone tomorrow, so we can watch him like a hawk. After tomorrow if everything is still going in and coming out ok, I will breathe again.

And thanks, to Kim for the info about shaking them up after giving the peroxide. I didn't know that and I just let him lay still. But if I ever have to do it again (and I pray to god I don't), I will remember that!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Induced vomiting

I called the emergency vet and they recommended giving him a small meal, then induce vomiting with 5mL peroxide per 20 lbs (so 20mL peroxide for my 80 lb dog), and repeat every 10 mins for 3 times if needed.

I gave him the first 20mL and he almost vomited immediately but didn't. I waited 10 mins, then did another 20mL. Still nothing. I waited and waited and nothing, no retching or gagging or anything. But he was visibly feeling really sick to his stomach, just laying next to me all pitiful. By now I'm in tears having to do this to him for my stupidity. I couldn't bring myself to do it to him a 3rd time.

I called them back and told them he didn't vomit. They offered to see him tonight, but I opted to just watch him for now. I hope to god I'm making a bigger deal out of this than it is. I did give him 2mL famotidine (Pepcid) subcutaneously because he was feeling so nauseous from the peroxide. He went outside and peed, and came back in and is now he's laying down, chewing on a bone like nothing is wrong.

I can't call into work tomorrow because they already called me in early because someone else is sick and can't work tomorrow. And James is working with the police tomorrow morning and I'm not sure if he will be able to stop by the house on his shift or not.

I hope I am being melodramatic and there isn't a problem, but I just feel so bad!!!

So stupid!!

I'm so mad at myself right now. Red appears to have eaten one of the arms off the stuffie I gave him after the rally trial (that leopard thing with the long arms). I usually don't leave him alone with stuffies since he just destroys them - but has never actually eaten them before. I took it away last night, but I got this one back out today and was playing with it with him, and forgot to take it back away when I went into the other room.

I was stitching in the other room and he walked carrying it in his mouth, but it only had 3 legs... I searched everywhere but can't find the other leg. The legs are at least 8 inches long and full of stuffing. I only found one piece of stuffing on the floor.

I am sick with worry. What if he obstructs? James and I will be at work tomorrow and no one will be home til after 3pm... and I won't be home til around 7pm. I can't believe I let this happen!!! *cries*

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rally Novice Title!!!

Well, it's done! Red obtained the last leg for his Rally Novice title today!! Yippee!

It was a FAST day. Michelle got there early when the building opened so she could set up Maisy's and Red's crates (thank you for doing that, Michelle!!). She and Maisy are going for their RAE title so they competed in Excellent AND Advanced, and had to get there early. I wasn't going to come until later - around 12pm or so, since I estimated we wouldn't be going into the ring til sometime after 1pm. Michelle called me a little before 11am after they finished their Excellent run (they qualified!) and said the judge was running through everything SUPER fast, and I should come now.

I left at 11:15am, and it took 30 minutes to get there. They were already started with Advanced B when I arrived. I crated Red and got my stuff situated and unpacked. Lori - Red's breeder - was there, but I didn't get to chat for very long because I had to check in, and get the course map and everything. I got to see Michelle and Maisy's Advanced run, which they got a 99 and 3rd place! Thankfully, the Novice course was very easy and only had 10 stations. We should be able to do it without a problem, unless we completely miss a sign or something.

Everything moved so fast. Before I knew it, Advanced B was done, they handed out ribbons and they switch the course for Novice. It was announced that the judge would not be taking a lunch break and the Novice walkthrough would be starting immediately. Gah! I'd only been there for like 20-25 minutes and I was feeling very rushed. And turns out, 3 people didn't show up for Novice A, so it was just me and one other team. We were going second. So I only had less than 2 minutes to get Red ring ready.

Michelle offered to play with Red during the walkthrough so he could get out of his crate and get ready. Then after the walkthrough, I'd do focus exercises with him and then be ready to go in. I walked the course 3 times, as I always do. Easy course and not hard to follow. Feeling confident but still very rushed which made me nervous. Thankfully, Michelle remembered the camera to video our run, because I completely forgot about it in all the rush!

After the walkthrough, I went back to get Red and put my treat pouch on, but the steward grabbed me and said I was needed in the ring for the judge's briefing - something I'd never done before so I wasn't expecting it. So I was flustered about that because I needed this time to prepare my dog. After the briefing, I just grabbed a handful of treats and made my way to the ring. Did a few exercises near the ring entrance while the team before us was going, and Red was great and focused. Fed the last treat just before stepping into the ring. We went into the ring at 12:30pm - just 45 minutes after arriving!

