Friday, April 27, 2012

Reyna makes friends!!!

Ever since our agility class I have been working a LOT on being more present with Reyna, the more I watched myself the more situations I found where I would just go cold in the face of Reyna's triggers, quietly marking and feeding her treats, but not actually truly interacting with her, touching her, talking to her. I have started responding to things like "reorienting away from a dog" the same way I would if she had just successfully hit all four weave poles and WOW amazing!

Just in the few weeks that I have worked on changing my behavior I have noticed a HUGE shift in Reyna's. Her thresholds are higher, she is more more confident, resilient, focused. It wasn't just over night but I think this is how somebody with a GAD dog must feel when you get all the meds correct and things start clicking.

We went back to the dog park last weekend and played "watch those dogs wrestle" issues. When one of the dogs left there was a 6 month old GSD still in the dog park. We walked up to the fence and away from the fence and up to the fence and away from the fence. The puppy didn't pay any attention to us and Reyna watched him, but wasn't concerned, aroused or anything.

So then we went into the adjoining section of the dog park and I let Reyna off leash. Neither dog really paid attention to the other. So a massively risky endeavor I took her into the side with the other dog (with the owner's permission of course). I played the 1,2,3 Treat, and 2 Step games from Leslie's Pattern Games DVD. When I was comfortable that Reyna was focused I held back and let her wander on her own, the puppy wandered in the same general space until they happened to meander into mutual space and greet briefly but going off in separate directions. They did this a couple more times and then initiated play and romped around. They played for a little while without incident and then we left. She didn't bark or whine and enthusiastically tugged with me all the way to the car!

Then yesterday we met up with a neighbor and her 8 month old puppy who is one of Reyna's good friends. We took them both to a large field to play, they walked nicely next to each other neither dog harassing the other. While we were out at the field another family showed up with a little maltese cross. Reyna noticed it, her friend took off to say hi, but Reyna stayed engaged with me until I released her to go play, which she did without charging, barking, growling or anything. She actually barely paid much attention to the little dog and just romped around happily with her buddy.

I am so proud of how far she has come. I know we are not done yet, but I feel like we have crested the mountain!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Level 2 update

With the incredible feat of passing L2 Relax we moved on to Communication our last task in Level 2!

I got Reyna's dinner out, lured her between myself and a wall and stepped towards her, she swung out of my way to the left before I finished my first step...hmmm...I tried it again without a block...same thing, perfect.

Okay this is weird, I've never worked on this before...I'll stump her this time...I have her sit in front of me facing my left side...take a step forward, she swings all the way around into heel position...WOW

So we just tested our way cold through most of L2 Communication!

I still need to get her to back up stairs and untangle a leash from around her own leg then we are done...not just done with Communication but done with Level 2 HOLY SMOKES I can barely believe it

And speaking of things I can barely believe I took her to our local dog park to work on remaining calm while other dogs play within earshot. It was pretty quiet, no other dogs, until a guy pulls up and lets his dog out of the car without a leash. The dog comes straight for us, I pulled Reyna behind me, he stopped and the owner regained control.

Reyna was understandably amped, but she never barked at the dog even when he was less that three feet from us. I walked us away to put some distance between her and the other dog. I took a deep breath (her prep cue for relax), she looked at me, I took another one, she sat,another one, she laid down, then I said " can you cool it?" and she DID. I didn't wait for duration I immediately released and rewarded! Total time from dog rushing to her relaxing...two minutes...that is unreal!

Then we walked towards the dog park area and did some look at that with the dog in the park getting all the way up to the fence line. She even watched him chase a tennis ball! She locked in the first time so I walked her away before she could escalate, but after a few reps she was able to watch the dog chase the ball and look back at me. At one point we were about 30 ft from the dog park, she could see the dog playing, I said her name, she looked at me..."cool it please" and she relaxed into the flopped down, no prep breaths or anything! I definitely want to go back out and start working relax at the dog park more for duration, but WOW she was upper focused, willing to play tug, did her LL, didn't react to anything and even did some off leash work. She is really coming along nicely!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We passed Relax!


It took a LOT of work and time, and patience, and patience, and time, and work...but here it is, the behavior I never thought I would get out of Reyna....Relaxing. I chopped large chunks out, because even I couldn't handle watching it at full length...deliciously boring during the settle portions!

I started to film this just using food to get her excited, but then I decided that would be wimpy, so here it is with a tug no less! WAHOO!!!!!!! Just about done with Level 2!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2x2 Weave Poles ~ $19

I have faced a major hurdle in Reyna's weave training...I don't have any weave poles. Until NOW!

After looking around and price comparing I couldn't find anything that I could afford. I was actually looking up plans to try and make single stake-in-the-ground weave poles which took me to this website where I stumbled across these

Those looked super simple to make, but they required that dadgum 4 way elbow that I would have to order. Then it struck me...I jotted down some notes, drew it out, ran to Home Depot and voila...2 hours (including shopping time) and about $19 later I had this...

Luring is just for the photo op I promise

A set of 6 (one off camera) 2x2 weave poles!!!

The braces are 18" which may prove to be over kill, but I worried about Reyna knocking them over and it's way easier to trim shorter than it is to glue back together :)

It took four 10' SCH40 3/4" PVC pipes chopped up like this...

1 = 3 36" weave poles (12" leftover)
1 = 3 36" weave poles (12"left over)
1 = 6 18" braces (12" left over)
1= 3 20" center spacer bars (60" left over)

Then you just get 12 end caps, 6 3/4" 3 way elbows (I couldn't find what I wanted so I had to go with a 3 way elbow that had two 3/4" slip openings and one 1/2" threaded opening and then get an adapter to screw into the threaded section)

Put it all together...the adapter part facing up to slip the weave poles into and TA DA! a 6 pole set of 2x2 weave poles for under $20!!!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Miles to go before we sleep

We went out to John Tanner park today for a family picnic and a little fishing. We never got to the fishing part but the intent was good. The picnic went well, Reyna was a bit nervy and scanning when we got there. We settled down and ate lunch and she did okay, not great, she wouldn't settle, she didn't bark or lunge but she just sat a looked OT a lot. Part of that was because she needed to potty, forgot to take her before we left, oops, but I am again reminded of how much I enjoy having a dog who eliminates on cue. Walk up to a tree...hurry up Reyna...she does her thing, we go back to the playground no big deal, and now I KNOW she won't poop in the sandbox instead of just having to hope :)

We walked to the playground with David and really she was okay, but again not great. She barked once at a guy walking with a goat, didn't see that one coming! She did not bark or even react at all really except to look over when a little dog swore at her from the nearby picnic table. I understand but it's still a little frustrating that the same behavior out of Reyna and we probably would have been asked to leave the park.

Then two little girls came running up behind us and Reyna jumped over to say HELLO!!! I stopped her before the knocked either one over. They were very eager to pet her. I said no but that they could each give her a treat. I walked them through how to hold the treat in their fist. The first little girl did okay, she didn't drop the treat on the ground when Reyna backed up, but she at least didn't wig out when Reyna slobbered on her hand taking the treat. I think he next girl learned by example because she did it perfectly, treat in fist...wait...Reyna lies down...she drops treat on the ground. Overall they were tickled to death that they got to help train and for Reyna it helps create a default down when present with kids, treats, or kids with treats. Several other kids during our stay asked to pet Reyna, I just said no but thank you for asking to everybody else. I find that Reyna is sort of like a pied piper, if I let one hundreds more will follow us around. She is big and fluffy and smiles like a clown, I see the appeal.

Later we were walking by a car and didn't notice the little papillon inside until we were about 3" from the dog. They touched noses through the window but neither dog reacted.

Really she did pretty well as far as not reacting to anything (except that goat), and she was way more chill at the end than when we first got there, but never truly relaxed the whole time we were there, and was pretty borderline most of the time. She is light years ahead of where she was even a few months ago, but today reminded me that we still have a long way to go. I would love to make a road trip to NC for a private with Karen.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Busy relaxing

We have been super busy lately, plus the kiddos haven't been going to bed on time so my nightly walks and training have sort gone the way of the dodo bird. I have been trying to reinforce any calm behavior especially when I first get home from work. Yesterday she relaxed on cue for like 3seconds in midzoomies so that is pretty huge for us.

I am trying really hard not to rush through the last few behaviors in level 2 because I know it will just come back to haunt me later.

I am also still working on Reyna's homework from our agility lesson. She is up to a 20" jump so that is pretty major progress for us. She is also driving to the target with a lot of enthusiasm. We haven't started anything else. I can't wait for out next lesson!! I need to build a travel board and figure out a weave pole solution to be able to start Susan Garrett's 2x2 program.

That's about it for to bed!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Right on target

Had our first private agility lesson last Saturday!! It was AWESOME!! We worked basic foundation stuff, attention, walking on a board, and then also foundation jumping skills from the Mecklenburg handling system, driving to a target as a base for contacts AND the very first steps of Susan Garret's 2x2 weave training.

If that sounds like we covered a lot for one lesson it's because we did! I really enjoyed the instructor, and I learned a ton!!!

One of the big takeaways from the lesson for me was that I need to be way more present with Reyna. I was marking and feeding her for calm behavior, but the instructor pointed out that I really wasn't interacting with her. I started being actually THERE with her and suddenly her stress level dropped , her focus went way up and we had a blast!

Great experience overall, super pleased with the instructor, the environment, and well...everything!

We have a ton of homework to do before we go back again. Yesterday I was working on her driving to a target, I think I'm getting the drive I want, but it's a little tough to tell. Or at least it was until I called it a day set the target On a hedge so we could just play and Reyna tried to climb the hedge to get to the target! I think I would call that enthusiasm :)