Posts Tagged ‘2-Minute puppy training’

Marsha Houston’s 2-min dog training blog – Haymitch’s advanced training

August 12, 2012

Okay — so I could go to Haymitch’s first teacup agility trial (ARF in Columbus, OH, next weekend) without teaching him how to weave.  But what’s the fun of that?

TDAA competitions offer 10-12 runs over the course of a weekend, so there’s an opportunity to earn a Beginner Standard title one day, and move to Intermediate Standard the next.  Or to earn a Games 1 title one day, and move to Games 2 the next.

If he stays confident and focused and if my head doesn’t explode, he could earn his TBAD on Saturday. In which case he’ll need to know how to weave Sunday morning.

I should go prepared for weaving.

So the next 5 days will be devoted to a couple of advanced agility concepts, weaving and sequencing. And mental preparation …

Weaving —

I began attempting to teach Haymitch the 2×2 weave method. He didn’t get it at first, and didn’t get it at last. Dogs all learn differently, and he appears to be uninterested in offering to engage agility equipment unless I’m moving with him. With me standing still he offers non-equipment behaviors, like sit, down, jumping up, etc.  If I’m moving he offers to engage agility equipment.

I accept the dog I’m with, so I wired up a set of weaves and walked him back and forth a few times.  The wires, for such a little dog, provided no blockage to his efforts to jump over or duck under the wire. I put his leash on and he continued to easily duck under or jump over the wire. Hmmmmm ….

I moved to the 2×2 weaves, set them up in a slightly-akimbo line of 6 with the short TDAA weavepoles so I could get my hands in there easily, and began just luring him back and forth through the poles. I gradually allowed for a more independent performance. I gradually straightened the line of poles. Haymitch performed about 30 repetitions before he started to lose appetite.

By the 20th repetition he was starting to get the idea of what was required to earn the treat. I’ll repeat this training every day this week. When he starts actually weaving independently, I’ll open the weaves up again to build some speed and encourage that independence.

Sequencing —

Bud set the building for his private lesson with Pearl and her Tervuren (from Cincinnati). It was easy to come up with some sequences for Haymitch.

At first I did a number of straight runs over agility equipment. I lengthened those runs from 3 obstacles to 5-or-6 obstacles.

Next I put some “handler focus” bits in the middle of a straight line, asking Haymitch to pull off the obstacle in front of him to attend my lead. He missed cues the first couple of times, but quickly drew into the line I demonstrated.

As with agility obstacles, Haymitch showed he is fearless and intuitive. He goes into obstacle focus when my arm is outstretched, and comes into handler focus when my arm is dropped or I have my hand in “luring” shape.

Mental preparation —

I just can’t be more impressed with this little guy’s natural ability. We adopted Haymitch about 2 months ago and didn’t really start serious agility training until about 3 weeks ago.

I keep waiting for the shoe to drop, so to speak, and for Haymitch to fail to respond to training or handling but it hasn’t happened yet.

I’m really excited about his first trial opportunity this coming weekend. I’ve pulled out my training bag which hasn’t been used since Tempest and I attended his last trial — October 2011. Sadly it still contained T’s emergency seizure kit. Life is sad and strange and tricky.

I’ve received the worker’s volunteer spreadsheet and signed up to work as a bar-setter for intermediate and superior standard classes. I’ll probably work more than that but didn’t want to commit only to discover Haymitch is annoying when left alone in his crate.

I’ve arranged to meet dear friend Gwenn at the trial. We always have fun together and we hope Patty can join us as well.

Bud thinks I’m going to chicken out. Perhaps he’s thinking I’ll be haunted by the memory of Tempest, or be concerned about failing in front of people.  But I’m very excited about this trip and am really looking forward to getting away from home and enjoying the company of Haymitch, Gwenn, and Patty, along with all the great folks at ARF.

Wish me luck!

Marsha Houston blog – 2min dog trainer – It’s ON with Haymitch

July 30, 2012

Just mailed my entries to ARF’s TDAA trial August 18-19, reserved my room, and talked Bud into staying here that weekend to veg out with 5 dogs so I can focus solely on Haymitch.