In the ring, Red lost some focus and took a few moments to set up next to me in heel position. For some unknown reason, he went into a half-down just after I said we were ready and before the judge said forward, so I just went with it and started forward.

Station #1: Serpentine Weave: Went ok, though he bumped me going into the second cone and then lost some focus but was able to regain it.

Station #2: Left Turn: No problem.

Station #3: Call Front Finish Left Forward: No problem. Made EXTRA sure I gave Red enough time to sit all the way down in front before finishing.

Station #4: Halt, Down: Very crooked sit and therefore a very crooked down. I knew we'd lost points on this, but it wasn't worth repositioning or a retry.

Station #5: 270° Right: No problem.

Station #6: Fast Pace: Made sure we went REALLY fast. Michelle and Maisy got an IP on the fast pace during Excellent because the judge said the dog didn't change pace even though the handler did. And the judge stressed it during the briefing to make sure the dog changes pace. Not an easy feat for someone with a large dog - so I all but sprinted to make sure Red was at least pacing instead of trotting.

Station #7: Normal Pace: No problem. Though there wasn't much room between this sign and the next one and we almost hit the next sign!

Station #8: Left About Turn: Almost hit the sign on this one because I was still slowing down from the fast pace. Red's rear foot ALMOST hit it, but didn't, thank god!

Station #9: Halt, Sit: No problem.

Station #10: 270° Left: No problem.


Well, I think we qualified! Michelle was happy and said we did well. Lori was there and said we did well, but Tuesday's owner said my leash was tight several times, and that I didn't pause once when I should've so that would've been an IP on that station, and she saw the judge mark something on it. And I remembered the judge saying during the briefing that he would be strict about NQing people who have tight leashes. oh god... what if I DIDN'T qualify??

Michelle went to check the board since it was too crowded to move back to the table with Red to check myself. I was staring at her face as she was walking back and it was unreadable. She got closer and shook her head: "You didn't qualify". My jaw dropped. "Are you serious??" I choked. She paused, then broke into a wide grin and said, "No, you qualified! You got a 99!" I spluttered something incoherent and then punched her harder than I meant to in the arm. As the feeling starting coming back into my legs, it hit me - We got our title!!!

Sweet relief! The 1 point deduction was from the crooked sit/down on Station #4. I knew it during the trial. I was so happy with our score, and so relieved!! Especially after Michelle gave me the heart attack... Michelle, if you are reading this - you will get your come uppance!! =P LOL

I gave Red a stuffy that I've been saving for after the trial. He loved it, of course, and tore a big hole in its back within the first 2 minutes of having it. The Novice B group was done in a flash, and it was time to accept our ribbons. It was only us and one other team in Novice A since the other 3 teams didn't show up. We both got a 99, but our time was faster so we got 1st place. It was both of our 3rd legs, earning our RN titles =)

After that, I put Red back into the crate so I could get my stuff organized and talk to people without worrying about holding the dog. Michelle handed me a little blue gift bag. It contained an AKC RN patch, and RN pin!! Too cool! I was going to buy a patch and pin after we got our RN, but I had never told her that, so I was so surprised and happy with the gift! Michelle knows me so well, and we think so alike! But it should be me giving Michelle the gifts - if it wasn't for her, Red and I wouldn't be here right now, earning titles. She has helped us SO much, not only with training, but with advice, guidance, and moral support, and coming to the shows that she's not even entered in, just to be there for us. She's become such a great friend, and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her!! *hugs*

The club had a photographer there, and I wanted to get a photo of Red and I getting our first Rally title. The judge was in it, too, and I think it will turn out really nice. I probably have the biggest grin in it, LOL! I'm getting an 8x10 mailed to me, but she will be emailing me a high res copy within the week, so I will be sure to post it when I get it.

Chatted with Lori a bit before she left. It was so nice of her to drive over to see Red compete! Another dog that Lori bred, Tuesday (Red's half sister), was there competing in Advanced for her RA title (which she got!), so Lori got to see that too. Lori won a big basket of stuff and a dog toy from a drawing she had entered, so even she didn't go home empty handed! I'm so glad she came and was able to see Red complete his first Rally title =) Thanks Lori!!

Then Michelle and I packed everything up and it was time to go. It was a little before 1:30pm when we left - so I was only there for a little over 1 hour and a half total! Talk about a FAST trial day! Phew!

