nose touches

Missy’s nose touches

We have done a lot of training today, both obedience and agility. I made a video of Missys nose touches to see how they look from in front of her. They’re coming along great with very little training.

Missy also got to do some double box and I’m really not sure if she should be doing it. Running sequences with her feels like eating too much chocolate. You know it’s probably bad but you can’t really stop. If she is to do any more sequencing, I need to think and plan much better than I am doing now. I don’t really know where to start with her, but I guess I shouldn’t worry about double box until we have better shadow handling.

Shejpa was a superstar in the double box today. I worked some more on the turns that she used to slow down in and it looked great today. She also ran the entire session with almost no food, she really likes her new sheepskin tug toys.

The weather has been great today and obedience went well too. Missy and I worked a lot on the send out to a square, where we’ve had problems with her not stopping fast enough once she gets in the square. We finally had some kind of breakthrough today and I’m getting hopefull about the trial on thursday. Pi was also good today, showing great attitude, tug and concentration.

Another video

We had a nice, warm day and did a lot of training at home with some friends. Shejpa got to do shadow handling and double box work. I focused on getting her to move faster through turns where she has to turn tight and looses speed and I am pretty stationary. They often make her slow down a lot, but todays training made a big difference. Shejpa and Missy did some bend work and Pi did a few jumps in the Salo Spider. Missy and I worked some more on her nose touches.

Shejpa jumping

Pi and I did all the excercises in our novice obedience class. She has turned 11 months and our debut in obedience trials is getting close. These are the excercises in the easiest obedience class in Sweden:

– Long down with other dogs for 2 minutes with handler 20 meters away (we did 1.20 min today)
– Heeling on leash with turns, halts and fast pace.
– Moving down. Dog heels off leash, handler cues “down”, dog stays in a down while handler moves 10 meters away, turns around and returns to dogs side. Handler cues “sit”.
– Recall. Handler leaves dog in a sit, walks 15 meters away and turns around. Calls the dog who finishes in heel position on left side.
– Moving stand. Dog heels off leash, handler cues “stand”, dog stays in a stand while handler moves 10 meters away, turns around and returns to dogs side. Handler cues “sit”.
– Holding dumbell. Dog in heel position. Handler presents dumbell to dog for 3 seconds before cueing the dog to take the dumbell. Dog holds dumbell for 5 seconds and gives the dumbell back to handler on cue.
– Recall over jump. Handler leaves dog in a sit in front of a jump and walks to other side. Handler cues “jump” and dog jumps and finishes in heel position.

We have a few weeks left before our first trial and Pi is doing good so far. She needs to be able to heel for longer periods of time without rewards, get more experience in the long down and practice in competition like settings.

Missy is in the highest class (called elite) and has a competiton on thursday. She got to do her directed retrieve and scent articles today and did a great job even though we really challenged her understanding of the excercises.

A short video from todays training (Shejpa shadow handling, Shejpa bend work and Missy’s nose touches):

Canada in a short summary

We’re back home after ten intense days in Canada. We learned a lot and made new friends. Shejpa is a great dog to travel with. The vet at the airport in Norway even asked if she was on calming drugs, because she was just sleeping in her crate while we were waiting. I guess a lot of dogs are more worried about flying and waiting at airports.

The first two days was Greg Derrett’s master camp and I was just watching. It was very interesting, but you get more confused the more you learn, that’s for sure. Greg and Susan does not agree on everything and that leaves me in a spot where I have to make some descisions… I left Greg, Susan and the rest of them on their own on the third day, because Shejpa and I got a spot at Laura Derrett’s work shop. It was fun to run, but Shejpa got tired very quickly in the hot weather. It doesn’t look too bad when I watch the videos, but some runs felt like she was jogging. I think I did a pretty good job though, and sometimes it’s better to be slow and correct (as a handler learning) than to do it fast and sloppy.

Greg and Laura went back to England and we carried on for four more days with Tweener Camp. We did a lot of things and Shejpa was mostly a good dog with quite a lot of drive. She liked the sheep skin tug toy and we bought a few nice toys to bring back home. I tried them on Pi today and she was thrilled. We did quite a lot of work on the nose touches, but we didn’t come as far as I had hoped. I realized that we weren’t quite finished with fading the target and worked a lot on that. She’s generally good when I take the target away after one or two repetitions, but when we start with no target, she’s uncertain on where to put her nose touches and tends to curl into me on the stairs. We made great progress and one of the things we did was to place lots of targets around the stairs, but out of her reach, to proof that she was targeting straight anyway.

Shejpa relaxing in her crate

Shejpa relaxing in her crate

We also worked a lot on a hot target discrimination (much like the one you do at chicken camp). I chose quite difficult objects that rolled away if she wasn’t thoughtful and controlled. I liked that idea, but I guess it slowed us down a bit. She indicated the hot target (chapstick tube) by laying down with the target between her front legs. I thought the discrimination part would be easy, but Shejpa behaved much like the chicken at chicken camp – throwing themselves at a target that you drop or peck at. We did work through it and I think it was a great experience for both of us. Shejpa really needs a lot of shaping (wich I have neglected with her) and challenges that forces her to be more thoughtful. Some people will tell you that shaping makes dogs frantic and stressed, but I would say it’s the other way around if you do it right. Shejpa is getting more and more calm and thoughtful for every session of shaping.

Susan and DeCaff

Susan and DeCaff

Bob Bailey came to Say Yes on the last day. We were eight people (mostly Susan’s instructors and Susan her self) working our dogs and talking (a lot of talking, really) with Bob helping out. It was a great experience and I’m very thankful for being invited! I also drove Bob to the airport and got a chance to really talk to him about the 80% rule that has been kind of misunderstood in Scandinavia. I got great information from him. This is my own summary of what he said (and I hope I got it all right):

– When the animal is successfull 80% of the time, you should raise your criteria.
– It’s a common misstake to not challenge the animal enough in training
– 90% success is definatly a misstake
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re not progressing (not getting a higher percentage of correct responses) in three consecutive sessions.
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re getting worse (getting a lower percentage of correct responses) in two consecutive sessions.
– You shouldn’t worry about not getting 80% success as long as it’s getting better and better, but don’t raise your criteria until you’re getting closer to 80%.
– How low your success rate can be is dependent on if the animal still thinks it’s worthwhile to keep trying. Bob thought that 50% was kind of a limit for a lot of animals.
– These principles are worked out by gathering data from a lot of training sessions with a lot of different animals and it worked great for Bob and his trainers.

You can fins lots of pictures from our trip in the gallery (click on “photos” above). I’d like to thank Susan for another fun trip across the Atlantic and Justine for being a great room mate. Also, congratulations to Justine, Lynda and Susan for making the FCI world team!

We’re leaving tomorrow

In less than a day, me and Shejpa will be on our way to Canada. I think Shejpa is more cool about it than I am, she is really getting used to travelling and she’s never seemed to care about the flight. I’m mostly nervous about having to rent a car on my own, and about getting out of Totonto airport with the crate and all my bags. Travelling alone really makes you feel lonely. Fortunatley, I’ll be meeting Justine and her shelties at the B&B. We’ll be sharing a car and a room for the entire week. It’s nice to not be all by my self.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be handling with Greg and Laura Derrett. I’m signed up to take Thursday with Laura (“Which Cross When”) and otherwise observe Greg’s masters camp. Then there’s Tweener camp Friday-Monday and on Tuesday, Bob Bailey will be at Say Yes. Very exciting! I worked on our crate games and nose touches yesteday. I could tell that I hadn’t played crate games for a while, but Shejpa is really good at her crate games, so she should be back to her old level of perfection pretty soon. Her nose touches were great in the mud, so I’m excited about trying them out on the floor in Susan’s building. That should be a lot easier. We also did some back chaining on the stairs, from the second step. She hesitates on the last step some times, but I think that’ll pass when she realizes that she’s correct to just drive into target position. I suddenly wish I had more time before camp. I’d like to do more shaping with Shejpa (my other dogs are so much more rewarding to do shaping with and I’m a victim of my own, short term contingencies of reinforcement), brush up on her it’s yer choice and teach her a hot target (we got homework for Tweener Camp via e-mail just the other day).

Here’s a video of Shejpa’s nose touches from earlier this week: