A PEEK INTO MY RECORD KEEPING-In the spirit of new beginnings...

Well, since Cricket turned ONE I feel like we are in a new phase. It sort of made me feel like getting things organized and doing some fall cleaning. I spent the last two weeks really cleaning out the agility yard and repairing the equipment, getting rid of what we do not use, cleaning the frontyard and cleaning out my training logs.

I feel like over the years I have been able to come up with a system for keeping track of my training that I can keep up with because it is quick and easy, but still gives me info that I need. With three dogs I can get confused. I am sure I am not the only one that sometimes finds it easy to get into routinues and forget some training that needs to be done until I show up at a trial and remember we have not done a panel jump in a long time....or I can tend to do things that are easy and fun and maybe not train some things that might be harder because we really need to do more of them. By record keeping it is easy to see right away what skills we are working hard and what skills we have not worked in awhile or like for the relaxation protocol we can keep straight where everyone is at.

Thought I would share what I do and give everyone a peek into my notebooks. I actually cleaned everything out and started with a fresh slate.

First off I have a small notebook, THIS IS THE BOOK I USE FOR MOST OF MY RECORD KEEPING, it is just a presentation notebook I got at Target that came all set up with the dividers.

I printed the front of my notebook with the bordergirls names and I stick stickers with inspirational quotes or thoughts or ideas as I find them. Right now it is blank because I just cleaned out my notebook for my fall cleaning, so I am looking forward to finding some things I want to paste onto my notebook.


On the first page I have two sheets in a page protector. The first sheet is a sheet to remind me of the CORE foundation exercises that I feel should be worked A LOT. Things like Crate Games, It's Yer Choice, Restrained Recalls, the 1-2-3 Game, etc...

I have seven games that are earmarked to be worked. I find by looking at that list all the time I remember to work them into daily life. So I might be getting the dogs dinner ready in the kitchen and drop food and play Its Yer Choice with the dogs, or I will be walking through the house and remember to grab a few treats and as a dog comes to my side in my reinforcement zone I will say "yes" and treat.

I think if I was not flipping past tha list once or twice a day...I would forget to do them as often as I do. On the other side of that sheet I have a list/description of the 37 games we did in the Susan Garrett recall course, because most of those were things that I want to continue working on and great foundation exercises. The list with the description helps me remember what each exercise is ;-).

Next there are three different sections. One for each dog. Each dog got assigned a color because I can be a ding bat and sometimes record the wrong dog on the wrong page, so all of Crickets flow sheets are red, all of Breeze's are blue and all of Lizzies are green.

This is the part I LOVE about my notebook. I made up flow sheets, one has all the exercises from the recall course, one has just an agility flow sheet with all the obstacles I try to keep track of training for, one is a relaxation protocol sheet, and I have a little flow sheet to keep track of tricks or shaping exercises. Sometime during the day I just go and make a check mark by the things we have done. It might look complicated but it takes all of ten seconds and makes me look at the list and the check off sheet and remember what we have not been working and notice what we have worked hard on. That way I remember to add in the training exercises that I would most likely forget if I was not keeping records.




LAST IN EACH SECTION THERE IS A FLOW SHEET FOR RECORDING SHAPING AND TRICK SESSIONS I got this flow sheet from Susan Garrett and Say YEs, I think it was on the 2x2 DVD.

There are four pages for each dog, and three sections one for each dog. In the back of my little notebook I have two calenders I found at Target that fit into the notebook. I use these, the red for one Cricket, and the blue one for Breeze and Lizzie. When Cricket is not learning so many things at once I will only have one calendar, but right now there is a lot of learning going on. The Calenders are to record IDEAS, THINGS WE NEED TO TRAIN, MAYBE JUST GOOD THOUGHTS. So I can flip to those and be reminded maybe of what I had thought about working on the days before.

