Monday, January 18, 2010

Saturday Agility 2

Yesterday's training was a lot of fun. We started off with some basic playing like always, just tugging to get the dogs into it. It's early and they have lots of energy!

For most of class we ran sequences as we learned new skills. We started with a setup of tunnel, weaves, and table down the length of the room. We first just ran weaves, table, weaves, tunnel. Even with the guides, the first two times Addie kept popping out of the last weave. Finally my trainer told me I needed to not rush ahead and push her, but stay back at her shoulder and let her drive through them. Sure enough, she thought it through and finished all the weaves!

Then we added the tunnel first, so tunnel weaves table weaves tunnel. I sent Addie through the first time and lead out to the weaves a little as she was coming out of the tunnel, so even though I called "Weave" as she came out, she followed my momentum right past the weave entrance. My trainer told me to wait for her to drive for them and sure enough, when we tried again, she got the entrance perfectly.

All the handlers got a nice reminder that our dogs are all still learning, and thinking through the obstacles. We can't rush them, because they make mistakes when we do. But when we allow them to do what they know how to do, without us pushing them, we can work as a team. It amazes me already how much the dogs pay attention to us, and what seems like the littlest thing to us makes the biggest difference to the dogs and how they respond. I'm thinking that I really need to work on and think about how I handle Addie, as I think she'll be ready to trial before I will!

Next we did some jump work. There were for jumps set up in a line. We did a series of 2 jump figure eights all the way down - starting with the first two, then continuing to the 2nd and 3rd, then the 3rd and 4th jumps before running all four the length back. All of us had a few handling issues we had to work out, since it was a long sequence and the footwork is hard. But eventually we all got it, and Addie did awesome following my cues! She's learning to watch me and to take the jump I tell her to. She's fun to run with.

Then we worked more on "See Wood Run" on a lowered A-Frame. It was set up as jump, Frame, jump down the room, so we'd run jump, Frame, jump, tight wrap around the standard and come back over the frame and the last jump. Addie did very well as long as I handled her correctly. She runs quickly over the A Frame and really drives for it, so that's good.

Lastly we ended class with beginning to backchain the A-Frame. We just started with our trainer holding the dog's collar a little ways up the Frame and us standing at the end, calling them to the 2on2off position. Addie of course rocked it, as she offers the behavior all the time at home. She even snuck over there later while my trainer was talking and jumped in 2o2o, little stinker!

Altogether it was a good class. I learned some really good things and we definitely made progress. I wish I could practice in a bigger area with some more equipment or at least some jumps more than just when we're at class. I'll have to ask around and see if there's anyone who lives near me with equipment. It's that I need to work on handling Addie more than she needs to work on the obstacles.

I'll have to see if I can drag anyone with me to class relatively soon and get some good pictures and videos of us running. If/when I do, I'll be sure to spice up the training posts with them. Also, some really exciting news is that my trainers were talking to me, and said we will probably be able to start competing at a trial over Memorial Day weekend! It seems so far off, but it's really soon! I'm nervous, but at the same time, I can't wait!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1/52 Introduction

1/52 Introduction
Originally uploaded by SmartPoodle
This was my first post for the 52 Weeks for Dogs Project, found here I was really excited to start and I'm pretty happy with the first. This week I will try to get a picture of obnoxiously fluffy Addie, if I end up grooming her. Otherwise.. I'll look at my list. Any ideas, blogger friends?

From my description of the photo

My goal for the first week's photo was relatively simple: capture most of Addie to show what she looks like, in a background with some interest. I also wanted to show a little of her personality if I could. I had a few others I liked, but I chose this one because I didn't pose her - she laid down waiting for me to throw her ball, and I was able to capture it. I really like her intensity. This was taken on a frozen lake.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Snow Adventures

I decided to be brave this week and take Addie for some walks in the snow. On Monday we explored some property across the street from our neighborhood. It technically has an owner but there's just a bunch of brush and trails from construction vehicles, as they're building stuff much farther down the property. My neighbors use it to walk their dogs as well, and I thought it'd be a good place to walk in the snow. There were plenty of trails made by snowmobiles, and the snow was pretty frozen.

Addie was crazy! As soon as I let her offleash she was insane, running around and almost into me, jumping around, and more. Of course, being a get-dirty-first, ask-questions-later kind of dog, she brought half a plant home with her...

She had a ton of fun, and even though we weren't out long, I'm glad we went. I was afraid she'd be cold or get snow balled up in her paws, and she doesn't have boots yet, so I made some makeshift boots with socks and some fabric in the bottom. So that's what you'll see in the pictures. She really didn't mind them at all!

On Tuesday we walked down to the lake and played fetch. It freezes very solidly so we didn't have to worry, even cars drive on the ice. Addie thought it was the greatest, like a big huge field for her to play in. She never stopped playing fetch, and never complained about the cold. We then walked across the lake to where it meets a street and went a different way home, just because we could.

It's really a crazy feeling, walking across the lake - at first I thought nothing of it, since I'm used to it freezing each winter. But the I thought about the fact that for most of the year, I'm on that water on the boat, or swimming in it. But it's a whole new experience when you're standing on that same water, walking across to different parts. It's a place we will continue to return until the ice begins to melt.

Her opinion of my constant picture-taking.

The frozen lake

A gorgeous sunset

Poodle zoomies!!

Super Poodle to the rescue!

Saturday Agility

Today we had agility class. It's been about 3 weeks since we've been to class, since we had some time off for the holidays. Addie was pumped! I told her we were going to class and she spun in circles and jumped for joy she was so excited. Now Addie's not a puller, or a whiner, but once we get in the room that we do agility, she starts pulling hard on her leash, and, Please, please PLEASE can I go play?! I love it.

Today started off like every other day - restrained recalls. We do this to build drive, mainly, but also to get the dogs to follow us and we often add obstacles. Today we worked both sides of the dog through tunnels. One of the trainers holds our dog's collar, while the handler takes off running. When the dog is pulling after their handler, the trainer lets go and the dog follows the handler. Addie goes nuts for this game, she's pulled a trainer over before - and she only weighs 38 lbs!

After this we split up and the big dogs, including Addie, went to the A-frame. We are doing See-Wood-Run with the dogs and Addie is getting fast. We worked hard with the hoops on the ground, so she knows to stay on the Frame when she sees them. We also worked the frame with a tunnel - frame, tunnel, come back on frame. I think in a week or two we will backchain the A-Frame and start running it for real, with 2 on 2 offs and everything. Addie will do well, I think; she LOVES the 202o. She does it everywhere - stairs, ottomans, etc. We shouldn't have any trouble!

Then we switched with the small dogs and worked on jumping. We learned a one jump figure eight, and a two jump figure eight. Addie was pretty tired so I used her tug instead of treats, and she did pretty well. She still needs more drive for jumping, surprisingly, as she doesn't seem to really love it.

Finally we finished off with some weaves. We are training the dogs with channel weaves and have them set pretty close together already. We do a sort of restrained recall style - holding the dog's collar, getting them pumped up and pulling toward the weaves, then releasing and calling "Weave" as we run for it. Then we'd go through the tunnel at the end, and come back through the weaves on the opposite hand. I'm learning that Addie doesn't like working on my right. She goes through perfectly on my left hand, but coming back, she gets the entry, but hops over the guide wire after the first pole. Thankfully, she did it perfectly the last time, so we ended with a success. When we get our own weaves I will work her on the right a lot. I still haven't found any channel weaves that I really like that aren't ridiculously expensive.

Addie loves going to agility. It's a small class of only 5 dedicated dogs and handlers. We were a "guinea pig class" as our trainers decided to try a new series of classes, called Performance Puppy. We began in July of last year with a rather large class, working on all sorts of foundation on the flat, drive, and impulse control. We did this for 4 months before starting to really work the equipment. As we progressed through classes, the number of people steadily decreased. Time has a way of weeding out the dedicated from the not so dedicated. So our class is composed of 5 females - but they all get along very well. They're off leash much of the time, so they have to.
Aspen - Bichon Frise
Rudy - Blue Merle Aussie
Alon - Red Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Kia - Blue Heeler mix (rescue)
And Addie, of course. We've been having so much fun and I can't wait until the spring - we move our training outside and really start to run things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

...And Resolutions

This year, I made a few goals and resolutions for myself and Addie.

