Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 22

Twenty-one down (thirty-one to go.)

Wednesday is the Canine Good Citizen test and I already find myself looking… beyond… which is probably not a good thing.

However, as I type this, it is late Monday evening and I fear there is little else I can do at this point that will significantly improve the outcome of the test. I still think Zachary will fail Supervised Separation (it won’t even be close), is iffy on Reaction to Another Dog (he’ll want to go visit), and is hit-or-miss on anything that requires moving from Point A to Point B in a coordinated fashion (those doggie smells on the tan-bark are a huge distraction.)

Am I sad? I suppose. Failure means I will need to find another time to take the test, as him receiving his CGC Certificate remains a goal for this year and I know he is capable of it.

Am I proud of him no matter what? You bet! His greeting behavior toward people is almost perfect. Yes, he can still blow it, and might do so on Wednesday. But there’s a bright and shining light at the end of that tunnel and I know it isn’t just a train.

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies: !@#$ Sit-Stay. The only bright side to this is that I now have dog who can go from a Down to a Sit at 40’ on a hand signal (my hands on my hips – usually accompanied by a glare on my part.)

Canine Good Citizen: (see blog posting: CGC Class #5)

Weekly Quiz: Both boys passed everything but Bow. Beau is perfect – but only so long as I am standing next to the sofa. Zachary is perfect – but only after two (or three) cues. Both will be practicing some more this week.

Family Member: News flash! I have now officially passed Zachary for “No paws on the console”. Yes, we really have been working on it for 5 months! Not very often over those 5 months, I’ll admit. In fact, exactly twice every two weeks (ie: going to the groomer and back again every other week) for the last 5 months, which were the only times he rode in the “problem” car.

Today, as a final test, I took him (alone) across town (~15 minutes) and back, and I’m pleased to say that while he wasn’t perfect (he still taps a paw on the console every so often) he never once tried coming into the front seat nor did he ever put his weight on the console – and that’s good enough for me.

Extracurricular: We did just a bit with contacts (Beau is awesome, Zachary… isn’t) but spent most of our time with Retrieve (grabbing the bumper – both dogs doing great) and Scenting (with the icky-stranger-scented lid – and again, Beau is doing better, but Zachary is coming along, too.)

Just For Fun: n/a

Videoed: n/a

Released Video: n/a

Blog: Connections, A Better Idiot, Better Idea?CGC Class #5, More Interesting than Dirt

Planned for Next Week:

With no classes after the test this week - or anytime in the near (or far) future - I’m finding myself feeling wonderfully “free” and a little bit adrift.

This week, my goal is to figure out what I want to accomplish over the summer and how I’m going to accomplish it. The most likely answer is “Rally” – but as Wendy doesn’t teach a Rally class (sigh) and I'm not feeling like going anywhere else, I’m going to have to think of how (and where) to do this solo.

The Weekly Quiz items are (mostly) taken from "Dance" and, once again, 8/10 points for the week will constitute a "pass" of the item.  Trick of the Month starts the June trick (syllabus to be posted tomorrow, but already written.)

Quote of the Month is also on this worksheet - "Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda (and, while hard to imagine, if you actually haven't seen the movie there's a clip on YouTube HERE.)

(As always, click to see larger)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 21

Twenty down (thirty-two to go.) This is the last full week of May.

My goal, as stated in Week 20, was “to re-establish the previous class times and habits before something else (like gardening) sneaks in to take its place.”

And, for the most part, I think I did.

Accomplished Last Week:

The main focus last week turned out to be Extracurricular Activities – how better to merge back into regular classes than to start with fun things, right?

Core Studies: Still trying to get a solid Sit-Stay from Zachary, and we still aren’t there yet. The hardest part is walking the 40’ away from him (ie: when my back is turned.)

Canine Good Citizen: (see blog posting: CGC Class #4)

Weekly Quiz: Both boys passed staying in a car when the door is open (although Beau has a hard time with distractions)… and that’s it. Zachary did noticeably better as the week wore on Sitting after a Knock on the Door, but didn’t meet my “5 passes” criteria to check it off his Middle School checklist. Beau doesn’t have a problem and passed that one easily. I didn’t do Attention or Go To Mat (I’ve got to stop putting duration activities in Quizzes.)

When it came to Excited Family Members, it all depended on how excited the family members were and when they were excited. I could jump around until I’m blue in the face at 2pm and the dogs would probably sleep through it. If I even look like I’m going to move at 7pm, they are raring to join me. In the end, I decided they weren’t even close enough for government work, and so no check marks for either of them.

