Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition: March 2012

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

PE for Wally 5 - Sprints

With the warming weather (borderline to downright hot), we were able to get out for some more PE outdoors. This time, I wanted to see his speed.

I used trees and a utility box in the ground as landmarks for the start and finish. Unfortunately, I don't know how much distance it is, but I estimated by "counting" steps, and, yes, I measured my foot.

Anyway, I counted the steps and estimated the distance. The first distance was 724 1/2 inches, about 20 yards. The second one was about 14 yards, 514 1/2 inches.

I had him in a stay while I got my phone on stopwatch mode and went to the end point. I then called him and started the clock. When he got to me, either sitting front or jumping up to "tap" (more like slam) my legs, I stopped the clock.

He ran the first distance in 8.2 seconds and the second in 4.2 seconds.

Now, the first distance, he curved because it was on a hill and he took some funky arc to get to me, so that ate into time. He actually ran farther, much like how the outside of a track is a farther distance from start to finish.

The second was flat terrain and he ran right at me, so perhaps it's more accurate.

Converting it into a 40 yard dash time, I estimate it at 10.5 seconds. I don't know if that's fast or slow for a Coton or a dog of his size in general. I put this into a conversion calculator on a website to get the speed in miles per hour, and it checks in at just under 7 mph (6.95). Again, don't know if that's a good speed for his size/breed.

He certainly had fun though. He LOVES to run and especially at full speed like that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wally's First Look At New House

With our house now re-built and all new, I took Wally over to start getting him acclimated. Turns out, though, he didn't need any acclimation at all. he was waggy-tailed and wide-eyed about the new house, looking like he just won a million raw steak bones!

He was excited from the start, remembering the neighborhood and probably picking up the familiar scents from the dogs there. He remembered instantly where his spots where and all that. Then once inside the house, he went from room to room (even though they are empty right now) as if he was also looking over his newly built house.

He remembered the basement. He knew where his crate was (he looked for it) and remembered the layout of everything, and with it familiar, he was very happy. He remembered how to open and close the doors, doing so with enthusiasm.

The only thing he didn't like at first was the new carpet. The smell of it was probably very different and that concerned him a little. But with just a little coaxing, he started exploring upstairs and walking around just as happily as he did before once he realized it, too, was the same as before.

He even remembered to sit on the porch like before, even though we haven't done that in months since we haven't been living there all this time.

The "dividers" on the floor are gone so that's one thing he didn't see and remember - staying out of the kitchen. He didn't have has landmark for that so that's one thing we'll have to work on. Probably will use some throw rugs to help give him a spot he can refer to for where the boundary line is.

It was so fun to see him acting like this. I took him for a walk in our usual route before we left. If I had more time, I would have run and played with him.

The grand adventure wore him out. Once he settled down, he was knocked out cold in his crate, snoring loudly and probably dreaming.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wally's First Exposure To Weave Polls

Wally got his first taste of what an agility dog has to do. Of course, I would start with the hardest obstacle on the course (unknowingly, I swear!)

And, needless to say, Wally was less-than-pleased about seeing these "big white things" moving around while I was putting them together. I got some PVC poles that can angle and connect/disconnect easily to put in how many poles you want.

Of course, I'm not going to make it super easy at first, but not overly hard. And I got my clicker and some top-end treats (leftover fish sticks and fries in this case) at the ready. I started with four poles to try to show him what the weave was and how to move through the poles. They aren't angled at this point and we're going slow.

I'm making sure he's entering properly, which was a big part of the session today. Also emphasized was that he had to go between every pole.

After he started to get the idea. I decided to move back down to two poles, which would take just one weave to go through.

At this stage, I'm going to start with the shaping of it eventually, but for now, I just want him to get comfortable going through the poles and getting any apprehension of them out of his system. Sometimes I bump the supports with my feet (learning process for me too), and sometimes that startles him, but I have him just get over it. I don't accept any hesitation between the poles, he has to just go and forget about it.

So definitely a work in progress, but that was expected. Overall, he did pretty well for his first exposure and seems to have the idea of how to do a weave motion. I know he cares about the position of things relative to him, and I hope I can leverage that. Hopefully, the position of the pole can be information to him that he can read on the fly to guide him through the movement.

I also have some ideas to try teaching him the muscle memory of the motion (something else I know about him is that I have to show him his body can do what I ask him to do - it was how I got him to FINALLY flip over on his back and go up and down stairs some years back). This should also help him feel more positive about it if I can teach it as a game/during our walks outside of the poles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wally Vs Foam 20-sided Die

I bought Wally a 20-sided die to play with. After all, his person is a RPG fan and used to play AD&D in his school days.

So, of course, he had to have this big 20-sider when I saw it and for a reasonable price.

It arrived today and I introduced it to Wally. He took to it immediately (probably because it looks like a ball at first...and being purple doesn't hurt - easy for him to see), but then he realized it doesn't roll like a ball, but he can put his paws on it and stuff and it moves funny. He really liked it then.

His dreams of being a canine GM have to start somewhere.
Enter - Wally vs 20-side die. Hope you enjoy the video. Forgive the less-than-expert quality, please.

He picked it up on his own just from playing around with it. He might be a natural die roller dog.