Monday, January 31, 2011

Tricks: it's time to refresh

Big news: My exams are done! Now I can spend more time training my dogs, like I used to, instead of studying constantly.

After I got home from my last exam today, we celebrated by doing some tricks; the dogs were thrilled to have me all to themselves again! I did a couple of "Up's" (jumping into my arms) with Mika. This year I hope to have Mika jump into my arms at the end of every run at trials, to have her focus on me instead of running to the exit gate and potentially reacting at other dogs. Mika just loves this trick. The only thing is that she sometimes gets her striding off as she runs towards me and doesn't take off at the right spot. Hmm, maybe we need to do some Susan Salo jump work for jumping into my arms!? Seriously though, I wonder if stride regulators would help.

With Wall-e we did a bit of leg weaves training. He used to know this trick pretty well, but I think I increased the amount of weaves too fast, and didn't ping-pong back and forth enough (ex. first 3 weaves, then 8, then back to 4, etc.). Now we're retraining it. This session we just did one or two weaves, which he did great even though Montana was sitting a few feet away. (Wall-e is a teensy bit scared of that big orange cat!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Balance Disc or Harness?

I'm thinking of ordering a couple of things from Clean Run. Coincidentally, they're all things for Wall-e. The little man needs a lot of stuff :)

Indoor Agility Trial Sounds CD
This will be to help Wall-e overcome his fears of indoor trials. I'm definitely buying this.

There are two other things I want too, but I'm making myself only get one of them ($$!).

FitPAWS Balance Disc
This would be to strengthen Wall-e's knees. I already have an exercise ball, but it's too small for Wall-e, so if I had a disc I could put it on the couch, and have Wall-e stand with two feet on the disc and two feet on the ball.

ComfortFlex Sport Harness
And this would be for Mr. Leash-Puller (a.k.a. Wall-e). I've been trying to train him to keep a loose leash this month, but he really just enjoys his walks more when he pulls. (Even though he pulls, he does still have focus on me during walks; he looks back at me all the time.) He's not a crazy puller, but he often keeps a constant tension on the leash during walks, so I'm a bit concerned about his trachea...that's why a sport harness would be good for him.

So which will it be, the balance disc or the harness? I'm having a tough time deciding.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Montana wanted me to say...

Montana was reading my blog and noticed that I haven't posted about her in a while.

She wanted me to tell you all that we have decided to keep her :)

She's been doing really well. She still stays in a separate room for part of the day; our 16 year old cat, Shadow, spends a lot of time in the basement sleeping, so during that time we close the door to the basement and let Montana out of her room to have free rein of the house. After a couple of hours, we put her back in the room and open Shadow's door in the basement. We don't trust the cats to be alone yet.

Montana is good with the dogs though. She actually like Mika and follows her around. (Mika just ignores "that weird orange cat.") She's a bit intimidated by Wall-e, but she's asserted her ruling over him by chasing after him a few times. Poor Wall-e wanted to make friends, but now he keeps his distance!

Luckily, Montana has never made an attempt to bite/nip either dog. She's completely transformed since we've brought her home. She actually acts a bit like a dog; she follows us around and does crazy gallops around the house. We're very glad to have her!

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011: the year of progress?

It says that this was posted January 10, but that was because I saved the draft on that date...I really posted this on January 17.

(Okay, so this is super late because I was having trouble publishing my posts on Blogger. I know I'm always late with posts, but I'm really on time with stuff in real life -- honest! :)

So...first post of the year :) Let's all say a big welcome to 2011!

I don't have any big goals for this year; no Regionals, no Nationals, no ATChC. (We still need too many Q's for Mika's ATChC, so realistically, we won't achieve it this year and probably not next year.) *Maybe* SuperDogs again with Mika. But I still have some big hopes for this year. Last year was kind of "meh"; I slowed down my handling to try to learn how to handle the very fast Wall-e, and as a result Mika's speed suffered because she adjusted to my slower speed. None of that this year! I plan to handle both dogs fearlessly because that's the way I want them to run. We're going to have some awesome, fast runs this year. (I should mention though that Wall-e had a really good year last year; he started trialing and really amped up his speed, and we also re-trained his contacts to a fast, reliable 2on2off.)

I've already stated my 2011 training and competition goals in a previous post, so I won't say them again here. I just wanted to add a few things.

I really hope to improve Mika's reactivity this year. Last year we had one pretty big "incident" at a trial, which has never happened before, and I definitely don't want that to happen again. (I'm sure Mika doesn't either!) We're going to work as much as possible on reactivity; once the snow melts, every day if possible, every second day at the least. We've been doing this since 2007 when Mika was first diagnosed with reactivity, but armed with some new and "refreshed" knowledge, I hope to make some more progress with her this year. I'm re-reading one of my very favourite books, Suzanne Clothier's Bones Would Rain From the Sky, which has some great stuff on aggression. I'm also reading everything I can online about aggression and reactivity. Mika's made some great progress last year, but our battle isn't over.

And of course there's Wall-e. We've made lots of progress on his extreme fears of constant/loud noises, but we're still not at the point where he can trial indoors. I've entered him in an indoor evening trial in April, but he's not ready for that at the moment. Along with continuing our noise sensitivity training daily, I'm planning on ordering the Indoor Agility Sounds CD to help desensitize/counter-condition him to the sounds of a trial environment at home. I'm also looking into trying a herbal or natural stress product (no drugs!!) to help put him in the right frame of mind for training. Right now I'm thinking Rescue Remedy, but we'll see. I've realized that Wall-e might not ever be able to trial at noisy indoor venues. He's made TONS of progress, but indoor trials seem to be a big step for him.

So to sum it up, this year will be The Year of Progress. Progress with agility, of course, and also reactivity and fears. Bring it on!