Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Training 9

Well, the zebra martingale brought out the wild side of Marge tonight.

OK, not really. More like the combination of a happy dog, an underexercised dog (I've been sick all week), a dog enjoying the brisk fall temperatures, and a dog who loves to run producing an absolute nutcase tonight at Week 3 of Advanced Beginner agility.

When I got to the field, my eyes lit up when I saw a Jumpers course out. I was happy to have a break from contact training and the teeter and I thought it'd be awesome (and relatively easy) to run this successfully.

She started out superbly. The first four jumps were relatively straight away and the first challange was our entrance to the weaves. I don't know whether I didn't support her enough (I think that's the case in this run), whether she's not experienced enough (she skipped poles on a couple of occasions), or if we were just "off" tonight.

I'm lucky she ran the next few jumps cleanly, because her stride was HUGE and she was changing direction at the last minute.

That was the first part of the sequence.. then came a back cross to a straight tunnel and a relatively hard turn to a triple. Well, Marge thought barrelling out of the tunnel and not listening to me calling her name was much more fun than paying attention (she actually turned toward the triple and then ran the other way), and she proceeded to run zoomies around the entire agility field, go off to visit people, and the like. She did this several times.

I was instructed to put her in the car by herself for a few minutes after that.. although I don't think it bothered her, it's certainly not the type of punishment I want to use so I probably won't do that again. Though she DID run better after her time-out, I think it was just from being tired after doing so much zooming around before hand. How she could have connected her zoomies with having to stay in the car by herself (after first coming to me and walking with me for several seconds) is beyond me!

We never did finish the sequence, but the jumps she did go over were controlled so I guess it's a victory in that sense.

Next time, I guess I'll have to take a more pro-active approach and really work Marge before class. Now that the weather is cold, she is definitely more free spirited, and I'm going to have to deal with this for a while. (Beats fireworks, though!)

I also think I'm going to bring Marge's crate to agility, once she gets used to it, so I don't have to feed her constantly on the sidelines, and although I will not be using the crate for any type of punishment or time out, perhaps chilling out in her crate before her run will help produce a dog who actually wants to see me and work with me.

I don't think my treats cut it AGAIN this week.. this time, it was steak! I'm really not sure what to do, because I'd love to cut up a whole bunch of hot dogs for her, but I have a feeling it'll give her the runs. I'm thinking about using bland stuff for when we're sitting on the sidelines (I feed her almost constantly.. rewarding her for interaction with dogs/people, distracting her from dogs running zoomies, and a whole host of other things) and maybe use cheese on the field.

I think I might see about doing a private lesson next week after class. My teacher is going to be away the following week, so if we learn a little something extra, maybe we can use our class-free time for a private rental to work on some skills. Based on the last few classes, weave pole entries are DEFINITELY a priority right now.


In other training news, Marge's walks have been relatively good ones lately. This morning, I walked her in the field during garbage pickup in my neighborhood. I thought for sure that the sounds of the trucks would freak her out, but she didn't show anything other than a mild awareness of them.

I'm kind of doing two types of walks with her. I'm doing outright counterconditioning on some of my walks, where I'm literally clicking and treating the whole time. I did this a few times in the busy field, and would like to reincorporate sitting out on my porch and just clicking her for watching the world go by.

On other walks, walks where there are less stimuli, I'm pretty much just refraining from overanalyzing my environment and just going with the flow. The 20' leash helps a lot with this.. if Marge stops to listen to a noise or watch something go by, but isn't outright panicked by it, I can continue walking without reaction but no tension will be sent down the leash, nor will she be negatively "tugged" along. Marge seems to read my unchanged motion as a cue for "there's nothing to worry about here." If something truly scares her, there's nothing I can do except move away from it. While I still treat her for passing people, sitting at the curb before crossing, etc., these walks are just meant for her to sniff around, take in everything at her own pace and perhaps most importantly, get some exercise. So far, I have seen good results from both.


Still waiting on the bloodwork. I checked the USPS website, but they didn't have any information about the package except that it had been cleared for shipping. I thought it'd ship over the weekend, but now I'm not sure. I also don't know how long the analysis will take once it gets there.

