Thursday, June 27, 2013

Article Proofing

I've been doing this a lot!  Yesterday was a C shape around a pole.  Yesterday was a B shape with the correct article placed up against the side of a building.  Today was placing them in front of the van, and I sent her from behind the van.  I showed her the location first so it wasn't a find the pile then find the right one.  It was actually nice because I didn't have to watch her try to pick the right one!  A lot less stressful for me that way.  All I could hear was the sound of metal articles moving around on concrete.  Then she's come trotting around the side of the van with an article in her mouth.  Was it the correct one?? Yes!!!  She got them both correct, and on leather I had put the correct one on the edge of the pile a bit under the car and she still got it.

Good girl!!!  We also did more HITT today at lunch then after work.  She did very well at lunch.  After work I left the water out all together since it is evaporating by the time we run the track, which is immediately after I lay it.  Pretty hot here right now.  Does the water help even after it has evaporated?  Yes.

However, even without the water and with the food drops at 30-50 ft, she still did pretty well.  However, it was not aged at all.  If she had done this well with aging at 3 hrs I'd call it perfect.  We have a while to go still, and I think I will continue to use the water, put put the food at 30-50 ft, instead of every 2 paces.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A, B, C Articles

I have problems deciding where to place my articles.  I almost always see a circle with one or 2 in the middle at trials.  Should I always practice that?  Should I move the hot article around randomly?  Should I have a method?  Should I put it where she never looks, should I avoid putting it where she always seems to grab from if she can't find it?  All these choices and no clear answers.  I decided to change it up.  I'm going to arrange my articles in letter shapes.  I'm using more articles than called for in the trial.  Basically I use how ever many it takes.  A was yesterday and today was B. C will be tomorrow and should be easy!

She got the first one wrong.  :(  I had it up against the window, the top right corner of the B.  Video at the bottom of the post.

After getting it wrong the first time I said "Nope" and she went back and got the correct one. That part was very good because in the past if she got it wrong she'd refuse to go back to the pile and would instead trot around in cirlces, jump in the car if it was open and occassionally even try to go under the car if it was closed.  Way too much stress!  So I was very happy that she chose to give it another try!

When she got it right on the second  try I gave her a pat and a good girl and put her away then brought her out later and tired again and she did it right.  The reason I did it that way is I think this (getting it right only after first getting it wrong) is what lead to our complete nuclear meltdown.  I tried to "fix" that but instead I put too much pressure on her and she wanted nothing to do with articles.  So I can't have her doing it wrong, but I don't want to shut her down, and I don't want a huge reward for basically doing it wrong.  I hope the difference in a pat on the had and a huge party will help her realize she should do it correctly the first time.  And the lack of correction will help her not have stress so she doesn't accidentally do it wrong to begin with. 

I do not think she does it wrong the first time "on purpose" but I think she just grabs one out of desperation, or perhaps somehow in her mind bringing back a non-scented one first is right.  So when I say I want her to figure out she should do it right the first time, I suppose I mean I am trying to help her realize that bringing back an unscented one first isn't good enough for a huge reward.  She's not "out to get me" or trying to "mess with me."  I know that.  I do believe dogs do what they find rewarding and if that happens to make it seem like they are messing with us then we just have to deal with it and train harder.  I don't THINK Dottie finds it rewarding to bring back an unscented one first so that means she is either stressed (Arg!  I can't find it, just grab any one because something is better than nothing!) or confused about the exercise.

Going back to what happened today, she did get leather right (placed in the front) but the batteries died for that, so it wasn't filmed.

I like how youtube doesn't crop and stretch videos from my tablet, but the downside is the tablet has no zoom.  I wonder if I can change the filming ratio in my camera so it isn't widescreen?

HITT Day 4

Not to worry, I'm not filming every day!  However, I feel some documentation is in order since when I searched HITT online for tips on what to fade and how (water first, food first, etc) my first blog post was one of the first things to come up.  If that is the way of it, I can't disappoint!

