Monday, January 24, 2011

"Wasn't easy. Wasn't supposed to be"

Wow, I didn't know how to start this post until I recently saw this quote attributed to Roger Bannister, the runner who broke the four minute mile, and I thought this fits so well in describing our quest for the UDX title. Heaven knows, it wasn't easy and I don't believe attaining that title is meant to be easy.

But, we did it! Jackson qualified in both Open B and Utility B yesterday at a trial in La Crosse, Wisconsin to get his 10th leg and that elusive UDX title.


Now, for the rest of the story ..... It was a small trial and the facilities were really nice. Lots of room to crate and warm up. The only downside - when we walked out of the motel Sunday morning the temperature was 14 degrees below zero! That's not the wind chill folks, that was the temperature. But, we're from the Midwest so we're tough and we adjusted : )

The first day of the trial was a good day, except he went down on the three-minute sit in open. The high point Saturday was his score in open would have been a 192 if he hadn't NQd on the sit. Not a good score for competitive dogs, but a great score for Jackson! His utility score that day was the usual 176. He lost a lot of points on lack of precision on fronts and finishes and on the no sits on go outs - things we have been working on in practice but he loses in the ring. 

The second day (Sunday) we had utility first at 8 a.m. His utility exercises went better than Saturday although he was somewhat stressed as usual. He only had one go out with a no sit. His score was a 181.5! Yay, we finally broke out of the 170s. One down and one to go : )

I was nervous about open because of his sit problem the previous day. But, he did the exercises fine, stayed up on the long sit,  and ended up with a score of 189.5. Again, higher than his average score for open.

Thus we ended the UDX quest on a high note all around last weekend. Now, to ponder ... what next?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Training update

Time to do a quick, week-that-was review of our five training goals.

1) Begin each training session with play - Yes, we've been doing a lot more play - as in throwing treats and running. Today, he was really up and attentive. That was in contrast to yesterday when he was really sluggish. I don't know if he was having an off day, or just didn't feel well. I'm getting a little concerned about his age and the accompanying joint problems that giant breed dogs have so I started him on Rimadyl today to see if he seemed more comfortable - especially with the sits. Sometimes he seems really stiff when he gets up from the three-minute sit in Open B. He has been on Dasuquin (a joint supplement) for two or three years.

2) Play tug twice a week - Not making a lot of progress here. He'll mouth it, but still doesn't want to hang on to it.

3) Shorten sessions and/or take more play breaks - We've been doing a lot more breaking out in play while we're training lately. We'll just do short heeling segments and when he's in perfect heel position I'll throw treats. I'll give him the down signal and then throw a treat, or give the down and sit signal, then throw a treat, instead of doing the whole signal exercise. When we go from one exercise to the next, I'll set him up then release and play, then set up again to do the exercise. I have a hard time keeping him with me when we move between exercises so I'm hoping this will help.

4) Try a new treat each week - We're throwing Charlee Bears this week. They're easy to see on the dark floor, they don't take as long to eat - and....they're a lot cheaper than Bil Jac liver treats : ) They seem to be working just as well.

5) Work on one new clicker behavior each week - I was remiss on the clicker training this week. Maybe next week.

Oh, did I mention - we have a trial coming up this weekend. Hope springs eternal : )

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another bright idea bites the dust!

We've had a few snow days lately so thought I would try to keep the dogs challenged and entertained with  one of the toys that dispenses treats. I've seen them work great for other dogs, but hadn't tried them with my guys. So, I went looking for one of these toys. Well, I found one at Wal Mart for only $5.99. The price should have been the first clue that this was not gonna last. And, it was hard plastic - not a good thing.

Here it is - the Dogzilla!

I loaded it with some treats and Jolee was the first to try it out. She nosed it for awhile, then she got impatient and started chomping on it.

Jolee with the Dogzilla -

Two minutes later she had chewed it apart and left it with hard, sharp edges that made it no longer useable.

So much for the Dogzilla!

You would have thought I'd seen this coming, wouldn't you?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week One - and still on track

I thought perhaps if I review in writing each week how close I've come to incorporating my new year's resolutions into training, I might be more likely to accomplish my goals. Hopefully that will keep me more accountable and I'll stick with it. We'll see : )

Week One - working on our five goals
1) Begin each training session with play - We've been starting each session with throwing treats, running around the ring, doing restrained recalls - and just generally picking up the pace.
2) Play tug twice a week - I got the tug toy out and loaded it with good treats to entice him into tugging. He will put it in his mouth - in the kitchen - but let go as soon as I take hold of it. My goal is to get him to tug in the kitchen, then take it to another location.
3) Shorten sessions and/or take more play breaks - We've been doing more really short sessions in the house and when we do go to the club we've been taking more play breaks during training sessions.
4) Try a new treat each week - Our new treat this week was left-over chicken breast. He was interested, but didn't go nuts over it like he does Cesars moist dog food.
5) Work on one new clicker behavior each week - This week we worked on 'touch.' We've done this before, but it's been awhile so it's kinda new. Thought we would start out on something pretty basic - touch my hand - and build on it.

It will likely take awhile before I see significant/or even any small changes in his behavior/attitude in training, but I feel I've accomplished something by just sticking to my goals - at least for one week!

We'll see how next week goes : )