Sunday, February 28, 2010

Supplement ingredients...

(I'm copying/pasting this from something I posted in January on the forum I help moderate. I've been thinking about this a lot and am still undecided. (I always like to get a lot of people's opinions before making a plan.) The source of the ingredients is a BIG deal for me. I'd like to get Trixsyn because they've said that none of their ingredients come from China, but I don't know if that is completely true, since it's not very realistic for most supplement companies to not get any ingredients from China.)

I'd like to begin both of my dogs on a joint supplement in the spring, which is when the snow melts and they can have more exercise and do more agility. From April to October, Mika gets an average of 1 hour of daily exercise (hiking and agility). Wall-e gets an average of 2 hours of daily exercise (hiking, agility, playing, and chasing cars along the fence in the So their joints are under quite a bit of stress....

At the moment, they get salmon oil twice a week and Prozyme (digestive enzyme) with food that needs to be cooked. I feed raw.

The main supplements I've been considering are Sashas Blend, Glycoflex I or II, Cosequin, and Trixsyn. But the biggest concern that I have is the sources of the ingredients. The 2007 melamine pet food recall gave a lot of people a scare. My dogs and my cat were thankfully not affected by it because they were eating a combination of raw and Fromm Four-Star kibble at the time, but I'm concerned about where the ingredients in dog supplements are coming from. I've read that a lot of glucosamine comes from China, and I don't want to give my dogs any ingredients from China that might have contaminants. Trixsyn *says* that none of its ingredients come from China, but I dunno....

I guess I'm just asking, do you think supplements are necessary for active dogs? If you supplement, what product(s) do you use, and what results have you observed? Do you think the source of the ingredients is a concern?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More of Wall-e's flyball training

This morning I increased the angle of the wide plank to about 45 degrees again to work on Wall-e's swimmers turn. Since we won't actually be competing in flyball, I'm choosing to train the dogs to turn on their least dominant sides to hopefully help their turns in agility; left for Mika (definitely!) and right for Wall-e, although there's barely any difference between Wall-e's left and right turns.

He has a cool turn with the 6" jump in front of the plank. I was using cold cuts again, which he was going NUTS for! In his next session I'll put the jump bar on the ground. Then, in other sessions, I'll take the jump bar away, and then the jump standards, so that the jump will be faded out gradually. I don't think we'll be doing a lot more flyball or disc sessions for a while, though; I tend to train in phases, concentrating on one exercise or aspect (in this case, taking a break from agility to train flyball and disc) for a period of time before moving on to a different aspect. This helps me to concentrate on training and remember what happened in the last session instead of trying to jog my memory. We'll be working on turning cues (in agility) for the next little while.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Disc dog, disc dog, disc dog

Wall-e had a breakthrough disc dog moment today! We went in the backyard to do a very short session of disc, with a foldable thin soft (way too many adjectives) material disc meant for humans.

Let me explain why I'm using a disc that I got for free a couple years ago instead of a "proper" competition disc meant for dogs. One of our two competition discs cracked on Sunday, so it's now retired, but I'm not going to throw it out; it was Wall-e's first competition disc and
I got it at Regionals last year. Yeah, that's enough of a reason for me. I'm a bit of a hoarder :) and I can't stand to throw out dog items that hold a special memory for me. I can just imagine having a room full of hoarded stuff that supposedly "holds memories" for me. Right now the top shelf of the side closet serves that purpose, but who knows, maybe I'm looking to upgrade.

ANYWAY (getting completely off topic), my other competition disc is Mika's Superdog disc that we got when we apprenticed at the SuperDogs show last year in October. It's a white disc, so it's awesome and would usually really stand out, but I don't use it for throws when there's snow on the ground because it blends into the snow. I do use it for Mika's wiggle-disc games, though (wiggling the disc on the ground to build drive).

I am planning on getting a couple of Jawz Pup discs within the next couple of months.