Medication still is an option, but I won't do anything until I get the bloodwork back.


This weekend, now that I'm finally over my cold, I really want to get back out into the woods. Not sure of other plans, but it would be nice to have a play-date with Buddy, too.


Scout and Freyja September 30, 2009 at 1:03 AM  

Here's something you can do with either hot dogs or chicken. Cut the hot dogs into dime size pieces or chicken into small chunks. Place on a microwave plate and cook for a few minutes. Let them get good and done but not burned. The dogs LOVE them. You can do the same with either chicken or beef liver, too.

Dexter September 30, 2009 at 6:25 AM  

Your weaving was AMAZING! WOW! Is THAT how it is supposed to be done? Who knew?

I think a crate is a good idea. Sometimes I have to go in a crate when momma is walking the course at school. I kind of put up a fuss because I am not used to it, but otherwise I would be all cracker dog.


Astrid Keel September 30, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

I too thought that hot dogs would give Brownie the runs, as she has a sensitive stomach. Ironically enough, that is the only treat so far that has not caused a change in her poop. I use Hebrew National low fat hot dogs, and cut them up into TINY pieces (quarter lengthwise then cut into many tiny bits.) Brownie goes nuts about them. :)

Love the video! Marge looks like she has superdog energy!

KB September 30, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

I like your idea of switching treats when you go onto the agility course, using extra-special treats for the agility. I did this type of thing when working on recalls with my puppies - normal treats for everything else on a hike but steak for recalls. It sure produced some intense recalls!

BTW, like the others, hot dogs didn't upset my dog's sensitive tummy but I started by giving her a few a day for a few days to test it.

Pedro September 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM  


YOU ARE AWESOME! Wow! I am so impressed (and so was the dawg in the audience that was barking for you)! GREAT, GREAT VIDEO!


Carolyn September 30, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

You guys should be competing! Marge looks so happy out there with her HUGE jumps and fancy footwork in the weaves! Lol! I wish I could get Cooper to run like that, but between you and me, I just don't think he cares. Oh well!

Here's a blog entry where I made salmon treats for Cooper. I promise they are not that stinky once baked!


Sue September 30, 2009 at 12:12 PM  

Sounds like the cooler weather has increased her energy level. We're dealing with the same stuff here. Lots of zoomies. Almost anything sets them off.

The Army of Four September 30, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

GO, Marge, GO! You look great out there!
Play bows,

Anna the GSD September 30, 2009 at 2:19 PM  

Glad you're feeling better! I've been running around like a "chiken with my head cut off" too since the weather feels sooooo good! Zoomies ROCK!!!

Scout and Freyja October 1, 2009 at 3:13 AM  

Given all of the issues Marge had and is working on, each time I see what the two of you are accomplishing it is like a miracle. Both of you should be a great, big hug. Wish I could do it so grab each other and smile. You two are great!

BRUTUS October 1, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

Have you tried Salmon as a treat yet? That is always a good change of pace for Brutus. He is actually full of energy too (we have agility tonight, this is the coldest weather yet), but I welcome this as he is so hard to inspire to move in warm weather!!


Kathy Mocharnuk October 1, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

GREAT WEAVES and she read that shallow rear cross beautifully afterward, whoo hooo!

I LOVE the crate idea, for my dogs it is a safe place where they have learned they can just relax and not worry about anything and for Liz I do put her in there sometimes so she can relax and get her head together-definately not a punishment but it really helps.

You can call the lab and they were terrific letting me know if the blood had got there yet and what was going on.

NCmountainwoman October 1, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

I agree with you about the car. You should never use any place for punishment if you want to dog to otherwise go there willingly.

My personal preference is a simple "down-stay." Release her from the down/stay regularly. Gradually increase the time of the down/stay. She'll soon get the connection.

I admit that I never used a lot of treats in training (but we did only obedience training and not agility). The rewards were my approval and hugs. So take it for what it's worth...if you are actually feeding her "constantly" on the sidelines, I wonder how she is really relating this to her actions? If she doesn't recognize the cause and effect, it seems the learning curve will be REALLY long and frustrating.

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