Monday, April 25, 2011

Little of This, Little of That

I forgot to update after last week's agility and obedience classes. All went well. Leo was handling everything in agility well although he wasn't taking jumps all the time. In trying to set the dog up at the start line and lead out, he handled the stay well but went around the jump when I released him. Strange. Saturday he was quite a pill all day at big sis' agility trial so I took him with to the foundation class I teach. Afterward we spent about 25 minutes running around the barn. I made a really big deal of jumping and rewarding it every time he jumped. He's certainly clearing 8" easily enough so I don't think it's structural or problematic for him. After a bunch of jumping and rewarding and tons of praise, I went from a single jump and two jumps to some more complicated moves. I was able to get some front crosses in and direct Leo to handle 180s. He was doing so awesome! We took a break a time or two so he could potty and drink water, but otherwise we worked the 25 minutes or so straight through. He was such a rock star! He even got his crazy zoomies while continuing to do obstacles! I am so excited to continue learning with my little man! He has so much potential and is so much fun!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Week 2 Agility & Obedience

Tuesday was week two of our "Next Steps Foundation" agility class. As soon as I got home from work I took Leo and Vegas out for a walk. Since our class doesn't start until 8pm, we had a decent chunk of time. Boy were they gung-ho to go! Vegas was full steam ahead, walking almost faster than I could keep up, and Leo, bless his giant heart and tiny little legs, kept up! One hour and several miles later, we made it back home - dry! - and had just about 20 minutes to class.

We started off the class by each warming up on the obstacles of our preference. Most everything was set out. I think the only thing not set up at the beginning of the class was the weave poles. We jumped straight onto the teeter and Leo took it at full height a half dozen times at least. I was so proud of him!

We went around practicing other things, jump sequences (There were five set up in a circle.), the a-frame, the table, the dog walk, and some tunnels. And we returned to the teeter. We're not over our issue, but we're building confidence. When it drops behind him he still flinches and or jumps a foot. He jumps when others go over it and it drops. All of it is a building process, but he's doing well!

About halfway through our class period we started working on a sequence. It was nice and open, a bunch of obstacles that spanned three of the four sides of the barn. If memory serves we had two jumps to the a-frame, a tunnel, a jump, the dog walk, the table, the weaves, and the teeter. Autumn wanted us to try a lead out on the jumps. Leo did well the first time. The second and third time he was quite the pill. Believe it or not, jumps seem to be his biggest issue right now. I can't quite figure it. He's only jumping eight inches but he wants to go around the jumps. It's the strangest thing and I really need to spend some time building some jumps and using the jump cups a bought a while back so they're adjustable. I want him to love the jumps because, in AKC, we'd be toast for refusals. Anyway, I don't expect to do AKC until late in the year if not in 2012, but it's an issue for sure. I have confidence he'll work through it just fine though.

Thursday was obedience class. I really didn't feel like going; have just been super tired and over-stressed at work, but I'm so glad we went! After last week's class I wondered what little dog I would show up with. The boys were with me so I headed in while they pottied Leo. When he came in he was surprisingly disinterested in me and wanted to sniff around. We were about 10 minutes early so the other class was still there. Once I got our stuff settled, he and I worked on some heeling around the outside of the ring, attention during heeling, and his halts. He was doing really well - so well he halted with my every step and stop. When the other class cleared out, there were just two of us left! The PWD was out of town on business and the Beagle decided they weren't ready for such a class yet. So with just two of us it was a really productive class! We did one step heeling and rewards for maintaining focus. We worked on our halts. We did recalls and a bunch of drills and games to try, practice, and learn better focus and attention on heeling. Oh, and the boys and the other handler's grandson made fabulous "posts" as we took turns working the dogs off-lead in heeling patterns around them. Surprisingly, Leo did well off lead and was really trying to keep up and stay in position. I was totally impressed! The thing I'm finding most difficult is keeping an "eye" on him without looking for him. He's so small and far down!

The boys were also helpful with stand for exams and Laurie was awesome in teaching them. Her Briard, Belle, was an excellent demo dog and got to come out quite a bit during class. I was very proud of my boys for being such willing helpers and they weren't at all negative about the class on the drive to their dad's afterward. I have a lot of things to work on and now just need time to do so! However, I'm super pleased with how the class went and Leo's attitude during it. Having lots of positive, quiet, uneventful, and rewarding experiences with our obedience education is super important right now!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Agility and Obedience Class

This week both of Leo's classes started up again. Tuesday was our first week of Next Steps agility. One of our previous classmates returned, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Hannah. Plus, one of my students and her Lab, Hemi, are in our class. There's an Australian Shepherd that was in our first round of foundation agility, Tucker, and the other students are new. We had a great time getting back in the swing of things. I was a little concerned right off the bat as Leo drug his feet just going to the building. He acted like he completely did not want to be there and was pulling against me when I tried to direct us to the building. He finally got over it and I just tried to be playful with him inside. We had a few minutes to work on sit/down stays and I also jogged Leo the length of the arena once or twice.

Then we got into the first of two sequences. The setup was nice as it wrapped around three sides of the barn and let us both get out and move with our dogs plus work multiple obstacles. The first setup was jump > a-frame > tired > tunnel > dog walk > tunnel. At first Leo bypassed the tire. We went back and got it and the second time he definitely understood the tire. It's still going to take some practice as later on in class he alternately took the tire and went through a small gap around the tire, but he's not afraid of it which is good.

The next sequence reversed the first but added a jump between the dog walk and the second tunnel. Leo did that sequence with equal flair! From there we reviewed the weaves again and Autumn cut us loose to practice and drill whatever we needed to since we'd all had some weeks off. Leo and I practiced the weaves about a dozen times from both directions with me working both left and right. The weaves were almost straight but with gates around them. Interestingly enough, twice Leo went on the wrong side of the fifth pole, between the gate and the pole. And then I saw the lightbulb moment. Even though his body wanted to go straight sometimes, he corrected himself to pull through the weaves versus going outside the pole. It was awesome! And he's actually getting the weave motion when he's working them! I love it!

We then worked the a-frame quite a few times then the tire. He was doing really well with the tire the first few tries then I must have changed something I was doing because he was going under. I ended on a good note with him doing it correctly and moved on. We'll continue working the tire to be sure he solidly "gets" it. When I had about run out of things to practice, I decided we'd hang out with the teeter again. Little man seemed to remember the teeter is "evil" and was resistant walking near it for the first part of class. I started by talking him up to the teeter vicinity first. Then we worked on just getting on the teeter and getting off. Pretty soon he was offering contacts on the teeter, albeit going the wrong direction. Then I started luring him up the teeter. Before I knew it he was taking the full height teeter with me supporting the down progress. Fast forward 10 more tries, Leo took the entire teeter, by himself, without me supporting the weight going down, three whole times! Yahoo!!!

I'm under no illusion that the teeter issue is resolved. However, this was a step in the right direction and I was so proud of my little fluff-dog.


Obedience class was Thursday and wow was it a memorable one. The 6 o'clock class was still in the ring when we arrived. When 7 o'clock rolled around, our instructor decided we would all work sits or downs and stays together. Long story short, all of the 6 o'clock class dogs, Cocker Spaniel size and larger, were in sit stays along the back wall. The 7 o'clock class was on the left side of the ring, just the three of us there at that time. The earlier class was sitting and off lead. Their handlers were about a dozen feet out, perhaps a little more. The three of us in our class were in heel position with our dogs, still on lead, and working on focus. The fourth member of our class came in, a Beagle, and he just started to come in the ring and was about three quarters across the front of the ring when all hell broke loose. Every single dog from the first class broke their stay and charged at the dog. Everyone was barking and howling. It was a complete cacophony. I don't even remember what I did other than watch and keep hold of Leo. Handlers were scrambling for their dogs. The gates around the ring were falling. And then I became aware of Leo frantically trying to get my attention, pawing at my leg. He was shaking so badly and his little heart was beating out of his chest. Even holding him close it took some time to get him calmed down.

The rest of the chaos finally got under control and, surprisingly, nobody was hurt. We finished our stays and the early class left. We continued on with our class and the Beagle came in for a while and tried to work. Eventually they left and didn't come back. We worked on focus with heeling taking a single step or two at a time. We also worked on figure-8s and recall to front. The method we tried wasn't working with Leo. She had set up the broad jump panels on edge to form a chute and he was afraid of them. It was difficult for me to maneuver between them and not touch them at all so as to avoid scaring him, plus the point was to get him right up in the opening and me to go to the other end and recall him to front so he was limited on space and would end up straight. Well when he had no enthusiasm on the recall and was more likely to jump on my legs to get me to pick him up - a fear sign - it just wasn't worth it. We'd been working on this on our own and I showed her how he could do it with enthusiasm and relatively straight. Sometimes ideas work, and sometimes they don't. I am getting much better at recognizing what works for my dogs and what doesn't. Not all fear barriers are worth pushing through.