Now I have three totally seperate notebooks that I do not use all the time
, one for each dog and you guessed it in their colors.
Crickets has the Leslie McDevitt exercise written on the front that says before you train take a second, close your eyes and

I really like to remember that because it helps me to keep it light and keep the training we are about to do in perspective-it is not rocket science and the fate of the world does not rest with what we do in any one day, this is meant to be fun-so I always want to remember that!
Each notebook has a picture I love of my dogs!

In these notebooks I can get more in depth with record keeping if I want. I have each notebook seperated into sections, so there is a section on recall/foundation games, one on contacts, one for jumps and jumping, one for the teeter, weaves, start lines, tunnels, handling, and one for shaping or tricks. Each section has some graph paper if I want to draw out courses, and just some notebook paper.
If I have a check in my small notebook under Sept 28 saying I worked on contacts...I can go to the big notebook and make notes about what happened with our contact training that day. That way I can go back and see a flow sheet of what is going on with that obstacle and find what was going on that day if I choose to record more about it. I do not always go back and record more info, usually I just have the flow sheet, but for Cricket who is just learning, or say like Breeze who is having a weave problem, or even Lizzie who I record more about her foundation/recall stuff because that is my biggest focus with her... I can go through and really record as much as I want to help figure out what is going on and keep us on track.

I do have several flow sheets for teaching weaves that I got from the 2X2 DVD on a clip board for Cricket when she starts her 2x2 and for Breeze while we are trying to work on the weave entries-so those are extra sheets I take out to train with.

ANOTHER THING THAT I FIND VERY HELPFUL THAT IS IN THE FRONT OF MY NOTEBOOK IS MY DISTRACTION LIST FOR EACH DOG. I rate as many distractions as I can think of for each dog with a rating from 1-10. I thought this was stupid when I first did it but it really helps to remember what level of distractions I can add and just keeps me more aware of where each dog is at. I have to rework the distraction list fairly frequently. I also have a list with rewards for each dog rated with their most valuable to least valuable. I put things like LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW for Lizzie, which suprisingly is a VERY VALUABLE reward. One thing I realized as I made my distraction list is that Lizzie has LOTS of things that are 9-10 on her list, and lots of things that are 1-3, it is weird, but not many things that are just middle of the road. So how like Liz is that she either can handle monster distractions and doesnt care or....things send her over the top, not much middle ground. Cricket has a lot of middle distractions, not much that sends her totally over the top. Breeze has a bunch of things on the lower levels of the distraction list, and just one or two that are 10's and can really get to her, kids that she is afraid of or the ball which drives her over the top, or dogs she knows running around or doing things like agility. Doing my distraction list really gave me a clearer picture of each of my dogs personality.


For a day that started out with a heat wave and temps over 112 degrees it ended up being a pretty lucky day. Whooo Hooooo!!!

Today was my lucky day. In our agility classes the instructor gives out tickets for people that help with setting up the agility course. The last session was a bit irritating because there was only me and one other person that would help with setting up the courses--there was a group of people that would just sit around and talk-which is fine but it was irritating when they got tickets for setting up and I did not. I usually did not get a ticket for helping because after class I had to go drop off Breeze and get Lizzie for her class. It was hot, and the middle of the summer so it was hard work ... because I left a few minutes early they got tickets and I rarely did.

ANYWAY, you know Karma has got to be a real thing because I won the drawing of the tickets and got a FREE AGILITY CLASS this session. So I might have missed out on a lot of tickets I feel like I should have got...but it does not matter because I WON a free session of an agility class, WHOOOO HOOOOO.

To wrap up my day I worked with Cricket doing some practice with her end behavior for her contact, at several different places in the park. It was the first day I had taken it on the road....and Cricket was amazing. The first time or two we tried it she was sort of iffy and then it just sort of clicked we just do what we have been doing at home. BOY it is so amazing to see the little wheels turning and see a baby dog figuring things out. It is just so amazing to me that the dogs are even willing to do all this for us, and they can figure it out. Today I am amazed with my little puppy... amazed she is so willing to try to figure me and so willing to work to figure out what I want out. She just alwasys seems so happy to be working with me,....who could not appreciate that? Today watching her I just felt AMAZED.

