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2009 training goals

December 2009

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31st

The fireworks always make for an interesting evening. Some dogs are completely freaked and some couldn't care less. The hard part is trying to get everyone to potty one last time before I put them to bed. It took almost an hour to walk each on individually outside to get them to potty. For some reason fear in dogs makes them hold it forever. Cedar and Bandit were the worst. Sparkle hates them too and spent her evening next to her daddy on the couch curled up for safety. Xanadu wasn't scared at all though. She wanted to wander over to the neighbors and check it out. Kamikaze was sitting on the patio watching them and then one big sonic boom one sent her racing to the door and trying to tear it down to get in the house. HRMMM... should've planned that exposure better.

30th

Since it's rained all day long, I pulled out Kamikaze's articles for a little work. That at least is something I can do in the house down the back hall. She didn't seemed thrilled, but trotted to the pile and picked the right one. Second try I put it in the spot she struggles with. She went out for a cursory sniff of about half the articles, and didn't find it so she came back. OH NO! Not acceptable. I told her to go back and try again. Same result. A third send kept her out next to the pile for a bit longer, but not wanting to work them. She kept looking at me for a release word. I just smiled and held my ground. She eventually started sniffing again. All around the pile she went. But, not hitting the right one. Finally just as she was about to quit again she got close enough to catch the scent and picked it up and brought it in. We had a big party. "See, mommy doesn't play mean games and send you to find something that's not there!" Here's where I blew it as a trainer again. I hate when I do this. I tried one more time. I should've quit. She did fine this last time, but wasn't happy. When, OH WHEN, will I be able to stop that urge to make them repeat the 'right' behavior after they have struggled? Such a bad move! You should end on a good party if they are struggling.

Xanadu was screeching in a crate for her turn to earn treats. So, I pulled her articles out too. She's been doing two leather, two metal and the scented one. She was extremely excited to try these again. That's nice to see. I sent her and she scattered the small pile in her eagerness, but she brought back the right one. (metal) I reset the pile in some semblance of order. Set the scented leather one out. She scattered the pile again, but was right. Here's where I do it again.... I thought she was doing so well I'd add a couple more articles and try again. She was wrong several times in a row and started quitting on me. OK, so did I make it easy and let her succeed?  NO, of course not. I felt myself getting frustrated as she tried less and less to figure it out. Bad combination! I did eventually catch my self and remove all articles of the wrong type, leaving three metal behind. It still took several encouraging words with me standing next to the pile to get her to pick it up. I gave her lots of treats then and we quit. Later in the night I did signals with her. It's my obsession with wanting myself to feel good about the training. NEED TO STOP IT! I was still frustrated at myself and even though she does drops really well, I expected her to do the SIT just as well. But, she just hasn't gotten it yet. I did take it easy and add the word and a step at her to help her 'get it'. Still, I think I should have left her well enough alone.

This constant rain is keeping everything muddy and nasty! ICK! So much for 10 dog baths. They are spending a lot of time indoors since I spent so much effort getting them all clean.

We are spending the new year here relaxing. There's no more rain in the forecast for at least a week, so I am planning on some tracking work over the holiday. Maybe Cheryl will join me.

28th

It was in the mid to lower 30s this morning. The short haired guys were glad I was home and they were snuggled up inside. It turned out to be a very pretty day with the high around 50. I made a dog food run at lunch. Am I the only one buying over 100 lbs of dog food at a time? Sometimes I wonder. Anyway, there were some good sales and I had coupons. 

My most important errand of the day was checking up on the car. Last Monday when I started it to run to the grocery store for those last minute holiday items it sounded weak on the ignition. GRRRR, GRRRR, GRRR, vvvvrrrrrrrrrroom. doesn't instill a lot of confidence. I drove it to the corner store and got the same result starting it there to get home. I was so wary I didn't drive it last week to work at all. I took the Expedition. I didn't want to end up 35 miles from home with a car that won't start. So, now that we are between holidays I figured I'd try getting it to Auto Zone to let them test the battery. There is now one I could ride my bike to if I needed.  Last year we replaced the Expedition battery and the car is the same year model, so it might be that time. I made sure Rich was on his break and told him to stop by Auto Zone after he ate. The guy there at Auto Zone brought out the battery tester. He had to check it twice. Seems the battery is fully charged, but not putting out any real measurable voltage. It flashed 'REPLACE NOW'. UH HUH! Rich drove up just as he pronounced my battery D E A D. Rich opted for buying another one at Auto Zone. I got the GOLD rated one. 3 years free replacement no questions asked and 8 year limited warranty (for each year over the three it's worth a percentage of the price for a trade in). The guy at Auto Zone even pulled out the tools and replaced it for me in the parking lot and took the old one for disposal. So, they may not have the cheapest price, but hard to beat the service. The car, she started right up when the key was turned. VROOOOM. AH, that instills much more confidence!

