Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Dog Food Files Part 3: Feeding Instructions

Originally Posted 5/1/11. Edited.

How should I change my dog's food?
Some people will tell you to go ahead and switch cold turkey.  However, an abrupt change in your dog's diet, especially from a low to a much higher quality food, can likely cause digestive upset and result in diarrhea.
A much better method is to feed 3/4 portion of your dog's old food and add 1/4 portion of the new for 2-3 days.  Then feed half new food and half old food for 2-3 days.  Last feed 3/4 new food with 1/4 old food for 2-3 days (or until you are out of old food if not wasting is important to you).

How much should I be feeding my dog?
Trophy says food is serious business!

The answer for this is going to be different for each and every dog out there.  There are a few factors that you have to consider.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Update- All About Foot Work

Yesterday we worked on boxwork and getting snappier turns off the box.

I'm really, really happy with Demo's turn.  It's coming together really nicely.  He needs a faster box, but that's beyond my control at the moment.

Sunday after work I worked on hind end awareness skills with the Agility dogs.  Trophy is working on advanced skills of trying to place each foot individually on a fitpaws paw pod, but I didn't take video or get photos.

Also, I have to apologize for the quality of these photos.  I had to take cellphone photos as my short focal length lens is broken, and my zoom lens on my good camera has an extremely long focal length (the dogs have to be about 10 feet away to get them to focus).

Hind end awareness is beneficial in so many ways, especially for dog sports.  Many dogs don't think about where they put their back feet.  In flyball this can be the difference between a good push off the box and a dangerous turn.  In agility it can help primarily with contacts, and footing on the dog-walk and teeter.  Finally, it can turn into many funny tricks.

So how do I start?  With Shaping.  I want the dog to offer shifting weight back to one hind foot.  I want to click for the same rear foot all the time at first.  I have found that my dogs are very front foot oriented so they try to spin around and walk down whatever prop I'm using, so I rig up an xpen into a chute so the dog can't turn, and can only move forward and backup.  I place a book on the floor at the back of the xpen and start upping my criteria to the dog placing the back foot on the book.

When the dog is offering that consistently I place a few more books or a shoe box to raise the height and wait for the dog to offer it again.  If I wanted to teach an independent rear leg lift I would continue on in this fashion, continuing to raise and raise and raise the height of the props to get the proper height of the leg lift, and then slowly remove props while keeping my high leg lift criteria for the reward.

However,  my goal for this training session is more about a contact behavior, so after Demo was very readily offering back feet on the boxes I switched out the boxes for my flyball jump board.

Then I continued rewarding for standing and backing up the board.  I also slowly opened up xpen so he had more options of directions and I could proof the backing up.

We had to trouble shoot with Pan, who wanted to only offer laying down and crawling forward.  Since I was using the xpen and my weave poles are sitting in the living room, I used them to block her from laying down. After she was reliably understanding that I wanted her to back up, not lay down, I set one pole on the ground under her.  Next session I will try to remove that.

Pan also did this hilarious crazy foot dance when working on the board.  I took a video (and you can see the new position of the "don't lay down" tube).  It's crazy wobbly as I was trying to hold my phone steady and click and reward all at the same time.  My criteria at this point is to wait for her to take another step backward on the board, but for the most part she's just picking up her feet and setting them back down in the same spot in this crazy-flaily dance.   have I mentioned I love her?

Well, next time I work on this I hope to get a video of the whole progress... and one that's not so shaky...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pan's Agility Drama OR Silly Setter Syndrome

Tonight's agility class was much better.

My sister's medical problems aren't cleared up yet and she will be undergoing another surgery. Since Pan lost so much time and is having trouble picking up where she left off (and my sister gets super frustraited with her when things get hairy) we decided to keep her going while my sister recovers (which will take somewhere around 6 months...minimum). This means my Thursday nights are going to be EXHAUSTING as i run 3 dogs in 2 hours, but i'm oddly looking forward to it.

In prep for this, and because Pan's agility class was worse than Trophy's last week, my sister and I are trading dogs until she has to drop out.

