Sunday, April 18, 2010

On The Road (again)

Today was another stunningly gorgeous day, and Zachary and I headed On The Road (again (again)).

Once (again) we were back at the Library to test Training Levels 2 Come (On The Road), but this time I picked a sidewalk along the side of the building where it appeared I could get the whole 40' somewhat safely and Zachary had never been there before. The "safely" turned out to be a bit of an illusion, as it was just shrubs forming one side with gaps between that looked much larger when you were beside them than they had appeared when I had spotted the path from a distance.

Still, with options limited, I decided it would have to do.

I need not have worried. Despite some rather interesting shrubs and bark quite close to the path, Zachary galloped to me with ease...

... at least, as easy as he could with a leash tangling around his legs...

... my bad...

Thankfully, it didn't make a difference in the end other than slowing the return down a bit.

(Editor's Note: Wow, you can actually capture a single frame from an MP4... as shown above... and you can click on it to see it larger.)

Next stop was back to the outdoor Cafe to work on out-of-sight stays for Canine Good Citizen. There are several nice (bolted to the ground) metal benches about 20' from the Cafe, and the doors of the Cafe are tinted glass so I could see him and he couldn't see me.


I practiced going in and out, in (pause) and out, in (pause, pause, pause) and out... etc. for a few minutes. He made it up to one minute before he stood up, and (most importantly) he didn't appear to whimper, or even think of whimpering.

As a bonus, the older gentlemen playing chess inside seemed to find it a spectator sport and were watching with great interest to see what he would do.

I then gave Meet-n-Greet a few minutes, but with the sun on the benches and no customers in sight, I quickly abandoned hope and took off for the local big-box hardware store. I practiced Loose Leash with Zachary amongst the rows of flowers (he was quite interested in the place but generally listened, although his sits were glacial.)

Finally, taking pity on my panting puppy, I took him just inside the sliding doors to enjoy the cool cement and the lovely air-conditioning.

And there, finally, after way too many failures...

... we found people.

Friendly people.

People who wanted to say "hi" and pet my dog. Old people and children and teenage girls... wonderful people who (after I explained to them that Zachary needed to learn to stay seated to pass his Canine Good Citizen test) stopped petting him every time he stood up and started every time he sat down.

Was he perfect?

No, of course not, but by the end he stay seated when the friendly young woman took both hands, ruffled his ears, and cooed at him in that impossible-to-resist teenage girl voice.

I think my local big-box hardware store has earned a loyal customer for life!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On The Road

Today, Zachary and I headed out "On The Road" (again?)

This time we went to the outdoor Cafe associated with the Library. I picked that spot because I wanted to test a 20' Come (half of Level two's 40' requirement and twice Canine Good Citizen's 10' requirement) and I knew the area was somewhat enclosed and usually had at least a few people there - particularly on a Saturday as nice as today.

My thinking was that on the off-chance Zachary didn't come, he would go a-visiting. While that wouldn't be great, it would be a heck of a lot better than running out into the street or parking lot!

It turns out I had nothing to fear. After "warming up" testing Distance (2' around a cone) and Go To Mat (5'), and noting the mom reading to her sweet little girl just a few feet away, I put Zachary in a sit-stay and walked about 20' away.

"Zachary, Here!"

Zoooooooom... goes Zachary, and a heart-beat or two later he was looking up at me adoringly.


For our last "trick", I decided to test 10 seconds of Watch.

Yeah, right.

Remember that mom and the sweet little girl? They must have hit a funny part of the book. Every time the girl giggled Zachary just had to look. Every 8-9 seconds there would be another giggle, every 8-9 seconds he would look over. He didn't move, but he didn't keep eye contact continuously either.

As the book showed no signs of ending, I finally turned off the camera and tried to use it a teachable moment, but it's really hard to say if it sank in or not.

Finally, and the real reason we were there, it was time to do a Meet-n-Greet. Remember last time when Zachary had no "customers"? I was really hoping today wouldn't be a repeat. To that end, I parked him as close to the sliding glass doors as I could get without him triggering the auto-opening feature. I also timed things so the library was about 30 minutes from closing so I figured people would have to be leaving. Lastly, I had him all dressed-up in a cute red-heart scarf.

Once again, he looked adorable.

I wish I could say 1000 people came to say "hi", but I can't.

We certainly had many folks walk by - most within a foot or two - but most kept going in or out. Zachary was so good. He sat, stood, or laid down as I asked, he looked at the people longingly, occasionally had a quick hand to nose interaction, and was a really good boy.

