Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Griffin Swims!

Griffin was swimming a little last fall, but it always was a sort of 'accidental while trying it to get to me' thing. Now he swims, retrieves, and loves it!

Swimming is great exercise and a very good activity for hot days.

Next week Griffin will be helping me with a Tuesday 'Rally/Comp. Obed.' class and I'm sure he's going to be thrilled for more class time. This will be a fun class with an experienced student/classmate. We will be working a lot on improving the precision and fluency of various behaviors. And with these fluent behaviors we'll be able to shift very easily to working on rally courses and the obedience sequences. As always, good training and good handling will be a focus.

Today we'll be playing with a new training tool. I've resisted the purchase for years, thinking "I really don't need it." More to come on that later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Playing in the Sun

Luna did a great job on Wednesday night at class. We almost made it through the night without messing up (not that errors are bad! But it's nice for things to go so well!). The sticking point was handling a serpentine without a side change. I was surprised we had trouble, this is something we practice fairly often (simple set up with many handling options!).

The very interesting part was my 'incorret' handling resulted in the correct response from my dog, but our first attempt at the 'correct' handling had an incorrect response from Luna. I had been using the outside hand to cue the last jump and 'force' a turn. With the inside hand, I was further behind her (turning cue) and that apparently over-rode the 'do-not-change-side' cue of the inside hand. We repeated it again, inside hand but I moved faster and all was well.

We did this at home last night without a problem. Blaze struggled! It was hard for him to collect to take the second jump...he would skip ahead to the third or a very off course tunnel. He's not doing very well now that he's off his medication and we're waiting for another vet appointment before looking at our options again. The toy pile on the barn roof was very frustrating to him and he spent a long time making impossible attempts to access the toys. I had to take him inside so he could settle down.

Griffin is great as always. We're still focusing on duration to heeling and stays and then visiting new places. I've been good this week. We stopped in town to work on our way home from Luna's agility class and now that the rain has stopped for a few days, we can get out more.

On our camp website, check out the 'Resources' tab and the piece about how to make a tug toy. It's one of the 'craft' activities for camp and a topic that came up at the Ohio 4-H Teen Conference. Tug toys are great for training:

Friday, April 10, 2009


One of my favorite things about working at a groom shop is easy access to equipment. I can wash my dogs at home and I have a un-heated force dryer. But it's so much more convenient to wash them in the raised tubs, use a heated force dryer while my dog is on the grooming table and then use my fancy clippers and shears to tidy him up.

Griffin has been getting washed every few weeks in an attempt to decrease shedding. Blaze is washed every couple months...it should be done more often but I try to keep stress low for him. With Luna, I go for every four weeks or so. They all look much better clean.

The current issue at hand is that it's spring. And spring means rain. And rain means mud. Generally I limit the use of my yard in the spring in an attempt to preserve the beautiful grass. Blaze is okay with walks. Luna's happy with walks and biking. And the well-mannered Griff... needs to run. Griffin sticks right with me for our off-leash adventures in the back pastures. He doesn't stay out of the creek, he runs through it, into mud, and splashes his whole lower half with mud.

In training news:
Griffin: Duration to stays and heeling. I don't like working on duration. Holding still is hard for me!
Luna: She did really well in class, we need to work more on 'obstacle focus' at home. Even though she is very easily distracted, that tends to be a result of poor communication on my part.
Blaze: In preparation for a new project I'm playing with the concept of targeting different piles of objects... 'more' and 'less'. The less pile is one bone, the more pile is 4-5 (...however many I find!). He was about 80% reliable after one session. I think that was more from luck and good training than his actual intelligence. My camera battery is charged so we'll see what happens tonight.

I can't wait for the sun to come out, the temperatures to stay warm, and summer classes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time to Play

What's been going on:
Agility class: I've done well with the points I had made... for the most part.
Biking: We've cut back for a while due to my schedule. My bike is still in the car.... just in case we get some extra time on the way from one place to another.

Play is important! Dogs allow us a great opportunity to play.

Here is an interesting video clip on the importance to play and why you shouldn't stop playing!

Last week we met with a friend and her dog to do some basic field training. Griff thought this was brilliant and after we worked the dogs in the on-and-off rain... there was time for play. The other dog wasn't very interested in silly Griffin but he had a great time trying to play with her. By the time we left, mud was dripping off of him. He had stuck his entire muzzle into a big mud puddle. We had an hour to drive into Columbus before rally training group... and luckily we teach in a groom shop so we would be able to do a much-needed bath.

How do our approaches and attitudes change when we approach training as play?