Family Member: n/a

Extracurricular: I decided to give TL4 - Scenting a go using Canning Rings. That was “fun” (see blog posting: Good Idea?) Beau is doing beautifully on his Contacts. He just needs to be videoed to cross of TL-3 and we are already working on TL-4. Zachary is still playing 101 Things to do with a Contact Board, and while he settles down to running the board by the end of the session, he always tries several dozen other things first and shows no sign of realizing when the click is going to occur (at the end of the board.)

Just For Fun: There’s a story as to why I haven’t been working on the Trick of the Month, and perhaps later this week I’ll put that in the blog. Until then, take it on faith that you won’t be seeing that particular trick (Circle Around Me) on any list of mine any time soon.

Videoed: n/a

Released Video: n/a

Blog: Good Idea? and CGC Class #4

Planned for Next Week:

Once again, the emphasis for the week will be on Canine Good Citizen. Assuming the weather gods are with us, this will be the fifth and final training class (although at the moment things are looking a bit iffy) with the test the week that follows. I’ve got that sinking feeling that Zachary doesn’t quite have it all together to pass all 10 test items at once, although I think on any given day he could pass any one particular item. I just don’t see him being consistent enough to pass all 10 on one particular day.

The only things that change this week were the Trick of the Month (put in for Zachary, as Beau already knows this one) and the Weekly Quiz. I decided to have it be a final test of known tricks from “Just For Fun”. Given my requirement for 8 out of 10 points, with no zeros, I believe both boys should pass all items. The only iffy one is Zachary doing Bow– I’m not sure how well he knows the cue, and I usually have to do a few warm-ups first (not allowed in Quizzes.)

Now that I have more “personal” time, I’m hoping to get back to writing Extracurricular Activity (ECA) Checklists. Alas, having picked off the low-hanging fruit long ago, I find myself facing topics I know next to nothing about so we’ll see how that goes.

The other long neglected item is the Photo of the Week. Many of the remaining items require actual thought on my part (as in: I need to pick the poem/story to illustrate before I can take the pictures to illustrate it) which is always more problematic than the actual photography itself.

(As always, click to see larger)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 20

Nineteen down (thirty-two to go)

The main accomplishment this week was the successful conclusion to my son’s Lacrosse season – a season that saw the demise of scheduled canine homeschooling tuition time in favor of moments slipped in here and there as time allowed.

My goal this week is to re-establish previous tuition habits before something else (like gardening) sneaks in to fill its place.

Accomplished Last Week:

After reading a post in the Training Levels group, I decided to give Beau a try at 101 Things to do with a Box. He normally hates this game, but for some reason he was surprisingly willing. Perhaps the relative “neglect” he has been getting with regards to clicker-work made him more amenable to it that he usually is. Whatever the reason, he did so well (and I was so tickled) that I uploaded the video clip soon after.

Zachary has quite a few 101 Things… video clips at this point and I hope to compile them together and release them next week.

Weekly Quiz: No surprises here – both dogs passed the first four items without problem (including sitting while the door was opened and closed!) and Zachary totally bombed the Sit after a knock on the door (it wasn’t even close.)

Extracurricular: TL4 – 101 Things…

Videoed: TL4 – 101 Things…

Released Video: Beau – Training Levels Four (Trick)

Blog: Call Your Dogs

Planned for Next Week:

Technically, this week should still be all about Canine Good Citizen, but I’m afraid if I don’t restart scheduled homeschooling time right away something else will create a habit in its stead.

Besides, I’m coming the conclusion that Zachary will probably pass most things on the test, but fail the Supervised Separation in spectacular fashion. I hope I’m wrong, I think this week in class will be quite telling, but I’m not at all optimistic.

(As always, click to see larger)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Week 19

(Sorry, a bit late uploading this week.)

Eighteen weeks down (thirty-four to go)

This is the LAST week of the High School Lacrosse season, and while I will miss watching my son practice and play, I have to admit I’m looking forward to getting my evenings back and returning canine homeschooling to its rightful place on the daily agenda.

Accomplished Last Week:

When last we saw our intrepid pups, I was saying something like “just about nothing is going to get done except for CGC…”

… and I was right.

In fact, other than CGC class (to read about it, CLICK HERE) the only other thing that was accomplished was the Weekly Quiz. The boys did splendidly on all items every time I quizzed them, and so each received a big checkmark for each item on their Middle School Curriculum checklist page.

