Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's 'gility training

Went to the field today to train. My mom took lots of photos! We worked on 90 degree turns after the A-frame, and practicing the dog walk and A-frame individually (like we always do).

Mika has a moving contact on the A-frame. You might ask, what is a moving contact? Well, it's when the dog has an extended stride going up the A-frame but collects her stride going down the A-frame. Kind of like a two on/two off but without stopping, if that makes any sense. I would have liked training a true running contact on the A-frame, but Mika has had confidence problems on the A-frame, so I'll just leave it at a moving contact. I'm really happy with it actually! Mika has an average time of 1.6 seconds on a full height A-frame. :)

So because Mika has a moving A-frame and doesn't stop at the bottom, she always flies off high in the contact zone (yes, often missing it!) and zooms straight ahead. That's why we really have to work on turns after the A-frame. Today there was a tire about 10 feet away on the right side of the A-frame at a 90 degree angle, as well as a jump 20 feet in front of the A-frame.

With Mika on my left, I directed her over the jump and then sent her ahead to the A-frame. She raced over it, touched the contact, then leaped off the A-frame and raced ahead. She then noticed me standing beside the tire. I could just imagine her thinking to herself "OH!" and she raced back over to me, stopping at heel.

I rotated my body in a circle and she ran next to me, and I drew a nice line for her to jump through the tire. She got it, and I rewarded her by throwing her "precious" food tube!

After we finished with that, we headed over to the dog walk. I had placed a jump bar 30" away from the edge of the down contact. That's how I originally trained Mika's running contact, which worked BEAUTIFULLY! The point of the bar is to get the dog to hit the contact with all four paws, hit the grass with all four paws, and then jump the bar. The pole builds the muscle memory. I know that it's not the best way to teach a running contact, but it's worked for Mika! I still use the pole from time to time to refresh her memory, which is why I had the pole there today.

Her dog walk was AWESOME! She blasted across it like there was no tomorrow. There's no video, so I can't be sure, but it was probably either just above or just below 2 seconds! Her average is 2.35 seconds. :D

After that we practiced the A-frame individually again. She jumped the apex, yessss! Really fast too! She's been jumping over the apex a lot lately. She learned how to jump it on her own, what a smart little girl!

We're running part of a Starters Gamblers course tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More backyard fun -- including photos!

On Sunday my friend showed me how to do this REALLY cool thing with the camera. It's the Super Macro mode, and it lets you get really close to objects to take these amazing, super close-up photos. Now I'm obsessed with it. Here are a couple of the photos I took with Super Macro.

My EYE!! Isn't that cool! Yes, it's my eye. I took it. I had to put the lens around my eye.

This is the top of the standard of the wooden teeter that my dad made for me a couple years ago.

This one was taken with Super Macro too! Shadow was sniffing the camera!

I could post all of my Super Macro photo but that would get boring after while, I took so many. So here are some "normal" photos.

"Stay!" So cute and cuddly, and then I say "Okay!"...


What's she chewing on? Her collar, that's what! Mika loves shaking her collar around to hear the tags jingle, and then she lies down and chews on the buckle until I take it away from her.

What a cutie.

That's it for now!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Another great private

On Friday we had another private! This time we worked on lateral distance.

The first thing that the instructor had us do was working on distance with one 10" high jump. She told me to Mika in a Sit Stay, and I'd walk away from her laterally so that I was about ten feet away from her, and then direct her over the jump. We did just that, and Mika was perfecto.

Then, the same thing except with two 10" jumps. Mika was perfect again! She soared over the jumps with no difficulty.

Still, the instructor said that my handling would be clearer if my body (including shoulders and feet) faced the spot in between where Mika was jumping and the next jump I wanted her to go too. My hand and arm should be making a pushing motion towards Mika. After she told me, I tried it. It was awkward, but it could work!

