Sunday, May 17, 2015

June Trial

In lieu of going on vacation in two days, I thought I would write a post about the things we are working on.

In June there is a club trial. It is important for all club members to participate - in support of the club. My trainer and one of the club members says we should definitely go for the IPO VO.

The VO is essentially a 'basic' version of an IPO1 and is a good title to go for for dogs who are not ready for the 1. It has all three phases but they are shorter and a little less complicated.

I feel pretty confident that we could do okay with the VO. My main concern is his tracking because we are still using food [we can go 20 paces apart], and he is not reliably downing on his articles. While I am away he will be boarding at the sister facility of the place we train. Our trainer is going to track him at least once - just to get an extra track in. The trial is June 13th so we will only have three training sessions, maybe 4 before the trial.

Oh, there is one other minor concern. Yesterday at training they took out a small pistol - during the obedience part of the VO two shots are fired. The dog must be impartial to the sound. Well, it took three sets of shots but I finally realized why when the gun fired Seppel was barking and lunging and staring at the field! The shots sounded just like a whip cracking! Seppel was looking for a helper on the field! On the one hand, I am relieved, I thought it would scare him. However, now we have to practice firing the shots because I am afraid he will leave me during the heeling routine to go find the bad guy! Never a dull moment with this dude.

Here is a video of Seppel practicing a scaled down version on the VO. My yard isn't big enough for the whole routine. Heeling should be at least 30 paces out. I really like how I was able to tell him 'no' over the jump and he corrected himself! We haven't been working on the jump for very long, we have only practiced it a few times. I am really excited that he might actually complete that exercise properly. I don't really care about 'straightness' at this point. I am just glad he will come back over the jump!

Also here is a video of Seth. We were just messing around:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Seth & The Dumbbell

I am not sure if I ever posted about this before but a year ago or so Seth was clocked in the head with a wooden dumbbell. I was playing around with Seppel and I swung it forward and he was there and it hit him. After that Seth would wince and cower if I had the dumbbell near him and he absolutely would not touch it.

I decided that it was something I wanted to try and get him past, although it wasn't a pressing thing. I used a clicker and started out by rewarding him when he would touch the dumbbell with his face. I practiced it for a little while and then gave him a break. When I decided to try again he actually started offering to put his mouth on it - here is a video:

He completely offered to put his mouth on it by himself. You can see in the video he is pretty hesitant and somewhat stressed about it. Not so stressed that he won't do it, but he really thinks the thing might get him.

A few weeks ago I brought him out to work him and I grabbed the dumbbell. This time he started offering to pick it up! Fairly confidently! Again, I used the clicker to mark the behavior.

Today I decided to try it again and I actually got a retrieve out of the deal!

I am really excited he has gotten this far! He's still a little cautious about it - but I think if we keep building on this it will be less and less of a big deal. It was so cute, a friend walked by while I was messing around with him and when her husband walked up - while we were talking - Seth actually grabbed the dumbbell, on his own, and handed it to the guy! Then the guy gave it back to him and he took it! I could have died, but these folks aren't really animal people so I had to hide my excitement.

One thing I really like about using the clicker is that it is really handy to mark a specific behavior. I can use a word like 'yes', but I feel for whatever reason for some of the more specific things I have tried to teach my dogs that they seem to get it a lot more quickly with the clicker. I am not sure if it is a timing and speed thing? I do think the clicker maybe speeds up the reward time, so it might become clearer to my dogs. Whatever it is - Seth is now able to pick up the dumbbell and carry it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Microchip Failure

I thought I would share my experience finding out that Seppel's microchip no longer works.

Saturday at the trial the dogs have to be scanned to verify their identity via microchip. If the dog isn't chipped but has a tattoo they make sure the tattoo matches the paperwork. Saturday we went to scan Seppel and the chip reader would not pick it up. Another person there had a different scanner. I scanned Seppel all over. The judge knew me and knew my dog, so she vouched for us so we could continue.