Where do Weave Poles go to die? Training Challenge

After today you are all going to know my dirty little secret, LOL, but you will all know about my weave pole stash.....just too bad they changed the spacing of the weave poles... I am very happy they did, but I wish I had bought all my weave poles with the new spacing ;-). Just my luck, always a day late and a dollar short!

After fretting and thinking for a long time...I decided to go whole hog and go totally to the 24 inch poles for the weaves. My dogs do go back and forth with the different spacing and do fine, but I do notice the footwork changes, esp with Breeze, and since all the trials here are using the 24 in...I just feel like it would be best to work out their footing on what they will trial on. It really will be so much better for Breeze. Cricket should just learn on what she will trial with, and because she is so young, I feel better about the wider spacing to protect her body and spine. Sooooo....I had to buy some shiny new 2x2 sets of poles for Cricket to learn the weaves on. The 2x2's were Crickets birthday gift-they were actually ready to be picked up on her birthday, that worked out nice!

I got a really neat set of twelve poles last spring with the 24 inch spacing. These break down fairly easily into sets of three poles, which is what I usually use for entry training and for most practice. I can use these poles with sets of 3, 6, 9, or 12 poles, or add on a set of 2x2 for 14 poles. These are pretty sturdy, my dogs SLAM into the poles so they poles have to be pretty heavy and need to be staked. I have a little kit with these so they can be made into channels if I ever wanted to use those and because they break down so much, they are easy to take places or drag around.

Soooooo...the problem with making the leap and doing all 24 in spaced poles.....I have a bunch of sets of 21 in spaced poles. I am not sure how I ended up with all these poles but what do I do with the rest of the weave poles? YIKES! I have made a huge investment in weaves over the years, there is a set of WAMs, a set of 21 in 2x2's, and a couple of sets with channels that adjust easily, and then the set I saved up for for a long time, that I LOVED, a set of really nice, heavy competition poles with really nice non-skid bases. I got those shortly before everyone started talking seriously about changing the spacing. Figures-that was bad timing!

So now all these weave poles lie in the weave pole grave yard behind the pool....poor weave poles ;-)!

In the interests of not looking like a hoarder, I did get ahold of the beginning agility instructor at our club and told her that I had two sets of weaves for some students that could use them....one of of the ladies came today and picked up one set. It made me feel pretty happy to see a beginner that was so impressed and excited at getting their first set of poles. The lady who got the poles has a min. Schnauzer who everyone says is a really nice little dog-so I hope they go to good use, glad they are out of my house and not sitting in my back yard.

I could only get myself to part with two sets right now....but maybe in the next few weeks I can part with another one ;-).


In the meantime for my CHALLENGE--
We had an exciting time--I went to the park and was working on sits and downs from a distance-so the dogs get used to responding to commads right away no matter where they are-wouldn't that be nice?.

I was doing working this exercise with an xpen. I dragged the xpen to several places in the park-first on concrete so I could try to throw the treat to the doggie if they did their sit or down while I was away from them. Well, that was a bust because I could not throw correctly, the dogs were not impressed when their treats they worked so hard for would end up ten feet away from them where they could not touch them, LOL. My poor dogs! I had to make due with giving the command then going back and treating. Everyone did really super good.

I had a red letter moment when Cricket who is very motion sensitive saw about thirty joggers that I could tell were going to go right by where she was in the xpen. I went over and shifted into doing some crate games with the xpen. I had not worked the crate games with the xpen before, but I opened the door, gave her a treat for sitting,.....repeated a few times... SOOOO by that time the joggers were right by her crate I was feeling very brave,...I opened the xpen and said "BREAK" (Cricks release word), and stepped on the leash as Cricket leapt out of the xpen. With the runners going by I knew what I hoped would happen but I was not sure. I could not believe when Cricket burst out of the xpen and thought for a millionth of a second then raced right back into the xpen. I think she understands that Yer Out Yer In game from Crate Games. I was impressed at the good decision she made. She is such a good girl.

