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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rally and a very focused corgi

We had a busy day today. First we worked on our games at home and our sits and saying please.

Later in the morning we headed to a Rally trial that I signed up for before we went to Dr. Yin’s seminar.  We got there way early since I didn’t know what time we were going to be in the ring. I brought a bully stick, a rawhide bone and lots of treats to practice with. Unfortunately it was raining hard so we didn’t spend much time outside doing our sits and such. We did practice in a small area inside the arena were a lot of other people were practicing with their dogs.

Gypsy did really great practicing with good treats around the other dogs. I had her on the WonderWalker harness until shortly we went into the ring because it helped me keep her close to me since she couldn’t pull.  There were a lot of smells on the floor she was interested in but overall she was really focused and did super great.

About an hour before her turn, we went outside. The trial was at the fairgrounds and there was apparently a car or motorcycle race on the speedway next to the obedience arena. She went potty but then a car backfired and she got super scared. She was hypervigilant, trying to flee, way over threshold and not in any emotional state to work through it. We went back inside and I tried to calm her down with some hand touch games, focus games and some easy games but she was not having it at all. She was still really freaked out.

Thankfully a friend of ours from agility was there as one of the vendors. She had a lot of treat samples of items Gypsy has never had before including raw tripe and some chicken and beef treats of super high value.  She gave me some her her samples, and all of a sudden I had Gypsy back. It took just a few pieces of the raw tripe to get her back and it was amazing. It was like night and day. One moment she was completely freaked out where she would run away if I dropped the leash. In a heartbeat she was focused on me, did her heeling work, hand touches, the works!!! Jeanne saved the day!!! She also made a few bucks later when I bought some of the treats! 🙂

After getting her emotional state down, I put her back in her crate and let her chill for a while. She did just that and she was fine after that.

I did my walk-through about an hour later. The course was nice. The judge was nice and I was ready. Gypsy was the first dog. She got up after her initial sit at the beginning when the judge asked if I was ready. I had to tell him no, got Gypsy back in a sit and then confirmed we were ready. We started off and did so good. She was a little unsure until the first station, but then after that she was really with me. It wasn’t perfect but she was looking at me and prancing and focused and really connected!! She didn’t look around, she didn’t sniff, she wasn’t distracted!! She did look ahead or to my feet, but not always up at me. When we got to the section for “fast” she was really with me and that’s when she got super connected. Then into the serpentine she was right with me too!! She has a history of pulling and being way out there because she thinks they are weave poles!! We get 3/4 through the course doing great, and all of a sudden she stops and pees!!!! Ugh!!! she’s never peed in the ring!! It was on a spot that another dog peed on in the previous class. It was cleaned up but Gypsy peed right near it!! Ugh. Automatic NQ. The judge was super nice and we got to finish the course. I didn’t want Gypsy to think that she was being punished for peeing. Peeing is not one of our many problems.

So we finished the course and I was glowing!! I was so happy with how she did! We had to redo one station with the ‘walk around the dog in sit’ when she got up, but that was probably the most deductions we got in one spot. We redid it and it was clean the 2nd time.  I think she would have scored somewhere above 80 if she hadn’t peed.  I was still super super proud of her!!

She went from our last trial of a score of 73 and pulling me all over the place and not focused at all, to being scared shitless outside with cars backfiring to being super focused and connected in the ring. So we didn’t Q, but the growth and improvements was so much better than a Q (especially if it were a dirty Q like the last 2)!!! Plus it was my fault she peed. I forgot where the other dog peed and should have walked faster so she didn’t have the chance to pee. And I didn’t take her out since the freak-out since it took so much work to get her focus back. I didn’t have time to start over again if she associated outside with more backfires. I would rather have an NQ for peeing in the ring than having a dog with a bad experience in the ring. Her experience was great and she looked so excited with all the praise!!

So we signed up for Rally again tomorrow so we’ll try it again. If today was a warm-up run, I hope tomorrow will be just as good! I know now what to do and get her up and running. I’ll make sure she goes outside too!!

Since Apollo was home all day, I took the dogs out for a walk on a nice trail with a friend and her dogs tonight. They both loved the exercise. When my friend took some time to let her dogs into the lake, Gypsy and I played some chase games on leash in the grassy area. She was really into it and super excited!!!

Today was a good day.

Today I am thankful for Jeanne who saved the day after Gypsy couldn’t deal with the stress of the car backfires, and for my toolbox to take the treats from Jeanne and get Gypsy’s threshold back to normal.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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TGIF!

TGIF! It has been an exhausting week. It’s been a good week but exhausting.

I worked from home again today. This morning I took Gypsy out to the front yard when I took the trash out. It was just before 7am. The street was quiet. We did our rapid sits in all directions and got further from the driveway and into the street with her having a lot more comfort. She did really well.

She was tethered to me or the table to me most of the day. Other times she calmly rested in her ex pen and got lots of rewards for being good while I worked.

We had Control Unleashed class tonight. Going from the car to the building and vice versa is still a challenge. We practice our rapid sits and such but the smells on the sidewalk are a little too much distraction still. I need to change my actions and tether her and do what we do at home on the sidewalk to class. I admit I’ve just had her on a regular leash. I do stop the moment she pulls and give her rewards but I’m not being consistent with what we do at home and I need to change that starting now.

CU class went well. We did box work with a lot of distractions, the box pretty open with leashed dogs not very far away. She did really well. I used boiled chicken as reward.  While we waited for the other dogs doing their box work, we practiced leave it on the floor with the treats I had.

After class we went to the pet store. I had to return a leash I had gotten that I didn’t need. She did really well in the store. She is much better in stores without Apollo. The two of them are a menace together in stores. Alone, they are perfect.  There was a dog in the store that kept staring at her and I kept turning her away. She doesn’t handle staring dogs well at all. It meant no harm but it was staring and the owner was not paying any attention to his dog whatsoever. When I got to pay for the treats I got and exchange the leash, the guy and his dog were coming to another register. Because the dog had been staring, I knew that the registers were going to be too close for her comfort. Her threshold was automatically lower with the starting and it wouldn’t take much for her to cross it. So we went to the other side of the counter to pay and was able to keep Gypsy below threshold, treating a lot when the dog continued to stare at her.

After class I fell asleep on the couch with her tethered to me. She started out by my feet but when I woke up she was right next to me. She knew I was tired.

Today I am thankful for the knowledge and tools of recognizing a lower anxiety threshold.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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Dancing in the rain

So, yeah, it rains here a lot in the Pacific Northwest but today was very rainy. It rained all day. It made for a new environment to play our games. I worked from home today so I got a few extra sessions in and I’m working from home tomorrow.

No, we didn’t get drenched outside but we did play Leave-It games outside. Dropping treats on wet mud made for good successes and teaching her that those things aren’t as good as she thinks they are. We played inside too after we got just a little wet. We did more of our sits and stuff in the yard.

I tethered Gypsy next to my desk while I was working today and she got a lot of rewards for being really good. My upstairs neighbor’s office is just above where mine is and he can be quite noisy. Gypsy often barks at any move he makes. Today she was really good and stayed calm! Lots of rewards!

We also had agility class tonight! The sequences were really good for Gypsy. It was nice clear lines, no sharp turns, and a friendly tunnel and weave poles. She did really well. I rewarded her highly, did some hand touches at the start, and was able to end the sequence and have her walk with me back to the start with our sits from L2E!! And she was off leash! That was actually the highlight of my class! I was able to end a sequence, she was still focused on me, we walked 10 feet back to the start with some sits/rewards and did it again! I’ve never been able to do that before! I’ve always had to releash her, set her up, take it off, hope for a startline stay and go for it. So I’m really proud of her focus. She was really excited about it too. I could definitely see the joy and comfort in her demeanor. She looked relieved!!!!  It was awesome to see!!

Today I am thankful for a rainy day, changing our environment without having to leave the yard.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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Noticing big changes!

I think today was the first day where I’m really noticing changes in her responses. We’re about a week and half into the the program. She likes to respond to the dog walking upstairs. It is an older lab who makes a lot of noise when she walks.  Gypsy would generally just bark and maybe bolt off the couch to find the spot directly below the dog and bark.  Since yesterday, she hears the noise and looks at me!! I give her rewards!!! She has made a small bark and looked at me which is also a big improvement. In this case I’ve been reinforcing with “yes” since she decided to look back to me, and a head pat or ear scratch. She gets the treat when she doesn’t bark, rapid fire!

We did a fun round of crate games in the backyard after work tonight. She is feeling much more confident because she has much more drive and speed back into the crate. It’s almost comparable to her drive and speed inside. I play a lot of Yer In/Yer Out and Change Yer Mind Game, plus holding her collar and sending her in from about 5 feet or so depending on what else is going on in the environment. Tonight’s crate games was the best so far in the backyard in terms of focus, drive, self-control and fun. She ran into the crate, turned forwarded and sat perfectly. She didn’t break the line at all!!

We played more chase games in the yard too, off leash, so she wouldn’t trip or have a leash dragging. She got a high rate of reinforcement!

We also did some more Leave-It games, methods 1 and 2 that Dr. Yin outlines (first blocking then throwing just out of leash range). I used a lower value treat for the one to leave and gave higher value for what I gave her. We were able to walk across a pile of food on the floor with her focused on me and got a huge jackpot and me hand-feeding a few of the ones on the floor.  She did great with this and we’ll soon move it to the backyard.

