Posts Tagged ‘housemanners for puppies’

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.

2-minute dog trainer – consistent reinforcement

May 10, 2012

If someone were to quote “Marsha-isms” I hope one they would choose is my favorite —

“Most dog training problems, and most dog behavior issues, are the result of ill-timed or inconsistent reinforcement.”

Dogs learn through reinforcement.

The more often they’re right, the more frequent the reinforcement for the right behavior, the faster they learn.

The smart dog trainer makes sure her dog is right 95% or more of the time.

Some unwanted behaviors are self-rewarding so the clever trainer must install the replacement behavior before the puppy discovers the unwanted behavior.

Regardless of whether it’s an agility performance or house manners, responsibility for the dog’s behavior sits firmly on the shoulders of the trainer.

My puppy cannot behave in a manner I’ve not taken the time to train.

Phoenix has two behaviors in class that really annoy me. More because they point out my shortcomings as a trainer than any other reason.

Let me start by saying he has no natural impulse control. I’m teaching him, incident by incident, how to control his puppy impulses.

At class last night he had a couple of out-of-control moments which embarrassed me slightly, and put some things on the top of my “to do list.”

1) Phoenix barks in his ex-pen when other dogs run, and when our students are excited and are encouraging their dogs. It’s just a matter of over-stimulation on his part, but I’ve not spent the time encouraging quiet.

2) When Phoenix wants to visit people and dogs he likes, my recall is worthless. I work on recall  occasionally, but need to put more emphasis on it because it is truly NOT reliable. He approaches people and dogs as if everyone wants to be his new best friend (sorry Crystal <g>).

So, in the first instance, I’ve not established enough reinforcement for the replacement behavior (quietly lying down in his ex-pen while other dogs are running).

In the second instance, I’ve not conditioned an immediate response to my recall.

Oh yeah, and he jumps up on people. And most people reinforce that. So my work at sitting-for-petting-and-attention must get more focus.

Topdog Agility Players agility club

Beginning June 1st our training center will be transitioning to a club where our agility friends can come and play, and work, and train, and even teach!

We’re not so much “closing the training center” as discontinuing classes, rosters, paperwork, and e-mail reminders.

When we become a social club we have a few expectations:
1. we’ll get assistance with responsibility and maintenance, OR
2. we’ll have less public appearance maintenance
3. we’ll grow a few new (and amazing) agility instructors, as
we’ll be allowing our members to run their own classes
4. our members will have incentive to invite members
5. we’ll spend time and effort commensurate with income

Members will have access to our instruction (Bud’s on Wednesdays, mine on Tuesdays) and we’ll still have occasional workshops. Members will have unlimited access to the training building and fields.  We’ll expect them to assume some responsibility over their training goals.

It’s all about consistent reinforcement, after all.

Bud’s been teaching agility classes for 20 years. I’ve been teaching obedience and agility for 18 years. In 2012 about 90% of our reinforcement (reward) comes from non-agility-class activities.

We’re hoping this transition allows all of us to train our dogs and have fun doing dog-related activities, gets us some assistance keeping up the public appearance of the agility building and surrounding zone, and spreads some of the responsibility associated with lesson plans, rosters, and e-mail updates.

Or maybe it will still be just Bud and I maintaining a 60×120 pole barn and parking lot, and playing with our dogs.

Some folks object to change of any sort, so it remains to be seen what the response will be to our plan.

2-minute dog trainer – Phoenix at 14-16 weeks

April 2, 2012

Because Phoenix is a rescued pup we’re not sure of his birthdate. The rescue group, on Feb. 20, guessed he was born 12/20/11, and was 8 weeks old.  I thought he had to be older than that (who ditches an 8-week-old puppy in rescue?!?).

So now, the first week of April, he’s either 14 weeks old, or a little older. I’m waiting for his teeth to start falling out at that 16-week mark to have a better idea of how old he is.

I’m going to establish a birthdate of 12/15/11, making him 16 weeks old this week. We’ll see what happens with his teeth.

