Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend video

Here are our runs from the Cyclone Country Kennel Club trial Feb. 17. Phoenix is a work in progress but this is a 180 degree improvement from last fall.

If you turn up the volume, you can hear it was a noisy trial site (plus a funny ringside conversation at the start of our Open run). They were judging specialties in the rings nearby and the bursts of applause occasionally sync with Phoenix completing an exercise, which was kinda cool. Plus I was super happy the ones that occurred in the middle of an exercise didn't derail his brain - another indicator he was in a good place mentally and thinking about his job and not looking for excuses to shut down.

Things I really liked about these runs: happy bounces/willingness to bounce, hard nose touches, play between exercises, wagging tail and good focus on heeling, brisk responses, confident signals, NO BLOODY WALK-INS (gee, that’s a biggie, can ya tell?) and a fair level of technical accuracy.

Things that need work: MY heeling skills, speed transitions (esp. normal-slow-normal), about turns, speed on finishes (he’s gone from slow and crooked to slow and straight, at least we're moving in the right direction), accuracy of his get-in (left) finish, confidence about go-out spot (first go is a little wobbly, second one is much better), more play between exercises and speed on any and all returns/retrieves. Plus probably a dozen other things but ya can’t fix everything at once.

And there are still some obvious stress signals: yawns, lip licking and ears back. But they weren’t a constant, permanent condition like last fall and he was willing to keep working. I'm hoping they will fade as both of us gain more confidence together. I am so proud of my Skinny Little Dog.


  1. That's a difficult show site - you guys look great! Congratulations!

  2. I am thrilled to see the results of your careful analysis and dedication to a happy working relationship with your dog. I started reading your blog last year as I too have a dog that loves training yet does the death march in the ring. Your blog has been very helpful and an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your journey. Congratulations to you both!

  3. I have followed your blog for several months and am so glad you have had success. If I may suggest an exercise (uses food)to increase the speed of the finishes:
    Play the Cookie Toss game for fast finishes on the get-around finish: with your left foot firmly planted on the pavement and your dog sitting in heel position, hold a bunch of cookies in your right hand. Load your left hand with a cookie. The cookie should be small and soft enough for your dog to eat quickly, but needs to show up against the surface. I use cheddar cheese hunks myself. Take a large step forward on your right foot keeping your left foot planted while simultaneously tossing the cookie from your left hand in front of you. Tell your dog to Get It. As he runs out for his cookie, reload your left hand. When he has picked up the cookie, call him to you. When he comes, take a large step back on your right foot, motioning with your right hand the finish signal. As your dog passes behind you, step forward on your right foot, repeating the toss. Remember that your left foot does not move; it remains planted on the ground. After three or four tosses, call your dog, step backwards and signal your dog for the finish. Then stand up straight and bring your right foot up to your left, as you would be during the finish in the obedience ring. Your dog should whip around you and come to a fast sit. This exercise is fast paced and much easier to do than explain.

  4. Thanks, Anne. That was a good explanation! I have done something very similar but suspect I haven't done it enough for it to really stick. It's definitely on my to list as we continue to train.

  5. what a wonderful working boy you have! Congratualtions!

  6. Can I just say WOW! Phoenix looks SO happy and you two are a joy to watch!

  7. Wow that was so much fun to watch. Thank you for sharing the video as we have followed Phoenix for years now so it's fun to see. What a good boy even when he is stressed a bit he never takes his eyes off you and gives you everything he can . What a wonderful job you have done working through . Good Job to you both!!! You must be so proud of him.

  8. Nice. Really nice. I like the way you stop him for the moving stand, much nicer than the abrupt method I use. I'm going to work on that. Thanks for posting both videos.

  9. OMD! I smiled a mile wide through these two videos! I love it! you guys looked great. Although i have to admit, he looked like he was keepin' a lid on his crackery in order to give a polite gentlemanly impression!
    ~wild dingo

    From the swiss cracker to the mid-west cracker: you have it all goin' on Daddy-O! Congratulations! Righteous performance!