It’s ON like Donky Kong!

Now I’ve got to start doing longer and longer sequences.  I’m thinking that a series of “Minuet” sequences might be good conditioning for both of us.

Wheee !!!  A dangerous situation — me and my FIRST teacup dog all my own.

Marsha Houston blog – 2min dog trainer – Haymitch con’t.

July 29, 2012

Haymitch has been on a crash course (no pun intended <g>) to prepare him for teacup agility competition. He gets mealtime training for dogwalk contacts (a sit at the bottom of the ramp) and a few sessions with the exploding pinwheel (“go on!”). He’s great dog-on-right going counter-clockwise, and sucks dog-on-left clockwise. So I’m doing 3-4 times as many pinwheels dog-on-left.

Additionally, once a day we spend 30 minutes in the training building where we’re working on sequencing, the full-size dogwalk and a-frame, the teeter, and weavepoles.

Sequencing – Haymitch seems to really enjoy running with me. He’s pretty steady about understanding his role, and rarely by-passes an obstacle. The most-often missed obstacle for Haymitch is a jump. I want him to understand that I’m not going to babysit agility obstacles, so I condition the dogwalk approach. I run at the dogwalk from 5 feet, from 10 feet, from 15 feet, and finally from the exit of the tunnel (about 20 feet). I’m going to add a jump to the sequence, between the tunnel and dogwalk, so he learns to take the jump that’s in his path.

Sequencing (mealtime) – For breakfast and supper Haymitch is learning the exploding pinwheel, taking three jumps in a pinwheel without my having to babysit them.

Full size dogwalk, a-frame, and teeter – Haymitch’s contact training actually started on our teeter trainer. It’s a wide, heavy, low tipping board. He progressed from that to the teacup teeter. I then introduced the dogwalk and he had no problem distinguishing between the teeter and the dogwalk. I then introduced the teacup a-frame. His first sequence contained both the teacup teeter and a-frame. Yesterday I tested his confidence by asking for the full-size a-frame, which he took quite naturally, as if he’d been doing agility all his life.  I always want to challenge him, so I took him to the full-size teeter which he ran up, rode down, and sat for his treat. He repeated this obstacle half a dozen times and seemed unaffected by the height, the tip, the noise, etc. So impressive!

Weavepoles – there are as many methods for teaching weavepoles as there are agility experts, and I’m not afraid of implementing any method if I feel it will add to my dog’s understanding of the obstacle. Haymitch’s introduction to weavepoles was with two poles, with a click/treat for entering correctly. I then added a third pole, click/treat for entering and exiting correctly. I then added a second set of 2 poles, with a click/treat or tossing a toy for going on to the second set. (As an aside, Haymitch’s favorite game with a toy is “keep-away” so I can get lots more repetitions if I train with food, whether I click/treat from my hand, or click/toss the treat into his reward zone.) Yesterday I wired a set of 6 poles, put him on lead, and got him to weave through all 6 poles for a toss of the tennis ball. Because I had him on lead I had better control of the “keep away” game. I may continue with the wired weaves, then transition to other methods if his weave performance is slow or unnecessarily deliberate.

I’m getting quite excited at the prospect of actually showing him in August. I’ll be anxious to see if he is adversely affected by strange environments, strange equipment, strange people, dogs barking, etc.

Marsha Houston blog – 2-minute dog trainer – Haymitch learns the chute

July 21, 2012

When teaching a new obstacle, our goal is always to start with the obstacle set for the easiest performance, reward the dog for performing, making it a little harder, rewarding the dog for performing, making it a little harder, etc.

This methodology usually requires an assistant, or instructor, to hold the dog’s leash or to adjust equipment.

Two days ago I decided to teach Haymitch to perform the collapsed tunnel. I decided to try it on my own, while Bud was down at the pond clearing the downed trees from June’s derecho event.

I set up one of our big barn fans facing the barrel end of the chute.

The chute fabric was completely extended, but the air flow from the barn fan kept the upper fabric about 12 inches off the floor.

I presented Haymitch with the chute, and he balked.

