Monday, April 23, 2007

Outside In Spring

Tonight we were outside for protection training, as the field was finally dry enough that we could work without outfitting the dogs in water wings. :-) Laev was THRILLED to be working outside! Positively ecstatic. Finally, enough room to run and do things properly!

We started small, though, sending her only 20' or so to the blind for a hold and bark. Don't ask for more than she can give, and she was awfully excited. She executed a perfect hold and bark, though, despite being so wired that after she'd earned her bite and fight, when our helper slipped the sleeve she pulled backward so fiercely that she flipped herself. That is NOT healthy, and thereafter he was careful to release the sleeve slowly until she was obviously centered, but it was just that she was overjoyed and overstimulated to be working and outdoors.

We did a few more sends to the blind for hold and barks, adding considerable length and more agitation before the send, but Laev was clean and perfect every time. Good girl.

And that's one step toward making up for Saturday's trial...! ;-)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Trial Report (another)

Well, that was exciting.

Today we had APDT and CDSP trials in the same building, which was convenient but tiring (I had 12 runs today). It was great fun, because I was joined by a host of friends -- my husband (APDT), my sister (APDT, CDSP), and Connie and Shawndra (CDSP only) with their dogs.

Laev and Shakespeare.... Well, let's just say it was a GREAT day to have all my friends come and watch. Yeah. Because after our ring time, they could feel good about their runs, no matter what. Yep. :-)

I think Laev invented new ways to humiliate me in the Open ring. She didn't want to line up for the heel, which should have warned me...! Her heeling was atrocious; she was with me, but completely unfocused. At the end of our heeling pattern she was obligated to trot over the broad jump in an exploratory fashion, carefully stomping between each board. Fortunately she jumped it correctly a moment later.

Again, it was difficult to get her to sit for the recall start -- she wanted to sniff the tape on the floor. I finally took her collar, which NQ'd us. When she set up properly, she did a fairly nice drop on recall (she has fast drops) and that was gratifying. I figured out that while she didn't want to sit in heel position to start, she would happily down at heel and then sit when asked, so I did the rest of our setups that way.

Her retrieves were both quite decent, especially over the jump where the dumbbell bounced into the ring gate and was semi-hidden among the gate feet. The judge asked if I'd like to re-throw, but we'd already failed and so it wasn't important enough to delay things, and I thought Laev would figure it out. She did, with a nice retrieve. Her go-out, however....

Okay, this one was MY fault. I started training the go-out on Wednesday night for a Saturday trial. Laev had exactly two real training sessions with this, and I did it stupidly -- I'd forgotten that CDSP uses a marked square on the ground, so I could have trained her to target inside a taped square. Nope, I forgot that, so I didn't even take advantage of that legal help. Sheesh.

So I sent Laev, and she went ahead a few feet and hesitated, obviously confused. "My target's not out there!" So I promptly cued her to turn and sit, and she did so nicely, almost within reach of me. :-) End of exercise. Hey, at least we provide good entertainment, and we help everyone to feel better about themselves. That's good work, isn't it?

APDT wasn't much better, though Laev did get her first Level 2 leg. She didn't get a second, because we had food bowl issues. Now the food bowls have always been our nemesis (mostly because I forget to train for them!), so I was thrilled when she heeled right through them! Once, twice, and now for the third loop.... She hesitated and glanced at the nearest bowl (APDT has food in all four bowls). I panicked and reached for her, preferring to touch her and NQ than let her self-reinforce at the food bowl. Well, not only did I touch her, but I stumbled as I stepped backward and stepped on her and nearly fell on her. Yeah, that's an NQ.... I asked to be excused, and the judge was kind enough to let us heel through the bowls once more and leave with treats.

I was proud of Laev in one run, though -- I left her at the marked line for the bonus exercise and moved on. Laev was the first dog to run, and apparently the marking tape had not been applied fully, because when she touched it, it stuck to her paws. So Laev collected a wad of blue tape which clung to one, then two paws as she hobbled toward me on the recall, mildly irritated by it but not particularly stressed or willing to let it interfere with her work. So I was proud of that, at least! (And glad that it didn't happen to another dog who might have been affected by it. Almost nothing physical phases Laev.)

Shakespeare had a mediocre day, too, scoring one leg in Open by the skin of his teeth and performing very poorly (for him) in APDT. His early scores were in the 190s, which is just not his style. (Yeah, Shakespeare has me spoiled.) I actually asked to be excused from a Level 2 run, because he was lagging so badly. I thought he was overheated and tired; it's been unseasonably cold of late and today was suddenly warm as it should be, and I thought perhaps he wasn't adjusting well. I took him out and iced his armpits and stomach and offered ice to chew. He came back to earn a 205 in Level 3 and High Scoring Veteran Dog of the day, so perhaps the heat was part of it, after all. Kind of weird to have Shakespeare be a veteran, though! He's only seven and a half.

And the others? Well, Alena and Valenzia got their first leg ever, in APDT Rally, and Connie and Batman got their first leg ever, in CDSP, and Shawndra and Marley had a nice CDSP run until the final exercise, when Marley went around the jump instead of over it. But Connie and Shawndra are going back tomorrow, so there should be some more news then.

So, I've learned that Laev and I have work to do. We're doing a BH in just 4 weeks, and if today is any indication, we ain't ready! Got to get to work.

Friday, April 06, 2007

CGC :-)

How did I forget to mention this?

I'd been having a hard time finding a CGC test for Laev, because the person who seems to run them most often around here is me. I drove to a test in another city only to arrive minutes after it closed! So Laev had not been tested.

We met a great guy (Kevin England) at ClickerExpo, though, who mentioned during conversation that he was an evaluator. He offered to do the test right there! So I handed him Laev's leash and walked into the store area for the supervised separation. Then, there in the hotel hallway, we ran through the rest of the test. It was a good testing environment; instead of the 3-4 people required for walking through a crowd, we had a hundred, exiting a popular session! And Laev finally got her CGC.

ClickerExpo Cleveland (After) and Now

We had great fun at ClickerExpo, and I was quite proud of Laev. I realized on the second day this was a hugely new experience for her -- while we've done several trials, she's never really been in a multi-dog environment that was closely packed before, not since puppy class when she just 12 weeks old or so. She hasn't done regular group classes or multi-dog sessions outside of a trial environment; her training is almost entirely individual. So her good behavior in the most crowded ClickerExpo I've ever seen was quite gratifying to me! I reinforced so heavily that I ran low on treats. :-)

Thanks to everyone who said hi! It was nice to meet so many in person who had been just names on a computer screen.

Laev and Shakespeare and I have a APDT/CDSP weekend approaching, and I actually need to teach a couple of new behaviors for that. I should get a move on! But more worrisome is that I also need to be preparing for our BH. This will be our second try, since we failed the first one, and it has me worried -- Laev and I haven't been working on that kind of heelwork, and the weather here has taken a serious turn for the worse which is making it hard to practice long heeling patterns. (The BH uses most of a football field, and everything around here is under water!) I feel less prepared for this one than I did last fall!

Morgan Spector showed video of our failed BH in his obedience seminar at the March ClickerExpo. I wasn't there (I was signed up for another Learning Lab at the time), but for the rest of the weekend people would recognize Laev and pull me aside in the hallway: "You were awfully brave to let us see that." /grin/ Well, it wasn't that bad -- everybody's messed up sometime -- and I had confidence that the next outing would be better. Well, now I'm not so sure, and I need practice time. But I need a place to practice, too!

Going out now to run errands, meet friends for lunch, and work Laev in a parking lot. It's not a football field, but it might not have standing water.