Thursday, March 27, 2008

rah fails at rally but passes utility?

Class tonight for the first time in about 2 weeks, since we missed last weeks class due to the shows at Edison, and Wednesdays classes were on hiatus these past two weeks...

decided since we've been off for awhile to do a drop in for the Rally class. Apparently a big mistake - rah HAD been doing well up until his third run through, at which point he rah into the jump. he was heeling, i sent him, and he ran his entire body into the jump standard... and while he escaped without injury, the jump hit him in the butt. Which cemented his fear that there are ass monsters out there trying to attack him, and for the rest of the evening, rah was PETRIFIED of the jump being behind him, JUST INCASE it was going to fall and attack him.

I know, he's such a big, brave doberman.

I spent the last 10 minutes of class just sending him over the jump a few times, which he did for cookie marks. We just hung out and watched novice, and then onto open...

Heeled around. First time Rah has heeled in about 2 weeks, he didn't do so badly. Felt out of shape like WHOA, his sits were pretty good if I do say so myself, his attention was spot on, he had two sits where my signals were off so in one he just didn't sit at all, and in the other he sat too far back, but he was pretty straight all in all.

DId the continuous figure 8 exercise next and Rah's actually starting to show some improvement there, I think - It's so hard to get him to back off of me, especially when half of the fig8 exercise involves the outer post - and that to Rah is a race, his fave game :) But he's bumping me I'd say about 70% less than he did in the past and he's got his head up and he's definitely doing better.

Next were restrained recalls, and I am so pleased with the progress his fronts are making - even when I do not line up straight for him :) He's really nailing his fronts, coming in and setting up straight and he KNOWS it, which is so cute and adorable :) I didn't do any DOR's today, just regular fronts.

Next we brought out high jumps, broad jumps, and the db. Rah did some nice broad jumps, but I didn't work the HJ much since he was so afraid of the jumps today. I took it easy with retrieves since he had utility to do later on...

We ended that class with attention work in the face of Terry the trainer tossing the db down the center of the room while we worked the dogs on the side - Rah did well. Then she came up to us and handed us the db again and we had to keep the dogs looking at us.

Rah took a quick break and then onto utility. There were three of us tonight - the aussie is back (took classes back when it was open/utility) and me and Teri are both in it - clearly the Aussie is much more advanced than us!!! so two blue dobes and an aussie. The aussie and I started with scent articles - she's working tie-downs, and apparently she had a rough week with articles because she had to work 40 scent articles!!!!!!! Rah worked the entire pile happily, which I was pleased with, and he's on day 4 of week 2 of ATC ... I'm not decided yet if I will move on to week three or do 2 weeks of week 2... I think I might move on to week 3, he's getting it. My trainer did say that for the very brief sniffs of the metal articles, that I should just ignore them right now - she said he worked the pile nicely and seemed to have a good purpose about the entire thing, and he's doing it happily so I'm good with that if she is!

Then we moved to go outs - we started it this week with Terry putting the cheese on the gait, and the first time I gave Rah the look, he was so confused because I've always put the cheese there, he didn't understand that there could be cheese without me putting it there!!!!! Silly dog... then once he realized cheese can come from heaven (or Terry), he was OBSESSED with the cheese, so I had to get out the clicker and click him for attention, and actually had to get out the LEAVE IT command so he would stop staring at the cookie until i TOLD him to...

finally had nice attention, so i could finally reward him with a look at the cookie, and finally a go-out :) and he's doing nice sits, but I quickly realized that I wasn't using his NAME before I told him to sit, so I have to remember to do that (it's a quick and easy legal double command!) And we worked those for about 10-15 minutes, and it culminated with Rah doing a 15 foot go-out on the flexi, which was pretty nice!!!!

We did some directed jumping, but it was only 2 jumps on each, because Rah was unsure with the jumping so it was more to remind him that he can do it. Then we put the dogs away (by now he'd done three classes, remember!) and did some footwork for pivots for the gloves and called it a night.

