Thursday, May 18, 2017

More Tess Progress and Ruby Does Agility

The seller is obviously not ready to part with her house so we're going to continue to look and maybe in a few months she'll be more negotiable.  She's asking too much and while we can afford it, we don't want to overpay and then there's the 3300 square feet issue.  I was liking the idea of my own indoor agility facility though and I think 60x80 would be significantly better than 40x60 so I'll continue to look for a place that we can build on if we can't find a building already there.

On the plus side, it means I'll probably be here for another round of agility classes.  Ruby had her 3rd class of 6 yesterday and it's been very fun and interesting.  I've never had a formal foundation class before outside of a 1/2 day seminar with Stacy Peardot a million years ago.  Nicole Levesque is teaching the class at her indoor Spirited Dog facility and it's following the One Mind Dogs methodology.  I've poured over the videos on the One Mind site so I have a basic idea of the theory and methods but seeing stuff on videos and executing the stuff are two different things.  It looks so simple and yet it's easy to go so wrong so I'm glad I decided to go with a class.  The facility is a 38 minute drive and class starts at 8:00 a.m. on a weekday but I leave early, stop for coffee and so far the rush hour traffic hasn't been awful, even with an accident on one of the mornings and rain the other two.

There are only 4 dogs in the class, another Chihuahua and 2 Border Collie puppies, so there's plenty of personal attention and opportunity for questions. The One Mind 'system' is all about handling the dog's line rather than the obstacles, not a new concept but one that I need work with.  It's good to be able to learn this from the ground up.  Rewards are pre-placed on the dog's line so the handler can send and go.  Obstacle independence and commitment are the other important pieces.  Again, not new concepts but holes in my training with Strummer.  So far we're working on offering a jump, handling on the flat, sending to a reward over jumps, and sends around wings.  Even at this basic stage I'm turning my shoulders the wrong way, partly because of the mechanics of getting Ruby into position so I'll work on teaching her to line up on my side this week.  Getting her to turn to the left is another challenge.  I knew this from Cik/Cap training, she strongly favored turns to the right.  So we'll work on that too.  We're having snow and rain for the next 2 days but I'll get some video of both Ruby and Tess once things dry out.  And I have time for training now that I'm not frantically trying to get a house ready to go on the market.

I did get a few pictures of her yesterday when it was sunny and in the 70's.

She seems huge to me.  I wanted to get Ruby out there for scale but after agility class she crashed for the rest of the day and refused to get off the bed.  She ain't no Border Collie.

She's made a lot of progress.  I've taken her over to my training partner's house several times now and she went from hiding behind me to running around the yard and asking for belly rubs.  She doesn't play with the other dogs, and Monday we were up to 3 other dogs, but she's finally going up to them and sniffing them and is much more comfortable around them.  Also my friend who is a groomer was there on Monday and showed me how to trim her nails.  It was like magic, didn't even use any treats though you could.  I'll have to do a video, hopefully I can do it on my own.  Made perfect sense too, more on that later.  I was not having any luck with moving very slowly using treats and shaping and her nails had gotten so long.

She caught her first tennis ball today.  Then she did it again!  Very exciting.  Such a clever girl.

She mostly did well on her road trip.  Didn't want to go in the hotel room at first but eventually decided it was o.k. when she saw everyone else in there.  There was a dog constantly barking in a yard that was only a block away so it was challenging getting her to go out to do her business.  And since she's a puppy we took her out a lot.  We only had one or two instances of her completely freezing and refusing to take another step but she worked through it and mostly was o.k.  Worried but able to deal with it.  She did great with riding in the car with the realtor and being left alone while we looked at houses.  She'd been struggling with being left alone in the car so that was a big deal.  Thinking about it, she had Ruby with her whereas the times she struggled it was just her so we'll have to work on weaning her off of Ruby.  But for now Ruby makes all the difference for her.

I thought she'd be better walking around the neighborhood when we got home but the first day back she was worse, I could barely get her past the house.  Not sure what it was about unless the mountain lion had been nearby and she could smell it.  She's doing o.k. now but since she's gotten bigger her sometimes frantic pulling for home is becoming a problem for me.  Between my knees and back I can't tolerate dogs pulling me around like a sack of potatoes so we had a couple bad mornings where the last few blocks took forever since I stopped as soon as she pulled which of course only makes it worse as she got more and more frantic to get home.  I switched our route around and that has helped so far.

Perhaps today I'll try an indoor place - Home Depot or McGuckin's (Boulder's hardware store).  Up until now I thought it would be too much for her but I think she's ready.

I've been training her on the flatwork from Ruby's agility class but not on the jumps.  Tess is only 5 months and in my mind this is way too young for jumps of any kind.  Plus she's a little clumsy, gumby legs going in all directions.  But Nicole insists a bar or half a pool noodle on the ground is o.k.  And yes the One Mind videos show a 4 month old puppy going over a low bar (below the hock).  But still.  I know she's at a great place for learning but there seems to be so much else she can learn.  For now I'm going to hold off on the jumping, even if it is just a low bar.  Someone in class had the great idea of duct tape on the ground so maybe I'll try that.  Or even a rope.  Or maybe just wait.

She's doing better in the backyard, plays more with toys, not as nervous to go out in it in general.  Dogs barking when she can't see them are a huge trigger for her, even if it's only faint barking and I wonder if that might have come from being in a crate in a van at 4 weeks old on a long drive up from Texas with lots of other dogs in crates panic barking the whole way.  Flooding gone wrong.  Or maybe not, who knows, just a theory.  In any case she's doing a bit better with this, able to stay in the yard when she hears barking, able to continue on her walk.  Mostly.

Both dogs spent almost the entire weekend hanging out in the yard while we weeded like crazy trying to cut back the jungle and make our house and yard look presentable.  I think this helped her feel more comfortable in the yard.  Hopefully she'll do some training for toys once the storm blows over and things dry up.  She has a pretty short attention span but she is only a baby still.

More videos and photos next week.  Unless another house comes up and I have to go back to Mancos and things get crazy again.

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