Saturday, June 20, 2009

Control Unleashed

So we are getting with the program...

I have read the book twice, and I am gonna order the DVD very soon. Right now we are working on the default behaviors, basically when I stand still Skye comes and sits in front of me giving me eye contact. I am also doing LAT when we are outside and on walks. I think she is getting the idea. I am trying not to really give her commands at all right now, just reward her for things I want her to do that she does automatically.

I also want to get a book on TTouch (doing what I can with what I know for now). We have been doing some of the massage work on the mat.

Also....I am looking at a pup at the Shelter on Monday...not making any decisions right now but boy is he a cutie. It says Jack Russell Terrier/Dalmation mix, but I am not sure about the Dalmatian. I am pretty sure I want my next dog to be more smooth coated and smaller. He seems to fit the bill.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So what now?

The hardest thing for me is to realize that agility is something that I want to do not necessarily something that Skye wants to do....I know our biggest problem is my training does not work for her, she doesn't see it as fun. That is what needs to change. I am reading Control Unleashed, I read it fairly quickly a few weeks ago and now I am going back through it slowly and making sure I understand all the points. I plan on working on Karen Overall's protocol for relaxation, and learning about T-Touch. I am going to get the DVD for Control Unleashed and go through the program with Skye. After that we are going to go and just sit through some Agility classes and do the relaxation and focus games. I want her to just get used to being in the building without having any stress or pressure, Then we may do a rally obedience class for building up her confidence......

My biggest issue is of course the teeter in the building, I feel horrible that everyone has to make an exception (not using the teeter) for my dog, but I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our agility training

After our year and a half hiatus, I once again signed Skye up for classes, this was at a new facility which looked fantastic, rubber mats on the floors, climate controlled, full size courses.

We took 12wks of beginners obstacles class, went through contacts and some jump work (learning front crosses), Things were going great until our introduction to the building teeter, it was a metal teeter and it was LOUD, Skye was used to a boom board and went up and SMASHED it down like she always has, but this time it scared her to DEATH. Things just went downhill from there, we tried counter conditioning by giving her lots of treats when others banged the teeter but her anxiety only escalated. Then I thought she needed desensitization so we taped the teeter noise with my instructors dog, played it at home and Skye never even blinked, she would play ball, tug, all her tricks while it was playing full blast, Things at the building only got worse, she got to the point that she was shutting down when we pulled into the parking lot. During that time, I made a teeter at home and had no problems at all with her going over it, it was only the teeter at the indoor building she was afraid of.

After the 12wks of beginning obstacles we decided to take a break on group classes (sequences classes were next) and just work the building alone and make it all fun and no stress. This worked out fantastic. We would go to the building 2-3 times a week in the mornings when no one else was there and work on stuff and just play ball and frisbee. I decided to sign her up for the group sequencing class since she seemed over her issues with the building, I informed the instructor of Skye's teeter fears and she said no problem that I can take Skye out when they are working the teeter if needed.

For the first 3wks things went fantastic, on the 4th week we used the teeter, the instructor wanted to see what Skye's reaction to the teeter was exactly so she could help me with it. Of course Skye blazes over the teeter right away (not realizing it was the "scary" teeter) I caught it before it banged but she was a little freaked out. The instructor said to take her to the far side of the building and click and treat her when others went over the teeter, I was thinking to myself that I should just take her out of the building...but she seemed to be handling it okay at the time, she was still taking treats, and while she seemed a little stressed did not seem shut down.

After that night she refused to do agility for the next two weeks, I tried three times to take her to the building to play and each time she made it through the door then laid down and wouldn't get back up.

I decided at that point that we needed a break, and to start over at the beginning, I got the book Control Unleashed and we are going to work on that program for the next couple months and do some fun shaping exercises and just not even think about agility for a while, I may do some rally obedience when I think she is ready to go back to the building for group classes but that may be a while.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Training Skye

After getting Skye settled in for a few weeks we immediately began a puppy obedience class. She did really well and learned everything easily. At home I tried to teach her a few things and found that if she didn't know exactly what I wanted her to do she would get stressed out, this was a new behavior to me, my previous dogs would just keep trying until they finally figured out what I wanted. I have found with Skye, she needs to succeed immediately or she will shut down, she must always be set up to succeed. This is not always easy.

After the puppy obedience class we moved on to a beginner Agility class that was recommended to us, once again everything went really well with that class I didn't see any sign of her stressing out and she seemed to enjoy the class. She did have issues staying focused on me and not the other dogs (something we struggle with to this day).

After the puppy class we moved to the next level so to speak, once again working half size obstacles and learning basic handling skills over jumps. This is when Skye started showing the first signs of stress. One day she just decided, this isn't fun and she refused to take jumps.....Around that same time I was 6 months pregnant with my third child and felt like a break for both of us was probably in order.

A bit about my past

I have loved animals since I can remember, I was the child who brought home every animal I came across and wanted to keep it as a pet. I majored in Wildlife Biology in college and got a job as a zookeeper. It was my dream job what I had always wanted to do. I learned how to clicker train as a zookeeper, I trained a lot of different animals, from Chimpanzee's to Birds. Unfortunately most of my dog training experience was with "hard" dogs, and most of my methods, were involving corrections not rewards. I fully planned to use both methods with Skye, but I was soon to find out she needed almost 100% reward based postive training methods. In my case it was a hard to teach an old dog new tricks..on the human side.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The begining

When I saw this face it was all over, I knew she was the one:

She was a 6 month old Border collie/Australian Shepherd mix.....she was at the Australian shepherd rescue, after filling out an application and talking to her foster (who thought she would be a good agility prospect) we went to pick her up.

She was a great dog, housebroke and loving, good with the kids and seemed okay with the cat. We signed up for a puppy obedience class right away, she loved playing with other dogs and did well learning the parameters of our invisible fence in the backyard.

My plans with Skye were always to pursue agility.....I wanted it to be a fun hobby for both of us, I have always enjoyed training dogs and pretty much any animal and thought that this would be a great way to further my experience, and what dog wouldn't enjoy lots of treats and fun learning!