On non-training news, Berlin broke Rah's Noz2Noz crate tonight while I was doing scent articles, and now I need to get new soft crates.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

ahh, spring is in the air...

Worked Rah outside today for the first time since last year, really - the grass is still really soft, but my front yard can handle a few light jumps!

I had very low criterion - Rah is still pretty distracted outside, and to be honest my house/yard is probably MORE distracting for him than a show, because of conditioning. At shows he has been conditioned that he pays attention, cookies are coming, and this is a time that we train and do things together. At my house, this is a place where he has been conditioned and constantly self-rewarded and reinforced for barking at the neighbors dogs - most of which live outside and/or wander around loose.

So for this training session we had:

  • neighbor to the left had her two large dogs - one a newfie mix, one an ancient pyr, both outside and off leash hanging out in the front yard.
  • neighbor to diagonal left had their golden living outside in his pen, where he is 24/7 as far as i can tell. he barks all the time
  • neighbor across the street kinda to the left has his pen of outdoor dogs that live there 24/7 - mostly labs and one dal for variety, barking their heads off. props to this guy, though - he does hunt these dogs. i am jealous, because he had freshly killed birds he fed them. i want freshly killed birds for my dogs... but that's for another blog...
  • neighbor across the street and to the right, with his brittanys - they were in the driveway and then went into the house. they were the only dogs that ignored rah.
  • neighbor to the right with her poor lab that is somewhere in the house and barking his head off. which is better than her last lab, which lived outside all the time and barked until she lost her voice, permanently.
Anyway, I set up a broad jump, a high jump, and brought the db.
Rah was in high gear when we got out there, scanning the yard and looking for someone to bark at. He was very willing to set up for me and gave me probably 60-70% attention, but nowhere near his normal amount. He maintained position and actually performed everything asked of him, but he just lacked attention :) So he can listen without watching, but I don't want that!

We heeled 2 short patterns and did some set ups, as well as some changes of position. As predicted, the more I threw at him the better his attention got as he was forced to watch me, but as soon as one of the dogs started barking at him, he got so worked up he missed a sit at the last halt.

broad jump was nice, he didn't care that these were different than the ones we normally used and he did 4 nice ones, so i just did some maintenance on the bits and pieces. he did try to cut the corner, but bad mom also forgot to bring the bar jump board out to put there to encourage him to jump out and straight.

retrieve was nice as always, he did perfect ones. mental note though, i will have to practice throwing on grass because the db does NOT bounce on grass and i didnt count on that, so my throws are sometimes short. quick out, nice quick grab and straight back to front.

high jumps were good, only asked for 2 of those because he was doing them straight at the neighbors 2 dogs sitting in their yard and i figured two of them was enough.

ill be working attention out in the front yard i think, with my clicker, and maybe a modified LAT a la control unleashed - its not so much the vision of the other dogs, but the barking of my neighbors dogs that set him off - but only because he is SO WORKED UP at the thought of THOSE particular dogs, and any dogs walking past the front of my house. all my dogs get pretty territorial about their house, so...

i think i will order the carrying case for the jumps i just bought, and i need to order another db or two. just to have spares. one can never have too many db's right?

anxiety monsters

The anxiety monsters step in... aka when do you start showing your dog?

I'm having trouble deciding when to start showing Rah. There are a few factors coming into this:

1) Finances - I cannot afford the time or money right now to seriously show my dog every weekend - I've got three months where my weekends are devoted to other things, showing in other venues, we have dog camp, etc. Then we hit summer, and I am not campaigning Rah over the summer at outdoor shows - too much distraction, too much heat in this area (for both me and him!). And if I am not sure he is ready, I cannot afford to drop hundreds of dollars at a time for him to blow entries - when he is ready to show and finish his CD, I am going to have to enter him in every show within a few hour driving for his 60 days in Nov A to take advantage of the 60 days I will have in Novice A after finishing his CD to use it to its fullest - and that is going to take a lot out of us. I know we aren't ready for that...

