Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wall-e's 2nd birthday

Yesterday Wall-e turned 2 years old!

He had a great day. He got to go to our favourite natural pet supply store to pick out his gifts. I led him by the treat racks and let him sniff them. He was especially interested in the Rollover organ treats that are pretty big, round, and flat, so I got him a package of those.

(I remember when we'd just gotten Wall-e and we'd had him for a few days, we went to another pet supply store, where the person at the cash offered him one of these exact same treats. He snatched it away and started trotting away as far as his leash would allow, trying to hide with his treat so we wouldn't steal it from him! He couldn't chew it well because it was big for his puppy mouth. When we had to go home, I tried to take it out of his mouth, but he held that treat as TIGHT as he could and would NOT open his mouth! I eventually got it out, but I was thinking, "Uh-oh, he's going to be food possessive." Luckily, he's never shown any kind of possession with his food since.)

I also let him choose something to chew on. When I showed him a kind of beef-jerky-looking flat stick, he grabbed it. "I want DAT one!" When we were done in the store (I bought an undercoat rake for Wall-e...of course, he didn't choose that gift himself!), I let him carry his beef stick outside. He happily trotted along, tail waving gently, carrying his new stick.

In the evening, we went to the field. We worked on his A-frame at 4 feet. He didn't know how to collect himself to stop in 2on2off after all the momentum of running over the higher AF, but I still rewarded every attempt. Next session, we'll work on the AF at 3 feet instead and back-chain more gradually.

After the AF training, we ran a flowing sequence of 6" jumps and tunnels. Although he went around a lot of jumps in our first try, we still had tons of fun and I was laughing my head off. In the second try he only passed by two jumps. I'm going to have to get a lot better at handling when this speed becomes consistent!

Afterward he did a set of 6 weaves and got the entry right away, and then he got to have a mini blueberry muffin, instead of a birthday cake. He really loves muffins!

Later that evening, at home, we did some more agility. (A sequence with the chute, jumps, and weaves, and later trained the teeter individually.) Wall-e loves to train, so I figured that an evening of agility would be a great present for him. A bit of extra car chasing along the fence, his favourite activity in the world, was another gift!

It's hard to believe that Wall-e is already 2 years old and is completely grown up!

Happy birthday Mr. W!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finally -- 2on2off begins!

Quick update. It was Wall-e's first official 2on2off session today on the actual equipment. We only used a flat A-frame today. I started him off by sending him to jump on the yellow from the side and land in 2o2o. I was quickly able to send him to do the entire flat AF; he generalized the position so, so well!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fun Match

As I'd hoped, Wall-e wasn't the least bit nervous of the fun match environment. Woohoo!!

I brought a container of fish in the ring for his first run because there were some spots that I wanted to reward at (after the weaves, after the teeter, after the chute, and after the last obstacle). He was focused on the container and as a result didn't see the 6-pole weaves until they were staring him in the face; he tried to collect, but ended up going around them. I had him nose-touch my palm (which he did very quickly!) for a piece of fish, then brought him around to the weaves again, and he got 'em. He had nice speed throughout the rest of the run. We ran the whole course except for the first few obstacles because the A-frame was the third obstacle (I had the contact hoop for the dog walk, but nothing for the AF, and I didn't want him to rehearse jumping over the yellow).

We got another turn at the same course later, again skipping the first few obstacles. This time, though, I didn't bring any treats in with me.

Wall-e ran his very first full course today; a Starters Jumpers, which is what he'll be running at his first trial in two weeks. And he ran it clean!! I would have liked him faster, but he was running at a good speed. He's not running full speed yet, but I'm thinking that he will eventually. I noticed at the last fun match that he seems to runs faster at 16" than at 10". (Either that, or it just seems that way because of the higher jumps, but I do think that he extends more while running at 16".) He was running at 10" today because that's what he's entered in for his trial. Well anyway, I was really pleased about his Jumpers run and it convinced me that he actually IS ready for his trial!

I also ran Mika through a few sequences in the practice ring. (Usually they only have a couple of jumps set up in the practice ring, but this time there were many jumps and a tunnel.) When an Australian Cattle Dog got loose and started chasing Mika along the fence, she was so focused on me that she didn't even notice!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mika Trial May 22, 2010

Mika got a haircut (I specifically asked for a SCHNAUZER cut this time!) on Tuesday and she looks gorgeous!

Mika had some nice contacts at this trial. She hit ALL her dog walks and A-frames; WOW! (4/4 DW's and 2/2 AF's!!)

I don't have time to write more, but all in all, we had a good time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mika and Wall-e Fun Match May 15, 2010

Wow wow wow. Wall-e IS NO LONGER SCARED to go into/be in the arena, the same arena where his noise phobias and fear of indoor agility buildings began! I couldn't be more surprised!!

He's still a bit nervous over loud noises, like the door opening and closing lots of times or an airplane (I think? maybe?) that flew overhead a few times. BUT this is an ENORMOUS improvement!!!

And although he's not 100% relaxed while waiting around inside the arena, he transforms into a different dog when he step into the ring. His tail waves and he gives me a goofy grin as soon as we pass the gates and step foot into the ring. It's like flicking a switch. He loves agility and once he knows that we're going to run, he forgets about his fears.