Since it was pretty and all the vehicle worries were gone I decided to lay Xanadu a track after work. I'd like a TD attempt on her next year. She has really seemed to be 'getting' turns the last few short tracks I laid at home. She gets distracted by other scents, neighbor's or neighbor's dog, but it doesn't seem the actual turn is stumping her anymore. So, I went to an empty lot were the grass isn't cut down to 'yard' short. I laid three turns, a right and two lefts, maybe a bit less than half a TD track. Shoved the treats in a baggie in the glove. It was aged 30 minutes when I got her there. She started like a champ. The first two turns were really, really nice. The third one she found some other smells to investigate, but RECOVERED! She got back to her track on her own. That's been hard for her after getting distracted. Down the last leg with confidence and found the glove. She needed prompting to sit or down to alert. At first she just stopped and stared at me. What a good little girl. That just made my day. She really is catching on now.

27th

The family all made it home safely yesterday. We spent a lazy day yesterday. So, today was bath day. I got everyone cleaned up except Kamikaze. She's recently had a bath and will get another one soon for shows. This involved the washing machine going all day too as I don't have enough dog towels to completely dry off everyone. So, three loads of dog towels staggered with 10 dog baths took up most of my day. It's unfortunate that the yard is still muddy and they are predicting more rain this week. Wish I could just keep them all in now for awhile. After Xanadu's bath, the last one of the day, she was shaking from being damp and chilly even in the house with a warm bath. I made her her own snuggie and sat by the fire with her for a bit. It turned out looking a bit like a jail suit.

Oh yes,  yesterday in the mail there was a package addressed to K. Roth. Kamikaze's breeder sent her a couple of toys for Christmas!

25th

The family made it here around 3 yesterday. Mom and I made muffins this morning and are working on lunch stuff. Had to post the present Cheryl sent! Only dog friends will appreciate it, but it's awesome to me. It's a fleece jacket that is embroidered special on the back.

Mom and Dad gave me about 15-20 free meals at Chick-Fil-A .

23rd

Xanadu had to do a short track, two turns to earn her dinner tonight. She didn't seem to be focused at the first turn. I had to hold her back until she hunted and found the turn. She would have gotten herself lost had I let her do her thing. Then on the second turn she nailed it! Good girl. I think she gets this game, but struggles to focus at the beginning. My family will be arriving tomorrow evening for a short Christmas visit.

22nd

I did another quick go-out, jump, glove session with Kamikaze before I fed her. MUCH better job. She was confident and happy again. Don't know how those exercises all got confused, but it's improving immensely each time we work them together. Xanadu did signals in the house. She has a great drop, iffy sit, OK come. Needs work, but I practice them randomly for treats all the time too. I had to put the jumps and ring gates up tonight since it's gonna rain tomorrow. That's the bad part of the go-out and jump training... set up and take down. Wish the weather would cooperate for a few days so I could just leave it set up.

21st

I pulled out the ring gates and jumps today for some work with Kamikaze on go-outs including jumping. I also needed to work her on differentiating the gloves from the go-outs and jumps. She worked signals nicely once, then down to business. I started with gloves. (#1) She was hesitant and unsure. AH-HAH! So, this is why she is adding jumps to gloves, she has lost the point like she has done in articles recently too. We worked it a bit until she was confident she knew what I wanted. Then we went and did go-outs. She didn't make any waver towards the corner where #1 glove was. HRMMM.... why in the ring then? She didn't seem confused at all about what exercise this was. She was dead on the center and everything. OK, so I added jumping. Slight hesitation and confusion the first couple of tries. Then she 'got' it. Gloves again and then go-outs again. She seems fine now on both exercises. I even did a couple of different sessions in different parts of the day. I threw in a moving stand too.

While I had the gates out I figured Xanadu could use some go-out work. She was dying to earn treats after Kamikaze go to. I grabbed a handful and a leash and...where is Xanadu? She has disappeared. I find her on the wrong side of the baby gate blocking the back of the house. Little twit jumped it and was waiting in the back hallway for me. She thought we were going to do signals or articles. That's where I take her to work on those. LOL! TOO SMART! I picked her up and put a Flexi on her. Out we went to the ring gates. She is picking up the 'run to the upright' part of go-outs well. She even did a couple from behind the plain of the jumps. Obviously I am having to trot behind her some since the Flexi is only 15 feet long, but she is doing it well. I don't trust her completely off leash in the front. WAY TOO MANY THINGS I CAN'T CONTROL! I almost over did the go-outs. I saw her start to trot instead of run and start looking around some. OOPS! We stopped it there and went in for a special 'working' reward.

