Sunday, November 30, 2008

First beginner obedience class

Today was the first beginner obedience class. Wall-e couldn't come because the first class was only for the people, to explain the instructor's view on training (positive reinforcement), what a clicker is, and a quick lesson on how to teach each of the basic commands. Basic stuff, but it was nice to see what the instructor thought about different things. Next week, Wall-e and the rest of the dogs will be able to attend the classes and the "real" classes will begin. Wall-e already knows pretty much everything that the class will be teaching (good boy!!) except for Down -- right now he only knows how to do Down with a food lure. BUT, today he was following my hand a few times without the lure. I plan to have him completely off the lure by the next obedience class in a week.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ears and teeth

I found two very nice surprises when I came home from school yesterday!

My mom picked me up from school, with Mika and Wall-e in their crates in the back. I noticed Wall-e's left ear right away -- it was up! The tips of his ears had been glued to the hair in front of the ears for the past two weeks (to get that nice sheltie tip), and sometime yesterday while I was at school, the tip of his left ear must have finally separated from the hair. His right ear was almost up too but not quite, so when we got home I gently teased away the hairs stuck together by the dried glue. I then trimmed away all the gluey hair and neatened up his ears just a bit. I still have to take some of the glue off that's still stuck onto the tips, but I'll do that later. What beautiful ears he has, with perfect 1/3 tips

I then decided to check his teeth to see how those two baby teeth were doing. And, I immediately saw that his left baby tooth was gone!

You can see that his adult canine tooth is almost completely grown in.

Last but not least, today Wall-e is 6 months old! Happy birthday little man!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Wall-e's baby teeth

Wall-e still has a couple of baby teeth left -- his "canines". His adult teeth are actually starting to come in over them, especially his left adult canine, which is about half way in. But, his right baby canine is getting looser every day. We're giving him lots of things to chew on, like chew toys and rawhides (always under supervision). Hopefully those baby teeth will fall out soon! If they're not out by a month or so, we'll probably have them pulled, but I'm sure they'll be out by then


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food tube

Since Wall-e doesn't enjoy tugging that much right now (and I'm not going to force him), I started getting him used to Mika's food tube in the basement yesterday. A food tube is a plastic cylindrical tube which you can fill with...*dumdumdum*...FOOD! (Wall-e's absolute love!) It can be thrown to increase speed and drive and to use the dog's inner prey drive. He really seemed to enjoy chasing it, and was racing after it after only a few throws. I'll use the food tube to reinforce him for basic agility exercises for now. I might use toys eventually if I decide to train him to like toys, but I think the food tube will, for Wall-e, be just as good.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stays getting better!

"I'm trying to sleep!" Cute and cuddly in Mika's donut bed.

Hanging out in the mini tunnel.

Wall-e has definitely been improving in his Stays. I can place a treat on the ground in front and him, and where before he would break his Stay 80% of the time to try to get the treat, now he only breaks his Stay 20% of the time! We'll continue practicing this every day until he never breaks his Stay, even if there is a whole pile of treats staring him in the face.

Also, he can now Stay for 45 seconds, which is what he'll have to do at the end of his beginner obedience classes -- which haven't even started yet! (They're starting this weekend, but only the humans are supposed to come, not the dogs. The "real" classes, with the dogs, will start the week after.)

Good boy!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jumping introduction and The Great Poop Chase

Today I gave Wall-e an introduction to jumping, with the use of stride regulators. This method of teaching a jumping foundation to 4 to 6 month old puppies was created by Susan Salo, and has since been adapted by a couple other trainers. Today I set up the beginning exercise -- 2 PVC poles set 32" from each other (Wall-e's height multiplied by 2.5). One of the PVC poles was placed between between two winged jump standards.

I had my mom hold Wall-e in front of the first pole. I led out a bit past the second pole, and placed some treats on a target in front of the second pole. (I'll have Wall-e do a Sit Stay in front of the first pole, instead of my mom holding him back, when his Stay is strong enough so that the treats on the target aren't a distraction.) When I said "Go!" my mom let go of Wall-e. He jumped the first stride regulator, then the second, and I released him to his treats with a "Get It!". He seemed a bit uncertain if he should trot between the poles or bounce them (if they had been a few inches closer they would have been too close together to bounce), but he ended up bouncing, which is exactly what I wanted him to do.

We took a break for playtime and then he got to do a second repetition. He went over the poles with a bounce in between, and he seemed quite a bit more certain about what his job was -- to bounce the poles! I'm sure that the more repetitions he does (in a few more very short training sessions), the more certain he'll be.