Today I did one session at lunch then another after work.  At lunch I had to abandon a few tracks because they were evaporating before I could get the food down, and once they were evaporated, I didn't know where they went!  I didn't make note of what food spacing I was using, but after work I made sure to keep track.  She did pretty well at lunch.  I did 2 sessions and both were similar.

After work I went to a new location and our first track was not good.  Again the water was evaporating quicker than I would like.  I tried food every 4 paces but that was too much.

For the next  track I went to 3 paces and that seems just right.  I will keep it there to solidify it, then move back to 4.

So far this has done a very good job of teaching her nose down behavior on hard surface.  Of course she already did that, but now she is obsessed with it!  It isn't surprising with her food drive, but now as soon as we get out of the car her nose is down and sniffing.  I've tired feeding her pieces until we get to the start of the track, but she'd rather ignore me and sniff.  So now I just hold her collar until we get there.

Here is our video from today.

Old Video from the Fire

I took this video on the day the Springs Fire started.  Crazy winds!  Glad that is all over and I hope we don't have any more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Good Night

When you spend too much time online your dogs will be bored and fall asleep and that will present additional picture taking opportunities forcing you to spend even more time online posting those pictures.  It is a dangerous cycle that must be avoided, preferably by going to bed.  

(Fancy is sleeping on Pie's tail and Pie is, of course, upside down.)

Muffin is just the right size for using my ankle as a head rest.

Good Night.

Dottie Utility Article Success!

Part of the problem is I didn't use to practice her at the full distance.  Somehow I just forgot the actual distance the articles are from the handler in the trial.  So while re-training, I worked up to full distance, then beyond.  I'm at about 50 feet now, while in the trial it should be less than 40, probably closer to 30.  Of course I also started with less than the 8 full set of articles in the trial.  In this video I'm at longer than full distance and a full set of articles.  She gets it correctly both times.

Being wrong in the past has made her nervous about the exercise and that makes it harder for her to do it correctly.  I used the bite wedge to create a more positive association with the exercise.  First I played with her before sending her.  Then I faded that and just had the bite wedge out and tapped my leg with it.  Then I would leave it in the car and run and go get it after doing it correctly.  Then I waited until she did both of them.  Back chaining at it's finest.  Now that we are at that point I plan to do some heeling first to again simulate the trial where you don't get in the ring and go straight to articles.  Of course I will remember the training principle of random reinforcements and not always reward after doing 2 full sets.  Gotta throw in random rewards to keep her guessing!

Today I did the articles by my carport with me again sending from far way.  I had the articles arranged in an x shape.  On the first metal she brought back the wrong one.  Boo.  Sad.  I said no and she dropped it and got the correct on and did the next 2 correctly.  I'll just keep working it and hope someday we can get 100% success day after day.  Unless something drastic changes, I think I'll enter the Santa Barbara trial in August.  If she is not having 100% success in training, then I won't enter because any little problem in training usually equals a failing performance in the ring.  If it isn't working in practice when everything is in your favor, why would you think it will magically happen for the trial? 

Even though she made a mistake today, I'm still happy with our success because for a while it wasn't getting any better.   It is always discouraging to be stagnate in your training.  The bite wedge was the key for Dottie I think! The only thing better would have been a live helper and that might have been too distracting.

Father's Day 2013

Dad, Mom and I went to see the USS Iowa in San Pedro for Father's Day.  As loyal blog readers my recall, when I was in Mississippi I visited Alabama and saw the USS Alabama in Mobil.  It had more areas of the ship open, but as we were leaving we saw a sign on the Iowa saying as time progresses they will be opening more of the Iowa.  We'll have to go back when they do!

It was a good trip and good time spent with my "folks."  We also visited some shops and eateries (although we neglected to eat anything) at the Port 'o Call down the road.  Happy (Late) Father's Day to the best Dad I could ever hope for!

The adventurous spirit of my parents!

Me with the guns of the "Big Stick."

I also enjoyed watching this cargo ship get loaded.

A bottomless hole covered by plexiglass so no one falls in and is never seen again.

A never ending corridor that was roped off.

View out the bridge.

The battle bridge surrounded by lots of armor.