If Pan thinks she has done something wrong she shuts down. Mainly she does this by no longer paying attenting and instead going off and sniffing the floor. So my plan for her is as follows:

1. Try to make sure that if I screw up a sequence or handling move i do not let Pan know (cheering off course jumps instead of stomping my foot because my position was the problem, for example).
2. If she sniffs, get her to sit and watch me to soothe and recollect her
3. If she continues to sniff around or if she shows more signs of shutting down, take her off course with lots of praise.

When her brain is screwed on right and she's connected she is so beautiful to watch and she is so fun to run. She works great from a distance especially over jump patterns, and her silly setter mannerisms just make me love her even more.

Tonight our course was a more novice course, so lots of space between some obstacles. I find this much more difficult than the higher level courses we usually work on in class. Anyway. My first run through with Pan on the first half of the course was brilliant, even her startline stay! Then each subsequent run got a little fuzzier. The second half of the course we needed to do a front cross after a jump with a long stretch into another jump that was perpendicular to the previous jump and then into a tunnel. The front cross was difficult as i really had to run to get into position and i am really bad at giving myself enough room to front cross (i want to be close to the landing of the jump when i need to angle myself out more and make the cross more evenly between the two jumps).

That cross and the jump were the first cause of Pan's stress tonight. I didnt like the position i was in, it felt messy. Even though she made the jump, because i verbalized my dislike of *my* performance and pulled up to retry it again, Pan felt she had done it wrong and started the sniffing. When i got her into the tunnel where we then did a post turn to dog walk, i got her eyes out of the tunnel and i took my eyes off her to turn to the dogwalk yet we lost connection and she jumped up behind me onto the middle of the dog walk ramp. Managed to finish the run, but when our "put it all together" run also wasnt pretty the whole thing nearly fell apart. I had her sit and i petted her and i gave her a cookie, and we continued on, we pulled it together, but there's a lot to work on still.

The good news is that I adore her quirks, and she doesn't frustraite me like she does Tasha. (Her abismal startline stays annoy me more than anything else).

The one truly bright light is that i actually saw improvement in Pan's weaves tonight! Up to this point we have had to lure her entirely though the weaves (treat in front of the nose all the time) today she was able to let me stay on one side of the weaves and point her through to lure her back. She didnt have to have the cookie the whole time, i didnt have to akwardly weave my armpit out of the weaves, it was awesome! Babysteps!

Since Demo has started agility training my instructor and i were talking breifly about the dogs switching from flyball (an *extremely* independent sport where the dog works at great distance from the handler over a course that changes minimally between runs) to agility (a sport baised in communication between handler and dog where the courses change drastically between runs). Even though Trophy also started in flyball, he and I have a great working relationship from so many tricks and random training with him that he looks to me anyway for direction despite flyball. Pan and Demo on the other hand haven't had as much work on handler focus at home, so they try to think independently on the agility course to undesireable results.

Demo's class is going well, he's calming down around the other dogs. We were learning front crosses and post turns today. He is living up to expectations and wants to be way out in front of me over jumps, he is trying to stay with me, but he understands jumping ahead of me, not next to me.

All in all a really good two hours of class. I quite enjoyed it. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I've Got Those Agility Blues

I dont want to talk about Trophy's agility class from Thursday.

It was bad. We were very disconnected. I dont know if it's because of the final member of the class being there tonight (a dog with some issues dealing with other dogs, who is afraid of most everything, and Trophy is very sensitive and not forgiving to unbalanced dogs after an incident a few years ago). Or it's because i didnt want Demo sitting next to said dog (i kenneled Dem in another room) but he was screaming/whailing and that might have thrown Trophy off too.

Trophy is sensitive to his siblings presence. When Pan and Tasha dropped out for a while Trophy was visibly mopey without Pan around and it took him a while to get back in the swing of things by himself.

Also, sometimes i dont know if i'm put into situations to learn from others or to help others. Until i figure it out it's going to be challenging.

And then i keep being reminded that i "need" to start trialing Trophy soon. Well, I can't. Plans for Trophy's agility debut had to be put on hold when two other pets became very ill and my money went to the vet.

Not to mention from the begining i've said two things
1. Flyball comes first
2. I don't care if i never trial with Trophy.