Red and I stopped at McDonalds on the way home (I was starving and hadn't eaten lunch), and I got him a plain cheeseburger, which he LOVED! When I was unwrapping it, I was telling him what a good boy he was to earn this, and I swear he was thinking - "seriously? I get to have some of that?? Score!" The burger didn't last long, but he was one happy boy =) I think I might have to make that a ritual when coming home from a trial!

Anyway, I made Red pose with his winnings after we got home - the 2 ribbons (blue 1st place and green Qualifying), the mug we got for qualifying, two stuffies (one from me, the other from the club), and his RN patch and pin from Michelle =)

click to enlarge

And, of course, here is the video:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My dog is turning into a cat

I think Red's been spending too much time with the cats... see the evidence below.




LOL, I've never seen him sit like that before... paws all curled under like a cat!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red's 2nd Birthday!!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Redders!!!

I can't believe my little Redders is 2 years old already! *sniff* I made him a "Birthday Kong" this year instead of a cake. It has kibble, vanilla yogurt, and Kong peanut butter paste frozen inside. Here are some pics of him (unwillingly) posing with it :) Click the photos to enlarge!

After I lit the candle, he wouldn't sit near it... this is the closest he would get, LOL



umm, mom... the cat is trying to steal my kong...


please take this ridiculuous hat off me


Can I eats it now?


pretty please???



And now, ladies and gents, please turn up the volume for Red's yearly Birthday video! =) (and in case you missed it... this was last year's video)

And also a happy birthday to his siblings, Jordan, Reggie and Didi!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Training at Bass Pro

Michelle very kindly met me at Bass Pro again today. I just have to say that I really appreciate her taking her free time to help me out. I don't know what I'd do without her!!

We didn't get a lot of time to train because for some reason, our abandoned corner of the store seemed like a hot spot for people with kids. And then the kids would want to pet the doggy... and then want to pluck toys off the shelf for him to chase... It's funny because when people come around, Red almost completely ignores them and just sits by me, staring at my face. Yes, I continually feed him treats to encourage this behavior, but I like how he defaults to this everytime someone comes around.

Once we did actually get time to train though, Michelle noticed my footwork was wrong for the about turn. I was planting a foot, then turning too fast, which immediately put Red in a lagging position. So I'm putting both feet together and sort of pivoting more, so Red stays in position. Only thing is that I don't want him to think we are halting and go into a sit, so I'm verbally cueing him to keep coming with me.

The other thing we still don't have down yet is the 180 left pivot. The 90 is fine, and both the 90 and 180 right pivots are fine. So we put Red on leash, put the leash around the back of my body instead of in front, and kept him pulled inward as we pivoted. At one point, Michelle said "heel" and he swung his rear right around in a perfect pivot. Then I tried and got a good pivot out of him too, so that was good. I'm going to keep working on this.

The dumbbell... dun dun dunnnn! He will take it and sit with it ok. He will "leave it" then go get it on command, and then prance around with it. At one point, I got him to sort of heel while holding it, and I halted which cued him to sit, and then I grabbed it before he dropped it. And that was great! But after that it all went south... I tried it again, and he dropped it. Then he realized we were working and not playing, he shut down and wouldn't even take it anymore... gah! So we put it away for awhile, then brought it back out later. Michelle sat on the ground with him and made it into a game of keep away. He seemed more accepting of participating when things went back into game-mode instead of working-mode. So I'm just going to keep playing games with it, and practicing him holding while sitting.

I did a long sit/stay and he was great. No problems at all. He's really come a long way with this.

So all in all, everything's coming along well except the db stuff... but we still have a LONG way to go before we really need to get serious about that. Hopefully if we just keep practicing with it, we can take baby steps in the right direction =)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dumbbell Retry

I was so terrified after Saturday's training session that I had ruined Red's positive association with the dumbbell forever. I want him to LOVE it like Kim's dogs do.

I'll kind of reiterate what happened on Saturday during class... Up til this point, Red would sit and hold it until I told him "out" then he'd drop it into my hand. (Which, by the way, I realize now is not good because you don't want the dog to drop it - you want him to release it when you take it out of his mouth.) Anyway, so Michelle and I were trying to see if he would move while holding it. At home, he would prance around with it, but as soon as I'd give a command like "come", he dropped it. Same story at training. he'd be holding it, then I'd try to get him to move forward toward me, only a step. Dropped it. Every single time. So then we tried something else - make him "leave it" while I tossed it, and he would retrieve it fine and start coming back, but as soon as you'd reach for it, he'd drop it. Nevermind telling him to sit - he'd drop it. So after a few tries, he started to realize he wasn't doing what we wanted and he shut down. I mean completely. Would've take the db anymore, wouldn't hold it, wouldn't fetch it, wouldn't open his mouth the slightest bit. Nothing. Avoided it like the plague. So I put it away and moved onto something else. Got it back out later at the end of class - he wouldn't have anything to do with it.

I was so petrified that I had ruined him and he now had an aversion to the db. I've been stressing about it, and resigning myself to the fact that we will never be able to go for CDX.

But today I got home from work and Red was all wound up and wanting to play, so I decided to take advantage of the positive energy, and get the db out again. I whipped it out of his training bag with a flourish and he immediately got excited. I pranced around with it like it was some awesome toy I was keeping away from him, all the while he's doing excited spins. I held it out for him to take, and he took it very willingly. I jumped up and clapped and whooped and danced around telling him what a good boy he was. Then had him chase me through the house - all the while he was carrying it. Then I took it from his mouth (trying not to encourage him to drop it into my hand), and rewarded heavily. Then I had him sit and leave it, and carefully tossed it a few feet in front of him. I faked a few times to build anticipation, then released and he shot forward, picked it up correctly, and I made a big to-do about it again, dancing around, praising and making an excited scene. Then took it from him swiftly, heavily rewarded with treats, then offered his jute as a big-time reward. Then we went for a walk.

I think I will just spend more time creating a positive association with the db for awhile, and really work on getting him to understand the "hold" command. Once he has a clear understanding of "hold", maybe I can start getting him to walk with it during commands. Also need to work on him holding it til I take it out of his mouth, rather than him dropping it in my hand.

phew! Well all isn't completely lost yet...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday training

Finally made it to another Saturday morning training session today. It's been awhile and Red's next Rally trial is coming up in 2 weeks, so we needed this. I haven't been working with him the last 3 days. He's pumped up with energy, that's for sure!

Heeling - not bad. Same as usual. Focus could be better, but at least he stays with me. I caught him not paying attention and changed direction and corrected him and he was better after that.

Figure 8's - good. Nice quick sits. Good focus and heeling. I'm happy with his figure 8's.

Recall - has started anticipating my command by twitching like he's going to dart forward at any moment. So I've been walking back to him at least once, then leaving again before calling him. This seemed to help. And something new, once I call him, he'll start to a trot, then slow down like he wasn't sure he was supposed to come, so I have to say "come" again, then he comes in like normal. Not sure what that's all about. He did it twice. The fronts are getting a little better - he's not so widely out of position as before. He did come in straight once, and I got so excited that I rewarded him before he actually got his butt on the ground to sit. Ugh! Lots of tweaking still needed in the recall area...

Long sits/downs - HE DID IT!!! For the first time since we've been doing this classes, he sat through the entire 3 minutes, and down the entire 5 minutes, without ever showing signs of moving position, and I didn't have to return to him once!! So happy about this! I've been practicing this a bit at Bass Pro so I guess it paid off. So I know he will be fine for the 1 minute sit/3 minute down required for the CD. I jackpoted after each one becuase I was so happy. So now, just need to work on not getting him riled up after the long sit so we can go smoothly into the long down. But shouldn't be a problem.

Jumps - started introducing him to the jumps so we can proceed to Advanced Rally in March after we (hopefully) finish our RN in 2 weeks. Piece of cake. Jumps it without a problem off-leash, comes right back to heel and proceeds into other exercises. Just need to watch that he doesn't clip the bar with his back foot when he is trying to watch me instead of where the jump is. Since its starting to warm up a bit, maybe I can set up a mock jump in the garage or something to practice him clearing it soundly.

Dumbbell - well, I thought we were doing good.. but I think Red hates it now. He was doing well with just sitting and holding it til I released him, so Michelle wanted us to start having him walk with it (which he will do on his own when he's not being given commands). But when he is commanded to come, he drops it. It's like he can't walk and chew gum at the same time. If you ask him to do anything with the db in his mouth, he drops it. If you throw the db out, he will retrieve it and come back toward you, but drops it before he gets completely back. Toward the end of this, he began to realize he wasn't doing what we wanted and shut down completely. Wouldn't take it and hold it at all. Completely avoided it. I can't even get him to take it anymore. GAH! I don't want him to have a bad association with it. Maybe I'll put it away for a long while, concentrate more on Rally and Novice Obedience, and then reintroduce it later. I'm really worried he hates it now and I've dug myself a hole I won't be able to get him out of. But he's done this before with it, when he can tell he's not doing what I want him to, then has been fine. So hopefully he will snap out of it and be fine again.... I hope!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Do the Zoomies!