20th

Advanced Standard was very doable today. There was only one part I really needed to work the handling on. Unfortunately the dog not distracted by scents, hit the weave pole entrance and did a few poles and then put her nose on the ground and missed a pole all together. ARGH! So much for that AAD! Maybe in February. Jedi was a complete jerk with no ears at all. OK, so I was also very frustrated by now. He was so bad that I picked him up and hauled him off after obstacle number one in standard. Josie has perked up and is running well. Another perfect threadle! Then she trampolined the table. It took her three tries to hop up and lay down immediately as trained. Since her run was shot, I left and partied for the table performance. We got home just before dark. Now some house cleaning to do before the family gets here on Thursday!

19th

OH MY! These were some of the worst jerk your dog around courses I've seen in a while. There were two places in Adv Standard I figured might get Kazee and me. Both of them did. A hard call off the dogwalk didn't work. A hard push to the weaves didn't work either. Kazee's a puller, not much of a pusher. She did run a nice pairs course, but her partner blew it. She seems to have forgotten how to wrap a jump as her back jumping one got us several times this weekend. Need to work on that and put a command to it. Josie had the most beautiful threadle of any dog in Masters! Too bad she's developed table issues again. She'll either use it as a trampoline or she stands on it and won't lay down at all. ARGH! Jedi was a bit more distracted today. I was also a bit more frustrated. Xanadu was entered in Jumpers again today and I made sure to potty her this time. She ran the whole jumpers course flat out. I was prepared at any moment to pick her up and go reward her if she got distracted. It didn't happen. She only ran by one jump in the middle of the course too. She stayed with me even with the course arced back towards the exit. :) Then the stupid handler showed up. With two jumps left I just said "GO GO GO", which she did right past the jumps. ACK! I did go get her back without too much trouble and pick up the last two jumps, so she did the whole thing, but we were over time after my mistake. She did get a first place ribbon thus earning her own toy! I was thrilled that the habit of running to the exit that she developed in Shreveport seems to be a situational problem and not a true habit. There was just way too much food on the table beside the ring in Shreveport!

18th

Jedi, Josie, Xanadu. Kamikaze and I ran USDAA agility in Carthage, TX today. Kamikaze got her first Advanced Paris Q, so now if we can just pull out a Standard leg tomorrow or Sunday she'll finish off her AAD. I am somewhat suspicious that she is going through another false pregnancy based on her slightly pokey running today. She was great first weekend in Dec. at AKC, so the sudden change makes me think of the last false pregnancy symptoms. Guess I'll know for sure in a couple of weeks (when puppies would be due if she were pregnant). Jedi actually started out his first run trying really hard. He even almost had a gamble. I expect him to hit the corners in this arena on his first run. It's the smelly place I show. It's wood chips over packed dirt and evidentially the wood chips soak up livestock urine and feces smell all year round. Josie was starting her runs hesitantly then picking it up. I was no sure I would even take Xanadu off leash in there. She was only entered in P1 Jumpers, mostly to get her measured so I can get the permanent height card soon. The first time I took her out there to the practice jump I couldn't keep her nose up even at the jump, much less keep her attention. Jumpers was last thing of the day. I kept taking her out to the practice jump with the good treats in hand. As the day went she started sniffing less and working more. I decided to give at least the first few jumps a whirl. I set gate guards to stop her from exiting the arena all together. She held her stay with her head up for a two jump lead out. When I released her she soared over the first three jumps, then past number four and put her nose down briefly and stopped to pee. OK, my bad. I was so worried about the smells I didn't get her out just before her run. The good news is she took off fast and wasn't sniffing between jumps. The only sniff was to pee. I had a wonderful dinner with Jason and Alicia at the local mexican chain. Thanks for the great meal and company! Then off to the hotel where Jedi was even allowed to play with everyone and tear up a toy. He was very good in the hotel this time around and even let me sleep until 6 this morning.