Ending my mini rant now. No flyball today, maybe i'll have something more beneficial to update on tomorrow.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flyball Hangover 2.0

I love the term flyball hangover. It's so perfect to describe the aftermath of the crazy exertion of this sport all weekend.

For the dogs it means:
-being too tired to lay down before falling asleep. (Pan slept sitting up the entire drive home, she had plenty of room to lay down, she just... didn't)
-sleeping in an akward position that can't possibly be comfy, only you're fast asleep, so apparently it's comfy... enough. (Demo, who slept with his head cranked at a 90 degree angle to his body the entire way home using the door as a pillow)
-being so tired you don't bark when the front door opens. (Thankfully it wasn't a burgler!)
-long blinks that turn into longer blinks
-grumbling/growling when you are unexpectidely woken up.

For me it means:
-waking up Monday with tiny bruises on my lap from Pan using me as a launching board
-pain in my right thumb from being chomped on too many times while giving out cheese
-discovering an asortement of scratches/bruises i didnt know about when the shower water causes them to burn
-constant ringing in my ears for two days
-a very sore right leg (since i always get up from the floor starting with the same leg, it's like i did a million lunges but only with my right leg...ow)

After this weekend it also means i have to find a safe spot to store/display these babies:

Trophy and Pan both earned their FM titles this weekend! I snagged the balls from their winning runs, complete with victory slobber.

Trophy's team had a much harder time acomplishing this that i would have thought, we had more hot passes than i've ever seen from one of our teams (i was guilty for 2 of them, and one with Pan). When our second race resulted in only 28 points i was worried that Pan might get her FM and Trophy wouldn't! We eventually pulled it together with two races to spare.

Pan's team did phenominally all weekend. They were our Multi team, and were seeded last in the only multi division. I was expecting them to go 3-and-out all weekend. Thankfully, due to racing those "division 1" teams that push their passes, despite the fact we ran 3 full seconds slower, we ended up going to 5 heats most of the time. Whereas Trophy's team in Division 3 Regular, seeded last against other teams there also racing for the points, did go 3-and-out all pretty much all weekend.

Once they earned their titles Demo finally got to race. I put him in for 3 races. He was running faster, 4.5's passing until i decided to widen our passing a bit (compared to his 4.6s starts in Euclid). His turn looked really nice too. And then we had a race where both of the left-turn dogs took bad bobbles. Bandy in the second heat, and then Demo in the third had another bobble that he chased into the left lane and we got called for the interferance. I'm so very grateful that his wild bobbles havent caused a collision with the other team, although he did try to take out the judge (twice) during that race.

Well, i'm off to get ready for work. Let's hope my hungover body can manage it!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Welcome To Agility, Demo!

Thursday night was our first night in our new flyball class. One of our former classmates moved into this class with us which was a nice surprise... and we managed to more than double the previous size of the class.

Demo gets to hang out while Pan and Trophy run, and overall he was really good. He did scream a little when i was running Trophy, but otherwise he was quiet and it helped him chill out before his beginner class, which has 6 other dogs in it, but more on that in a moment.

The course laid out for the first class had a really neat jump pattern, i'll try to diagram that when i get home (currently updating from my phone at a flyball tournament in beautiful and cold Davisburg, Michigan). After the weaves we had to front cross into a jump, send to a jump then pull the dog over another jump, front cross into a pinwheel and front cross again after the 3rd jump back into the weaves (it will make more sense when you see it), it was a lot of front crosses very quickly, but it flowed very nicely.

Dog on right out of weaves.  Front cross before 2, Push dog over 3, Pull dog over 4 with a front cross on the landing side.  Dog on right for 5 and 6, Push out back over 7 front cross on the landing side of 7 dog on left back into weaves.

The best part of the night for me was actually in warmup when Trophy let me front and rear cross while he was weaving 12 poles!! I'm so proud of the work we have put into our weaves.

Then Demo had his beginner class right after. It is a big class, and Demo did so well. Luckily he's not the only dog with space issues, but it's a totally different class experience than i had with Trophy, the canine pacifist. I freaked myself out more than anything about the space issue, as was evident when i tried to fall asleep that night and woke up 3 times clutching my cat (who sleeps in my arms when it's cold) and freaking out that i was grabbing Demo seconds before he attacked a dog that ventured too close to his space.

