Not enough hours in the day…

Fortunately, the breed ring is finished for the time being, because with agility and obedience, there are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished (not to mention work and family!). Kazee finished his breed Championship on January 28th and, while he may play as a special once and awhile, he is not competitive right now against the mature dogs. So, we have been concentrating on the fun stuff.

I say “fun stuff”, but sometimes it is not fun at all. Challenging, yes. Complicated, yes. Fun, not always!! Kazee is so different than my last two dogs, I feel like I have started several things over multiple times…probably because I have. The old adage of “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks” definitely applies some days. This is primarily true for articles and go-outs. If you have followed along, you have seen our struggles with articles. I started scent work with the Scent-a-whirl, but the barking was over the top. I then switched to the Around the Clock method. This method worked wonderfully for awhile and Kazee was doing multiple finds with a complete pile. Then, one day, it broke. Kazee started snatching and grabbing, without sniffing at all. After a few days of this, I went BACK to the scent-a-whirl. Kazee clearly understood the sniffing requirement and was (without fail) only picking the correct article out of the 4 uncovered bins. But, while the barking had been fixed on this particular tool, Kazee does not like putting his head in the bin. I was not about to fight this and add more pressure to the exercise, so I bit the bullet and went to a tie down board. Honestly, I have never used a tie down board before with any of my three dogs. The German Shepherds just understood the exercise after it was explained to them and Gunner never needed it after doing the ATC method.

Kazee has been on the tie down board for about week at home. I decided to take the board to the dog club this morning to see how he did. Because I was working articles in a new location, I left only two articles on the board to make it easier. I was happy with his effort. So, until THIS method breaks, we will be using the tie down board. 🙂

I mentioned Kazee’s barking earlier. I finally decided to give MYSELF a kick in the butt and start to get this under control. Kazee is not very easily offended, so the method which seems to be working is a muzzle hold and/or putting him on the ground in a down position for a few seconds. Low growling is allowed on the tug toy right now, as I do not know if this will ever be silenced. Kazee is an extremely vocal dog and he needs some method of release. Barking completely depends on the dog and, given the fact that I have never had a barker before, I let this go on way too long. Honestly, if Gunner gives me an occasional bark in the obedience ring, I love it, as it means he is having fun. And, Zita, well I got after her once for barking as a young dog and I could never get her to bark again.

Our other problem area is go-outs. He loves to mark to his tug toy, but has a tendency to go deaf to everything else when his tug toy is involved. So, while I’m still using his tug for some marking work, I have gone back to his placemat for go outs. When going back over my notes and video, I was previously releasing Kazee off of his mat to be rewarded. Big no-no, as all rewards need to happen on the mat. So, for right now, I’ve gone to food rewards on his go-out spot. There are not many treats Kazee will eat (not your typical Springer!), but he loves homemade tuna fish treats. He could have picked something that makes my house smell a little better. Oh, and he loves bacon. That makes the kitchen smell good, but then I end up eating half of it! So, I make myself bake the tuna treats. 😦

On a bright note, heeling is coming along beautifully and Kazee LOVES agility. I have never done agility before, so I am trying to keep myself in foundation classes and pick Kazee’s breeder’s brain whenever possible.

For those of you who enjoy watching training videos, I took several of Kazee today and one  of Gunner as well. The National Obedience Championship is in three weeks and Gunner has been working very hard on our problem areas. I have never had the opportunity to show Gunner at an NOI/NOC before because of logistics, so we are excited to compete. I am not worried about running clean, but I want good positive work from my wonderful boy, so everyone can see how well an English Springer can work in the ring.

Kazee – Agility work from today, over a couple of different sessions. Weave poles – almost closed, with guide wires. Dog walk and A-frame with his target box. Teeter – which is still very new to him.

Kazee – First obedience session with him of the morning, while Gunner does a sit-stay in the ring.