Regardless of the precise age of this pup, he’s learning rapidly and is a joy to train.

First, the resource guarding is a constant training opportunity for us.

Instead of a little growl when I touch his bowl, I get a happy face and a wagging tail. I always hold the bowl and stroke Phoenix’s back, and the tail continues to wag.

If I touch his face with my free hand, the tail stops wagging, but he doesn’t freeze up anymore. This is going to be a long-term training objective, and we can’t ever forget that he doesn’t like having his food bowl approached.

He has half-a-dozen behaviors which he offers in sequence when I pick up his food bowl.

He loves to offer:  sit, down, 2-o-2-o contacts, front, heel, table, and go-to-bed (get in crate and lie down).

For breakfast we work on contacts. I’m allowing him to climb the ramp now, so 2-on-2-off is done in motion, at some speed.

For lunch we work on pause table (on the living room ottoman) and go-to-bed (with his crate).

We’ve added a new exercise for dinner. I’ve set up 3 hoops (ala NADAC) in the yard and am teaching “go on” as a cue to keep engaging the hoops.

If the sequence of 3 hoops is 1-2-3, I start with #3, “YAY” and reward, then #2-3, “YAY” and reward, then #1-2-3, “YAY” and reward.

We reverse direction and repeat the exercise. I can generally get three of four of these sequences in for a single bowl of food.

2-minute dog trainer – reliable recall

March 19, 2012

Yesterday I was letting dogs out of the house for the really-short walk to the training building. We walk this off lead because everyone simply wants to run to the training building.

Unfortunately, Bud was returning home from the hardware store (working on his chicken coop — see his blog for more info on that < and pulled into the driveway the second I let dogs out.

Hazard and Dash returned to my side when I called them, and Kory was on lead (due to his door-dashing issues), but Phoenix floated around the driveway for a minute or two while I called him and he ignored me, or dodged away from me.

Well — that won’t do, now will it ?!?!?

So Phoenix’s mealtime training has gone to module one of my basic obedience lessons — attention to name and recall.

With every meal I walk around, allowing him to forge ahead of me, “Phoenix come!” and food for sitting in a front position and allowing me to grab his collar.

We’ll work on that for another week or so … he’s really clever so I don’t foresee it taking very long.

His agility training is going really well. He’s absorbing the 2-o-2-o training as only a puppy can. He’s showing lots of good control over his rear-end. He runs to the contact trainer when food is available.

Lots of fun!

2-minute dog trainer – Phoenix’s training week2

March 16, 2012

Phoenix has been with us for 3 weeks.

His breakfast training has focused on minimizing his resource-guarding tendencies. There’s always a hand in his bowl and sometimes the hand takes the bowl away.

He has discontinued the practice of growling when the hand comes in, choosing to wag his tail instead. Just a couple of days ago I set his bowl down, stepped away from it, then stepped back in. He looked up, wagged his tail, and backed away from his bowl. That really pleased me.

On the other hand, when the other dogs approach his bowl they still get a little growl, and they’re very accepting of it. Dogs see this as a natural behavior for a hungry puppy, I guess. (If anyone out there can tell me they definitively know what dogs are thinking please let me know.)

Phoenix’s breakfast training takes place at the dog-feeding station in the basement. In addition to working on resource guarding he’s being trained to assume a 2-on-2-off position on the contact trainer.

When we first started we went to the wider, steeper a-frame end. He was drawn into position and fed from hand.

Now, after just one week on this training, Phoenix heads to his contact trainer the second I pick up his food bowl.

He runs to the trainer and assumes his 2020 position on either the a-frame end or the skinnier dog-walk end. We’re surprised at his ability to control his back legs. For an 11-week-old pup he seems very aware of his rear end.

He’ll often hit the position a couple of times while I’m walking behind him. Occasionally he’ll be standing, watching me, and move just his rear feet into position. I find that very surprising.

Phoenix’s lunchtime training takes place in my office, in the training building, in the vet’s office, or on the road.

