Stand retraining

I officially decided that I am going to be retraining Zumi's stand at a distance.  Zumi has understood a verbal only stand cue since she was a puppy. 

She actually has 2 cues.  "Stand" which was supposed to mean kick the rear feet out and keep the front feet still.  And "Pop" which means lift the front feet in the air and land in a stand. 

Zumi added the flair of all 4 feet popping up in the air so I never really got to the stage of defining if I wanted her to walk the back feet out behind her when her front feet were lifted (like I traditionally teach the pop) or if I wanted the rear feet still so the front feet would pop forward. 

In heel position, she has a pretty solid verbal discrimination.  In front of me I let the criteria blur.  I didn't want walking, it had to be a true stand with 2 feet completely still.  But I let her kinda blur the style lines.  Zumi started adopting more of her "pop" style with less flair, so only the front feet lifting.  And since I hadn't defined that for her it meant she did it with rear feet still and front feet forward.  An ok style.

But since there never was any real reason to have a stand at a distance for obedience, I again kinda let criteria slide so that sometimes Zumi moved just a few inches with her back feet.  Not bad, but certainly something that would start to break down with the pressure of a trial.

So a few months ago I went about trying to fix that with a rear foot target to isolate her back feet, and/or reward placement with her reward behind her.  But while Zumi was doing very well, I was finding it really hard to see what exactly she was doing.  Did the back feet move a little bit or not?

And that led to me scrapping the whole thing and starting over.  This time I'm going for front feet still, rear feet kick back.  Much easier for me to see at a distance. 

Usually I would go to a front foot target, but that didn't go over very well with Zumi.  She's so used to rear feet criteria that her brain wasn't handling the switch.  Platforms are also just a big rear foot target for her.

A piece of broken pvc from a jump standard was brought into my house a few weeks ago for my jump bar in the TEAM tests.  It made a nice "L" and I adopted it for a very sad looking PVC box. 
My new target.

Here was today's session on using it.  She's had a handful of sessions already with the box to learn that I didn't want her front feet to move forward.  Zumi does make that error x2 here and I have her back into the box to eat her cookie.  I also make the dreaded "just one more" rookie mistake!

In February I am going to be teaching another session of my Stand with Me class at FDSA.  A class 100 % devoted to all things stand from teaching a stand cue to teaching the exam!  This session will be the first time I talk about getting a stand at a distance.  Preparation for the new AKC open exercise command discrimination!


Pivot update

Zumi and I are still working on those pesky left pivots.  I think we are making progress although I admit it's super hard to see what her butt is doing without a mirror!

Incidentally, I discovered that she is way better at keeping parallel when I use a toy as a reward instead of food! Our house is too small to train with a toy though so those sessions are limited to at the training club and before her agility class.  

Here is our progress from tonight. Lots of butt behind still, but getting there!

We continue to plug along in our control around the dumbbell.  While progress is even slower, we are at least continuing to improve.  Zumi hasn't vocalized on our db send in awhile and I've even done a few very short tosses over a jump.  However, distance still needs to be very short or she starts vulturing again and has a hard time offering me that focus in order to be sent. 

I am continuing to only do dumbbell sends with a toy reward as for whatever reason that has been our biggest breakthrough!  


Fixing Left Pivots- Butt Behind!

Zumi passed her TEAM1 run and now we're on to TEAM 2!  Fun stuff! 

But the tiny bit of Zumi's rear end being behind me when pivoting on the perch in TEAM 1, is being exasperated in the 2nd level test of pivoting on the ground.  Those little foundations always rear their head!

Zumi's known pivoting for quite awhile but clearly, I wasn't paying super close attention to whether her butt was behind my legs or not.  Training is always a balance, and in my quest to get Zumi understanding I wanted her butt close I got it too close!

The TEAM level 2 test requires the dog to be within 30 degrees of straight, and Zumi likes to really straddle that line and even cross it once I start pivoting! 

Fixing the Pivot!

To fix it, I'm trying to swing the balance of where I reward the opposite way.  I'm so conditioned to feed on the outside of dog's head, add left spins before rewarding, and maybe even pass the reward behind me.  All those things can help get the dog to think butt IN, problems both Vito and Lance can be prone towards.  

