Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tanner Learns to Heel(by Tamara DePue)

I have spent lots of time working on the stationary heel position with Tanner. We worked on attention in this position until I was confident he understood what I wanted and could do it in a variety of places. Next we worked on taking the first step. Tanner wanted to drop his head and look forward on the first step so we spent a lot of time jumping forward for a treat on the first step. Meanwhile, I worked with him in front of me pushing me backwards for a treat. When he was really into that game I would turn around so that he was on my left side and click and treat. I also taught him to swing his butt in to me in separate sessions. Here, we finally put it all together into a formal heel.

He is about 20 months old and this is really the first time I have asked him to do this much heeling at once. I am pleased to see that after working on all the components separately, he was able to put them all together! There is still lots of work for us to do. But, I am pleased with the progress so far. What's next? We will continue to work on the components in a variety of places. I will keep the frequency of reward high to continue his great attitude regarding this work. I can see that I need to make sure his whole body is in alignment when I treat after the click. He is forging a little bit too and we will work on refining the heel position. In fact, the whole reason I asked my friend to video this for me was so I can see where I need to improve!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Simple Pleasures

I ask a lot of my dogs, they perform in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking or rally and many weekends we are off competing in some event. However they also have their down time where they can just do what dogs do for fun. Whisper and Echo still like to play with each other-dinosaur mouth wars or just the regular chase game.

After the games end they are tired happy dogs for alittle while and then it starts all over again. In the evenings it seems like it goes on endlessly. Mouth wars, tugging, chasing, rest then up and start again.

Lyric however doesn't enjoy playing with anyone except her daughter Echo and only briefly . She finds her own amusement elsewhere. She-and her daughter love to "trance", they both find that behavior relaxing. Lyric's dad, her brothers and now her daughter all display the same behavior. I wonder if it like "nursing" is a genetic based trait. Whenever Lyric is no where around she can generally be found "trancing" in the sunflowers plants in the far backyard. It seems like an odd behavior to stand in or under plants that have leaves touching their backs/neck. They stand for minutes in one position with a glassy fixed look to their face. If called they snap out of the daze, back out of the bushes are ready to go. Funny but harmless behavior.

One thing Lyric has learned to love is the vegetable garden. Carrots, tomatoes or anything else that comes out of the boxes to eat-she is there waiting, with Echo close behind.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Becca's Obedience Career

Lyric’s puppies were raised with a puppy nanny-Helsa-along with the breeder Helen. Between the two of them the puppies had continous human contact and training from the time they were born. Noises, cats, ramps, stairs, children anything they might encounter as an adult was introduced as soon as they were aware of their surroundings. Training was started when they could walk around. Holding a piece of food near their little noses can make them do marvelous things at a young age. By the time they were six weeks old all puppies would willingly sit or down for treats.

This has been the case for Becca. I continued this type of training when Becca went home with me and then into her puppy socialization class where she additionally learned the concertina down ( front legs down first followed by the rear) as opposed to the dog sitting first and then downing. While she was standing, I held a piece of food between her front legs and as she went to grab it, I continued to put the food further back and down between her front legs until her front legs were on the ground and her rear then followed to the ground. I’m hoping eventually to show her in open obedience and we are currently enrolled in a class for this. At this point in time, she is one step ahead of the class in the “drop on recall” training because she already knows the concertina down—I did, however, give this a different command instead of “down”—I ask her to “crash” and it has worked quite well for us.

BTW--I’m happy to report that Becca received a qualifying score AND a third place at her first entry in the Beginning Novice class at an all- breed obedience trial. This is a new AKC titling event that became effective in July of this year. It’s fun and less stressful (on the handler!!) than the Novice obedience class and makes a nice transition between rally and the novice class. It incorporates rally and basic obedience.

Maybe this planning ahead when the pups were so young will pay off in Becca’s obedience “career”—I really think that it has so far.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Odd Behavior

Lyric likes to nurse toys. Never having a greyhound do this before I wondered if she was weaned before she was ready to stop nursing. It seems to occur only when she is ready to relax and sleep. Generally the nursing is confined to only two toys. I was suprised then to find some of Lyric's puppies-Becca and Echo-show the same behavior. Both Lyric and Echo have the same favorite "nursing" toy.

