Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kizzy update!

I made a new video highlighting where Kizzy is in her training as of today! That little stinker continues to impress me, especially when you consider just how little time I've actually put into working on agility with her. The majority of our time seems to be spent walking/running these days (or rollerblading if it would ever cool down) and not so much on training obstacle skills. That said, she is doing awesome.

It was 92 degrees when I got home from work tonight, so that's partially the reason why she's a bit more subdued than usual. But still, I'm thrilled that she'll even consider working in this weather! There were a couple of times when Kizzy ran over to the water bucket to stick her head in (seriously, she practically dunks her head to drink when she's hot), but she always came running right back for more.

I just used treats tonight, as I figured it's a bit hot to get her so worked up over the toys. I also figure contacts = food for the time being. I should set up some jump drills and work her with toys one of these days to see if her focus is improving at all after this work with food. I'm really quite impressed with the little lady.

An update from the last post -- I switched the tunnel to the other side of the dog walk last night and sure enough, dumb dogs.  ;o)  Okay, not dumb, but definitely not the "dumb luck" we experienced in the other direction. Once they figured out what I wanted we were golden, but Secret stood and barked at me for a while, turned around to go back up the dog walk and a few other wrong choices before she figured it out.

The final confirmation for next weekend's AKC trial came today. It's a very small trial. I'm thinking I'll leave Kizzy and Luke and home and just take Secret & Kaiser since the days will be so short. Yes, Kizzy needs trial exposure -- But it might be nice to have a "quiet" trial....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I have decided that my dogs must be watching agility videos and hopping the fence to train themselves while I am at work every day. That's fantastic, don't you think?

It is absolutely ungodly hot and horrible here at the moment (and yes, we've been very spoiled this summer) so we aren't doing much, but last night I decided to play with the dog walk after the sun went down. I stuck a tunnel under the right side, figuring we could work on discriminations as well as a flip from the dog walk into the tunnel (since we are likely to run into that at AKC eventually).

I don't recall that I've ever actually trained this skill. I know I've worked on calling from the tunnel up the dog walk, but for some reason I just don't feel like I've put much work into the opposite.

Well who am I to worry? Apparently I don't need to train anymore because my dogs just know everything.  ;o)

Not really sure how it happened, but both Secret and Kaiser pretty much did it automatically AND with nice drive/speed! Like "whee, this is fun" type stuff. Huh. Nice to know they can still surprise me -- in good ways, even.

We didn't drill a ton on discrimination at a distance, but both were probably around 75% or so. We'll definitely continue to brush up on that going into Champs -- and I'll also be flipping that tunnel to the other side to proof that direction for in/out and the flip from the dog walk to the tunnel (which, by the way, I'm really failing on attaching a cue to -- but "tunnel" or "switch tunnel" seemed to work equally well, supported by a hand motion of course).

Kizzy is also managing to pick up training via osmosis, seeing as I went so long without doing anything with her. I was happy with her dog walk work last night, but I was even more impressed with the sequencing work she was doing on the the jumps/hoops between dog walks! Of note, I was working with food instead of toys and as much as I hate to admit it, I think she focuses a bit more with the food. She just gets a little too over the top with the toys and we also tend to get less work done because it takes her so long (still...) to release the toy regularly and she wears herself out faster with the psycho tugging. We'll have to work on going between food and toys depending on what we're doing, I guess.

Tonight I drug the teeter out of the garage and set it to "wee baby height" (what Secret is modeling in the above photo). I let Kizzy watch Kaiser go back and forth a few times and of course she was not at all fazed by seeing or hearing it move. Kaiser was being ever the food/attention hog, so I ended up putting him in the little yard to give Kizzy a turn.

No surprise, she is scared of nothing. She did jump off the first few times it moved from under her, but she never hesitated to jump back on for another go. It didn't take long at all  before she was making it tip and riding it down while I fed her. We'll continue to play at low heights and make everything super fun before I worry about moving it up too fast.