I had some similar really good results with Lizzie. I think I will do a lot more of this work with Lizzie so she has a really solid auto down when I say Down, might be a life saver if she ever takes off-which has been known to happen with the little Lizard.

I am going to try to get some video later on in the week of the girls doing their distance sits/downs practice at the park, having the joggers end up there was a total surprise but turned out to be a fantastic distraction for training.

Cricket picking up her toys

We have not posted a trick in a long time....geneally around here we have been doing a lot of foundation and getting ready for a lot more AGILITY training now that Cricket is a year old. I wanted to post a video of one of our favorite games to do while we are watching tv. I had the BEST video all ready to go and I am still learning the new editing program and it erased my video, and I had erased the footage off the camera, boo hooo!!! Soooo we had to rerecord this and Cricket was a little more tired. I could have waited to do it another day...but that would have been too easy, LOL!

I trained this by back chaining--so I...
1. Shaped Cricket to look at the bucket-which took ten seconds...maybe..
2. put a toy in the bottom of the bucket and shaped her to touch the ball with her mouth in any way. TREATS WENT IN THE BUCKET.
3. Click and Treat for mouthing and then picking up the toy.
4. As she picked up the toy I click and treated which actually made the ball fall back into the bucket....exactly what I was looking for. This was the first step I took a little more time with, I wanted her to really practice the ball falling into the bucket.
5. I held the toy at the edge of the bucket and she would grab it and let it fall into the bucket.
6. Now there was a lot of reinforcement for the toy falling into the bucket. I had delivered all the treats at the bottom of the bucket, just dropped them in so she would really get used to dipping her head in the bucket....so when I put the toy on the ground right next to the bucket she quickly figured out how to get that toy dropping back into the bucket.
7. Pretty quickly add in a second toy, start right from the start but it should go really fast.
8. I think it is pretty important to add in at least a couple of toys right away so the trick gets generalized.





It's a BIRTHDAY MONTH!!! Today is my Breezies birthday. She is FOUR years old today which is just hard for me to believe. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BREEZIE. This is the video I did of her first two years.



Another week....Another challenge!

I swear Breeze thought we were trialing again today, at 6 am she came and woke me up licking my face...she never does that-I thought she was acting like she thought we were late to be going somewhere. Usually we do two days when we trial but since I did not know how Breeze would be feeling I had only signed up for the one day.

For our challenge this week I got all the CRAP together to take all three BC to the trial today. We were not running but I wanted to let Breeze hang around and feel more at home and work on some stays ringside, and she was more then willing to play with me there ;-), she was a happy girl. Cricket just needs to do some look at that with dogs running and work on not jumping on everyone until released and Lizzie just needed to work in new places.

Everyone did fine, but I am EXHAUSTED! LOL, tonight I am just hoping as time goes on I get more organized and taking all the dogs gets easier!

you know...Open is not such a bad place to be....LOL!

THANKS SO MUCH EVERYONE for all the really encouraging comments everyone made about Liz and her little test. You know when it is the dog you love and you work hard, sometimes the huge milestones might not seem like a lot to other people but gosh, I know how much they mean to us! It really made me feel good that you all understood how huge that was for the little Lizard and I!

Today was our first trial in two months, we have hardly done any agility because the last trial was when I figured out Breeze had hurt her back, so today we also saw the return of the SEPARATION ANXIETY Breeze used to suffer from. Ughghg, I so thought we were over that. Breeze chewed through her crate-she was found running through the bulding...so glad she was ok, and she was not going to be left at the start line, during JWW she was trembling, ahhhhhhhh, oooh Breeze.

