Posts Tagged ‘teacup agility’

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 – 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 – 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.

2-minute dog trainer, focusing on Jumpers

July 27, 2011

One of the last skills learned by agility dogs is jumping.

We introduce jumps fairly early, keeping the bars low, but often we neglect to reinforce the act of jumping or the skills needed to negotiate a line of jumps.

Frankly this is true of novices, experienced trainers, even folks with jumping systems.

The novice dog will attack a course with focus on their handler, on the contact equipment, on the weavepoles, or whatever their handler has been focusing on in recent training sessions.

Jumps are often taken for granted. They are, for sure, the weakest link in my training with Tempest.

My timeline for jump conditioning for Tempest is as follows:

July 2011:  With high temps I’ll be doing no drilling. I’m experimenting with the notion that Tempest keeps bars up when he’s working at a distance from me. At trials and in class he only drops bars when racing at my side, or if I’m turning away from him while he’s jumping.

August 2011:  We have 3 weekends with no trialing, and I want to set up some technical jumping sequences.  I want to experiment with different types of handling and figure out if slow dog handling or fast dog handling works best with Tempest.  I also want to set up some lines of jumps and figure out if the bars drop when we race because:  A) we’re racing,  or  B) he’s flattening out in straight lines.

September 2011:  With Tempest’s first USDAA trial looming large near the end of this month I want to establish whether Tempest should jump 24″ in AKC or stay in his 20″ jump class.  He has to jump 22″ in USDAA and he’ll drop most of those bars if he gets too accustomed to jumping 20″.  I’d rather teach him to jump nicely at 24″, with USDAA at 22″, than have to babysit him through a course at 20″ to make sure the bars stay up. Does that make sense?

October 2011:   October is going to be all about TDAA, I’m afraid.  We’re having a working seminar / judges’ recert weekend the first weekend of October, leaving on Tuesday for the Petit Prix warm-up workshops and national event, then we have three TDAA trialing weekends in a row (Ostrander OH, Springfield IL, Latrobe PA).  Tempest gets to do class and gets the rest of the month off.

November 2011:  Bud and I have yet to determine whether we’re going to enter trials during cold weather months.  Bud’s accident has created a negative opinion of winter travel, I’m afraid.  No …. seriously …. I’m afraid. <g>  We’ll see what happens.

2 minute dog trainer – agility volunteers

June 27, 2011

Agility bloggers have been asked to speak out on the topic of volunteers and volunteerism.

My focus, as a 2-minute dog trainer, and administrator for Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA), is on the little actions that can result in big benefits.

I’d like to draw attention to the unsung heroes of the agility world, the agility trial committee.

The agility trial committee is responsible for everything from publicizing the trial to cleaning the bathrooms, and are often seen in the background at trials.

Trial committee members attend countless meetings, spent hours of their own time preparing for the trial, and devote themselves completely to their club on the weekend of the trial — often diminishing their own dogs’ agility trial experience.

I make a point of noticing the efforts of the trial committee, especially when it comes to the cleanliness of the trial site and the comfort level of trial exhibitors and workers.  I notice because Bud and I don’t have a trial committee and we have to do it all ourselves.

When you attempt to do everything yourself, or be all things to all people, you realize the importance of having a committee of like-minded, cooperative, and hard-working individuals.

There are many ways exhibitors and guests can assist the trial committee volunteers with their work.

As the “2 minute dog trainer” I’d like to focus on those that take just a couple of minutes.

1) read your confirmation and observe rules regarding parking, pottying your dogs, and crating …. if you bend the rules a committee member has to note that and (perhaps) do something about it.

2) notice the status of toilet paper in the restroom, or bottled water available to judges/scribes/timekeepers, and offer to replace and refill supplies.

3) as you learned in kindergarten, say “thank you” when services are rendered to you, whether it’s the trial secretary setting out course maps, the awards table volunteer hanging ribbons, or the hospitality volunteer cleaning up after lunch … knowing their work is appreciated is often the only compensation coming to the trial committee.

If exhibitors become more aware, engaged, and attentive, we can enhance the trial experience for the trial committee.

If the trial experience is enhanced for the trial committee they’ll offer more opportunities to show our dogs.

2 minute dog trainer – Hazard at ARF’s first TDAA trial

May 23, 2011

This past weekend Bud and I loaded all our dogs in 2 vehicles and headed out for two separate events. We only have 4 dogs now (Dash 11, Hazard 7, Kory 2, Tempest 1), fewer than we’ve ever had since we’ve known each other.

There’s a certain freedom now that we’ve never had before. No need to call a dog sitter to see if a weekend trial is possible.

We just load up all the dogs and go. This means Dash, our old man now, is simply a traveling companion. But he walked into the trial building with a spring in his step, and accepted string cheese as payment every time Hazard left to run a course.

This was the first TDAA trial run by the folks at ARF (Agility Rally for Fun) in eastern Columbus, Ohio. The group has a large dedicated following of dog trainers and dog lovers, and we were treated to a lovely weekend of teacup agility.

My little Hazard had a 6-out-of-10 weekend. I have to keep reminding myself that she and I lose focus when we’re tired, so Saturday morning is always our best effort.  By Saturday afternoon Hazard was losing juice and being distracted.

Sunday morning we were both tired and disconnected. By Sunday afternoon I was more on-the-ball and was keeping a better connection with her, so we Q’d but were slow.

I’m working on Hazard’s TACh4, which requires a total of 75 superior standard Qs and 75 games 3 Qs.  She’s had her games for awhile, but needed standard Qs. We walked into ARF’s building on Sunday needing 15 standard Qs and got just 3 — we now need 12 more superior standard Qs.

I’d love for her to get her TACh4 at the Petit Prix, and there are 2 standard rounds there, so I really need to get 11 standard Qs this summer to be on track for that achievement.

I also need to get this little girl in better condition. I just don’t do enough agility with her and (typical Sheltie) she prefers to sleep about 23 hours a day.

One more bunch of tasks for my “to do” list.

On the other hand, Bud took Kory and Tempest to Kuliga for a 1-day seminar on Saturday (May 21). He said Tempest was a good boy to travel with, he used Tempest as a demo dog for the novice group Saturday morning, and they all got home safe and sound.

Yesterday Bud led our students in a 4-hour distance workshop, the last of our Sunday afternoon workshops and the end of the spring quarter.

I hated missing it, but thankfully all our workshops are going to move to weeknights starting in June.

I was sharing our summer training and trialing plans with Bill and Belinda Cox this past weekend and Bill said, “we never schedule any training for weekends anymore.”

When you’re training dogs to show I guess you just have to make time in your weeknight schedule for all your training. That doesn’t leave room for workshops, seminars, camps, etc.

The economy, and the wealth of trialing opportunities in Ohio, have created a situation where folks want to spend their time and money on weekend trials instead of training.

We’re adjusting our camp offerings to accommodate this shift.  I want to do 1-2-day camps.  Arrive one afternoon, get in some training, stay overnight, get some more training, maybe stay 2 nights total.

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.

2-minute dog trainer, the end of puppy-hood

February 7, 2011

Tempest turns eleven months old February 13th. He really doesn’t act much like a puppy, and my training needs to begin reflecting his increased capacity for prolonged work.

I’ve begun taking him to classes and, when the advanced students work a 9-10-obstacle sequence, Tempest and I work a 2-3-obstacle portion of that sequence.

Tempest is drawn off his line, the line I’m defining for him, by the placement of tunnels. He doesn’t actually love tunnels but they hold a magnetic fascination for him.

So, if my path goes straight north with him on my right, and there’s a tunnel to the west, he’ll be drawn northwest. He’ll pass right behind me — looking straight at me the whole time, mind you — as if he thinks this is the right thing to do.

So I’ve implemented a few tiny exercises to help him learn to maintain that line. 

First, I practice a lead-out, calling him over a jump and straight to my hand for a treat. (The treat will eventually become the toss of the frisbee.)  Tempest has trouble coming straight to my hand even if I’m 5-6 feet away from him.

Second, I practice “sends” to jumps ahead of us, and run behind him to deliver the treat. (Again, the treat will eventually become the toss of the frisbee.)  Tempest is having much more luck understanding the send.

Third, I practice little “pre-cue” sends to jumps. My back is to the jump, I’m facing Tempest, I send him to the jump behind me and have him wrap the upright and come to my hand. Much to my surprise, he started getting the idea of this exercise immediately.

I’m going to continue working on jump sequences with him. This is his weakness and we’ll train to it.

In the meantime, he’s a lovely boy in the house, has really nice manners, torments Kory relentlessly (paybacks are a bitch — sorry, Kory), and is my shadow always.

Bud and I are busy doing the work of TDAA and gradually implementing changes. Our monumental task looming ahead is database management.

TDAA exhibitors, trial hosts, judges, and advisors are almost without exception a lovely group of people. Of course, there are those rare exceptions, and I try to not take personally the psychological assaults inflicted by one or two haters. Life must be rough when you have “be rude and insulting” as your personal goals. I try to not make their lives more of a grind.

2-minute dog trainer – making progress

January 12, 2011

After 8 months of training Tempest (he’s 10 months old this week) we’ve stalled out for a few weeks. I’m taking the long view with this pup, and am in no hurry to get him out to agility trials.

We continue working on “left” and “right” with his meals, and he’s a very willing student.

Additionally, I intersperse work on positions (sit, down, stand) from heel side AND from 8-10-feet away, facing Tempest.

By the way, I rarely refer to him as Tempest. “T” is a much easier name, and he responds beautifully to the sound.

In fact, this afternoon, as Bud and I worked on TDAA trial numbers — all start with a “T” — I’d call out a number and find a cute little face poking up between me and my worktable.

I’ve become a believer in the axiom, “it’s all in a name.”  The choice of name for a performance dog is more important, in my opinion, than most folks believe.

In the meantime, while struggling to streamline all the TDAA processes and bring them in-house, while trying to enjoy my family a little during the holidays, and while trying to keep training my puppy, I’m more and more convinced that the 2-minute dog training protocols fit into busy lives.

So, it’s Tuesday as I write this. Last Thursday Bud took off to St. Louis, MO, to meet with the author of TDAA’s software. The goal was to  1) understand the current “batch” entry system,  2) to discuss the creation of a new “forms” system better suited for a single-office operation,  3) work through a couple dozen dog registrations and trial applications that got held up in the old mailing system to understand the old system, and  4) come home with a current data file.

On Thursday afternoon Bud’s truck and empty trailer hit an ice slick west of Indianapolis. At 4:50 he called on his cell phone, as I was in the training building, to say “I’ve been in an accident and the paramedics are here getting me into the ambulance.”

He spent Thursday night in ER, with occasional black outs caused by a mild concussion. On Friday morning he was shifted to ICU and monitored constantly for drops in blood pressure. Friday evening he was moved to yet another room, then released on Saturday afternoon.

We’ll be forever thankful to our dear friend, Deb Auer, who drove from her home to Indianapolis, hovered anxiously awaiting news on Bud’s condition (I remained 5 hours away, at home), asking what she could do, and performing the awesome task of retrieving all Bud’s personal items from the truck.

Bud’s home now, safe and not-quite-sound, and telling me I’m going to run Kory and Hazard this weekend in a local USDAA trial.

This is a great indoor trial hosted by BRAG, in Columbus, Ohio, and features all the starters and advanced classes, plus 2 rounds of Steeplechase.  The trial takes place in their training building, where Hazard has shown in the past, and this will be Kory’s USDAA debut.

I feel bad that Bud’s missing this opportunity, but only one of us can go because we have agility workshops on Sunday.

So I’ll be running his dogs at the trial, and he’ll be teaching the workshops in my place.

I’m a little nervous (understandably) about the 2+ hour drive, the possibility of bad weather, seeing old friends, and not looking like an idiot running Kory. This pup is a brilliant, biddable boy, but the slightest mis-step on my part will result in a train wreck, and I’m not looking forward to that feeling.

It will, however, give me yet another opportunity to get ready for what I hope to see from my own youngster.  Cross my fingers and just hope Tempest is half the dog Kory has turned into.

Wish me luck!