Practice, Nov 29, 2011

Tonight Tasha and I played with our behaviors for Freestyle. We worked on several but not all. First up I set up the xpen for swish training. She is really getting this idea now and is eager to go in the pen with me. She will back up in half circles now with slight prompting but once she gets in front of me, she needs slightly more. We practiced both directions and at this time I am using the same cue for both directions.

We also practiced Paw and Hand. Putting raising of the left and right paws on cue is a precursor to doing this on cue when I raise my legs. I have started standing or half bending, because up until now I have either been sitting or kneeling on the floor.

We then moved on to Ports and Turns, spins left and right. She still needs help with Turn so I need to keep that in mind and work more on that.

Crawling is coming along too. I still have to prompt the down and use my hand but she no longer gets up when I say Crawl and she’ll do two “paces” at the crawl now.

We worked on Roll Over and Play Dead too. Then moved on to platform work. She is really good at these and loves the platforms! She is quite eager to play and I began tonight to not turn my head as much to indicate the side I want her on. So trying to transition to more verbal awareness instead of physical cues of where I’m looking. I used most of her dinner in one session tonight and she was eager to keep playing these games with me! This is the best she has ever done and her stamina for “playing” is growing which is great if we’re going to do a 2 minute routine!

I then played with Shadow. She still needs so much prompting! Legs, which is our weave the legs cue, still needs prompting and physical cues to get her started. I’m not sure where we went wrong with her on her shaping. She is the queen of ADD for dogs. She is so busy trying things she doesn’t stop on those things that work! Platform work for example. She is just now, after 5 sessions, beginning to just stand on the platform. Tasha had that part down in 2! If I move to the side to begin preparations for Heel and Side, she shifts off the platform and can’t get back on. I need to give her time to think but also need to do more proofing of the platform and build more value for being on it. If I am too far away with the cookie, she pops off the platform when I click. A frustrating challenge to work through.

Then I did some Roll Over and Play Dead work and the dog has to shift 20 times before laying down to do either behavior. So more work with just the down, then cue the RO or PD.

Then Kota. I found out tonight that he won’t Left (roll over going left) anymore. I think it’s because of his leg. Our last session before Thanksgiving, he was resistant to Lefts whereas Roll Overs are fine. Now he won’t do them at all. :(. He was still very eager to play games and threw out his Ports and Turns with ease, but Left, not anymore.

He gets the Legs cue though and he will still offer his Say Hi behavior. He’s also getting the platform work though I’m not asking him for a stand so he sits on it. Other than those we did a free shape with my shoe. I want to teach him to just stand in my shoes because I think it would be cute. And the little brainiac needs *something* to do!

I watched Susan Garret’s Stand Is Fun video tonight. This is a behavior that Tasha and I have struggled so mightily with. Susan’s demonstration will be tried tomorrow and since Tasha already knows a hand target, perhaps this will go better than everything else we’ve tried!

I also like what she said about games and how they need to be fun. If what you are trying isn’t working, break it down into smaller pieces that could be used to create the desired end behavior. This is what I’m trying to do with the swish behavior by teaching her a cue for backing around me. I spent an hour doing all these sessions tonight and had fun doing it!

Adventures in Freestyle

I know in my last post I said I was going to post pics of our trip to the beach, well you can get them here.

This post is going to be about Freestyle again. 🙂

Tasha and I are moving right along in our training. She now has a larger bag of tricks to select from and the challenge now will be to narrow down the ones I want to use in our first competition in May.  We’re going to dance to the Summer of ’69 and we need to come up with a routine of 1:35 seconds.  I think we can do it, heck we can heel around the ring for that long and that’s all that Heelwork to Music is all about!

One thing I like about agility over freestyle is that in agility, I have to train a bunch of skills and then hope they are enough the day of the trial. With freestyle I have to train a bunch of skills, put them in a specific order and then put that order to music so it all flows together nicely. This will be my challenge.

To start, I am going to list all of our tricks that are at least on physical/verbal cue.

Tricks on Physical/Verbal Cue
Roll over – V
Play dead – V
Spin left – V
Spin right – V/P
Backup in sync – V/P
Backup in Front position – V/P
Pick up right or left paw – V/P
Circle around to Heel position – V/P
Weave my legs w/ me walking forward – V/P

New Tricks We Have Started
Weave my legs w/ me walking backwards
Beg with front feet on my stomach
Peek a boo (stand between my legs)
Circle backwards around me

We are also working on getting into Heel or Side position on verbal cues. Using platforms for this. I uploaded some videos to YouTube of our most recent class.

Platform Work

Working on Crawl

Working on Backup

And a pick of our Beg trick.


Tasha and I are exploring Canine Freestyle. There are several organizations for titling and we have been taking classes for over a month now. Freestyle is basically a bunch of tricks strung together into a sequence and then put to music. She and I are working on Front and Heel at the moment using a platform.  So far so good.

I spent today at a Freestyle competition to get a better feel for how things are done and to get some ideas.  It’s a lot like agility, some great runs, some goods runs and some not so good runs. But everyone, handlers and dogs, had a good time and that’s the key.  Since Tasha and I already have some competition experience and she also works well next to me, I think we should be able to get two beginners legs pretty easily next May.  The hard part will be deciding on music, getting that music cut to about 1 minute 40 seconds and then practicing putting it all together! We already have a song picked out but I’m having a tough time getting it cut in a format that can play in a CD player. Oi vey!!!

On a non-dog related note Bryan and Michelle Decker came out a week ago to spend a week with us. It was great to have company and to have good friends to hang out with.  Kris especially enjoyed their company and he was able to take most of the week off to hang out with them. We did fun things like go to the shore, go to Tillamook and just hang out and have fun.  They did other fun things while I was at work on Tues and Wed as well. Oh and we did go ride the Carousel at Riverfront Park. 😀 Yay!  They headed up to Portland on Friday and flew out early on Saturday morning.  I hope they had as much fun as we did despite the rocky start!  Neither of their bags arrived with them at the airport from Denver. 🙁 And on Sunday morning as we were leaving the house, Michelle slipped on our front stoop and scraped up her foot and did some damage to her big toe. 🙁  She was a sport and didn’t let that stop her from walking on the beach in sandals or enjoying herself any less. 😀

I got some great shots on the beach on Thursday. I have to decrease their size in order to upload them to my server, so once I get that done, another post of pictures shall be in order. 😀