reflections on break, week 2.

We just past two weeks We’ve done one agility-related thing which was to shape 2o2o on the end of the DW which is really just a trick so doesn’t count. We’ve also shaped it inside and he’s running into position like a PRO. More on that in a minute.

It’s interesting though – I watched Silvia’s newest DVD over the last couple of days. Initially I just got antsy that Loki’s DW wasn’t good enough, and especially his soft turns. So then I started forming plans and stressing about it. And then I couldn’t go do anything about it because we’re on break so the stress faded away and I actually feel ok. Plus I have a plan, and it’s a plan that hasn’t had a chance to fail yet so I can still feel ok about it.

I messaged a French person on YouTube the other day as well whose dog is very fast and has very nice contacts even on soft turns so I picked her brain and she gave me some ideas and some things to try. I think I’m going to try a 2o2o for hard turns – Polona does this, too and Loki is motivated enough that he won’t mind, once he figures out the game irrespective of my position. I don’t think I’ll do it with Lu – she responds really well to a “brake brake brake!” and just trots all the way down. Not the fastest, but faster than some of the creepy creeper collies I see competing. He’s now driving into position if I’m behind him – as long as there’s a toy ahead (but he will dive into position and wait, so he won’t run to the toy without release. YES!), he’ll sprint there and wait even if I run past, too. I can’t really practise any going to the side type positions in my little house but my plan is once his bandage comes off his foot (he managed to cut a nice hole in the toe paw-pad on his back foot) that I’ll take him out to a plank in the shed, and once his break is up, we’ll try it on the DW. I’m feeling confident. Polona said it actually helped one of her dogs understand RC more so I’m crossing my fingers on that, too.

It’s rainy here this week, so there’s going to be lots of tricks going on. I’m juggling plenty at the moment, but in particular we’re doing lots of:

  • trying to get better at side legs.
  • stand on a chair w/ front paws and hold one back paw up
  • Lumen is working on hug a pole while in sit up, working toward hug a toy (a Unicorn trick of ours!). She is SO STRONG in sit-up (and pretty much every thing else). Also working on penguin! We’ve got one very small shuffle forward now. Lu is also working on ‘hide your face’ – at the moment she does ‘where’s your nose?’ by bapping her nose with a paw, but doesn’t keep it covered by a paw, unless she’s lying on her side. So we’re working on that.
  • Loki is working on duration with sit-up as he’s not great at this yet.
  • Both are doing sit to stand up with front feet on a peanut and lowering into a sit. This is part of our conditioning class. Both find it pretty easy but Lu moreso – she thinks this is the BEST. When I ask her to stand up, she springs up and lifts off the floor with her back feet. Such a fool.
  • Loki & I will be playing with 2o2o a lot.
  • Lots of other things with balance discs and such.
  • Loki putting toys away in the basket.
  • Loki flicking a sock onto his face in preparation for the ‘cover yourself with a towel’ trick. Cos why not. 😉
  • Verbal discriminations. I’m starting with commands inside for now (left, right, back, drop, sit) and will steal a Silvia idea for cool-downs once we’re back outside (cik/cap and push on verbals only with a low bar & me sitting down). It will help if I manage to tell him the right word during a course but we’ll see.

It’s actually been really lovely to not feel pressured to get out and train but to just do whichever tricks we feel like doing. My right index finger is feeling it though, with a number of teeth-sized red marks and cuts from overzealous food-taking.

 

Stay class is also going along brilliantly. Loki rocks. Here, you can even have a video, I’m so pleased with him. But…! He’s always been pretty good at these games. It’s when I sit him in front of a row of agility obstacles that he moves. It’ll be interesting to see how we handle that. Also I have to do the challenges in this video outside. I think that’ll get him too. There’s another even better video than this where I’m throwing his favourite ball for Lumen and she’s RACING past him and I’m calling her and we’re playing… and he does a really good job of managing to stay. But YouTube is being SO WEIRD and is stuck at processing it at 95% and has been for the last 6 hours. Whyyyyyy?

 

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break, don’t break.

Since Loki & I had a fairly lacklustre training session yesterday and because I’m super paranoid about what that lady said about him possibly being sore in the hind end, I’m giving him a break. No, like really. An actual real break. Not like, two days off, or a week off with some RC squeeze in there…

It’ll be his first break because I haven’t wanted to press pause in the middle of obstacle training but since he can now weave I feel happier to say: “Ok, let’s take some time.”

