January 31, 2009

Freestyle seminar

This morning (while it was still dark) I managed to get my van out of the ice that had it trapped in my driveway the past few days. That in itself was a feat for me because I'm a night owl and rarely see the sun rise :-) Plus, it was only 5 degrees outside and I try to avoid being out in the cold if I can. But it was SO worth it!!! Thankfully once I got off our driveway/road, all the roads were clear and dry except in a few spots where snow was blowing across them from the wide open fields thanks to a strong bitter cold wind.
It was a little north of Dayton Ohio (2 hours from me) at a Tractor Supply Company. I had my doubts about what that location would hold. Imagine my pleasant surprize when I opened the door to the side of the main entrance and saw a complete dog training center! 3 large gated rings, agility equipment, ring mats, the works! A very nice training area actually! And there were lots of people attending, though I'm not sure exactly how many. I'd guess 30 people?

Morene Stickrod and her helpers (sorry I don't recall their names- shame on me!) covered freestyle basics along with some of the WCFO rules and even taught us a full routine we had a chance to practice! Dazzle did really well, even with the down time between active learning/practice sessions (downtime he and I both needed), though that was the hardest part for his young brain. :-)
I'm now more jazzed about freestyle than ever! Novice level is actually easier than I was envisioning, so that's encouraging. I'm looking forward to putting together a novice routine and getting a video made for submission (& sharing on this blog of course :-). I think I'd also like to try the heeling to music stuff. I have a routine I plan to do, but I think it's more advanced and will take some time to teach him all the moves. So while I'll continue working on that project, I'll also be working on selecting music and modifying the routine we learned today for a novice level submission.
I may have helped a few people better understand clicker training as well during breaks and after the seminar, so I'm happy about opening those horizons for them to explore.
My van is once again stuck at the bottom of the driveway on the ice (hopefully it will get in the garage at some point before Spring!), but my head is swimming with all that I learned today and I hope to put it to use very soon! Thank-you to everyone who helped make the seminar a success!
I should have taken some photos, but I was too busy learning and/or occupying a busy Mal. :-)

P.S. I did stop at the store and get several bags of salt, but I'm not sure it will do much with 8.5" of snow and ice. I only spread one bag in front of the van tires, so we'll see how that does. They are saying it will be above freezing tomorrow, so hopefully that will help. Of course they are also saying it could rain or snow, and knowing this area, means we will probably end up with more freezing rain. :-( I sure hope not!

Is it spring yet?

January 29, 2009

6 mo. old today!

Dazzle has made it to 6 months of age! I'm not able to get out to get him to a scale since my van is currently stuck at the end of the driveway on a solid sheet of ice. I also didn't get any photos because of dealing with the van and hurting my back shoveling snow trying to get it out. I really hate snow and cold and SO wish we could move to a warm southern state!!

I measured him today and was surprized to find he hadn't added any height this week (I think he added length though), so he's still at 21.5" tall. I thought Dazzle was big, but I was looking on the litter's webpage and it appears that out of the pups that have weights listed, he is nearly the lightest. One of his brothers is nearly 60 lbs! When I weighed him last week he was just over 37 lbs. It would be interesting to see their heights too. Maybe he won't be the tall dog I thought he would be, but that's ok too! He's still eating an incredible amount of food and he's a healthy weight, so I'm happy.

January 28, 2009


Dazzle has been LOVING the snow! He is constantly going in and out through the dog door. He is obsessed with the big plastic ball and although he seems frustrated that he can't roll it in the snow, I think he likes that it's fighting back too. :-) However, it seems that everytime he's doing something cute outside and I get the camera, he sees me and comes running in! Just a few minutes ago, he was completely burying his head under the snow and laying out there rolling in it, but of course when I got the camera he came running in. DRAT! I did manage to get a few clips and strung them together and added music ("I'm in a hurry and don't know why" by Alabama.) Enjoy!

This clip is Buster and Dazzle playing in the living room. It's kind of dark, but I lightened it up as much as I could. I also added music to this one instead of leaving the TV and Coyote barking in the background. :-) Dazzle has really helped keep Buster young because they play quite often. They like to clack their teeth at each other and "face fight" and body slam but mostly it's all in fun. It gets a tad heated at the very end, but as you can see it's over as quick as it started. I think sometimes Dazzle bites too hard or twists Buster causing pain and Buster lets him know. Not sure what started it in this clip though.

Finally I got a clip of Dazzle playing with his talking Babble ball. It's really dark, but it's the audio that is funny, not the video anyway. This thing is TOO funny! It's funny when he comes running in the room and looks at you as you hear it say something like "hey, what are you doing?"
Sort of in the order it talks on the video, it says:
Good Puppy
I'm gonna get you
Ha Ha Ha ha ha ha
Na na na na na na
Hey, looking good big daddy
Ow Ow Owooooooo (howl)
Oh, you GOT me!
Come here pupper
Hey, what are you doing?
On No -growl/buzz-
Ouch, don't do that!
Bada Bing Bada Boom
-Fart- Uh Oh
Yeah Baby
Oh, that tickles!
Hot diggity dog


January 26, 2009

Misc updates

I have been thinking a lot about Dazzle's behaviors in the obedience ring. His stress behaviors bother me, so I have decided (if I'm allowed) to only do a non-judged "exhibition only" run at the trial on the 7th, use verbals and a few treats and quit the run after the heeling (skip the stand, recall and stays.) This will give us both a chance to find, see and work in the new location, let him be rewarded earlier in the routine in a big way with going directly outside to tug after the heeling and not completely waste the entry fee :-) We have rally in the same location the next day, so I think it will be a good lead-in to that. Update: Just found out that's not allowed. So I'll just go "hang out" with him for a bit, play a bit and go home.

