Monday, November 30, 2009

First snow

Nope...we couldn't put it off for longer...we have snow! Only a bit, but it's still snow!

Mika wearing her "favourite" sweater. Her and Wall-e actually like the snow (for now!). and like always, they ran back and forth from the weaves to the plank trying to get me to reward them. (I love having operant dogs who offer behaviours relentlessly!)

Wall-e looks so clean here..

...Buuut that didn't last long. We might have a bit of snow, but all the wetness turned the dirt into mud!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wall-e growing up

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months

10 months

11 months

I was looking through photos today and realized that I never posted these photos that we took every month of Wall-e's puppyhood that he spent with us. (Never took the 12 month photo because that was around the hectic time of Regionals, but there wasn't much change between 11 and 12 months anyway!) I didn't stack or groom him the best, but oh well, that's not really the point of the photos anyway ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

AAC trials Oct. - Nov. 2009

I told you I'd put videos of our runs up...eventually! ;) Here they are.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fun match Nov. 21, 2009

Fun match yesterday, woohoo! It was tons of fun -- great to be able to do actual agility again, not just individual obstacles and short exercises (all that fits in our backyard and basement).

Each dog did one Starters Standard and one Starters Gamblers (there's no way I'd be able to memorize two different courses on the same setup which is why I ran Starters with Mika -- and also to give her a break from all the tough technical courses we've run together all year).


Starters Standard
I thought Mika was fast before...but this was really fast! I was a bit concerned that she'd have flashbacks from "THE Bad Experience" (on the teeter). That was two and a half years ago at our first ever fun match on April 1, 2007. This is Mika's first fun match at this venue since then. But no, she wasn't worried! Yay, what a brave girlie, and such a huge change from our first fun match those years ago!!

Starters Gamblers
Started off with the weaves (straight on entry), with she got, fast and accurate. I threw her food tube a LOT in this run since Gamblers isn't very flowing. We got the gamble -- chute, tire, jump, in a straight line -- perfectly. It was fun!


Starters Standard
He got the chute right away! He's been having some trouble with new chutes in different environments, but he did this brand-new chute that he's never been in before the first time! Rewarded a lot for that. Aaand...he got his WEAVES!!

Starters Gamblers
Started with the weaves (like Mika), which he got! Then we were going to do the mini gamble. Hahaha, Wall-e did it harder than it was supposed to be. There was a jump, then ahead, two jumps beside each other parallel to the first jump (set so that the dog had a choice of which jump to take), and then a tunnel under the A-frame. The Starters mini gamble was jump, then the jump closer to the handler. Simple. But WALL-E took the first jump, then from the two jumps beside each other he took the jump farther away from me, and then ran into the tunnel! HA! Wow. What a Gamblers dog. Even in the main gamble, I meant for him to do the chute but he ran out farther away and did a jump on the other side of the chute! I used my opposite arm to pull him in to me (which he responded to immediately) and he did the chute. He really prefers to work far away from me rather than close to me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sleeping photos

Mika sleeping in the sun

Wall-e sleeps in the strangest places

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Regionals/Nationals for us in 2010

Next year the AAC Nationals will be held in Alberta, at Spruce Meadows, where the very first AAC Nationals were held. Sadly we won't be able to go next year -- Alberta is a bit too far. Hopefully we'll be able to go in 2011, assuming that Nationals will be held a bit closer that year. Watching some USDAA Nationals/Cynosport runs the previous few days, on livestream and YouTube (wish we could have actually been there!), brought back great memories of our AAC Regionals and Nationals! Congrats to everyone at the USDAA Nationals, from what I saw it looked like a great event!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's a tough job...

Finally, after endlessly running from window to window trying to "herd" the kids playing outside (which he would literally do all day if I let him), I took Wall-e down to the basement so he could finally sleep.

I'll bet he's dreaming of chasing his "sheep."

(About all of the layout changes...I'm hoping that this will be the last one, I was having trouble deciding, as you probably noticed :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy "Gotcha Day," little man

One year ago I picked up Wall-e, then a 5 1/2 month old puppy, from his breeder. A lot has happened since that evening, and this sheltie has given me so much joy and fun. I've learned so much from him, and I'm sure I'll learn much more. Wall-e is exactly what I was looking for in a second dog. He's so eager, and always so happy, and has lots of drive, but has still provided challenges (which are one of my favourite aspects of dog training). What a great little dog! I can't believe it's been a whole year -- it's passed by incredibly fast. I hope there will be many more years to come with the Wall-e!