Surely this little guy needs a break! Look at him all tired & cosy & rugged up

Surely this little guy needs a break! Look at him all tired & cosy & rugged up

There’s still a month and a half before his first trial, so I figure if I give him 2 or even 3 weeks off, that’ll give us 2 or so weeks to have some practise before the trial. Ok it’s not a LONG break but it’ll be better than nothing. Also a good time for a break as we’re about to start our stay class and will mean we aren’t practising bad stays during the class period. It’s funny though because apart from training last Saturday, Lu has already been on break for about a month and it’s really not bothering me. I’ll bring her back into work when I bring Loki back in as I’m going to start competing her and Nic’s going to train her for fun at home.

I figure my rules for Loki will be:

  • Exercise/conditioning good
  • Tricks good (including mat targetting even though this is part of dogwalk turn behaviour, it’s technically a trick)
  • Wraps around trees – ok? Since it’s away from equipment & is just fun, maybe ok.
  • If the stay class requires me to do something with obstacles, I will allow the use of a tunnel, but no jumping.
Hooray!! Let's injure ourselves by hooning around together instead of doing agility!!

Hooray!! Let’s injure ourselves by hooning around together instead of doing agility!!

We celebrated the decision yesterday with a 2 hour beach walk with yoga thrown in the middle. That was going fine until Loki wanted to play with Lu who was tied to a tree and wrestling while tied up by your collar isn’t great. Then I had to do an upside down kind of move and sand fell off my feet and into my eyes and at that point I called it quits.

So I’ve signed us up for a conditioning class as an observer because I feel like most of the stretches and exercises I do were ones given to me for Lu’s illiopsoas and although this is really good for Loki anyway especially after weaving, it would be nice to have a wider variety. So! Conditioning class, stay class and lots of hiking here we come!

Let’s just hope he doesn’t forget how to hit dogwalks or how to weave over the next few weeks. 😉

swimming & running

Finally got around to taking the dogs to the dog pool 20 minutes down the road today. Even threw Mal in the car (not literally) as I thought they might be able to squeeze him in for the first intro session too. Which they did. All 3 dogs got a little swim, all 3 wearing a life-jacket (Lumen’s face at first was priceless. She was going to DIE). All 3 had their own little agendas when swimming.

Loki: swim VERY FAST to get all the places and maybe try and escape on the corners. Overtake Lumen, and once overtaken, keep trying to look back to make sure she’s still coming. Basically water herding.

Lumen: Very cruisy. “Yeah yeah, I’m swimming, no big deal. I’ll pace myself incase we’re at this for a while”. Just set an easy pace for herself and got down to the business of swimming. Didn’t bother trying to escape.

Mal: PANIC FACE. The assistant guy said he wasn’t panicked at all and some dogs will roll around and splash madly, but I could tell. Tried to escape at every corner. Very determined swimmer because maybe he was going to be left to die in there.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to taking them once or twice a week and fully beefing them up.

Beef-cake dogs.

beefcake.

Raised the plank the other day and Loki lost his ability to run and discovered how to leap. Have been considering myself very lucky that we’ve had basically no leaps so far. The DW is now on 800mm and if you’ve stuck around the blog for a while you may or may not recall that 800mm with Lumen nearly killed us. I think it took 6 sessions of nothing but leaping before she started to improve. Today I found a most excellent starting spot with Loki at the apex of the down plank and we just ran that a bunch of times. He’ll be right – I’m not worried. Having gone through the process with Lu now I feel like no bad session is indicative of everything being lost. But isn’t it interesting how both my dogs (and Mal too, I think), haven’t coped with 800mm!?

Remember this, or this, or this?

Lu had a great attitude today. We did some multi-wraps and single-jump sends with the bar on 300mm, trying to improve her capacity to turn. What do you think I should do at this seminar? Should I run her on lowered bars as I’m working on her turning? Run her on 500mm since that’s her competition height and she needs to learn to threadle and stuff on that height? I’m not sure, I think lower would be better. After the multi-wraps and stuff we played a game of ‘crazy balls’ where she had to come do a wrap, then go get the next ball… come do a wrap, then the next ball, etc. If she was too wide, I’d ask her to redo the wrap which usually I wouldn’t do because of her motivation but she really loves the crazy-ball game and I think actually makes a really clear point: “We can’t go on with the game until you do that better”. So crazy balls seems to be the way to go for everything – Polona called it our secret weapon. So we’re doing DW crazy-balls, wrap crazy balls and weave crazy balls.

