Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year - New Resolutions in Dog Training

Here we are in 2014. Jack is older - almost 9 years old now! It has been a learning experience training Jack. He is an AMAZING teacher! We have had some ups and downs since our last post. The highlights are as follows:

  1. Jack competed in DOCOF in the Novice level in 2011 and tied for 12th place with a 192 in a field of 112 Novice dogs!! 
  2. Jack earned his Companion Dog title from the AKC!!!
  3. Jack is a Novice Trick Dog!
  4. We took our first agility course and completed it.
  5. Future agility classes have been put on hold while we work on some issues.
  6. We enrolled in Susan Garrett's Recaller's program in early 2013. We are still working the program.
  7. We are now having fun with Susan Garrett's Puppy Peaks. Big smile here.
Now I resolve in 2014 to:

  • Continue building a bond with Jack through many fun games.
  • Work on "Back to the Basics" with Jack.
  • Create an A-W-E-S-O-M-E recall.
  • Build Jack's attention and focus to me through more games.
  • Train to earn the Graduate Novice title.
  • Get our relationship built to complete the Companion Dog Excellent title.
Concentration on playing games with Jack is paramount. Training needs to be FUN!

Now, what are your training resolutions?

Walking in obedience...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Today was a fun day! At first I was going to go to Disney World, but I was very tired. So, I didn't go. What to do now? I know. Let's take Jack out into the backyard and have some fun!

First things first, you know. Get the potties done. Well, you will never guess what distracted Jack from the potties. Let me describe what happened next.

I placed the long line on Jack and let him go do his thing. He ran to the back fence and just stood completely still. He was staring at something and would not respond to my questions, "What is it, Jack?" "What do you see, Jack?" No response. Jack looked as still as a statue. Not so much as a tremor in his tail. Nothing. Hmmm....

What could be there that would hold his concentration so well? Was it another dog? No. Was it a bone in the neighbor's back yard? No. Was it a cat? No. Snake? No. Another person? Nope. What was it? I was very curious to see for myself what it was. I started walking towards Jack and then he began barking like he never, ever barked before! He had an excited, out of his mind bark!

Once I got to the place where I could see, I started laughing so hard! Jack had seen his first turtle! This turtle was about ten inches in length and was in the neighbor's back yard along the fence line. Just across the fence and Jack was going nuts!

So much for any training happening in the backyard today! Now, if I could have been able to pick that turtle up and place it on our side of the fence... Hmmm... That would have been something to watch. How would Jack have handled it? I am sure he would have gotten tired of not being able to get the turtle.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Until then...

Walking in Obedience

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weave poles are a blast!

Wow! What can I say? Jack and I have started learning the weave poles for agility. Whether we compete or not, Jack enjoys the running, jumping, and climbing that goes with agility. We started training a while back in the back yard. I have built a couple of jumps and acquired a PVC-set of weave poles that comes apart in sections.

I have started him with just two poles. I set him up with the poles in front of him, one to the left and the other to his right. The hard part is letting him figure it out by himself. I don't talk to him or prompt him in any way. That is really hard! Finally, after about 15 minutes, Jack walked between the poles and I clicked and treated him for that! Yippee!! After he walked through the poles again and again, getting clicked and treated, he started running through them to get the click and treat! Wow!

Now we will try it again tomorrow and see if he remembers. This is fun!

Walking in Obedience!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grooming challenges

Today was the second day of grooming this week. Yesterday, Jack was partially groomed. I trimmed him down significantly from the hippie-style he portrayed. Yes, Jack almost resembled a sheepdog, with his long locks covering his eyes and face. I also trimmed the nails on his right-front paw. It was kind of a very s-s-slow process.

What does grooming have to do with training, you ask? Well, plenty! Allow me to explain.

When I first got Jack, he was 9-months-old. He is almost 5-years-old now. He has had issues with his feet all along. "You wanna touch my feet? Well, I don't think so! Let me show you my teeth!" So, our grooming sessions are kind of continual. Jack does not like the electric trimmer anywhere near his feet. He tolerates it everywhere else. So our "grooming dance" has become more fluid, less jerky as time has passed.

