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

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?

 

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.

goals: may update

The other day I went through my goals from a month ago and realised I’d done some of them! So here’s our new goals:

Self:

  • Allow calf to heal- give yourself a week off from running. If at all possible. Seriously. 2 weeks would be even better.
  • Continue to watch your eating.
  • Look into an exercise bike on Gumtree – especially if you can get one for cheap and Nic’s going to be away for 2.5 weeks and that’s the amount of time the physio suggested doing rehab on a bike for.

 

Lu:

  • Continue proofing weave entries but more especially independence once IN the obstacle.
  • Train one-jump body awareness and obstacle independence using OMD techniques.
  • Dogwalk exits. Find a good starting spot for consistent hits and then try different pulls/pushes etc. Try it into weaves, an almost-90-degree exit onto a table, etc.
  • Get that A-frame behaviour solid.
  • Backside bars and threadle arm – especially into tunnels.
  • Check out that Justine Davenport stuff and get working through the lessons.
  • Do hill-running/sprints.
  • Make time to do strength tricks often.
  • Continue play class. 🙂

 

Loki:

  • Play for the sake of playing.
  • Keep working on recalls especially on a long-line around wildlife.
  • Visit big animals like cattle and horses to learn appropriate responses. Visit the dog park for more dog interaction. Continue socialisation in general.
  • Start working on restrains to food, and on ignoring my movement while eating from a target. Do restrains to a thrown toy.
  • Continue to work on puppy tricks (wraps, perch pivot, body awareness, foot targetting, backing up, leg weaves, GO GO!, stays, and recalls in general)
  • Shape him to pick up, mouth and carry a rubber ball to help with his jaw development.
  • Teach a “leave it” (or continue using “uh uh”) for food on the ground.

Mal

  • Pat him as required. 😉
  • Feed him more! The vet said he was too skinny because if he gets sick then he won’t have any reserves to give him energy to fight off the infection or whatever. I found this surprising – I wouldn’t say Mal is underweight… he’s lean at the moment, yes, but I’m actually very careful to make sure my guys don’t carry excess weight, especially Mal as he’s getting older… He’s currently 18.? kg which is maybe a kilo less than he should be – they want him to be 20kg… I’m not convinced. (and for reference, at Mal’s skinniest, need to fatten him up, still doing agility stage he was 17.4kg, and at his heaviest, should loose weight, feeling pudgy stage, he was 21kg…. Lu is 18.3kg at the moment)…  but anyway, he won’t complain about more food!!!

 

Home:

  • Look into getting better camera.

 

 

goals: 1 month later

I thought I’d do a check in on my goals… I didn’t realise but it’s been exactly a month (less one day) since I wrote them. So here’s how we’re going:

 

Self:

  • Increase fitness by doing sprints every second day with the dogs in tow. Go back to doing tree wraps with Lu (tie Loki up if needed) because this will be beneficial for both of us. Do lunges and other easy ‘on the go’ exercises when out with the dogs. Walk up hills. Update: Not so great here. Doing more agility sprints with Lu on the hill where we’ve been training seems to have caused a small tear in my calf muscle which makes sprinting very very bad. I ignored my physio after I went to her yesterday and did more agility and was in agony last night. So, sprints are going to be on hold. Tried doing some lunges but I’m very bad at doing things ‘out and about’. Might have to give up on this idea.
  • Watch your eating. Stop buying lollies and chips (who are you? You used to be so proud of never going down those aisles!). Eat smaller portions. Update: Good! No chips consumed recently, and Nic has started the 12 Week Body Transformation which means I am watching my portions and we’re eating healthier meals. 

Lu:

  • Close the weaves and proof independence and entries. Move them to Anne’s place for additional setups with entries etcUpdate: Weaves are closed and she can do them in different locations! Last night I did a rear cross from a hard angle and she DID IT! I was so impressed. Also did a fairly extreme right entry (which she did – amazing since I haven’t been teaching right hand entries), 90 degree entries and fast straight entries. Also proofed independence with me hanging back and her going on. This was HARD – resorted to throwing her food bag ahead, but she slowed down a lot. It will come.
  • Train one-jump body awareness and obstacle independence using OMD techniques. Don’t worry so much about handling just yet, but do focus on how you can make her jumping more confident, proof her jumping, and teach her to jump regardless of my actions. Update: Done this once. Have had to pack up jumps because of selling the house but now that the house is sold, I’ll get back onto this. 
  • Get back to full-speed confident running dogwalk by backchaining from the down-plank. Go backwards every successful session or as she appears confident. Don’t rush. Update: Seems to be achieved! We’ll see what she does at a mock trial on Saturday but she ran Penny’s in a new location beautifully, and at Frankston, too. I haven’t been watching what she does where we normally train so it could be weird there, but it doesn’t seem to translate to other places. 
  • New goal: Train exits! Including pulling across into wrong tunnels, blind and front crosses, rear crosses, etc.
  • Try some compression jumping grids in the backyard- start at a comfortable bounce distance and decrease space between jumps as she appears comfortable. Aim to help her feel confident in compressing and adding a stride. Change between extension and compression jumping within a week. Update: Nope. Haven’t done this once. I hate jumping grids.
  • Keep visiting those kangaroos and make attention on me the default response to spotting a roo. Update: Nope, haven’t had time. 
  • Do hill-running/sprints. Update: Done plenty of sprints, chasing balls, 200 ball game, etc.
  • Make time to do strength tricks every 2nd day. Update: Maybe not every 2nd day but more regularly than we were.
  • Continue play class. 🙂 Update: Going well. Definitely seen a change in food-related behaviours, but not toys so much.

Loki:

  • Play for the sake of playing. Follow play class for fun with him. Update: Yep. I feel like we’re finding our ‘groove’ in terms of how to play together for fun. 
  • Keep working on recalls especially on a long-line around roos. Update: Haven’t done it with roos, but have with rabbits, moorhens and magpies. 
  • Visit big animals like cattle and horses to learn appropriate responses. Visit the dog park for more dog interaction. Continue socialisation in general. Update: Mixed. Met one horse, been to the dog park a couple of times, and he’s come to school for lots of human interaction a few times.
  • Start working on restrains to food, and on ignoring my movement while eating from a target. Do restrains to a thrown toy. Update: Yes, a bit. Not a huge priority. 
  • Do some puppy ‘on the flat’ stuff, just for fun. (eg. lap turns, etc) Update: As above.
  • Continue to work on puppy tricks (wraps, perch pivot, body awareness, foot targetting, backing up, leg weaves, GO GO!, stays, and recalls in general) Update: Yep. Working on lots of these things but not over working any of them. 
  • When running together, drop a toy on the ground on his line to discourage just chasing me all the time. Update: Tried this once and he was oblivious to the toy. Will wait until he has a bit more toy focus for this!

Mal

  • Pat him as required. 😉 Update: Actually, lately Mal has been coming up on the couch between Nic and I, so he’s been getting heaps more pats and cuddles. Until Lu lays on my lap.

Home:

  • Bit clean up, de-clutter, prepare house for sale. Get rid of unneeded things, take the piles of clothes to the op-shop bins. Just generally get all the shit sorted so it will sell quickly. Update: HOUSE SOLD BIATCH. 
  • Fix the hole in the roof that currently has gaffa tape over it. Update: Done.

 

Tonight, I’ll think of some updated goals and post them up on Monday. But, considering I haven’t actually been consciously following my goals, I’m actually really pleased with how we’ve gone… given most of them were “matter of course” goals, it’s still good to see that we’re getting through stuff.

 

weighty issue (goals/plans/action)

Nic and I went for a hike today- we took a photo of the two of us and I cringed to see how much weight I’ve put on. Not that it was surprising – my jeans aren’t fitting well, and while I don’t ever get myself on the scales, I figure this is a fairly accurate representation of the state of things. I suppose it’s been a tough few months in terms of exercise- in January Lu got sick and all I wanted to do (and DID) was sit with her at home and eat comfort food. She couldn’t walk, Mal didn’t really need to walk, to we didn’t walk. At the same time, we obviously stopped doing agility (and I subsequently lost my training space) so an hour’s worth of activity every couple of days stopped too. Then school started and I was coming home exhausted, falling asleep on the couch, and still not able to do agility. And then we got Loki who has spurred me into activity again but of course he’s little, so our walks are under an hour long, he can’t come jogging, and I’m feeling too unfit to do much in terms of hills. And we still can’t train agility regularly so all that sprinting I was doing with Lu? Not happening.

So as we were walking today I was thinking about some goals I’d like to set for the next short-mid term.

Self:

  • Increase fitness by doing sprints every second day with the dogs in tow. Go back to doing tree wraps with Lu (tie Loki up if needed) because this will be beneficial for both of us. Do lunges and other easy ‘on the go’ exercises when out with the dogs. Walk up hills.
  • Watch your eating. Stop buying lollies and chips (who are you? You used to be so proud of never going down those aisles!). Eat smaller portions.