We went to a pipe tunnel, which he’s familiar with, and performed it a few times with a treat reward each time.

I set the pipe tunnel so the pipe tunnel exit faced the entrance of the chute. I thought that his performance of a familiar obstacle might encourage him to perform the unfamiliar obstacle.

I sent Haymitch into the pipe tunnel then directed him into the chute. He scooted right through and I tossed his treat a foot or two beyond the chute fabric.

I continued to present the chute entrance to Haymitch, clicking and treating as he went through the fabric.

If I clicked too early, as he entered the barrel end, he’d come back out. I had to click when he was more than half way through the fabric.

Each time I presented the obstacle I was farther from the entrance, so Haymitch ended up running 5-6 feet to get into the chute.

With the fan keeping the chute fabric open, Haymitch learned to seek out the entrance of the chute, run straight through, and find his reward on the floor 1-2 feet away from the exit.

When Haymitch was confidently going through the chute, with the fabric blown open, I changed the trajectory of the barn fan’s air flow.

This allowed the fabric to drop slightly, as less air was directed through the chute.

I went back to my original presentation position, sending him through the pipe tunnel and then into the chute.

I continued to click/treat as he was more than half way through the fabric. In our first training session, which took about 15 minutes, Haymitch was performing his conditioned sequence (teeter, tire, jump, a-frame, tunnel) followed by a distance send into the barrel end of the chute.

Our second training session began with the fan blowing the fabric open.

After 4-5 repetitions with the fabric blown open, I shifted the trajectory of the fan breeze, allowing the fabric to drop slightly.

Haymitch continued performing the chute, thought slightly slower.

I repeated the obstacle a dozen times, clicking Haymitch as he was half way through the fabric, and tossing his treat 1-2 feet from the fabric exit.

I again shifted the trajectory of the fan breeze, allowing the fabric to drop completely.

Haymitch refused the chute the first time he was faced with the fabric lying flat.

I turned the fan to push a little air through the fabric.

Haymitch went through the chute 5-6 times for his click/treat.

I again turned the fan away to allow the fabric to drop.

Haymitch went through the chute with the fabric flat on the floor!  We repeated this performance 5-6 times, with a click as he as reached the half way point of the fabric, and getting his treat about 1-2 fee from the exit of the chute.

We finished this training session with his conditioned sequence (teeter, tire, jump, a-frame, tunnel) and fired into the chute with the fabric lying on the floor!

Bud joined us partway through this sequence, so I handed him my string cheese and Haymitch immediately shifted his focus to Bud and ran the sequence for him!

We finished the training session with a few weave entries, finishing our string cheese. I’m SO impressed with this little guy!

Haymitch’s 2-minute meal time training focuses on the dogwalk contact trainer, feeding breakfast and supper for a sit on the end of the contact.

This mealtime training carries over into his sequencing work as:  1) on the teeter Haymitch climbs the ramp, rides it down, and sits on the end of the ramp,  2) on the a-frame Haymitch slows as he approaches the contact,  3) we haven’t done a lot of dogwalks, but I’m going to encourage a sit at the end of the ramp.

Marsha Houston’s blog – 2min dog trainer – Haymitch’s progress

July 17, 2012

Getting a new dog, whether it’s a puppy, adolescent, or adult from a breeder, or a rescue with unknown heritage, is a crap shoot.

Dogs have issues with confidence, with aggression, with shyness. Dogs can get sick, can experience trauma. Dogs can experience inherited behavioral or physiological challenges.

First-time dog owners sometimes assume that every dog will be a happy, healthy pet, and that agility or obedience performances are possible with every dog.

I’ve been around the block a few times, this isn’t my first dog show (so to speak), and I know how rare it is to find a dog in rescue who is happy, confident, well-socialized with people and dogs and cats. To find a rescued dog who has all these qualities AND is an eager agility partner is incredibly rare. To find a rescued dog with all these qualities, the athleticism for agility, AND who randomly offers behaviors for the click/treat, is a treasure.

When I adopted Haymitch all I wanted was a dog who was confident, who could be socialized to be comfortable in a trial setting.

What I got is a confident dog who has no apparent issues whatsoever with people, dogs, cats, equipment, vet techs, etc.

He is as athletic as I need, easily chases and keeps up with the border collies, plays with Phoenix with confidence, climbs and jumps onto chairs and tables, has no fear of anything I can see.

When I get out my clicker and treats Haymitch looks for work. He tries all the stuff he knows — at first he only knew “jump up,” “sit,” and “lie down.”  Now he throws all three of those, but he’s added “tire,” “tunnel,” “teeter,” and “weave” to his offerings.

Yesterday we had 2 training sessions on our little circular sequence (jump, tire, teeter, tunnel, a-frame). I also added a 5 minute session with 2 weavepoles.

This morning we entered the training building and he offered the tunnel twice. Walking to the weaves he offered the tire. When he saw we were headed to the weaves he offered a weave entry and then ran beyond it to the training teeter. Like a kid in a candy store, his skills are growing and he’s able to offer double the behaviors of a week ago.

Before this weekend is over I want to be working Haymitch on his sequence, AND on the weaves, with the distraction of Bud and the other dogs in the building.

I just want to go on record as saying “I will never take for granted this fabulous little dog and the personality and skills he brings to the team.”

Thank you, Margaret Hendershot and Multiple Breed Rescue!

Haymitch timeline ….
June adopted Haymitch
July rear dewclaws removed, began agility training
July 28-29 first trial opportunity (B&D)
August 17-18-19 second trial opportunity (ARF)
September 2 trial opportunities (Four Seasons and B&D)
October last weekend PA Petit Prix
November first weekend TX Petit Prix

I’m curious about exactly what is possible for Haymitch, if I devote the time and energy he deserves.

In the meantime, Phoenix is 7 months old and will begin weavepole and full-size contacts training this winter. His first trialing opportunity will be next summer, though he may get held back so that he can debut with Django who is just 4 months old.

Marsha Houston’s Blog – 2-min. dog trainer – prepping Haymitch

July 11, 2012

Most of my 2-minute training protocols were created with adolescent or mature dogs in mind, because I developed this program when we had older rescued dogs and my classes were filled with adolescent, untrained, pups.

In the last couple of years my blog has focused on using those protocols to develop an eight-week-old puppy into an agility or rally partner.

Phoenix, at 7-1/2 months, does his 2-on-2-off contacts for breakfast and dinner. We have jumps set up in the yard and he’s also doing “go on” and “jump” for meals. I’ve begun asking for some responses to common handling at mealtime as well (front crosses with simple rotation, some back crosses) but I feel no need to rush him into more complex sequencing or obstacle performance.

Ever few days I play with him in the 2-by-2 weave poles. We don’t do a bunch of repetitions, but I want him to remember what “weave” means. By this coming winter I’ll begin emphasizing weave entries more, proofing contacts, and start putting together sequences.

On the other hand, Haymitch landed in my lap ready for action. He’s 18-24 months old, athletic, greedy for food, greedy for toys, and bright as can be. I have no idea what his past was (don’t really care) but he hasn’t shown any fear issues. He doesn’t lack confidence on equipment, with other dogs, with people, etc. The perfect rescue dog. (Thanks, Multiple Breed Rescue and Margaret Hendershot — you picked a great one for me !!!)

We got Haymitch in June — that month was his settling-in month. His mealtime activities included sitting for his food bowl and keeping his nose out of other dogs’ bowls.  Also in June he was introduced to jumps, the dogwalk, the teeter, and some minor sequencing.

I’ve also worked with him at his recall. Immediately following the June 29 derecho Haymitch found a hole in the dog yard and went on a minor “run-about.” So many trees were down there was no traffic on the highway in front of our house, and he focused his worried dashing about to the neighbor’s freshly-cut hay field, so I left the gate open, left hot dogs on the porch, and went about repairing storm damage. Fifteen minutes later he was standing on the front porch wanting in. I resolved to give more focus to his recall, though his response was due largely to the horrible storm he’d just survived, and the continuing rumbling afterwards. He didn’t so much run off as just “run.”

In July he’s had surgery to remove two worrisome rear dewclaws, and his stitches come out this week. Also in July he’s been introduced to the a-frame, the tire, tunnels, and chute.

These introductions to equipment have been the equivalent of one beginner agility session. Bud and I worked together yesterday on tire, chute, and tunnel, but it’s mostly been me casually going to the building with Haymitch for a little training.

But now training begins in earnest in preparation for late October’s TDAA Petit Prix events in Latrobe, PA, and Wichita Falls, TX.

Texas’ Kim Brewer thinks I should bring my little corgi/chi mix to Wichita Falls. I don’t know that he’ll be ready, but it should be an interesting trip for him (shopping list includes new sherpa bag), and it may mean that little Hazard, at age 8, stays home with our house-and-dog-sitter.

He may go to the Petit Prix as an ambassador versus competitor, but he’ll be entered in all the runs and he’ll be as trained as possible. We may skip every set of weaves, he may bail the teeter, he may not hit a contact all weekend — or he may do just fine.

The Latrobe, PA, trip is easier to confirm since it’s a driving trip. Of course he’ll go!  Again, we may skip every set of weaves, bail the teeter, miss our contacts — or do just fine.

This is all directly related to my investment of time and effort. His performance in PA and TX will be a direct reflection on my skill as a trainer, and his confidence level.

Job one is establishing our timeline. I want him to experience a couple of TDAA trials, to gauge his confidence level and his skill level. I want to know if he’ll stay in the ring with me, stay focused, in the presence of that level of distraction.

July 21-22 Medina Swarm — doubt if we can possibly be ready, but might be an interesting test of his confidence level, may go for one day

July 28-29 B&D Creekside — would be great to get him into the Petit Prix venue and Bud will be there for a judge’s clinic so it would be four full days in that environment — two days to adjust, two days to play on equipment

Aug 18-19 ARF — definitely will go, should be able to train weaves by then

Sept 8-9 Four Seasons — would be a great experience for Haymitch AND his ex-best-friend Margaret is the judge, so it’s a great training opportunity.

Sept. 29-30 B&D Creekside — probably our last opportunity to prep for the Petit Prix as Bud’s doing a bunch of seminars in early October.

Job two is assigning skills to the timeline.  In our classes we have great success with:  1) familiarize dogs with equipment and condition performance, 2) present obstacles with movement, 3) sequence familiar obstacles with those less familiar,  4) string together 3-4 obstacles.

In July I want Haymitch to see all the equipment and begin small sequences.

In August I want Haymitch to start weaving, and confidently performing the teeter.

In September I want to start putting it all together.

In October I want to let him have a great time at the PA and TX Petit Prix, and develop the teacup agility partnership I imagined when I asked Margaret to keep an eye out for my first teacup agility dog.

See you at the Petit Prix!

2-minute dog trainer – training 2 dogs simultaneously

June 22, 2012

The second check from a local dog-training business has bounced. Bud’s been stiffed for a seminar fee AND all his expenses related to an April 21-22 seminar. The seminar was full and healthy. My blog addressing our frustration with this issue is in the works.

In other news — I realize I’m taking on a lot, adding Haymitch, a little chihuahua / corgi mix to our pack when Phoenix is only 6 months old.

But I have the time, now that we’ve formally closed our training center (we do just camps, seminars, private lessons, and building rentals), and I’ve noticed that my priorities are changing again.

My primary interest is training Phoenix, though Haymitch will probably enter a trial ring several months earlier than Phoenix.

My goal with Phoenix is to develop distance and speed skills which will allow him to move at his natural speed while I move slowly.

My goal with Haymitch is to develop obstacle skills, and confidence skills, which will allow him to attend TDAA trials and have some fun.

The dogs are really on two different training tracks. I’m interested in knowing if any of my readers have experienced this, and how you tracked progress.

2-minute dog trainer – kickin’ into high gear

June 8, 2012

Bud and I have always had multiple dogs. As many as 10 at one time.

As our seniors began passing our pack diminished to three dogs. Then we added Tempest for four, but I had lots of time for training and we were able to travel with the entire pack.

