Monday, August 13, 2018

August AKC Agility

Molly and I haven't played AKC Agility since January of this year when she earned her Excellent titles. Though I don't have any titling goals in AKC anymore, I could not resist trying a new and very local to me trial site that a club was trying out for the first time. Molly and I are sort of coasting and dare I say semi retired, but we still love to get out and play and I wanted to support the club's decision to use this trial site! Molly is now in Masters, finally out of Excellent, and dropped to Preferred 16" of course.

I chose to enter FAST since I knew Molly would likely not have to weave in that course, and Standard just because the contacts break the course up and Molly loves them. She would have to weave though and after June's weave stress issues I was not sure how things would go. We have been doing light amounts of motivational weave work.

FAST was a moment of reflection for me. A month or so ago my agility instructor not too kindly pointed out that I do not focus well before my runs and then I forget the course. While I could have been embarrassed and perhaps angry with her for pointing out something that was hard to hear, I had to allow that this was very true. And I wanted to grow away from it. I have been working hard on focusing and not chit chatting before I run agility. I am not good at focusing. Not at all. Not even a little bit. But it has been helpful. The awareness and the trying. I still do stupid things, I probably always will, but it's helping. It is a process. Anyway. In FAST I was chit chatting and not focusing and so I found myself 100% not where I belonged to handle something in Molly's plan and well, it didn't go right! Regardless Molly got to run around and take obstacles and enjoy herself. Just a learning moment for me.

Standard was a bit of a clusterfluff. Ridiculous hand flailing, dog walk blowing, weave pole entry missed (but a nice recovery with no stress! that alone made me happy!), and poor handling on a backside and a turn but ... hey. We're just happy to be there??

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Zorro 15 weeks

Zorro is really growing some long legs! His housebreaking is coming along wonderfully. He is starting to actively "hold it" while loose in the house and I can push him for longer than "every 20 minutes or after every activity". He has distinct behaviors, especially when he has to poop - he has even started going to the door and walking circles. He had one little blip last Saturday where he had three potty accidents all in one evening. Other than that he has a track record of nearly two weeks with no accidents. Yay! 

Crate/ExPen going well and I am starting to crate Zorro instead of the big ex pen with litter box for short trips out. The ex pen takes up a lot of floor space and I will not be sorry to see it go, but I don't want to rush anything. Zorro gets much of his food and all of his Treat and Train time in the ex pen so he definitely loves to be in there. I have started the beginnings of some "crate games" work with him. He sleeps really well in his crate at night next to my bed but it's time to put some work into true attraction for the crate. Zorro can be confined or crated quietly as long as he has a food project (stuffed Kong or treat and train) to occupy him, he no longer gets frenzied at all to see me walk away. Confining him without food is out of the question though at this point.

Hiking is going great. This past weekend we had two days of over an hour each of hiking. I did do some carrying of Zorro on each hike, mostly if we were moving through areas of intense sunlight. I did not want him overheating and I wanted to give him breaks. I am choosing to only hike places near lakes or easy water sources. I want to be able to let the adult dogs I have with me swim and give Zorro the opportunity to cool off, hydrate and swim if he chooses. He is doing some short swim outs but isn't loving it yet. No pressure! 

Zorro's recalls are phenomenal. I trust him off leash. He checks in with me a lot and will leave exploring with Perri when I call him. He even called off of deer poop this past weekend. I always give him high value food for recalling. He has a lot of natural focus on me and tremendous food drive and that sets him up for success with off leash hiking and recalls!

On lead work is going well too. If we are walking somewhere with leash laws, I put Zorro on a harness rather than his collar only. He is starting to understand how to walk out ahead of me rather than boomeranging behind me and getting tangled in my feet. Perri is helping to teach him this. I could not care less about loose leash walking right now.

Grooming is going a lot better. We had a short bath two days ago with a brief escape attempt and then tolerance. Nail trim so much better, I had Vince hold him again but this time Zorro was so relaxed and expectant of peanut butter. He was not afraid, he knew what I was doing. He trusted it. And he knew I would reward him for it. I am not in a rush to do solo nail trims with him, we will see how his comfort level unfolds. The dremel is out of the question for now, to be revisited in the future.

