December 15th, 2012
Am I happy that Kitkat took grade II one more time instead of grade III? Yes and no. The result was very nice. She would have been ready for grade III at a pinch, but then I am not a risk-taker. Had we been up as the first entry I would have been unhappy for her - apart from the fact that I wanted to see a few more weeks of confident grade III work.
As it happens, it was all there - and very convincingly so. A fortnight later Kitkat chose to have a lapse, entertaining herself with some juvenile antics involving a d'bell and barking fits. It took a bit of strategic training to get over this phase and I'm still not quite sure what caused it. Did I suddenly ook to much at grade III details when the big picture had only just emerged? Was it, because we had two or three encounters in the hall that I could have done without? Was it because Pandra had one of her phantom pregnancies and Kitkat was stressed?by that ? On top of it I had a little campaign going to get rid of whining. Maybe it was a combination of several things. Anyway we trained our way through it. The whining is almost zero - although it will pop up now and then, I'm sure. It was most apparent at the beginning of free heeling, while doing step excercises and at the beginning of positional changes. Just for the record. What we are left with: A few new tricks in the making - the beginnings of a sendaway to the cone (although that's on ice for the time being - too confusing) and a more careful approach to positional changes. I have decided to go very easy on the moving forward a bit, as long as she takes the changes happily and as long as she awaits the commands without anticipating.
On the way home with the d'bell she is a bit slow at the moment, but I tell myself, speed comes with happiness and selfconfidence. She is still a bit careful, anxious to do everything right after her spell of tantrums.
Am looking forward to teach more tricks. They keep boredom at bay and turn Rally training into pure play. Have been observer at a wonderful course, held by Johanna Allanach, and came back with a treasure trove of very useful input.
Pandra is triving in her training. During the past weeks she has not been lame (weather has been just cold and not damp) She seems as happy as a very young dog, takes to the new things with endless enthusiasm and is beginning to get the hang of those things wanted in Rally that don't come free, even after a long life in Obedience. She made me cry twice in training because she tried so hard to get everything right - It felt like walking straight up a rainbow with her. She has become more cuddly, something she has never ever been. I am convinced it is due to the sequences of intense contact she experiences when I massage her shoulder. Amazing to see what can happen in the positive sense- even in an older dog. Long may this process last.
November 15th, 2012
Kitkat has been fine now for quite a while. Grade III is almost in place. Almost up to final entry date for Brørup I was in two minds as to whether it should be grade II or III. The hammer fell for grade II since we had lost quite a few training weeks and I did not want to rush things last moment. The only thing that wants a bit more time is routine now. Distant control still wobbles a bit some times. It does not take much to make Kitkat move forward. She knows what's wanted though. Recall with stop a joy to do now. She stops super. But also here a bit more routine will be a great asset. Some weeks ago Kitkat for the first time gave me that rhythm that makes heelwork so scintillating. It came and went ,though. But , I am sure it will be back. With the dogs I have trained it seemed to fall into place around the time when grade III begins to take shape.
We had one unfortunate training session with somewhat wild people training at the same time and that rocked things a bit out of shape. But most excercises are back to standard as before. Presently Kitkat is on a diet . It does not do much for her patience. She is very food concious indeed. The training sessions where we are alone in the hall or her, seem to give best results at the moment. Kitkat's Rally training is on pause. For the time being, I want her to concentrate on being parallel and not trying to anticipate and rush into turns I have no intention to take.
Pandra is working with tremendous motivation and joy at her Rally excercises.
She can now walk backwards beside me on the first signal and stay parallel. We are working at walking backwards in front of me, now. It begins to look quite good. Right hand handling takes shape. Pandra really enjoys the challenge. Being on the right hand side and bending nicely still leaves a lot of room for improvement. We lack those 9 1/2 years of experience we had for practicing the bends from the left hand side. We are working on stops on the right hand side - stops without handsignal, that is. Not easy. But there is no particular urgency since handsignals are allowed. With Pandra Rally training will have priority this winter - Rally and, and Obedience heelwork , that is, plus a few excercises which are not hard on her back and shoulders.
October 15th, 2012
Kitkat's lameness is much improved. I still see a few tentative steps when she gets up. Still trying to maintain a careful balance of rest days and training.
Fun retrieves are almost totally on hold for the time being. Since those retrieves are her reward for difficult training chunks a little less has been done. For grade III we lack a quick down in the sendaway square. From 14 m distance it's in place. The 20 m distance is not quite there. We are playworking on it with the clicker. Time will do the rest. The flow in distant control is there now (10 m distance) but Kitkat sometimes moves a bit forward. Not big obstacle but room for improvement here. Slow walking is much improved. Stand, sit and down from walking is now almost entirely on foot-signals. Only
the sit needs a fraction of hesitation from my side. It's always the sit :o)
Rally training so far is almost a side show. The demands in novice are easily covered by obedience training. But we practice with signs anyway - and for the shere fun of it. No more Rally tests for Kitkat this year. Probably one more entry in grade II. Obedience And then it will be grade III from next year onwards.