On my way home from the trial I couldn't drop the whole microchip fiasco. I stopped at work and tried scanning him with our readers. I then looked up old xrays I had taken of him. I had one chest shot. I could see the chip on the VD [on their back] shot, but could not see it on the lateral.

I called the company because I was worried that he had never been chipped at all. [At that point I hadn't seen the chip in the xray.]. The company confirmed that Seppel had been chipped, his info was all linked to me and the chip was implanted in Florida. I then called a friend and was like "Do you remember if I scanned him?" Talking with my friend I realized that I definitely scanned him because I didn't know if he had a chip or what company he was chipped with. I had to scan him to get the number. I then looked at the xrays again and thought I could see a chip in the one view.

My friend was at work the next day and tried to scan my dog. Nothing. She did point out that the lateral shot I had was not up high enough and maybe that was why I couldn't see the chip. At this point I had thought it had migrated into his chest somewhere.

To make a long story short, my friend was correct. A 2nd lateral[side] xray revealed Seppel's old microchip. We re-chipped him with an AVID ISO/EURO chip. His other microchip is just in front of his new one and absolutely will not work. I called HomeAgain - the company that made the first chip and was told that there is a 1% chance of this happening. They offered to send a new chip, but why would I want a chip from the same company???

This whole thing really kind of freaks me out. If I hadn't gone to a venue where my dog needed to be scanned I would never have known his chip was no longer working. I have the number on file and when I have licensed him etc I just pulled it, I didn't scan him.

The moral of the story - you should probably have your pets scanned at their yearly exam or once in a while check up just to be sure the chip still works!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Seppel got his BH!

Saturday I took Seppel to a trial in Battleground Washington where he earned his BH!

I sent in for my score book several weeks ago and was told the wait would be about 6 weeks for it to arrive. I saw that there was a trial coming up and contacted the club to see if my scorebook didn't come - if it were possible to just try the BH - pay the fee but not get a score. The gal didn't quite tell me no, but just the same it was kind of a no. To my surprise my score book arrived 3 days before the trial! I was able to go up last Wednesday to train with the club putting on the trial. The club was super nice and helpful. They walked us through the BH pattern and I felt really good about the prospect of trialing there. The main reason I wanted to go to this trial is that I figured if we failed, we would be failing somewhere that no one would really know us. I also figured it would give me experience so I could feel more confident at my club's trial coming up in June.

Saturday rolled around and I was SO nervous! Seppel did okay with things, but I had forgotten how weird he can be in new situations. He was a little bit on edge, he freaked out when I scanned him for the microchip. Luckily the judge knew him and knows he's not a psycho. He just gets a bit nervous with new places/new people. He's not dangerous, but he's not the outgoing dog that he normally is at club. I was really lucky to have a friend from club show up to film his BH routine. It's nothing super fancy... I think it'll be quite sometime before we even think of an IPO1 because his obedience is really lacking. I want to get a better heel on him before we even think about it.

Here is the video:

I was really happy with his sit and his down with recall. You'll notice I had to give him some handler help when I asked him to heel. I realized as it was happening what was going on. We have been working on the 'here' command, and for some time he was constantly trying to finish left. I got him to start running at me straight, but I would always finish him to the right - so as to try to eliminate the whole 'finishing left' that he was doing when he got to me. I could tell when I told him to heel he was like "What????" I moved my shoulder because I was like - please just do this. I would have had to help him either way because 'around' is not a solid command yet either for him.

Overall we had a wonderful experience. The trial setting was not as intense as I expected. Granted it was just a small club trial, but overall the atmosphere was really laid back and easy. The other IPO club was full of really nice people and again, my experience could not have been better.

I am also really excited because this means he can do protection in our club when we go to train!

We also went to a Rally match on Sunday, he got the 1st leg of his URO2. It wasn't pretty, I am not sharing the video. I took Seth as well, and he did not qualify for his 1st URO3 leg, it wasn't too pretty either. I may put up the video, but it was just a bad time all around. The judge had a horrible attitude and just kind of set the mood for everything. My friend's dog got her very first title - her URO1. This past weekend was a good one!