I was delighted and suprised that Mika was having no trouble with the ten foot distance. Now we can compete in Starters Gamblers! :D

My instructor decided to try something harder. Mika would go through a tunnel that was underneath the A-frame. Then, she would keep going ahead to the next curved tunnel while I stayed by the first tunnel. She would then keep going straight and take a jump as stayed by the first tunnel and layered another jump.


First time: Mika went through the first tunnel and started going to the correct entrance of the second tunnel, but came back to me because I drew in my arm too quickly.

Second time: Mika went through the first tunnel and then went around the the opposite entrance of the tunnel. Crazy dog! The instructor said that I should take little tiny steps towards the correct entrance.

Third time: I did what she told me, but same result.

Fourth time: This time the instructor handled Mika. Mika went through the first tunnel, but then started to go over the A-frame. Ha!

Fifth time: I handled Mika again, and I was told to pretty much forget about the distance and just let Mika succeed, but Mika still went into the opposite entrance! :)

Sixth time: Handled her even closer this time, and...she got it!! Yay Mika! Par-tyyy! She lot a whole lot of treats for that!

The instructor told me to practice one of Susan Garrett's Success With One Jump exercises at home -- gradually increasing lateral distance with a single jump.

We then went into the indoor arena to work the teeter a bit, and then time to leave! I'll hopefully have another private this week, focusing on either weave entries or the A-frame.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Riding lesson

Yesterday I went to the stables for a riding lesson. Yeah yeah, I know this is supposed to be a blog about dogs, but it doesn't hurt to talk about other stuff once in a while, right? Anyway, it's still animal related!

So, as I was saying, yesterday I had my riding lesson. (You know, like horseback riding). I've been riding for two years now. I love it! I ride English (that's what's in the Olympics -- Show Jumping, dressage, etc.) but I have ridden Western a few times. I don't have my own horse, but I wish I did!

I also compete at the schooling shows that the stables holds. I've been to two so far, and out next one is in September.

I arrived at the stables and found out that I was riding Nick. He's a bright bay gelding who's very well behaved, and good to ride. He's a bit tough to jump because he's got a weird jumping style that's kinda hard to flow with, but he's fun!

So I checked his hooves, combed his mane, and brushed him until his coat shone. Then I put his saddle and bridle on and we were ready to ride!

The lesson was a semi-private -- two people riding, including me. I headed over to one of the rings where the other person was already warming up, and mounted Nick. I let him walk around the ring on a long rein so that he could warm up his muscles gradually. When it was time to head into the indoor arena (it was 8:30, getting dark), I let him warm up some more.

The instructor (who's awesome by the way!) set up two jumps -- a 1 foot high X (two poles crossed as an "X") and one 2 foot high rail. They were spaced so that the horses would jump the first jump, take one stride at a canter, and take the next jump.

We started off by just trotting and cantering around the ring in both directions before going over the jumps. The jumps were placed so that we had to make a tight turn at the corner of the arena to go over them safely. We nailed 'em. :) We took turns going over them in both directions for the first twenty minutes of the lesson, and then the instructor changed the X to an 18" vertical.

We did the same exercise, both ways, a few times. The only thing that I was having trouble with was getting a good mane release (bringing my hands and reins halfway up his neck) over the 2 foot jump, but by the end of the lesson I had improved! and the exercise wasn't hard, the point of the exercise was the brush up the technicalities and small details. I loved it! Nick was going great and was eager to jump, too!

It was a really fun lesson!!

We cooled down the horses by letting them walk around the arena on a long rein so they could stretch their necks, and then we dismounted and brought them back in the barn to untack and groom them.

After we'd finished that, we grabbed two lead ropes and turned the horses out in one of the paddocks so they could eat grass and relax in the big field all night. It's the favourite part of their day!

I finished cleaning the tack so that it would stay clean and fresh (it is leather, after all) and my mom and got in the car and left.