Then we lost Tempest and were back to three dogs, with a gaping hole where Mr.T had been.

Phoenix arrived and bumped us back up to four dogs, and I threw myself into training him and preparing him for travel and trialing.

Last week Margaret Hendershot came through on a request from a year ago. She’s involved with Multiple Breed Rescue here in Ohio and I’d asked her to keep an eye pealed for my next teacup dog.

So wee Haymitch arrived 9 days ago and fit right into the pack. My goals for him aren’t as specific, and he’s a quick study, so I started some training and will be taking it nice and slow. He’s over a year old, seems to be housetrained, is learning his new name and is clingy, so he’s not much of a chore.

But Haymitch bumped us to five dogs, so we now need to return to the days of arranging for a dog-sitter when we travel. I wasn’t too worried though, as Phoenix isn’t old enough for trialing for a year, and Haymitch isn’t going anywhere soon.

However, yesterday, with a flurry of black puppy fuzz, our world exploded around Django, Bud’s new BC puppy.

Django was an unexpected surprise. We weren’t shopping or even looking. And, if we were, he probably wouldn’t have been our choice.

Okay, so here are his positives. He likes food and toys. He gets along great with the other dogs. He grins (which I ADORE). He’s fearless, humble, and lovable.

Here are his negatives. He’s huge. And he’s going to get bigger than any other dog in our pack. His feet, at 12 weeks of age, are bigger than Kory’s, Phoenix’s, or Dash’s feet. They’re all 40-45 pounds. Django is going to be an enormous border collie.  And he’s long-haired. I was just getting to the point where my old canister sweeper was able to keep the balls of hair at bay.

Some folks love all things puppy. I’m more a fan of the adolescent dog. So Django has no power over me.

Did I tell you he grins?? ….. [sigh, as my heart melts]

Now our training has to kick into high gear. We have two dogs who don’t know how to eat with the group. They leave their own bowl to visit others. Just that fact makes for a hectic mealtime.

Mealtime training, for me, may mean that my young dogs eat at separate times.

2-minute dog trainer – environment and attitude

June 6, 2012

Today’s topic is attitude, and I’d like to take aim on the effect stress, pressure, and environment have on attitude.

Let me start by saying I don’t think anyone in our chosen sport of dog agility, or any other activity for that matter, sets out to have a negative attitude and to inflict said negative attitude on others.

At agility trials or classes I want to be a great leader to my dog, a great friend to my trial buddies, a great customer to the trial committee,and a great mentor to my students.

I offer treats to my dogs, I offer to videotape friends’ runs, I offer to work classes, and I tell my students “just come find me if you have any questions!” All with a smile and a happy attitude.

And then the tight schedule starts shoving me around. I’m conflicted between two rings, my dog drops a bar, the gate steward questions why I showed up late-she’s-been-calling-for-me, the volunteer coordinator asks me to bar-set in the other ring while I’m waiting to run my dog, and all that lovely, positive attitude can go up in a puff of smoke.

My attitude affects others, starting with my dog and ending with everyone around me, so I strive to stay upbeat. So does everyone else, and sometimes you can see the strain on their faces from the effort. <g>

It’s not enough to say I’ll work hard to keep that positive attitude. Sometimes I have to put mechanisms in place to maintain it.

First, on trial weekends, I must make sure to get enough sleep and water. If I’m tired or thirsty, outside influences have an opportunity to ruin my day. I get to bed several hours earlier than usual, and set the coffee pot to turn itself on before I awake so I can get my first cup without delay.

Second, whenever possible, I make a flattering or complimentary comment to a friend or student. It doesn’t have to be “you’ve got the best dog ever, and you’re the most amazing agility handler.” Just something little that I notice about them, their dog, or their performance, is often enough to help brighten my attitude (maybe theirs as well).

Third, I attempt to get quiet time. I’ll take my dog for a potty trip and hang out somewhere quiet. I’ll pick up my copy of the premium or running order, and pretend to study it. I’ll study course maps and visualize flow.

