Tag Archives: positive dog training

2011 AKC Agility Invitational

11 Oct

The 2011 AKC Agility Invitational will be held this year in Orlando, Florida on December 16-18, 2011.  Only the top Five dogs per  breed will be invited – making the Invitational a prestigious event for anyone to be invited to.  Wyatt and I aren’t going this year (maybe one day!) but I know several friends and fellow agility competitors who are. One of them happens to be my best friend, Jayne and Penny her Lhasa Apso.  I asked her a few questions about the upcoming competition.

How long you and Penny have been competing now?  7 years and this is Penny’s 5th year invited to the Invitational!
What is your favorite moment at an agility trial?  It’s right before we go in the ring and I look down at her and she is barking at me – I am so lucky to have such an awesome partner
What you are doing to prepare for the invitational? Mostly conditioning – exercises for core strength and hiking
Advice for anyone hoping to qualify for the invitational? Relax!
What you are looking forward to most about attending?  Being able to see old friends and meet new ones

Stay tuned for more updates as the events draws closer.


15 years of Agility

19 Aug

I have been doing agility with my dogs for about 15 years.

First there was Hannah. She really spoiled me. 15 year ago when she did agility there were no handling systems, no weave poles in Novice, and 2-3 trials per year.  I pointed, she took what I pointed at, we won. Very rarely did she not take first place in a class. We stopped trialing because she developed a “skip” in her gait -which is now known as a common JRT trait, but back then got us excused from courses because of lameness.

Hannah - Look how cool the jumps were back then!

Next came Simon my Whippet. I thought how FAST Whippets would be at agility… We trained, went to Camp Weed, Seminars, and Private Lessons.  Simon did agility because I wanted him to do agility – not because he loved it (unlike Hannah who used to drool at the start line) We were kicking BUTT and ranked #4 Whippet in Agility in the US.

I remember our last run. It was in Perry GA at a huge trial. It was the last run of the weekend. We completed a perfect, fast, flawless JWW run and earned our first MACH points. The crowd cheered to see a Whippet out there. That was it. We never ran again. After that he sniffed, walked, and avoided equipment like the plague. We tried a comeback in Preferred with no luck. Looking back, I think the stress of the other dogs barking, especially when we walked by crates and cars did him in.


Mona was next. She weighed 4 pounds and hated every second of it. I was bored though and wanted a dog to train! We competed once, she ran out of the ring, and that was it. I was too nervous about a high drive dog mistaking her for a snack.


So I figured I had such great luck with Hannah, I wanted another Jack Russell. 🙂
Wyatt had lived on a farm before I got him. He was supposed to be a barn dog, but he preferred cattle and that’s why they gave him back to the breeder (and how I got him). He had/has a VERY strong prey drive. Anyway we worked through it. We did five time the amount of camps, seminars, and private lessons that me and Simon did. The good news though for me is that he LOVES agility.


Along with camps and seminars, we were die-hard Clean Run readers, and travelled almost every weekend to trials, all over the South East.  So after ALL of that, we finally made it to Nationals in Tulsa, OK in 2010. We went 5 for 5 and placed 38th out of 200 16″ dogs. Here is one of the runs.

So after all of that, me and Wyatt took a year off. We did lots of walking, terrier trials and visits to dog bakerys. So after that year off – we are “coming back” to agility this fall. Not every weekend, not every trial, but we miss it. Our first trial after our one year plus break is in September – and we can’t wait.


Birch Scent lasts a long time…

19 Aug

For anyone reading this post that does Nosework with your dog, you might find it interesting. I apologize to everyone else!

So I decided to do a few finds with Ren this afternoon in the bedroom, as we haven’t work in there in a few weeks. The room has “extra stuff” out like suitcases, phone chargers, paperwork etc as we are getting ready for our trip to Santa Monica next week!

On a separate note, I have been doing some research into the height of finds in Nosework trials. I have been wondering how Ren would be able to eventually handle a 4ft find…

Anyway, I placed my container with Birch near the head of my bed on a low nightstand – usually pretty easy for Ren.  She entered the room and started working –  a few moments zeroed in on my dresser. She kept standing there staring at my dresser (her indicator is a “stare at mom”). She even got up on her hind legs trying to sniff higher up. Being the smart handler that I am, I KNEW the find wasn’t there.  She just stood there  and I wasn’t sure what was going on. Eventually I “helped” her locate the find I placed and rewarded.

The round metal container under the paper has the birch Qtip in it.