SO...that's my typical riding lesson! I love riding. It's a nice break from regular routines, and flying over a jump with a horse is a wonderful feeling that is impossible to describe. It's just amazing!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Agility fun match August 17, 2008

Yesterday Mika and I went to a fun match! The match ran to AAC regulations, and there were two different courses set up. We got to run each course twice. I entered Mika at the Advanced level, so the first course was Advanced Standard. The second course was Masters Steeplechase. Steeplechase is always a Masters course, but they didn't want to "scare off" all of the Starters people, so they made a Starters Steeplechase course just for them. but the Advanced people had to run in Masters. Poor us! :)

The first run was, as I said before, was Advanced Standard. Mika just wasn't herself in this run. She missed the 45 degree weave entry (she never misses entries!), went off course twice (not a big deal, I was actually kind of glad she went off course because that meant she was having more confidence) and just generally wasn't focused on me. She was in a daze or something. Maybe she wasn't feeling well. Still, her dog walk was the fastest it's ever been at a trial or fun match, and her teeter was great!

The second run, again the same Advanced Standard course, was actually worse than the first run. Then I knew that Mika really wasn't feeling herself that morning. She missed the weave entry again, and her dog walk and teeter were just...well it's hard to explain...there was no spark to them. She really wasn't acting normal at all.

Still, it was lots of fun to watch the other dogs and handlers run! I'd forgotten how much fun these matches really are. (Hmmmmm, wonder if that's why they're called fun matches!?) I'd say that most the dogs at these matches are better than most of the dogs at trials, because the handlers are really dedicated to training their dogs. There were some AMAZING handlers yesterday, very impressive!

The third run was the Steeplechase. I could tell that Mika was feeling her normal, attentive self!! I handled her differently than I usually would because when I walked the course, I'd planned to handle the "old" Mika that she'd been that morning -- I hadn't planned on handling the regular Mika! So there were a few refusals. but she was having FUN! :)

The fourth run (the same Steeplechase course) was AWESOME! Mika did just amazing! She actually ran a Masters course clean!! I'm just so proud of that little dog. She passed all of my expectations!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Awesome private lesson!!

Today we had a private lesson! and it was amazing! :D It was just perfect and I got so much out of it!!

The private was supposed to be a half hour, but it ended up being an hour. The instructor didn't charge extra either! So we talked for the first half hour about what Mika needed to improve on, the definition of drive, rewards, how to use the rewards, etc. etc. I found out that Mika REALLY LOVES liver! The instructor was tested out a whole bunch of rewards with her and once she gave her the liver, Mika couldn't stop staring at her! That dog just wanted more and more! She even jumped up on her and BARKED, three times! (she never does that!) Wow, guess I got to start using more of that stuff.

She said that instead of ignoring Mika when she makes a mistake, I should still praise her like crazy like I always do, just don't give her food or throw the food tube. That's because Mika is a sensitive dog. I think it'll work out great!

Then we went into one of the rings (we were in the indoor arena/building) and I got Mika to do the dog walk, it was probably about 3 feet high. The first three times she trotted over it, but then we practiced on it a lot more and she was galloping! and she hit ALL of her contacts! Perfect running contacts man!

Then we went into the other, bigger ring (used for trials) and practiced the normal height dog walk in there. She only trotted over the first two times, and then she was FLYING! and again, hit all her contacts! In under 2.5 seconds! EXACTLY what I want! :D

The instructor said that Mika needs to practice on all different dog walks so that eventually she'll realized that a dog walk is just a dog walk, and that her performance on it is the same. Good thing we have the fun match on Sunday! :)

Then...the instructor unexpectedly said "now let's go work on the teeter" or something like that. I was surprised! It was a full height teeter too, and indoors! I almost asked her if she was sure that we should do that, but I trusted her judgment and let Mika follow her over to the teeter.

She had these big chunks of dehydrated liver with her, and she told Mika to do the teeter. Then when Mika got to the pivot point, she held onto the end of the teeter and slowly laid it to the ground so it wouldn't bang. I told her that I'd taught Mika to run right to the end of the teeter, but she said that Mika should work her way up so we could make sure she was confident on the teeter.

She had Mika do the teeter again a few more times, and by the third time Mika was going right to the end of the teeter!

I got to do the same with Mika after that. After holding the end a couple times, I had Mika just do the teeter ON HER OWN...and she DID IT!! YAY MIKA! She was SO AWESOME!! She raced RIGHT to the end before she stopped to wait for it to end the ground, and then she leaped off right away! I was SO SO SO proud of her!! GO MIKA! She got big hunks of yummy liver for that! She did the teeter again three more times and then that was it for the lesson! Awesome dogger!

We'll be having another private next week, working on lateral distance. So now it's the all clear for entering a Novice Standard run for the CKC trial in October! It'll be at the same place we had the private today, so no worries! They might be having some fun runs in the fall so I'll go and practice the teeter on the fun run before the trial.

No photos this time, got to get off the computer!

I'm ELATED! :D First time I've used that word!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hangin' in the backyard

In the summer we (that is, Mika, Shadow, and me) spend much of our days just hanging out in the backyard. It's also a good opportunity to take photos!

Mika is observing the kids playing on the other side of the street. She's a pro watchdog. If one of the kids throws a ball on our side lawn next to the fence, she'll race over barking her head off unless I don't occupy her with treats first.

She takes her job very seriously.

Luckily, no kids threw their ball over. :) So Mika decides to go off duty (if I can say that, Mika is never really off duty!) and is busy thinking about what to do next.

She decides to...

...PLAY! Talk about hair in the eyes! It's a wonder she can see anything! :O

After a lot of playing, she decides to go inside and lie down on the couch. So she waits at the door for me to let her in...after I finish taking more photos!

Shadow is having lots of fun rolling around in the sun. "Ahhhhhh...bliss!"

Admiring the plants and flowers...or secretly looking for prey to hunt? (Don't tell her I know this, but I think it's the latter!)

Resting...and always beautiful.

The peace is broken when my mom lets Mika in the backyard. Mika looks at our wooden teeter, looks at me, and races over to the teeter and right onto it!

What a teeter freak. She loves this thing!

"Mooooooooom...can I have my treats noooooooow?"

After giving Mika treats for doing the teeter (without my direction!) I decided to go and take some photos of the flowers in the backyard and the side yard.

Well that's it for now! Keep an eye out for more posts. Next week Mika and I are going to a fun match so I'll be sure to talk about that!

Oh, I almost forgot! I was asking my dad about SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. I want one, because they're so awesome and they're what professional photographers use. and I found out that my dad actually HAS ONE! It's about twenty years old (!!), but still, it's a great camera and it's an SLR! I'll try it out once in a while. I especially want to use it for action shots. I won't be able to use it much (film is expensive) but I'll use it as often as I can! My dad is planning on taking it to the fun match to take some photos of Mika. Cool!

All right, that's enough. End of post!


Friday, August 8, 2008

First ever post!

Hi everybody! My name is Nat and this is my first post in this blog, "Dream Dogz". Why did I name it Dream Dogz, you may ask? Well my friend Ashley and I had lots of fun thinking of names for this blog. I thought of the name Dog Dreams, but it was taken already. So then Ashley thought of Dream Dogs. That was taken too! I was about to give up and go a different route, but then Ashley suggested changing the "s" to a "z". was available!

My dog is my dream come true. For years I had dreamed about putting an Agility title on a dog, and with Mika leading the way, I finally have! Mika is everything I've ever dreamed of and more. That is why I named this blog Dream Dogz.

This will most likely turn out to be a weekly blog. I'll post my latest photos of "Mika" (my Miniature Schnauzer) and Shadow (my Chartreux/domestic shorthair cat), and I'll also talk about my adventures in Dog Agility with Mika and, in one or two years, with my future puppy.

Mika -- 3 1/2 year old schnauzer

Shadow -- 14 year old cat

So basically this a blog about my pets, my life, my dreams. Enjoy!