Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wall-e's fourth rally class

Wow, it's hard to believe there's only two classes left.

At this class we learned:

Halt - 90 Degree Pivot Right - HALT
Halt - 90 Degree Pivot Left - HALT
Spiral Right - Dog Outside
Spiral Left - Dog Inside

At the next class we'll learn the remaining Novice exercises.

At the beginning of the class, the instructor accidentally turned the heating fan on (I'd told her about Wall-e's fear of fans at the first class, but she forgot; no big deal, it happens!). Wall-e was scared and wouldn't take treats, so I reminded the instructor about his fear and took him outside as she turned the fan. He didn't want to go back inside, but I carried him in. I would have rather shaped him to go back inside, but it was cold and I would have let tons of cold air in the building. I was impressed with how quickly he recovered, though; he started taking treats again as soon as he realized the fan wasn't on, whereas several months ago he still would have been very stressed.

We didn't practice any pivots at this class because they require a bit of training (preferably in an environment without the distraction of other dogs!), but we did practice spirals. Our first spiral lefts were NOT pretty. I kept almost bumping into Wall-e because I wasn't cuing him properly (hmmm, why does that sound familiar?). But by the end of the class, we were both doing better.

The sequence for this class was Start, 360 Degree Right, Fast Pace, Normal Pace, About Turn - Right, Call Front - Finish Left, Halt - Sit - Down - Sit, Halt - Sit - Down - Walk Around, Finish. We were doing pretty well up until the Halt - Sit- Down - Sit, where Wall-e did his sit and down really crooked. He's always had crooked sits and downs, but I've never really payed attention to it as much as I should. The instructor recommended that I retrain his sits and downs a bit to get them straighter, and she helpfully showed me how to reward him to encourage a straight position.

Below is a picture from our third class a week ago; you can see how crooked his sit is :) They were even more crooked at this class. That's what happens when you don't train for straight sits; I never really did :)

I agree that I should retrain him and we've started doing that this week at home. It'll take a while to build the muscle memory of doing straight sits and downs, but with a lot of retraining, I definitely think he'll be able to do it. I just have to remember to always reward on the left side of his head, away from me, instead of towards me.

I have to say, as I watch the video clips from this class, that I just love how happy Wall-e looks as he trots beside me, even after his scare with the fan at the beginning of the class. I'm actually glad that the incident with the fan happened because know I have a lot more confidence with Wall-e's ability to recover from stress.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wall-e's third rally class

In this class we covered:

About "U" Turn (180 degree turn to the left)
270 Degree Left Turn
360 Degree Left Turn
Call Dog Front - Forward Right
Call Dog Front - Forward Left
Call Dog Front - Finish Right
Call Dog Front - Finish Left

Wall-e forgets how to do finishes! We haven't practiced them in a long time. I had to lure him for his finishes and forwards in this class.

He really likes the forwards though because he doesn't have to sit, he can just keep trotting forward after he moves into position.

The sequence in this class was Start, Straight Figure 8, About Turn - Right, Fast Pace, Normal Pace, Right Turn, 270 Degree Left Turn, Sit - Down - Walk Around, 360 Degree Right Turn, and finally Finish. We did well during most of the course, although Wall-e was heeling a bit too far away from me; gotta train closer heeling. For the Sit - Down - Walk Around, I placed a treat on the ground in front of him after he lay down. This gives him something to focus on as I walk behind him. It works well at home, but at class he got up when I stepped behind him. The instructor suggested that I not put the treat down, but instead just step behind more and more gradually. So we left it at that and completed the course with the 360 Degree Right Turn, which went well. We're good at the exercises that involve moving; it's the stationary exercises that we find tough!

After class, Wall-e got to play with the chocolate lab/poodle puppy (I think he's about six months old). He had a blast. Mika rarely wants to play with Wall-e, so any playtime that he gets is a big treat for him!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wall-e's first and second rally classes

Two weeks ago, I started taking a beginner rally class with Wall-e. I've taken rally before with Mika in 2007. I've always wanted to do more obedience of some kind with Wall-e, as he just loves to heel and is pretty good at it too!

First class: October 30

Wall-e loved seeing the other dogs at the beginning of class. In the class, there are two lab/poodles (I think one *might* be a golden/poodle, can't remember), a hound mix, a shepherd mix, and a German Shepherd Dog.