AKC has the super nice novice courses, and you can get a bunch of faults and still Q in novice. LOL, of course Breeze and I SAILED through novice, and I was feeling like hot stuff. I had it figured out how many more trials it would take us to finish up our open title because of course we would sail through open like we had sailed through novice....LOL, RIGHT!!! Our first two open JWW courses were a piece of cake and then .....something happened and we stalled. I am not saying this to sound like I feel bad, or am giving up, but it SERIOUSLY feels like we will never Q again. We will be stuck in Open hell for the rest of our lives, LOL. Today I am not even disappointed or frustrated by that...IT IS WHAT IT IS.

The weaves are killing us. I keep thinking we have them licked....and they seem so good at home and we get to a trial and boom....they are not looking so good.

I thought with all the stay work and impulse control stuff our start line would be FANTASTIC---WELL WRONG! Our start line was about the worse it has ever been, I ran with Breeze in standard so we got around the start line thing, but in JWW she broke her start line, went AROUND the first jump which put her in a rotten positon to jump the second jump so she dropped that bar-the rest of the run was fantastic, but it sure did not get us our Open JWW title!

I thought we would be rusty with our handling, and that....I am VERY proud of and I feel like we did GREAT. I managed to control my arms flapping around and just ran, and we did the actual handling on the course pretty durn good.

I have not done a lot of weaves but I was practing with just entries and a lot of them at a fast speed....I THOUGHT we actually might do those this time, WELL WRONG.

I was so wrong about today, I guess I am not good predicting our performance ;-). Maybe dogs like to keep us guessing.

YIKES,..The pin wheels were FUN. It was a GREAT course, I just wish we could have made it prettier. The 13 to 14 jumps to the tunnel made the dogs really build up a lot of speed, then there was such a small area from the tunnel to the weaves, I knew that was going to be a challenge and ....what can I say we tried the weaves twice...screwed them up both times and went on. NO Q for us in Jumpers between not getting the weaves and the start line fiasco. No Open JWW title today.

WE WERE SOOO CLOSE, and yet....so far to that elusive Q. GREAT course, again a lot of fun. EXCEPT for the weaves the only bobble was after the dog walk Breeze is supposed to do her down and she just stopped,...stood there and looked at me like I was NUTS when I said MAT! So I repeated the MAT command and she looked like I was crazy but laid down. I was pretty happy she stopped and checked in actually because that tunnel opening was right in front of her face, she did not think about going on-so I was impressed with that. It was cool to choose our own position on the table, I had Breeze do her auto down, but it felt nice not to have to worry about it. The 12 in height on the tire (Breeze jumps 16 in AKC so the tire is now at 12 with the new changes to the AKC rules) did not phase her at all. Because it took us twice to get the weaves there was no open standard Q for us today ;-(.


Well, once again I am have to eat my words. Susan Garrett posted the webinar on the recallers blog ...when I listened in real time there were a lot of technical glitches -it was cutting on and off and the feed was freezing, it was really hard to watch, so I had missed a lot of what she talked about. Listening to the full thing with out all those glitches....some huge light bulbs went off and I have a new Plan of Action for my little Lizard. I think like people suggested..a lot of the concepts were things I have heard before but all of a sudden I felt like I GOT IT! How to apply it started to sink in. Maybe my frustration trying to figure out how to help Liz kept me from really listening the first time. I guess I have to reverse my first judgements and say the Distraction Webinar was really, really helpful.

A few stories SG shared and some of the HUGE strides Lizzie has made have left me feeling really hopefully about what Lizzie and I might eventually be able to accomplish. I was very, very sad after listening to the webinar and figuring out what I feel like I need to do...but then I felt really pretty good that we had a plan that seems to be working really well.

A few things from my new POA--Plan of Action:
**No more agility classes until I can get a handle on the running off, she is doing so much better but she still runs off at least once in every class. I think in her mind that is how we are at the agility yard. I feel like the running off behavior just has to not be practiced anymore, ever...I am taking her down to the yard and working on just a few obstacles and lots of crate games in that yard and making myself stop before she gets into the mode where she wants to go running. I can do sequences in my back yard and she never runs off-so we will be doing a lot more back yard agility, not as fun as classes, but, maybe a break and the work will mean we will be able to do a lot more agility in the future.