I plan to back-chain the obedience routine since it's always the same order of behaviors. This will help him learn that his reward will be outside the ring after the leash goes on following the recall. Of course that means I need a ring to practice in :-) I'm looking at ways to build innexpensive and easily portable ring gates for the side yard and I'll soon be a member of Kuliga so I can use their building/rings. I think once he understands the concept of the reward being outside the ring, his confidence will sky rocket and his stress will go away.
On a different subject, I said in an earlier post that I had been working on previously filmed videos and I have posted several below...
The first video is his second session with the light switch. I have it set to nose height. Even though the switch makes a click, I'm still clicking him. This video really shows how much he has grown in just a short while! It was taken on Dec 15th.

The next video is the following day when I raised it up for the first time. Once he had to put his feet up to reach it, he started scratching the board. In reviewing the video as it's loading, I realized I have a typo. Where the text makes no sense, substitute the would "should" with the word "started." So it should read, "I started with it at nose height..." I DID work on getting him to just put his feet up on the wall calmly, which he was doing. But I guess it didn't translate to the lightswitch board with the switch there as the target. It's a bit stressful for him when he gets confused, but he works it out!

The next video is just after a play session and you can see there was some latent learning. He's doing much better with it at this height. Some of my clicks in these videos are really late (especially the one that accidently happens while I'm digging a treat out of my pocket!), but he seems to understand in spite of my poor timing. :-) Eventually I just let the switch click him.

The last lightswitch video is when he had reached the full height he could easily reach. This was not quite at a wall switch height though, so after a few more sessions to tweek the behavior, we stopped working on this till a few days ago when I had him operate a real switch as I said in a previous post. At the end of the video, he got extra treats for not diving on the one he dropped. :-) You can see I was playing around with the available effects for the title :-)

Another video shows us starting to play with left and right cues. I'm still using mostly body cues but add a few verbals near the end when I can anticipate his behavior. It's clear he prefers left turns over right turns. :-) More recently, but not on video, I have been using the cues as he comes out of the tunnel to indicate which jump uprights he should go through. I know I'm going to get confused though since I'm using my right hand across my body to cue left turns and my left hand across my body to cue right turns (as I will in agility.)

Lastly is a video I took at my parent's house. Dazzle was "playing fetch" with my dad, but doing a lot less fetch than digging. Good thing the ground is mostly frozen! :-) I set it to music because the background noise was a TV and my mom and I talking (well, me "squeeking" since I was losing my voice.) You'll have to watch till the end to see if he will actually get it back to his grandpa. :-) Through most of the video, my dad was trying to encourage him to get it and bring it back. You can see the temp fence we set up for when I visit with the dogs. Dazzle loves the cold and snow! Look at that tail going non-stop :-)

I'm guessing that it won't take long for Dazzle to learn how much more fun frisbee's are if he catches them in the air :-)

January 25, 2009

Pretty good obedience runs

Today was the obedience Show n Go at Queen City Dog Training. Same place as the Rally Show n Go yesterday. I saw several people I knew and based on comments I heard, it seems Dazzle already has a reputation to live up to! Uh Oh! :-) He does seem to be living up to his name though!
I think he does better in Rally than in obedience because I'm constantly engaging him (and no dumbbells are being tossed in the other ring :-) But in Obedience, there are breaks in the exercises and when I stop and don't reward, he becomes unsure if he's doing it right. Plus, I talk to him less in Obedience (though I still talk more than I should :-)
His runs were still REALLY good for a puppy under 6 mo. old! I'm very happy with his performance and especially his ability to "bounce back" after a big distraction. But we definitely have more to work on with obedience. As I have said before, it will be easier to work on it once I am a member of Kuliga and can practice in a real ring. Kinda hard to have others tossing dumbbells in the basement (but he will hold a stay there if I toss his favorite ball or Bear's dumbbell it's just not the same.) He needs to learn that his big reward is going to be at the end and be found outside the ring. For that, I need a ring in which to teach him.
I also tried hard to remember to pay attention to where my shoulders were pointing, especially on turns, but I'm not sure if Dazzle noticed or not. He seemed to be closer to me (not so far wide) on the Fig 8 the first time through, but was still lagging. Second fig 8 he was in la-la land when he was on the outside :-) WAY too much interesting stuff outside the ring :-)
He completely lost focus on me during his first run when the person in the next ring was using really loud cues to send her dog out and then when the dog came back over the jump, that just blew his puppy brain! I was able to get him back to work though when she was done with the send outs, so I'm thrilled he's willing to re-focus at least! It's SO hard to be the puppy! LOL
I'm not sure (I'm sure I'll get several emails) about what I'm allowed to do to try to get his focus back. I know I can't make contact with him, though I figured that was the safest thing to do when he started running the fence even though catching him as he ran by along the fence wrenched my back (that is just after she turned off the video.) Not sure if sounds, words or hand movements are considered "extra" cues? Which is worse, the dog across the ring or extra cues? :-) Do I just go on without him letting the leash stay tight if he's on lead or let him be across the ring if off lead? I did try to go on without him in the second run, but that stressed him out and he started jumping on me and biting at me again. I know that having to ignore the action in the next ring is REALLY hard for him and trying not to pay attention to it causes stress for him. He really wants to go play be he knows he's supposed to be with me so it's hard on him. I have no doubt he will learn to cope, but I'm just going to be patient while he figures it out.
I'm very happy to report that he did his 1 minute sit and 3 minute down stays perfectly! He had a Novice ring behind him and the tempting "Utility" ring was in front of him across the ring (behind me) and he watched what was going on around him but didn't move. On his down, it was clear he was bored and he even started playing with his collar, but he didn't get up. Best news of all was that he didn't leave any sweaty footprints (a sign of stress) like he has on stays in the past. So I'm also thrilled about all of that! The person acting as the judge was not doing any scoring, so Idon't know what his score would have been. I think on the first run the major distraction would have disqualified him? If not, his scores should have been decent! Maybe someone with experience can watch his videos and give their opinion about his score (disregarding the treats I was giving him of course :-)
I have him entered in a Nov. A obedience class on Feb 7th (at Hamilton DTC, a place I have never been) just 2 days after he turns 6 mo old. But after that, it's all Rally shows (Feb 8th, also at Hamilton DTC and the 13th, 14th and 15th in Indianapolis.) I think that's all I'm going to enter for now because I know he's getting close to the stage where he will seem to forget everything he knows :-) I just hope he can get his Rally Novice (RN) title before that happens. I only have a few show n go's on my calendar till late March when I'm thinking of going to Cleveland for the C-wags trial and maybe a herding clinic at Hado-Bar. I've been there before and it's a nice facility with really nice sheep. Hopefully by April, when he's 8 mo old, he will have his brain back and we can start showing again :-) We'll see!
The videos are below. The person I asked to video us didn't leave the camera running, she only turned it on for each exercise. So I had to splice the videos together. Which shouldn't have been all that hard! But it ended up taking several HOURS because first I had to figure out how, then the system got a glitch that didn't show up till AFTER I did all the editing and tried to save it. So I did all the editing again and still got the glitch. So I looked on-line for any patches or updates and found one that took several minutes to load. Re-did the video a third time and still had the same glitch. So I dumped the whole program and re-loaded it, created the video again (which took about 30 minutes each time!) and FINALLY it was done! Then I had to edit the second run. Thankfully that one went smoothly. Loading to the blog takes quite awhile too, but at least I can type while it's uploading. Not exactly how I planned to spend my afternoon :-)
But speaking of video uploads, I did spend more time last night clearing my camera card to make more room by editing and saving several older videos. I'll upload those at some point in the near future. A few were video of when he was first learning to work the light switch and really shows how much he has grown! I think that was just a month and a half or two months ago, but it's a clear difference in size! I found out last night he's tall enough to reach the switch on the wall now. You should have seen his ears fly as far forward as possible toward the switch when the light came on! As if he was saying "How did THAT happen!?" I had to laugh and of course reward heavily!