I suppose one of these days I'll have to start thinking about introducing weaves....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blogger Fail (and power fail, too)

So yeah. I earn a big fat "F" this week for my complete and total failure to update this blog. Especially considering that a week ago we had a trial. Oops. Oh well, life happens. We went running on Monday, then on Tuesday I had to make treats for work, Wednesday was my birthday, Thursday I went and helped with bingo at the nursing home and last night, well, meh. lol

As you can figure, that also means we did a big fat zero in the training department this week. That includes Kizzy, which is another giant fail on my behalf. She doesn't seem to care. This morning we bumped our run up to five miles and the girls thought it was great -- Kizzy did finally keel over when we got home (see above).

As I mentioned, we had a NADAC trial in La Crosse last weekend. The whole weekend was just..... I don't know, not terribly exciting. There was nothing wrong with the courses (we had a barrel in standard for the first time and it was thankfully more "exciting" than we've seen used previously), but I was just.... bored?

Secret was a good girl, too, but I just don't think she's "feeling" NADAC anymore. She Q'd in Regular and Jumpers with nice runs each day (Jumpers on Saturday was slow because I dared to lead out), but Chances was just horrible. I'm pretty sure she hates that class -- and if she hates Chances, I'm not really sure if there is any point in continuing to make her do NADAC. She has a bazillion Q's in Regular and Jumpers and she runs happy in those classes, but she's shutting down in Chances because she doesn't find that type of handling fun. And I admit a huge part of that is because I don't work on it at home anymore to MAKE it fun. Guess I need to decide what my priorities are.

The boys mostly had little errors here and there. Both of them had big 'ol goose-eggs on Saturday (out of 3 runs for Luke and 4 for Kaiser). Sunday was better with Luke going 2/3 (no Chances) and Kaiser going 2/6, squeaking out a Q in Regular and Tunnelers. I wasn't upset or bothered by anything this weekend, but nor do weekends like that one instill boatloads of confidence going into Champs.

I didn't win the worker raffle either day (what is that, the first time in four trials?!), so I am really debating whether or not to enter the September trial. We are already entered in AKC the weekend after Labor Day and the NADAC trial is the following weekend. Then we would have one weekend off before heading to Champs. If I don't run in the NADAC trial the dogs would have two weekends off and then I don't risk the whole "having a crappy trial right before Champs" issue. I feel like I'd put a lot of pressure on myself and them, and that just wouldn't be fun for anyone. I don't know, I'll see how the AKC trial goes and see how broke I am that week I guess.

In other news, look what I did today! This is the first time the dog walk has seen the light of day since 2011, as I never actually got it out of the garage last year. The reason is twofold, as obviously Kizzy needs to learn someday and this way I can proof the dogs on some contacts and distance stuff before Champs (and okay, I should probably practice a flip from the dog walk into a tunnel now that we are doing AKC).

We played on it already, of course. Secret shocked me by showing me that she actually DOES remember to automatically target into a two-on/two-off position (something I have not seen from her since, well, probably 2011 when this was set up at home, lol). So she does remember it, but I just never actually transitioned that behavior to trials. That's nice. We'll see what we can do about that. We'll also see if we can't get Kaiser to start stopping a bit lower again, as his stop has crept up a bit on me lately (or sometimes he decides he doesn't have to stop, which we also need to work on).

Kizzy is enamored with the dog walk, as it's now thought of as the magical chicken-dispensing toy. She picked up on it very quickly. I suppose one of these days I need to figure out what behavior I'm going to teach on this thing. I'm tempted to just see what she does naturally -- if she doesn't show signs of leaping, we can try running -- but I'll be honest, I just don't have the time to put into teaching her a real running contact. I suppose I could stick a tunnel at the bottom and see how that goes (ala Kaiser's training method a couple of years ago). We'll see. I just need to get back to working with the little stinker.