Kazee – Articles on his tie-down board and dumbbell retrieves

Kazee – go-outs to his placemat

Gunner – working on problem areas of dumbbell pickups and fast finishes, also some heeling work and signals. It always feels “easy” when I train Gunner after working Kazee…maybe it is just because I do not have to think as hard. 🙂

Kazee and I are in no hurry to get into any type of ring, especially obedience. There is still a lot of work to be done on impulse control before even going to a formal match. And, I like to train completely through Utility before entering Novice any way. And, with my started skills over again every other week, it may be awhile!

I am also starting to accumulate agility equipment and now have a teeter base on order as well. My husband is not especially thrilled with my new yard ornaments (he thought the obedience stuff in the garage was bad!), but a happy wife is a happy life!!!

Until next time….train hard and play harder!!

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5 thoughts on “Not enough hours in the day…

  1. Elizabeth Knebel

    I have done agility but never had one down in the box after the dog walk or other contacts. I do the two on two off method. When I trained I used a target at the end of the obstacle. What is the though behind having him down in the box? Elizabeth Knebel

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    1. Shannon Shepherd

      It basically turns into a running contact (from what I’m told), it is what Kazee’s breeder uses. The box did seem be much more clear to Kazee that the 2o2o method.

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      1. Elizabeth Knebel

        Now I understand. I don’t use the running contact with my shelties because I need that brief amount of time. I’m not young like you. Also if I dont do 2on2off my boys tend to jump off.

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  2. Angie Bozeman

    I’m enjoying reading about Kazee’s article adventures. 🙂 I have always used tie-downs (with the three dogs I’ve taught articles) but am considering doing ATC with my next puppy. Partly this is because I just get tired of lugging that heavy mat around (I use a mat, not a board) and partly because once the dog is off the mat I have never been happy with any method I’ve used for when the dog gets an incorrect article. Do I just take the article and send him back for the right one? Do I mark the mistake verbally? If so, when? When he gets all the way back to me or halfway back or as soon as he picks it up? Do I walk out to the pile and show him the correct one? Do I ignore it and pretend he has the right one?

    My current dog has such huge problems with articles that I have resorted to leaving them tied down forever. This means he can’t get a wrong one so I can’t possibly give him any unconscious signals that I’m unhappy and thus cause Mr. Marshmallow to melt down (any corrections on articles, no matter how mild, are hugely counterproductive for him). Even so, he remains very stressed on the exercise, and I keep having to drag the mat around. SIGH.

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts and videos. It’s reassuring to know that other people and other dogs have their troubles, too! I hope to see you and Gunner at the NOC. We will be at the NRC, but I am staying over to watch obedience Saturday.

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    1. Shannon Shepherd

      Thanks Angie…”adventures” is a good way to put it! I really like the ATC method. I think the corrections (as long as done calmly and quietly) make a lot of sense to the dog. But, every dog is different when it comes to articles. I was actually hoping to shape this exercise more with Kazee than I am, but it just didn’t work out that way. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is to always train like you show. In the ring, I’m always standing still, so when the dog heads towards me in the ring and I’m standing still, I want him to think he’s 100% correct, even if he is not. In the ring, he will ALWAYS be correct. I will never correct an incorrect article in the ring (however, I will mark incorrect behavior in the pile, i.e. sniffing the mats, etc.) because I need confidence in the Utility ring. In practice, however, I will move towards him (usually with a negative marker word) if he has the wrong article or if he’s doing something I don’t like. You just have to be very careful about how much pressure you put on the article pile, as you know. One thing that seemed to help Gunner was making certain exercises VERY hard in practice, this way he found the exercise in the ring MUCH easier. For articles, this may mean 20-30 articles on the ground. In practice, I would have 3-4 article piles put out before I brought my dog into the ring, one pile in each corner. The first three sends would be to super small piles (3-5 articles), the last send would be to the huge pile. So, the dog was getting his confidence boosted by being rewarded for super easy finds, then get a HUGE jackpot for working the last pile. I still do this occasionally with Gunner. Good luck at the RNC!!

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