First run:

Second run:

Now it's time to feed the dogs and go play.

January 24, 2009

AMAZING rally runs!

I am SO THRILLED with Dazzle's 2 runs today! I got both on video and the clips are below. Both runs were really good! There were minor moments of wavering focus, but he came right back to work. I only used 4 treats during the 1st run and 2 treats for the second run.
I was holding the leash in my right hand because I thought it would be "more loose" and it FELT more loose, but in watching the video, I see that's not the case. I'll get the leash back in my left hand for future training/runs and just make sure there's enough that it's loose. My speed was better, but could still be a bit faster. I tried to go faster in run number 2 and you'll see what happened at the start :-) I'll have to increase my normal speed gradually.
My shoulders were better than the obed. run last week, but still room for improvement. Having to focus on the signs forced my eyes up and front, so I'm sure that helped! In the obedience ring, I know I'm not going to have obstacles in my path so I look down more I think. The obedience run throughs are tomorrow, so I'll try to focus on my shoulders and eyes staying forward and not turned toward Dazzle.
There was one sign on the course that I have not taught Dazzle to do and I thought we faked our way through it beautifully on the first run! On the second run, I think Dazzle thought I was pointing out the sign to him and he had to give it a good sniff. :-)
Instead of keeping him with me between runs and having him wait around not doing much, I put him in the crate in the van while we waited for our second run. I think that REALLY helped him enter fresh and ready to go and might have been a contributing factor to our poor second run last week. I had him with me last week between runs and we did a lot of waiting around and he has trouble with doing nothing in exciting environments. :-)
I am thrilled beyond my wildest dreams at how well he did today!!! Given that he's not even 6 mo. old yet I know he has SO much potential! At this point, I think he likes obedience so hopefully I can help him keep that attitude :-) My top priority is to have fun and be sure he has fun. If it stops being fun, we'll do something else for awhile.
Run Through #1 (3rd dog in the ring):
Run Through #2 (11th dog in the ring):
For those that don't want to open the videos, here's a few photos captured from the second video:
After the second run, we went outside and played tug for a bit, then I loaded him and my stuff in the van and we headed over to Clermont County for the "Jam"uary Disk Dog event. Spoke with several people I knew and everyone commented on how much Dazzle has grown and how well he's doing. Dazzle was intently watching a compeditor practice some freestyle throws outside the ring and when the guy noticed, he played a bit with him with his disk. Dazzle really liked that!
He was willing to watch quietly but intently as we sat ringside and as the dogs ran after the frisbees, but in just a few minutes, he had gotten worked up with excitement and was no longer quiet :-) I was able to get his focus back on me and we moved around, worked on obedience, etc. and tried going back to sit down between divisions. Little did I know that between divisions, the people could go out and practice their throws (no dogs.) It was just too much for him to watch those toys sailing around. He wanted in that ring SO bad! But instead we headed out.
I had intended to go back to watch more of the rally and possibly volunteer my help, but I missed the highway exit due to daydreaming and traffic congestion through the construction. So we stopped at Bass Pro instead and I got him a new bed for his crate since he ate a hole in the first one. He got LOTS of attention and petting since dogs are allowed in the store and he wasn't wearing his vest. I was surprized at the number of people who knew his breed! Even one guy who said "Yeah, I used to breed the heck out of them for pet stores" Oy Vey! We had a chat and he is no longer breeding dogs - thankfully!
People who know the breed almost always comment on how social he is, which is great! I think his temperment is perfect. Good breeding supported by lots of socialization can be wonderful! Now it's time to feed the boys and take a nap!