**introducing more distractions IN MY BACKYARD. Instead of having her good in the back yard and then going to new places, keeping her in the place she does well, and introducing distractions there. When we get to huge distractions in the back yard then start going other places.

**I am finding a way to involve myself in what Lizzie finds rewarding. Like she is obsessed with looking out the front window...I don't let her do that until she comes and does a hand touch or a sit and then I release her to stare out the window, we have been working on recalling away from the window, getting her to interact with me and releasing her back to her ultimate reward--the window. I have put her on a head halter and when we walk in the past she could care less if I was with her and treating her was not that rewarding because she was already getting as many rewards as she wanted from interacting with the smells, etc... I think that is fine for most dogs but it kept me from being able to reward Lizzie, with the head halter that is not allowed until I get some good behavior then I get to reward her with as much sniffing as she wants. The funny thing is that the more I do things like that the less she even seems to want to leave and go get those big rewards. A lot of times now I release her to go and stare out the window and she won't leave me, or I release her to go sniff and she just looks at me like she wants to keep playing with me.

**LOTS of crate games to work on impulse control, increasing drive and motivation and transfer value to recalls and agility objects. I want to transfer some of the crate games to chairs and mats.

**LOTS of Its Yer Choice games to build impulse control.

**LOTS of work on the games we did from the SG recall course to build value for me in Lizzie's little world ;-).

**LOTS of work on shaping, and letting her fail a little bit sometimes so she learns to handle stress and sees that is no big deal.

**Really monitoring and being careful that I do not use a lot of luring with training. SG talked a lot about how important it is to develop the dogs ability to make decisions to make decisions and then get a reward, if you lure you take away the dogs ability to make decisions.

So, a couple of days ago we had an assignment to go to several new places over a few days have a very light line on the dog's collar and their regular leash. We were to get the dog excited and then take the leash off the dog and just see what they did. If they ran off, just get them back and start over again. The light line was obviously there for safety. If the dog choose to stay with us, showing they valued staying with us and working with us then they got a big treat.

This game was in the category of TESTING THE VALUE. At Say Yes training SG says their philosophy is to BUILD THE VALUE,...THEN TEST THE VALUE. So this game was really a test to see how I am doing on building Lizzies value for me! These 'tests' can give you a lot of information about where you need to concentrate on more.

I took all the dogs to a Target and Staples at night fall a few days ago, then on a whim decided to do a real test with Lizzie yesterday afternoon at the entrance to Target at a busy time of day, followed by going to the park with lots of smells. I can not believe how good she did. She sort of started walking off one time and came right back, I never had to touch her light line. She relaxed enough to tug and play, with only the light line off and she still did not even think of leaving. I DID NO COMMANDS, LIKE CALLING LIZZIE OR USING THE LEASH TO KEEP HER WITH ME. How cool is that? ON the end of the tape I walked off and Liz just had her light line....she picked up her toy and came over to me. You know I do not know how far Lizzie will get, but for her to be able to do some tests like that....in those distracting environments...boy I am sooo proud of her!



Morganne http://urbanborders.blogspot.com/ asked if I am raising Cricket differently from the other dogs. It is funny because if I had another puppy right now I would do things differently even though Cricket is not a year yet, but luckily I do keep learning more.

Breeze will turn 4 this month and Liz is 4, so it was not that long ago that they were the puppies. I got those dogs when I was taking classes mainly at a place that does agility that is not that competitive so I was never exposed to a lot of the skills I wish I had had for foundation with Liz and Breeze.

Liz and Breeze were my first border collies and I had been really freaked out by reading all the cautions about border collies and how difficult they were and not for everyone. I was not sure I would measure up to owning a border collie I was a bit intimidated. I think I worried a lot more about heading off problems because I had heard so many horror stories about BC behaviors. I was rushing around to lots of classes, which were not always the best classes for my dogs-some just are too slow a pace and very boring for an energetic little puppy. Do not get me wrong, I had a blast with Liz and Breeze but I did worry more...sort of like having your first kid where you worry more about everything-you enjoy but you worry more then you need to.


The other big difference was that I had two BC puppies about six months apart. What was I thinking with that??? Liz s a super challenging dog, LOL, and I really saw that I needed to get a handle on some of that...so Breeze who was really a perfect dog got pushed to the side more then I would have liked. She is a good dog because she was a good dog. I really see today some of my lack of foundation, which because she is so good has not been that much of an issue...but I really see what I would have liked to do differently and I am lucky she just had such a good nature.

So fast forward to Cricket. I think I have a mix of way more strict rules and guidelines-but I am way more playful, and I finally know how to add more play into training---I want to learn a lot more about that but I think I have come a long way from where I was. I have a lot more rules but they are just part of life, not any rules that I really even think about, they are just a natural part of life now. I think I reward only for average or better performance/ behavior now and I do not feel as compelled to try to make Cricket be right all the time (meaning I do a lot of shaping and try not to do any luring)-- with easy things I let her figure out things more or be wrong sometimes which I think helps her handle stressful things a lot better-hopefully she will not be upset by making wrong choices sometimes-I learned that from mistakes I made with Lizzie! I still try to break things down so the dog can understand and start with little things, but I just don't jump in as quickly.

I do a lot of tricks with Cricket but way less fun trick that are fun to show.. and I have focused a lot more on the things I really want to see in a couple of years. We do a lot more foundation behaviors that might look like nothing and might be pretty boring for others to watch.

I quit worrying so much by the time Cricket came around-I think I just feel more confident, so that just adds even more to how much I have enjoyed her. I have only done one class with Cricket and that was a four session recall class. Everyone at our training club seems very freaked out that we are not doing classes.. but I take her around other agility classes and trials, but most of the classes go to slow for me to keep a puppy really engaged and use too much luring for what I want to do with Cricket. Cricket is just one of those once in a life time dogs I think that is very easy to train, and has so much drive to boot....so all those things have made being with her sooo much fun. The great thing is that all this new foundation work I have done for Cricket is that it has helped me fill in the holes that I had in my older girls foundation training.



As far as the challenge, we took our agility things to the park on Monday. We had a great time doing that! There were a lot of kids playing but the were pretty far away, so just a bit of a distraction. We really could have moved closer but I wanted to work on the agility so I left the distractions out of things.

On Wednesday we worked around the soccer team practicing, the big focus of that day was with Breeze and using enough distance that she could work and think with all those super cool soccer balls around. I sure have found what is the top of her distraction list, and her favorite reward.

On Tuesday and Thursday I took the dogs to a cool outdoor eating area while my daughter was at swimming team. It was really nice because I just spread out a blanket on the floor and worked on shaping some tricks and doing some recall games. There were no diners...so I did not worry about bothering them but there were teenagers on bikes and roller skates going around and the little court yard is on the corner of the street with the cars going slowly on two sides. Go figure Liz did terrific. Cricket was pulling and wanted to see the kids, but I made her stop and do something to earn the visit, when I released her so was afraid of the kids, LOL. It was not the most exciting work but we were able to get some nice work with distractions.

One of my challenges and the thing I have been focusing on this week has been trying to make sure that when we work distractions to not rely on the leash as much as possible, meaning that I pay attention enough and try to act proactively enough, manipulate what we are doing and the rewards enough that I am not using the leash to keep the dogs with me, but help them so they make good choices ;-). We actually are doing pretty well, I have been pleased. Susan Garrett had a video on her web site of her dogs on a walk, loose when they see a deer and she does not say anything but the dogs look at the deer, and look back to her and do not try to chase it. YIKES! That is something to aspire too!! LOL, if Lizzie ever gets to be that good.....you all should nominate me for the trainer hall of fame....LOL, no needs to worry about that for awhile though!!!