For example, yesterday Phoenix’s vet appointment was scheduled for 11:30am. I put his lunch and my clicker in my purse. He was rewarded for:

1) getting into his crate (x 2)
2) walking into the examination room (x 1)
3) being on the exam table, first lying down, then rolling onto one hip (relaxing), then sitting, then standing, then lying down and relaxing, etc.
4) getting back into his crate (x 1)
5) getting back into his crate after a quick walk around the nursery where I was shopping for a tree to honor Tempest (looking for an Austrian Pine) — got to finish his lunch in his crate.

Sometimes we do hand-targeting for click/food. Sometimes we walk to the training building, getting clicked/fed for loose-leash walking.

Phoenix’s dinnertime training involves more resource-guarding training, and more contact training. His little body mustn’t be stressed, so we don’t do any work with jumps, or fetching, or anything that might overwork him.

Sometimes late in the evening Phoenix gets a little snack of kibble, especially if he’s played with Kory for a couple of hours after dinner. He gets a little hungry, and will come tell me — sitting, staring at my face, jumping on my legs.

Feeding him a little snack before bedtime means I can hold off on breakfast for an hour or so after waking.

Next week I’m going to bring some hoops into the yard and get started with sending him through the hoop.

2 minute dog trainer – intro of Phoenix

March 8, 2012

My sweet Tempest has been gone 3-1/2 weeks.

Our new pup, Phoenix, has been with us 2 weeks.

When Tempest passed I decided to bequeath his place in our home to a rescued dog, perhaps one who had never experienced the level of comfort and love we can provide.

I checked on a daily basis. There were a bunch of border collie mixes in local shelters but no little faces called out to me. I put an application in with a local border collie rescue and began the extensive approval process.

On Tuesday, February 21st, with my application slogging toward approval by  border collie rescue, I went back to

Much to my surprise this little red-tri border collie face gleamed at me from my computer screen.  He was a couple of hours away, and (at 8 weeks of age) probably already adopted, but I decided to contact the rescue group and express my interest.

Long story short — the rescue group was marvelous to work with and several friends worked as go-betweens to make this little boy available for adoption to Bud and I.

I saw the picture at 10a.m., contacted the rescue group at 10:30am, had an e-mail application completed by 2pm, had a phone call at 3pm, had my application reviewed by 5pm, and had a call at 6pm saying “when would you like to come get this little boy?”

I’m just saying ….. I understand the reluctance of rescue groups to place dogs without complete home checks and calls to references and vets. On the other hand, isn’t it better for a foster home to provide for the veterinary care, feed, housing, training, and relationship-building for 1-7 days instead of 10-12 months?

I’m certainly not criticizing rescue groups, but sometimes dogs are left too long in foster homes and released too slowly to forever homes.  I know they’re well-fed, cared for, but they’re always “the foster dog.”

Anyway — we met the wonderfully nice foster mom who was so very impressed with my 8-week-old border collie puppy and brought Phoenix home on February 22nd.

I have doubts about his official story, but a young family supposedly turned him in to rescue at 8 weeks. Hmmm. Has nice bite inhibition, is very sociable, is bold and brave, has a little resource-guarding issue, but hard to believe a young family would purchase and ditch a puppy in a week.

Doesn’t matter — he’s mine now and his past is of no consequence.

I’m starting back into my 2-minute dog trainer protocols.

For the first few days Phoenix was with us we focused on the mealtime resource guarding.

Each meal Phoenix was presented with an empty food bowl. Human hands brought food to the bowl versus Phoenix’s greatest concern — human hands dragging him away from the bowl or taking the bowl away from him.

When we said his name and he glanced up he was rewarded with another handful of food. “Come” became part of the picture, and my little boy was on his way to becoming a trained dog.

We had one little bump in the road — Phoenix turned his nose up at dinner on February 26th and 27th, so he went to my vet’s office early on the 27th. He tested  positive for parvo.

The vet’s office kept him on the 27th, giving him fluids and antibiotics through an IV. By noon they were suggesting I should be prepared to get him at 6pm. “He’s pretty full of himself,” my vet said, “he’s chewed through his IV tube twice so we’re giving him fluids and antibiotics sub-cutaneous.”