January 23, 2009

misc photos and info

Will you PLEASE get off the computer so we can go train?!The weather was actually very nice today! I took Dazzle out in the side yard (not fenced) to work on obedience outside. At first he was over excited and distracted, especially with the rest of the dogs barking behind the fence! But he quickly settled into work when he saw the tennis ball. Then he had to go tease his brothers: "Na, Na, Ne na na I have a ball and YOU don't!" (I did go and play with all of them when we were done. :-)
I even wrangled Mike into taking some photos of us with Dazzle in heel position. This was the best one. Dazzle often has his ears partly back, but I think he's just thinking when he does that. He was off-leash in this photo.
After our working session, I just focused on taking a few photos. Here's what Dazzle thinks of me stopping the play to take photos! "pthpthpth!"
I also tossed the ball several times and he was getting hot! Look at the tongue :-) I don't know what he'll do when it really warms up.
He stopped to find a spot in the shade, so I took a photo of that too. :-) Reminds me of a Pharoh Hound in this one.
Then he was ready to go again! Will YOU play with me?
Our "grass" is about the same color as he is, so I played around and colored it green for the photo above :-)
Trotting along the ridge of the road:
Rally class went well last night. Everyone was commenting on how we were over achievers. I think they were just jealous! LOLOL Kim said it was because I have a basement (easy access to training in any weather.) :-)
I did set-up a rally course in the basement this morning and worked on several signs with him before went decided to go outside. I think he's ready for the show n go this weekend. Tomorrow is rally and Sunday is obedience. I'll make sure I get them on video! :-)
I measured him yesterday (one week shy of 6 mo. old) and he's 21.5" tall at his shoulders. I weighed him at the pet store and he is 37.4 lbs. He is still growing, but much more slowly than he was at less than 5 mo old. Thankfully! Because I was thinking he might be Great Dane size there for awhile! I know he has another growth spurt coming soon because his back legs are longer than the front right now :-)

January 21, 2009

Our new trick- hands up!

I have been working on a new trick with Dazzle and it has become one of his favorite moves!
I call it "hands up!" and the cue will be my hands up if he's starting in heel position or a "gun hand" if he's in front of me. He gets in this position and holds it till I click. In the photo, he is resting his head against my hip for support, but I have seen him do it freestanding (facing the same direction I am as well as in front of me) so I know he can do it without support. He really seems to enjoy this! I can see it as a cute part of a freestyle or tricks routine.
His training is still going well, but the other day for some reason he decided he didn't like his SD cape. I checked it carefully for anything that could be poking or pinching and found nothing. But I have been pairing it with our training sessions (high value) instead of only going to the van and his dislike has gone away. He doesn't like the seatbelt being put on and in turn this has caused him to not want to get in the van. So I have taken out a back seat and put a crate in. Now he's happy to go to the van. He has definite likes and dislikes. :-) I'll work on pairing the seatbelt with food and fun stuff at some point so I can start using it in the van again but for now he still fits in the medium crate. I think he was backchaining and anticipating getting in the van and the seatbelt when he saw the cape. Hopefully I have broken the chain and he can be happy about it again.
I skipped class on Monday because I was having a bad day which was just not conducive to training. But class on Tuesday went well. We worked on a lot of stuff, both with the class and between class excerises. I had a bit of trouble keeping his focus at times, but as long as I kept him busy and didn't expect too much inactivity (stays) he did well. We did work on stays in class, I just kept the rewards high. I worked on stays tonight at home and had him stay while I kicked a tennis ball around. He was shaking with anticipation to get that ball! He broke position a few times, but I just had him go back and start over and he did fine. Then I worked on having him stay in heel position while I threw the ball as if it was a dumbbell. I released him to get it and had him sit in front to hand it back to me for the next round. He wanted the ball more than the treats, so we worked with that for awhile.
I have been practicing my body position (not turned toward him) and my speed while heeling. He's doing great in the basement and did ok in class, though he lagged more than usual. I'm really looking forward to becoming a member of the training club next month so I can get a key to practice there in a "real ring" and when other dogs are around. I have been doing "go outs" with him too. He likes to target the ring gates and run to them and then I have him sit or down. Sometimes he spins so fast to sit facing me he almost hits the gates!
I plan to buy him a dumbbell of his own at the show in Indy next month so I can start teaching formal retrieves. I think he will do well with that.

January 18, 2009

Today's show results


Well his first obedience "show" was good and bad. It was a non-sanctioned match, so it wasn't an official AKC show, which is why I could have him judged before he is 6 mo. old. He did manage a "score of 135" which is in quotes because all the Nov A dogs NQ'd and so the judge awarded scores and prizes anyway :-) So he got third place out of 4 dogs.

His heeling on leash earned a 37.5 out of 40, so I'm thrilled with that! It was all "tight leash" 1/2 points so if I had given him more leash, he might have had a perfect score! He did get a bit distracted on the about turn near the Open ring where dumbells were being thrown, but came right back to me. Here's the heeling pattern we did, which I thought was a bit long but what do I know :-) The pattern actually re-traced the lines, but for clarity sake I drew it without re-tracing the lines.

