Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week: 5

Four down (forty-eight to go) and let me say, right off the bat, it wasn’t my fault!

I started Monday with renewed vigor, determined to get back on schedule. Tuesday was splendid, and I videoed Beau’s Go To Mat. I could have done Zachary’s as well but I was running low on time. Wednesday Beau came down with intestinal distress and the rest of the week the boys were relegated to plain kibble and cottage cheese.

No treats = No school (No, I can't work one and not the other. Cookie parity must prevail!)

I’m still trying to decide if I should just tack days onto the end of the year (like Snow Days) or try to insert Make-up Days.

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies – n/a

Quiz results: Just two days worth, so we’ll repeat Quiz items this coming week.

Citizenship – n/a

Family Member – Zachary continues to creep toward good behavior in the car. Worked on Calm for Collar as well. Finished Go To Mat for Beau. Awaiting filming before declaring Zachary “finished”.

Extracurricular – n/a

Just For Fun – Both dogs are a bit slow to get started, but then turn into waste cleanup machines. Will bleed over into next week on this one, as I’ve thrown myself a bone for February’s Just For Fun.

Blue Bar – Videoed Beau on Level Three: Go To Mat. Photo of the Week was taken Saturday in the family room with Zachary on the sofa and Beau on the ground. Had to keep it short since I didn’t want to give Beau too many cookies on his still tender tummy. Both dogs were quite good with their stays. Finally bought that second mat! Wrote up description for Elective - Dance.

Released Video – n/a

Planned for This Week:

Core Studies – Looks just like last week.

Citizenship – Holding at optional for another week while I try to catch up elsewhere.

Family Member – Pretty much like last week.

Extracurricular – Again, looks like last week.

Just For Fun – Listing February's trick, but still need to finish up and film January's.

Field Trip – Guess what – it’s supposed to rain again this week…

Blue Bar – Need to pick two Extracurricular activities to write about. Will charge up the camera and do some marathon filming to try to catch up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Elective - Dance

To read about Extracurricular Activities (Electives) - click here.

My idea with the Dance Elective is to try to make "basic heeling" - so common in so many different dog sports/activities - a little more fun to work on. This is not supposed to be Obedience, Rally, or Freestyle, although it probably contains elements of all three.

(As always, click to see a larger image.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week: 4

Three weeks down (forty-nine to go) and I am definitely behind… or perhaps my expectations were too high. The good news is that February is just around the corner and I’ll have a chance to revise my schedule. The bad news is that revising isn’t going to help my overall goals for the year one bit.

The other bad news is that the long awaited CGC class isn’t going to happen - at least for me. Given a choice between the class and watching my son play Lacrosse isn’t a choice at all, and so I will have to try to pick up the class elsewhere this summer. The silver lining is that I can ease up on CGC items (which weren’t getting done anyway due to our soggy, drippy weather.)

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies – Tried Watch for the first time since they passed Level Two. Zachary only made it to 6 seconds (but he made it there easily) while Beau blew me away by going all the way 25 seconds! Beau finished up Front, Finish, and Heel (right pivot). I’ll be the first to admit they aren’t pretty, but after working all week on them I’ve decided they are as good as they are going to get at this time. Zachary finished Heel (right pivot), having already “passed” the other two.

Quiz results: Beau 87% (Honor), Zachary 83% (Bow + Honor). I’m finally satisfied with the “formal” Quiz layout, and the use of a simple index card to track daily progress. They continue to improve in their ability to hold a down while the other one works, but both still manage to break at least once per Quiz and that is killing their stats.

Citizenship – I don’t even want to talk about it… It poured down rain, the dogs were practically prisoners in their own home, and little other than a few out-of-sight stays was done. This may end up being a category that only gets trotted out during Spring and Fall when the weather is agreeable.

Family Member – The first three items (thuds, playing, and leashing) are all long term, slow progress items - and we continue to make baby steps on all fronts. A huge leap was made in the grooming department when Zachary not only stayed seating during simple brushing, but also allowed me to trim his ears (around the leather and thinning behind as well) and paw fur! As I don’t have a grooming table or noose and must rely on the dogs’ standing still because that’s what I told them to do, this is indeed a major hurdle leapt.