Let’s hear it for the boys… Yeah!

Moving on…

Planned for Next Week:

This week is still almost all about Canine Good Citizen for Zachary - except there is no class this week (weather is lovely - this was a planned gap in the schedule) so we’ll just have to make up something.

Once again I’ve filled the Weekly Quiz with items from the Middle School Curriculum, and all but the last one (knock on the door) should be easy for the boys.

That last item isn’t technically part of the Curriculum, but greeting guests while sitting is, and guests tend to knock before they come in the house, so this is really just step one. Can Zachary sit after someone knocks on the door? I suppose I should have added can Zachary sit quietly after someone knocks on the door – but let’s start with just the sit. If that goes well, next week we’ll check to make sure he isn’t huffing while sitting.

(As always, click to make bigger)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Week 18

Seventeen weeks down (thirty-five to go) -or- Four months down (eight to go). My how time flies.

I thought it might be useful at this juncture, 1/3 the way through the year, to summarize where Zachary is on his 2010 goals:

Training Level Three – still remaining:
... Contacts (walk the plank)
... Crate (1 min)
Training Level One (On The Road) – Completed
Training Level Four – about half way done
Training Level Two (On The Road) - still remaining:
... Crate (in/out)
... Leash Manners (loose leash 1 min)
... Target (end of stick)
... Watch (10 seconds)
Training Level Five – not started
Training Level Three (On The Road) – not started

In addition to Training Levels, I was hoping to get Zachary’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate this year. With help from the weather gods, he should finish up his classes in a few weeks and take the test by the end of the month. While he is still a work in progress, he has already made much progress and I am very proud of him no matter the final outcome.

Finally, while I hope to enter Zachary in a Rally Trail before the end of the calendar year, I have yet to broach it in a serious fashion. (If only Wendy would teach a Rally class…)

Beau pretty much mirrors Zachary for non-On-The-Road things, and I’m not planning on doing On-The-Road with him past Level One, which he has completed. He earned both his Canine Good Citizen certificate and his Rally Novice title several years ago, and it appears that retirement from competition suits him well.

Moving right along…

You will recall that last week I decided to reuse the previous week’s worksheet, as that week had been filled with Really Important Things. Therefore, this report covers two weeks using the same Weekly Worksheet - #16.

Accomplished Last Week:

Core Studies: TL4 – Sit-Stay: Wow, is Zachary every persistent about going down. I had thought I could cure this with patience and time, but it looks like I might actually have to resort to serious training with chutes-and-ladders.

Canine Good Citizen: Worked all but the Supervised Separation, and Zachary did splendidly. Class was once again canceled due to rain, but we tried to make up for that at least a little by working in Pet Stores, Big-Box Hardware Stores (see Blog below) and practicing loose leash walking in various parking lots and down Garden Store isles.

Weekly Quiz: Once again failed to grab a family member – I guess those sorts of things just don’t belong in Quizzes. Lesson learned.

Family Member: n/a

Extracurricular: n/a

Videoed: n/a

Released Video: n/a

Blog: Permission Granted

Blue Box: Filled out checklists for Extracurricular Activities: Excursions and Tricks.

Planned for Next Week:

This week is almost all about Canine Good Citizen for Zachary.


I did decide to shake the Weekly Quiz up a bit by devoting it entirely to items from the Middle School Curriculum, selecting for things that I believe they should be able to pass. I will decree “passed” any item they score 80% or better when averaged over the week with no zeros (reminder: quiz items are generally scored 2 for perfection, 1 if I have to repeat a cue once, else a zero.)

Why the change?

Mostly so I can keep feeling like I’m making forward progress in a month that would otherwise seem highly repetitive.

In all honesty, the items in the right-hand column, with the exception of Trick of the Month and “101 Things…”, might not get touched at all this week.

Note: In order to keep up with the weeks of the year, this Weekly Worksheet is numbered #18. For those playing along at home, there was NO Weekly Worksheet #17.

(As always, click to make bigger)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Syllabus

This month promises to be The Month of Canine Good Citizen.

Let's keep fingers and paws crossed and hope the rain, rain, stays away (at least on class night!)

I tossed a few other items on the list, both undone things from last month (many to choose from on that front) plus a few others lying about, but I'll be honest and say I'm not really going to be focused on them.

On the bright side, the project that consumed my time for much of April is completed, and so if I don't get things done I have only myself, the weather, and the remains of the Lacrosse season to blame!

(As always, click to see larger)