...So that's why I was using a material disc that gets tooth-holes in it pretty easily. As I said before, it's meant for humans, but it's not one of those hard plastic discs that can hurt doggy mouths, so I'm fine with it. I also use Wall-e's Soft Bite Floppy Disc on occasion, but more as a reward for agility than for disc training, since really loves that disc and I want that to transfer to agility.

Back to today...I knelt down and threw the disc five feet in front of me. The annoying thing about this disc is that if it's not thrown perfectly straight, it does a boomerang-interpretation and tries to curve back to me, doing a nose-dive to the ground. You're not going to see a lot of perfectly-straight throws when I'm throwing it and my first throw proved that point! I threw it and Wall-e raced ahead in the direction it was going, but then it swooped towards me and crashed into the snow. He grabbed it nevertheless and quickly brought it back to me, dropping it once, but then picking it up again to bring it to me.

The next throw was the one that astounded me. It was possibly the best throw I've ever done. At first I thought, "I threw it too far," because it did go farther than the planned five feet, but then I realized, "It's still up there! It's not boomeranging!" The next thing I knew, Wall-e was leaping into the air to try to catch it. We both set personal records today: me for best/straightest throw and Wall-e for best attempt at catching the disc. He ALMOST caught it and I think I may have even caught a glimpse of his nose or muzzle touching the disc, but that could have been my imagination. Still...SO CLOSE!!

We ran inside and, with me chanting excitedly, "GOOD BOY, GOOD BOY!" I took out a good portion of the cold cuts from the fridge. Did he ever go wild for that!!

Disc dog is fun!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Disc and flyball dogs?

We've been playing around with a couple of different sports lately, just for something fun to do: disc and flyball. I'm a complete newbie to both sports. I started to teach Mika the basics of flyball when she was a young dog, but I ended up concentrating my efforts on agility. (She did get to race over lines of flyball jumps at the SuperDogs show in October. She didn't show any hesitation with the flyball jumps.) Flyball is a new one to Wall-e, but he's been playing with discs ever since he was ten months old (no catches). I've always had lots of fun with Mika, who can take huge flying leaps into the air to catch a disc or toy from my hand, but I never was able to train her to catch a thrown disc in the air. Wall-e's tried to do that one time when the thrown disc was blown up into the air by the wind, but he just missed it and hasn't tried it again.

We won't be competing in either sport simply because we don't really have the time. Agility takes up a lot of time from April to October, so much that Wall-e will only be able to work sheep again a couple times this year. Agility is definitely our main sport.

That doesn't mean that we can't have fun playing other sports, though! Mika and Wall-e have been learning swimmers turns on a piece of carpet placed over a wide plank. (I don't actually have a flyball box.) Mika needs to have the plank flat on the ground because she doesn't quite understand what she's supposed to do with the plank raised (she tries to do 2on2off, hahaha!). Wall-e does great with the plank raised at about a 45 degree angle. I'm using a 6" jump in front of the plank for both of them.

I've been reading lots of disc articles from DogSport magazine, but I still can't seem to get either dog to catch a thrown disc. Both dogs can catch the disc if I'm holding it while running (so it's moving in the air), and Wall-e can easily catch a roller (a disc rolling on its side along the ground). With Mika I'm concentrating my efforts on building drive for the disc; she really likes discs, but she doesn't have the maniacal obsession for them as she does with tugs. She seriously looks like a mad (as in crazy) dog while tugging, and I'm trying to transfer that drive to discs.

Any ideas for training Wall-e how to catch a thrown disc in mid-air?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mika and Wall-e Training Feb. 15, 2010

We rented the arena two days after the fun match, so that Wall-e could hopefully gain some more confidence.

Mika was fast and confident!! She was a speeding little black and silver ball of fluff. (Yeah, she needs a haircut.) She was so happy to be training again. I love training her!! We refreshed sending vs. turning cues over a line of jumps. She did much better than I expected (ha, why should I be surprised, she *always* beats my expectations, it's ridiculous). It turns out that she actually does have an awesome response to my cues, but I just have sloppy handling.