And with that we take a 12+ hour break because as I was typing the above post my power went out. Good thing for auto-save, although I'm not sure how much of the post I lost or what I was saying. Oh well. It cut out around 6:30 p.m. last night and we got power back around midnight. Thank goodness, because it was turning into an uncomfortable and not fun night -- not to mention I was starting to worry about the food in my fridge making it through!

Because there was nothing better to do, we went to bed at 8:30 last night. That meant I was pretty much wide awake at 6:00 this morning, although we drug it out and stayed in bed a bit past that. It was a good morning to be up early, though, as it's going to be hot and gross today. I took the little dogs out on a walk that ended up being just over four miles (didn't plan on that far, it just happened!) and then after breakfast I took the big dogs swimming at the river. It's about 11:00 now and we're in for the day!

Friday, August 16, 2013


I swear these days I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached to my body. Everything feels like it's running nonstop -- which more or less it is, since I come home from work and get to the task of wearing out a certain Kizzy dog.  ;o)

At any rate, I meant to post this earlier in the week and never got around to it. Over the weekend Bud Houston posted a course on his blog that I thought looked interesting (discussion here). To summarize, this course was submitted to Bud for review by a friend of his. Bud thought it was "too difficult" for the average AKC competitor and they both agreed that it would not be a popular course. Bud made some tweaks to come up with his own version of the course, but I thought the original one looked like loads of fun, so I grabbed a copy to play on when I found the time.

Wednesday ended up being our training night this week. I did consider that maybe I need to start setting up some NADAC stuff to work on, but this just looked like way more fun.

Despite Bud's protests about certain aspects of this course's design, I felt it ran quite well and we had some fun with it. I will admit, though, that if I ran into this in a trial you'd probably hear me grumbling under my breath at times.

Secret surprised me and went wide after the 11 jump numerous times, taking the off course number 2 jump. Bud even mentioned this trap in his blog, but Secret being the velcro-type dog that she is, I just *assumed* that she would follow my motion if I threw her over the jump and took off. Not so much! Bud rightly marked that spot on the course as a "handling challenge" and I'm sure one of the reasons Secret struggled as she did was because I was NOT handling it. I was, instead, trying to gain some ground to beat her to the backside at 14. Aside from that spot, Secret did very well on the rest of the course (I had to get creative in how I built it out, as I was short equipment).

If any of my dogs were going to go wide at 11 I would have expected it to be Kaiser, but I don't think that little stinker took the off course jump even once! No, his trouble area was between 4 and 5, an off course option that I don't believe ever even went through Secret's head. As a result, I had to hang back and rear cross the top sequence with Kaiser because if I pushed to stay ahead I pushed him straight over the wrong jump. Kaiser also missed his weave entry a couple of times, but aside from that he did quite well on this course.

Kizzy is cruising right along in her training. I'm doing some simple sequencing work with her and tonight we built our way up to five obstacles (consisting of tunnel, jumps and a hoop). The spacing is all fairly close at this point (think TDAA) to help with her focus, but there's certainly no worry about her drive. She seems to be catching on to the game and is figuring things out.

Crate games are also going swimmingly. I've started to do the collar grabs to help build up drive/speed back to the crate and she is taking to it well. Collar grabs are something we continue to work on. Outside of play I can touch/hold Kizzy's collar all I want with no reaction. When she's high, tugging or focused on something, though, a collar grab can result in a quick lash back at my hand (I have the bruises to prove it). We continue to work on it and it's getting better. I'm just sacrificing my hand modeling career in the process.  ;o)  Tonight I got a few bite-free collar grabs that seemed to really rev her up in front of the jump, so that's great progress.