Red was in a "zoomie" mood this morning. I didn't get the best part on video, but he will do the zoomies on command! =)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Training at Bass Pro, and Updates on Progress

Red and I went to Bass Pro again yesterday. Went to the back corner to our usual spot and who do we see but Dawn and Atticus the Mastiff! By the way, Atticus has already finished his RN, so they were working on other moves like the 1,2,3 steps back. Atty's such a good boy too!

So we chatted and training along side each other for awhile, and had many people come up to comment on the dogs. Well, mostly on Atty because of his sheer size. Plus, he is way sweeter than Red to pet. Red thinks everyone has a treat for him and won't hold still long enough for someone to pat his head. But Atty will just sit there nice and still while everyone pets him. And Red's supposed to be the therapy dog, lol... I told Dawn that she should get Atty into it - I think he'd do great. The problem would be manuevering through those small rooms to visit people!

Anyway, when we were at Bass Pro on Monday (the day Red was annoying the crap out of me), we practiced everything except the one thing I really wanted to do - fronts without moving my feet. I don't know how I forgot! But we did long sits/downs, heeling, down to sit, recalls, stand for exam, and a little holding of the dumbbell.

So yesterday I made a list of what I wanted to work on so I wouldn't forget when we got there. The fronts are coming along nicely. I'm still luring him but I think he understands the concept of what he's expected to do now.

Recalls are getting better, actually. Still coming in a bit crooked but I'm getting tough about only rewarding straight fronts and I think he's starting to catch on...

Heeling is ok. He is fantastic at the left turns now - really gets his rear end moving around. I'm cuing him slightly with my shoulders and he reacts really well. Sits at the halts are nice as well.

I've noticed for finishes that he is learning the right position more. I'm only rewarding for really good ones now, and I can tell its making a difference. He self-corrects now when he's not straight.

Long sits/downs are good. I only did the 1 minute sit and 3 minute down, instead of the 3/5 minute we do in training. The 1/3 minute, he's fine for. It's the 3/5 that gives him trouble near the end. But there is improvement.

The one thing Red has down to a science is the stand for exam. I've trained him while taking all the million photos that when I put him in a position, he cannot move a muscle. And this is what he does for the SFE. No matter what weird place his feet are in, he doesn't move them AT ALL. Spot on and perfect every time!

I'm being careful with what I'm doing with the dumbbell. After the initial teaching of picking it up correctly, and I'm just having him sit in front of me and hold it until I give the order to release. I'm also putting it down in front of me and then giving the order for him to take it, then immediately release it to me. Michelle said to be really careful about what I'm doing with it because many dogs can be ruined on the dumbbell if taught bad habits in the beginning. So I'm going to see what I *should* be doing with him at this stage when we go to training on Saturday morning.

I've been tossing around the idea of signing up for our first obedience run in March. The same weekend as what will most likely be our first Rally advanced trial. Michelle thinks I should hold off til Red is more polished because she thinks he has great potential to be a competitive dog, and wants to see him score high and not just merely qualify. But personally, I do think Red would be competitive in the Novice A class. No, he wouldn't be if we were Novice B, but I think we'd be right up there near the top in Novice A. And I'd really like to start plugging away toward his CD... Michelle said she'd put us through a mock run this Saturday and see how we do. Maybe she and the others could score us to see where Red would stand point-wise. So I'll wait til this weekend before I send in my registration.

No training tonight. We need a break every now and again. You know the old saying... Absence makes the dog work harder ;)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Driving me CRAZY!!!

Dear Red,

You had a short "alone" day today. You were only alone for 2 1/2 whole hours today between the time dad went to work and the time I got home. We immediately went to Bass Pro for about an hour to work, play, and practice obedience skills. Then we got home, bundled up and went out for a 30 minute off leash run, which left you panting and happy. Then I fed you dinner at the usual time.

And you still insist on bugging the CRAP out of me! It's worse than usual. Why won't leave me alone? Following me around, getting in my way and tripping me up, licking my hands incessently, sitting and staring, resting your head on my arm, need I go on? What else can you possibly want from me???

Please... mom needs some dog-free time. My entire day cannot completely revolve around you. Go take a nap or something!