Now for the awesome news: Wall-e wasn't scared or stressed at all, even though this is the same arena he was stressing at just two days earlier! At the beginning he was a bit hesitant, but followed me into the arena, where he immediately relaxed. I mean, it was like, BAM, he relaxed, as soon as he saw the empty arena. I think the whole fun match environment was stressing him, not only the fear of the sound of the snow sliding. Weird because he used to be confident in trial environments. I'll have to think about that one. Oh well; he was really relaxed this time, which you can see from his cute happy smile :)

During the actual agility training, Wall-e was fast too! The second dog walk in this video was really insanely fast; he was super-extending!! It was probably his fastest DW ever. He was a very good little man. Seeing Wall-e weave also still holds novelty for me because he just finished learning them last fall and hasn't done a set of twelve weaves since December.

To sum it up: amazing!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Variety of recent photos

I've accepted that I love sleeping photos. You won't be seeing an end to them! :)


"Breaking Olympics 2010 news: In the Men's Car-Chasing Qualifying round, Canadian car-chaser Wall-e turns the corner at incredible speed. He qualified for the Semi-Finals and, as one of the favourites, is expected to have a good chance at making the Finals and winning the gold!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mika Fun Match Feb. 13, 2010

Fun match today. I used a new video editor, called "Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0." Not that I really edit my vids as much anymore, but it does make some nice titles, and it's a lot less annoying than Windows Movie Maker.

Mika had two runs, but they were the same course, so I'm just showing one. It was fun!
She was fast coming off the start-line, but slowed down a bit throughout the course. I think it's because she's lost condition over the winter and therefore lost some stamina as well. She had a great dog walk!! (although I didn't really need to use my off-arm before the DW, since she was focused straight ahead anyway because of my motion)

Wall-e wasn't relaxed enough to run, but he was showing significant improvement compared to our December fun match. At first, he would only walk half the distance from the car to the arena before showing stress and trotting back to the car, but after giving him a 45-minute break, he would happily follow me up to the door of the arena. I coaxed him inside (not the smartest thing to do since he wasn't 100% confident, but luckily it didn't backfire on me!) and as soon as he stepped inside let him stick his face into the half-filled container of chicken I was carrying with me. As soon as he realized that he got to eat the WHOLE THING (!!), he relaxed and ate like a crazed half-starved animal. An easy way to tell how stressed Wall-e is is by seeing how much vigour he puts into eating. In this case, by the way he was eating he was at the bottom of the stress scale! That was a GREAT way to end the day. We left right afterward because Mika's runs were done anyway. (I could have done another two runs with Mika, but I definitely didn't want to because of how much condition she's lost. She worked hard enough!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Who, me?...I didn't do it!"

While I was at school, Wall-e bounced up to knock an almost-empty yogurt container off the counter in the kitchen! My mom managed to get a couple snapshots of him pleading innocent.

On another note, we have a fun match tomorrow. Wall-e will be coming along and hopefully running, depending on if he stresses or not. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"It's time to..."

"...make supper!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snapping away

While taking photographs of our fence (why? because it has vertical lines!) for my photography class, Mika and Wall-e, who were also in the backyard, started playing. I quickly turned the camera to them and started taking photos. I'm surprised that I got some almost-clear-(but-not-really) photos when I wasn't even prepared at all. I haven't even taken moving photos in a long time because I didn't know how. These aren't amazing, but they're getting there.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A walk at the park

It was Mika's idea to offer a 2on2off on the play structure. I'm looking forward to backchaining their 2o2o on the contacts in the spring. They're completely obsessed with it!

Wall-e joins in

And of course, doing what dogs love to do; sniffsniffsniff

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter morning at the Dream Dogz household

Shadow speaking her mind about the injustice of having to spend a sunny morning lying beside one of "The Dogs." (In this case, Mika.)

In the evening, another rare moment!: