Sunday, July 14, 2013

Willie The Pirate

I've had three dogs that enjoyed canoeing, and I started all of them out as very young puppies.  I tried taking Belle out last year (she had never been in any kind of boat) and she refused to stay in the canoe.  So I decided I'd take Willie for his first canoe ride today and get him used to it while he was young.

The Wakarusa is a small stream that flows through NW Illinois, and it is really only canoeable after heavy rain.  Unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of paddling it when it was running high.  After the seventh or eighth time I had to line my boat today, I quit counting.  However, the stream flows through some very nice bluffs, and we got to see a doe and her fawn up close, as well as a Great Horned Owl.  At one of the places I had to line the boat, Willie flushed a Canada Goose.  I'm not quite sure who was more upset--the goose or Willie.

My canoe only draws about 4" of water, but in spots, the water was even shallower than that, so I used a J-lean to rotate my canoe off its keel allowing us to get by in 3".  Shortly after we put in, I leaned the boat to make a tight bend in the river.  Willie was balanced on a gunwale and fell into deep and fast flowing water.  Luckily, I was downstream of him and the current quickly carried him to me.  He was a real trooper and seemed totally unfazed by the dunking he took.  However, after that experience, he kept his paws off the gunwales when I had to lean the canoe in the shallows or to make a quick turn.

When I bought my first canoe 22 years ago, I took my Airedale puppy, Chance, out on one of the small lakes near our home.  She quickly proceeded to walk out of the boat and discovered she couldn't walk on the water.  She also was undaunted by the experience and came with me on many a trip.  Max was also exposed to canoeing at a young age, but he eventually grew too big for me to include in my paddling adventures unless I in a tandem canoe and paddling with a partner.  However, even in a larger canoe, he always had an uncanny knack for shifting his weight to the wrong side of the boat at the most inopportune moments.

Max - 2001
Libby at lunch break on her first trip - 2003.

(I began the trip with Willie clipped to a thwart, but once it was clear he wasn't going to hop out, I removed the leash for safety in case we flipped.)


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Distance Handling and Obstacle Committment

Bud Houston posted this sequence the other day, and I thought I would give it a whirl and see how well Belle and I could do this with distance handling.

The handling problem I encountered failing to wait for Belle to commit to the current obstacle before I moving on to what was coming next.  In particular, Belle's line from 3 to 4 is not a given--I have to maintain pressure on her line until she is committed to that jump which for her was when she was in the air.  If I turned too soon, she pulled off the jump in confusion.  The other thing I had to remember was to not under-handle the wingless jump.  At the very least I had to keep my arm out and look at it while moving toward 6.

However, if I encountered a sequence like this in a trial setting, I would not opt to stay out of the pocket.  I would support Belle to 4 and start moving laterally to the left wing of 6 and do a FC as in the video.  If the course called for me to be on the right side of the teeter, then I would add a blind cross between 6 and the teeter.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

From a Dog's Point of View

I set up Ann Croft's 4th of July Happy Hurdle Days exercise yesterday evening, and Belle and I tackled the blue course this morning.  I'm really glad when a course presents either a handling challenge or a training challenge for us to work on.

Right off the bat, I picked a poor way to handle #2, but I quickly realized the error of my ways and opted for one that made more sense.  However, for the weaves, I was firmly committed to remaining on the side away from the tunnel, and  I quickly discovered that Belle's understanding of the weave poles was not as complete as I thought.

To me and to most humans, the weaves are a single obstacle.  However, down at our dogs' eye level, especially when looking through them from the other side, they are a series of openings, and Belle chose to come through several of them to get to my side of the weaves.  She finally figured out she had to come around the first pole, but even then the entry wasn't easy for her since Mom's entire body was turned west (in relation to the course map) instead of east.  Belle did eventually nail the entry, but this is an entry that will have to be revisited in order to be maintained.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Starting Over

It's been a while since I posted here.  I continue to shoot video almost every day and post something on YouTube, but finding the time to post seems to have eluded me lately.

Long before I even saw Willie's photo, I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish with my new puppy.

Goal:  To create a puppy with drive and biddability who thinks working with the Mama is the greatest thing ever.  One who is friendly and well-mannered, and confident in the face of new experiences.  I'm hoping to create a send-me-in-coach attitude.

Manners and Everyday Life
Look at That
Walk on a loose leash
Accustom to being left alone
Noise desensitization

Balance, Proprioception, Movement, Other Basic Stuff
Balance disc
Balance peanut
Buja Board
Small teeter
Distance training by sending to mat and hoop
Leg Weaves
Platform work

Straight backing
Verse (backing around me in a circle)
Side pass

Freestyle and Agility
Accurate positioning for heel and side
Out, Get Out
Line Up

I train in short two to three minute sessions and when a teachable moment arises.  Here's a video from two weeks ago showing Willie learning about the balance disc.  Willie quickly mastered the balance disc and is now comfortable sitting, standing or sprawling on it.

Today, I videoed our one of our leash work sessions.  Willie had never been on leash or worn a collar before he came to me, and views the leash as a tug toy.  To extinguish this habit, I wait for him to let go and then either continue our walk or gave him a treat.  He's doing nicely.