Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A good training day!

I love having good training days; the days when everything just comes together exactly the way you want it to! It's nice to keep them tucked away to think about on the days when nothing is going right.

Last night, I played disc with Elo. At the beginning of the week, Elo would chase a roller, then run around the yard self-rewarding and lay down and chew on the disc. He had no retreive, little tug drive. Last night, Elo was chasing rollers, bringing them back voluntarily and dropping them for a tug on the next disc! And when I let him win, he would drop that disc to tug the other! He's making progress!! His eye-mouth coordination is not great yet though (he can't even catch a ball) and his tug is still pretty weak, but I'm encouraged! In other disc news, I played with Jun and she jammed, and I threw my first backhand over 45 yards!! That is huge progress, considering at the beginning of the year I struggled to throw 30 yards!

Also, last night, Elo did his first back stall, Jun is to the point with her back stall where she will jump right up without a lure and she is getting better at balancing on her feet instead of just laying on my back. And Lok was in one of the most relaxed and happy training moods he's ever been in, having fun with it. That is really my main goal with Lok, that he has fun with training, because of how easily he shuts down with just the slightest pressure.

And on another note, thanks to Andrew, exits from the house have been peaceful lately, even for Lok. Man, all the work I put into it a couple months back and the solution turns out to be simple. First, I realized I was not dealing with the behavior from the very beginning. I was addressing relaxation at the door without requiring Lok to walk to the door nicely. So now, if he bolts, I give a NRM and walk the other way. It usually only takes once. The second piece was changing my expectations. I realized that by expecting Lok to wait at the door until given a release, I was the one increasing the value of the threshhold, if that makes any sense. It was like a flyball situation, where energy is ramped up so that the dog explodes from the start line. That was what I was doing with the doorway. So now, the dogs don't have to wait until released. They just have to walk nicely out the door. And the only time I ask them to stay is if they actually don't get to come and I expect them to stay inside. My evenings are so much more peaceful without this battle!

P.S. Is there a limit on the number of exclamation points you can put in a single post?

Monday, September 28, 2009


Meet Elo. The newest (temporary) member of the misfit gang and canine love of my life. He is an 11 months old cattle dog/shepherd mix. And he only has 3 legs. Not that that slows him down in the least!

Elo is a little punk, and a pain in the ass, which only makes me love him all the more. He whines and barks in his crate, keeping me up half the night. He picks fights with Jun which have resulted in me getting bit three times while breaking it up. He locked Jun and Lok in the car, buying himself half an hour of my undivided attention and squeeze cheeze rewards while we waited for AAA to come rescue us. Yet he is super smart, catches onto things really fast, already has a pretty good recall in low-distraction situations, snaps to attention when I say his name, has learned a bit of patience and self-control. Not only that, he is super cuddly, small and portable, loves to be held and loves to ride shotgun in the car. And he has black eyeliner. <> So far he is not all that into frisbee, but we're working on it and he's getting better.

Did I mention he's adorable?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ski Training

We are taking a break from obedience to focus on training for the upcoming skijoring season. Last year I started training Lok in November and by the time he was ready and I had all my ski equipment and learned how to ski we only managed to get out on snow once before it all melted. I would like to run Lok and Jun together this winter for some extra power, but first they both need to be trained separately.

Ski training is fairly simple. The dogs need to learn to stay in front and not stop or sniff on the sides of the trails, which is the hardest part for Lok (if they are pulling, that's great, and they usually do, but technically, they don't even need to pull). That's really all you need to get out on the trails, but this year I'd like to enter a couple races, so my dogs need a bit more. Right now, we are working on a "line out" which means go out front to the end of the line and do a stand-stay until you're told to run. The dogs need this at the start line so they don't tangle their lines. We're also working on directions. Last year, Lok got "gee" (right) down pretty well, but doesn't know "haw" (left). Both dogs are doing pretty well on these things, considering we've only been working on them for a couple of days. Jun gets a little worried when she hits the end of the line, so I'm trying to work on desensitizing her to that a bit as well. We also need a stop command. But that's about it--probably one of the easiest dog sports to train and dog power over snow is such a rush!!

Of course, we have some unique issues as well, since one dog is blind and one is deaf. From what I've learned from other mushers, blind dogs can do well as lead sled dogs--they don't need their eyes to follow the trail. But still, I imagine particularly directional commands will take a lot of trust and I will really need to fine-tune his responses to them. Hopefully, having Jun hooked up will help with that. With Jun, all of her training so far has involved her looking at me--it's the only way I can communicate with her. Skiing will be the exact opposite--I want her to NOT look and me and just run ahead. Yet, if I need to give her a command, I need her to look back at me. So that will be interesting as well. But I think we find ways to make it all work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Freestyle with Jun

Since getting back from CO, I've been insanely busy with work, so haven't had much time to work the dogs in disc. However, for the time I have had, Jun's freestyle is coming along nicely, now that I've once again realized I need to slow down and break things down into baby steps. Though she is now a disc-switching pro, when I try to work on freestyle moves with her she reverts back to sticking on discs. I'm asking her to think hard and so, of course, as can be expected, she reverts back to her natural tendencies. So I've gone back to using a single disc with her while we learn some moves and some more foundational skills and then I will add the multiple discs back in later.

Due to all the tugging I've done with Jun to get her to switch discs in the first place, she has a tendency to crowd me and try to grab discs out of my hands. We've made great progress on this in the past couple of days. We've been doing a lot of sit/down and wait, especially while working on vaults, and we've also been working on just asking her to back up, and rewarding with a tug or throw when she is no longer crowding me. She's really catching on quickly to this and starting to stay back a bit of her own accord. I also realized that I need a more consistent signal for when I want her to grab a disc from my hand to tug, so we've been working on that as well. Last night she stayed a couple feet back from me as I was waving discs around and doing fidgets right in front of her without grabbing for the discs! We are also working on some foundational positioning and still trying to build her flip catches. I'm very happy with what we have accomplished so far!


Such a cutie!