In reality Demo only snarked at one dog. He was brilliant for everything else, but i'd already worked on turns on the flat and touch. He knows how to go thru jump uprights, he was a little freaked out by the noise of the hulahoop (mine has water not beads in it), and once he understood he'd get his tug for running thru the tunnel he flew through it.

Need to somehow find a 12inch wide board to work on walking down a plank into 2o2o. He couldnt keep his butt on the plank, so i also need to do some more hind end awareness tricks with him.

I'm really happy with him though, he's very focused.

Now we are at a flyball tournament. Pan needs 800 points to get her FM and we have racked up 450 so far (one more race today, 5 tomorrow). Trophy needs 500 more points to get his FM and he has 108 points so far (2 more races today, 4 tomorrow). Trophy's team had a really uncoordinated race for 28 total points, so i'm hoping we can pull it together. I'm going to be slightly mad if they dont both get their titles this weekend. :)

Edit: went back and added the paragraph breaks. Sorry! I forgot when i update from the blogger app-thingy on my phone enter does not equal a line break. Whoops! Havent had a chance to illustrate this post yet, sorry!

Edit2: finally added a crappy diagram of the agility course.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Only 4 people showed up for flyball practice this morning... it made running lineups for next weekend extremely difficult to say the least since someone had to load. *sigh*.

It wasn't a waste though,  Had a teammate run Demo while I boxloaded.  He didn't care one bit, and it was really cool to see his turn up close and personal at speed!  I kind of want to see if my other dogs will let me load and watch their turns.  Hehe.  Took my video camera... even took the battery charger........forgot the memory card. >_<  oy story of my life!

Didn't really do anything that was on my agenda... but there's always next time... unless people just stop coming. :(


Got home and took a wonderful nap snuggled with the pups.  Later worked on weaving with Demo, Trophy and Pan.

Still trying to teach 2x2 weaves to Dem and Pan.  I don't know if I'm trying to move to quickly again or if I just don't understand the system enough... but i don't think it's working.  I start tipping the weaves and they do great, and then it all falls apart.  Going to try to do my instructor's "old school weave-purist" ways and just lure them through.

I'm torn on this is so many ways.

1. I really believe that the dogs understand it better shaping it piece by piece
2. I haven't been training on a schedule... but i feel like we should have a little more progress made that we have in 2x2.
3. Trophy, who is my most clicker-savvy dog, was taught by luring .. and he is currently weaving extremely well.  But... it's taken over a year.

BAH. I don't know what to do. :(

Speaking of Trophy's weaves,  at home he will let me front and rear cross on him while he is weaving.  SO MUCH INDEPENDENCE!  He even correctly weaved back to me when i sent him through the weaves but didn't follow at all - just once, but he is really starting to understand entries!  His biggest "fail" in weaving right now is skipping the first pole and entering at the second, but at least it's on the correct side (and it's rare).  He wouldn't let me cross in class yet, but we are trying to warm up every class with the weaves.

And lastly, today I started shaping Trophy to go to the backside of a jump and jump back towards me.  My agility instructor said only one student has successfully taught it to her dog, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.  Started with part of my weaves set with only one pole in and taught him to wrap around that in the correct direction (that was the hardest part, he wanted to do it like he would be taking the jump and wrapping the pole to come back to me).  Once we figured that out I added a second pole so he had, essentially, two jump uprights and he could still go to the back of the "jump" and then come back.  Finally I added a low 12inch jump... and he did it twice before going "weeee we are jumping!" and I called it quits.

I'm going to call this behavior "Reversing a Jump" and the cue is "reverse".  So, yeah.  More to work on.

I'm trying (really, really hard, actually)  to try to give my dogs a more consistent working at home schedule.  It's really hard since I'm in such a funk right now and I can't fall asleep until like 2am, and I can't wake up before 9:30 and I don't get home till 8 or later (when my next round of classes start I will be teaching until 9pm M,T,W and then I have agility until 10pm on Thurs).

The weave poles are currently sitting in the living room as a reminder.