Training Levels, Level 1 test

Since it is the start of the holiday season there are virtually no puppy classes starting until after the holidays. This happened when I got Breeze too since I got her at the same time of the year, sooooooo, it is PUPPY HOMESCHOOLING. I am taking her to classes and making everyone say hello, and exposing her to the nice doggies I can find, and I started on one of the greatest training programs I have found on the net ......and it is FREE.

There is a yahoo group called Training Levels support . There is also a site with a description of the levels and the testing for each level and how to teach the behaviors at

The training levels use clicker training and positive reinforcement to teach everything a dog needs to have a foundation for dog sports or to just be a wonderful companion. If you pass level 3-that is generally what your dog needs to be a wonderful companion and very nice to have around. If you reach level 7 they say it only takes about a months work in your desired area to be ready for trialing, because there is a little scenting/a little agility/some obedience all built into the levels. The yahoo group can also answer questions and help support you in your quest to work with your dog ;-).

OF course I think the most important thing about training your dog is the bond you develops with them, how you get in tune with how they think, and it makes them so much more pleasant to be around and I think clicker training really trains them how to think.

So today we did the test for Level 1-Cricket is 10 weeks and gosh I can not believe how much she has learned in the short time she has been here. I do have to say that she learned crate training and some sit and come before she came, so I got a real head start, or maybe I was cheating?

Getting to know you....

I am having the most fun today, my two legged kids went with their grandma to shop for clothes and I have had all morning to just sit and play with the pup. I started off the morning going to Petsmart and getting a bunch of chew toys-those little needle sharp puppy teeth need something besides my pants to chew on...and we worked on some come games, and sits and downs and Its your Choice game from Susan Garrett (I think that is what this game is called?)-she is getting the idea that when I hold some treats in my fist she can get them by moving away from them, smart Cricket! Cricket has not totally figured out she has a new name yet, but I have been saying it and clicking followed by a treat so she is starting to figure out Cricket has something to do with her.

I am soooo proud of all my doggies, they are all being FANTASTIC with her. Liz has been doing some tugging with her, she loves Liz, Liz moves fast and what is there for a puppy not to like? Breeze will sort of do a little mouth wrestling with her and is fine with Cricket following her around. Chloe is sort of excited there is someone that is willing to PLAY with her and Skyler is ok with her following him but is not pleased when she keeps trying to lick his muzzle.

It has been nice to have a full morning to just sit and get to know each other more without a list of things we want to accomplish. Cric is still pretty perfect, a lot more wild, and starting to do the zoomies once in awhile but still by far the easiest puppy!

How Lucky am I on this Thanksgiving day?

I am thankful we have a day that is just made for pausing for a minute and concentrating on all the things we all have to be thankful for. So corney as it is, I want to list a few of those things ;-). Since this is my dog blog, I of course am concentrating a little heavier on my list that involves my puppers.

I am thankful for my family of course-my kids are people I am very proud of and I am so lucky they are in my life.

I am thankful for my puppy dogs, they are always there to cuddle and they have helped me learn how to more effectively communicate with other people-the ideas behind clicker training and motivation can work in a lot of ways and don't just work for dogs... Mostly they have taught me a lot about myself-soooo much about myself and that is probably the biggest thing they have given me. What ever we will ever achieve in any competition is such a small thing when you look at all we have achieved already in the more important things, learning about how to effectively communicate, learning about love, learning about patience, learning about how to overcome frustration, learning about prioritizing, how many lessons have I learned from my little fur babies? No blue ribbon could compare with those type of presents.

SKYLER-My tri-colored sheltie is my oldest doggie at 7 yrs old. I got him at about 6 months old, he had parvo as a tiny pup and no one wanted him because of that. I think he came from a dad that was a very fearful dog and then having parvo treatment, needles, and being hospitalized at a very critical time in his socialization left him with a lot of issues. I always was so touched by his willingness to trust me enough to try, and to go along with my reactive dog training, and he has made a ton of progress. He really taught me tons about patience. Lately he has gone through a lot of health issues, but he is on the mend and looking a 100% better, so in a few months I think he will be back to his old self.

CHLOE-What a happy little sable sheltie, she has taught me a whole lot about training and patience because she is a soft, sensitive, little doggie so of course I had to consider a lot of that when we were training, so she is my dog that has taught me sooooo much about motivation.

LIZZIE-she came to me as a pup. She was older and had not found a home, maybe because she was so wild, LOL. SHE HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT TRAINING, motivation and consistency, LOL, and most importantly taught me how to Laugh, to laugh at life and not take things too seriously and to laugh at myself. She has also taught me not to get so overwhelmed looking at all there is to do and to just keep chipping away and enjoy the journey and before you know day you look around and see how far things have come. She is my dog that made me a real trainer.

BREEZIE-who has so much heart and who will try for me no matter what she is feeling. She loves agility so much that she will work through what ever-she has taught me about not letting things get you down. What a fun dog she is.