He did a perfect stand for exam. His heel off leash also earned a 37.5, but some of those points off were my error for too slow of a pace according to the judge. As I said, all the dogs in Nov. A NQ'd (Non-Qualifying round) because they all failed to recall on the first cue. With Dazzle, an instant before his name came out of my mouth, a dog/handler came in the back door just to his left and he was staring at them when I called his name. He did not respond to me, but then I waited till he was looking back at me, called his name and said "front" and he returned immediately. Unfortunately, he went directly to heel. I have purposely NOT cued him to go from front to the heel position, but his heel cue is so strong that he skipped the front position even after all the practice we have been doing. In hind sight, I should have gotten him into front position since we were NQ anyway on that, but I let it pass and when the judge said "finish" we both just smiled since Dazzle was already there. :-)

On the sit stay, he got up once to check out the arm band number I had to place behind him. So that was another NQ and the reason he got third instead of 1st place. He also got up on the long down after a LOT of thought and attempted self control, but the dumbells being thrown in the next ring were just too much for his young brain to resist. :-) He stood and moved closer to that ring gate (which was right next to him since he was first in the ring.) When I started walking toward him, he saw me, and got an "oops! I just couldn't resist!" look on his face and went back to the down position. I just had to smile at him. The judge didn't NQ him on that, so the 30 points were counted for the long down, not sure why, but I appreciate it!

I'm kicking myself for not getting a video of his first run because it looked so good! But I was the first to go in the ring and I was called about 5 minutes after we got settled and I needed to get him in working mode, not worry about finding someone to film.

His second run (not for a score- exhibition/training only) was a disaster! I think he was stressed out by not having gotten any reward during the entire first run, so then he was wondering if he was correct? Of course THIS was the run I got on video. LOL He seemed a lot more stressed and worried on the second run but I can only guess about why. Even though I had treats on me for this one, I had a hard time keeping his focus and he kept trying to stop to scratch (stress) which he didn't do during the first run. I should have just quit, but in hindsight that might have rewarded the unwanted behaviors, so I'm glad we continued. His heeling is "ok" for most of it, but he did get a lot more distracted by things outside the ring and I was going too slow and waiting for him, which only made it worse. The judge also commented that I was anticipating her cues. Then Dazzle got frustrated and started jumping on me and biting at me trying to play tug with my sleeve. I was able to get his focus back, but during the fig 8 he decided he was going to visit one of the people acting as a post and I had to gently remind him he was supposed to be with me. The stand was great although he seemed to forget what his stand cue meant at first and it was clear he was stressing out (yawning, lip licking.) Heel off leash was worse than the on-leash and he had a few melt downs. When I was setting him up for the recall, he decided he HAD to have the piece of tape that was on the ground marking the spot for the exercise. So I had to cover it with my foot. He did manage to recall to front, but was crooked even after I attempted to re-adjust it. And when I did cue him to heel, he didn't quite get there.

Video of his worst run:

So over all, a mess for the second run, but he was stressed out and tired and fussy. I was still VERY happy with his performance for such a young dog! Especially his first run. He continues to amaze me! I practiced his long sit and down just outside the ring when the second group went in to do theirs. I didn't take him in the ring just in case he would get up and be a distraction for the others. He literally fell asleep on the down, so I know he was really tired. We got our "3rd place" prize ($2) and score sheet and then packed up and headed home. He was asleep by the time I left the parking lot and slept the whole way home. I wonder if he slept much last night since I left him out of the crate. For all I know, he was playing outside! Mike said he heard him woof at the cat in the dining room during the night and told him to quit. Then Dazzle went to the place by the door where he had slept the previous night and flopped down. He's currently napping while I type this (though he did have a play session with Buster when we got home.)

So, I know what we need to work on now the most:

Distractions of thrown dumbells and things set near him :-)


and "fronts"

I plan to try and back chain the parts together, with his reward being on a chair outside the ring. We have an advanced class tomorrow, so that's what I'll be doing then. Tonight, we have a party to go to, so hopefully he gets his rest :-)

General updates...

Dazzle was left loose part of the night last night. On purpose, I put him in the crate when I went to bed as usual, but I didn't latch the crate. At some point during the night he figured that out and Mike said when he got up to go to the bathroom, Dazzle was laying in the doorway to the bedroom -closest to the cool air of the laundry room, but still able to see us. I'll try leaving him loose tonight again. He had a long day today so he should be tired.

I hosted a troop "badge day" at the house today, well yesterday actually (Saturday) since it's past midnight, and several people and dogs came over to work on earning Dog Scout badges. We were in the basement training room and Dazzle wasn't too keen on being left upstairs while I instructed. He did a lot of pacing, so that's why I figure he should be tired. :-)
His training and classes are going well. I have been working on a few freestyle moves and it boggles my mind how fast he learns things. He's also progressing really nicely on a trick I have worked on in bits and pieces- "hands up" in which he stands on his hind legs and balances with his front legs held up high. Eventually I'll couple it with "assume the position" or "against the wall" where he runs to the nearest wall and puts his paws up. LOL
On Friday I had a breakfast meeting followed by a regular meeting and Dazzle did fantastic! He settled in at the restaurant and even slept a bit while we talked and ate and then after a short drive, he again rested under the conference table after being a little antsy for a while. I thought this was exceptional for his age and the fact that we skipped our regular training session and went straight from the morning routine to the van for the 1st meeting where he needed to settle.
While the blog is about Dazzle, the other dogs are doing well too. Buster seems more energetic and playful since Dazzle arrived and they play and run a lot together. Often they go out in the yard by themselves (regardless of the weather) and chase each other or wrestle. the other day Buster came in COVERED in packed snow, so I know they were out there wrestling on the ground. :-) Bear also tollerates Dazzle pushing toys in his face and clubing him with a front paw and will even play back if he thinks no one is watching. :-) But he prefers to be up on a chair or couch or under the dining room table while he plays. Bear has gotten really attached to Mike and I often find him sleeping on his lap or in the bed if Mike takes a nap. Mike said there was only one time he threw a fit when I left the house without him, but I don't know why that one time set him off. Usually he sees me quietly out the door and then goes straight to Mike's lap. Coyote's eyes have gotten worse and the last few times I tried to take him anywhere he didn't want to get in the van. So I know he is happier staying home where he knows where everything is by sound/smell and limited sight. But I still take him and Bear to the training room from time to time to work on their skills. King is now the one who acts like the "elder" that no one messes with and he's still Mike's shadow.

I have photos of the troop party last weekend too that I'm not sure how I missed posting:
Here's most of the group, Dazzle is the back left side of the photo:
He really liked wrestling with several of the dogs, joined in chase games and played well with the toys/balls too.

Apparently we had several ball crazy dogs at the party and Greg is holding the toys! But I'm sure that a really cute caption could be added to this photo :-)

Tomorrow we will be at the CCDTC non-sanctioned obedience match. I entered 2 Nov. A classes. It's currently 1:15 AM as I'm editing this, so I better get to bed!

January 11, 2009

Another successful show day!

Today was just as good as yesterday. Dazzle now has a National AND International conformation title! He won best of breed puppy both shows today, placed 3rd in group for show 3 and WON group in show 4, which meant he got to go in the best of show ring. He put in a really nice round in the best of show ring (at least I liked his first round and his down and back) but he didn't win a ribbon. I was still thrilled with his performance! Especially since this was our very first show experience and we have had NO training and almost no practice for it!

I didn't bother to try to take photos today, but the show photographer took photos of the group and I had a portrait done with his medals and the judges. So I'll post that whenever I get it.

It was a very nice venue with friendly people and friendly judges and I loved the written critiques each judge gave.

When we won the group after show 4, I thought I would have to miss the troop party. But I realized I had time to do that and then come back for the best in show. So right after we won the group, I changed clothes, loaded up and headed to Kuliga for the party. Dazzle did fantastic playing with the other dogs! I thought he might be a bit spooked by the running, barking and high activity but he was in there dishing it out as well! In fact, he was playing so well once the tennis balls came out, that I left the room to get some food and he didn't care that I left! That surprized me, but I was glad to see the velcro isn't as strong as it used to be. :-) After a little more than an hour of steady play time, we headed out to get back to the show. He had no problems with his energy level in the Best in Show ring!

For those that want to see what the judges said in each show, read below. For those that don't care, you can skip to the next post :-)

Show 1 (Saturday):
Judgement: Very nice sound puppy
Overall impression: Good potential/ good type
Coat: Excellent color and texture
Head: true to type
Bite/mouth: sound correct mouth
Eyes: dark, well set, expressive
Ears: set on and carried well
Chest: good depth, adequate forechest
Front Angulation: well angled for age- needs layback
Back Angulation: balanced to front
Top Line: level, strong
Tail: set and carried well
Movement: clean and fluid
*placed "4th" in group*

Show 2 (Saturday):
Judgement: very promising, great color and annimation
Overall Impression: very nice immature dog
Coat: beautiful, healthy
Head: very pleasing, beautifully marked, great color
Bite/Mouth: sissor
Eyes: nice dark, a little too round
Ears: correctly placed properly
Chest: lacking at this point
Front Angulation: well angled, matches rear
Back Angulation: same as above
Top Line: a bit soft behind withers
Tail: correct and places well
Movement: great rear, needs help with front
(note: he was shaking his head A LOT because of the show collar, so all of his legs were all over the place as he shook his head. :-) I switched the type of collar for Sunday and he didn't shake his head nearly as much unless I tried to put it back up behind his ears.)
*won the group*

Show 3 (Sunday):
Judgement: nothing written by the judge on this line
Overall Impression: young puppy, promising
Coat: nice texture for age
Head: good for age
Bite/mouth: correct
Eyes: Alert expression
Ears: could be smaller (Huh??)
Chest: good for age
Front Angulation: good
Back Angulation: Excellent, good bone
Top Line: still soft, would like shorter loin
Tail: correct
Movement: excellent feet and movement
*Placed 3rd in group*

Show 4 (Sunday):
Judgement: typy young male, attentive and well tempered
Overall Impression: Athetic and Agile
Coat: richly colored; dark mask
Head: strong- wedge shaped, masculine
Bite/mouth: scissor
Eyes: dark, piercing, set well
Ears: erect and mobile, held well
chest: adequate depth and fill for age
Front Angulation: well set on, shoulder blades a bit wide
Back Angulation: well turned stifle
Top Line: Slight rise to loin
Tail: sickle shaped
Movement: clean and free
*won group*

All the judges commented in person about what a wonderful temperament he has. At one point after a down and back, Dazzle trotted right up to the judge and flopped against his legs! LOL After the best in show class, the judge that really liked him said he would love to see a champion title on him as well as several performance/sport titles. We'll see! I would love to get as many letters before and after his name as possible! I think it would be fun to take him through this again as an adult to see how the evals look. And the best of show ribbons sure are beautiful! :-)

January 10, 2009

Conformation success!!