Random little sign.

This WWII ship was modified in the 80's for modern warfare with cruise missiles.

Fire Dept. having fun.

View from the stern of the ship.  OOOO.... technical.

Another great picture.

Trying Something New- HITT

HITT is Hydration Intensified Tracking Training.  Dottie already tracks on hard surface but is having trouble so I thought I'd give this a try.  The idea is the don't even realize they are learning to track on the hard surface.  They are just eating the food.  You put the food so close to the previous food so they never pick their heads up.  The water helps hold the scent.  The thin line of water is actually easier than a wide line because it is "deeper water."  A wider stream evaporates quicker.  The first time I did this it was too hot and the water evaporated as I was putting the food down! 

I decided to give this a try after laying a track in a park on the typical crab grass and then onto the asphalt parking lot, aged only 1/2 hour.  I waited until later in the evening so the breeze would die down.  It was so frustrating- she had so much trouble!  On the grass she checked every 2 feet and wandered off the track.  On the asphalt she mostly couldn't find the track at all.  She eventually got to the first article and I pulled her off after that due to the amount of difficulty she was having and because 2 cars had parked RIGHT ON TOP OF my corner.  This huge empty lot and they parked in the 1 place that didn't work for me.  I've been having bad tracking luck recently; maybe HITT will help our  technique and turn our luck around!

My turn is under those 2 cars.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Nakedness and Weekend Plans

I think he looks adorable, but he must not think so because he keeps taking one look at me then running away!  Well, not quite, but almost.  Having long haired fluffy dogs is fun because when you shave them it adds some variety to your life, without getting a new dog!  Muffin didn't like me shaving his legs so I hand scissored them.  It sounds more fancy than it looks!

This weekend is a training helper seminar at the local (but not my) IPO club.  The last helper seminar we went to was a trial helper seminar.  So that taught them what to do in a trial, while this will help train them how to train and prepare dogs for trials.  I think it will be interesting.  The only "bad" part is our helper is so good that I don't expect to be over-awed by anything.  Of course that is really a great thing that we have such a knowlegable helper, but I'm sure people from other clubs will get more out of the seminar.  The presenter is someone who just won the National Championship so we know he is also very knowlegable.  I am auditing since I'm not a helper, but I am brining Dottie so the helpers can train with her.  I don't know how much she'll be asked to do, but what ever they want, if it involves biting, she is happy to help!

This weekend we also have brother K's going away party.  He is moving East for a new job.  Great for him, sad for us.  And Aunt C is coming for a visit.  Haven't seen her since I can't remember when!

Friday, June 14, 2013


I shaved Fancy.  She's not happy.  I'm happy because she won't have one million burs stuck to her three times a day from her three times a day roll in the back yard that is now filled with bur clover.  And maybe she'll shed less.  I do wish I was more talented and she looked better.  I'm not too concerned.  I have 2 more weeks before our next agility trial for it to grow out and not look so... choppy.

Muffin is next.


Can I get shaved too?  Please???  NO!

Dottie inspects the progress.

Taking a break and looking a bit mangy.

All done!  One unhappy dog.


These could have been cool pictures... the sun was setting, the dogs were moving fast, and my camera doesn't have a sports setting.  One of my dog training friends gave me all kinds of tips on how to adjust things on the camera to help the pictures remain clear, but I'm not sure I'm that good.

Deflated soccer ball- best toy ever!  Note Pie's tongue.

Waiting.  I used the "Vivid" setting.  Makes everything prettier.  I notice Realtors use it a lot.


Toy hoarding.

Waiting for me to kick it.  In height order.

Fancy learned a thing or two about CHOMPIES from the Malinois.

Stony Pony Agility Trial

I have no idea why this location is called Stone Pony.  It is only about 20 minuets away and has nice new grass.  Both positives!  The negative is the rest of the trial site is dirt with no shade so you get quite dirty and it was hot enough the sand was hot on the dog's feet.