Fourth, when I’m working for the trial committee I focus on the job and exist in the moment. If my distraction, fidgeting, clock-watching, or irritation ruin a dog’s performance (or put undue stress on a handler) I feel terrible. And there’s nothing that ruins a happy attitude like guilt.

Fifth, I share with my dog the positive, excited, feelings we practice at each mealtime training session. Even when circumstances influence me to be stressed or upset, my training practice helps me spend 5 minutes being happy.

A positive attitude isn’t something that comes naturally to all of us.

But I have practiced the journey to that happy place often enough that I can easily find my way. I just have to want to make it so, and I do.

2-minute dog trainer – weekly classes

May 26, 2012

In my May 11 post I described, in as much detail as was possible, our ideas for the end of our “training center” phase and the beginning of our “social club” phase.

It’s interesting to look back over my life and divide it by phases.

In 1998 my married-lady-working-40-hours-a-week phase ended with a bang. My 15-year relationship with my husband gave up the ghost without a whimper. I never knew anyone could care so little about a marriage as my ex.

Regardless, life marched on and I met a man who shared my interest in positive reinforcement dog training in general, and dog agility in particular.

We have fun together, have the same sick sense of humor, can vent to each other without worrying, and understand each other.

So the dog-training-center-facilitator phase of my life began April 1999. At Dogwood Training Center we averaged 120 students, with another 200 campers who visited for a week at a time.

In 2007 we considered semi-retirement, and my parents needed more attention from me, so we sold Dogwood and moved to Watertown, Ohio.

Our plan was to do a few camps each year, do a lot of writing and travel with our dogs, and slow down a little. We began our family-first-with-lots-of-writing phase.

Dog agility exhibitors in our area asked us to open our building for classes. We’ve averaged between 10 and 15 students since then, requiring a bit of work but nowhere near the effort required by our central Ohio site.

We have one more weeknight group class. Then we enter our TDAA-management-and-training-our-puppies phase.

Here’s how I see it working for us.

Every Monday or Tuesday Bud will set equipment in the training building and establish 3-4 training sequences which he’ll print out and post in the building.

On Tuesday evenings Phoenix and I will go to the building to do some “2-minute-dog-training” — working on obstacle performance and the specific skills a fast little dog with a slow old handler needs. If anyone wants to join us an play along, that’s okay.

On Wednesday evenings Kory and Phoenix will go to the building to do some sequence work — honing the more complex skills needed as Kory (AX AXJ) approaches his USDAA Masters titles. Phoenix and I will join them on little bits of sequences.

The rest of the week people will come and go, playing with their dogs on sequences designed by Bud, or of their own creation.

Here’s how I see it working for our local students.

Students who choose to become Board Members get access to the building and grounds, plus either or both nights of training at no additional charge. We hope they’ll help us maintain the public areas of the property.

Students who choose to be regular Members get access to the building and grounds, plus kick in a few bucks if they want instruction.

We’ll continue offering a few private camps each year. We have lots of fun with our friends from around the country. And our cottages provide sleeping quarters for folks traveling a distance and wanting private lessons.

We’ll be answering lots of questions, obviously. My basic response is “we no longer have a dog training center.” Everything else will work itself out.

Phoenix approaches age 6 months.

Phoenix has been with us 3 months. He’s been a clever little boy, interested in offering all sorts of favorite behaviors for food, for toys, for attention.

His mealtime training includes 2-on-2-off contact performance, distance sends through a series of hoops to a jump, and some sequences requiring that he follow my movement.

Every afternoon I try to break away from paperwork to play with him. We’re working on his formal retrieve and he’s currently chasing the dumbbell and bringing it back to dump it in my right hand. We’re also going to the training building occasionally to work on the more advanced equipment. He’s developed independent performance of the full-size a-frame, the skinnier dogwalk (not the full-size one yet), and the full-size teeter.

I’ve noticed he indicates lack of confidence by simply avoiding an obstacle, but he can be encouraged to be brave with food, toys, or attention.

He’s a typical border collie. He loves his baby pool, his big brothers, and stretching out on the couch.

I’m so lucky to have found him, though we have no idea of his heritage.

I love him intensely.