Shortly after that I was looking for my car keys – which we also on the dresser – and spotted what she found.  In February 2010 I attended a Nosework Seminar with Amy and Ron in Canton, Georgia. About a week after that I bought a tin and birch and played around with Wyatt and Nosework for a bit – then stopped (more on that later). Ren had found the container that hadn’t been scented since 2010 (that still had the Q-tip in it) that was on my dresser with a bunch of stuff I randomly pulled out of a drawer. UGH!! She indicated on a VERY faint scent and I ignored it. I hate it when I mess my dogs up. I grabbed the container and some treats and did a few really easy finds on the very faint scent.  She nailed it every time.

O.R.T – Odor Recognition Test

17 Aug

We are registered for an ORT test in November! An ORT is part of the K9 Nosework training I am going with Ren. It the first step in preparing to compete in Nosework trials. Basically she has to do one of her “find it” drills from my prior post in front of a judge. We are very excited. It looking at the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) website, there are currently no other Chin with a Nosework title. Would be exciting if we could be one of the first! Still at least a year away though… We are also attending a Continuing Nosework Seminar in Asheville in November. We currently take a fabulous weekly class at Canine PHd in Atlanta – so we are well on our way to trying out competition one day.

One thing I have not done a good job at is having Ren work with a harness and long line on. We have done all her training off leash. When introducing a new “skill” to your dog, you never want to change more than one thing at a time. Even though walking around with a harness and leash on might not seem like a big deal to us, it can really through a dog off.  After learning the ORT had to be performed on leash, I ordered Ren a Pink Camo harness. It’s not easy finding her a harness that fits – it has to be a “Step-in” type because most of slip over the head  harnesses that small enough for her body won’t fit over her head. Anyway  – we practiced Nosework at home this week first with just the harness, then a few times with the long-line attached. We will see how this pans out at class tonight.

No Problem at class!

Charlie Brown’s Teacher

13 Aug

I used to LOVE watching Charlie Brown – and of course always loved Snoopy.

A friend of mine recently got a new puppy. She mentioned to me that she “said” no to her young puppy – but the dog didn’t seem to understand what “no” mean. That is correct! Dog’s don’t understand english 🙂 Dogs learn to understand us by associating words, sounds, movements, cues etc to an “event” (good or bad) whether you are trying to teach them something or not.

Take your dogs bowl and add kibble and fido will come running. Put your walking shoes on and rover starts going nuts – knowing they are about to be walked. Your dog is very observant – and after experiencing the same pattern over and over with the same results (sound of kibble in bowl means chow time) they pair what they are hearing or observing with what is  about to happen.

The same can happen with not so fun experiences. It starts to rain and you thunderphobic dog starts to shake (observing in the past that rain may lead to thunder) Luggage coming out from the attic could mean being left behind…

Your dog is always watching, observing, and learning from your patterns. The more consistent a pattern is – the quicker the dog will learn it – and the earlier in the pattern the dog  will anticipate what is going on.  When I am going to take the gang for a walk – I always get ready the same way. Get on my walking duds, get water, poop bags, baseball cap, shoes, leash.  I am so consistent with this pattern – the dogs now jump up when they hear the “walking clothes drawer” open.

After you have developed a relationship with your dog – most dogs will learn how to read you and whether what they are doing is something you want them to stop doing.

In the beginning though before you dog had experienced your patterns like – YES GOOD BOY  being followed by treats and petting- whatever you are saying to them sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Just a series of words and sounds that mean nothing.  Dog’s don’t generalize well. Yelling NO after they have had an accident on the carpet means absolutely nothing. Your dog might look up at your terrified when you are yelling – but it’s not because they are “sorry” for the mess. It’s because they are upset and confused as to why you are acting like a crazy person. Dog’s can only associate words or sounds (lets call them markers) with the event is happening at the EXACT time the marker happens.  If your dog had an accident 10 minutes ago and you stumble upon it and yell NO, your dog will associate something not so pleasant  (your yelling) with what is happening at that moment (dog probably standing there staring at you) Saying the word NO also doesn’t mean anything if your dog is chewing on your furniture, digging a hole, or shredding your wallpaper.

If you have a new dog and are just starting to teach him how to be a great pet just remember – if you are loudly explaining  to  him at the end of the day how chewing up your shoes while you were are work was “BAD” – all your dog is hearing is WAH wa WAH.


7 Aug

There is a new fun sport called K9 Nosework®.

You teach a dog to find an odor using similar methods that are used to train dogs for search and rescue work.  We attended a seminar in Atlanta last year, and are heading up to Asheville for second one in November.  We also start a class at Canine Pd.D. this week.

Ren has been taught to find the scent of Birch. A few drops of the Birch oil are placed on a guaze pad, when is then placed into a tin with a few holes in the lid. The tin is then hidden. In the video below, Ren knows to “find” the birch, then signal with her paw when she finds it.

Birch Oil and Tin

This sport is a TON of fun, easy to do in a small area, and provides tons of stimulation for the dog.