Now for a different topic -- something I call "The Great Poop Chase". Whenever Mika or Wall-e "does their business", I pick it up with a bag and put it on the top of the railing on the back porch so that I can bring the bag inside when I go in the house. When I picked up Mika's poop this morning I guess the wind blew the bag down from the railing and onto the ground, because Wall-e suddenly raced over to the poop bag on the ground, picked up the bag, and started racing all over the yard like a lunatic! When Mika saw that he was running with something in his mouth, she started chasing after him. And then there was me, walking calmly behind them so as not to encourage them to run any faster!

After the dogs had done a few laps around the backyard, Mika soon lost interest, but Wall-e kept on galloping around the yard with the bag swinging from his mouth. When he saw me walking towards him, he did a play bow and then, when I was just out of reach, darted away. "Betcha can't get it from me!" But, I was eventually able to walk over and trade the poop bag for a Charlee Bear treat, which Wall-e was more than happy to do!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teeter obsessed schnauzer

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but Mika is completely, totally obsessed with the teeter. (Although it's probably just the treats she wants, but still!) Without me saying a word, she used to always race over it right to the end and wait for it to tip, while we were just hanging out in the backyard, then look at me as if to say, "Helloooo, where are my treats?!" Now that we took the teeter board off the base so that Wall-e wouldn't go on it and get scared by the unexpected movement, she simply races over to the board and stands on one of the yellow contact zones, staring at me expectantly for a treat. She always, always wants to go in the backyard so she can go on "her" teeter!

Is there a Teeter Addicts Anonymous? If so, I think Mika should join!


Friday, November 21, 2008

It's time... begin Wall-e's agility training!

Well, not really agility training; basic agility training. Just playing around with a few things -- tunnel, jumps with bars on the ground, galloping across the teeter board while touching the contact. I won't raise the bars on the jumps at all until Wall-e is about 9 months old (I'll raise them to 6" then), as jumping is very stressful on puppies' growing joints and bones.

My goal for Wall-e is to train him to eventually be a happy, fast, confident agility dog who tries his best to follow my directions. I don't expect to create a "perfect dog". After all, there is no perfect dog. But, I will do everything I can to train him to be a good little worker. I mainly want him to have FUN!

For now, all of his agility training will be focused on building drive and motivation, and having fun! When the agility field opens in April (he'll be 11 months old then), and it starts getting nice outside again, we'll begin some more formal agility training.

Of course, I won't stop with his foundation training, which is essential for a good agility dog! My main focus will still be building his foundation, not his agility training. Basic obedience, flatwork, and other fun stuff will be our main priority until he's grown up.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hand touch

I started teaching Wall-e how to touch the palm of my hand with his nose and yesterday he was really getting it! He has a nice strong nose touch. I even got to practice some shadow handling with him using the nose touch -- he touches my hand as I do a front cross, then he touches my other hand as I do another front cross, etc. I make sure to include Mika too; every once in a while I let her have a turn to touch my palm.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stay training success

Wall-e can now be in a Sit Stay six feet away from me, for ten seconds, while there is a treat on the ground in front of him! I'll have to build it up to 45 seconds for his beginner obedience class starting in a couple of weeks, but the dogs in the class only have to stay for that long the last day of class for the "test", so I have a while to teach him. I'm sure he'll learn it quickly, though; he's a fast little learner!

I think Mika is starting to enjoy his company a bit more now. They play together every evening in the yard, sometimes only for a few seconds, sometimes for a few minutes.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


On Thursday, November 13, we brought Wall-e into the family. Wall-e is a 5 1/2 month old male Shetland Sheepdog (sheltie). What an amazing puppy, so attentive and well-behaved!

It took him no time at all to learn the hand signal for Sit, and now he pretty much knows Here (come) and Watch Me already! He even followed Mika through a 4 foot long play tunnel in the backyard, and he followed her over jump bars lying on the ground. When Mika was chasing him and playing with him yesterday, he ZOOMED through the tunnel four times, wow!! What an amazing boy!! He also followed Mika onto the teeter board (which we'd laid on the ground) and climbs all over it for fun.

His breeder had crate trained him already which is great, and he sometimes pops into his crate on his own, wanting treats! After a couple hours of playing and hanging out with us, he starts getting sleepy, so I put him in his crate with a nice yummy treat and he dozes off right away. (He's actually sleeping in his crate as I type this.)