1. I want to spend more time with Addie regularly. I'm usually pretty busy, and I play with Addie all the time, that's for sure. But I want to go for walks, play agility, practice obedience, play ball, etc. more regularly each week.

2. I want to start competing with Addie in agility this year, hopefully this summer. My goal is to earn at least one title. It would be awesome if we could earn more!

3. On Flickr, I joined a group called 52 Weeks for Dogs. It's a project where you post one photo a week of your dog, for the whole year. The goal is to not post just quick photos, but something a little creative, different, outside the box; something that stands out. My goal is to commit to this project for the year. I will likely be posting many of them here.

4. I would like to use this blog more effectively. I am going to try to post weekly, with plenty of pictures and tales of our adventures. Hopefully all of you people will enjoy this, but I also like having a sort of "electronic journal" of Addie. It's fun to go back and look at what we've done.

5. Along with that, I will try to post more about our agility adventures and training. There probably won't be many pictures, but it will be more for me than anything. It'll help me remember what we've done, too!

This is all I can think of for now. Happy New Year, and good luck with your goals and resolutions this year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Of Holidays...

I never really wrote about the holidays, so I figure I might as well do that now. Addie seems to enjoy Christmas, with all the people visiting, and new toys, and commotion and whatnot. However Christmas morning, as we were opening presents, it was clear she was unhappy with the fact that she was not the center of attention. She kept pushing people's hands around and wanted to be petted. So we let her open her own present. She was pretty excited, and kept herself occupied for a while.

This silly sheep was her present this year... She didn't get a ton of presents, because she already has oodles of toys. But she's totally in love with this sheep. It baas when you throw it or when she bites it, and it's kind of a strange sound, but just loves it! She carries it around like a little girl would carry around a doll. She takes it everywhere with her around the house, playing with it and whoever will play with her. It's adorable.

Addie's other present was her new Coach collar. Yes, Coach. I decided it's not as ridiculous as it sounds, however. For one, Addie is a clean dog and it won't get dirty very easily. Two, she only wears collars when we go out, so it should last a long time. Three, Coach has a lifetime warranty on all their products, so if it should ever get ruined, we can send it back and they will repair it! Sounds like a good deal for a dog collar...

We got a TON of snow over Christmas, and we certainly enjoyed playing in it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of her in the snow from Christmas. When she came in, the snowballs in her coat were so bad, I had to practically give her another bath to get all the snow to melt! And after that, her hair was rather matted so we spent quite a while brushing mats out. Fortunately, I have Detangle by Show Season so no shaving was required.

We built a big snow man, probably about 7 feet tall, when we were outside. Addie was with us and wasn't bothered by it at all. As the day progressed, and the weather got warmer, our snowman started to lean a little to the side. It looked like he was doing a back bend! We started to wonder how long he would last. At about 5 or 6 pm, we were all relaxing in the house and Addie was laying in the kitchen, staring out the window. All of sudden she started barking and growling. The snowman had toppled! For the rest of the evening, Addie would not go anywhere near the door and stayed out of the kitchen. Finally, around 10 pm, we decided she wasn't going to go out on her own, but she needed to go to the bathroom sometime. So we grabbed some shovels and brooms, and ventured out to destroy the snowman. Addie gathered up some courage and helped us attack the remaining snowballs. And then, of course, she was fine. Goofy dog.

I also got a new camera for Christmas, not anything fantastic but it is what I wanted! So with any luck, I will be posting more pictures here on the blog, and better pictures.
I also recently joined Flickr and have posted lots of Addie pictures there, too. If you are on Flickr, or just want to see more pics of the black Spoo, you can do so here. My user name is SmartPoodle.