CRICKET-newest little puppers who so far is just given me a few days of seeing the world through a puppies eyes. She cuddles and everything makes her excited. My whole goal for Crickie is going to be to not stress, and to enjoy her puppy hood, to trust I know how to train and to raise a puppy, so just to have fun with her and not worry about trying to raise her perfectly.

I am truly thankful that I have met so many people through my dogs that have been so kind and helpful to me. THANKS so much to all my blogger friends who are always there to lend support, and to remind me that my challenges are not unique, and in seeing their successes they remind me that all things are possible.

Cute as a Bug-call name "Cricket"

Yesterday was my birthday and it was such a terrific day. First off I got a lot of happy birthdays on facebook, and actually that was a lot of fun and I got to spend the day with my puppy. At class last night I got a cook bag of the best popcorn and a wonderful puppy toy and a kong from my training buddy Denise, and that was so nice and such a great suprise.... My kids baked a cake for me and decorated it and even put a picture of a puppy on my cake, they are such good kids! SO ABOUT THIS PUPPY- WELL, she is definately a keeper, I am TOTALLY in LOVE with this pup and she has a name! It was so hard to chose a pup that I had never held and cuddled and that I had just seen over the net. All the things that I was told about how this puppy was raised and about her personality really sounded great....and I got such a good feeling, I did all the research I could, but then I got her home and she is all of that and more. I took little Cric to the vet yesterday and the vet (who would definately tell me exactly what she thinks, she always has in the past...) she was so impressed with this little one. She said she shines from inside and out. Those were her exact words, and she said it is obvious this pup has been exceptionally socialized. How cool is that? She loved her structure and said she was very nicely balanced, and had the perfect weight for her body-she is 11 lbs. So Cricket got the big old stamp of approval form my holistic vet.

We still have just had one accident, when hubby was watching her, so I suspect that was not her was that she tried to tell him and he did not pay attention. She sleeps through the night, she loves to explore, tug and fetch, she is getting along with all the dogs and listening when they correct her but she does not get too upset when they tell her what is expected, she is terrific with the kids. Who could believe the first few days could be as easy as they have been?

Cricket talks all the time. When we come in from outside or when she gets excited she goes whooo hoooo, and talks. That is just too cute. She also is much more into tugging and retrieving soft toys then balls. I have figured out that she likes the huge big doggie balls much better then the tiny little squeeky tennis balls I got that I had thought would fit her mouth right now so much better then the big balls, but she says those little tennis balls are for babies.

I am so proud of how my pack is handling everything, they are doing terrific and do tell her when she is getting rude, but seems to be with just the right amount to let Cric know they are serious, but not enough to really scare her.

I took Cricket to Lizzies class last night and she was so good, Liz was barking and fussing in her crate, but the baby was a good girl. Everyone had to come and say HI, and Cricket was not at all shy, which was great because it was cold and people were wearing hats, gloves, face masks, parkas, and she took it all in stride. She does not seem to be just a total kamakazee without regard, but she will just sort of look at something if she is not sure and try it anyway, and then go after it big time, she really does not seem to be scared of anything yet, and the toy drive is just so awesome.

Our first day....could it really be this easy?

I will just get to the good part about my new puppy: SHE IS FANTASTIC!!! I know that it takes a few days/weeks for a dog to settle in and to really see their whole personality as they settle in, but OMG, this is one fantastic little girl. I do have to say this has been the easiest first 24 hours I have had with any of my puppies. It is obvious that my pup has been exposed to a lot of different things because nothing seems to throw her, and it is obvious she is entirely comfortable in a crate and that has made this whole day so easy.

I let the puppers sleep in a crate but I put it on my bed, so I could see her and she could see me, and the other dogs would understand she is part of our pack now. She got into the crate, made her little nest and went to sleep. She got up twice for a quick pee but then slept until about 8 am. No fussing, no crying because it was her first night in a new home without her birth family, she was perfect. I put her in an xpen with a crate for a nap in the afternoon and she just sat and looked at us and then went to her crate, curled up and took a nap.

As far as potty training, of course I am taking her out after she eats, when she wakes up and after she plays but we passed the first 24 hours with no accidents in the house, whoo hooo! The last two times she needed to potty she even went and sat by the back door. So I am sure we are just lucky and I know there are going to be accidents but we are off to a great start.

Little puppers was tugging and playing within minutes of getting off the plane and has been very playful today. When I took her to the back yard she was running back and forth across the baby dog walk we have on bricks, and she was playing all over the little tykes plastic toys I have for the dogs in the back yard. Nothing seems to throw her yet.

So things are going really well. Liz reacted to the pup by running zoomies, and the pup thought Breeze was her mom because they both have the same coloring, and Breeze wanted to make sure it was known she is not wanting to be a mother ;-). By the end of today everyone was working in a group doing sits and downs, and getting along beautifully. Gosh, it is so weird how easy today went.

I was supposed to be at a seminar today on playing and motivation, but I could not leave the pup-I just wanted to stay home and get to know her.

We still are debating on the name, and I know this little girl will be showing her naughty side soon, and I am looking forward to seeing that too, but gosh so far I am very impressed with how she obviously has been raised. Even though this has been the easiest first 24 hours with a puppy by far, I am still exhausted after the anticipation of getting her and just the whole trip to get her at LAX in the holiday rush hour traffic, it seemed like such a long day and we did not get home until 11pm on Friday.

Looks whats coming TODAY!!!!

This has been a busy couple of days. I had to go and get a bunch of raw food from the place that is very far away so I could get chicken necks which are softer and easier for a small dog to eat. I spent the other evening, the whole evening making some veggie/ground meats mixture of food-enough to last a few weeks. Then I had to go around the house and take away the open trash cans which the dogs are finally old enough that they do not get into the trash and those were replaced with covered trash cans. The toilet paper came off the roll and put in a wooden storage box. Little piles of things had to be cleaned out and put away, little baby gates went up all over the house and the kitchen table got shoved into a corner so the xpen could fit. What could be the cause of such commotion? How about a little ten pound bundle that is expected this evening at the airport. Here is a video of the cause of all this commotion.

I had been on several lists for puppies where the litters just did not end up happening, then I had really liked a little pup from another litter but I really wanted to wait until next summer and so I farted around and lost out on her. I had been ok'd to be put on the list for this litter, but had decided to wait until summer for a pup, and then when she was 8 1/2 weeks old I saw this video of the same pup I had really liked and I loved what I saw. I decided that the timing was not that bad and sometimes you just gotta take a leap and go for it. So I emailed and this little girl was still available, Brittney from Hillcrest said I could have her if I wanted, and here three days later she is flying down to meet us.
The things that I liked about this breeder:
1. she feeds raw
2. her dogs live in the house and she says she has no kennels-Rumor the pups mom lives as a pet/companion
3. The pups seemed to be exposed to other dogs, and I could tell from videos on Brittney's blog that other dogs are allowed to be around pups, which Ian Dunbar says really helps their doggie skills later on.
4. Brittney does the early neuro stimulation protocol with the pups.
5. The pups seemed to be on a lot of surfaces, exposed to a lot of sights, sounds, kept clean, had lots of toys, etc.
6. From everything I could see or tell the dogs all seem to be very fit, kept active and healthy.

Things I liked about this pup from what I have seen:
1. From what I can tell she seems to have a nice activity level-she seems to be pretty active and wild but from what I could tell she does not seem over the top.
2. I love how she focuses on Lori in the video, she wants to play but the game is about playing with the person and she seems pretty focused on it
3. I love how she is tugging, and she retrieves the toy that is bigger then she is.
4. I think she is just as cute as a bug!!!!

It was just weird because things just seemed to work out with getting this dog, so hopefully this is one that is meant to be. She is not the color I was imagining I would get. I have NEVER picked out a pup like this before, I always have driven on down to a litter and picked up and cuddled the available puppies and just picked the one that seemed right. I have never shipped a pup before and I am a little nervous about that....But wish me luck, I am getting ready to head out and go meet my new little friend.

No name as of yet....although everyone I have run my names through has an opinion, LOL. So far I am thinking of Ivy, Twist, Twig, Cricket, Katie or Kellie(my younger daughters nomination and choice)--so any other suggestions would be welcomed, or votes for your favorites.

I am really nervous about having three border collies and two shelties....and training that many dogs, although we have been doing ok so far I think....I am nervous about starting over and the sleep I will lose and having to keep the wires tucked behind things and the toilet paper out of reach.

Front cross rules per Deannas class and other training pearls..

Deanna breaks things down a lot in our class and really teaches why things work or don't, so one of the things she constantly reviews, asks us about, etc... are her rules for the Front Cross, and they usually work mighty fine.

1. You have to be ahead of the dog, if you are several obstacles behind, a front cross is not a good choice ;-) simple but true
2. Keep your eye on the dog-when you do a front cross you need to keep your eye on the dog and make sure you actually picked the dog up when you changed sides, and make sure they read it and are where they need to be.
3. A front cross involves a change of side, you are going to end up on the opposite side of the dog
4. Place your front cross as close to the next obstacle as possible
5. This is the hardest one to actually see sometimes in my opinion, but a Front cross should be placed on a turn or a curve, . Now the thing that can be hard about that is that you have to look at the PATH OF THE DOG and not your path to make sure the front cross is on a turn or a curve. An example of where it could be confusing or hard to see where the front cross should go to place it on a turn or a curve is this exercise below that Deanna uses to show us that. In the first course, the jump where the front cross goes looks like a straight line if you just look at the placement of the jumps, but if you walk the actual path of the DOG you see that it is indeed a curve. So I think that is rather trippy.