Of course I think Dazzle is very handsome, but apparently the experts agree! We competed in 2 IABCA conformation shows today and Dazzle made it to the Best in Show ring representing the herding group!!
In the 1st show in the morning, he was Best of Breed puppy and went on to the group class. He didn't place in the first group class through. For the second show of the day (in the afternoon) he was best of breed puppy, WON the herding group (which really surprized me! He had some stiff competition including the corgi who had won the group in the first show) and made it to the Best in Show ring as the representative of the herding group!
The first judge really liked him and he got the highest rating (SG-1), the first point toward his BA (IABCA Baby title.) The judge said: "He is VERY nice! The breeder should be very proud. I'd own him in a heart beat!" On the writen evaluation, he said Dazzle is a very nice sound puppy with good potential.

The second judge also really liked him and also gave him a rating of SG-1, second point out of three needed for his National title (4 points needed for an International title, since 2 of the judges are not from the U.S.) His statement on the written review was that he is "very promising with great color and animation."

So needless to say I was beaming today! Other than doing this all again tomorrow for more points and hopefully an International title, I don't plan to continue with conformation. I just did it for fun and to see how he would do. I guess all those people who said "he's beautiful" were right :-) Of COURSE they were! :-)

There was a show photographer there for the 2nd show, so hopefully her photos turned out better than the ones my innexpensive little digital took. Thank-you to my photographers, I know you were limited by the camera's abilities.
Here's a few of the ones that turned out ok:
Meeting the 1st judge. He wiggled right up to him and let him check his teeth:
1st free stack:
Another free stack, though not from the best angle due to our position in the ring:
The only troting photo that came out, most were too far away and too dark. He was actually getting out ahead of me! I swear he learned that from watching the other dogs!:
Meeting the 2nd judge, again he wiggled up to him :-)
Stack for judge 2:
Best in Show exam:
PROOF that we made it to best in show :-)
Another BIS photo:
They give medals instead of ribbons for everything except best in show, so these are the medals Dazzle earned for his 2 best of breed wins, "4th place" in the first group and his best of group:
He's really growing! He wiggled his way up into my lap to watch the sporting group run around their ring. :-)
Play break with his Corgi buddy that won best of group in the first show:
Profile taken while he watched other dogs compete. I think he was learning by watching!:
I'll post more after the show tomorrow. We also have the troop party, but if he gets into best in show again, I might have to miss that! I have such mixed feelings! I want him to win, but I want to go to the party too. :-)

January 08, 2009

1st Rally class

We had our first rally class tonight and I'm looking forward to more. Dazzle was really distracted by the squeeky toys being used as rewards in other rings, but did manage to do a nice run through the three signs that we started with when I held up a spoonful of raw food :-) The favorite tug toy wasn't cutting it. The possibility of getting a food reward from my pouch wasn't cutting it. He had to have the food to visually focus on to give me full attention and nice heeling. But I'm not worried. He's only 5 months old, it was a new building, new dogs/people in class, and HIGH distractions in the other rings. So I still think he did really well! You can bet I'll have a squeeky toy for him next week though!
Tomorrow he gets the second bath he has had in his life to prep for the conformation show this weekend. In talking to others, it sounds like the entries have really taken off, so it should be a big show! It sounds like a LOT of people are doing it just for fun and the possibility of titles like I am. :-) I'm sure it will be interesting if nothing else :-)

January 06, 2009

Just a quick update

I went to the first Show Prep (Advanced Obedience) class last night and Dazzle did really well. While we worked on really long stays, there was a person renting another ring that was using squeeky toys and Dazzle had a really hard time, but he stayed! He kept looking in their direction and looking at me as if to say "Can I go play mom? Can I? Huh? Huh?" It is a lot more practice time/action in this class and less time spent talking about what we're about to do in great detail like in the intermediate class.
Tonight's intermediate class was ok, but Dazzle seemed more distracted than usual. We again worked in the same ring as the beginner class where there was food all over the floor. He did MUCH better than the first time we were in that situation, but still some work needed for that distraction. His stand for exam was beautiful even though the instructor was hesitant as he approached and touched him. I was using a ball, tug toy and his raw food to keep his attention.
It's hard for him (& me) to stand around listening to the instructor and waiting for action.
This morning I worked on body handling and showing his "bite" for the conformation show this weekend. He's not thrilled with it, but tollerating it as long as it's worth treats. :-) I'm not spending a great deal of time on this because it's not something I plan to pursue, but it would be nice if it looked somewhat like I know what I'm doing in the ring even though I don't :-)
Lastly, I forgot to post this photo back when we were visiting family. Dazzle got a bit too close to the oven which melted and curled the ends of his whiskers on the right side. This was a really hard photo to get with a cheap digital camera!He doesn't seem to have any fear of getting close to intense heat because a week or so before getting that close to the oven when it was opened, he was carefully sniffing a 60 watt lightbulb that was on in a floor lamp and then he actually licked it! Ouch!

