Friday, February 24, 2012

Tessa, NTD, ITD

Tessa's Trick Title certificates came in the mail yesterday!!  They are so pretty!!!

Her Novice title certificate:

And her Intermediate title certificate:

We are on the title holder wall, too!!  It is by breed, so we are under "Border Collie" on both the Novice and Intermediate lists!!

Trick Title Holders 

Fun stuff!!

Here is Tessa doing one of her tricks in her recent Freestyle demo:

I'm hoping we will be able to do more of this in the future!!  Tessa definitely enjoys her tricks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teeters, Twirls, and Switches!

Tessa is making great progress with the teeter and it's new "booooing!"

She actually tipped it on her own twice last night.  Granted, she is tipping it so it lands quietly, but the teeter will be like everything else for Tessa.  As she gains confidence on it, she will start to operate it more competently.

Along with that, she did really well at class.  She ran the course nicely, including nice weaves and contacts!  She loves it more and more every time we run.

Tonight we had another dance session.  Tessa is making fast, fast progress!  We worked on twirls, spins, leg weaves, circles, and moving to the music.  She really got into the session.

No training tomorrow since I teach all evening, but on Thursday we will continue . . . .

Our Agility Trial - Part 2

The Q in Tunneler's was really a special one.  Enjoyment of Tunnelers is an extra accomplishment for Tessa because she came here with an absolute terror of being in or under anything. In our Basic and Advanced Basic classes, our instructor would bring out simple "Agility" pieces like the barrel of the chute (no fabric), a plank, a tippy board, a ladder, etc. and we would get a few minutes to let our dogs interact with them. Tessa loved almost all of it instantly. All she needed was one treat for putting a paw on a tippy board, or putting her feet on a plank, or stepping over the ladder, and she seemed to know exactly what she was supposed to do with it. She was happily stepping over, stepping on, tipping, etc., even offering interaction. But not the chute barrel. We baited and waited and baited and waited and it took about a session and a half before she started to offer going through it. I started classes with her last January and she did not run through a full tunnel until July!

But when she got it she got it. By August she was tentatively, but willingly, going through them in sequence.  And in December she ran through a new tunnel in a new place for the first time - with no issue whatsoever.

There was one more round of Tunnelers and Dean did better the second time.  He actually ran the course until I messed up after the 7th tunnel.  I moved in too deep and he flew forward instead of turning.  And after that it was another "wooohooo" run for him!!!

Dean's second Tunneler's run . . .

I don't have a video of Tessa's second Tunneler's run, but it was actually better than the first!  A second Tunneler's Q, and her third Q of the day, and she is just one Q away from her first Agility title!

Next up was Touch and Go.  I knew it was a long shot that we would qualify in Touch and Go because I really haven't worked discriminations with either of them.

Dean was up first.  I have video, complete with commentary, so you can tell where all of the mistakes were.  I will say that I was again very happy with his attitude, and I loved the rear crosses in the hoop sequences.  Those were nice!!

Finally, Tessa did her Touch and Go run.  I messed it up!  I called her off of a tunnel that she was actually supposed to take because I got confused, and I never got the flow of the course back after that.  Tessa did fine, but I lost our Q on that one.  But that's cool - we have many, many, many more to come!!

The fruits of Tessa's labors for the day . . .

And Dean's - he got three NQ placements.  I love those!!

And Speedy, who wasn't even there, but who seriously wanted to pose for a picture while I was taking Tessa's ribbon pictures!!!

All in all, I was thrilled with the trial.  I was very happy with Dean's attitude, and I'm hoping he will enjoy going to more of these.  And Tessa is just the perfect sport partner!  I love running with her and I can't wait to go do it again!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Moving to Music 101

On Friday I took Tessa down to Kamp Kitty to run through her Freestyle routine.  It did not go as planned.  It turned out that when we got into an open space, she actually didn't care much for her Scottish music.  And I've done so little movement to music with her that she really didn't have the idea down.

So, I went back to the piece that we used for Innovations, and for the demo a couple of weeks ago.  I know she likes that and will move well to it.  I also added a jump to her routine.  She loves to jump, so I may as well put some jumping in.  It will add audience appeal.

My main goal for this routine is for Tessa to enjoy the performance, so it is very simple.  Over the next two weeks, we will practice pieces of it and we will move through the house to the music.

We started this morning, and I think we made good progress.  At first she moved slowly, thinking through what we were doing.  But by the end of the training session, she was moving nicely to the music, not only in straight lines, but on curves, as well!

These are the elements that we need to practice over the next two weeks:

Moving to the music on both sides in straight lines and on curves
Moving to the music toward me as I go backwards
Sit-Walk Around
Moving Leg Weaves

And that is pretty much Tessa's list of moves right now!!!  After this competition, I want to start to work more on pivots and backing, and introduce sidepassing.