Zumi is opposite, at least at the moment.  So now I am swinging the opposite way.  Feeding in front of my leg *gasp* or more commonly asking for a nose touch in front of my left leg before rewarding.  If I'm using a toy I'll have her come forward to get it in to help bring that rear out.

Reward placement is such a huge part of training behaviors!  The thought of feeding where you want to be is valid, but when you're trying to change a behavior it sometimes best to over correct and exaggerate what you want the dog to do!

Luckily this appears to be the only issue holding Zumi back from a clean TEAM 2 title.  Wish us luck!


2017 Year in Review

Another year ending.  This last year was a huge change in our household with the addition of a tiny human! 


Zumi had a hectic year.  Several breaks in training due to her heat cycle, being bred, becoming a mother, and then getting spayed.  It was just sporadically broken up over 7 months!  
I still tried to train in as much training, and trials, as we could during our times together.  

In USDAA Zumi nabbed all 3 advanced standard legs she needed to move up to the masters level in all games.  I was grateful she did it before the puppies came!

In UKI Zumi kept searching after those 3 standard legs to get out of novice and into senior.  1 little thing kept popping up and preventing it from happening.  But finally the last trial of the year she did it!  1 from the masters heat class even to count towards her novice title!

I'm excited to get to play with the higher level courses in 2018!  My goal is to attend my first national agility event next year.  right now I'm planning for the UKI Open!

In obedience, we had a bit of a setback.  Well, a big set back.  And all the time off certainly didn't help.  Zumi started having vocalization issues on her retrieves.  And then that spilled into go outs.  And I decided to go all the way back to the beginning with her scent article training due to Zumi's tendancy to just grab when she couldn't find the article right away.   

Looking back at old video, I can't see any hint of vocalizing on the retrieves last year, but it started to creep in the beginning of this year.  I didn't really pay notice of it until the CDSP trial in July where I put her in Open for the first time to see how she would handle it.  That, of course, was a disaster in terms of vulturing, and whining on all her sends away from me. 

And now we're still working on.  Progress has been extremely slow and frustrating.  

We did end up doing our first AKC obedience trial to get her 3 novice legs.  Due to her recent issues I I wasn't planning on it, but knew the provisional judge needed the numbers.  At least I'm happy to say that she's out of novice forever now!  I am hoping to show in Open after the new rules take effect, but at the rate we are progressing that's quite the stretch goal!


Vito miraculously earned his last Super Q needed in USDAA to earn his ADCH!  I was planning on this being his last spring/summer jumping 20in, so after he earned his championship title I moved him down to 16in.  He doesn't really seem any different at 16 vs 20/22 in terms of excitement, it's really just how he's feeling at the moment!

In UKI Vito also earned his championship IAC title.  A big year for Vito!

I don't really have goals of getting the performance versions of the championship titles so we will just continue playing in a very small number of runs per day and mainly do my favorite classes of the masters heat/challenge series in both organizations.  

This was actually a pretty big year for Vito in obedience too.  It was the first year I didn't try an AKC with him at all, just CDSP.  And while Vito was Vito, he really did well for me.  I only did utility with him this year and he was happy in each of his runs!  We had some issues with the gloves in being worried about the stewards on the side, or just doubting his choice. But otherwise Vito was pretty darn consistent in every exercise!

Next year I want to continue to play in CDSP Utility and maybe even try doing 2 runs a day.  I still dream of going back to AKC, but I'm content to let Vito lead me.



Well it's been over a full year and half since being involved in setting up the exercises in TEAM and then teaching the TEAM levels 1-3 classes through FDSA!

And now I finally decided to go ahead and do the program with Zumi.  I've played with the upper levels with Zumi and of course have done all of the foundational pieces at the lower levels too, but I hadn't actually sat down and run through the tests for levels 1 and 2. 

So many excuses.  My house is clearly tiny.  I didn't want to haul in any equipment from outside and I'm sure not doing it outside now.  And of course a baby who doesn't believe in sleeping and even if she does go down for a nap it has to be right next to me.