He did get a few "takers" and his ability to stay seated is obviously still a work in progress, but all in all, I was pleased. I do think next time we'll have to find a new spot. This one just isn't working out as well for Zachary as it did for Beau.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CGC Class #2

Ok... I hate to break it to everyone but...

Zachary was "on" tonight in Canine Good Citizen Class.

Zachary was great doing sits and downs on his mat.
Zachary was great doing sits and downs on the prickly bark.
Zachary was great doing sits and downs 10 feet away from me.

Zachary was good doing figure-8's around the dog-and-handler "posts".  Yes, that is a good and not a great, but good isn't bad when it's only class #2. There was a bit more interest in a patch of bark than I would like, but he got better with a few tries.

Zachary was great doing 20' recalls.
Zachary was good doing 20' recalls past the plate of treats (he blew it just once)
Zachary was great doing 20' recalls past the instructor's dog.

Zachary was pretty good ignoring the friendly stranger - blew the first one (those darn Friendly Genes expressing themselves again) but stayed put after that for both strangers approaching, as well as strangers petting.  I think giving the "Leave It!" cue as the stranger approaches has really made a huge difference.

Zachary was even great for the reaction to another dog (handlers approach, stop, dogs sit, handlers shake hands, continue walking in opposite directions.) I used a single "Leave it!" there as well, but I'm not sure it was really needed. I'm torn between wanting to drop the cue, and not wanting to break a "winning streak." Will have to give it some thought.

Zachary wasn't good for Supervised Separation - his mouth did that pre-whimper open-close-open-close thing as I walked outside the chain-link (ie: see through) fence and he looked as though he thought I might never return again.

Oh well, something to work on for next week.

(and we even had a bonus "distraction" of several large double-rotor helicopters flying overhead)

Yeah Zachary!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Goals - Revisited

I felt like a deer in the headlights.

There I was, sitting in our first Canine Good Citizen (CGC) class, when the instructor turned and asked, "So, why do you want to get the CGC certificate?" And of course, she was looking right at me.

Uh Oh...




I babbled something inane and then sat there feeling just a tad foolish. Not that there was anything wrong with the question. I can see how it could be useful information to an instructor. I might be there wanting to get Zachary certified as a Therepy dog, or need him as an Assistance dog, or... or....

Of course I wasn't and I don't.


Remember back a few weeks ago when I decided I needed a reason for my goals? Goals just like attaining the CGC Certificate? You see the funny thing (well, funny in hind sight) is that I had actually already figured out The Answer.

I even blogged about it.


What? Didn't see it? That's because I never published it. I don't know, it just seemed rather... silly.

First I babbled about having goals, then I refreshed your memories as to what mine were (you'll be spared that list this time around, but if you just can't live without seeing it, CLICK HERE) and then I moaned and wailed about lacking motivation, why should I go on, etc...

Really, it was the stuff of daytime television (well, it would have been in the 80's, when I actually had time to watch TV during day, not that I did, because, really, who could watch that stuff???)

Where was I?

Oh yes, wailing and gnashing my teeth, oh my.

And then it hit me. I looked up at the top of my blog and I suddenly knew exactly why I had goals and my reasons for wanting to achieve them.

Do you see it? Right there under the big, bold words "BZ Training"?

"A Journey Toward Canine Enlightenment"

Flip over to my other blog and you'll find:

"A Busy Dog is a Happy Dog"

Yup, corney as it sounds, that's it. And like so many such revelations, it was right there, right in front me, all along.

I do wish it was something fancier, meatier, something-ier. Something I could say with pride, like: I want to find lost children, keep terrorists from blowing up airplanes, and rid the planet of evil!

But it's not.

I really, truly, honestly just want my boys to stay busy, keep learning, and be happy.

... but let's see you say that in a class.


Scrapbook - Jump

As we were working on Training Levels Four - High Jump (yes, it is supposed to be 2" high)  I realized what a wonderful way to capture "action" it would be (see Photography.)

... and here is the results.

(As always, click to see larger)

Bet you can't tell which dog is faster!  (grin)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CGC Class #1

Last night was the first night of Canine Good Citizen Class for Zachary. This is his second try at this class, the first being over a year ago, and I have at least some hope that he will be able to pass the test in six weeks (four more classes, a week off, and then the test)

Once again, here's the Reader's Digest version of the test:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger
2. Sitting politely for petting
3. Appearance and grooming
4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
5. Walking through a crowd
6. Sit and down on command and Staying in place
7. Coming when called
8. Reaction to another dog
9. Reaction to distraction
10. Supervised separation

Last night we worked on 1, 2, 4, and 6.

