2,959 Miles Walked!

Thanks for walking with us all year long!

It’s here-the last Walking Challenge post. It has been an interesting year and a lot of fun walking with you all. As a group we walked an amazing 2,959 miles! Whoohoo! You guys all rock and I’m so happy we did this challenge together. What an accomplishment!

We ended the year with 326 miles. Those last 39 miles eluded us, but it surprisingly it doesn’t bother me at all. As I looked back through the photo’s of the walks we took I know the Walking Challenge did exactly what I set out for it it do-it got us out and walking. I’m thrilled with all the fun we had and hope you all feel the same way!

I want to give a special congrats to Dare and her gang-they achieved an amazing feat and finished out the year with 1002 miles! That is so amazing! Carrie, Tanner and Oliver also blew us away with 549 total miles since they joined us in April. Both teams not only met but exceeded their goals and their loyally keeping me up to date all year really kept me going. Congrats guys!

I started out thinking I’d post a few of my favorite photo’s from the whole year, but it ended up being so many that I decided to slideshow it instead. We walked so many beautiful places all over the state, with friends and family. I couldn’t be happier with how our Challenge turned out. Thanks for joining me and supporting me all year long!

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Relaxation Protocol Day 4 Session 2

Taking a step back was a good idea. Today’s RP was uneventful and gave Maizey a chance to have some success. Now we can build on that success tomorrow.

Going to be a busy day though. I work and have my normal Tuesday night meeting, so Magnus and I need to walk early. Real early. My mom gets the pin out of her toe tomorrow and I just don’t want her to go do that alone so add in a doctors visit. I need to pick up a new bottle of Maizey’s Fluoxetine which means a trip to Costco. (Have you ever bought Prozac for a dog from your pharmacy? It’s pretty funny. They always say, “Is this for a K9?” With that look non-dog people reserve for really crazy dog people. It cracks me up.) Anyways, with all that I guess RP will be fit in there sometime after work and before the evening gets busy. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it!

It’s my 4legged lesson for today though: When Real Life gets crazy and you already have those daily dog do’s planned into your day it provides such a calm time to slow down and enjoy your pups. It’s yet another reason dogs are good for stress relief,

And on that convoluted thought I’m going to sleep!

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2o2o Training Videos

Last night I couldn’t stand it any longer and even though Magnus isn’t cleared for moderate activity till tomorrow I let him do a short session of 2o2o training. It was a blast!

He really gets aggravated when he’s only allowed to do three minutes of training at a time. He has the same attitude about not walking very far. It’s frustrating to me too, but we’re both learning some good lessons from it.

He’s learning impulse control in a large way. I started using a cue for the end of training, releasing him with an “Okay all done!” and “Go play”. This has helped him know he’s done training since he knows we would normally do more in a training session, and these short sessions tend to hype him up and not satisfy his want to work.

I’m learning impulse control too since I have a tendency too work way to long. Training is just to much fun and I don’t want to stop! I know that’s not the best habit so forcing me to train shorter is good training for me.

Magnus started 2o2o (2 On 2 Off) a few weeks ago in Tricks Class. 2o2o training is the foundation for many other behaviors. In tricks it’s used for handstands. In agility it’s one method of teaching contacts. We’ll be using it for handstands as he gets his mobility and strength back.

Since this was our first night training I used a very low book. (Actually a phone book wrapped in duct tape.) The criteria is two rear feet on the book, he already gets that so this first video was a just a refresher session. Treat placement is supposed to be low so the dog learns to keep his head down.

 

This session I added the board. The board is the first step to getting elevation out of a handstand. You can prop it on books, a wall, the couch, anything that you can make progressively taller so the board gets more and more vertical. Obviously since Magnus is coming off an injury I made this very low.

 

Last night was Maizey’s first session ever of 2o2o. She tends to think anything I set in front of her is to sit on so I can take her picture. It totally cracks me up. In session 3 I added the board, but it was too soon and in this clip you see I have to lower my criteria and explain again with a lure.

 

By session 5 she had the idea and started offering me 2o2o on her own.

At the end of session 6 she shows she really gets it when she stretches forward to get a treat without taking her feet off the board. This is the next step of proofing the behavior where you tempt the dog to take her feet off the board and C/T when she doesn’t.