I also think I am going to head to JoAnn's and see about getting some fabric to make a new skirt.  It seems Tessa should have something new of her own for her first competition Freestyle performance.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

First Agility Q

Yesterday we went to the NADAC trial that I've been looking forward to since our first one in December.  Tessa was entered in two rounds of Tunnelers, one round of Weavers, and one round of Touch and Go.  Dean was also entered in Tunnelers and Touch and Go.  This was Dean's first trial since last spring and the first one that Tessa, Dean, and I attended together.  The first of many, I'm sure!

When we got there I went in on my own and got a spot and got Tessa's crate set up.  They were running Hoopers, so I had plenty of time to do that and bring them in for a few minutes.  Tessa had never been in Bella Vista, but she immediately knew it was a "dog place" and was completely at ease.  I was hoping that Dean might pick up on some of her confidence, as Speedy had at the demo, and maybe he did.  He ended up being pretty happy all day long.

Weavers was first for us, and I only had one run in Weavers since Dean's weaves aren't terribly solid right now.  I went out to run with Tessa very excited, but when we started to run, I got nervous.  That's actually very unusual.  Typically I am nervous just before stepping into the ring, but once the run or performance starts I forget that and am just in the moment with my dog.  But I got hit with nerves a few times during this run.

First, I froze on the first set of poles.  Still, I managed to remember not to crowd her and she got through the first set with no problem.  She was a bit hesitant, but that's because I was.  No problem through the next tunnel and the first hoop in a three hoop sequence.  But then I crowded the second hoop and pushed Tessa past it.  I decided to retry it.  It's not a problem to do that with Tessa because it doesn't make her think she's wrong.  She was happy to oblige and even threw a play bow at me!!  Then I gave her too much space on the next hoop and we had to retry that one.  I was rewarded with another play bow!!  After that it went much better.  Her third set of poles were true "Tessa Weaves"!

It occurred to me that I would probably have been more comfortable doing Weavers later in the day, but in the end it was fine.  She qualified!!  That was her first ever Agility Q!!  Here is a video!!

It didn't occur to me that seeing "Q" on her label and pulling out a Q ribbon would bring up so many emotions.  How many times I did that for Maddie's many, many qualifying runs!!!  In fact, that was my first Agility Q since Maddie's last - her one and only Level 5 Q at Bella Vista last spring.  So it felt good and exciting to pick up Tessa's very first one ever, but it was also very bittersweet.  The final torch was passed.  I know Tessa and I will carry it well, but of course I'm still very sorry that Maddie is gone.  It was just a reminder of that.

In spite of that, I was, of course, proud beyond words of Tessa.  She has come so far, and in a remarkably short amount of time.  A year ago she wasn't even going through a baited chute barrel in class.  I would have expected her first Agility Q to be years away, but she really is ready now!  At least to start.

After that, it wasn't long before it was time to walk for our first round of Tunnelers.  Because the trial was so small, everyone walked at once, so I had to walk the course for both Tessa and Dean at the same time.  There were some major differences in the way I needed to plan for each of them.  Since I knew I could beat Tessa to the end of the curved tunnels, I planned blind crosses.  But I knew that Dean would be ahead of me, so I had to plan rears.  I'm going to have to think about that in the future when I sign up for trials.  Maybe split rounds between them or something, at least until Tessa gets to running faster.

Dean ran first because he was in Open.  He was really excited to be there, which was a real change for him.  He went out very eager to run, and run he did!  He FLEW!!  And he ended up pretty much making up his own course!  He was all over the place.  But he was happy, and I was glad for that!!

After he ran, I brought Tessa in and let her hang out in the crate.  When we went out to run there were no nerves.  I knew it was going to go well, and it did.  Everything went according to plan - perfect!!  Tessa didn't miss a beat.  She even got out ahead of me a little in a few places.  More of that will come with experience.  I have a video of this run, too!

And that was her second Q!!

More to come in Part 2 . . . !!!!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tessa College Week 5

We had an excellent evening at "Tessa College" on Monday night!

It was dance night in tricks class, and Tessa enjoyed the heck out of it!

A lot of the dance moves were moves that she is already familiar with, like spins, circles, and leg weaves.  I really appreciated having a chance to work on those in a bigger space and to play around with them a bit.  I actually ended up tweaking our routine a bit more afterward.  Tessa is not ready to do the tight inside circles that I was planning, so I've taken those out for now.

One thing that really surprised me was that Tessa started making up moves on her own!  She has never done anything like that before and it shows that she really understood what we were doing and she wanted to add something to it.  I loved that!

Next week she is trying for her tricks title!

After tricks we went over to Agility.  I told our Monday night instructor about her teeter qualm, complete with lots of assurance that Tessa is not Dean and she will work through this.  She completely understood and I was glad for that!  She added a bit of padding so it wouldn't "boing" quite so much, and I worked with Tessa, tossing treats for her to chase as the teeter landed after she did it.  She did better with it this time.  I think she is already habituating to the sound, and maybe our at-home bang games are already helping.

This weekend I want to get my practice teeter out and have her do some work with that.  I suspect that if I actually do that and she gets the idea at home, she is going to be fine with it at class, "boing" and all!!

Beyond that, she did AWESOME in Agility class!  She is weaving on her own, even entries, and I absolutely love it!!  I've never had a dog that fluent on weaves!  She still needs to build a little more fluency, but she is getting there and she is already my best weaver!!

