Saturday, September 24, 2011

agility paps

Bo and Tip and I went out to meet our friend Alan and do some agility.  Despite the fact that I have been sick and all tuckered out.  So we drove out to Leesburg.  Alan had already worked his dogs, so I walked one of the courses (the one with the table!), then brought Bo out.  Bo held the start line stay then we ran the whole course really nicely!  Then I put Bo away and ran Tip, for a lark.  Except for the fact that some handling moves he just doesn't know, he was fabulous -- and darned fast!

Then I ran Bo on another course, and I got the nicest complement from Alan, on how well we were running!  Except for me getting lost, it did go really well and smoothly and easily.  even the tricky bits.

Then Alan and I worked Tip on the low teeter, just to see where he was with it.  He started going up it while we were moving it!  Then he did the teeter several times (for the reward of some of Alan's hot dog slices, as I had no treats!).  So then I brought both paps over to the main agility area, to try Tip on the full-size teeter.  no problem!!

Then Tip got to chase Minnie the MACH Canaan Dog around the arena.  Yes, that little bugger is fast when he wants to be (like when chasing a pretty girl's tail!).  Got me starting to think that maybe I might try him at agility again one of these days.  But indoor or outdoor???  I am not quite sure...

Sadness, was that after the 35 minute drive home, I got the dogs out of the car, and Bo's eye was swelling shut again.  So we spent a couple hours at the vet, waiting for an emergency appointment.  No scratches, and no idea why his eye was swelling shut.  Maybe he is just delicate.  The vet advised we try to take it easy for another couple weeks...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NOW you're talking my language!!!

I figured out how to tell Tip what I wanted him to do: for him to not move out of place while I walked in a circle around him.  Because if he changes position or moves, we NQ in Beginner Novice.  And I want my little Tipster to come home with a green ribbon!

Tip was doing his best to keep watching me, whihc included scooting out of posaition.  He figured he was supposed to stay sitting, but didn't realize that scooting to face another direction was not OK.

Then I thought about Tip and how to get things across to him.  So I did some sit-stays and walked around in front and beside him, and he stayed like a rock.  A small rock.  maybe a large pebble...

Then I tried walking behind him and he scooted around to keep watching me.  So I swooped in and repositioned him into the position where he started, then kept walking around him, until I got to heel position, waited, then gave him a treat and told him he was good.  I repeated this whole thing another time or two, and I think he figured out what he was doing wrong and then ... he started doing it RIGHT!!! 

I could tell him to stay and walk in a circle around him, and his butt stayed planted, stationary on the ground!

Yeah little Tipperoni!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The role of respect in dog obedience

Melinda Wichman's most recent essay on her blog made me start thinking about the expectations of respect in dog obedience. Usually this runs along the lines of "you must ensure your dog respects you!"

Which immediately made me think of Tycho. He demanded from the very start that I respect him. Once I understood this, and started a long career of ignoring obedience instructors, we began to form a working bond which was made up of mutual love, respect, and fun.

Some of my favorite memories, which exemplify this.

first time in the agility ring

Our first Canaan dog national specialty, in Tucson. Tycho was barely two years old. Tycho had entered in the specialty and had been charming. Then we showed in Novice A obedience. First Time Ever. And he QUALIFIED!!!! Then I dragged my wonder puppy over to the agility arena, where I made him hang out next to me, on lead, in the sun, for several hours until it was our turn. Right before our turn, I tried the practice jump, which he refused. I cannot sufficiently emphasize how strange this is, as there was NOTHING he loved more than jumping. So we went into the ring, I set him up, led out, and called him to start the course. He sat there and gave me a Look. I called again and he got up off his rump, sauntered over to the first jump, and peed on it, while giving me that LOOK again.

Yes, I learned. NEVER again did I make Tycho hang out endless hours in the sun, on lead, exposed to passing dogs, people, etc, and unable to relax.