She explained that, if I could get him to eat, he could begin getting meds orally and stay home for his long-term care.

I picked up a happy pup at 6pm. He was very hungry and ate little spoons full of canned dog food each hour.

Next morning Phoenix returned to the vet for more fluids and meds, but was cleared to come home by noon. Each day in the past 10 days he’s shown good appetite, kept his food and meds down, and gotten more energetic.

Over the next few months I’ll be documenting his progress with the 2-minute dog trainer training.

This, his second full week with us, Phoenix is eating breakfast starting with an empty bowl and accepting hands coming towards his bowl with more food.

For lunch he’s doing some targeting of my open palm, touching either of my outstretched hands for a click and food.

For dinner he often gets to train with Bud on the a-frame contact trainer. After just 3-4 sessions he’s already got the idea that sitting on the a-frame with his front feet on the floor makes the food keep coming.

I think about Tempest all the time. His ashes have been brought home. I know he wasn’t perfect, and his extreme epilepsy was devastating to all of us, but he was the ultimate clean slate on which I wrote my dog-training hopes and dreams.

The slate has been wiped clean again. Our work has evaporated into thin air, but we have a plan with which to start again.

2-minute dog trainer – Bud will be so pleased

August 28, 2011

Bud has pointed out a couple of miscellaneous skills Tempest doesn’t have, skills which have been on a back burner.

This week Bud’s been out of town more than he’s been home, so I’m using my free time to focus on these skills. Hopefully we’ll have great news for daddy when he gets back into town.

First, retrieving.  Tempest’s favorite game is chase-the-toy-and-kill-it, then drop-it-and-wait-for-mom-to-come-get-it.  The game the dog likes is the correct reward, right?

However, it means a ton of walking for me, and I’d much prefer a dog who fetches his toy and hands it to me.

So this week we began working on a formal retrieve. Once he is retrieving his dumbell to hand I’ll introduce various toys, and help him start generalizing the “fetch” command.

When he’s retrieving to hand I’ll be able to use the toy for a reward and get more training done. The current game is very time consuming as MY toy-fetching speed is a direct reflection of my age and physical capabilities — I’m no 18-month-old BC.

Second, absolute directionals. Bud often says, “You’ve spent the time on Tempest’s contacts that I spent on Kory’s absolute directionals.”  And the dogs’ skills reflect the time we’ve spent on training them.

So Bud can direct Kory through a complex course, using minimal movement and well-conditioned absolute directionals.

Tempest and I, however, struggle with any sequence where I can’t be in the picture helping direct him.  If I say “left!” he’s more likely to spin right, indicating two things — 1) he has no idea what “left” means, and  2) just shouting “left” confuses him and makes him spin.

“Right” is an easier directional for Tempest. Primarily, I believe, because “right” consists of a hard vowel followed by a hard consonant. While “left” consists of a soft consonant followed by a soft vowel and a hard consonant.

So our mealtime training has been to train left-and-right.  At some point in the afternoon I break away from my TDAA and computer work to do a little retrieval training with him.

Mealtime left-and-right — with Tempest’s food bowl in my hands, I have him face me.  He immediately starts guessing what I want, often getting two 360-degree left turns in while I’m setting up.

After several days of “left” training, nearly all his guesses involve “left,” by the way.

When I’m set up I say, “watch me!” then “left.”  I’m looking for an indication of his head to the left. Sometimes it’s a flicker, sometimes he does a complete turn to the left, depending on how hungry he is.

The “watch me” command settles him down just a little and stops him from countless offerings of “left” head flickers and spins.

Not that I don’t want him to offer behavior, but I’d really like him to watch me and offer the behavior he hears/sees me cue.

He’s improved from 20-25% accuracy to about 65-70% accuracy in 2 weeks. So, as Bud says, “that’s better odds than just guessing, so somehow he’s starting to make the connection,” between the left-or-right commands and the correct direction for his head turn.

With the retrieve he’s progressed really quickly from jumping on the dumbell, putting it in his mouth, dropping it, and eating a treat …. to …. picking up the dumbell and bringing it toward my hand.

I’m helping him a bit at this point, getting my hand in really quickly so he’s delivering it to hand without too much effort.

The training I’m doing is following Sue Sternberg’s “Inducive Retrieve.”  It’s the method I’ve used to train my dogs to retrieve since 1997 and I’ve always be incredibly pleased with the results.

Sternberg’s method emphasizes the retrieve-to-hand, and the dog is constantly rewarded for releasing the dumbell into my hand.

As I learned some time ago, “fetch” has nothing whatsoever to do with chasing a toy or carrying a toy around.  It has nothing to do with holding a dumbell, or trotting across the floor with a dumbell in mouth.

Fetching is the act of putting something in my hand. Period.  Afterall, dogs carry things in their mouths all the time. They chase things all the time. Neither of those activities result in the item in my hand.

Sternberg’s training puts so much emphasis on dumbell into hand, treat into mouth, that the rest of the “fetch” behavior becomes just a means to an end. The toughest part of my dogs’ retrieve training is the stay while the dumbell flies away. They love retrieving, and I’m hoping Tempest is no exception.

Sue Sternberg’s well-written publications, including the inducive retrieve brochure, are available at <> and all proceeds benefit the dogs in her Rondout Valley shelter in upstate NY.


2 minute dog trainer – Tempest coming of age

June 2, 2011

We have two more weeks before Tempest’s AKC agility debut, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s progressing.

I’m also pleased with myself on several counts (sounds weird, but bear with me).

First, I created the 2-minute dog trainer for basic obedience — four (4) modules including a) attention to name and recall, b) greeting a friendly stranger, c) walking on a loose leash, and d) calming behaviors, grooming, overall house manners.

Second, I created the 2-minute dog trainer for local shelters — seven (7) modules including a) choosing the right shelter dog, b) teaching new name and recall, c) housetraining, d) managing destructive behavior, e) greeting friendly strangers, f) walking on a leash, and g) calming behaviors for your home.

Third, and building on the previous two packages, I wrote the 2-minute dog trainer for Sport Foundation training, including  a) come to front,  b) stay in sit or down,  c) stay in stand,  d) standard or wing jump performance,  e) tire jump performance,  f) weavepole entries,  g) unambiguous contacts,  h) heel position training.

All the time I was sharing these protocols with campers, writing and publishing as electronic documents on our website, I personally had no dog on which to practice them.

Fourth, I focused all my attention, and brought 14 years of opinion, on purchasing the right pup on which I would practice these 2-minute dog training protocols.

Fifth and finally, I continued with the 2-minute Sport Foundation protocols during Tempest’s puppyhood, during my 4-month stint as a slave in the kitchen of the local hospital (seemed like much longer, but that’s because I was in a state of constant physical pain and psychological torture <g>), during a long winter where we took on tons of new TDAA work, and into his competition preparation.

Near Tempest’s 1-year birthday I added 2-a-day training sessions to the 2-minute protocols. These additional training sessions involved weaving and sequencing, and each lasted no more than 15 minutes.

At the same time we joined an intermediate class at another location, giving Tempest experience on other equipment.

Now, at age 14-1/2 months, Tempest is well ahead of many other pups his age in terms of performance skills, especially 2-on-2-off contacts, start-line stays, and weave entries.

He’s also WAY better behaved on basic obedience skills than most dogs we encounter, either here at home or out in the world.

And I’m very careful to not over-stress his young body, while keeping his active mind occupied. Though he’s advanced in skills for a pup his age, he never experiences intense or extended training sessions.

All training is done in 2-5-minute play sessions. If the temps or humidity makes training stressful or uncomfortable, training is discontinued. I never insist on multiple repetitions.

Three months ago we began focusing on jumping and sequencing, and Tempest started learning how to weave.

Two months ago jumps became job one, with weave entries job two.