We are also exploring another venture: Breathe Rite strips in Zorro's ears to help them stand into prick ears. Zorro's ears have been trying hard to stand on their own for the last few weeks and since I do love prick ears, I wanted to give them some help. I bought the strips and decided that if he was afraid of my handling his ears and applying the strips that would be the end of it. We are overcoming some intense handling issues and unless this purely aesthetic project would be zero bother to him, I was not willing to pursue it. I cleaned his ear leathers with rubbing alcohol and he did not mind that (of course, he was paid with food!) and then I applied the strips. More food. He couldn't care less! The strips fell off about 24 hours later and his ears are already standing really well without them. How exciting! I applied a fresh set with some (safe!) glue this time, once again with much food and cooperation from Zorro. This is dually beneficial because he doesn't seem to mind his ears being handled at all, he gets food for it, and I am hoping this trust can translate to nail trims somehow for him. Bonding time.

Training has been focused on encouraging Zorro's toy drive. Zorro has great tug and toy skills, both at home and in other places. On thinking about it, the issue is that his food drive is so intense and he is unable to switch from food to toy rewards. We are working on that! I have been doing short little stops at various parks or areas and gauging his interest in the toy. He latches onto it nearly straight away so long as food is not available!

I have been working on some value transfer with him at home, just a small little handful of food and click/treat any interest in the toy. The sessions are minimal and have been very successful. At first in the session he will just nose touch the toy but he is getting to the point where he will chase a dragging toy away from the food hand and has started doing some bites onto it. This is a big deal for him with food available! 
We are also working on some two-toys games and some retrieving. He does not like returning the ball to me but he will go to a bed or "place" that I have set up near me with his ball so I am positioning the bed closer and closer to where I am sitting or standing when we play, and then throwing a different ball for him instead of taking the ball he has retrieved to throw again or tugging with him and the ball.

Not much trick training or new behaviors this week. Our focus is on the toy work and getting trail time for right now. Just where we are! Puppy nipping seems to be diminishing unless Zorro is tired and cranky. I am looking forwards to those puppy teeth falling out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

UKI Speedstakes

My agility training club hosted our first UKI Agility trial this evening. I love weekday evening trials! We offered Masters Series, which I did not enter Molly in and Speedstakes. I have never done Speedstakes with Molly as it hasn't been convenient or offered any of the times we have run UKI. But I knew she would love it. Wide open lines and only jumps and tunnels? Yes please!

I volunteered for the lovely task of ring manager as well as timing/scribing every class except the one I was running in. I had Perri and Zorro in the car in addition to Molly and also to just keep everything really exciting a horrendous thunderstorm rolled in. And I was working out of my car! I don't often run my car at trials but when I saw the black sky rolling towards the trial site I put all the windows up, turned the AC up to high and put both battery operated fans on Molly's crate (to drown out the noise) and hoped for the best while I went inside to scribe the Speedstakes Senior/Champ class. It amazed me how many dogs in the trial ran with no problems or without noticing the storm!

We got very lucky and the storm died down in time for Molly's run (and the potty break necessary before it.) though there were still rumbles. I used her highest value reward, the chuckit ball, to amp her up before her run. We played a little fetch in the off leash area and I kept her focused on and enjoying it ringside instead of our normal food. We got a Q at 4.63 yps and as the only 16" select dog, first place! Not bad for an ol' girl!

Zorro was able to do some meeting people and even a few appropriate adult dogs. He played some chase with Perri in the off leash area (and was a little overwhelmed at Perri in a wide open field versus a hiking trail or our small back yard. That girl can really get a lot of ground speed!)I got a bit more interest out of Zorro for toy play in a trial atmosphere, though he was highly distracted by anybody with food or giving their dog food. I was pleased that I was able to direct him onto a toy in those times. Work in progress!

Great night and we even got a "Q" cookie for some pitbull torture to end the evening with.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

End of July

July trialing was minimal. Beside the dock diving that we did in the beginning of July, we did return to the same venue one more time! 

I registered Perri with NADD and bravely bought two Splashes for her. I got her up on the dock during practice time and she was jumping nicely with Molly and then by herself. When it was time for her actual jump, her confidence dropped. The dog ahead of her was not very exciting (in Perri's opinion!). So Perri was not raring to go and barking as she would have been by a more driven or fast dog ahead of her on the dock. The dog was fairly slow moving, so when I let Perri up onto the dock, it was still on the exit stairs. Perri noticed and it made her very worried. Sigh. I was able to get two jumps out of her by acting like a total fool. Life with Perri! Regardless, she got her first official jump of 8'9", go poodle!

When practice time came around again I got her up there with Molly but I could see that Perri was giving the entire activity a big "no thank you" for the day. It was not as hot and sunny as it had been two weeks prior, that was also working against us. Fortunately I was able to give Perri's other splash to Molly, for a small fee for adding a "day of" entry. I certainly don't think future dock diving is out of the question for Perri, but I knew I needed to let it go for the day. I did not want to further damage her confidence levels.

So Molly ended up doing four splashes, which was fine by her! Her first splash was in the Junior range and then the last three of the day were all in the bottom of the Senior division. She earned her Senior Jumper title with NADD on the third jump of the day.

I doubt that we will do any more dock diving this season. There is a NADD qualifier event in August but it nearly filled and while I would have taken a slot or two, I am not interested in trying to qualify for the Eukanuba event so I'm happy to leave the Splashes to those that are. I really enjoyed doing more dock this season with Molly, and there is no doubt that she did too!

Last weekend we played USDAA agility, just two runs. As planned I had taken Molly out of Standard, so we did only Gamblers and Jumpers. I don't have any videos but it was a really nice day! I was able to create a fun course for us in Gamblers, which I often find myself unable to do. (Whereas in CPE I can almost always plan a point racking flowing course that Molly loves.) A lot of wide open line options in this Gamblers course! The Gamble was very do-able, it was two jumps and then a send to a tunnel. Molly ran out to the tunnel and then...just didn't do it! I should have encouraged her a little bit more but oh well!

Jumpers was a Q and it was a very nice smooth run. No USDAA trials for us until September. We have been doing some motivational work on the weaves in agility class and Molly's speed and enthusiasm have returned to the obstacle. She really does need regular motivational tune ups to keep feeling like weaves are worth her time, important for me to remember!

Zorro also had his first agility trial! It was startling to me to realize that I have had him a little over a month and he is just now visiting an agility trial. Just not going to as many agility trials this summer as we usually have. Zorro did great. He pottied on leash at a new to him trial site, was very focused on me, happy to eat food, happy to explore but re-engage with me when I asked him. Good crate manners in the car. He was not interested in playing with his toy initially but with a little bit of encouragement we did a little bit of tugging. He was very social with everybody there. He met two other puppies around his age and played nicely with them. And as the photo shows, he was very happy to jump up on the pause table. We did not play with the wicket at all, as there is one at my training center that I can work on with him in a bit less distracting environment to start with.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Zorro 9-13.5 weeks old

I'm a little mad at myself for not updating more often about Zorro!

Crate / Ex Pen Manners
This has been going well with marked progress! We have a system for the work day - Zorro gets his breakfast from the Treat n Train as well as a Kong and a teething chew. I use a wifi app called Presence so that I can watch his behavior while I am at work. It is good to see what happens when I am not there. Initially Zorro would finish the Kong and chewie and then scream and scream at the ex pen door. Major barrier frustration. He would nap and then wake back up and scream, in a loop.
I initially set the Treat and Train to dispense every 25 seconds. We have now worked up to 45 second increments. Over time Zorro definitely loves his ex pen and worships the Treat and Train. It actually seems to have a relaxing effect on him. He is to the point where he finishes his chewie and then curls up next to the treat and train and will doze next to it, enjoying waiting for his breakfast. He sleeps well in his ex pen now. I am planning to increase to 60 seconds between dispensing soon.

Car crate manners are excellent. Zorro has come to Molly's agility class each week, various trials and events and has tolerated car crating well.
He sleeps in a crate next to my bed at night. He often will do some whining for about five minutes before falling asleep at night. It annoys me but I am grateful it is not outright screaming. When Z first came home I did a lot of putting my fingers into the crate and he would frantically rub and smash his body against my fingers, snuggling into the contact. Then he would fall asleep! All in all, no complaints about the crate at night.

Zorro came to me litter box trained and during his first week he would seek out his litter pan if he had to go and I did not get him outside quickly enough. That nice little habit vanished quickly enough. He still uses his litter box when he is confined to the ex pen during the work day. (We went through a day or so where he would pee on the little crate pad I left in there with him, so that was taken away for a while.)
I am a very vigilant housetrainer, if not obsessive. We have had a few accidents, but I would say 95% of potties are happening outdoors.

Family Life
Molly continues to ignore Zorro although she will now take time out of her busy day to scold him for biting at her. Ein gives corrections where they are needed and overall ignores Zorro. No interest in playing. Perri has taken the role of Big Sister by storm. She plays chase and bitey face wrestling with Zorro and pays him attention while on our hiking field trips. It makes my heart so big to see Perri have such an important role in Zorro's life and a "job".

I started off by taking Zorro out with Perri (with or without Ein) to our favorite tiny local park. There is a wooded area and we would go for little five minute hikes. Over the past few weeks we have expanded up to 15 minute hikes. Lots of recalls with the leash dragging the whole time. This past weekend I took Zorro and Perri for one hour hikes two days in a row. It has been a long time since I've had a puppy as young as Zorro (Molly was my last.) but I think it is so beneficial for puppies to learn how to use their bodies by running through natural areas. Jump over logs, navigate terrain, splash through puddles and mud and creeks and lakes. Crucial. Hiking is an enormous part of my life, it is Perri's strongest area. At 13 weeks old this weekend Zorro finally made the switch from water is a heckin concern to water is fun! He willingly swimming out after Perri as she swims for her ball. I am walking out with him. Very exciting stuff!

Zorro does not like baths and he goes berserk when I attempt nail trims. For now we are working on tolerating being wiped or toweled off and that is improving. He has a short smooth coat so even though he likes to roll in earthworms in the yard (Molly taught him this pleasure!), it's easy to keep him clean without baths. For nail trims I am practicing just holding him and giving him treats for calmness and stillness. I got away with trimming his nails while he was eating a Kong or licking peanut butter from the fridge a few weeks ago, but now he is onto that trick! I actually had Vince hold him and with much peanut butter for calmness and tolerance, I was able to get his nails trimmed this past weekend.

Zorro is super food motivated and we are having a blast training together!
I am trying to behave myself and not get too carried away, we have all the time in the world! I introduced him to the clicker very quickly. Following a treat in my hand for luring purposes. Following a thrown treat.
Crawl. Spin both directions. Sit. Fold back down. Perch work. Hand target.
One area I have put a lot of priority on training-wise is polite waiting for dinner (versus diving into the other dogs' food bowls.) I could manage this by putting him in his ex pen when I feed the other dogs but that's not where our future will be, so no reason to not start now. Zorro has a very polite sit and wait (though sometimes with some hoverbutt!) on the mat in my kitchen, and he gets a treat for each Other Dog Bowl placed on the ground. And then he gets released for his own food, whether it is in a puzzle toy, slow feed bowl or the TnT.
Zorro is in a baby agility class, which is very exciting for me. We are working on skills that I never had in Molly or Perri's foundation. Zorro's food drive is definitely stronger than his toy drive. He is happy to chase a tug toy in class in situations such as restrained recalls though!
I keep calling him a Dream. He is so motivated, uncomplicated, happy and smart. We are having so much fun together.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

NADD Dock Diving July

Last Sunday I finally "bit the bullet" and made the two hour drive to pretty much the only venue that does NADD dock diving in Pennsylvania. I knew that this summer I wanted to decrease our agility trialing and focus on the sport that is perfect for summer weather: dock diving. I knew Molly would appreciate it as well!

When we arrived at the trial site I immediately knew I would be back! The dock was nestled right in front of an enormous orchard and vineyard, there was a brewery/restaurant on site, and a gorgeous antique round shaped barn just across the road. There was even a geocache. It was well worth the drive for a comfortable and scenic trial site, run by laid back people!