Apollo had agility class tonight. Tonight I am thankful for being able to play with my old doggie who warms my heart.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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Front yard superstar

Today driving home from work, I had a plan in my head what I wanted to work on. I wanted to go in the front yard and do our sits to say please and reverse quick sits. I was just going to do one session out front and maybe play something else in the house. We did both, and ended up with an extra session in the front yard. Added bonus!!

First of all I overslept this morning. My alarm goes of at 5:45am and I usually get out of bed at 6:10am. I slept through 4 alarms and got up at 6:30am. So that’s not too bad. But it did limit my training time this morning before work. We still did a nice short session with breakfast in the yard with our sits and please. We also did a little bit of leave-it in the house. Leave it is going to take lots of work!!

So this evening I wanted to move her from the safe comforts of the house and backyard to the front yard. I carefully watched her body language. She was tethered to me with the buddy system leash and I had her kibble and some higher value treats in my pouch.  She did great walking from the door to the driveway. She had a lot of attention on me and really enjoyed it.

The driveway started getting a little more iffy where she was losing focus and looking away but then would look back to me. I rewarded that. Walking into our little cul-de-sac was a little more high-anxiety than the driveway. She became hyper-vigilant on top of having low ears and fearful eyes.

So we went back to the driveway and worked there. It was great. She really liked it when I ran sideways. Backwards still has her looking at my legs before up at me. Maybe that’s natural for a corgi.  Sideways and forward had much more attention than backwards. It was lightly raining so we didn’t stay out too long, which was ok because sessions should be short anyway.

An hour or so later, I took her back outside. It was almost dark but there is a lamp post just at the base of the short driveway and lights up nicely. Since it was darker (speculating here), she wasn’t as fearful with doing our games in the street. We still just did a few reps and then went back to the driveway. It went really well.

I am very proud of her. The front yard, although usually quiet, is a huge step for her. Even when I take her outside to get to the car, she doesn’t walk with confidence so I’m really pleased how focused she was.

We also played a nice quick game of “place” and tug. I sent her to her place, which is a mini-trampoline covered with a black sheet. It’s up off the ground by the trampoline legs so it has very definite boundaries. She got rewarded for staying on her place and then I released her and we tugged. She’s not much of a tugger but if I get her excited enough she will, and the release off the place was just enough. She tugs with a rabbit-fur covered toy from Clean Run. I know, poor bunny. I hate it too, but it really is the only thing she’ll tug. I can’t keep feeding her as much as I have been. She need to get rewarded with play and tug too. This game was also pretty spontaneous.

She’s been tethered to me in the house all evening, getting rewards for being good and off-leash to play and to practice recalls in the house.

Today I am thankful for the little bunny. Let’s just leave it at that and move on…

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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First week status report

After our first week, things are going well.

Sit for please is coming along although it is not yet a habit. She’s sitting at the door to go out but breaks the sit when I open the door so I have to quickly close it until she gets the release word. She’s sitting good in the house for everything else, as well as our sit games in the yard.

Crate games is going well and we’re having fun with that. I’m using a soft sided crate so it’s hard to close the door, but I do lower the flap and she gets the idea. She’s not as fast in the yard as she is inside, so I’m working on building more value in the yard.

Our tethering is ok. She doesn’t like it too much but she gets lots of rewards for good behavior so I know it’s working. Sometimes I have her tied to me and sometimes I’m holding the leash.  She doesn’t like coming in the kitchen with me but last night she learned she could get a piece of steak out of it. I need to up the rewards for situations where I have to pull her to come with me.

Last night we went back to Four Paw Sports Center to practice our running contacts. We did our sit games too. Overall compared to last week and this week, great improvement!! She was still excited to be there and wandered off if I let her, but much improvement over last week because she came when I called her and didn’t bolt off — she just walked quietly to sniff something. I saw much improvement there.

In the morning when we go potty, she’s looking at me and walking nicely. This is a huge improvement too!!  I actually have to tell her to go off and go potty.

Tonight we start our sit games on leash in the front yard. The backyard is going well enough that we can take it to the next level. The street is quiet but it’s still a street with distractions and scary things.

Today I am thankful for being able to rent Four Paw to practice.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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Revalation that’s not really a revelation

I was making a list earlier this week of all of Gypsy’s distractions. It is a side project, not for this program. And then I realized today after looking at the list (and after a week of soaking in all this new information) that 90% of her distractions are fears/anxieties. I think the exceptions are squirrels, cats and flies. Everything else, anxiety. The neighbors upstairs: check. Neighbors she occasionally sees in their windows behind us: check. Other noises: check.  Crowds of people: check. Dogs in her classes: check.

If it’s not a fear distraction, it’s generally not a distraction at all. She’s an all or nothing kind of girl I guess.  She doesn’t react to all of these, but she’s covered in body language indicating it in her ears, her eyes, body posture, and movement. Quite a revelation that will help me help her.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in first week