But I did it.  So you can too!  Thanks for cooperating Netta!

One thing I just love about the TEAM program is how it can really structure your sessions if you're a little lost on what to train or how to even start.  It's all about really solid foundations. 

Props are not just allowed but required at the first level to make sure you know how to really train a solid pivot in heel and finding front but different angles.  But you have your cookies!  And you can fit it into a postage stamp size space!

Have I gushed enough on how much I love the program?  Seriously, I'm not even exaggerating!

I will hear back in a few days if this was a pass or not and then I'll attempt level 2! 
And if you're interested in getting started with TEAM, I'll be teaching level 1 through FDSA in February!  You can check out my sample lecture on how I teach backing up right now.


Dumbbell Progress?

It's been 2 weeks since my discovery of Zumi better able to handle sends to her toy vs sends to a food reward.  We don't work on it as much as I like, but she's gotten roughly 2-3 session a week on it.  

Baby steps. Tiny baby steps.

But at least I actually feel like things are going int he right direction again instead of getting worse!

I'm currently telling her wait and takign a step forward to toss the toy or db.  She'll still move that front foot to vulture sometimes, but not always and that's definetly improvement.

I'm still doing reps of marking the toy with reps of focusing on me before the db.  I'm also usually throwing the toy now instead of pre-placing it.  I figured since she's better with the thrown toy vs the thrown db (that's weird Zumi!) I might as well keep getting practice with tosses!

Distance is still a huge deal with her db.  I got 1 squeal release this week when I pushed the distance just a little too far.  Here are our 2 sessions this week:


Problem Solving Vocalization

I've been continuing to work with Zumi with trying to clear up her confusion and get rid of the vocalizing on her mark and retrieves.  But even with going all the way back to marking a food bowl and sending from only 5 feet I still was getting whining on the release at least 50% of the time if I had her wait the 2-3 seconds.

Alternating the 2 exercises  - marking the food bowl, and focus on me before a retrieve-  did seem to help her be more clear with where to focus and when.  But the vocalizing just wasn't getting any better.

It was getting frustrating. I know it will eventually get there, but I wasn't finding the right answer for her.

And then I was playing with a toy after working on the 2 exercises and suddenly it hit me that Zumi never vocalizes when being sent for her tug toy.  I experimented and did the mark of a dead tug with success, even with 3 seconds duration.  Then I even pushed it and threw the toy out there, marked her, and still didn't get whining when sent.  Huh!  I then experimented even more and followed that up with a very short db placement and send and didn't get any whining at all!  Props to me I even quit when I heard the words "I'll just do 1 more" come out of my mouth :)

This was Zumi's 2nd session working on this new routine.  I see that she still moves that foot pretty much as soon as I say "wait" but there was no vocalizing.  Win.

I'm not sure if this good fortune will continue or if the arousal will creep back in with the new routine....

In somewhat related news, my online TEAM 2 class started yesterday!!!  We are also working on mark training and retrieves in that class, Zumi would fit right in!  I think there is one working spot left if you want to join us.


Out of Novice!!!

Zumi and I headed to Wisconsin for a last minute trial decision last weekend! I actually didn't even know about the trial until a few days before, thank goodness for day of show in UKI!  Like the last several UKI shows, Zumi needed 2 novice "agility"/standard legs to move up to senior for all the classes.  We've been stuck for awhile. 

So I once again entered Zumi in novice agility and then the Master Heat agility/jumper series. 
The novice course was made for her.  Just flowed so well!!!

And then Master heat agility she also qualified!!  She had a little bobble where she turned towards the judge instead of a jump but easily fixed it.  Whew!

Since the masters class counts for whatever level you are at, it applied towards novice and now Zumi is officially out of novice! 

Masters heat jumpers did not go so smoothly.  Not 1 or 2, but 5 different mistakes. Ouch.  Missed the 2nd jump, took an off course tunnel, took the wrong end of another tunnel, took the backside of a jump instead of actually taking it like a normal dog, and then popped out of the weaves. Wow.

But onto the new year!

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