Unlike Mika, who hates the rain, Wall-e doesn't mind the rain at all! He acts as if the rain isn't even there, except for a couple of body shakes to get the water droplets off his fur. Mika on the other hand, doesn't go out in the rain unless she REALLY has to go to the bathroom!

When Wall-e is outside and hears cars or new noises, his ears perk up and he stops what he's doing, and follows to movement of the car with his head. He's used to living in the countryside, so I guess cars are new to him!

He went to the vet yesterday for a routine exam and his third set of vaccinations. He was so polite on the exam table, and even relaxed and lay down after the vet was finished with him! The vet commented on what a nice puppy he was, and what beautiful teeth and coat he has. :) He even gave him a rubber bone-shaped chew toy made by the KONG company that can be stuffed with treats. (He gave us one for Mika too, so she wouldn't feel left out!)

Wonderful little dog. Here are some photos of Wall-e:

What a sweet face!

Looking into the distance through the tire (that thing in the corner)

I love this close-up shot...he looks so beautiful.

Now here are some photos of the places we went to socialize him yesterday:

The pet supply store

The lake

The vet's

Still at the vet's -- he loves to rest his head on my shoulder!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Agility trial November 9, 2008

So here it is, the video from our trial on Sunday:

I was really happy with my girl! No Q, but Mika had a huge amount of fun. She was really happy during both runs! I think moving her to Specials did a great deal with increasing her confidence over the jumps. At this trial, she jumped really nicely, flat, without hesitating like she did over the 16" jumps. We'll Q, I know we will. We have the whole next year of competing in Masters to get Q's. Of course, Q's aren't what this sport is really about. I realized at this trial that I really don't run only for Q' least, not completely. I mainly run for connect with my share a great moment on course. Mika and I, we love a fun, fast challenge, and agility is the perfect challenge for us.

I was REALLY happy with her teeter and dog walk at this trial!! She went on the teeter at a nice distance from me, and then raced right up the end of the teeter board to wait for it to tip -- exactly what I want her to do!! Her dog walk was nice too, fast, and she hit the contact point perfectly!

Great job Mika!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And now...a loooong winter!

It was the last trial of the year for us yesterday. (I'll talk about how we did in another post, as I'm at school right now and have to go to class soon!) For us, our agility training season is only about six months long, and the rest of the year we have to make due with a few trips to an indoor arena, which is pretty far so we can't go often. We also do a little bit of training in our basement and in the backyard, but there's barely any room to do real sequences or even small exercises. Soon enough we'll be itching to run again! Still, it's always good to let Mika's body rest for a bit over the winter.

Our next trial will be sometime in, that seems so far away! But we'll manage...and I'll continue to post here regularly, don't worry.

Our puppy, Wall-e, will be coming later this week...excitement!!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Agility trial October 24, 2008

Sorry it took so long to post this!

Great job Mika!! I was so happy with this run, even though we didn't Q (athough we would have if not for the missed dog walk contact). It was our first Masters, and I was so proud of Mika for following my handling, not stressing, and just generally being the wonderful little dog she is!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

BIG news...

Well, I've got some GREAT news!! We're getting a puppy!

His name is Wall-e, and he's a 5 months old Shetland Sheepdog. He's from a great breeder who has amazing and beautiful conformation dogs. More info to come (don't have time to write much more now) -- but I am SO excited!!!

Here are some photos (taken by his breeder) of him when he was younger:

10 weeks old, isn't he beautiful!!

10 weeks old

6.5 weeks old, and he already knows how to stack (show position)!

We've been very busy preparing for his arrival. We can't wait for this wonderful little boy to come home with us!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Fun times at the park

Mika absolutely loves going to the park! She used to not like going for walks, but that was back when we just went around and around the same streets over and over again. Now, we explore every inch of the park. Mika sniffs and sniffs and sniffs some more, often darting around in every direction trying to decide what and where to sniff! Mika used to have a really bad barking problem (at dogs and people), but it's gotten so much better this past fall and summer. Whenever dogs or people pass by us, I call Mika towards me and tell her to Sit and Stay, which she does, and I give her a couple treats until the dogs and/or people are far enough away. Then, I release Mika with an Okay and walk a bit in the opposite direction, where she once again begins to sniff!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Agility trial October 18, 2008

Sorry 'bout the delay.

Had a trial Saturday, October 18. The video explains it all:

Awesome job Mika!!