Archive for the ‘Alice’ Category

Alice Backyard Agility

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

A few videos of Alice running an open 12 weave channel to the Manners Minder (we also work 2 x 2’s, but they’re not in this video, she can fairly reliably weave four poles straight up now). There’s also a little of her targeting a mat as early stages of our running dogwalk.

I am varying my position in relation to her and the weaves with every repetition, and I even do some rear crosses in the videos. The OMD folks say you should start varying your position and working on independence from the very beginning, because that way that’s how things just are from the start.

One of the things I love about this puppy (almost 11 months old now) is that she is SO resilient. We had some technical difficulties with the Manners Minder and she just goes with it (at least she knows verbal markers so she knows when she’s right even if the MM doesn’t think she is!). I also love how she pounces at it to try and get it to feed her.

I love that she ignores the neighbor dog barking at her too!

Really loving training her, and really excited about her!

Channel Weaves Back:

Channel Weaves Side:

Channel Weaves Front (with rear crosses):

Mat Work:

Alice Agility: Teeter, Dogwalk, Sequencing

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

The hot weather broke somewhat so Sue and I took advantage of it and worked the puppies!

Alice is doing great! She’s 10.5 months old now, and she’s for sure in a bit of a young teenager phase, where she knows how to do the equipment so doesn’t really always think she needs me. She is already building speed and she has a ton of confidence. You will see in one of the teeter videos that she comes onto it too fast for her liking out of a tunnel, so she bails off. I absolutely encourage this because safety is way more important than qualifying. You can see the next time she runs onto the teeter with speed, she checks herself.

She worked on the teeter with the TipAssist quite a while ago (at least 2 months ago), but today we lowered the teeter for the babies and had them run the full length. She’s played the “go bang” game in the past also, and has done a lot of work on the baby teeter and also different balancing things so she is confident with unstable surfaces.

I had to walk her down and lead her back to the crate twice today because she didn’t think her turn was over when I said it was…but basically she’s a really easy puppy. That said, she needs a job, and thrives on work, and would be unhappy (and probably a PITA) if she didn’t have an outlet for her working drive. I wanted working dogs, I got working dogs.

I am definitely finding that the OneMind Dogs folks are really right that you need to start adding difficulty right away, like as soon as you have the dog working the obstacle, you add another obstacle, you add distance from the handler and changing handler positions right away. You up your reward rate, but I am definitely finding that this has made the process really flow well for Alice, she has been running sequences since she was really tiny (like 10-12 weeks old, with bars on the ground), so she already has some fluency with chaining obstacles together, and this has made it really easy for her to add new obstacles into sequences as she learns them (this was the first time she’s done a full (lowered) teeter on her own (i.e. without me lowering it slowly for her), and as soon as she’d done it a few times, I right away added other obstacles before and after (same with the a-frame), so now it’s just another obstacle she’s added to her repertoire. She still goes through the side of the tire occasionally, but other than that she is really working incredibly well.

I’m really amazed at how quickly she is coming together already. Love her!

Sequencing:

Teeter:

Short sequence with teeter:

Alice Agility

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

It’s HOT here. But holy cow, when I bred this litter I wanted sane, correct Vallhunds with serious working drive. I got what I wanted IN SPADES. Alice literally DEMANDS to work and she will keep working and working until I make her stop. This is not to say she doesn’t get puppy brain, because of course she does, but holy moly am I loving working with her!

Here are some videos from training today. We worked the lowered a-frame and Alice says “no problem!”, she’s running over it enthusiastically and taking it well in a small sequence. She’s also working 2 x 2 weaves really well at home so I put them in a speed circle and small sequence to help her start seeing them as an obstacle in sequence early on (a mistake I made with Zhora is NOT doing this until we started trialing and this weakness in our training popped out). This puppy is already COLLECTING to go into the 2 x 2! The 2 x 2 speed circle is something I got from my training partner and BFF Sue Verbocy, and it’s ENORMOUSLY helpful to the dog in learning how to collect, learning how to see weaves as an obstacle in a course, and just generally helps with fluency with weaves. You can do it even with babies once they are performing one set of 2 x 2’s well, since you can do it with just single sets of 2 x 2’s (as I did here) and other obstacles in between, so it’s not hard on their growing bodies.

She is at the stage where she has the taste for how fun agility can be, so she often makes her own decisions about what she’ll do, but that’s normal and just something we will work through. Overall I am beyond impressed with how well she’s doing at this very early stage! She’s only 10.5 months old!

(please excuse the barking, the adult dogs wanted it to be their turn, nothing like training with barking dogs to make actual trial environments seem tranquil by comparison….)

A-frame using the Manners Minder:

Various sequences with 2 x 2’s:

Alice Baby Channel Weaves

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Here is a short video of 10 month old Alice running through a wide open set of channel weaves (they’re stick in the ground poles set as channels). I misplaced one reward throw partway through this session and so she was popping out where the misplaced reward was (prior to that she’d been blasting through all the way). Just goes to show you how critical reward placement can be! VERY pleased with her. She is MAD when we stop working, she will work for as long as I want her to. Quitting while she’s still wanting more is easy, since she always wants more! I have to be strict with myself about stopping sooner rather than later and avoiding “just one more” syndrome.

She’s working two sets of 2 x 2 poles set apart from each other, and wide open channels. This way she is getting the idea of weave poles with no real stress on her body. I am making sure to move around myself so my position and movement (or lack thereof) are not a factor. I am really aiming for solid independent weave performance.

I actually videoed after we’d already been working for a bit, so this is towards the end of the (very short) session. It’s hard to throw accurately while videoing so I will use a tripod next time.

She’s in season but other than making her more cuddly than usual (she is the least cuddly of my Vallhunds usually), it hasn’t really affected her.

Melanie Miller Seminar

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

I was lucky enough to attend the Melanie Miller seminar at Stone Hill Training Center in Central Square NY this past week. Zhora and I attended the Masters day on Monday, and on Wednesday Alice and I attended Puppy in the morning and Green Dog/Young Dog in the afternoon.

It was a wonderful two days! I usually feel like if I get one or two things out of a seminar (things I will actually use), then I got my money’s worth. Well, I MORE than got my money’s worth!

The concept of the “mouse line” (which I think comes from Jenny Damm, IIRC), where the handler should be running where a mouse would be running.

The idea of teaching obstacle independence well enough that a step towards the correct obstacle should be enough for the dog to commit to it, allowing the handler to move to where they need to be next.

The idea of me needing to SHUT THE HELL UP and just tell the dog where to go, perhaps reinforce that they are correct with a verbal (like “weave” or “jump”), but not muddy the water with using the wrong verbals or too many verbals.

Zhora did great on a horribly hot and humid day, she came out of her crate raring to go every time, and I only had to really rev her up halfway through her last turn of the day, and she rallied wonderfully. Love her work ethic so much. On one of my turns Melanie said “you’ve got some moves, girl!”, which I took as a compliment!

Alice was a revelation. I haven’t done much of anything with her for a couple of weeks, so I wasn’t expecting much. She did well enough running a course in the afternoon that one of the people who were there all day asked me if she was really the same puppy as in the puppy session in the morning. She worked her butt off! If I am clear with my cues, she knows and does her job, and does it with speed! I really credit the OneMind Dogs puppy stuff I did with her with this for sure. She had a couple of zooms when her brain was getting a bit fried, but she came right back and worked. And I believe in USING the zoomies (you will see in the videos that I just use her momentum to start running where I want her to go), I think this helps with enthusiasm and it also helps with developing the “team” aspect of the sport. She has a really impressive work ethic.

I didn’t get any videos from Zhora’s day, but here are three from Alice’s. Thanks so much to Sue for videoing as always!

Alice Agility

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Alice is coming along nicely, not worried, learning well, focused. I need to work on obstacle focus, but I’m happy with how she’s doing, especially since right now we’re really only playing one day a week.

Alice!

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

She’s in a bit of an 8 month old shithead phase, so today we did a bit of much-needed reminders about Crate Games and tricks and relationship building. She’s wonderful anyway, it’s normal testing the boundaries stuff, and it’s quite easy to pull her back to being her usual self. I wanted a strong-willed dog, and Vallhunds are that! She face planted while practicing today and got right back up and went back to work, not much phases her so far, which I love. And she is being great with Sue’s new puppy Blast for such a hellion!

(she is not actually weaving 12 poles, we’re still on wide open channels, but she does do a few in line)

Alice Agility

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

We’ve been doing bits here and there but really haven’t done much other than some very basic things, and look what she can do!

Love this puppy so much. She’s 8 months and one day old. She does a few tiny jumps once a week or less (in case you’re wondering). Love her focus and working drive, love how she isn’t afraid to be wrong, and I LOVE how bombproof she is so far!

Really excited about how fast she’s running and how she’s taking distance and driving to obstacles. I also LOVE that she reads the deceleration cue at the wrap perfectly:

Love how she gets more confident as she goes along!

Alice!

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Alice Best of Breed 5/18/18

Alice (Alkemi Clear Air Turbulence LT) earned her first Canadian Kennel Club championship points today under judge Tony Monk at the K-W shows in Kitchener, Ontario. And she did it it style too! Winning Best of Breed over two specials and two class dogs for (I think) two points (that’s her CKC major out of the way with her first win!).

Yesterday she showed well but Ulla’s Winni (Nina’s half sister – they are both Bibi daughters) won breed and then a group 4 under Swedish judge Wera Hubenthal!

Today she showed really nicely, we worked well together and I think I did a better job with her too. I was thrilled with her. And the judge said very nice things about her when we were getting the picture taken (nice proportions, looks like she could do the job she’s supposed to do, good bone, etc.), and then the photographer dropped a big handful of plastic signs right in front of her (the ones that say what the win was), and she just sniffed at them, and they both commented on what a great temperament she has, no spook at all. Hooray for good genes and Puppy Culture! And kudos to the judge for checking the standard when he wasn’t positive about tails before he made his selections! All the other dogs were bobtails and all came from Ulla, so Alice looked very different, but the judge found her and liked her!

Puppy Palooza 2018

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Alice and I attended Puppy Palooza this past weekend at Follow The Leda in Gansevoort, NY. It was an information-packed, well-run, fun, and very informative weekend!

As with any seminar on any subject, it’s important to stay true to your own training philosophies and beliefs, while keeping your mind open to new ideas that could be useful. You keep what you like and discard what you don’t. I have definitely become a fan of the One Mind Dogs methods, because they really do just work and make sense to me and my dogs, and while I am not a “purist” of any method, I do think OMD is far more natural to me than any other, and since I started Alice with the OMD puppy course, I am working within what I started.

What I liked:

  • it really made me conscious of how much reinforcement I am giving away by letting my dogs get it from the environment or each other instead of from me. So I picked up all the toys that could be tug toys, and have already had two tugging sessions this morning. If I want to use tug as a reinforcer, I need to make it valuable, not free. That said, I am not someone who is going to deny my dogs the joy they get from playing with each other. I’m not doing Ruff Love and I’m not aiming for the World Team. I just want to be reasonably successful at my sport and have fun with my dogs, and have my dogs have fun with me.
  • Some really good discussion about tug mechanics and ways to get a dog tugging well (Alice had a decent tug drive but I can see already that just changing a few things has improved it even in just two days). Also not giving up, if you start a tug session, you HAVE to get at least a little tug going before you stop.
  • Some excellent reminders about not being lazy and getting up and USING training opportunities like mealtimes and high energy times
  • I LOVED the motivational posters she has all over the training arena. I usually hate that sort of thing but these were great and actually did make me think.
  • The concept of Transitions (Greg Derrett) – starting at the crate, working on connection and building drive with tug or food from the moment you get the dog out, and between exercises or after an error.

What I will be discarding (or at least adapting):

  • Tara is a Greg Derrett adherent. I am not. I might have appreciated a heads up that the methods being taught were going to be taught strictly within the Greg Derrett/Anthony Clarke framework, rather than just presenting things as “this is the right way” (as opposed to “this is the right way within the GD/AC  methodology”). This was not a huge deal, but it did chafe a little, especially being told that things that didn’t follow this methodology were “wrong”.  I do mostly OneMind Dogs, their methods aren’t “wrong”, they just differ in some ways to GD/AC methods, and for me they work.
  • Reinforcement Zone – I do not want my dog driving to my front, that’s not how I handle. But I will be more conscious of my reward placement.
  • The comments about how puppies should not know what a jump is or what weave poles are. My puppy is sequencing with tiny jumps or just standards, she is working the “offering the jump” exercises, she is learning one set of 2 x 2 weaves, she is running through channels. NONE of these things are harmful to her and ALL are beneficial.
  • Circle work. I am sure it has benefits. But most of those benefits (learning acceleration/deceleration, learning the handler’s running style, learning to switch between reinforcers, etc) can also be had by running small sequences and doing handling flatwork or handling work with hoops. And running small sequences and handling flatwork are more efficient for me. I feel like for me, circle work is what I did 15 years ago, I no longer really think it has benefits that can’t be equally obtained in other, more efficient ways.

Overall, I am glad I went. Both Tara and Jared were really good instructors, and it was a very fun weekend.