Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adventures of Cassie

It’s been an interesting week for me with dog training challenges and failures aplenty! I think it’s intentional from whatever power lies beyond to ensure that one stays humble and appreciates any small success that one may have and most definitely does not take anything for granted…. Cassie had been going great guns while I merrily patted myself on the back for job well done. Then last week came and my little star’s shining light dimmed somewhat as some of her behaviours went a little on the pear shaped side. Her retrieve went from glorious to her going to get her toy and then promptly departing to have a lovely game by herself (I was definitely not invited to join). Then after feeling smug that she was recalling pretty well it has become non existent should there be even the smallest distraction present. And responding to her name…she doesn’t know anyone called Cassie!

It's hard to stay clean when you live with border collies

Following my return to reality I’ve had to give this quite a bit of thought on how to proceed. I got a bit desperate with her retrieve so was rewarding her even if she stoped for a game by herself on the way back. Once I snapped out of that I now only reward if the toy comes directly to me minus any toy savaging however brief on the way. It does seem to be getting back on track and when we are playing with her around the house it is rare for her not to bring a toy back to keep the game going. I’m also diligently trying to do at least five to ten recalls a day at home mostly. Once I have her attention things don’t go too badly but if she’s got her nose in a plant its still touch and go. I’ve actually just enrolled in Susan Garrett’s latest Recallers e-Course. I wanted to do it before but it’s not cheap so I put it off. But now I have Cassie I think its going to be well worth the money. From what I’ve heard it is very good and let’s face it, it’s an investment in the future of any dogs that I have.

SDSB previously known as Sooper Dooper Squeaky Bear - holder of mysterious papillon attraction...

It has not all been bad though and we’re still having heaps of fun in between tearing my hair out. I shaped Cassie to get into a dog bed and then had her going from one dog bed to another. Then I put a jump bump (pool noodle) in between. To begin with she seemed to think that the pool noodle was a really big toy I had put down for her, but once she got the hang of going from dog bed to dog bed and over the jump bump as opposed to stealing it things have gone really well. I’d like to introduce further pool noodles but for that we need to go outside to the pen where there is more space and her focus out there is still a work in progress. Plus crate games are going well which is transitioning over very nicely to control positions. Then we just have the cute factor going on with her latest trick being jumping up on the lounge with us. She’s only just figured out in the last week that she can make it up there initially after working out that when Colin has the recliner out but diagonal to the ground she could use his legs as a ladder to come up for a cuddle. Now she joins us whenever the mood takes. She particularly likes to come up when she's on moth patrol as it give her a much better vantage point. And why not!

The mesmerising power of SDSB!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sonic the star

I'm pleased to report that Sonic and I just had one of our best trial days in a long time with three out of three Q's thank you very much! The icing on the cake being a very strong a second in Masters Jumping on a tricky course beating some of Perth's fastest and most exciting dogs who also went clear. I know Sonic has speed but it's been a lot of work to get him driving and stretching out on course and it felt fabulous. It was also fantastic to be able to run again now that my bad has recovered especially as there was a little bit of a sprint involved to get me where I needed to be. Sonic also had a lovely run in Masters Agility but with stopped contacts I don't expect to place in the top three however he still managed a respectable fifth with a lot of qualifiers in the 500 height. We got to finish the night off with a fun Masters Gamblers run and our third quallie for the evening.

We don't really have much on for the rest of the year. I've entered the World Agility Open tryouts but with Cassie joining us it's not a priority for me at the moment. I'm probably more looking forward to the ANKC Nationals in Sydney next year. So once Sonic has a nice long Christmas break filled with visits to the beach and relaxing I'll start putting some serious work into him (and myself I might add) as we work towards June.