This is the first time I’ve trained 2o2o so I hope I’m doing it right. I’m looking forward to spicing it up with the actual handstand when it’s safe for Magnus.

What do you use a 2o2o for?

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Tricky Magnus Learns To Roll the Ball

Magnus has had two weeks of tricks class. We are really enjoying it.

“Whether he’s young or old, athletic or lazy, quick-witted or dumb as a rock—he’s YOUR dog, and his success need only be measured in YOUR eyes.”-Kyra Sundance

Week one was a lot of basics for Magnus and I, but what I’m really loving is how much our relationship has grown since our last class. His focus is better. His attention span is better. He is working more for the fun of working not just to get paid. And the biggest surprise of all, I actually seem to have some value to him!

Week two we started working on some more complex tricks. In these clips you see us working on him learning to roll the ball with his front feet.

This one is his second session:

This one is his third session:

So what do I learn from these clips?

I have a long way to go in my handling skills. I think he’s doing great, but videos of my training always show me all my mistakes. Which is good since that way I can hopefully learn better habits, but it sure is humbling!

I see is a lot room for improvement in the mechanics of my training. I think I know quite a bit of training theory. It fascinates me and I spend tons of time reading and trying to learn about it, but when it comes to actually practicing the mechanics of the theory I lack experience.

Sometimes I think the simplest mechanics of training don’t always get covered in classes. Maybe it’s because people want to cover the more complex things that have more bang for your buck. I mean do you want to know how to hold your clicker or learn a new trick?

Something that simple may seem obvious, but when our instructor showed me to loop my clicker around my hand, not my wrist, my reinforcement rate went up. I was more comfortable and had more control of my equipment. A very simple change, but one that made a big difference in the mechanics of my training.

Another example: In the video I can see the way I’m holding my treat hand is awkward. It didn’t feel awkward, but I can see I can improve my reinforcement rate if I adjust how I’m delivering treats.

I could go on and on with what needs to improve, things like not working past when he’s “in the game”. How and when I set the ball down to improve his success. Where I place my legs, since it looks like I’m bracing the ball on my foot when I’m not.

Like I said, I could go on and on, but my favorite thing I see is best summed up by Kyra Sundance when she said, “Whether he’s young or old, athletic or lazy, quick-witted or dumb as a rock—he’s YOUR dog, and his success need only be measured in YOUR eyes.”

In my eyes, that’s one smart, cute, fun, successful puppy!

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Agility For Fun Class: Magnus Learns To Skateboard

Magnus and I have now had two weeks of Agility For Fun class. We are having a BLAST!

This is the class we started back in December, but then Real Life got in the way and our instructor and CAD’s was were king enough to let us wait to finish the last four weeks when Real Life had calmed down.

Thankfully it has!

The first class we attended was a review of what we learned in December. We did lots of propriaception work with the wobble board, boxes, exercise disks, and my favorite: a skateboard!

Magnus is so brave, nothing scares him and the biggest problem is helping him not be like a bull in a china shop. The point of these exercises is not just to teach a dog to be confident on all kinds of equipment, but to channel his energy and enthusiasm into some control. That may take some work!

Our class last week was jam packed with some review and many new skills. We covered perching on a step stool, rear foot targeting, getting all four feet in a box and again my favorite: skateboarding!

You may be thinking the last time you checked an Outside Boardslide wasn’t part of any agility course you’ve heard of, so why skateboarding in an agility foundations class? I have been amazed how much you can learn about rear foot awareness and handling from teaching a dog to skateboard.

While pushing with his rear feet. As a handler I have to think of treat placement, watch where his front feet are on the board, where his back feet are pushing him and I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own feet!

We are both learning so much, but mostly we have just been having a blast! I am learning so much from the class and can’t wait for next week. Until then we are practicing getting all four feet into a smaller box and rear foot targeting a piece of cardboard.

Interestingly I have been working these same tricks with Maizey and since we have never worked any of this I expected it to be harder for her. Of course I was totally wrong. It took her less than twenty treats to go from the biggest box into the smallest box. Now the only problem is she thinks she’s supposed to sit in it! She just makes me laugh.

I’m reminded again of Sue Ailsby’s training rule: “It’s all tricks, relax.”

Even though this is a serious class with serious lessons to be learned it’s still all tricks and having fun with the skills as tricks has been a good 4legged lesson for me to learn!

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