Sadly for Luke, ragweed season is in full bloom here and it has really hit him hard this year. Last year was so nice, but it was largely because we didn't really spend any time hiking on the bike trail. In previous years Luke's allergies were just god-awful because we used to walk the bike trail every day at work during lunch so the dogs could run. Despite hosing him off several times a day, every year he'd itch horribly and lose a ton of hair. Benadryl didn't seem to help at all. Last year, simply by how things worked out, we were not on the trails really at all and bam, no real allergy issues. The trails are my favorite place to run (because the dogs can be off leash until we meet people), so we've been going out 3-4 times per week on average, and now Luke is paying the price.

Yesterday I noticed that in addition to hair loss along the inside of his front legs, Luke also had a nasty looking sore starting on his left front paw. That's it. No more bike trail for Luke. Kaiser has also started itching right up on his withers where his Advantix was applied. Not sure if it's because of that or if he's suffering allergies as well, but last night I decided to leave the boys at home and just took the girls out for a run. I have to admit, just having the two dogs was so much easier and less stressful... I'm going to feel bad leaving anyone at home with any regularity, but it's for their own good. I'll have to find a way to give everyone the exercise and attention they need and deserve, while at the same time making sure the crazy ones get worn out each day (ie: Secret and Kizzy).

We have a NADAC trial here in La Crosse this weekend. Secret and Luke are each doing three runs per day; Kaiser is doing 4 tomorrow and 6 on Sunday (free day I won in the last worker raffle). I'm most interested to see how Kizzy does after several weeks of crate games. Anything would be improvement over the last trial.   :o)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Secret!

Oh my goodness. I'm a horrible dog mom. We've been so insanely busy lately that I almost completely forgot Secret's birthday. Today Secret turns four years old! Where has the time been?

Seriously, I was at work today and had written the date a few times for various things. I was thinking to myself, why does this date seem familiar? 8/9...... Oh DUH. Poor Secret. No birthday love for her this morning and then honestly, I kind of even forgot until I'd been sitting at home for a while. Sheesh.

Not only did I forget it was her birthday, but Secret's special day has been far from exciting. I decided to take tonight "off" from our usual whirlwind of activity because I finally went to the chiropractor today (yes, for myself!). I know I could have easily gone for a walk, but I'm being lazy and staying home. Secret's birthday fun has consisted of frisbee, playing with the hose and cutting her nails.  :o)  Oh, and her impromptu tiara photo shoot.

It's another low-key weekend for us. I could have been going to an AKC trial this weekend, but it sounds like the road construction up in the Cities is a nightmare right now and I'm not feeling too down about having to sit this one out. Instead I'll go spend my morning tomorrow volunteering at the shelter's yearly fundraiser, Bark in the Park. I haven't attended since I started working at CRHS, so I'm looking forward to going back. It will be my first time attending without a dog, but that's okay, because who would I choose?!

Hopefully I'll get the chance to set up a fun agility drill to play with this weekend. Ann Croft has several more I'd like to play with, but part of me is thinking I need to start focusing a little more on some NADAC skills in the coming weeks. Our confirmations arrived this week, so it got real!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

106 miles!

I've made it no secret that Kizzy is a spaz. Unfortunately, like Kaiser, she has no interest in fetching or frisbee games like the other two nutcases in this house, so the my only real option to wear her out is to move right along with her.

I know I've been exceedingly more active since Kizzy arrived a month ago -- this is certainly a bonus in my quest to improve my fitness before Champs. (and also why I've been dealing with hip issues the last few weeks)

Tonight I got curious. I use a mobile app called Endomondo to track my mileage/time/pace for each of our walks, runs and rollerblading excursions. It tracks my history for me, so tonight I scrolled back to when Kizzy arrived and added up the mileage. I couldn't believe it when the total after tonight's hike was 106 miles. That is crazy. I guess Kizzy's arrival has benefited us all.  :o)

While my dogs have been going to the chiropractor for years, I have never actually visited one myself because they kind of creep me out a bit. I decided to put that aside and have my first appointment on Friday to see if there's some sort of alignment issue going on with my hip or what. We have a chiropractor on staff in the wellness center of our building, so it's pretty handy and I figure it can't hurt.

