Friday, November 15, 2013

This toy ROCKS

You really would have thought that I'd pretty much tapped the bottom of the barrel during my quest to find toys that Secret would play with. While I did buy the Tug It training toy for her, I never bought her any other food-stuffable toy.

I had an epiphany after our last ring rental at Family Dog Center. Kizzy equates toys with certain obstacles (jumps and tunnels) and food with other obstacles (contacts and weaves). What would bridge that gap better than a food stuffable toy?! I figured the Tug It was not the best option for taking to training time at FDC due to the higher likelihood of food coming out and being left in the ring. Enter the search for something more appealing.

The Predator-Prey Bungee Reward Pouch seemed to be just the ticket. Kizzy has shown much interest in natural fur toys in the past (okay, she likes all toys) and it has a velcro pouch to keep the food contained. Score!

It arrived on Tuesday and immediately passed the test when Kizzy did the teeter for it! Previously she was saying, "No way, Jose" to the teeter unless I had food (which I do not understand because she doesn't seem to fear it...). This reward pouch has bridged the gap to where she will now pretty much do anything for the toy. I randomly stop tugging and pull a treat out to give her and then go back to tugging. She thinks this is awesome, as do I.

We really put it to the test last night when I ran down to the first week of FDC's open agility night (and I was the only one who showed, so Thursdays are now canceled and we'll have to shoot for Wednesday's earlier time slot). I still "broke the rules" of the arena and randomly opened and treated Kizzy a few times, but she was doing everything for the tuggy. Sweet.

It was a super great practice overall. I brought a crate in to simulate the trial environment as much as possible. I was kind of bummed that nobody else had showed up because I was really hoping to see what she did with the distraction of other dogs present. Oh well, hopefully next time.

The arena had been cleared in preparation for the trial this weekend, so Travis helped me drag out the contacts (all 3 AKC) and then I just threw jumps and a tunnel in random spots to connect things. I didn't care about a course, I just wanted her working on different equipment.

This was Kizzy's first time seeing a new dog walk. There was absolutely no hesitation whatsoever. I should probably set my criteria better, because while she did not leap any of her contacts, nor did she stop (but that was my fault because I was going crazy with the toy to reward her). I'm sure that will bite me in the ass one day and I'll get to go through the fun experience of retraining her dog walk like I do with everyone else. You think I'd learn, yes?

Zero problems with the teeter again (I think she likes that one even more than the one at home), the a-frame was still just as fun as it was the first time, and we successfully weaved away from home. Due to room and convenience I only put out a set of six. I figured there was no reason to try to over-face her.

We went into the arena three times. All three times were simulated like a trial, going in with her new tug leash (AKC-legal -- Secret's aren't) and encouraging play before starting. Still not sure how we're going to handle NADAC rules, but whatever. There were a few times when I lost her briefly on the edges of the ring when she got distracted, but she came back quickly -- and didn't pee this time, which was great.

After the first two sessions I could tell that Kizzy was starting to get tired, so I moved the jumps from 12" to 8" to make sure we ended on a positive note. On that trip we did our longest sequence without reward, including the a-frame, the weaves and the teeter. Success!

Granted there were no distractions of other dogs to encourage screaming, but after her first trip into the ring Kizzy didn't make a peep in her crate. She did "sing" just a little before we started while I was getting ready, but after that she settled right down. I'll test her a bit at the trial this weekend, but I'll guess she'll still spend the majority of the time in the car again.

She was totally pooped last night, so that little brain definitely got a workout! I have work stuff going on next Wednesday evening, so unfortunately we won't be able to attend the next open ring time. I'm hoping to do a ring rental next Saturday, though, and then we'll shoot for the next few Wednesdays.

The pressure is on, because Kizzy is now officially registered with AKC and NADAC! I'm tossing around the idea of driving over to Think Pawsitive to do one day of AKC at the end of December and sticking Kizzy in JWW (not sure if I'm brave enough for Standard yet). Unfortunately the closing date of that trial is the Wednesday prior to the NADAC trial, so I can't wait to see how she does. I suppose worst case is I can enter her and pay the $19 then just scratch if I determine she isn't ready.

I didn't take anyone else with me to open ring time last night. I debated, and had I known I would have been the only person there I probably would have brought them. Oh well, Secret & Kaiser get to play all weekend. Secret just needs one more Standard Q to move into Masters and needs to Q in both JWW runs to get us into Masters at the Hounds trial. Fingers crossed! Kaiser, amazingly enough, needs just one Open Standard Q to move up to Excellent and technically could move up in JWW if he Qs both days. We'll see how it goes!

I've been feeling pretty blah all week, so today I elected to stay home and rest up for the trial this weekend. I totally needed it -- I felt so much better when I got up (at 10:00....)! It was a beautiful 52 degree day with clear skies, so the dogs and I all went out and got some sun therapy on the trails with a nice, easy 3.6 mile walk. When we got home I introduced Kizzy to the broad jump finally, and also brought the chute outdoors for the first time with her. In a matter of minutes she was running through the full length with no problem. She was a little iffy on the broad jump at first and ran around it a couple of times, but then she figured it out. After all that I came inside and cleaned a bit -- including pulling off my mattress so that I could clean up Kizzy's treasure-trove under the bed (so much ripped paper and toy stuffing...). If only all sick days were so productive!

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