Let me make this perfectly clear

Next incident was many many years later. At another specialty, this time in California. I knew the rules and compact under which Tycho worked, and I broke them once again. I entered him in Veterans and then Veterans Sweeps. And probably parade of titleholders. And then there was obedience. He already had his CDX but I entered him in open. He was tired and had already been paraded Round the ring many time and did not want to do anything again, but I brought him into the obedience ring. Our judge was the wonderful Mid Rothrock, who managed to not laugh out loud at his performance. Tycho deliberately NQed every single exercise, while giving me a dirty look, to make sure I knew what was going on. He proved his knowledge of the exercises by carefully NQing each one. And everyone at the specialty was watching. I loved him so much in that moment!

I don't want to but for you I shall do my best

Just in case you think all the examples are negative, nothing could be further from the truth.

Tycho finished his Open Jumpers title in a pounding rainstorm. This is a dog who truly loathed the rain. I kept him under the canopy until our run. I was out in the rain, but he stayed dry. When it was our turn to run, w ran that course, and he was beautiful and fast and responded perfectly to my every cue. I am pretty sure we won the class and finished his title. I was so wet...

Then there was the day we finished his CDX. He Qed in the morning, and w had entered the afternoon trial. The first time the AKC had allowed two trials in one day in one site. I almost left, but decided to stay, and he Qed again. It wasn't the prettiest performance ever, but what heart! He did it ONLY because he knew I wanted him to!

Then there were his RE title runs. At this point he was over twelve years old and had arthritis and some weakness in his hind legs. But he loved to work still! At yet another Canaan dog specialty I showed him in Utility and Open. He NQed but showed well, if slowly. By the time we got to Rally Excellent, I think his hips really hurt. We did a glacially slow rally course, because each time he had to sit, it was so slow. But he Qed with a good score. He Qed each time he went into the Rally ring and got multiple perfect scores, and many placements.

Why would a dog do such things? When they were hard or painful or unpleasant? Because their person asked them to. Some of those moments were the most precious gifts that Tycho ever gave me.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dishpans & Dog Training

I have been rather weakly and forlornly dreaming of doing some obedience with Tip.  I sporadically try to get him to heel.  He has learned to gait beautifully and very flashily at my side.   About 2 to 3 feet to my side.  Worked GREAT in the breed ring, but as far as heel position?  Not so much. 

The sitting next to me thing??? Not really.  He ends up way off to the side and rotated.  Cut him some slack!  It took him 9 months to learn how to sit, and in doing so he was always facing us!  So suddenly expecting him to achieve a sitting position while sitting next to me is a huge, unprecedented shift in expectations.  

But, I console myself that in Beginner Novice or Novice, No Sits in heeling are only points off.

However, not maintaining position during a stay while a handler goes back to heel??? NQ!!!!  Why is that bad?  because he has no concept that stay means he cannot pivot around and continue to face me while I try to walk around him to reach heel position.  

How to teach this little dog that stay means hold that position, even when I walk round behind you??  hmmmnnnnn

This was something that only required husband and child to leave the house, leaving me with a glass of wine, a bag of treats, and two hungry and eager little dogs.

Then I thought.  YES!!! A platform!  I will put him on that little footstool in a sit stay so he cannot easily get off it, and that will help him keep position while I walk around him.

Flaw in this plan?  I have no idea where that footstool is.

However, there was in the basement a blue dishpan.

There are some real advantages to having a toy dog.  Like they fit on a dish pan.  First Bo demo'ed how to sit on a dish pan while your person walked in circles around you, telling you to stay, telling you were good, and feeding you treats.
Bo shows how to sit on a dish pan.
So then I got Tip to figure out how to sit on a dish pan.  OK -- so I still have to physically help him, but once he is positioned on there, he could stay there while I walked in little circles around him, without him pivoting around and breaking position.

Then I realized.  Wow.  It has sides.  He could sit there, down at foot level, and the dish pan would prevent him from breaking the sit stay by the little walls.

So we did that, too.
Tip in dishpan.  Bo beside dish pan.
Tip held his stays while I walked around him several times and went to heel position.

Now sadly, I was doing this in the basement, with no audience, rather than in public, in a place where I could baffle and really worry my neighbors.  But I am seriously considering taking Tip and the dishpan on the road, to some dog training venue.  To try things out.