One month ago jump bars began moving up from 12″ to 16″ to an occasional 20″ jump.

With our debut in just over 2 weeks we’re now focusing on control and close work.

After several weeks of playing with toys and tugging to reward him for sequences, contacts, weaves, etc.,  I’ve switched back to string cheese and have increased his reinforcement schedule.

Last night in class he dropped just 2 bars the whole hour, though many of the jumps were approached from odd angles. This is a huge improvement over his previous tendancy to blast through the jump bars instead of going over them.

He hit and held 95% of his contacts (he popped off the teeter twice).

More importantly, he followed my movement and stayed on course most of the time. He took a couple of tunnels without being asked, but we weren’t working at the time so they were purely “time killers.”

Instead of being nervous about his debut I’m excited and looking forward to a good laugh with him.

Months ago, when I was considering my next agility dog, and before I had Tempest, I just wanted a dog who was brave and willing.

Now I have that brave and willing partner, and he has mad skills, and I credit the 2-minute dog training protocols (and my persistence and consistency) with the working relationship we’re building.

2-minute-dog-trainer, Tempest at class

April 29, 2011

My youngster has been attending group classes for a couple of months. Each week our training gaps are made apparent and our homework is filling in those gaps in my training.

On Wednesday nights we attend an “intermediate” class at another club’s facility. It’s been marvelous getting T on new equipment and he’s shown himself to be a brave, bold partner.

This week was his first experience with their full-sized, rubberized teeter. He had no issues with the equipment, running to the end, riding it down, and sticking his 2-O-2-O position.  I’m really pleased with his contacts and he continues to eat one meal a day on his contact trainer.

In the last 8 weeks he’s also learned to weave, but I’ve been focusing so much on jumping in the last 2 weeks that he’s missing most of his entries now (loss of focus as we run at the weaves).  Back to weave training, interspersed with jump training.

On Thursday nights we attend Bud’s advanced-to-masters class here at home. Our course last night was 17 obstacles with all contacts, 2 sets of 6 weaves.

For the first time I ran Tempest at 20″ in the entertainment round. We do most of our practicing at 16″, and he’s been known to run with the 12″ dogs part of the time, but I wanted to see if 20″ made him more thoughtful and careful.

He dropped one bar due to my pulling away as he was jumping, and he missed both of his weave entries.

In general he was awesome and fun. If I can iron out the kinks in the next 6 weeks he’s got a chance to have a solid performance at his debut.

With regards to his general demeanor, I’m still really pleased with my choice of a middle-of-the-pack puppy.  He’s not a bully, and he’s not a chicken.

Where he once became frantic watching other dogs run agility, he now observes keenly but quietly.

He’s a wonderful little house dog, choosing to lie quietly at my feet as I work. But he’s ready for any activity, any time of day or night.

He sleeps in bed and, generally, through the night without needing to go out for a potty break. The exception to this is on training nights he’s usually had a lot of treats and water, so he’ll often need to lay his head on my arm and let me know he needs to go outside.

He travels well, accepting hours in a crate, though he objected to being left in the back of Vicki’s truck while we ate dinner in Medina.  He’d have been quiet in his crate, but was barking because he was loose.

I’m delighted that I took the time and put the effort into   1) choosing the right puppy,  2) teaching him good manners,  and  3) training contacts-contacts-contacts.

2-minute dog trainer – I’m Back!

March 7, 2011

It’s been a busy month and I’m going to try to fill in some blanks in how Tempest’s training has progressed.

He turns one year old next weekend. I’ve spent some time this past week watching video of him at 8 weeks. I had watched the litter from afar for 8 weeks.

Getting pick of the litter was a fascinating and fun experience after many years of adopting rescues and other people’s cast-offs.

Tempest was my birthday present. I contacted the breeder on my birthday, and Tempest was born 3 days later. He was born to be mine, so to speak. <g>

As I watched those puppies mature I created a list in my head of what I wanted in my puppy.