I think Lu is starting to get back to her old self. She’d put on weight and was chubby after desexing and rehab but as of this last week or so, her figure is looking so much better, you can feel her ribs again, and I can see a big change in how much she wants to run or play. Amazing the difference a bit of weight can make. The scales said she’s 19kg which is still about 500g-1kg heavier than I’d like her to be and I don’t think she’s THAT muscly! So there’s still some weight to get off but I’m glad she’s looking and feeling better.

radical

Today, we are doing something radical.

Something extreme.

Something out of the norm for our household…

 

We are….

having a break.

That means:

-No games of chase or keep-away in the yard.

-No wrestly sessions.

-No agility

-No walk

-No training of any kind (we’ll see how that one holds up with the young border-collie by the afternoon!)

 

The only thing that’s allowed is eating food from kongs, toilet breaks, sleeping, and doing some rehab with Lu in the afternoon.

It’s been too easy since we moved here 3 weeks ago to just put all the dogs out in the yard. It’s beautiful, they run and run and run and run and shoulder-bump each other and run and run and run, and when I bring them in they’re puffed and ready for a break. EASY! And because I’m on holidays, we can go for all the walks! Beach walks! Forest walks! Long walks! Hill walks! All the walks!

But then I noticed that Lu was all like: nah man I don’t wanna play. And then I took them to the beach yesterday and she was all like: “I’ll just trot along beside you, ok?” and when we got home Mal was lame, and Loki was all: thank God we’re home I’m going to sleep anywhere now.

Little Loki Cat-bed

Exhibit a- Loki sleeps in a bed made for cats.

And so, with Nic sighing “it’s about time”, I laid down the rules of Rest-Day. So far, so good. Lu is on the couch happily snuffling in her sleep, Mal is out-stretched on his side on the floor, and Loki is in his crate, quietly sleeping but ready to spring into action at any moment.
It’ll be interesting to see if Lu ‘perks up’ a bit tomorrow and is a bit more keen on doing some agility stuff. I need to remember to schedule these breaks more often, but like I said, it’s hard because it’s so easy to just let them run and play and wrestle and get nicely conditioned doing that. But I guess if I went to the gym every day and sprinted and ran on the treadmill for an hour or more… I’d probably get pretty exhausted, too.

skinny little thing

For the past few weeks I’ve notice that Lu has just gotten slim. Not in a ‘no condition on her’ kind of way, just tight and lean. And no matter how much I seem to feed her, she’s not putting weight on, so I guess she’s quite happy to be a little rake at the moment. I wouldn’t say she’s skeletal – you can feel her ribs very easily, and the rise of her hip bones, but they’re not boney, if that makes sense. Maybe a picture would help.

 

Top view

Top view

I don’t know if you can kind of get a good sense of her size there given she’s still hairy (despite 80% of her hair having fallen out by now), but she definitely has more ‘shape’ than normal.

So I was walking her along the other day, attached to my Urban Skijoring belt, as she dragged me up a hill, and I was trying to figure out why she was suddenly looking why she was.

And then I realised that maybe it was all the urban skijoring that was doing it. After all, for at least 30 mins every day she was having to haul me through tracks, and since my calf is injured I can’t really go up hills so she’s been pulling me up, and I live in a very hilly area, and whenever she feels like chasing something she goes mad, and so it’s like the ultimate resistance/weights exercise… for dogs! It’s like… a weight pack that she can actually tolerate!

So, hurrah for urban ski…walkjoring! I thought in fact that because she wasn’t off-lead any more (or hardly ever, anyway) and therefore not running/trotting as often, that she would actually loose condition, but I think it may be the opposite. Maybe this ‘on lead for walks’ thing won’t be so bad for her after all!!

A side-view that I took to show her lack of coat, however it shows neither lack of coat, nor skinniness.

A side-view that I took to show her lack of coat, however it shows neither lack of coat, nor skinniness.

fit fit-ball dog

So for a long time I’ve had a fitball for Lu, we used it sporadically. Lately though, I’ve been getting her up every 2nd or 3rd day. She really loves it and is beginning to trust being up there more and more. Once, a long while ago, the ball slid out from between my knees and she fell off. It took a while to rebuilt her trust.

BUT! It’s been rebuilt and now she can: hop straight on the ball. This is an amazing achievement because before she would almost always put her front feet on, then hop her back feet up. Similarly, I’ve begun teaching her to jump into my arms by teaching her to jump onto my lap. We’ve done maybe 3 or 4 sessions of just shaping the straight ‘hop up’ without front feet first – my lap is a much smaller space than the fit ball so it’s actually taken quite a while. Today I had 100% jumping straight on, with 2 times where she forgot to stop in the middle. That’s ok though!

She is also doing speedy circles. Frighteningly speedy. Only a week or two ago she was tentatively turning around, standing on me for support, and now she wants to SPIN. Slow down, girly.