Ridiculously Pandra is now also lame in front - though in her case on the left side. We had this once or twice before some time back, but than it vanished in the course of 2 to 3 days. Pandra gets glucosamine for her hindquarters but it does not seem to help her front. Massage and infra-red light helps and we tick over, although there frequently is a very light lameness when trotting. Hope the vet can pull a trick or too out of his hat for her.
Obedience training is still on. Those of the Elite excercises she likes. The remainder is modified into grade III. Rally training is gradually taking over more of our time. She is doing very well - and her enthusiasm for entering a ring has improved no end. I am still amazed about this transformation. She just loves Rally. She loves the closeness to me at all times and there is so much happening in such a short time. Must be heaven for a dog with her mentallity :o). As for the excercises: Three steps backwards and the twizzle into position facing me is still a bit below par, sometimes. As to the first, I feel I have to give it time and as to the second, I think I found ea new approach yesterday. Here her performance is good enough to sail through, but in training Pandra sometimes tries to "negotiate" and I'd like to see an improvement here.
Have not really put much muscle into the Champion excercises yet. We still have to manage two good results above 94 points in Advanced. Afterwards I might start Pandra in Open under DCH rules. That way we can take tests including Champion excercises and still go back to Advanced under DKK rules. We'll see. Pandra's health comes first and the rest will fall into place.
September 19th, 2012
After a three week holiday back to "work".
Nothing was forgotten - only positional change and recall with stop a bit blunt at the edges. Until now I have never tried such a long spell without training. Problem is, Kitkat came home lame. Her right front paw is affected. She probably twisted it in an unfortunate way. The vet is on the case and after nearly two weeks things are definitely going in the right direction. This past week I tried hard to keep her out of trouble.
Next target is to get fit for a Rally test in Sabro. This seems to be realistic.
July 14th, 2012
Pandra is working on re-learning distant control. This time round with the emphasis on the gaps inbetween the transitions. This apporach worked so well for Kitkat that I had to see whether also Pandra found it to be more confidence inspiring. It seems to work well. There is more overall composure. Great! Recall with stop is also being reintroduced in a new way. We are going for the grade III recall to start with - but the new system should also take care of the Elite version. Sendaway is still fine, dtto directed retrieve. Stand, sit and down in motion great fun and usually quite good. Scent discrimination a bit slow on the way home. The uncertainty while choosing is gone, though. It is my belief that that has just been a displacement for not wonting to come back with the article. Now we have a bit of mouthing - something we never had before. But this confirms even more that there is displacement going on.
Heelwork still scintillating! Such a joy to do heelwork with Pandra! The left turns have become even better. Since this is also the case with Kitkat, it must have to do with the new way I turn left now - with my right foot around the left and not any longer with my left foot straight into the turn. This way the dog has more time to straighten out. Stops when coming out of turns are really good too now.
Retrieving over the hurdle we hardly do any more - only at much reduced height. Pandra has begun to be a bit hesitant when jumping into the car. Tme to limit the jumping to the necessary.
Rally training is like playing for Pandra. There are very few excercises which will take a little bit of extra work. Three smart steps backwards either in front or beside me, is one of them. After 9 years of doing it the Obedience way it is hard to suddenly have to do it the Rally way - that is, three steps rather than two - and without a sit at the end. To find the cone with precision every single time in that jungle of other markers will also take a little while yet.
Working o the right side is shaping up very nicely. Have to limit it though before we go to tests, otherwise she flips over too easily onto the right side:o)
Greatest obstacle really is, to have Pandra's spirits up 100% those seconds before the start. Stress is fighting with desparation, treatening to morph into depression. Once we are off everything is just fine. ITt will be my key aim to turn that moment into a moment of happy anticipation.
Yesterday Pandra passed Rally Intermediate with 100 points which earned her the title Rally Master Intermediate. With that she has reached our goal for the entire year :o)
July 13th, 2012
Kitkat is now seriously looking like a grade III dog. She does the 20 m sendaway fairly competently. Have not asked her for the down after the stop yet, though. She can do the down competently from a 12 m distance.
Distant control was succesfully "clicked back into shape". The focus is now on the pauses between the changes, i. e. not so much on the actual change but on the competence of holding the new position. I don't know what lead me to try this approach but it works like magic. Change of position is trained separately from a very short distance as always - and only one type of change at a time.