Knowing how they were raised and weaned I now wonder if if there is a genetic basis to the behavior. Below is Becca's story and video.

Nothing is more comforting that “nursing” your security blanket as seen in the video. Becca usually walks over to the throw in either the bedroom or kitchen; then with her paw, pulls back the edge to expose the fleece part and starts to nurse. Even though she’s 20 months old, she’s still very much a puppy in this respect.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bryn Again ( by Marie Hamilton)

I thought it would be nice to have nothing to do. As usual, I am WRONG again. This is boring. All I to do is sleep, play with the Frisbee (if I can get Marie or Tom to throw it), eat, chase birds, and dig holes in the lawn after Marie waters it. Nice soft stuff and real messy. But it is fun to chase the water from the sprinkler. Soda, Gator and I spend a lot of time barking at the Chihuahua’s (an endless supply of those) running free in the street. They sure are aggressive and unfriendly little things.

Marie is working to help me become more relaxed in the ring. (I think it is Marie who needs to be more relaxed). Really I am having fun, but I get more attention if I act like I don’t want to do it. At the Klamath Falls show, I was a little brat and everyone was playing with me and giving me treats. If it worked once, why not try it again.

I am sensing that another show is coming soon. Marie and I have been outside in the evening doing the stacking thing along with learning “stand and stay”.

It’s too hot to play outside much. I really like to lie on the bed in front of the fan.

Gator tries to beat me to the bed, but I am faster.

I was right about a show coming up (pretty good for a dog). This was another long ride in the RV. to a place called Lompoc. This was a 3 day show with Lure coursing too. I got into a little trouble when I slipped my collar twice and ran the lure twice before I was supposed to. But when it my turn to go, I had fun until the lure stopped near the end. I guess I stopped too hard and injured my shoulder. So I am on the “be quiet-don’t run” list.

And I thought it was boring earlier in the summer. NO FRISBEE- Marie hid it

More later-if I ever get to do anything besides REST!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training Aids

One of my favorite training aids to teach a dog to go out and work away from me is the staples Easy button. Touch it and it says "That was Easy". Once they learn how to make the button talk they are crazy about it. I used it to teach Whisper to go in a straight line in agility. She used to take a jump and look back at me for direction. In agility they may have to jump in a straight line for 2-3 jumps so curling back to me was a disadvantage. Once she learned the button talks and and she would get treats for making it talk she became motivated to work ahead of me.

In the last video Echo is also learning how to make it talk to get rewards.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Greyhound Specialty-Obedience

The Greyhound National specialty this year was in Lompoc California. It is a busy fun filled weekend of conformation,obedience,lure coursing and socializing with greyhound friends from around the country. One of the nice aspects of a specialty is a chance to see different dogs and visiting long distance friends.

The day started off with obedience first thing in the morning. We had an entry of 4 dogs-one Novice and three Open dogs. This was Whisper's debute in the Open ring and I was worried whether she would perform or still be too moody to work. She was in season only a month ago and was still well into her false pregnancy. I knew she wouldn't qualify since we had encountered a problem with the drop on recall. On Tuesday I had finally figured out what had gone wrong but three days wasn't enough to retrain the exercise. She did super and I was very happy with her performance. She wanted to be in the ring and work. Unfortunately it was a nonqualifying score because of the drop on recall but otherwise everything else was qualifying.

Lyric also did not qualify but it wasn't for the lack of trying. She amazes me with how much she learns with how little she can be trained. Her interest in obedience is minimal and she quickly loses interest and then shuts down. Any exercise with the dumbbell is to be hated. However doing one dumbbell exercise per night for dinner has really improved her outlook on the matter. In fact her go out for the dumbbell is now quite fast. She is definately a less training is more performance type dog. She probably has had less than 1/10th the training that Whisper has had. Luckily she is smart enough to pick up the concepts quickly. The repetative training for perfect fronts, finishes and heel position is where she loses interest. She qualified until the long sit-she held her sit for 2 minutes 50 seconds before she went down. Oh those last 10 seconds.......

Andretti and Lisa Stine were also in Open obedience. He also unfortunately did not qualify. The Novice A dog did not qualify so this was the first Western specialty in years that had no High In Trial.