I hadn't even entered him today because I did NOT think that he would be able to stay in the building for more than a minute without shutting down completely (refusing treats, showing very stressed body language, and going to the door to try to leave). WOW.

His first run was crazy. It was a Starters Standard.I skipped the first part of the course because it had the A-frame and dog walk and I hadn't brought his PVC hoop, so we started with the table. He offered a 2on2off. I should have expected that, haha! Once I *told* him to Down (instead of just saying "Table!" and expecting him to lie down) he complied happily as if to say, "Um, sure, why didn't you tell me before!" We tried to run the remainder of the course, but he flew off the teeter twice; he hasn't been on a regulation-size teeter since, gosh, last year at the November fun match? So it's no wonder he soared off, with the speed he had from all the obstacles before. Once I asked him to Sit-Stay in front of the teeter and called him over, he did it beautifully, stopping in 2o2o at the end!! (He added the 2o2o on the teeter himself while playing teeter games on my mini/TDAA teeter. I never trained it, let alone on a competition-size teeter!)

His second run didn't start off too well because while he was in his start-line stay, he heard an airplane, or something? (I still can't figure out what that sound was.) His ears flicked back and he looked away from me. I released him from the stay to attempt to re-set him and get him back in his happy mood. He recovered a bit and his tail rose to its happy height, but he didn't want to sit, so I revved him up with our "Reeaaddyy, Set, Go!" cue and then ran with him to the first jump. Although he wagged his tail during the Ready-Set-Go cue, he didn't bark during the cue like he always does, so he was still a bit stressed. He recovered so well, though, especially for him. He ran the beginning of the sequence that I had planned (I decided not to try the course again) with speed. Then he ran off to investigate something. He probably smelled a dropped treat or something. He definitely wasn't stressed because his tail was raised very cheerfully. I got him focused on me again quickly and we ran the rest of the sequence. He had great weaves, entering correctly, not skipping any poles, and not popping out!! Yay!

Mika's run (which was set up as a Steeplechase course, but I made up a sequence instead) was awesome. From the start, she was in the zone. Total focus! She broke her start again the same way as she did at the trial last weekend, and she even completely self-released and zoomed over the jumps without me saying "Okay!", but I was thrilled with her anticipation! As for the actual sequence, she was fast!! Her weaves were awesomely fast too! So, so much fun to run my girlie when she's having this much FUN! We tried the weaves again a couple of times for practice (all I have set up in the backyard right now is sets of 6 stick-in-the-ground poles, which are annoying to move). She did pop at the 10th pole those couple of times, but I rewarded her anyway. We had a food tube party when we were done. I threw the beloved food tube back and forth for her, which she was thrilled about. I LOVE to throw the food tube and watch her driving and extending to chase it, then letting out a joyful bark as she reached it. She's so beautiful and joyful at the same time.

Wall-e's last run (really just the sequence I had planned) was his best. He ran the sequence perfectly.

Amazing day!! Will post the video whenever I have time.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2on2off plank update

Mr. Man (a.k.a. Wall-e) did a couple sessions of 2on2off plank work today. I have the plank flat at the moment because height isn't my goal at all; I just want to improve his reliability of the position. He flies across the plank so extended that it seems like he won't be able to stop at the end; but alas (don't you love that word?), he *usually* does! Sometimes he releases himself early, but he's improving. If we keep it up, he's going to have a nice dog walk (and hopefully A-frame) when we're able to use the field to back-chain it!

Mika has a fun match tomorrow. Can't wait to reinforce behaviours in the ring!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weave sends with Mika

We haven't trained in a while, so off we went (to the backyard) to train linear distance to the weaves. Oddly enough, at one end of the poles, Mika would pop at the fourth pole, but she could send beautifully to the set of 6 poles starting from the other end of the poles. Still, I was really happy with how she weaved all the poles starting at the other end, as I stood still behind the first pole. Good dog!

The weaves were separated in a 2" or 3" channel; when we train weaves in the backyard, I either angle the poles or put them in a slight channel to reduce stress on the body. Mika does enough straight weaves at trials, so I don't have her do a lot of them at home too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mika Trial May 10, 2010

This was a really fun day! Mika felt so much faster than she was at our last two trials, and she even had focus and energy for our third run. I think our extra walking and running has been helping her stamina.

In the second run, she actually started to break her start-line stay, but then realized that I hadn't released her and stopped again. She's never done this before, but I was happy, as she showed how much she wanted to run!

Augh, in that same run, we almost got the gamble. I'm positive we would have gotten it IF I hadn't distracted Mika by saying "Good girl" just as she was committing to the tunnel, causing her to turn around because she thought I was calling her away from the tunnel. I vowed to never again distract her by saying "Good girl"...but soon broke that vow in the next run!

Our first Masters Jumpers Q! It wasn't an easy course, either, especially for us; it had a wrap (could have had a few wraps, actually, but I handled it so that it didn't). AND we GOT the wrap!! That was when I just HAD to say "Good girl!".