Extracurricular – Worked Retrieve, and they will both now hold the object in their mouths for a quick second or two, but both mouth and chomp continually and that, of course, is bad.

Just For Fun – Neither dog likes the plastic bottle, so I will probably drop it from the trick. It was added after the month began, so I’m not losing sleep over losing it.

Blue Bar – Videoed Beau on Level Three: Front, Finish, and Heel. Videoed Zachary on Level Three: Heel. Photo of the Week was taken of the dynamic duo on a rug wearing dapper scarves, recreating their success with the Chill video. The photo’s weren’t anything to write home about, but the process of taking them is getting smoother and that’s a Good Thing.

Released Videos:

Planned for This Week:

Core Studies – More Synchronized Movement in the house as the weather is supposed to be awful (again.) Will also work on Watch (attention) (again.) See worksheet for Quiz items.

Citizenship – With the loss of the CGC class, this category is now labeled “Optional” in hopes I can catch up on everything else.

Family Member – Continue with thuds and thumps – probably enlisting a family helper to up the ante. Need to work on being calm for collar/leash (Zachary only) and assuming we can find a break in the storms to go for a walk we’ll work on that too.

Extracurricular – Hopefully get the board in the house. Keep going on the spoon, working on the hold.

Just For Fun – Yes.

Field Trip – Indoor only (still raining) so just a trip to the Pet Store.

Blue Bar – I will get that darn mat and finish writing ECA – Dancing, plus pick another ECA to write about. Need to video the Trick of the Month and Contacts.

(As always, click to see larger)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week: 3

Two down, fifty to go, and I am already starting to feel behind.

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies – Weird week. I tried to work Loose Leash in the form of Synchronized Movement and discovered Zachary won’t walk next to me anymore (read about it here.) Guess what is back on this week’s worksheet? Beau seems to be coming to terms with the sort of pivots Level Three requires.

Once again, Quizzes were a bright spot – not because the boys were terribly good at them (they weren’t – see parenthetical comment as to why) but because they provided so many “teachable moments”.

Quiz results: Beau = 84% (Honoring), Zachary = 92% (Bowing). Still working on Quiz layout and format (see further down for the latest flavor.)

I’m now consistently doing a long down (Rally Honor) with the non-working dog at the other end of the room. The hardest part is getting one to stay down while getting the other to come with me for working, but it gets easier each time. Until I get some rubber backed mats I can’t do sit as their paws slide too easily on the floor.

Citizenship – Struck out, other than Zachary’s paws on the console. That is going to be a long journey but I think we will get there in the end. Actually, a long journey would probably make the end come a lot sooner.

Family Member – Zachary continues to grow more comfortable being brushed. Both dogs are making surprising progress stopping play when I ask. It’s surprising as I have been working on this for months (years?) and it’s only in the last few weeks that progress has been made. I’m sure Zachary’s maturing is a major part of it.

Zachary’s staccato barking at outside “thuds” is really getting annoying. After a week of doing nothing, I finally had enough today and spent an hour thumping on walls and rewarding nothing (ie: no barking.) I haven’t a clue what he is thinking as he has no interest in the item making the noise, nor does he show any protective inclination. It’s almost like I somehow trained him to react that way.

Extracurricular – Contacts: good news = I finally removed the last vestiges of xmas on Sunday. Bad news = I finally removed the last vestiges of xmas on Sunday. Worked Retrieve, and wrote about it here, and here.

Posted my overview for Extracurricular Activities, and an example for Photography.

Just For Fun – Didn’t get there at all.

Video - Released a Beau and Zachary “What would happen if…” video.

Planned for This Week:

Core Studies – More Synchronized Movement in the house as the weather is supposed to be downright awful. Must get moving on Watch (attention).

See right for the quiz of the week (click to see larger):

Citizenship – Weather will be too bad to plan on getting out, but I might try getting a family member to practice food Zen.

Family Member – Continue with thuds and thumps – probably enlisting a family helper to up the ante. Need to work on being calm for collar/leash (Zachary only) and assuming we can find a break in the storms to go for a walk we’ll work on that too.

Extracurricular – Hopefully get the board in the house. Keep going on gloves, working on the hold.

Just For Fun – Yes.

Field Trip – Indoor only… probably just a couple trips to the Pet Store.