2) Ready for open immediately after? Definitely not - while he would do fine with all the other exercises and he is a fiend for them (he enjoys open much more than Novice!), he would most certainly fail at his out of sight sits and downs - in fact, his sits and downs are what may kill us in Novice. So while we may be able to compete indefinitely for the time being in Novice (but see above - right now I am not able to seriously campaign him in Novice right now!), I don't necessarily WANT to be forced into doing that. Rah loves open work, and I'd like to do it at some point :)

3) It's a silly goal, but a dog capable of getting scores higher than 195.5 is able to qualify for TT - and it ends in July for this year. Why waste showing pre-July when he won't be shown enough to qualify for TT this year? If I start seriously campaigning him at the end of this year, I can put a more serious effort into making TT, if he's capable of that.

Which ones again brings me to IS RAH READY? Am I READY? When do I know? He's entered one day in Novice A out in Harrisburg, but I am seriously considering pulling him for that and just doing more Rally to get more ring time in for him, and seeing how he does and how his attention and maturity has been, and seriously putting some effort into matching him over the summer and see how he does. I'd also like to try some Wild Card (and will have to research if I have to have any titles to do Open Wild Card?). I am wondering if perhaps the better option would be to attempt him some other venues - UKC or ASCA, and see how he does there. If he cannot get a CD there, no sense in trying him in AKC yet, and him titling in that venue will not affect him for Nov A purposes in AKC.

So yes - I think the better option is UKC obedience - which means I wasted an AKC entry, but we shall see...

sorry for the whining. For all I know Rah may never even get his CD, and I will love him all the same. I'm the one that wants these titles, not him... he just wants the dumbbell thrown another time.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

week two...

started week two of ATC two nights ago, which starts scenting leather articles.

I knew Rah wouldn't have a problem with leather, since he loves leather articles, much more than he could even begin to comprehend - leather is his friend :) However, he was a tad confused. While he was more than happy to retrieve them for me, without me scenting them, he was happy to tug them, he was BEYOND thrilled when the cheese and scent went on the leather article, a few times he just had to make himself wrong by checking out a metal article after he had already indicated (the correct) leather article.

I am chalking this up to I just spent two entire weeks on week one of A.T.C., just because I was worried he would have issues with metal. I don't think he didn't know which was the scented article - he clearly indicated the scented article first, and had already licked it (though never picked up -he had never picked up the article and then dropped it to go check out another article, he's never been THAT wrong) - he just licks and indicates, then gives a quick look at a metal article. He's so quick that I almost don't have time to give the correction that Janice tells us to give.

I do want to get the correction in - not because I enjoy correcting, but I want him to understand that once he has indicated his correct article and I have TOLD him that he has found the right one (which I do the minute he indicates the correct article), it's wrong to LEAVE that article for anything else.

We also worked on go-outs, which Rah is starting to enjoy. However, I'm going to have to move go-outs to another room, because I've maxed out how far I can do them in the room I have the ring gates set up in! My jumps came as well, so I will have to start working directed jumping at home as well.

Didn't get to class this week - ended up running late at the show in Edison, where Rah went as moral support for Mercury who put in a happily inaccurate but still qualifying performance. Good enough for a green ribbon and ironically third place - which is mind boggling since Rah can pull in the 90's and still not place ... ah the difference between the A and B classes :) Also the difference between showing in classes with 4-6 dogs and 14-20 dogs. I do so love small classes...
Wednesday classes do not resume until April, so I have next week off as well. Hope to get some outdoor training in tomorrow, when I debate about whether or not I want to see my family for Easter. I don't know... do I feel a cold coming on?