So, a good evening was had by both of us!  Lots of good progress.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Noise Game

So, we started the noise bang game yesterday.  It went well.  I started out with the board on the carpet, so Tessa could get the hang of what she is supposed to do first.

She got it very quickly.  By the end of the session, she was very deliberately using her paw to move the board to the ground.  She even gave it a good "thunk" a few times.

One thing I'd like to try to do is add more fun to this game for her.  Get her interested in getting into it, before adding more noise.  I was using kibble to reinforce yesterday, but I might try some chicken or something next time and really get her chasing the tossed reinforcer.

After Tessa played, I gave Dean a turn.  I think it's very funny that he loves this game.  He even gets on the board and tips it.  He makes it "THUNK!  THUNK!  THUNK!!"  I'll have to try to get a video of him playing some time.

Ben let the dogs out of the bedroom before I was finished with Dean and Speedy even took a turn.  I don't remember ever playing this game with him, but maybe I did.  Or maybe, he just offered it because it seemed like a good thing to offer with a tipped board in front of him!!

I really need to do more shaping with Tessa.  Watching Speedy offer really makes me realize that she would have a lot more confidence if she had more shaping experience.  Maybe this is a good opportunity to do some of that with her.

I also started to make my skirt for Tessa's demo next Saturday.  I'm not sure how it is going to come out.  It's not a kilt per se, but it should suggest one.  I am really eager to see how she does with this demo!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


After a very long time of things just moving along simply, Tessa and I have run into a couple of challenges.

As I mentioned after our tricks class last week, Tessa was nervous about the hoop because of the sound of the beans inside.

Then, in Agility on Thursday evening, she got nervous after hearing the sound of the teeter after the upside of it landed on the ground as she was running.  Interestingly, it is not the "bang" that got to her, but this kind of boinging sound that it makes after it has returned back to it's normal position.

This is very interesting because I am really seeing the difference between a noise phobic dog (Dean) and one who can be noise sensitive (Tessa).

This will not be a lifelong struggle for Tessa.  At some point she will habituate to this sound and take it in stride.  Getting used to the sound of different teeters at trials may take a bit of effort, but she will move past this.

I am planning to set up some exercises at home to introduce Tessa to the idea of making noise herself.  This is something I haven't really done with her because it hasn't been an issue.  I plan to start with something she can wobble with her paws and teach her to make noise with it on carpet.  Then we will move that to other surfaces.  And then I will introduce new sounds for her to make.

This will be a great addition to her confidence building regimen!!

As for the teeter, I know Tessa is going to be great at it in no time.  I might get our practice teeter out sometime to give her a chance to practice tipping and banging here.

It is good, in a way, to meet a training challenge.  Tessa and I both really enjoy working through them! 

Dean Dog posing next to the training apparatus that Tessa and I will use to start this game.  Dean knows this part!

Tessa watching me set up the board.  Not so sure what she thinks of this . . . !!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Looking Like a Border Collie!!

Not a training post, but I took some pictures the other day.  Here is Tessa, looking like a Border Collie!!

Run, Tessa, RUN!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tessa College

This session, Monday nights are "Tessa College" for me!  I go to tricks with her at 7:30 and then right to Beginner Agility at 8:30.  Tessa absolutely loves it - she can't get enough!

Tricks class was a bit of a challenge for us this week.  We were working with hula hoops.  Tessa gets a little nervous interacting with things that I am holding.  Not targets or anything like that, but hoops, dowels, canes, etc.  On top of that, the hoop has those beans inside and it makes a sound as it moves and she really doesn't like that.

It was good for her, though.  It had been a long time since we had worked with something that she had to work to interact with.  She was able to go through it when I tossed food through, and she was able to move into it while it was lying on the ground.  I plan to work with it more because it is good for her to continue to get comfortable with new things.

We worked with targets a bit and she really liked that.  We worked on the crawl, and surprisingly, she really liked that and she did well with it!  That might be something we will work on more later.

Of course, I gave her a chance to practice her paw work and her pretties.

We all went off the floor for the last part, which was jumps and tunnels.  Since she already knows them, she got to go first to demo!!  That was a lot of fun for both of us.

I believe that Tessa has enough tricks to try for her Novice tricks title, so I asked the instructor if she could witness for us in two weeks.  I think Tessa will do it without any problem.

Then on to Agility.  I got to work on a few things that we did at the seminar.  I did what Bridget had suggested for the contacts, and there was a double in the course, so Tessa got to practice that again.

Her weaves were excellent!  I love having a dog who can weave more independently!  In fact, I am really starting to appreciate Tessa's ability to work independently.  Once she has the idea of something I really don't need to be on top of her.

We got to practice a speed sequence at the end and I got to really run, staying away from the jumps.  It is still so different, but I am really starting to enjoy it!

At the end we did some teeter work, and that needs a little more training.  I am going to try to set up my practice teeter in the house this weekend and let her get the hang of riding the tip point.  That might be just what she needs to finally get the hang of it.