January 04, 2009

His first obed. show n go

Dazzle did GREAT during his two runs in the show n go this morning! For those that don't know, a show n go is a "practice" show. You are allowed to train and reward the dog in the ring as someone (acting as a judge would) puts you through the same exercises you would be asked to do in a real show. The photos are all from our second try in the ring because I forgot to ask someone to take photos during the first run. No idea why I didn't think to bring the video camera! Doh!
Start of the heel on leash exercise:
A bit distracted by the folks outside the ring in front of us, but he stayed in position:
You can see the ball in a holder on my hip that I was using as a reward :-)
His figure 8 was really nice!
He was having trouble remembering to sit when I stopped. I think his brain was too focused on the ball and being ready to get it when I tossed it. He often sits like this when I use a toy as a reward, but I think it will fade the more practice he gets with working for such a high value reward.
He did a fantastic stand for exam during the first try, but moved a foot on the second try. Still, not bad! Especially for only 5 months old :-)
Heeling pattern off-leash (no idea what I'm doing with my left elbow!):
His focus was really nice, better than most of the other dogs I saw go in novice (though I didn't see them all.)
He had some problems with his recall to front. He wanted to recall directly into heel position even though I haven't worked on that with him. When I did get a "front" it was crooked, but we'll work on that. I think he was just trying to get close to the ball :-)
Sit stay was ok, but he laid down just as the "judge" said to return to the dogs. The white Pyr kept getting up, which is what he/she was in the process of doing in this photo even though it looks like he/she is leaving a present in the ring. :-)
Dazzle did a lot of looking around but seemed very comfortable with being there, just looking to see what he could see. He really wanted to go sniff and meet the little fuzzy dog but restrained himself.
He did get bored during the long down exercise and got up three times. Once I was able to re-cue him from where I was (on the other side of the ring) and he laid down again, the other times I had to go back to him to get him back in position. He needs more "meat" on his elbows because even during practice he shifts around like his elbows are sore on the hard surface. I wonder if laying flat on his side would count? :-)
Overall I was thrilled with how well he did! If he can do as well at the shows next month (without a ball on my hip) we'll have some nice scores!
I brought in his new lightweight crate, but he wasn't interested in staying in it. We'll need more work before he loves it enough to stay in it while I walk away. He did stay quietly in a crate in a side room for a bit though while I went in every few minutes to reward him. I didn't want to push my luck though! I had other things I needed to do today, so after the group stay, I headed out.

January 03, 2009

Back home- Prep for 1st show

We're back home now. It was a nice visit with family for the holidays, but now it's time to get back in the swing of 2009 here at home. I had a pile of mail on my desk but haven't gotten through it all yet. Tomorrow is going to be Dazzle's 1st "competition." It's an obedience Show n' Go at Kuliga. It will be interesting to see how he does! Thanks to a friend, I also entered him in a conformation show next weekend. I have absolutely no interest in showing in conformation, but as a one time thing, I think it will be interesting to see what the judges think and he could get a title out of it if they like him. It's an IABCA show, (http://www.iabca.com/showinfoOH01-09.html) well actually there are 4 shows that weekend. I entered him into 3 of them and he could get a national title out of it if they like him. I'm actually just doing it for the possibilities of letters after his name :-) I'd have to register him with that organization to keep the "points" but don't think I'll bother. Because he is judged against the breed standard and not other dogs in the class, it doesn't matter that he's the only Mal registered.
Monday nights we're going to start a "show prep" class to help me prepare myself (and him) for competition. He has 3 more weeks in intermediate classes on Tuesday nights and he's signed up for 8 weeks of rally class starting on Thursday. So we'll be doing a lot of training! I'm already entering him in rally and obedience shows next month when he's eligible to compete.
On the 2nd of January, the family went to see the gingerbread houses displayed at the botanical garden. Some of them were really amazing!
This is the first place winner:
This one was nice
So was this one
We also went into the glass house where they had butterflies and birds free to fly about and lots of cool plants to look at as well. Dazzle did really well with the 3 active nephews under 10 yrs old, my neice in a stroller and my 92 yr old grandmother in a wheelchair along with all the other visitors, flora and fauna. Though the small birds chirping in an enclosure in the lobby held his attention for a bit.
Here's a huge leaf I had him sit hext to. This is not an optical illusion, the leaf was huge!
He wasn't too sure at first about the loud waterfall but ended up being fine with it. I think it was more the water spray than the noise.
Some of the birds that were flying around us:
There were some really large butterflies! I couldn't get photos of the iridecent blue ones that didn't seem to stop moving and kept flying out of the frame by the time the digital camera finally took the photo. This photo doesn't do justice to this creature's colors.
After 3 hours at the garden, my brother and his family came over to play some games. The dogs were put upstairs to eliminate any chance of issues between dogs and kids while the adults played a board game. For some reason, Dazzle was having fits in his crate. I think because Coyote was barking, Dazzle was barking. And because Dazzle was barking, Coyote was barking. Plus, they could hear the activities downstairs even though I had a noise machine as loud as possible in the room. But after the day at the garden and the barking during their visit, when I went to bed, he ran into his crate and was sound asleep before I even got into bed! AND he was willing to sleep in late the next day. :-)

Our trip home was good and we stopped off to see Chad, Sarah and Cynic. Dazzle seemed to remember him as a play buddy and there was only a short time of hackles raised from neck to tail before they were running and playing together. Then Dazzle decided the tug toy was his and got in Cynic's face about it. It was just a "yelling arguement" but after that, Cynic kind of kept his distance and was hesitant to tug with him again. Cynic is very good at reading other dog's signals, but Dazzle is still learning how to get his point across without over doing it. :-)
Here's some photos I took. Most of these were taken into the sun, so the color is not as good as it could have been in other light conditions and some of the shadows are dark.
Dazzle loved leading Cynic around with the toy.
Running together with their toys.
Keep away!
The dogs running with Sarah
Nice trot
The dogs are really close in height, but Cynic is much longer and heavier, though certainly not over weight, just more filled out because he's older. Dazzle is 20.5" tall now and turned 5 months old on Jan 1st. Not sure how much he weighs now though. I didn't get many profile shots while visiting family because of the weather and how I was feeling. Rather than weekly photos, I might now do them every few weeks. But I think I'll still check his height each week. He has lost all his puppy teeth now (I think) but still has lots of gaps where the adult teeth are not fully grown in yet. Those adult molars sure go through toys fast!
Now I really need to get to bed because I have to get up early for the show!