Went to the Edison show again today where my dogs got stunning Hogan collars and both dogs were well- behaved for their respective age groups and training levels - Berlin jumped up on people and tried to steal toys and cookies, but it was better than her being fearful and reactive, YAY! Rah was sweet and shmoozy and his Rah-self and was loved on by all, Berlin was a tease and went up to many, kissed a few, and tried to entice some dogs to play but none were interested. Missed pretty much all of obedience, but once again am filled with jealousy at my dobe friends who are already showing their dogs and qualifying and doing well and somehow feel like I am missing out and somehow need to be out there doing it all now, or that I should be doing better, faster, more.

Plan for tonight:
more "findits" with Rah, more attention with Berlin. Figure out what classes the dogs will be in next session.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A non-obedience brag of great import...

Perhaps more important than anything else on earth, Rah reached a great milestone last night.

Granted, it was helped by a variety of things - including that he was very well exercised after a hike yesterday, and he was semi-drugged since he ran his pads off and I had to give him some pain meds since he was virtually non-weight bearing on his left front foot...


are you ready for this?


Count them.

THREE (3) ... 1....2....3...

YES T.H.R.E.E. hours while I ran errands. Loose out of his crate in my living room.

I'm so proud of him I could retire him right now. Bowie's Semper Fidelis v DRU, RN WAC TT CGC SOOCOFTH (Stayed out of crate once for three hours)

Completely not obedience related. But very much a sign that Rah has matured, at least a little bit.

Berlin is currently at handling class with Lydia and I am nursing a fat lip from Rah who muzzle punched me in the face and almost knocked me out.

Rah worked a full pile of articles again tonight, we're still in week one of Around the Clock, but he's going very well and I've got it figured out well and he likes this method now. My stanchions, ring gates, new article bag, and gloves should be here tomorrow. I'm debating moving him on to week 2 of ATC, or keeping him at week 1... I think I will move him on, since he's working the entire pile nicely.

No class next wednesday, and I'm not sure we're going to class next Thursday since Lydia is showing at Edison. Will depend on how well his foot heals, I think...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

last class of the session last night, we're off for 2 weeks and then we start back up in april - off because the wed and thursday night classes are off schedule with each other and thursday night is 2 weeks behind wed nights.

first, i wore different sneakers, much better :) started with heeling again, and rah was much better - he gets alittle crazy with 10-15 dogs on the floor and thats when the bumping gets a little out of hand. we then did off leash, and rah only had his double leash on him - not bad, but i forgot to cue him as much as he needed so we missed the first sit completely (so i know that was a ME issue and not a him).

what was actually pretty nice was his sits were much closer to me and for the most part, MUCH straighter than they have been - hes also been setting up much straighter than he has been, which is VERY nice!! articles has helped that - setting up 10 times a night before he gets to retrieve the right scent article is nice!

then we did transitions - fig 8 to SFE to off lead heeling. rahs fig 8 wasnt half bed - bumped a few times and his last halt was crooked sit, but lydia was throwing the db during it (THANKS LYDIA ) and he still gve me about 98% attention, he dropped his head once when lydia tossed it and came right back up to me without any prompting from me, which was good! not even enough time for me to say anything or get a correction in. im not sure im ever going to get rid of his bumping, but he was OUT OF MY WAY and i could do a reasonable path, so we're making progress.

fig 8 was good, and we did nice transitions, all in all i was happy.

then we did some retrieves and rah of course was insanely happy - worked on bringing the dog back snappy and heads up by luring with a cookie. benefits of having the worlds largest dog is that the heads already up so we just played until rah was frothing at the mouth (no i do not know why my dog foams at the mouth, and yes i know its gross, but he does it when hes excited and gets all worked up - db, the get it game do it to him the most).

then we did stays and he didnt break, which was nice - still working tension at 6 feet, but he hasnt broken in a month, yes good boy RAH!!!

no articles last night, i was tired.

berlin should have competition puppy tonight, but i need to run errands to be honest, the drive is killing me so she may not go tonight. shes doing very well working at home, so i may just skip tonight again to get the errands i need done.

