Friday, January 31, 2014

Train Your Dog Month Challenge

Here it is, the end of January already!  January was Train Your Dog month and Something Wagging hosted a Train Your Dog Month Challenge
 Dot
This January Dot started her very first agility class.  At our Dog Training Club, this is called Agility Prep and consists of lots of groundwork and easy introduction to the equipment in a fun and safe way.  I have never trained or competed in agility before so while I am familiar with all the training concepts, the hard part for me is the handling, footwork, and hand cues used in order to get the dog to the right place, over the right obstacle in the right direction.  The video starts out with 2x2 weaves which our class doesn't so I'm trying to tackle that on my own.  Here's a video of her showing off some of her new rudimentary agility skills.  
 

Taco
Taco's goal for January was working on his heel position and building up to a nice solid hold.  His pivot platform work is going stupendous.  We are using Denise Fenzi's pivot disk(platform) and pocket hand techniques.  He is comfortable with the pocket hand over his snout and he is good at pivoting left on the platform.  Here's a little video of him.


His retrieve was taught using Shirley Chong's clicker retrieve method.  BUT.  I sort of rushed it a bit (bad habit of mine) and started getting some chomping on the return.  I took a step back and did more "take it" from my hand and built up to a longer and longer solid hold.

So while every month for us is Train Your Dog Month, January had some new and exciting developments!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WinsDay #7- Fenzi Academy OB210 Obedience Skillbuilding 1 Class Review


 
Welcome to WinsDay again! My win this week is an awesome class that just finished up. I recently took Fenzi Dog Sports Academy's OB210 Obedience Skillbuilding 1 class.   At the bronze level you do not have actual video assignments or feedback from the instructor, but I can honestly say that this was still such a useful class!  This class is all about foundation skills needed for obedience exercises other than heeling.  So this class covers skills like platforms for straight sits at heel and in front, finishes, all the positions (sit, down, stand) and the transitions between all of those, wrapping for distance work and jumping, and scent discrimination without any retrieve.

The platform used in this class is a round pivot platform, not the larger rectangular platform.  I worked the platform (an overturned food bowl) with both dogs and saw improvement in rear-end movement when moving to heel position and a faster finish left from Dot.

I started the scent discrimination technique from this class (which is to clicker train nose touches) with both dogs and ran into some issues.  When we first started, Dot would whine and give up early on, not wanting to be wrong so frequently.  While she is used to clicker training, she is not used to having to try so many repetitions before being correct.  Even with only two targets out, she would nose the unscented one a few times and then just give up with a whimper of exasperation.  It took her a couple of frustrated sessions before she caught on to nosing multiple targets before getting to the scented one and finally getting clicked.  Eventually she had the confidence to search the targets, nosing around for the scented one which is the entire point of this method.  It teaches the dog to search the pile and check out all the options, not just pick up the first article they notice.

Taco, with his limited training, didn't have this issue.  He was eager to nose a target in my hand (he knew hand target previously), then nosed it on the ground.  When multiple targets were added he would assertively try each one until he got the right one.  Taco's trouble was short attention span.  He would sniff a few and then drift away to something else.  This was addressed in several of the forum threads for Gold participants, their sessions were frequently too long.  So I took Hannah's advice and set a timer, each dog got 2 minutes and if Taco seemed like he wasn't even going to make it to 2 minutes, we broke it off.  Great advice!

This was my first course through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  At the Bronze level, without access to the instructor for feedback or answers I was afraid I would just be left with a series of written lectures and lots of questions.  I found the forums way more useful than I thought I would.  I had thought that everyone would have their own individual problems and didn't think my chances of finding answers to my questions in someone else's progress were very good.  But with 15 dog/handler teams to follow, there was a lot of variety not only in what each team was choosing to focus on but also what issues they were having. Following other's progress and reading responses to their questions and concerns helped answer a LOT of my own questions.

The instructor of the class, Hannah Branigan, was exceptionally supportive and encouraging.  Her responses always included compliments and helpful tips for each of the students.  This online course far exceeded my expectations and I am looking forward to OB220 Obedience Skillbuilding 2 this semester!

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this review.   The opinions expressed are all my own with no vendor influence whatsoever.

Join us for WinsDay and show off your dog showing/trialing/training pictures and stories.  Show off your ribbons, tell us about your latest training triumph or ask a burning dog show question you're dying to hear others' opinions on.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!