Blue Bar – Video Heeling for both, and Front and Finish for Beau. Figure out what I want as the Extracurricular Activities for Dancing and get that darn mat!

(You know the drill - click to see a larger version)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Elective - Photography

To read about Extracurricular Activities (electives) - click here.

(As always, click to see a larger image.)

Extracurricular Activities

To read all about it - click here.

(As always, click to see a larger image.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week: 2

One down, fifty-one to go…

(As always, any image can be clicked on to see a larger version)

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies – I’m frustrated with the Pivot Right (Heeling). Beau already heels left and right turns with eye contact, and had both a left and right finish taught with luring. Not pretty, but serviceable. He hates this kind of shaping and we both are ready to just move on. Ended up working down-stay for distractions rather than time (via the Weekly Quizzes). We did no loose leash at all as weather was cold and gloomy. Will give it one more week, but the forecast is even worse. No work on attention (want to finish the Pivot Right first) but if we don’t get to it this week we’ll start to fall behind. Lots of work on Come, as it was on the Quiz, with distractions and the boys both performed beautifully.

Quiz results: Beau = 94%, Zachary = 87%. Still working on Quiz layout and format.

Citizenship – Total bust. Last week I had to admit defeat for the Rally class. It’s not that I don’t like Rally (I do) nor that Zachary doesn’t (he likes most anything where cookies are involved) – nope, it’s that I’m a thermal wimp and I just couldn’t drag myself out of my nice warm Snuggie (yes, I have one, I love it, so there) to go to a class in a freezing cold building at night.

Family Member – A bright spot in our course work. Zachary continues to get better about ears and paws. This week I added brushing, as believe it or not, I don’t ever brush him. His fur just doesn’t need it plus he’s at the groomer every 2 weeks. I used a clicker to mark good behavior and he got an “A” for the week. I also worked quite a bit on “thuds”, but still have a ways to go.

Extracurricular – Contacts: Christmas Tree didn’t leave until late in the week, and the rest of the xmas decorations are still working their way out of the house, so holding off bringing the board in. Practiced retrieve with a glove and both dogs will take it without problem. Now we need to work on the hold.

Just For Fun – A huge bright spot, as this turned out to be super easy for both dogs. They were throwing a crumpled up piece of paper into the wire basket in the first session, so I decided to add a plastic bottle to the mix. Neither is wild about picking it up (it “crinkles”) but are getting there. If all goes well I might try to have them “separate” the items – plastic in one and paper in the other.

Once again, the highlight of the week was the Quizzes. Just can’t say enough for how useful they are.

Released a Zachary video of Training Levels Three. You can see it here.

Planned for This Week:

Core Studies – Want to get Heeling done and videoed, so I can move on to Watch. Given how long it took to get Zachary to watch for just 10 seconds, I’m concerned that 30 could take forever. Loose Leash is dependent on weather, so it doesn’t look good. Added list of Quiz items here to make it
easier to track them, but generated a separate Quiz sheet as well (see right.)

Citizenship – Left everything as is was last week, but really need to rethink how I want to do this category. Not the contents, but the implementation.

Family Member – I’m hoping to finish up Grooming this week. “Thuds” and playing are long-term items, which will probably be on the list for weeks. Still need to buy new mats so I can work on Chill (Go to Mat).

Extracurricular – Hopefully get the board in the house. Keep going on gloves, working on the hold.

Just For Fun – Adding a plastic bottle – both are enjoying it.

Field Trip – (see comment about the weather)

As for the “blue bar” on the left side of the Worksheet – I’ve been working hard on “Extracurricular Activities” (one of the few parts of Zachary’s Canine Curriculum that is still in flux) and you should see something about that in the blog this week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canine Curriculum – Middle School

I wrote about this in my main blog, and included it here for completeness.

To see a larger image, just click on it.

The vague line under Extracurricular Activities will be expanded on soon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week: 1

Here we go – first full week of 2010, fifty-two to go.

Last week was admittedly a bit ambitious, and I pretty much fell flat on my face (again). Ah well, such is the holidays. ( I suppose I could have spun this by saying I intentionally put a lot in there so I would have a wide variety of items to choose from, but I don’t think anyone would have bought it. )

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies - Both dogs are getting quite good with Front and Finish (left pivot) and I tested them on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to see if it looks as good on the video as it seemed in real life.