I thought that since Jack loves attention from me, I could work on teaching him to Shake Hands. I would use the clicker. I would get down to his level and touch the back of his leg with one hand while the other hand is in front of his paw. If he moved his paw, ever so slightly TOWARDS my hand, I would click and treat. I continued this for some time until now all I have to do is lower my hand to his front and he raises his paw and rests it in my hand.

That shake-hands trick is working well in regards to trimming his feet. So now when I trim him, I alternate with some cookies and pats. We work our way down to the feet, alternating the trimming with some nice pats and rubs. Now for the feet. After the past "fights" to trim his feet, I have discovered that he would rather I use the scissors on his feet. It doesn't look as good as I would like, but it passes. As for now, it still takes more than one day to trim his nails. But that is OK with me.

One of the most important things about the grooming process is after I am finished with the combing, brushing, trimming, and clipping. I am teaching Jack to lay down on the table on his side, with his head touching the table. This "Head Down" trick allows me to give him a massage. We do it the same way with his other side. After the massage and time to chill out and relax, I give Jack the freedom to run around the back yard, full tilt, without any encumberances. No leash, just the grass under his feet and wind in his face and the time for him to be a dog. I enjoy watching him have a total blast and when he has had enough, he comes to me and I snap on his leash and we go inside the house. Peace one moment in time.

Find us walking in obedience!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Exuberance Defined

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog. Let's see. Since our last meeting here, Jack and I began working on some major issues. Mainly his penchant for zooming and his lack of attention on me. Well, it is a very slow and methodical lesson to learn, not only for Jack, but for me. Jack can only learn to give me his attention when I am paying attention to him. We need to interact more, not just when we are doing our homework. We need to play together too. Our bond must be made stronger for his attention to focus on me. That is a daily focus of our training.

So, what has been happening since July? Well, on Labor Day weekend, we participated in the Dog Obedience Clubs of Florida, DOCOF, state competition in Orlando. We had competed last year and had a lot more distractions and reactions to those distractions. It was hard to concentrate. I was nervous and that travelled down the leash to Jack. We were excused from the group exercises after Jack had some major zooming issue. I was totally embarrassed. But, that was wise of the judge as he didn't want Jack to interfere with other dog and handler teams.

However, this year we did a little better. Jack still zoomed the ring, but not nearly as bad as last year. However, his on-leash portion was significantly better than last year. We were allowed to perform the group exercises this year. Jack sat for the sit portion, but laid down with about 10 seconds left in the 1-minute sit. I could not get him to lay down for the 3-minute down.

We still had fun during that weekend. And it was a learning experience.

In October, the Orlando Dog Training Club had it's obedience and rally trials. I had entered Jack in Wildcard Open and Pre-Novice. On Saturday, we went into the Open ring and worked on the heeling portion (off-leash). Jack lagged a bit and then ignored me somewhat. We did not do the Figure-8 exercise and we were able to do the Retrieve-on-the-Flat, but lost it for the rest of the exercises. Our Pre-Novice fared better, though we came in last place due mainly to lots of handler errors (that's me). I didn't realize I was not allowed to encourage or give Jack any extra commands while performing the exercises. I will know better next time.

And on Sunday at the trial, I was upset with Jack not paying attention to me during our warm-ups that I scratched our entry. I felt that I would be more of a hindrance in the ring than Jack would be. My feelings would travel down the leash and it would not be pretty.

So, since then, I have been working the Ruff Love program by Susan Garrett. The purpose is to build up the relationship between Jack and me. It is taking a longer amount of time than I expected. But, I feel it is worth the commitment of my time and energy for our relationship.

Until next time, we are walking in obedience!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! And Away!

I will write about Jack's Prep-To-Show time with Jeff as the judge and follow that with our Wildcard Novice showing at the Deland show.

First things first. On Wednesday, July 15, we rented some time at ODTC with Jeff as our judge. It was a very nice showing. Jack was just a wee-bit skittish on the Stand-For-Exam due to some unexpected movement distraction by the judge. We did it again and Jack really stuck it! Bravo! Our Recall exercise was really fast and well executed. I was happy and Jack enjoyed the time in the ring.