Another pearl I got today in class with Breeze was one about your feet placement. I have always just thought well, I know the feet are way important and if your feet are not pointed and committed the right way then of course your dog does not see where you want to go. But I had sort of figured that dogs mainly looked at your upper body, for large dogs and the feet for smaller dogs. ACTUALLY the topic of this class was foot placement, and we ran a bunch of exercises and you were supposed to stop and FREEZE and look at your feet if your dog went off course. We also we not supposed to use our arms very much. Well, Deanna pointed out that the feet control the whole body. So if you turn your feet a certain direction, your hips open up and point that way, your shoulders turn that way your body orients that way, so no matter where your dog watches to get cues on where to go next, foot placement is going to have a lot to do with that, ahhh haaaaaa, another light bulb moment for me. I always knew foot placement was important but I guess I never fully appreciated why.

Another development I noticed about Breeze today in class, one I have been noticing the last few weeks..., that is good overall, but a little scary right now...BREEZE IS GETTING WAYYYYYYYYY FASTER. She finally understands to just look for the line I am setting up and she is awesome reading it and just takes off. I mean FLIES. Half the time she is soooo far ahead of me it is scary and sad. I had thought up until now that I was doing awesome keeping up with her and thought I had that handled, but this new confidence and excitement has her just smoking around the course, and if she gets any faster....I may be in some serious trouble for sure.

Random training thoughts

YIKES, it has been a very busy couple of days with a lot of running around to do. I had a ton of driving to do yesterday and a lot of time to zone out and think.

I was thinking about the class Liz had a week ago with Deanna. The focus on this class was contacts, and I have taken this particular class and done this course with Breeze and with Chloe, but I think this class brought on one of the biggest light bulb moments I have had with my training.

One thing is that Deanna always has said since we were in beginners that WE ARE DOG TRAINERS, WHAT???? I had never thought that before because I had not at the time worked and got paid for training dogs.....but she is right, she is the instructor and helps us, but WE ARE THE DOG TRAINERS. Fancy that, I am a dog trainer. LOL.

In handlers plus-which is Lizzie's class level right now...there is a homework assignment which very few people usually end up doing, but I think that homework has taught me sooooo much and really helped me be a much better trainer. The homework assignment is to simple write down your criteria, in detail, EXACTLY what you would like your contact performance to look like, so usually there should be one for the dog walk, one for the Aframe and one for the teeter. I put down how I want the dog to enter the obstacle, how they should go over it, the speed, where they are looking, when they should break stride, how they should go over the apex, and exactly what it should look like when they get to the end, should they be looking at me or looking low, how should their weight be shifted, what releases them off the obstacle. ANYWAY, so the light bulb part of doing that was that I realized that training is so much more productive and goes so much easier and faster if you have a very, very detailed picture of what you want in the end. You know what bits and pieces to not reinforce and you know what bits and pieces to encourage and the end product is a lot cleaner and the dog is way more sure of their job. Deanna is the most awesome instructor for being able to break things down and to really teach at a very basic level, these are basic rules for this, basic rules for that, there are so many things that when I go to a trial and am a little confused about say where exactly to put a front cross--I can stop a lot of times and think what are the five rules of a front cross....hummm, and then all of a sudden it becomes clear. I tell you I have been soooo lucky to have such wonderful instructors--so very lucky.

USDAA Nationals in Arizona

I have been watching the USDAA Nationals from Arizona. You can subscribe to the video, or watch the raw feed live for free. I am pretty bummed that when I could actually try to qualify to go next year... but they are moving the competition across the country-so I probably would not be able to go next year anyway ;-). I was reading through the results of the runs from yesterday, and seeing so many friends and dogs and trainers I admire, I really should have loaded myself into the agility mobile and went to watch the action even if we are not able to compete. Next best thing is watching the feed! They have the course posted and then you can watch people running, so I planned the course I would have run and now it is fun to see how everyone else is running it and how that is working for them.

VIDEO: Watch the action RIGHT NOW!

Right now, free live video is available showing the action in the main ring! Go
to;, click on video, and select
"raw feed." It will ask you to log in using your subscriber ID or competitor log
in credentials (if you own a USDAA-registered dog, you have these; there's a
spot for you to click to retrieve them if you don't know what they are). Only
register as a first time user if you aren't a subscriber and you don't own a
USDAA-registered dog.

Lunch at Andrias after herding, the beach with the dogs

This is all just random stuff from our Monday adventure that I finally got around to taking off the video camera.

The video is of Lizzie when we first took her in the big pen with the sheep. She did a little herding of the sheep but mostly she was investigating the fence, checking for holes under the fence, trying to jump in the water bucket, smelling and sniffing, and finally she settled on rolling in some delectable smelling goo, yep, I got to ride home with her, and it did smell. Thank heavens we stopped at the beach, I made sure she got completely into the water, LOL.

After our herding lesson and the beach we went to Andrias a little seafood place I love to go to but usually dont have time for. Such a pretty place to sit and have lunch.