Recall with stop has had a makeover too. Emphasis is now on stopping her ca 10 m away from me . To start with the distance was 12 m and Kitkat was only allowed to run 2 m. Again emphasis is more on holding the stop-position for three secs. well than on stopping. It seems to give Kitkat a much more positive feeling of achievement. Smart stopping is trained separately in a play scenario. Jump with retriev is in place, directed retrieve just lacks a bit of routine on the retrieves that are not easy to see. Havn´t put the entire excercise together yet, either. Heeling towards cone and turn looks very smart. Scent discrimination looks fine. I little more speed on the way back in such a fast dog as Kitkat would be super but it would be an extra. She hurries, but she does not dash :o) Still a bit of mouthing, but the tools are in place to reduce this bit by bit.
Stand, sit and down in motion is constantly improving. Down is there - without a hand- or footsignal and in motion. Stand still needs a footsignal and a slight stopping - dtto. sit. It is such fun to thain this excercise as the improvements are so apparent and on the spot.
Heelwork looks pretty great for grade II and fine for grade III. Slow pace could have a little more fluency still, but that will come with time. She does not try to sit in the turns any more.
In freeheeling In normal pace Kitkat now does the left turns squarely - my first dog to do this. Feels fantastic!
News on Pandra following soonest!
May 30th, 2012
Training is well on track.
Kitkat's sendaway gets better and better. Stand, sit and down in motion is shaping up. The down is almost there, with me moving while Kitkat takes the position. Stand without handsignals works on and off. I stay with her still, though, until position is taken. Sit works without handsignal. Since the footsignal is a strong signal she will pick up the "me-in-motion-bit" as we go along - I hope :o) Directed retrieve shaping up very nicely. Scent discrimination ditto. Recall with stop and distant control suddenly a little "vage". Kitkat started tripping in the stop under recall and the sit from stand as well as down from stand suddenly seemed weird to her. Maybe just a mini off-phase - hormones can really mess things up - maybe I need to go back a step. The next sessions will tell. Generally I see in Kitkat a dog that wishes to do things really well. She has a hard time, when she gets it wrong twice or three times in a row. Too many repetitions are not her thing. But then she normally grasps things pretty quickly, so we rarely have to repeat several times.
Pandra still does some of the elite excercises. Some excercises I now let her do in the grade III version or otherwise simplified.
Her Rally stuff is shaping up into a real party :o) She can do the figure 8 around two food-bowls without so much as blinking and the jump from free-healing is in place. No more crashing into the hurdle because she looks up into my face. She has found a very clever middle-way. Looking at the jump, looking at me, again looking at the jump before actually jumping and then looking at me again - and everybody involved is happy :o)
Heeling on the right hand side is shaping up. Here I do not expect miracles over night. Nevertheless I am very pleases with what I see. Positioning herself in front of me from heeling is in place. Suddenly it was there! First class brain at work. The same excercise from a static position is still a little tricky, though. Sometimes the momentum to swing her butt around is not quite there and she ends up in a slightly oblique sit. But we are working on that as well. Main thing is, Pandra is mega happy doing Rally. Our next test is coming up on Friday
April 18th, 2012
First training since Easter.
Kitkat has been ill with a skin desease on her nose and had to run around with a helmet preventing her from scratching . She was hyper keen to train and did just so well. We have been pre-training grade III excercises and now we will really get going on the more difficult elements and improving on distance and length of time. Still working on precision for distant control. But Kitkat knows what's wanted. Have to find a lighter d'bell for the jump and retrieve. Yesterday She hammered the d'bell into the jump and lost it. Super sendaway! Super recall with stop and stand! I am just so happy with her performance! In four weeks time we have another grade II test coming up to get a bit more performance experiecne.
Pandra still trains most of the Elite excercises. But after her clean sweep in Rally Novice will now focus on the Rally Intermediate excercises. This will be great fun for her. We have been training these already but now it will happen with more attention to details and to establish a bit of experience. Can't wait to get going.
Crufts has come and been. And what an event it was. The quality of the Springers was pretty impressive. There were classes with an array of entries to dream of. The veteran class bitches particularly sticks in my mind. I loved seeing Lila (Peasblossom Aria) too. She came second in her class. Kye (Peasblossom Chance) impressively won his class. He looked so incredibly well-groomed. And of course seeing Seamus (Barecho Hold Your Horses at Peasblossom) win not only BOB but also take BIG3
as quite something. Seamus certainly knows how to stride out!! And Jacky
handled him so well. I had tears in my eyes watching the prize-giving in the
The next day a saw Lone handle Panic in Agility. Again so many superb entries coming from as far away as South Africa, Japan and USA. The course seemed fiendishly difficult. Watching flyball was quite something too - although I would not want to put the health of my dog to that test. It must be hell for bones, ligaments and joints.
Shopping at Crufts was great too!! Came home with a lot of things I never knew I needed.
March 21st, 2012
Training has been going really well.