Tonight we went and hiked the trail where I searched for Kizzy last year. We haven't been out there since this spring, so it was Kizzy's first trip back there with us. Honestly, I was curious to see if I would be able to note any reactions of familiarity from her. She was pretty attentive and alert, but it's hard to say if it was any more so than usual. Probably all in my head...

It was like bushwhacking through a jungle, though! The path from the car to the trail had grass up to my shoulders! Even the main trail, which was short and tidy last year (likely everything was dead from the terrible drought we had), was wild and overgrown. Even the dogs seemed overwhelmed by the forage in spots, but overall they seemed to mind it far less than I. I'm not sure that we'll head back there until everything dies off this fall, but they then it's deer hunting season and we have to avoid that area for other reasons.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer lovin' -- Lovin' Summer

We're in that month-long lull between trials at the moment, so life is pretty quiet at the moment. That's not a bad thing, though -- especially when summer has decided to finally be GORGEOUS and not gross and sticky. Last weekend it was actually cold, which is a little weird for July. Today was beautiful and perfect, and I believe tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same.

We got our proofs back from the photographer from that shoot we did while my brother was in town. I totally forgot to share them here! The picture on top is probably my favorite -- I ordered an 11x14 of that one.

This one was probably the second best, so I got a 5x7 of that and I figure I can take it to work or something to have an actual personal item at my desk. lol

I thought this picture was fantastic, but unfortunately I think it's a little unfocused (Secret especially), so it didn't make the cut.

I think our photographer must have liked Kaiser, because he got his very own picture.  :o)

And that one is just included to prove that I actually have a family other than the dogs. lol

We haven't been up to too much lately. My hip has improved a lot over the past week with all of the stretching, icing, more stretching and regular doses of Aleve (works way better than Tylenol!). I started walking more this past week, still threw in roller blading when my hip wasn't quite feeling it -- and today I finally was able to take my new running shoes out for a test drive! It's been a good two weeks since I've been able to run, so it was nice to have a good, pain-free & successful run today. I guess shoes make a big difference, because straight out of the gate my first mile was just over a minute faster than my average first mile, and the whole run clocked in about six minutes faster than average. My other shoes were a little on the snug side and that affected me more than I realized I guess. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason behind the hip hurting, too. Hopefully we are back on track now -- I'm almost half-way to my goal of losing 30lbs by Champs!

After we all woke up from our nap this afternoon (have I mentioned how NICE it is to have my weekends again?!) I decided to set up the most recent Happy Hurdle course posted on Ann Croft's Agility Coach page. I love these things and they've definitely taken over my Backyard Dogs addiction (not helped by the fact that I let my Clean Run subscription lapse a while ago...).

Secret "wins" this round because she managed to get through it totally clean twice. The other two only once, and that took some effort... Namely the jump after the first set of weaves killed us because it was a backside that was approached by going between two jumps. Luke and Kaiser both struggled with that one, generally going wide and taking the off course jump. Secret did very well, although sometimes I really wish I had wider jumps and/or wings because I think it would make some of this much more clear. Oh well, it's good practice.  :o)

Kizzy is doing well, but no, she's not advanced enough to run that course just yet. lol  She is doing great with sending through tunnels, though, and with the little jump work we've been doing. Today I started Crate Games with her after a friend loaned me the DVD for a refresher (I haven't watched it since Secret was a puppy!). Kizzy did great with steps one and two, but struggled a little when we got to the "yer in, yer out" game -- obvious that she's never had any shaping experience whatsoever. She did figure it out, though, and we ended on a good note.

I went and got in the shower shortly after that session and imagine my surprise when I stepped out of the shower and saw Kizzy laying all calm & relaxed INSIDE the open crate! lol  That dog has never voluntarily entered a crate for any reason since I've had her. It was too funny, but I guess that first session made a positive impression on her, so we'll keep it up!