The Good: #6 (basic commands). All that Training Level's stuff is paying off. I expected him to sit and down without issue (and he did) but then he held his down-stay like a champ as I walked out and back in 5' increments until reaching 20'. All this while sitting in a line with dogs he's never met before. I was tickled and pleased - positively glowing!

Sit-Stay was a smidge harder, as he's been going down on his sits lately, and sure enough he went down while I went out 15', but that was his only "blip" After resetting, he remained seated while I repeated the exercise and went on to 20'.

Good Zachary!!!

(Thankfully, CGC doesn't care how they stay just so long as they don't leave their spot and I would definitely put him in a down-stay for the test.)

The Bad: (ok... not really bad, more a so-so...)

Ah the "friendly stranger" exercises (#1 and 2).


Zachary was more than happy to greet the stranger, but alas, that isn't the point of the exercise. After a few fits and starts, I tried something new - a solid "Leave it!" as the "stranger" approached (Stranger Zen!)

What do you know, but it worked! Yes, I then went on to repeat the command every two seconds (bad handler) but gosh, darn it, I was just so excited that it actually worked!

After being duly chastised for repetitive commands, I tried again with a single "Leave it!" while the "stranger" approached and my boy was "passable". Lots of snuffling and attempts to lick the strangers hand while being petted, but the butt stayed on the ground, the paws never moved, and that's all that's needed.

Good Zachary!

The Ugly: And yes, this was ugly - #4 (out for walk). This was sort of a "my bad". Zachary uses a no-pull harness. Zachary likes his no-pull harness. Zachary is pretty good on his no-pull harness.

CGC doesn't allow a no-pull harness.

Plan B: The martingale.

Beau uses a martingale. Beau likes his martingale. Beau is pretty good on his martingale.

... it seems Zachary believes collars are for lesser life forms.

Ah well, something to work on for next week.

Other observations (in no particular order):

* Zachary still whines when bored/ignored in class. Not a problem for the CGC test itself, but something I should address as part of his overall education.

* He seems to be handling his Big Boy hormones at lot better now. He still foams around heavy urine smells (ie. walking by the front of the Vet Clinic) but seemed to have no trouble concentrating in the training yard itself. At just 2 years old, he's light years ahead of Beau on that.

* I'm very curious how recalls are going to go. Will he come, or will he wander off to smell the wonderful doggie smells? Perhaps next week we'll find out!

* Outdoor classes aren't nearly as cold when you are pleased with how your student is doing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Training Levels - Checklists

As I mentioned in the Training Level's group, I keep track of my boys progress on Levels using checklists. I figure it is kind of like a teacher's grade book... only without grades (as everything is pass-fail)... and I don't record fails (as we just keep working on it until they pass.)

- don't you wish you were my student?

For grins and giggles, I have included two samples at the bottom of this post.

The first is for Level Three, which they have almost completed. The second is for Level Two - On the Road, which Zachary is also working on. Note that finishing On the Road Level Two is required to complete Level Four.

Confused? Join the club.

I believe the Level Three checklist should be fairly straightforward. In case it isn't obvious, "Student" is the dog's name - with two dogs, one must keep the records straight.

Now the On The Road checklist has extra lines for tracking locations where I have worked the boys. I write the name of the locations in the 1-10 lines at the bottom, and then just list the location number on the line next to the item itself.

Clear as mud, right?

Anyway, I have a 1/2" sturdy three ring binder with nice plastic pocket dividers in it. For each Level, I printed out the complete documentation from Sue's website and I put it in the back pocket of one plastic divider. I then print out two copies of the standard Checklist for that level (one for Beau and one for Zachary) and then two copies of the On The Road Checklist (which is the number of the level minus two). Those all go in the front pocket of the next divider. That way, when the binder is open, everything for one level is available.

And there you have it - everything neatly bundled together and easy to whip out and look at or mark or whatever. I like the pocket dividers because I can pull things out and spread them out on the table.

To read more about the various Levels in Training Levels (and if you haven't, I highly recommend you do!) then click HERE.

For an overview, click HERE.

Note: I have now uploaded all 14 MS Word checklist files (7 Standard and 7 On The Road) and two PDF files (same thing, only grouped together by Standard and On The Road) to the Files:Levels checklists:One Page Checklists folder of the Training Level's group. Members of that group should be able to download the files from there.

(As always, click to see something larger)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scrapbook - Catch

I was looking for "action shots" of the boys for Photography, and I figured what better way to generate action than to throw cookies, right?

Or maybe not...