Citizenship – Total bust save working on Zachary putting his paws on the car console. He is now just horrible instead of extraordinarily horrible. It is only a problem in the car they rarely travel in, which is probably why I’ve let it go for this long.

Family Member – Zachary took a huge step in the grooming of his paws and tail. Beau is already a Grooming Pro and is absolutely perfect. Really!

Extracurricular – Contacts: I have a good excuse for this one, as it turned out there was no place to put the board once we moved the Christmas tree to the middle of the room. Why there? Because the tree spontaneously toppled over in its previous spot (just ten minutes after we had finished decorating it) spilling 2 liters of water all over the carpet, which took forever to dry out, and thus the relocation. Thankfully the dogs and son were with hubby and I at the time and thus were saved being blamed for the mess. I must say the tree looks quite dramatic in its new location (lights only - for some reason none of us felt like redecorating it) but it doesn’t leave room for much of anything else.

Just For Fun - Both dogs completed their December shaped trick: pulling a tissue from a box… although it was really a rag and not a tissue. Beau’s a big drooler when faced with treats and he never mastered the fine art of keeping the tissue dry. Close enough for government work, we move on.

No excuses for the rest (loose leash, watch, crate, chill, or anything “Out on the Town”) save general laziness. I’m going to blame the holidays and leave it at that.

One thing that was just one word on the worksheet but a huge success for the week was Quizzes. I can’t say enough for how helpful I found it. The layout needs work, but I’m convinced the concept is sound and of all things I’ve fiddled with of late, it is easily my favorite.

Planned for This Week:

Core Studies – Picked out things I need for Training Levels, Rally, and Canine Good Citizen. Loose Leash is going to be hard as I need to do it outside, and it is cold and dark out there (whimper, whimper.) I’m putting it in for this week, but if I don’t get to it at all then I’ll bump it for a few months until the weather/daylight-to-night-ratio improves.

Citizenship – Ugh, the category I hate the most as it requires me leaving hearth and home and going out into the social world. However, Rally class starts up again this week, and I’m hoping to cram some of this stuff in while I’m there. No, that’s probably not a great strategy, but as it gets dark early my choices are limited (yes, Wendy, I am making excuses.)

Family Member – Paw work was so successful last week that I’m moving on to brushing. Again, this is just for Zachary. Beau is perfect during grooming and has the patience of a saint. Additionally, Zachary is getting on everyone’s nerves with his rapid-fire barking at sudden bumps and thuds outside. Time to tackle that one, and my son is more than looking forward to being The Thing That Goes Bump in the Night.

Extracurricular – Fun stuff, which I’m sure they will enjoy.

Just For Fun - New trick for the month: picking up “trash” and throwing it away. I’m going to use wadded up notebook paper and a wire wastebasket and have at it. I’m pretty sure Zachary will pick it up (pardon the pun) without problem. I’m less sure about Beau. He is not a big fan of shaping, but when he takes a shine to something, he learns quickly.

Field Trip – I haven’t commented on this category much, and I haven’t been good about following through (see hearth and home reference, above.) Will have to rectify both of those in the near future.

… and that’s it!

School starts back up again for my son this week, as do his various Extracurricular Activities, so we’ll see how that effects the amount time I have to work with the dogs.

As always, click to make it larger...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just For Fun - Helping Paw

Here is the other half of the "Just For Fun" item of my Canine Curriculum - The Helping Paw. These are more useful things, but still focus on things I think my Golden Retrievers would enjoy doing. I discuss this is slightly more detail in my main block, here.

(To see Beau and Zachary's latest - pulling a "tissue" out of box, click here. )

As usual, clicking on the image will produce a more readable version.

Just For Fun - Tricks

Here is the first half of what I currently have for the "Just For Fun" item of my Canine Curriculum. These are a mixture of the classics combined with things I think my Golden Retrievers would enjoy. I discuss this is slightly more detail in my main block, here.

As usual, clicking will produce a more readable version.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January Syllabus

Here's the battle plan for January. It's a rather ambitious plan - we'll how see it goes. Of course, as Dean of BZ Dog's College of Canine Enlightenment, I reserve the right to alter the syllabus at will!    :)

As always, clicking on image takes you to a full-sized version.