Molly was in three "Splashes" and since this was not a "cluster style" event (as was the NADD event we attended in May.), the Splashes ran according to schedule, with the run order alphabetical. Molly had Splashes at 9, 1030 and 1pm. I really love that in NADD you get up on the dock and have the option to do a "practice" jump or not, and then you do your two jumps and are done with your turn all at one time! (Versus doing one jump and going back into the run order.) Hint: Molly is not so fun to wait beside the dock with! Craziness!

Loch Ness Molly
I decided to just try the "place and send" with Molly for the day. So instead of having her in a down stay and throwing the toy as I released her, I threw it in and let her see it and then took her to the far end of the dock (not the take off end) and revved her up and released her to it. She actually takes off right off the edge of the dock with this method! Still, Molly jumped in the Junior range for her first two Splashes, in the 14' range. Her last Splash of the day she finally broke back into her normal Senior range. I still think I will continue with the place and send technique for her.

So Molly is standing at 2 legs in the Junior Division and 3 in the Senior. Which title will she get first?! (you need five legs for a title.)

While I always love a day of dock with Molly, the most exciting part of the day was Perri! Yes, Perri! We started working on dock confidence next year but I was unsure if Perri could ever truly be confident enough to jump without Molly. I bought her practice access to the dock for the day, and NADD allows you to have two dogs on the dock during practice time. Absolutely perfect for a dog like Perri. Perri has never jumped competition dock height before and I had no idea how it would go. Getting both girls up onto the dock together was rather trying. They were both high as kites and barking like lunatics. Molly knew why she was excited, Perri was just...excited.

I was fortunate to get someone to video! We had to do one tease throw, where Perri was too cowardly to jump so Molly got it. The second time it took a lot of cheering and Perri dove in!

From then on Perri was like, "I got this!!!!!!" We did many more throws on the dock during practice times and Perri was quite happy to jump. Wow!

Perri was so proud of herself. One time we were returning to the car from a jump and she snapped into heel position and heeled next to me, all smiles and tail wagging, front feet flying. The talent that is in that dog is incredible and it surfaces when she is happy. I cannot mourn her reluctance, what could have been, what I feel is a failing of all of my hard work. I have to appreciate when we win over fear. There is no feeling like an underdog pulling ahead and kicking the ass of all that has tried to keep her down. I have been slow to realize, but this comes in ebbs and flows with Perri - I cannot expect a steady stream. Love the dog you're with.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Baby Zorro's First Week!

I am so excited to introduce the newest member of our family, On Target's Vigilante aka Zorro! Zorro is a "sports mix", his mother is a whippet and his father is a "borderstaffy" (border collie x staffordshire bull terrier.) His birthday is April 26th and he is currently 9 weeks old.

I flew to get Zorro on Saturday evening and we came home very early on Monday morning. I had big plans of slow introductions with the dogs. I was going to sleep out in the camper when I got home. I was going to crate him in there, let my own dogs out in the yard and love them up and then put the puppy in his ex pen for the dogs to discover when they came back in. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans.

In reality I was awake from roughly 530am on Saturday morning until 5am Monday morning, with a few hours of broken sleep stolen here or there on airplanes. I had an ambitious plan of See the Sights! Find the Geocaches! I'll sleep later! during my short time in the Las Vegas Nevada area. Fast forward to Sunday evening and Zorro wouldn't be quiet in his sherpa carrier unless I was walking the airport while waiting to board, he thought grabbing paper towel balls and jumping in the toilet was more fun than peeing on a puppy pad in the airport bathroom, and our connecting flight got delayed by well over an hour. To say I was at my limit is a major understatement! By the time I got back to my car in the airport shuttle parking lot and on the highway home, I was literally hallucinating I was so exhausted. So by the time I got home I said I am sleeping in my own heckin bed and that will be that. (the camper bed is unbelievably uncomfortable.)

I got home, left Zorro in his Sherpa bag in my front seat and went inside and loved on my dogs - who I had missed very much in the short time I was away. I let them all outside, apologized to them and I carried the puppy out to them. Lots of sniffing and attempts to jump up on me and see the puppy. Everybody was very curious but as tired as I was, I had no desire to stay awake any longer. I put the puppy into the crate I had set up beside my bed, turned on a white noise app setting on my phone and...he predictably started shrieking and the girl dogs all were leaning over to stare at the puppy making all the noise. Perri even gave some grouchy barks! I kept asking the girls to lay down and they would not so I finally lost my temper and yelled at them to lay down! And they did! Perri kept tapping my shoulder with her paw though, like she was consoling me. I found that Zorro would settle down and nuzzle against my hand if I put my hand next to his crate. That has continued all week whether in the car or at bed time.

We got three hours of sleep. That was not nearly enough for me. We spent our first two days at home for the most part, with blessedly mild temperatures. I got caught up on house work, let the dogs all rotate spending time with Zorro in the yard and in the house. Everybody has been getting along so well. Perri has mixed feelings of wanting to play and being outraged by Zorro's very presence. Molly ignores his existence. Ein ignores him for the most part and has already given him several scoldings, which Zorro has respected and learned from. Ein is very fair with his corrections to puppies.

Zorro came to agility class Monday, but was sleepy and took in the whole scene from my arms and then went for a long nap.
Wednesday he had his first vet visit, 6.6 pounds with an appointment for his next Parvo vaccination scheduled. He had his first ride in the car crate and settled in nicely with the "hand nuzzle" assurance from me. Wednesday evening he rode along to our therapy dog visit and ate his dinner in the crate while my friend and I took the poodles inside the group home. He also hung out in a mesh front pouch pack my friend gave me and is able to nap or just observe while we take the big dogs for walks!

Thursday he came to my sister's house for the entire day with me since my 16 month old nephew needed a sitter for the day. I was so anxious about this because I knew I would have a lot to look after, proper interactions with a baby and three new-to-him dogs as well as respecting his potty training schedule all the while keeping a human baby safe from harm! But we made it through. Zorro took a lot of naps throughout the day in the front pouch pack I was given and that was such a blessing! By the end of our time there he was playing tug with one of the resident golden retrievers, what a bold pup!

Friday we visited our agility trial friend Donna and her two adult dogs, we visited my work friend Steph and her adult dog for lunch and went for a little walk, again with Z in the front pouch. And then we visited Vince's aunt for coffee and cake and Zorro took a big long nap the entire time I was there. Z did wonderfully with all of the people we met, as well as the three adult dogs. Donna manages her dogs well, and Steph's dog Bridey is has an excellent sweet temperament towards other dogs. Perfect for a puppy.

And Saturday Zorro came to a Nose work trial! I was very nervous about this because Zorro vocalizes pretty intensely when confined behind any sort of barrier. All throughout the week we have been working on rewarding quiet, rewarding being behind barriers/ in crates. But on Saturday I knew it was going to be in the crate and I was going to take whichever dog was working a search and go. That would be that! He was quiet and slept the whole 85 minutes there. He got to come out for potty and the general briefing and meeting lots of people, he loved every body! And then back in the crate for Molly's search. There was some rage screaming but when I returned, he was quiet. And all through the morning I gave him little exercise breaks and he was content to crate nap after that. We went to a lake park on our way home for the girls to swim. Zorro was nervous to go into the water but if I went in, he swam right in after me crying and whining the whole time. Not thrilled, but brave!

And today, Sunday, is our last day off of work together. Zorro has been doing scary amazing with potty training, he loves to tug and gets more intense every day, he is very food motivated and enjoys what little training we have done so far. (Clicker intro, 4 paws in a box, baby wobble board, tunnel, sit) Our biggest issue is the barrier frustration. He is very vocal and very persistent. Since I have dealt with SA in Perri I do not believe that is what I am dealing with, it truly seems more like frustration that true panic. And it is understandable, he has been through a huge change in one week. Knock on wood, since adding a Treat and Train into the ex pen with variable reward, Zorro is thrilled to be in his ex pen and not feeling so frustrated about my walking away. I am proud of how well he is settling in. I am proud of how my adult dogs are handling the change.

We are very excited for Week 2 of Zorro.