13th

Things went downhill in Utility today. I had to run from the conformation rings to make it to Kamikaze's ring. They were waiting on me. So, right out of the crate with minimal warm up. Heeling was OK. When I left her in a stand she took that opportunity to STRETCH. A big one from what I hear. I turned back to her in time to see her settling back up into her stand. She did all the signals when she was looking, but wasn't looking for the first drop one. Articles went OK. Then it starts to fall apart. She is not turning with me for the gloves well now, and she refused to sit. I sent her to glove #2, but it was #1 the last two times. She went for #1 and then added in her little bar jump on the way back. On the stand I had to halt forward motion after several steps, as she was still creeping, and turn and fuss at her. Then we had go-out over the bar jump. Then no go-out at all. All weekend the bar was on the left and the high jump on the right. I never did get her to do a high jump. More to work on I see. 

Xanadu took Reserve again to Dani. At least the got got Dani all the singles she needs and now only needs one major to finish. That would be cool.

Kamikaze took the point in conformation today too. So at least not all bad.

12th

Kamikaze only showed in Utility today since she was in conformation as well. She copied her inventions from yesterday adding the bar jump in to other exercises. Why they repeat something they made up instead of what they've been trained to do I will never understand. She also had to check with the judge on articles. She picked up the right one and then took it to show him. Then she put it back and sniffed them all again. Decided she was right and brought it to me.

Sparkle muddled through heeling today. It was a giant flunk, but she did respond to her name the five times I had to call it. So, at least she got to stay in the ring and do other things. She did a beautiful drop and retrieve on flat. On the high jump she took it and got the dumbbell and headed back to take it again and stopped with her nose touching the jump and decided against it and walked around. A nice broad jump performance and perfect stays. Now, if I can just get her to HEEL in a strange ring right off the bat.

Kamikaze had no points available today as the two class dogs didn't show. She looked great and showed well though. One of our prior obedience judges was the judge too and commented that she'd thought she was a pretty bitch when she saw her in obedience.

Xanadu managed to beat a couple of bitches, but Dani picked up the points today.  We took Reserve.

11th

Kamikaze showed in Utility and Open B again today. I am still seeing some hesitation in the articles. She's just not sure of them since that one time in the ring when she thought she busted them even though she didn't. She invented a new part to 'gloves' and 'call to heel'. She managed to take the bar jump on the way back with glove #1. She arced over to take it on the way back to heel after the stand too. Then she took it on the way out for go-outs too. ARGH! I know it's because she is trying very hard to do it all right, but it still gets frustrating. Her Open heeling was much better and she was doing very well going into stays. Then it hit again. She laid down on the sit and would NOT get up when I came back and told her to sit. I had to pull her back into sit when the judge wasn't looking. Obedience gets so frustrating when things break that shouldn't. 

Sparkle had a repeat of yesterday in her Open A showing. It isn't helping her any that they are moving her ring around all weekend either.

Xanadu managed to beat Dani for the first time ever, taking the point today. That's 6. Dani did get Reserve Winners too.

10th

Kamikaze showed in Utility and Open B today. She had perfect go-outs! But, refused to jump after she sat out there. I have been training go-outs with no jumping since we were struggling with them. So, I guess I got what I've trained. She also has a tendency to look away from me as I turn to give signals. She's checking out the other rings mostly. She's still taking too many extra steps on the moving stand too. I was very happy with her performance as it's the first time she's made a recognizable effort (one where you could tell she knows the exercise) on every exercise in the ring on the same day. Her heeling was very sloppy for her though. She was miserably passing Open until the last exercise where she refused to get the dumbbell on the first command. That's odd! But, she did he stays without fidgeting or wilting into a down on the sit.

Sparkle was in Open A. We never got past heeling. I asked to be excused when just half way through the pattern she hadn't heeled the first step and was not even making an effort to come back in my direction when I called her name. Bummer.

Xanadu showed in conformation. She got bloody last place. The only redeeming part was littermate, Dani, got the point. I was told I stacked her terribly and needed to pick up the pace on the gating. She was pitter pattering and not showing any reach or drive.  

8th

It's been too nasty, rainy, muddy to do much outdoor obedience training. Kamikaze got some work on go-outs and signals today on the patio. I was able to confuse her more on go-outs. That doesn't bode well for this weekend in the ring. Signals were pretty good though. When I came in Xanadu was begging for her chance to earn treats. As a side note here, Sparkle, who is entered this weekend, was hiding out in a corner pillow doing her imitation of invisible dog. I took Xanadu out and practiced go-outs to a treat filled target. She caught on to that fast and was even turning and sitting some as I walked towards the target saying 'SIT.' This is how I was practicing with Kamikaze too since it was too nasty to pull out ring gates. She's great at it now. I thought now would be a great time to teach her to turn towards me before she got to the target. That didn't go well and is how I ended up confusing her. Note to self: Don't add a new part to training a couple of days before a show. Later this evening Sparkle and Kamikaze practiced out of sight stays in the back hall while the rest of us watched TV. They both held their three minute sit! Yippie! Now, will that happen in a ring? I did take Kazee out front with the go-out target again before bed and was just trying to get her to go to it again. With a couple of encouraging practice runs she was racing out to it again. Maybe it'll stick again. I should try again tomorrow.