Drive — that is, an interest in playing the game with me, regardless of whether the game was agility, rally, herding, or tracking.  I wasn’t looking for over-the-top drive since I’m 55. Just a dog that’s happy to accompany me to the start line, and one that enjoys the activities and crowds surrounding dog sports.

Tempest loves doing agility with me, and puts up with obedience training even while other dogs are doing agility beside him. He chases and herds Kory, his half-brother, mercilessly.  He delights in being by my side.

Biddability — obedience in all it’s forms including formal obedience and house manners. I didn’t want an obsessive-compulsive activity addict. I wanted a pup who could stand beside me as I teach basic obedience or agility, interested in the activities but not acting like a nut, yanking at the leash, focused on other dogs.

Tempest can stand beside me for hours, watching other dogs do agility. He’s fascinated with the border collies, and only really gets overly excited when his brother runs. He’s an ambassador of his breed, kind and friendly with other dogs, eager to get attention and treats from other people, but always returning to me, his partner.

Level-headedness — tough to describe, but I knew it when I saw it.  I wanted a pup who could have his toy stolen by another dog without begrudging it or going on the attack. I wanted a pup who stood up for himself without being shy or fearful.

Tempest has been approached by nice dogs and not-so-nice dogs. His reaction is always the same. He lowers his head, stands his ground, and is left alone.  He’s not an aggressor, nor is he a bully’s victim.

So I’ve got the dog of my dreams.  And then life took an interesting twist.  When Tempest was 5 to 9 months of age, I was involved in a horrible job which left me little time to train, physically and emotionally drained.

When he turned 9 months old I freed myself of that job. Bud and I began running TDAA (formerly run by 6-7 volunteer board members).  We started basically from scratch, bringing the jobs of the volunteers here to Ohio, learning the processes, streamlining where we could, and improving what we felt needed improving.

Since that magical moment TDAA has become our Job One — our life’s work — our contribution to the agility community. We’re delighted to be serving Teacup agility enthusiasts.

My training time with Tempest has taken another back seat, though I continue my 2-minute-dog-training sessions, teaching little lessons before breakfast and dinner.

Tempest’s heeling lessons all take place at mealtime.  And he’s learned a pretty nice recall and sit-in-front. I need to get him out in the world with these lessons so he doesn’t think all heeling is done in the basement.

He sticks nearly all his contacts, only losing self-control if a tunnel is nearby and directly ahead. He’s more excited about tunnels than jumps, but I’m shifting his emphasis and he’s picking up quickly.

He’s eagerly learning to weave, having been introduced to weaving just about 3 weeks ago. Bud’s got us doing some distance work, including “go on” — a send down a line of 3 jumps.

Now, as Tempest turns 1 year old, our trial-prep training begins.  He’s eligible for trialing in about 3 months, but I’m holding him back until late summer, with a mid-September trial goal.

I’m going to continue working contacts for breakfast, but I’m also going to work the 2-by-2-weaves for dinner.

I want Tempest to do 2-3 weeks of the “exploding pinwheel” exercise. I want to continue his “go on” exercises, especially with a double or triple as the last jump (why do judges always want to put the finish line on the triple?).

As the weather clears I want to get him doing work in more distracting areas — local parks can easily accommodate a 10-minute training session with 2 weavepoles and a jump.  I don’t expect him to succumb to distraction much. He really likes agility.

I want him to get the hang of running with me. That’s probably going to be our toughest lesson as he likes to cut across my path and head for tunnels.

I’ll start journaling more consistently.

With regards to TDAA, Bud and I have set ourselves on a timeline which has exhibitors’ title certificates (as electronic pdfs) arriving within 7-10 days of completing the requirements for that title.

We’re learning the database management, and becoming proficient on searches and entries. I’m keeping up-to-date on requests for dog registration forms and jump height certificates. We’ve cut the time a handler waits for a dog registration form from 2-3 months to 1-2 weeks.

It’s a full time job for both of us and we’re loving the challenges we face. It’s fun to learn the new skills, and find ways to more completely meet the expectations of our host clubs and exhibitors.