Today, she managed three free-standing ‘sit pretties’ – before, she’d been using my arm as support, but today she got there on her own! ABS OF STEEL!!!

Also, she lifted her back right leg on the ball (left is a bit of a lost cause even on solid ground so.. yeah, I’ve got some work to do there, I know), and wanted to lift both right legs too, silly girl.

She was also pushing the ball around with her front legs on it without me holding it still but decided it wasn’t exciting enough so hopped on. I managed to dive in and secure the ball before it rolled out from underneath her but geez, getting too brave.

She can also stand on it quite comfortably while I push either of her hips or shoulders and she puts pressure back against the push.

Need more ideas!!! I saw a good one where the dog would be in a sit with front paws on the ball, then standing up, then back to the sit with front paws on the ball. Could be a way to help her with ‘sit pretty’ to ‘stand up’ to ‘sit pretty’.

One of these days I’ll get Silvia’s ‘Tricks for Balance, Strength and Coordination’. One day.

Anyway, she’s amazing me with how she’s progressing lately- every time she gets on the ball she seems to be stronger and more balanced. It’s just awesome to literally see her progress like that.

Hopefully by the end of the week my DW will be up and running, so we can get back to playing RC, too. Looking forward to that very much (especially if I want full DW and some amount of reliability by March-April!!!).

I’ll try and get a cool photo of Lu ‘sitting pretty’ on the fit-ball or something. Need Nic’s help for that though.

Oh here’s a video from last night, incase you’re not on my Facebook.. Yesterday afternoon we went for a long walk on the beach with the pack. Lu was exhausted on the drive home. Getting home, we fed her dinner then gave her a carrot to eat… Here’s just a normal video of a tired dog going about the business of eating a carrot.

weekend wrap-up

Monday again! Thankfully this is the first day of 2 weeks of school holidays. Tell you what, 11 week terms are a killer. We were over it, the kids were over it… Only Lumen wasn’t over it. She loves school. Anyway, she can have a school break.

 

Bit of a big weekend just gone. I’ve changed my weave training a little after reading an article in this month’s clean-run. It makes a lot of sense to my brain and seems to offer a really logical progression, while training entires and still maintaining elements of the ‘channel’. I’m testing it out on Mallei first, whose entries were always hopeless (had to be guided in, unless it was a nice straight entry) and he always popped out at the 10th, because it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work with him. Having nice weaves it just a ‘bonus’, since we’re not trialling. Meanwhile I’m planning to work a lot more on Lu’s drive to a stationary object. I think I’m going to use a little tupperware container with some treats in it. She seems really switched on to this and has been working nicely for it. Otherwise a less-broken treat-pouch-tug-toy. Both will work well. Once I have good drive to these objects from a distance, I’ll go back to weaves, I think.

Saturday saw us go down to an obedience club and (finally) sign up. Because we’ve done so much foundation but don’t yet have contacts and weaves, we’re still stuck in foundation but the instructor is happy for us to do whatever we want, along with another experienced handler. I’m trying to convince a friend to join now too so we can have an ‘elite club’ of 3 who just blow off the class and do whatever we want. But Lumen so needs training in that environment. We were meant to warm up by trotting around and has brain was all EXPLODE LOOK AT ALL THE DOGS AND IT’S DAYTIME AND OMG!!!!! Attention and focus? Out the window. Circle-work? Forget it. So, certainly working with all that happening will be beneficial. Interestingly, while doing obstacles, she’s completely focused. Once she finishes and goes after her reward ball or whatever… mmm… not so much – I might visit THIS DOG!! YAYYYYY! Well, it’s good to know, anyway.

Then on Sunday two friends came and we all went to Tallarook – Mallei and Lumen both, and their dogs. All up we had 7 dogs between us and they had the. best. time. ever. Mal and Lu in the forest is one thing.. Lu with a “gang” of other young dogs? She had so much fun. Interestingly, she actually stayed closer to us, ran off less, and was better behaved when it’s just her and Mal. So… now I don’t want to go walking with just the two of them! All up we walked for 4.5-5 hours through the bush, occasionally on tracks, and up a huge hill at the end… All the dogs were exhausted…. except mine. She’s a ridiculous energiser puppy who could have kept going and going. She’s a little more subdued today though so I suspect she’s feeling yesterday’s walk! I just love it up at Tallarook. It was so quiet, we only saw trail bikes once, and the other’s dogs just had the most amazing time- I think it was the first time they’d just gone off-trail in the bush and they were just so full of joy and excitement.