An intro

I've been posting to LJ for awhile, but maybe doing a blogspot journal for me will be more conducive to me having a real training journal for the dogs :)

I guess now is a good time to intro the beasts, right?

Rah... where to start with Rah. the light of my life, the shrieking in my ear, the smirk on my face, I love the dog and he drives me crazy. I adopted him almost 2 years ago next month from Doberman Rescue Unlimited in Sandown, NH (jesus, it's been that long?!?!?!?!) where he was guaranteed to be an adolescent male dobe that would be returned to rescue multiple times because he was That.Bad.Of.A.Dog.

Rah is incorrigible. In fact, if you look up the definition of incorrigible, you see a picture of Rah next to it - the correct spelling of the word is incorRAHgible. Rah is bad beyond correction. I don't know what I expected giving my dog the name OohRah - a dog whose name is so guttural (yes, it's the marine call - see his registered name?) , a dog whose name is such a good word to yell when they are doing bad thing s- Rah is sharp, quick, and fast when you go RAH!, but you can also draw it out and whine it.... RAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah when he's being a brat. For three letters, theres so much you can do.

The dogs name also lends itself to Rahman Noodle. A dog whose nickname becomes Rahman Noodle - well, you're in trouble.

I adore this dog - he is so bad, he's hilarious. Even when he does terrible, horrible, very bad things - you cannot help but laugh at him. Yes, I have actually had to go into the bathroom to laugh while I am yelling at him, because he just gives you THE LOOK. I am trying to explain to him why we DO NOT bring poopsicles in the house and why if a dog DID bring them in the house (which I still discourage), we CERTAINLY do not encourage said dog to EAT THEM ON MY LEATHER COUCH (or even eat them at all, PERIOD) - and he's staring at me so intently, because you know, ATTENTION WORK MEANS that the end reward is you get to eat your treat. THe damned dog is giving me attention SO I CAN LET HIM GO EAT THE FRIGGIN POOPSICLE. I had to leave the room I was crying so hard.

(by the way, I didn't let him eat the poopsicle, to his dismay).

Rah is the blueblurry. He adores tennis balls, all sorts of food, chasing things, running around like a crazy man, and being pet. He has never met a stranger that he couldn't make love him, and despite his ridiculousness he is the best dog I have ever seen around children. He used to drive me crazy with how much energy he had - I used to work 12-14 hour days and come home and have to throw the tennis ball for 2 hours to just get him to go to sleep... He has the perfect balance of stable calm temperament mixed with will protect the mama, and most of all, this dog works.

I will stay that again - this dog works. This dog works his heart out - this dog works for hours on end, and works nonstop. He loves to work, and he loves it 100% - he doesn't do anything halfway, he does everything (tennis) balls to the wall. Rah is almost 32 inches of pure drive, determination, and will to work. He is a joy to work, but his drive can be frustrating for a novice handler like me because with a wonderful experienced handler, he'd be an OTCH already - he's so sensitive to me, that I can screw him up with just a flick of my shoulder, a slight lean of my body (as is with all good dogs!) - he really deserves a much better handler than me.

I do strive for perfection from him, and god bless his big blue heart, he gives it to me as best he can, and he humors me. Rah works with his tongue hanging out all the time, and his is the dumbbell with blood all over it because he bites his tongue retrieving. he quivers waiting to be sent for things, and he never takes his eyes off of me (I don't have such great control over the last 12 inches of his body, but being almost 4 feet long, I'm working with a lot more dog, folks!).

Rah has heart, and rah has a wicked wicked mind. Rah understands english and has figured out what all my instructors commands mean - he can end his own exercise (ok, exercise finished, break and praise), he also knows the change of paces (especially normal and to a fast!) - he doesn't even need me out there.

Rah works for pure love of the sport. Rah loves working with me, and he loves anything we do together. Rah will eat first, ask questions later, and Rah would sell his soul for a tennis ball. Rah is pure, unadulterated Rah-ness.