Kitkat (touch wood!!) has decided to abandon her antics with retrieve items. The d'bell comes home as it should be - and the scent article als well. Here i still hold my breath sometimes. I hope, Kitkat does not notice this. The heelwork is beyond my expectations - just a treat every single time. Her turns are so professional. We sometimes practice a bit of slow pace now - in view of grade III. Recall with stop will be our next bigger focus as well as further work on the distant controll. If there are too many distractions Kitkat forgets that she must not gain ground. But I see that as normal. On a grade II level she does the excercise well. We are now training with Gitta and Lene on Mondays. This is just the right level of buzz. No undertones of panic just speed control and concentration - plus lots of fun. Last Monday the agility equipment came out and Kitkat did not find it too tough to concentrate on her stuff. With all that din going on at the same time! Super! Super! Super! We lack pracice in the downstay with many other dogs, but to me this seems to be a calculated risk with the odds in our favour. First test in class II in ten days
Pandra is getting quite proficient in her rally (novice) stuff. Sometimes she even gets a bit carried away thinking it is trick work - and I don't blame her. She must think it so easy. I only had to teach a single excercise - the recal with facing me frontally. The other ones she has inhaled on the way though her obedience classes. I am confident in view of her first outing in a rallye test mid April. The only risk I see is that I make a hash of memorizing the course. But I will practice without dog.
Looking forward to getting a firmer handle on the excercises of the other rally classes. Handling the dog on the right side, when everything has happened on the left side for 9 years is a bit of a challenge.
Apart from that we still train elite excercises - but I cut Pandra a bit of slack here. We do it stricktly for fun now.
Looking very much forward to the outdoor season now.
Although it is wonderful to be able to train in a hall, the cold and damp gets at one a bit. Inside it's almost always colder than outside.
February 9th, 2012
Pandra gave us a bit of a fright by drinking far too much water those past weeks ( more than two litres per day). I feared she might have diabetes or something wrong with her kidneys. Had her blood tested. But everything is totally normal. Her hormones seem to muck her up mega. Both girls cam into season a month late and that must have stressed Pandra quite a bit. She can't light a cigarette or two. So she drinks. Water. She is just out of season now and things are returning to normal. Not a moment too soon!!
Training in the Hall is like training in a freezer ( - 4/ -1) Still much better than training outside. Pandra is really taking to her Rallye excercises. Will enter her for a test in April. We are still training Elite, though, and apart from recall with stand and down I really like what I see.
Kitkat is still in season - very good to work with, though. We had the most perfect retrieves today. Two training sessions ago it was quite a different storty. The d'bell broke in half on impact (having been chewed well and truely for more times than I care to remember). Kitkat thought this was some kind of new game. She made of with one of the two parts and was not available for comment - after having been really good and
stable for probably two months. But today it all ended well.
Ordered 4 new d'bells - beechwood!!. Those should last us a while.
Distant control needs a little more work - but it looks really good, when corrected. Kitkat knows what's wanted.Heelwork beyond my wildest
expectations! :o) Sendaway was tough today with two new mirrors in the hall. What dog likes to run towards another (strange) dog at full speed? We played in front of he mirrors to get used to them. It paid off. Play is play and those strange dogs are just mirror reflections.
Really promising retrieve of scent disrimination article.
I love my dogs!
January 1st, 2012
Have been training two to three times a week - twice weekly in the training hall.
Kitkat is doing really well. Still a bit to do on the distant control. The backwards sit from stand ond the down backwards from stand need more work. Of course they do! Kitkat is young. But she seems to understand the principle - even when distance is added in moderation. Moderation is the key. Not to much at any given time. The d'bell retrieve in the hall gets better and better. Still a lot of play necessary, though. Finish looks good. D'bell retrieve outside was a bit of a rodeo act yesterday. Little hooligan! But we will be getting there. We haven't trained outside much, lately. - the days are short and the weather unsuitable. Scent discrimination is still the big hurdle. Kitkat can find the article with ease and comes and does a beautiful finish with a long line attached and trailing - but off it she really lets rip plays the fool and prances away with the wretched thing. Did I mention chewing? If not - good thing I didn't! This excercise will be my big project for the coming months!!! Having said that - so many big things and smaller details are much improved. Super recalls! Nice free heelwork! Really promising sendaway - now 12 m. Although she sometimes drives me to distraction - I just love to work with her!
Pandra very energetic, working hard to please but also
working hard on not letting go of her little manias. "Why do you stop me
here! There is no cone!" " I stop you where I want to stop you! You just
stop! Ignore the cone!" "But I can't, there is no conet!" "Yes, I think we have been trhough that before." Pandras arthritis is kicking in. I keep an eye on making excercises easer, as soon as it will be necessary. For the time being Pandra thinks she is 1 1/2 years old - just having these odd problems
with her joints sometimes.
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