Now, on to our Wildcard Novice run in Deland under Mr. Jeffrey Kern (not the same "Jeff" as our Wednesday judge). Jack and I were third in the ring. The judge asked which exercise we would like to receive no deductions on and we selected the Heel-On-Leash exercise. So, to start, we heeled to the corner where the judge said "Left Turn!" and Jack wanted to continue straight ahead instead of turning. I almost tripped over him, but we continued through a Fast and then to the next corner and another Left Turn. Jack kept forging ahead, but he did sit on the halt. We did our About Turn and then our Right Turn. Our Slow was good. Another About Turn and then we had our Figure-8 exercise. Not too bad there, but we had a few tight leashes throughout the exercise. Stand-For-Exam was next. Jack stood and then the judge came to him, whereupon Jack started wiggling around. It was time for the Heel-Off-Leash and when I looked at Jack, I saw his eyes go wide and he just started running around the ring. The zoomies continued until the judge asked if I would continue the exercise using the leash. So, after our second go around with the heeling on leash, it was time for the recall exercise. Well...that was truly beautiful! Jack did a perfect front and a swing-finish wonderfully! The judge said it was really nice to finish with a positive!

Our final time in the ring was for the Sits and Downs. We heeled into the ring wonderfully! I had my dog with me! We began with the One-Minute Sit. Almost to the end, Jack just laid down. OK, we can still perform the Three-Minute Down exercise. Right? He knows how to lay down. He just did it. But, alas, not today.

We were the strongest team today in Wildcard Novice. We held all the other teams up!

During our drive home, I had time to think about our performance. Despite the fact we didn't do well, I still love Jack and wouldn't trade him for any other dog. I know we have plenty of work to do to be able to show despite the distractions. Jack knows everything that is required for Novice. That has been proven in our Prep-To-Show classes. It just takes time.

And another thing. About my relationship with God. Sometimes I do the zoomies and God stands there, shakes His head, but He still loves me and wouldn't trade me for anyone. Should I not do the same for Jack?

So, we are still Walking in Obedience.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

V2 Class - July 7, 2009

"And how was your week? What did you focus on in your training?" These questions were asked by Linda, our instructor, during our Tuesday night V2 class. She explained the concept of flooding, which is working on one specific thing all the time until the dog really knows what he must do, how he must respond to a particular cue, command, stimulus, etc.

Our focus this past week was on the Down exercise. I began this training like I have been doing all my focus exercises. Jack really works for his food. The way I started it was to place Jack in a down (I use the command - Floor). I would then proceed to fix his meal. I would set his food dish on the floor. During the first meal session I did not go out of sight, but I had him lay there and wait until I allowed him to get up and eat his food.

During each subsequent session, I started to go out of sight for progressively longer durations. Also during these sessions my roommate would be watching Jack to see if he moves from position. If Jack moves out of position, my roomate lets me know and Jack is totally surprised when I "catch" the "oops" and correct his position. So far, we are up to one minute out-of-sights and Jack is staying put.

Now, on to what we worked on in class. The first thing we did was our "Short L Practice", which is the smaller version of the Novice Heel pattern. We "offer, but do not lure" a cookie after each turn. If the dog isn't there to get the cookie, "Oh well, better pay attention and be there the next time." We did that well. Jack missed his cookie on the left turn just once. After that he was right where he needed to be to get the cookie. Three cheers for Jack!

The second exercise was Stand For Exam alternated with Sit-Stay and Down-Stay. Jack performed his "Sits and Downs" wonderfully. His Stand For Exam needs more work. Time for another trip to PetsMart for more "flooding" with this exercise. That will be my focus exercise this week.

Our third exercise was Directed Jumping. The distance between our jumps is increasing. The distance between me and Jack is increasing. We are both "getting it". One time Jack did not go over the jump. Oops! That was not Jack's fault. I forgot to look where I was pointing Jack to go. I was looking at him, so that drew him away from the jump. I have to remember to look where I am pointing!

Finally, I have to brag about Jack's Leave It response. When we were going into the ring for the "Sit-Down-Stand" exercise, I dropped my treat bag and some of the treats hit the floor. Yikes!! Jack is a vacuum cleaner when it comes to what is on the floor!! Well, I told him to leave it and he did! He watched me pick up every last piece and did not eat any of the pieces!

Tomorrow is Prep-To-Show.

Walking in Obedience!