 

Lu:

  • Close the weaves and proof independence and entries. Move them to Anne’s place for additional setups with entries etc.
  • Train one-jump body awareness and obstacle independence using OMD techniques. Don’t worry so much about handling just yet, but do focus on how you can make her jumping more confident, proof her jumping, and teach her to jump regardless of my actions.
  • Get back to full-speed confident running dogwalk by backchaining from the down-plank. Go backwards every successful session or as she appears confident. Don’t rush.
  • Try some compression jumping grids in the backyard- start at a comfortable bounce distance and decrease space between jumps as she appears comfortable. Aim to help her feel confident in compressing and adding a stride. Change between extension and compression jumping within a week.
  • Keep visiting those kangaroos and make attention on me the default response to spotting a roo.
  • Do hill-running/sprints.
  • Make time to do strength tricks every 2nd day.
  • Continue play class. 🙂

 

Loki:

  • Play for the sake of playing. Follow play class for fun with him.
  • Keep working on recalls especially on a long-line around roos.
  • Visit big animals like cattle and horses to learn appropriate responses. Visit the dog park for more dog interaction. Continue socialisation in general.
  • Start working on restrains to food, and on ignoring my movement while eating from a target. Do restrains to a thrown toy.
  • Do some puppy ‘on the flat’ stuff, just for fun. (eg. lap turns, etc)
  • Continue to work on puppy tricks (wraps, perch pivot, body awareness, foot targetting, backing up, leg weaves, GO GO!, stays, and recalls in general)
  • When running together, drop a toy on the ground on his line to discourage just chasing me all the time.

Mal

  • Pat him as required. 😉

 

Home:

  • Bit clean up, de-clutter, prepare house for sale. Get rid of unneeded things, take the piles of clothes to the op-shop bins. Just generally get all the shit sorted so it will sell quickly.
  • Fix the hole in the roof that currently has gaffa tape over it.

 

So hey, not too much, right? Just a matter of finding time for all of it… especially now as daylight hours in the afternoon are getting shorter and shorter, I might have to take the dogs into the sneaky no-dogs park near home… otherwise we’ll never get any walking done.

 

light + tunnel?

I moved the DW today – it was on a slight slope before which I suspect was making her come off the side, or need to run differently to not come off the side. You’ll see it on the video- very short strides. So I dragged it around by myself and set it up so now it’s going up/down the hill instead of across the hill. The angle was so slight it seems silly but I guess when you’re sprinting it makes all the difference. The last run on this video is the most normal I’ve seen her run for a long time so hopefully she’s not far off being ‘back to normal’. That being said I still have a heap of work to do visiting different dogwalks since she piked out on this one at first after I’d moved it because it was different. So I certainly still need to do a tour of dogwalks before I can enter her in an agility comp (and we need weaves before then, too)(oh, and an A-frame, which may prove difficult because I certainly need one I can lower). I also need to do some more sprinting fitness stuff with her because she’s puffing hard after just 4 DWs, which really isn’t enough to get much ‘work’ done, so hill running and restrained/stay recalls and stuff here we come. I understand though- I do little sprints with them and manage to pull muscles. We’re both too unfit. At least she chases things in the bush- that should count for something.

 

 

Also, I think I jinxed the Lokidog. Talking about how I really fell in love with Lu after her surgery, and thinking maybe it takes an emergency situation to really get that bond and he goes and hurts himself this afternoon somehow, and it’s a fully mystery injury in his leg- I can manipulate it pretty much any way and he’s fine, until I pick him up and squeeze him a little (so pulling his front legs together), and then he squeaks. My poor little guy. He was very happy laying on my lap this afternoon which was lovely, but so weird. I hope he’s ok and back to himself tomorrow. As much as I love cuddly-sweet-calm Loki, it’s just weird!

regaining fitness (and something I’ll call ‘kelpie therapy’)

I’ve been making a real effort to do lots of strength and balance tricks every 2nd day at the moment. It’s been wonderful actually NOT having my equipment set up (apart from the weaves and 2 jumps) because I really haven’t been training (or especially over training) much at all. Which is weirdly feeling ok. It’s been 7 weeks since her surgery now and I’m starting to amp things up a little…

I’ve been doing tunnel games maybe twice a week. She seems to really enjoy these, and I get to throw in a little bit of handling stuff as well, which she needs. I think my next goal with the tunnel games is to either do 2 curved tunnels (but this is so much more effort to set up) or start adding a jump, then another jump… into the game. Because I see her driving really nicely into the tunnel and especially out of it in this scenario, but start doing a sequence and that same drive isn’t there. So I think we need to do the tunnel games and start sneaking in obstacles so she can learn that she will get to chase the ball, after this jump, or after 2 jumps, 3 jumps, etc.