Unsuccessful day of agility on Sunday.  There was a cool jumpers course with backside that 97% of dogs had no trouble with, despite the mutterings of the handlers. Fancy Qed on that course but Dottie had the third bar (jump after the backside). Dottie also had 3rd bar down in standard, plus other mistakes. Fancy had a sneezing fit coming out of the chute and never even saw the weaves. The good part of the day was hanging out with lots of cool agility friends. It was hot at the trial, hot enough for the sand out side the rings to be uncomfortable for some dog's feet. But back here in Camarillo it is overcast and cool.  Overall, my q rate for the weekend was dismal with none of the dogs getting a QQ any day.  Drat.

I'm off agility for the next two weekends.  Maybe we'll come back strong in 3 weeks.  I do have videos but I don't think they are worth posting.  Even with the videos, I still can't tell why Dottie was knocking the bars.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Memorial Day USDAA Trial

This was our fourth day of agility in a row, and I thought that was probably too much.  Perhaps if I was in the same location I would have felt differently.  But packing up on Sunday only to unpack and set it all back up on Monday was a little much.  Dottie seemed perfectly happy to be doing one more day though, and I suppose that is encouraging.  She was the only one entered.

This trial was very different from the one in Pomona.  Out in the sun, not under cover, out in the country, not the city, nice close parking and no parking fee, and unfenced rings on grass rather than fenced dirt rings.

The trial was not very kind to us, Q wise, but there were lots of good parts.  Our jumpers run was not filmed, but she ran very fast and was only 0.06 seconds behind the only other 26 inch dog entered, who is a World Team hopeful.  Our only mistake was one knocked bar.  I don't know why it came down.

Next was Master's Challange Jumpers which is a tricky international type course.  The bad part was I had to keep calling her to keep her close, but the good part was she came each time, had nice tight turns and didn't go off course.  However, I took her off course after forgetting one jump.  Drat!  When I realized we were off course, I pulled up and she knocked a bar.  I think that bar would not have been an issue had I not gone off course.

In Snooker, Dottie Qed and did everything perfect.  I took a conservative approach and only did 3 of the 4 reds, so our point value was not very high, and the World Team hopeful took the Super Q.

In Gamblers Dottie listened well and I messed up the Gamble for an NQ.  I thought it was an easy gamble too.  She eventually did the gamble, but the buzzer went as she took off for the last jump so we didn't finish the gamble in time and didn't Q.

The final run of the day was standard and I was hoping for a Q.  Alas, instead she took out the tire, the first obstacle, so no Q.  When she knocks the first bar (or the tire if it is first) I pull her from the run so she learns that is unacceptable.  If she knocks a bar on course it could be my fault for calling her in the air or getting in her way.  But the first bar is her responsibility.  It was a bummer last run of the weekend though.

The good news is as long of both of us stay healthy, we always get another run in a future weekend!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

More House Guests

We have an elderly Shitzu and young Scottie/ Poodle mix rooming with us for the next few days.  This is the second custom I've received from my Craigslist add.  I will gladly watch these dogs again, but I'm not renewing my add so I'm not taking any more "new clients."  I had hoped to make up the difference in watching dogs in what I am losing in my upcoming pay cut.  However, even though I haven't had any problems yet, I decided the possible trouble isn't worth it.   If I'm making money I should have a business license and insurance would be a good idea.  So I'm taking down my shingle, as it were.  I'll still watch my co-worker's dog(s) as a favor to them, but no more outside dogs.

These 2 get along fine with mine.  They are well behaved and stay loose during the day, although separate from my dogs, since I am over cautious.  This was the scene as I was making myself some dinner the other night.

Happy 4th Birthday Dottie!!!

Happy 4th Birthday Dottie!! So far it has been a very interesting and educational journey. From the puppy kept in isolation, to the aloof and independent teenager, to the dog who I can't keep off my lap- she has changed so much. And from the puppy who showed promise to the uninspiring young adult and then the mature dog who discovered a love for agility- more changes! Now she is 1/2 Mach, AAD, CDX, TDX, IPO3 and FH: let's see what the next 4 years and beyond bring. I love my Dot!
At AKC Nationals in OK- "I work out."