I sort of feel like I am cheating on the challenge though because with my daughter having swim team practice almost every night... that means I have an hour and a half to kill, or I just have to keep driving back and forth. It is almost like I have an enforced time, although, gosh it is so hot during that part of the day that that makes it a bit hard with the dogs and rotating them around. It has turned out to be the perfect time of the year to be doing the recall course and all this homework.

Shaping Liz to tug with DISTRACTIONS

One thing I have figured out from our recall course is that over time Missy Liz has figured out that she likes food the best so will refuse to tug or play if she knows food is around,....she really is the smartest dog!! Usually food is a good reward for her anyway because it helps her calm and think, and she is one of the dogs that spends way too much time way too excited. ;-).

I did decide to work with her on learning to tug with the distraction of her breakfast. We have a lot of training to do with distractions so this is a good start!

I am so sorry for Crickets barking, when I did this again this morning I left Cricket and Breeze sitting next to us in a down stay and they minded their manners much better, but I wanted to capture the beginnings of shaping Liz to tug.

I was suprised at how fast Lizzie got the idea that we had changed some things and she needed to focus and play to get her breakfast! Poor Liz being forced to play, LOL!

Progress Report on our Recall training

So far I have found Susan Garretts recall course to be excellent and I am so glad I signed up for it. So you want to know how our recall training is going? ...well, let me tell you anyway! hahahaha!

We of course started off strong, and all three of the dogs were just little super stars. They all had their strengths and weaknesses, and some things were easier for one dog, and some things were easier for the other dogs, but overall...to be truthful, sweet little Breeze actually was a little behind the others.

The last week though.....the games are using a lot more distractions and doing some testing of the skills we have been working, and poor Lizzie....well, she is once again looking like a special needs girl,...sigh...she simply is not ready for such things. I think Liz and I will be staying at the basic foundation steps for a LONG time. It makes me feel so good too (NOT!) when SG said that your dog is a reflection of your skills as a trainer. YEP, I realize that...at this point I just want to know what I am missing with the Lizard. Maybe as we keep working and Liz gets to the point she can do the higher level games and we work through our distraction list it will all become clearer.

This is where I really feel it is hard to work with three dogs....I have the other dogs working around their highest level distractions and they are doing great with that, and poor Liz is really doing well...considering... if I was only working with Liz and had no one to compare her to...then it would be easier to just concentrate on how many great strides she has made, but the other dogs make it hard to not see how far we still have to go.

Tonight Susan Garrett had her Distraction Webinar which she has said she plans on packaging and selling. I have totally loved almost everything else I have bought from Susan and I have bought it all!!! Not so sure about the webinar, unless the second one has a lot more info and some more helpful ideas, not sure I found it helpful enough to consider buying.

The first two coaching calls were great and left me feeling like I had learned so much and gave me some great things to think about that have really helped our training, and I always love listening to Susan- she is a great speaker but with this webinar tonight after it was over I just felt frustrated and it all seemed like the same things you hear from everyone about dog training over and over and over, really good sound principles, but if I really knew how to apply it we would have fixed her issues long ago. Maybe the webinar will seem much better when it is edited and I can sit down and listen to it without it disconnecting or the sound cutting off every few minutes.

Maybe I am looking for more concrete answers, or maybe I just am not getting it yet.. or maybe it was the fact that the webinar which was over the Internet kept freezing and disconnecting, so I missed a lot of it.

One thing that really made me think and I would recommend checking out is an article that was in the last Teamwork Ebook SG released and it was in Clean Run March '06, called "But it is Not a Border Collie" I found that really interesting talking about how if a dog is under aroused they are way more prone to worrying about the environment, or they won't work in the heat, or they won't want to work if other dogs are barking and if they are overstimulated they can not think or work and how you can help your dog to find a more comfortable middle zone where they are excited enough to work at a high level.


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