Cassie the awesomest puppy in the world is going great guns. Every time she presents me with a training challenge we are able to overcome it by the next session just because she's so enthusiastic and will keep on trying. One thing that had been annoying the crap out of me though was her duck and bolt trick when I need to pick her up and put her in a crate or in her pen. She's such a party animal that she hates being taken away from the action. So I put up with it for a the last couple of weeks and made a poor effort of only using tug games when I needed to catch her. Of course she got wise to that one real quick and still wouldn't let me catch her. So on the weekend I had one of those moments where you smack yourself in the forehead with your hand while uttering "you idiot". Since then I wear pants with pockets at home at all times filled with Cassie's favourite treats on one side and her Super Doper Squeaky Bear (who shall from this point on be known as SDSB) in the other pocket. At random intervals when she's nearby I grab her collar and reward with either then let her go again. In one afternoon I changed her behaviour from suspicious to being quite happy to have her collar grabbed whenever I want to. In fact I think she's been coming over to visit more in case I do. We've also had lots of success with retrieve to hand including her SDSB outside in the garden. Now she gets the game she's off and running. Did I mention how awesome my puppy is :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Cassie Time

Cassie has been with us for three weeks now and has totally ingrained herself into our lives. She's very cheeky but she's so damn cute I just want to spoil her rotten. She's become Sonic's little follower no doubt because he's the only one of my dogs who will play with her. I'm very impressed with how gentle Sonic is with her. She just hurls herself bodily at him but he's very controlled and lies down along side her when they're playing. When we're not laughing at her antics or playing with her I've been trying to fit in as many little training sessions as possible. Apart from the fact that I think she's gorgeous she is a blast to train. She just never gets sick of it and when I end our sessions she tries everything to get me to keep going with her. She has this an amazing attitude and energy that is going to make agility with her such a joy.

I have only small goals with her at the moment training wise. We're up to "Your Out Your In" with crate games. Crate games was a little challenging for us as Cassie's not a huge fan of going into her crate because she sees it as the place she goes when the fun stops. So I spent some time working on simply building value for her going into her crate. Once we established that things have progressed reasonably quickly. Other than that we're doing nose touches, control games, restrained recalls, reinforcement zone and go to games. The other thing high on my list is retrieve. She's become pretty reliable when retrieving one of her mid range favourite toys but if it's her super doper favourite squeaky bear then her only interest has been the grab and bolt manoeuvre. In saying that I'm pleased to say that in the fenced off training area she did bring it back this arvo so there is hope! I won't be trying it outside for a while though...think we need a bit more practice in a safe environment. The retrieve is so important to the training that I want to do with her that it will be top of our list for a while I'd say.

Here are some of her crazy antics over the last couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back to Trialling

It was great to get back into the ring last weekend at the Agility Club of WA trial. The weather was lovely and courses very enjoyable. Sonic was pretty happy to be out there again after a bit of a break thanks to my flu. I had great fun with him but it was a painful experience with my back still giving me trouble so running for me was challenging to say the least. We ended up with a nice Q in Masters Agility but unfortunately a bar down in Masters Jumping. We're back to night trials this weekend which I'm pleased about so hopefully we'll have some good ones to finish the year off.

Young Cassie is going really well. She came to last weekends trial and had a ball being cuddled by everyone and playing all day. She's such a confident little girl and nothing phases her at all. We've started doing assorted bits and pieces training wise. A lot of people keep telling me that little dogs aren't like border collies to train but I must say that so far I'm not finding it too different (other than trying not to step on her). Cassie has enthusiasm in bucket loads. She loves our inside training area and goes to the pet gate all the time hoping that we'll go in there to play. She is full on during our training sessions, is totally focused and is loving the shaping games. Her only naughty puppy thing so far is wanting to bunk off with the toy rather than bring it back and when outside absorbed in her surroundings isn't in a rush to come back when you call her. Most puppies I've encountered are exactly the same so can't blame that on being a little dog thing. All behaviours that I have no doubt I'll be able to sort out thanks to her willingness to learn.

Around the house she's settled in beautifully and the "pappy tantrums" (otherwise known as a PT) are becoming less frequent as she realises that they aren't going to work. Her and Sonic play very cute chasey games and it's a hoot watching her trying to catch Sonic when he's "it". When she arrived she was so white and clean however pretending to be a border collie has changed that and she now has more of a grey tinge after charging around the sandy bc racetrack with the others. The look kind of suits her though given that she's definitely more of a rough and tumble kind of girl.