I got a short video of Breeze, she was out playing in the water and some dog showed up. I have had reactive dogs, so it always worries me when a dog just runs up to us, I never know, are they nice, what is the story? I put Breeze on the long line and was nervous because I could not see an owner ANYWHERE. Like come on, not all dogs like other dogs running around and the beach was deserted, so how does the owner know my dog is ok with other dogs. Anyway, the owner finally meandered by and did not even say a word, didn't ask if the dogs were all right, didn't call her dog, nothing. I was not even sure it was her dog, but he finally did follow her. Anyway, lucky Breeze is ok with other dogs and this did turn out to be a nice dog ;-).

HERDING-getting better?

Well, we had another herding lesson today, but this time I did not video the whole thing because I got to actually do the handling for a lot of the lesson.

First off when we got there Robin said that Lizzie has told her she wants more room to work, so we were going to the big ring. Whoooo, hooo, PROGRESS. We got in the big ring and we got stressed out Liz, running around checking out every inch of space and rolling, A LOT in a LOT of sheep poo or pee, who knows what it was, I just know that she was stinky and filthy. Robin said she thinks dogs do that because sheep are prey animals, and the dogs might be camoflaging their scent, smelling more like sheep so they can get closer to them??? Sounds like a good explaination to me, as good as any I would come up with. I just know Lizzie enjoys stinking and is very offended when I work hard and make her smell good. So after a few minutes in the big ring which did not seem to go so well, Robin said, well, how about we go back to the small round ring. LOL. Well, so much for progress and feeling like we were moving along.

When we got to the small round ring again Robin said she thought it would be a good time for me to try my hand at the herding. Anyway, I should have got video because I am sure it would have been good for a few laughs, and I am positive it would have made anyone else who has tried herding feel pretty good. There is a lot going on when you are herding with an inexperienced dog, especially when you are inexperienced yourself. The first big challenge is staying on your feet, you are supposed to sort of walk back wards and the sheep follow you, you walk back wards so you can watch the dog and guide them. Then while you are trying to do that there are BIG SHEEP. Those sheep are big. They get in your way and they do not want to move and apparently I am a pretty easy mark for the sheep. I have been told many times to just move them-shove through to where I need to be, to hold my ground, to not let them get me spinning in little circles, all things that are easier said then done when you are me. Then you need to watch where the sheep are going and where the dog is, when the dog moves up too far forward you need to dive through the sheep and move them out of your way so you can get where your dog is going and put your flag in front of them or let them know they are too far forward. Of course as the dog is rushing in the sheep are butting into your knees, and usually about that time the dog rushes in for a cheap shot at the sheep which makes them all stampede whildly into your knees (they like the knees), and this all happens as I am backing up and trying to stay standing. Then when the dog gets too far ahead you need to change your direction and quickly back into the center of the ring, there is a lot going on. You need to get a sort of dance going and my dance is still looking like a funky chicken, not a very pretty dance yet. I do think I did pretty well, as evidenced by my survival, and I remained standing, LOL. I do think I did slightly better then last time I tried, so I will take my successes where I can.

Robin suggested we aim for our first trial run, just the beginning level run, but she said we could really do one now but she wants us to go in and look GOOD -she felt that we could aim for the trial in our area the end of January. By then she is thinking we might be able to go in there and really look like we know what we are doing. So that would be fun.

WE GOT OK'D FOR PRACTICING ON OUR OWN! Yippie, we got the official OK to come and rent the sheep and practice on our own. She said what we need to do now is just the practice what we are doing, so she felt we could not mess ourselves up too badly right now by practicing on our own, so that is exciting. She showed me how to get the sheep out of the little holding pen if I am there practicing and how to get the sheep back into the holding pen when I am done. Did I mention sheep can be big animals and they do have minds of their own? LOL.

We got homework:
1. practice walking backwards, YEP that is really our assignment. Seems I throw like a girl, I run like a girl and I walk backwards like a girl. So the secrete is to step back and put your toe down, then put your heel down. Toe, heel, then pick up your foot, toe goes back and hits first on tip toe, then you set your heel down. Girls apparently shuffle their feet backwards and the heel is down first. Problem with that is that you can not feel something behind you until you trip ;-), convinces me to practice that skill.
2.teach Liz to follow me, meaning she has to stay behind me, using the flag to keep her from going ahead. I think that is to teach her to respect the flag and to get used to following something, because that is something she is not really comfy with. Not sure how that fits in with my agility training, where I try to teach her not to be behind me.

It was a full day, we were up and out of the house early to get to herding, then we went to the beach and played in the ocean ;-), that was MARVELOUS and we had the whole place to ourselves, we went to Andrias, my favorite seafood fast food type of restaurant, and then home to get ready for agility class. A HUGE day for Liz.

I brought Breeze so we could run over the dog walk a few times and so she could play in the ocean. I do not know what happened but at herding I parked way away from the ring so Breeze could not hear us working. I left her in the car in the shade, and left her some chewies. Well, she did her seperation anxiety panic and chewed through all sorts of things she pulled into her crate. She got a really cool Spiffy dog collar-Liz skull and cross bones one, she got two long lines and chewed them in half and then chewed all the tails off my water wubba so we did not have that to play with in the ocean. Bad little Breeze.

Coming up with a few plans...

Well, today a very kind person offered to come WAY out of their way to give me a ride to the show n go, it was a super nice offer but I deceided to just take in a movie instead. I went and saw Amelia, it was very good. Lately I do not go to the movies too often so when I do I usually treat myself to some popcorn, I usually get the kid movie meal, and then I of course want butter on the popcorn, and it always makes me quesy by the time the movie is over. So why do I continue to do that? LOL.

I spent the afternoon watching videos, and going through notes and books to figure out how I want to handle some of our training issues that we are working on and actually felt like it was a productive afternoon and I have some plans, YIPPIE!

To work on the start line, reviewing all that I can find on stress and start lines I think I just need to start at basic levels with the stay even though Breeze is great at a stay, she obviously is a little stressed even if she holds them. I think I need to play games with it and just start by being close to her, then add duration and distance and then distractions. I am going to do more clicking and marking for the behavior when I am away and have other people move in to give treats AFTER I have marked the behavior (I am hoping that helps so she is not just running willy nilly to others for treats, this still keeps it a game between her and me, but she still will be guessing when a treat comes and having a treat whithout me having to go back to her). I am TERRIBLE about reinforcing about 60% of the time by going back, and sometimes releasing her to a ball or treat thrown behind her, so got to get better about all of that. I also have some games that she is good at where she knows if she wants to get a ball she has to stay while I throw it, so maybe I can do that in class at the start line, do it by the equipment at home, and just make the whole thing seem a little more clear and try to make some new associations where she views the start line as a little more fun. A little hodgepodge of solutions I suppose.

To work on Breeze understanding how to switch from handler focus to object focus and back, I am going to play some games that Wendy Pape talked about in her Games DVD. Basically you play tug with your dog so they are very focused on you, while you are playing drop a second toy-the dog should not really be seeing where the toy is, then when they are very focused on you-you use your body position to show them where to go to get the toy. They get that toy, you can tug and get them focused, and you get the picture. I also am setting up some sequences starting with the tunnel and then hopefully involving the weaves so she can get some good rewards in short sequences for figureing out how to switch from handler focus to looking for her obstacles. Hey I hope it works.

For Liz who is being a little butt with Chloe, or maybe it is Chloe being the butt, but who ever is responsible they are not being nice, so we are going to strengthen our crate games, get them both to stay in the crate with the door open, move the crates into the same room, side by side, then facing each other, then move that stay to a mat and move their mats closer. Liz especially is terrific at crate games so we should be able to move through the first steps pretty quickly just strengthening everything and cleaning it up so that the next steps go really well. Susan Garrett says that works for getting two dogs desensitized to each other and getting along better, so I am going to give it a whirl!

To help work on my trialing, and my performance, I am setting up sequences in the back yard, I use my cute little cones and then walk the course or sequence I am going to do. I leave and that afternoon or the next morning I go out and run the whole thing-without walking it again and remembering my plan. It is nice because it gets me used to remembering and being more comfy with that, makes me really plan my training sessions so when I walk out with the dogs I am not fiddling, I know what I am going to do and I concentrate just on my dog. Hopefully when things get harried in a trial too that will give me a few more skills and more confidence so we will handle those things better ;-).

another weekend in November...

Today I was really looking forward to going to the agility trial and watching my training buddette Denise and her dog Kodi run, and about an hour form my home the car broke down in the middle of the freeway. UGhghghghg, LUCKILY the car would go about 20-30 mph (on the freeway, yep I got some looks and flipped off quite a few times even though I was in the slow vehicle lane) I was able to limp up the Cajon Pass which is a very steep summit-I was sweating that stretch of the road-but we did make it home. I was so happy we did not have to call the tow truck, in addition to the hassle of calling and waiting for a tow truck- I had Breeze and I know she would have wigged out getting in a truck with a guy she did not know. I am just glad I did not have to find out.

I know I have complained about it before, but I have really been feeling a little lost losing my classes/privates after two years of having that sort of centering point during the week. It sort of leaves me not knowing where to go with my training. That night was not just a night to go and run a few courses it was my time during the week that I went and shook off all my responsibilities, I got out of the house,went out to dinner, there was no talk of house work or kids, or bills, it was the only time that was purely my own time, and being a stay at home mom, it really was something I really looked forward to. I think in the two years I only cancelled one night because I was really sick. On the other hand I have really been enjoying training with my best agility buddy Denise, she is terrific, and I LOVE Deanna who teaches at PawPrints--she is not using the same handling system as I have been working on, so that can make it hard sometimes, but she will help me figure it out as much as she can, and she always makes her classes fun, she is always totally into the person that is running, and she always just seems totally into the class, so I never go to a class that I am not able to just leave my cares at the gate and totally get into playing with my dog. If only they were not getting ready for their big winter break from classes. I just need to find an instructor/back up person that is using the same handling system as I am, a resource for when I really get stuck, and I will feel much better. I just want someone I can schedule a lesson with if I feel really stuck, like I started working on the back yard courses from Clean Run and at times I just wanted to ask someone elses opinions about them as I was trying to work them out. It is a good thing to be taking classes in a new place in some ways. I am finding holes where I just have not known we were lacking in our skills, and then I am finding places where Breeze can do way better then I thought. I guess mixing it up is good sometimes. I just wish those classes were not going to be over so soon.