CorgiPants



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Treat Taste Testing for Chewy.com (and don't forget the giveaway)

Chewy.com sent us a package of Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats to review.  We love Fromm!  Dot has had their treats and dry food before.  They are a Wisconsin company (my husband is from Wisconsin) and when we go up north to visit family, I notice that Fromm is readily available at many stores (example: they carry it at the local hardware store).  Down here in Illinois it is only at specialty feed stores.  Still fairly accessible, just not as in your face.

Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas is a flavor we had not tried.  But how do you tell if a treat is good when you have dogs that will eat ANYTHING?  (And I do mean anything.  When I am caught without a treat during training, I have seriously rewarded dot with lint, a scrap of tissue or a spit wad on my finger.  TMI, I know!)  So the answer to finding out if the treats actually taste good?  Taste test!  I ran a series of A or B trials for 11 different treats.  I ran the trials with each dog separately.  I put a sample of each treat in a separate plastic bag, then gave the dog a choice between two bags and watched which bag they hovered over or tried to shove their snout into more forcefully.  The treats I tested were:
A-Baby carrots
B-String cheese
C-Jones Natural Chews Woofers Beef Patties
D-Cooked chicken breast
E-Animal Planet Crunchy Biscuits Salomon, Sweet Potatoes & Spinach flavor
F-Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats Brown Rice & Lamb Meal Formula
G-Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats
H-American Natural Premium Coconut Colada Treats 
I-Cloud Star Tricky Trainers Salmon flavor
J- Purina Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers Dog Treats
K-Pet Botanics Healthy Omega Dog Treats salmon flavor

I think it's important to note that ALL of these are treats Dot can have as they are ALL grain free.  Having a dog on a special diet is no longer a problem these days, there are endless varieties are treats available with limited ingredients or that exclude certain grains.
According to the taste test, here is Dot's hierarchy of treats, starting from least interesting and going to most interesting:
11-Baby Carrots
10-Purina Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers Dog Treats
9- American Natural Premium Coconut Colada Treats
8-Cloud Star Tricky Trainers Salmon flavor
7- Animal Planet Crunchy Biscuits Salomon, Sweet Potatoes & Spinach flavor
6- String cheese
5- Jones Natural Chews Woofers Beef Patties
4- Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats
3- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats Brown Rice & Lamb Meal Formula
2- Pet Botanics Healthy Omega Dog Treats salmon flavor
1- Cooked chicken breast
And Taco's favorites, from least to most interesting:
11-Baby Carrots
10-Purina Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers Dog Treats
9-Cloud Star Tricky Trainers Salmon flavor
8- American Natural Premium Coconut Colada Treats
7- Animal Planet Crunchy Biscuits Salomon, Sweet Potatoes & Spinach flavor
6- String cheese
5-Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats
4- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats Brown Rice & Lamb Meal Formula
3 - Jones Natural Chews Woofers Beef Patties
2- Pet Botanics Healthy Omega Dog Treats salmon flavor
1- Cooked chicken breast

For both dogs, Fromm was at least in their top half of the stack.  Dot liked them slightly more than Taco but they both preferred them over many of the other choices.  And is it really fair to compare a dry biscuit treat to freshly cooked chicken?  So these treats fared pretty well, falling behind the dried beef burger jerky, stinky soft salmon treats and cooked chicken.  The one surprise contender was the Natural Balance treats.  These are also a dry biscuit treat but must have a really enticing smell because both dogs were into them!

Fromm is a fifth generation family owned and operated company and they have MANY foods and treats that are grain free.  The Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats retail for $4.99 from Chewy.com.  Chewy also carries their Four-Star, Gold and Classic lines of food with free delivery for orders over $49 so hello!  High quality food and treats delivered to your door for free!  You still have a couple of days to enter the giveaway for great Chewy.com prizes.

Disclosure: Chewy.com provided me with one package of Fromm Chicken with Carrots & Peas treats to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs'.  :)

We are joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop for the first time!


We received these products to review and were not compensated in any other way.  Our opinions are solely based on our experience with the product  and knowledge of the company which we approve.  - See more at: http://kirbythedorkie.com/blog/zukes-hip-action-dog-treats-review#sthash.SNQZI78T.dpuf
We received these products to review and were not compensated in any other way.  Our opinions are solely based on our experience with the product  and knowledge of the company which we approve. - See more at: http://kirbythedorkie.com/blog/zukes-hip-action-dog-treats-review#sthash.SNQZI78T.dpuf
We received these products to review and were not compensated in any other way.  Our opinions are solely based on our experience with the product  and knowledge of the company which we approve.  - See more at: http://kirbythedorkie.com/blog/zukes-hip-action-dog-treats-review#sthash.SNQZI78T.dpuf

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WinsDay #6


 
Wow, it's Wednesday again!  I meant to make a video for this week but forgot.  My win for this week is Taco's progression on retrieve. He has really got the idea down and likes the exercise.  BUT I do need to take a step back and really reinforce the hold.  He likes to take a few chomps before settling into a nice hold.  So we'll be doing a LOT of "take it" from my hand, building up duration on a nice solid hold.