I am off Thursday morning to the big four day conformation and obedience show in Jackson.

On a more dire note, Rich's business has been failing to bring in enough to pay it's own expenses now for three straight months. We are in panic mode of some sort as we can't sustain that for much longer.

6th

I got home around dark today. The temperatures are now up in the 50s. It was still cool this morning, but at least 10 degrees warmer. Kamikaze and I didn't quite make it around the standard course today. The weaves were off of the dogwalk and she just didn't slow down and listen enough to go and get the entrance, then I had my problems on a nasty part of the course. Lego gave a real try at standard again today. We had no sniffing. Xanadu had the same struggle in Standard and Jumpers today. She wanted to leave when the course looked like it might be near the exit. In Jumpers I was able to stop her with a firm "NO" and get her back. Then we did some obstacles towards the back and I rewarded her by leaving from the back for treats. Kamikaze got MXJ leg number 7 with a second place. It had a tough U-shaped tunnel entrance (the not obvious one) that shot down a bunch of dogs. I had to pull out the whole name, KAM-I-KAZ-E to stop her and get her turned to the right one. Lego gave another great effort.

5th

I left Baton Rouge a bit earlier than originally planned Friday afternoon due to the weather predictions for snow and sleet here and places between here and Shreveport. I got to Shreveport before any bad weather hit on my route. We were up early to head to the show site, and even though we had no bad weather there, the temperature was 25 degrees. BRRRR. Very cold to be outside all day. I got to try out my new wind/water/cold resistant jacket and my waterproof shoes. The jacket was awesome. The shoes kept my feet dry, but were a bit light on the cushioning. I need to get some gel insoles in them I think. Lego's first run was Excellent Jumpers. He had to do his run off and sniff the corners act when we got close to the back of the arena, but I got him back and finished well. Kazee made a genuine effort at a tough weave entrance. She got out around the poles to the correct side, but hit pole two and was weaving, so on we went. I blew some handling badly after that too. I still sometimes struggle with the amount of personal work space she expects. Xanadu had way too much fun in Novice Jumpers. She started well and weaved the first time on her own. She ran past three jumps for too many faults though. The day started looking up from there. Lego was entered in FAST for the first time. I figured it would give me a chance to run an easy course and get out fast for treats so he could get a good reward for playing with me. He ran a FIFTEEN second Novice course including a two second pause on the top of the Aframe in the SEND part to gaze at the horse track. Good for a first place Q. WOW. Then Kamikaze got her last Excellent A standard leg for her AX title. Lego went on to Q in Open Standard, a first, and the first time in YEARS that he's Q'd in Standard at all. He had max faults (one refusal, one wrong course), but I'll take it. Then I found out just how smart little Xanadu is. She's figured out the treats come near the front of the ring where you start. So, she was great in Standard until the course made an arc towards the 'exit'. Then she wanted to go get her treats and skip the last part of the course. I remember Kazee figuring this out and having to work through it too. There are no pictures with ribbons because none of my picture takers were at the show :( There is one of Kamikaze in the frost you might like though.

2nd

I got home to a whole lot of blackened 'piggy' dogs. GROSS! Since it was a tad warmer and no rain they were racing around and having a blast all day. Unfortunately the all day rain yesterday made a mud slop of the trails they've worn in the yard and a water puddle of the back part of the yard. So, I they were covered in muck, but happy as clams. Much spraying off and toweling to get them in to feed them. Then a load of towels to wash as it is going to stay wet and mucky for a week or so. Another exciting thing was awaiting me too. My package from Sierra Trading Post was on the carport. YIPPIE! I ordered me some Garmont trail shoes and a waterproof, fleece lined jacket. Both of them were specifically for agility. The shoes are waterproof Gor-tex lined. They are here just in time for me to try them out in Shreveport this weekend at an agility show with a chance of snow and then some rain. I am happy to have specific agility shoes now that are NOT white. Hope they work out well. I wore them around most of the evening and they don't seem uncomfortable.

1st

It was a dreary day. Cold and drizzly. All the dogs tried to stay invisible after I got home and rescued them all from the weather. The best part of the day was the mail. (which required a march down the drive under an umbrella) The doggie Christmas picture is here!