OVERALL BREEZE WAS AMAZING!!! I mean really surprisingly amazing. Why didn't I video that class???? LOL. The course we did in class was soooo fun. Breeze was about sixty five obstacles ahead of me from object 7 until the teeter, I was seriously so far behind her in the dust, LOL, but by yelling "teeter" way back at the end of that serpentines she just took off to the teeter like a bat out of you know where. She also surprised me reading that serpentine as well as she did. After our trials this weekend I was not sure how her contacts would look but she nailed the aframe contact each time, it was gorgeous. I was surprised that I ran that course almost entirely with front crosses and I was not having trouble getting to the spot I need to be so that was a shocker to me!

I really noticed though that Breeze does not do well at all switching from handler focus to obstacle focus. So if I sent her to the side of the tunnel which was on her line I can send her from WAYYYYYY back, but if I need to pull on her line a little bit which switches her to some handler focus for a second....then she falls apart and can not figure out how to look back to the tunnel. I looked at her tunnelers tape from last weekends trial and she did it there too, and I know she did it in her jumpers run, and I think that is part of the reason we do not get weave entries sometimes. So.....I am going to set some things up in the back yard and hope she figures it out soon, although I am not really sure how to teach that, or is that something a dog just figures out with experience?

Another thing I wanted to work on was my start line because Breeze just looks so uncomfortable. I had some people treat her so she got a treat while I was away....well, I did not think that would be a problem because Breeze at first would not even take a treat from others, ....but about ten seconds later she was over that and every time she saw a person that gave her a treat she would veer off to go and see if they forgot a little tidbit. LOL. goofy girl. I am going to have to figure out how to lesson her stress at the start line, I think unless I nip that in the bud now it will haunt me in the future.


So apparently not only am I meant to be homeschooling my kids....guess I am going to be homeshooling my pups! Humm, hope I am up for that and I hope I have learned enough to continue my journey with new training partners and instructors! There are a few more classes at PawPrints so I can be weaned off having a good instructor-Deanna is an excellent instructor, but they do not have classes all year. Unfortunately I think PawPrints is going to be changing instructors next session at to someone I do not think is going to mesh with my dogs so those classes will not be an option if Deanna has to move ;-(. My other ultra wonderful instructor who has worked with us for two years doing privates, has been a terrific friend has fired me as a student-LOL, and I am super bummed about this turn of events-the field we were using became unavailable and I think she was pretty much done teaching all of us. I hate when things have to change. I am nervous about continuing to train Lizzie, who can not just pop into any type of class. Mostly I will miss having my instructor around who has been a good friend and training partner as we both trained our dogs together. It is just always fun to work with a partner with the someone working on the same goals, with a lot of the same challenges, and of course I learned a ton about handling from her. OOH well, it will all work out. I am just feeling a bit sad about it today, but now everyone should watch out because I am going to be on the lookout for more training partners, and I have talked to a friend from the Acton classes and I think we are going to set aside a night every week to work together. Without my privates and the classes in Acton the week feels like I have so much time. On the plus side I am not missing the driving and the time I spent behind the wheel every week!!!! Guess like all of life, the only thing that remains constant is that everything changes eventually!

Diana her work on the back yard sequences from Clean Run, in the November issue on page 8-the courses are posted on her blog. She made it look like so much fun I decided to set it up myself. You know looking at the tapes, she has such a pretty little backyard she is working in, with the fall leaves, and then I look at my dirt....oooh well-guess I am feeling bad for myself today. LOL.
I have three dogs that can do agility so I thought, hummm, how fun would that be to try to work out the same things with three different dogs with three very different styles and timing that is totally different for each dog. I did the first exercise with Liz and wanted to try it with a front cross instead of just doing a 180, and then that made me need a rear cross, then I ran it like the magazine showed it, then I ran it with Breeze, and then little Chloe who has not done agility in awhile. I did a lot of practice with her on serpentines-way back when- and she just read jump 2-3 as a serpentine, so I had to go into the pocket and wrap her to get her to take that jump from behind, and guess if I was going to trial her we would have to do a lot of training on that-it is weird when ever she sees two jumps side by side she just ignores me and does serpentines, LOL. Doing that little wrap instead of a front cross made me have to do a rear cross with Chloe, but it all worked. Somehow on Chloes tape I did not get all the jumps in the frame, ughgghg.

It was fun to try to run this sequence with three such different dogs. Liz runs like a freight train, she is very fast and sometimes almost too responsive and you have to be very clear and fast, Breeze is fast but not as fast and she just feels different to run and Chloe, boy she alternates between being very velcro and slow and then all of a sudden will just take off and totally ignore me, so it always makes it interesting to run her, LOL, she is a cutie.