Celebrating his 1st Gotcha Day by having fun with his favourite obstacle, the weaves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wall-e's Weave entries -- time to refresh

Wall-e was having a bit of trouble with weave entries today. Usually he's good at them but today he missed two or three mild entries (entered at the 2nd pole). The nails are probably frozen in the ground by now so I can't set them back up in channels or 2x2's, but I can still work the first 3 poles by marking the entry with a "Yes!" and then say "Come!" to call him out of the poles and reward. We'll work the entries around the clock this way, a few reps every day.

That could be good for Mika too, considering that her entries need as much work as Wall-e's. You can probably tell that I'm not the best at training entries :) We all have weaknesses, but they give us opportunities to turn them into strengths!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wall-e's 2on2off training

Wall-e has been learning 2on2off on the plank in the backyard -- woohoo, I'm staying on track with our winter goals :) I used shaping to train the position, which worked well for him. Right now he can run across the flat plank and stop in 2o2o while barely collecting himself (which is what I want, because it means that it'll help him ease into a running contact eventually). Pretty often, though, he either stops short and stops in a 4-on position, or doesn't stop at all, so he probably doesn't understand the position as well as I thought. Back to basics -- this morning, I began backchaining the 2o2o position again, jumping onto the side of the plank from the ground, which a jump standard on either side to help him. He did really good, and I was already seeing improvement by the end of the 3-minute-or-so session.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The what?

Our club's training field closed last week, so it's now our "off-season" until it opens again in April. We have no trials until March, only fun matches. So the winter gives us a good chance to work on individual skills!

I remember last off-season my main focuses were preparing Mika for Regionals and Wall-e's foundation training (which both paid off!!). I remember that Mika didn't even know rear crosses last year, that was one thing we trained during the winter. Ha! I wouldn't be able to survive without rear crosses now, she's gotten so much more speed!

This winter my focuses are:


- Refresh her 2on2off training. Since she's been missing most of her contacts lately (except at our last run where she hit both dog walk contacts and the A-frame!!), I've decided to train a 2o2o on the DW and AF, but only for a couple weeks. Then we'll go back to running. Her 2o2o is awesome on the stairs and on the plank right now, hoping that it'll transfer nicely to the "real" contacts!

Weave entries. We'll be working on tough weave entries with 6 poles in the basement. She's pretty good at the medium-hard ones, but once they start getting more severe she enters at the 2nd or 3rd pole.


- Finish training his 2on2off. This is actually going pretty good. He can do 2o2o on the plank at speed. I'd like to add a nose touch to it though to help him get his focus off of me.

- Perfect his weaves. Great news! -- WALL-E WEAVES!! He's obsessive about it, too. Whenever I go in the backyard he runs over to me, leaps in the air in traditional Wall-e style, runs over to the weaves, and starts weaving. Crazy dog. They're his favourite obstacle now! He has nice entries, which the 2x2 training helped a lot. The only thing is that he skips poles at the end when he gets really excited (like when I'm using Nature's Variety raw food as a reward!)

Contacts and weaves. We'll refresh foundation training too. Not a lot to work on, and nothing really "crucial" this time (unlike last off-season when I was preparing Mika for Regionals). I plan to teach them a lot more tricks and just have fun with training.
Although I'm sure I'll start REALLY missing running sequences and courses soon (since I have a small yard) it'll be a nice winter!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Photos, Crate criteria

Yes, this is Mika's crate criteria! She has to have at least her two back paws in the crate. When we started playing Crate Games last winter this is what she offered me, and I didn't want to correct her (I never correct Mika), so this is what she's allowed to do. She doesn't try to go farther than this anyway before I release her. In this photo I didn't even tell her to go in the crate -- she went in on her own.

No photo of Wall-e's crate criteria, but he has to have his whole body in the crate, and no part of it can stick out, including his head. He's not soft like Mika so he can learn with corrections (by corrections I mean closing the crate door if he sticks his head out, nothing else).

