Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Late New Year's Resolution

I hate making New Year's resolutions. It's so pointless to make a life changing promise that you know you won't keep through the end of the month. So, for probably the first time in my life, I'm actually going to make and keep a New Year's resolution. Yes, it's almost February, so does it have to be a Groundhog Day resolution? Somehow that doesn't have the same ring to it. Well, my resolution is to complete the Ruff Love program and follow it exactly. I think there will be aspects of it that I will continue to come back to throughout my dog's life.

We are off to a good start to Stage 1. Teddy has been wearing his head halti for over a week now, and is past the three days of wearing it straight. He still paws at it from time to time, but he's pretty used to it by now. Wearing the leash when he is out of the crate is helping me to work on things that I never thought were a big deal before. For instance, at work, we are working on Teddy respecting the doorway to my office. I don't want him to bolt whenever someone walks by that he wants to greet.

The hand feeding has been a blessing in disguise as well. Of course, mornings are so busy that I just don't have time to hand feed his entire breakfast, but the great thing about weekends is that I can hand feed 100% of his food. I'm using his meals to review tricks that he already knows and teach him new things. We've been working on our utility signals and go outs. We've also been working on some new moves for freestyle. In one of our routines, we use a large wooden clock face. I'm shaping Teddy to use his paw to move the hands on the clock to change the time. He's actually done it several times, but it's not reliable yet.

I think I am beginning to see small improvements in Teddy's behavior. He's a little more responsive to me and a little more focused. Maybe it's just because I want to see improvements, only time will tell. We attended a group agility class at my training club on Sunday. Lately, we have been breaking up into small groups by three different jump heights and work different sequences and rotate around the field. The last two weeks, everyone has watched (and been inconvenienced by) Teddy zooming around the field. This week, I was amazed that Teddy did not zoom at all. He had nice focus and was working very well for me. It was so nice to see him trying. One person, who does not know me or Teddy's history, asked what happened over the past week to cause this much of a difference. I was thrilled with this glimpse of teamwork.

On Tuesday, we took a private lesson with a different instructor. This instructor has helped us a great deal over the past couple of years, and she is great at reading dogs. When we got there, I warmed Teddy up and we did some figure 8's over the practice jump. For some reason, lately Teddy is refusing the chute. He did this at our agility trial last November, and has not refused it again until last week. I have no idea why, but since this is a current issue, my instructor wanted to tackle this problem first. After Teddy was warmed up, we went straight to the chute. He refused it and did his little dance in front of the barrel, and then he took off. Teddy decided that he would rather avoid the chute at that time and zoom. Since he didn't want to come back, my instructor had me leave the field and go hide behind my car where it was dark and he couldn't see me. When Teddy slowed down, she was able to get a slip lead on him, and then called me back on to the field.

After holding the chute open a couple of times, we were able to get Teddy going through it happily again, and I threw toys past the closed end, and he was an eager boy again. We kept coming back to the chute periodically throughout the class, and he never refused it again. The rest of the class, we did a speed circle, worked on weaves, and getting a tighter wrap. I have to say that Teddy did great for the rest of the class. We let him do his own thing in between exercises while we discussed what we were going to do, and then he came racing back when I called him. I have to say that I was very pleased with this, except for all of the sheep poop that he ate. Boy I hope there was some nutritional value in sheep poop because he sure loves it.

I had already signed Teddy up for the Lonestar Poodle Club's agility trial that is this weekend way before we started this program. I would probably scratch him until I see more progress, but I'm going as much for social reasons as I am to run in the trial. I'm excited to hang out with old poodle friends as well as my Baylor buddies. Woohoo! So, we will go and see what happens. I have zero expectations, especially about qualifying. If Teddy stays in the ring with me and tries to work with me, I'll be thrilled. That's all I can ask for right now. I'm not going to sign up for any more agility trials until at least April. Stay tuned for my trial report!


Riikka said...

hange to see a video of your freestyle routine? Teddy looks eager and your dress and prop clock are stunning!

- Riikka from AgilityPoodle-list

Theodorable said...

Thanks Riikka! Here's a link to this routine:

This was the first time that we performed this routine, and it was also our first performance at a live competition, so I was just happy that he stayed in the ring with me. Parts of it are rough, and I am re-choreographing it now to make it better. As you can see, Teddy loves jumping moves. Hope you like it.