Liz Speed Racer at class November 2, 09

Liz had her class tonight. Actually this is her first class she is the only dog I am working and she is doing marvelously....for her ;-). It is funny she does much better going around the yard and to the line off leash, something I would never trust her to do before because of her zoomies. She is so responsive when she understands what I want--translation when I am clear with my cues and she is doing something she understands, and if she does not understand and I try to fix things....she is LOST and really frustrates easily. So the box sequences was one we did tonight on this side of the yard that Lizzie works best in, except where I was out of position she did gorgeous work, and when I was out of position she did what I told her, even if it was not what I wanted, LOL. The object discrimination exercises on the other side of the yard was the side of the yard that has more shadows, the pee area, the empty pool and required me to try a few things with her ... that were a lot tougher to keep her happy and not frustrated, I lost her once, but the next exercise she was back working again. All in all, Liz is coming along, her handler....well, to tell the truth I think I am coming along too, LOL!

BLEW BREEZE TN-N ---she got her first title ;-)

BREEZE GOT HER FIRST TITLE, she is now CP's Blew Breeze TN-N, whoo hooo!!! It is a tunnlers title, but we will take it. She has done three nadac trials and they only have one tunnelers course in each of our she has Q'd in all three. HEY, at least we can be consistent in something, TUNNELERS!

So I had worked on all day on making her happier at the trial, this was last run of the day, I got all confused because everyone was in an uproar trying to get the trial done and someone yelled to be set, I thought I heard the judge say good luck, she was way far away, and so I took my leash off, well, apparently she had not said it, so I got yelled at because of that, which starting things off bad. I chose not to even tell Breeze to stay because she had been stressing at the start line so bad, so she took off way before I would have liked, so I started off behind, LOL. The only thing I really would have liked to do better was to keep running straight into her line out of the second to last tunnel until she committed to the last tunnel, then start heading for the end, there was no need I had to worry about getting to the end it was a tunnel, what I did was take off for the end before she committed to the last tunnel, thinking I could push her out with my arm, but using body much better would that have been?

SOOOO back to the first of the day. Yesterday Breeze had stopped playing with her ball before the second run, and was not prancing to the gate. Hummm, she did not want to down at the start line and she was sniffing, which is unusual for her.

Next run she was walking slowly and not pulling to the gate, and would not take food, YIKES, and then would not stay at the start line and was really worried when I tried to leave her. She ran slow the first three obstacles and then got happy and excited as the run went on. She would not play in the yard a couple of hundred feet from the agility field.

So I went home and thought what am I going to do? I knew it was a start line thing, and possibly the gate area, and I knew I had to change the picture for my dog. So today I went to the trial way before I needed to and several times during the day I went and got Breeze out of the crate, got super good food and bagged the toys she was not playing with anyway, took her to warm up, did the practice jump and took her to the gate, did a lot of tricks, gave her a lot of treats and did everything like I was ready to run. I went and looked at the board, we stood in the throng of people waiting (we of course made sure we were not in anyone elses way or bothering any other dogs...). Then I would be happy and excited and then go and put her back in the crate. I would even wait until there were not people right waiting to go in and I would do some tricks at the gate opening. So by the third time Breeze would play in the field again and was pulling to go in the ring. So I know we will have to work more on making the start stay less stressful.....but I feel like we made some good progress, and good thing we did this show to find out that there are more things to work on. I also made sure there was someone at the end of the run with ROAST BEEF, something I think Breeze will only get at the end of a run. Anyway, I think we got some EXCELLENT work done at this trial.

So our other run of the day was a jumpers.

Breeze was happy going in the ring, WIN #1, she downed at the start line and looked happy about it WIN #2, then she did NOT hold her start line stay, not a surprise and not something I was going to really stress on at this point-I felt I had bigger fish to worry about and that was the stress at the start line, and so far that goal was being accomplished. That said, check out the line of jumps all in a straight line. What happens with a border collie and a straight line of jumps, THEY GO FAST, and what happens with a really slow handler......THEY GO FAST WITHOUT THEIR HANDLERS-leaving their slow handlers in the dust, LOL. So anyway, I got her around until the jump before the first tunnel entrance and I knew I had to get over for my front cross, and she was so happy and fast, and so I just decided to go with it and keep her happy and moving. We did not get a Q but we got a second.

So the final tally:
1-first place and Q in Standard-my whole reason for entering.
A big ol' E in the second standard run-but we got our contacts,
a first but no Q in the next jumpers,
the next day a second in jumpers with No Q,
and then a second and a Q in Tunnelers WHICH GOT US OUR TITLE.

We got some great work done in training, some areas we need to work in, I got to sit and talk with the nicest people ever that talked to me a lot about their border collies and the breeder they got them from-so a good connection for the future....
And I have to send our a HUGE THANKS to Denise and her Mom for coming to support me, cheer me on and tape my runs on Sunday afternoon. That was so great of them to come, and it really made me feel TERRIFIC.


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