How about Shadow? Well, in her view, her crate criteria is "get out as fast as I can, hissing and scratching!" To Shadow, a crate = going to the vet and suffering the disgrace of a checkup.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

AAC trial Nov. 6, 2009

Last trial of the year...

Advanced Gamblers
Kept the opening as flowing as possible, with only one or two tight turns. (Hard to plan a Gamblers opening.) At the beginning, I led out and called her over the first jump and the teeter right after, then headed over to the mini (a simple jump-to-tunnel). At first I accidentally pulled her off the tunnel opening but then she ran in a loop back to me, and I flipped her out to the correct opening. After that we did a couple jumps, then the dog walk (she hit the yellow!), over a jump, back over, then the DW again (she hit it AGAIN!). Then we did the tunnel again -- watching the video (which I'll post eventually :) I realized that I handled her at a 15' without even meaning to, it just came naturally, I sent her into the tunnel and then as she raced over to the opening I ran to the next jump to get in position. Wow. The buzzer rang soon after and we headed over to the main gamble: the A-frame, then a tire right after it in a straight line, then a tire then curved away from the gambling line. the handlers had to pull their dogs in after the tire and then send them back out to the jump, which was about 15' away from the line and kind of both a lateral and linear send. So the buzzer rang, and I sent Mika over the A-frame. She's been missing the A-frame contacts at the past few trials (then again we haven't trained the AF since September), so was I ever surprised when she got the AF contact at a distance! And a really nice hit too, all four paws in the yellow!! She zoomed through the tire, and I pulled her back to me, then sent her to the last jump. She ran over with no hesitation, and we were done! A great run, really fun, and got ALL THREE of the DW and AF contacts that we did! our final Adv. Gamblers Q, which means that we'll be in Masters Gamblers next year.

It's been an awesome year of trialing. Mika's drive and speed has increased a TON since last year, and she's having a lot more fun. Our first Regionals and Nationals were very memorable experiences too. I'm very proud of Mika. We have no more trials until March, which will give her body and mind a well-deserved break. Both her and Wall-e have four fun matches this winter, (one each month November to February), but I'll be running Mika in Starters which I'm sure she'll LOVE. What an amazing girl, she deserves to run on some nice flowing courses!!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My girl and my boy

Today's post on Susan Garrett's blog was about preferences for either male or female dogs. I'm not the best person to give an opinion seeing that I've only ever had two dogs, but I found it interesting to read all the comments and thought that I'd give me own experience.

Keep in mind that Mika was spayed at 7 months and Wall-e is intact.

Mika is not "moody," but she does have different moods. Sometimes she'll be in my favourite mood -- happy, cheerful, with her smile that I love, perking up when I look at her, following me around eagerly -- and sometimes she'll wander around aimlessly. She's not always cheerful like Wall-e is, although she can almost always go into a cheerful mood when I give her "Ready" cue (which means that it's time to train). A lot of people who commented on Susan's blog said that their males were more attached to them than their females, but that's not the case at all with Mika...she's very attached to me. Hard to say if she's more attached to me than Wall-e, but she shows it differently. She'll snuggle up beside me and we'll lie together on the couch or bed, she'll come up to me for attention and pets, and she actually stresses if I give attention to Wall-e and not to her. Wall-e prefers to keep his distance and likes his own space, although he loves it when I give him attention. (Although only verbal attention in his case, unlike Mika, who loves both verbal and physical attention.)

I do agree (with the blog) that my female is more sensitive than my male. Mika is very soft and sensitive, always wants to do the right thing, and worries easily. while Wall-e is slightly sensitive but not at all soft. Although I am completely positive in all my training with both my dogs, I don't have to worry as much with Wall-e. If a mistake is made, he can take re-do's without any loss in enthusiasm, although the only time I've ever done re-do's with Wall-e is with weave training (which, by the way, is going VERY well!).

So which do I prefer, boys or girls? I don't think I can really say right now because I haven't had enough experience (and it's hard to compare because my dogs are completely different breeds), but I'm sure that I'll develop an opinion in the future!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

"Happy Halloween!"

This was a pumpkin at the outdoor museum/farm that actually grew through the wagon wheel into a "head" on the other side!