After another month or so, I guess, I want to do some DW speed circles. At the moment she’s done 2 full DWs, and one time when she didn’t want to do it. When her fitness is up a bit more and she can actually run them full speed again, speed circles in and out of tunnels and stuff with the DW in the middle would be really fun.

Tricks we’ve been doing include: lots of sit pretty, especially on a big couch cushion. Interestingly, I’d say her ‘sit pretty’ stamina is almost better now than it was before the surgery. Go figure. Today I just started playing with the ‘hold the toy’ trick which will help as well.

We’ve also done lots of sit pretty – stand up – sit pretty. She’s good at this! The only thing I want to work on here is the sit pretty – stand up part, because she has trouble standing straight up and steadily.

Lots of sit pretty – drop – sit pretty, but these have always been easy for her. Side legs on both sides, and handstands against a cushion vertical on the wall… I’m going to start getting her to do these quicker, so she has less time to think and ‘climb’ up, and I might start to get the ‘hopping up’ behaviour I want.

Sometimes I get her up on the fit ball, but not often.

Then, I’ve been getting her to get all 4 paws up on the not-so-narrow edge of our couch, and interestingly, she finds this surprisingly difficult. I actually think it’s a MUCH better balance workout for her than her 4-in a bowl. Whether the bowl was too small and her feet were all squished and she couldn’t actually hold the 4-in for more than 2 seconds, or just because I didn’t train her well enough to hold it for more than 2 seconds, I’m not sure. But on the couch, I can see her really working to stay balanced, and her feet are more or less in the same ‘4-in’ position. Once she’s more confident and strong doing that, I’ll move her to a narrower edge of the couch.

Meanwhile I have an ‘instant-nose’ trick, where if you ask her to sit, she’ll also start offering the ‘hide your face’/shame trick that she hasn’t quite mastered yet, and basically results in her punching herself in the face. It’s kind of adorable and hilarious.

We’ve also been trying to go for walks and runs where we can, but it’s very weather dependent. I don’t do well in warm weather (as in, I’m not going to go for a jog when it’s warm), and any time it’s vaguely sunny we can’t really do any bush-type walking because of the snake factor (like this morning would have been perfect), but we have done a couple of walks with Penny and her dogs and Lu tries her best to keep up but isn’t quite there yet. But, the other morning we’d been doing a tunnel game and a man came along and asked if he could walk his dogs on the oval nearby, which was nice of him to let me know (he thought I had 3 dogs as there were 2 randoms from the nearby camp hanging around) and since Lu has been ‘guard barking’ anybody who dares enter ‘her’ park, I figured it would be a good idea to go down and reward her for not barking, and for nice calm behaviour. As I came down I saw he had kelpies (3) and an old BC, and they were running so I let Lu off the lead and off she ran. Turns out he’s a herding judge who knows Lu’s breeder well, and whose dogs have competed against Lu’s sire. Good part about this is that with a whistle, he can send his 2 experienced kelpies racing off around the circumference of the oval, or away from him, or whatever, and Lu gets to go charging after them. He also has a young pup who she played chase with the other day, and as the pup gets older there’ll be better games of chase cos she’ll be able to keep up. So Lu’s been able to run with them about 3 times now and I can actually see her old stride coming back, she’s able to run for longer and look almost as fast as she was. That’s why I’m calling it ‘kelpie therapy’, because she’s getting some wonderful sprinting in with them.

 

Meanwhile still doing weaves when she seems excited or like she wants to run around or play with me. Keeping it nice and short unless she’s having trouble with an entry or something, in which case I keep upbeat and keep trying, and have a huge reward when she gets it (or… nearly gets it, like yesterday), and then do a really easy fun and fast one, and then call it quits. The poles are open about 10cm still, but I’ve been wanting her to find her rhythm, and the session before last I saw it- she wasn’t randomly smashing through the bars but she was getting into that one-foot motion and looking fluid. I’ll give her another two or three sessions on this width as I still need to go from the opposite end, but I’m feeling pretty good about her progress.