Join us for WinsDay and show off your dog showing/trialing/training pictures and stories.  Show off your ribbons, tell us about your latest training triumph or ask a burning dog show question you're dying to hear others' opinions on.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!

CorgiPants



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WinsDay #5 (Ribbons!)


 
Some of Sully's ribbons before I took them down to make room for Dot.
It's WinsDay and I want to talk about the thing we win most often: Ribbons!  Crystal of Reactive Champion wrote recently about being a "ribbon whore" and I totally relate. Since grade school I have been motivated by ribbons.  Whether it was a reading challenge at the library, a contest at school or 4-H competitions, if there was a ribbon (or trophy) in it, I put in more effort.  Something about a tangible object to focus on made it easier for me to visualize myself performing and winning.  Even today I appreciate trials and titles for the opportunity they give me to focus on a specific goal, which creates for me a path to follow.  Without a goal, I tend to amble along and not really progress.  If my training is not focused on a specific outcome, I skip days, repeat steps and settle for mediocre from the dogs.  Ribbons are really the end product of productive, purposeful time spent having fun with my best furry friends!
Sometimes you accumulate too many and need to find things to do other than store them in boxes. I made this wreath which hangs in my craft studio. I posted a tutorial here.This one is made out of horse ribbons from my Jr High and High School days.

Join us for WinsDay and show off your dog showing/trialing/training pictures and stories.  Show off your ribbons, tell us about your latest training triumph or ask a burning dog show question you're dying to hear others' opinions on.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!

CorgiPants



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WinsDay #4 (Chewy.com giveaway)

 
Join us for WinsDay and show off your dog showing/trialing/training pictures and stories.  Show off your ribbons, tell us about your latest training triumph or ask a burning dog show question you're dying to hear others' opinions on.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!

This week I'm giving YOU a chance to win! Check out my Chewy.com giveaway post.  I really love giveaways, especially dog-related giveaways and enter them on blogs frequently.  Do you like giveaways?


Corgi{ants

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January Chewy.com Giveaway

It is super cold here in Illinois!  In case you didn't see him on Facebook, this is Taco squeezed behind the end table, completely covering the furnace vent, with his coat on and also using the drapes as blanket-fort to catch more hot air.  

To get my mind off the cold I'll let you in on some exciting news!  Chewy.com contacted me about reviewing some products in the coming months.  I accepted their offer and in the next few months I'll be posting some honest reviews of the items they send.  They also let me know about their monthly giveaway and if you know me, you KNOW I love giveaways!!  So here it is, January's giveaway, with three great prizes and lots of ways to enter!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

WinsDay #3 (Handler Seminar)

 
Join us for WinsDay and show off your dog showing/trialing/training pictures and stories.  Show off your ribbons, tell us about your latest training triumph or ask a burning dog show question you're dying to hear others' opinions on.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!

My win this week was a personal realization brought about by a fairly bad experience.  This past weekend I attended a handler seminar.  This was a day-long workshop about the rule changes for AKC obedience, handler form and then a critique of your ring performance.  It was quite a nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing and somewhat deflating to have several OTCH-level competitors watch you, video tape you, present your performance projected HUGE on a wall and then pick you apart.  I did not leave inspired to enter my next trial.  In fact, it has led me to not enter a January trial I had planned to.  But what I did learn is a little bit about my goals.  My goals are NOT an OTCH, a trip to the National Championship or the Invitational.  My goals are to learn the most I can and get the most I can out of my dogs WITHOUT compromising the promise I make to my dogs NOT to do anything to them I wouldn't want done to me.  I would never hurt my dogs in order to get an obedience performance.  (Obedience exercises sometimes seem so completely obtuse and useless that I vacillate between loving the challenge and questioning why I even continue.)  I try really hard not to even hurt their feelings but when I say wrong, Dot gives me the eyes that say "Oh, gosh, I'm trying to get it right but I'm confused.  Please don't be mad at me, train me better!"  And that is my goal.  To be able to be a better trainer so that my dogs understand more easily what I want and we can have FUN. 


Corgi{ants

Happy New Year!

Here are some snowy pictures of Dot to wish you a Happy New Year!  Is it snowy where you live?  Dot is not deterred by cold or snow. 
She dutifully chases her squirrels...
 
and watches for birds no matter what they weather.