The class covers both CARO (Canadian Association of Rally Obedience) and CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Novice rally exercises. Most of the exercises are the same, but some have different names; for those, I'll just use the CARO names because if we ever do compete, we'd concentrate mostly on CARO. I'll In the first class, we covered:

Halt - Sit (CKC only)
Halt - Sit - Down
Halt - Sit - Stand
Halt - Down - Sit
Halt - Walk Around
Halt - Sit - Walk Around
Halt - Down - Walk Around
Weave Once
Fast Pace
Slow Pace
Normal Pace

(Sorry if I messed up any of the names; I'm working from memory.)

Wall-e really enjoyed it. I realized how much I have to work on his downs; at this class, he wasn't dropping fully down and usually had his elbows off the floor.

When we first approached the cones in the Weave Once exercise, Wall-e tried to interact with one of the cones (pawing it), haha. We've done a lot of shaping exercises with cones and he probably thought that's what we were doing! He soon understood what to do, though.

At the end of each class, we'll be doing a sequence of exercises that will eventually build up to a full course. This week, we did Start (basically just the start line, not really an exercise), Weave Once, Halt - Down, and then Finish (the "finish line"). The Weave Once went well, but I do have to work on Wall-e's downs! He enjoyed it, though.

Second class: November 6

Exercises covered:

Straight Figure 8
Moving Down - Forward (CKC only)
Right Turn
About Turn - Right
270 Degree Right Turn
360 Degree Right Turn

(Only right turns were covered this week because left turns are a bit tougher.)

After working on downs at home, Wall-e's downs were much better this week!

The sequence for this class was Start, Weave Once, Halt - Sit - Down, Right Turn, Halt - Sit - Walk Around, Right Turn, Fast Pace, Normal Pace (just a transition from Fast Pace), and Finish. The first few stations went well, but we had a bit of trouble with the Halt - Sit - Walk Around; Wall-e hasn't learned this yet, so I tried to let him chew on a treat as I walked around him, but he would stand up when I started to step behind him. After two tries, I rewarded him for staying when I took a tiny step, and then moved on to the next stations, which Wall-e did great at.


We would have another class today too, but it was canceled because the instructor is attending a local rally trial. Next week, we'll learn the left turns.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fun Match Oct. 16 and Trial Oct. 24

Whew. I'm so behind on writing about our latest events. Let's get started.

Fun Match, Oct. 16

I ran Mika in two Masters Gamblers runs and Wall-e in two Starters Standard runs. Wall-e's runs were first. I let him do all of the obstacles except for the weaves, dog walk, and A-frame (although he did sneak onto an off-course AF twice!). Once, he forgot to stop in 2on2off on the teeter. He realized that right after he jumped off and immediately backed up to try to get into position! Good thing that the teeter was already high enough that it didn't hit him.

The Masters gamble was too hard for Mika and me, so I broke it up into smaller pieces and then gradually increased the distance and amount of obstacles. We didn't get to the full distance, but she did send out really nicely to the correct end of the second tunnel, which was the hardest part of the gamble for us. She also had some good weaves during the opening.

Trial, Oct. 24

This was our last trial of the year. I just ran Mika because Wall-e isn't ready to run at this venue yet. We ran in two Masters Gamblers runs and one Masters Jumpers. In the middle of our first Gamblers run, Mika thought we were done because she went over the jump closest to one of the entry/exit gatesMika has been trialing long enough to know that when we're running towards a gate, it's time to get her jackpot reward. Unfortunately for her, what she thought was the exit gate was actually the entry gate, and there was a Keeshond waiting to run. She reacted to it, but came back to me when I called her with "Gimme a check!" (our reactivity cue that means to focus on me when a dog is around). In the gamble, we took the wrong obstacle in the discrimination, so no Q. This run was still a blast, though, because Mika was speedy and barky!

Our second run was another Gamblers. In the opening, I actually called Mika out of the weaves by accident, causing her to pop out; I meant to call her after the poles, but I anticipated and called her while she was still weaving. Silly handler. The DW entry in the gamble was too sharp for Mika, so we did the gamble a bit differently, as you'll see in the video. (Angled DW entries will definitely be a training project for next year.)

Our last run of the year was the Jumpers run. The course wasn't easy and was a bit twisty at times, but we ran it clean and Q'd.

This video is from all of the trials and fun matches we've run in this fall: