Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maggie's a better agility trainer than I am.

Recently I've been reading my unread back issues of Front & Finish and Clean Run magazines, and have read a few articles about dogs learning from one another.  Certainly I've noticed that the dogs learn things from one another around the house (Maggie taught the boys that "comeonin" means come in from the outside, for instance).  I guess I've just never thought to much about the dogs learning agility or obedience from one another.

I am lucky enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year's off.  I'm also lucky enough to have "off-hours" access to our local kennel club building, so I've been taking advantage of these things to do some agility training during the break.  Maggie, Ziggy, and I have gone down to the club building to have some fun.  I'm mainly there to work with Ziggy, but I can't resist doing a bit of running with my agility "retiree" Maggie.

Since I had Maggie there, I thought I'd try the "learning from each other" training out on some agility obstacles.

I started by taking Maggie over the obstacles, through the weaves, and over a few jumps.  She was happy, quick, and enthusiastic!  I had Ziggy tied up so that he could see the whole thing.

Then I worked a bit with Z - mainly the channel weaves.

After Z had done a bit of work, I worked Maggie and Ziggy together.   Not a full course, but some obstacle training.  This worked WONDERS!!

Ziggy knows how to do the dog walk and A-Frame,working at lowered heights but he's very leisurely about the whole thing.  He has this cute little trot that he likes to maintain.  A great trot if you need to trot along after livestock all day.  Not so great for agility.  Maggie, on the other hand is fast on the obstacles - especially the dog walk (it's her favorite obstacle.  If she could have a whole course of dog walks she'd be one happy corgi).

First we tried the tunnel.  I lined Maggie up first, then put Z in a sit stay behind her.  I sent them both to the tunnel, and had a ball that I threw when they started to come out.  Both of them were fast through the tunnel, with no hesitation from Ziggy at all.

Next we did the dog walk.  Same set up - Maggie first, then Ziggy.  Maggie blasted over the dog walk and Ziggy galloped right along behind her.  This was the first time he'd actually run across the entire dog walk!  We did this a few more times - adding the ball as a reward at the end.  Ziggy ran almost every time.

We then did the lowered A-Frame, the chute, more tunnels, and the tire jump with Maggie as the leader. All went well, and all of us seemed to enjoy it.

We worked at the same things today.  I even let Z take the lead on some of the obstacles and he did great - the leisurely trot only made an appearance once.

I know that a few sessions won't take Ziggy from beginner to perfect overnight, but it does seem to be giving him more confidence on the obstacles.  My theory is that lack of confidence is what causes a lot of his slowness (as he's become more confident at the obedience exercises he's gotten quicker, anyway...) so I hope that the Maggie training will help.

If nothing else, it's alot of fun for all of us!

(I keep forgetting my camera, but I'll try to remember to bring it tomorrow so I can get some "tandem agility" pics)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday weeks are tough

We had a very Merry Christmas here in Iowa.  It snowed Christmas night, Boxing Day, and this morning.  Lovely, powdery, perfect-for-skiing snow.  Frapping in the snow and holiday festivities have taken their toll, and we're all a bit worn out.

These 2 photos do a good job of painting the picture.....

This is a photo of Maggie on Christmas Day.  Wrapping paper was all around her (including falling on her) and she didn't even flinch.  Maggie says, "There was nothing to bark at or eat, so why would I move?"

This is Ziggy on Boxing Day after a long off-leash walk in the snow.  Z says, "Ahhh, nothing like my favorite chair after lots of hard work."

You might note that I have no "wiped-out" photos of Denzil.  I don't think any photos of this type exist.  This tells you something about his personality.....

Also, I wanted to let the other Cardi bloggers know that I'm glad my pack can't use the computer.  Your dogs made out WAY better than mine did!  ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Novice Proofing Seminar

For Ziggy's outing this week we went to a Novice Proofing Seminar.  That's a seminar to teach how to proof for Novice Obedience exercises, not a proofing seminar for novices - but I guess it worked for that, too.

The seminar was good for Ziggy, and not just because of the in-class exercises.  There was lots going on at the training facility last night, so we got to proof outside of the ring distractions as well.

Here's an example:  "Alert! Mom! Alert! See that strange creature with the pointy head and small face?  Alert!  Alert!"  To us, this would be a woman who made the sensible choice of wearing a big hat and coat when out in the well-below-freezing temps.  To Ziggy:  a strange being from another planet.  Thankfully, my "check it out" command worked, and Z was brave enough to go over and sniff.  As this was a dog person, she had treats at the ready and dispensed them freely to brave dog approaching her.  Soon enough, the strange pointy-headed being was Z's best friend.  We won't be fooled by that one again!  Or maybe we will.  Ziggy is a Cardi after all, and vigilance is paramount.  We also got to practice ignoring dogs doing agility, dogs and people entering & exiting the building, etc.  Very good experiences for the Z.

Oh, so what fun proofing ideas did I take away?  My 2 faves related to the figure 8 exercise.

Something we practiced was using jump standards dressed up like humans as the posts for the figure 8.  Our instructor dressed the standards up in robe or long coat, hats, treats and gloves in the pockets, etc.  Great for proofing the figure 8, and proofing for attention.  Staring at mom is more fun than checking out the odd post - mom has treats & praise!

One of my classmates shared with us that she uses free-standing inflatable punching bags as posts.  This way she can bump them as goes around, causing them to move and become "alive" and "scary" providing good opportunities to proof attention whilst heeling.  Perhaps I'll ask for a pair of these for Christmas.  Would that be strange or wrong?  Probably.  Do I care?  Probably not.

Both of these exercises are also ones that can be done when training alone, which I appreciate.

Next week is an Open Proofing Seminar.  Maggie and I will be going.  I'll have fun learning more things.  Maggie will have fun getting lots of treats and praise.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maggie finds a new sport

Now that she's retired from agility, Maggie has found a new sport to play.  Move over Beckham, here comes Maggie!

Here's how soccer with Maggie works:

Step 1:  Identify the person who got the ball rolling, and charm him with all of your might (the stare & swishy tail combination works every time!)

Step 2:  Chase after the thrown ball

Step 3:  Grab the ball and run as fast as you can - The Child will chase you, and this adds to the fun!

Make sure you don't run so fast and far that The Child gets discouraged and doesn't want to play any more, because what comes next?

Step 4:  Have the ball thrown again, but this time recruit another player to the game

Another player can help build your prowess....

and another player adds to the fun - especially when the other player knows who has rights to pick up the ball....

The game is on!

No more "Bend it like Beckham" - perhaps "Move it like Maggie"  (or "Maul it like Maggie" - the foam ball didn't look so happy at the end of the game)....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An "aggressive chewer"

About a year and a half ago, Maggie got to go in for quite a lot of dental work.  The tally:  2 root canals,  one silver cap, and 2 extractions (both of them small front teeth).  The vet asked me whether she was "an aggressive chewer."

Yes, I'd say so:

So what is she eating in this picture?  Is that a big hunk of ice?  Yes, yes it is.  Freezing temperatures have come to Iowa, and yesterday I had the dreadful realization that my rain barrels were still outside and were still full.  Rain barrels don't like Iowa winters, so I went outside and drained them.  This resulted in many large hunks of ice in the backyard.

Ice is one of Maggie's favorite things, so she hauled off a few large chunks for herself.  The boys followed suit and soon all 3 of them were happily chewing away.  Did I mention that the vet said no ice for Maggie?  Bad for the teeth, apparently.

It actually got a bit above freezing today so I went outside (in thick gloves), picked up all of the remaining ice chunks, and stashed them out of the way on top of the compost bins.  Maggie will just have to wait for the snow to fall, melt & freeze again before she get her next fix.

Oh, and lest you think it's just ice that did in her teeth, Maggie also loves:  sticks (and not just to chew on  gently - she's like a canine woodchipper) and hard nylabones (which have been banned from our house).  When she was young I called her "The Corginator, Little Dog of Destruction" thanks to her propensity to demolish anything small left laying around the house.  She outgrew that one years ago, thankfully.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What happened to our house?!?

After this weekend, I have no doubt that The Husband has assimilated into American culture.

For those of you who don't know, The Husband became a citizen of the USA about a year and a half ago.  He says that he became a citizen so he could vote (he was tired of taxation without representation... wasn't there a war about that?!?), so that the entire family had citizenship in the same country, and other equally as noble reasons.

Noble Schmoble.  Now I know the truth - he just wanted an excuse to take part in our great Thanksgiving weekend traditions without feeling ashamed.  This weekend he:

  • Decorated our house with more types of Christmas decorations that I've ever seen ("but I got them on sale after Christmas last year for 75% off" he claims)
  • Got up at 4:00am on Friday to hit the early specials, and came home with something we didn't really need (although I do admit that the new vacuum does pick up the dog hair better than old one did, and our kennel club will be thankful to get the old vacuum to use in the club building)
What could be more American at holiday time?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thank you, Cardi Claus!

And what to our wondering eyes should appear?  

A package with a cute brindle dog on the return address! Cardi Claus arrived!

Cardi Claus sent us many fun things including dog stickers, a Cardi notepad and a kaleidoscope (which all of we humans love!!).

AND of course, a very cute ornament - a Cardi no less!

Denzil wants me to buy some white paint to make it a half mask, but he's still happy that it mostly looks like him.

Oh, and one of the Iowa Cardi Claus elves sent off a package to a warmer climate today - to a place where corgis who aren't careful can get cactus stickers in their paws....

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