Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Coast Hike

This past Saturday I took the dogs on a hike with some friends of mine on the coast.  It started off a little foggy, but the temperature was perfect and the fog totally burned off.  Dominic and Miley had a BLAST!  Miley was running every where like the crazy girl she is.  Dominic has gone through a growth spurt and is all sorts of clumsy right now, so got as crazy as his feet could keep up with.  And frequently more crazy than his feet could keep up with.

Once we were done with the hike, we decided to pop into Pelican Brewery in Pacific City and do a little refueling.  We had already driven all the way out there, we might as well make a full day of it!  The weather cleared up completely and was absolutely GORGEOUS!  

Once we were done, naturally, we hit the beach!

This was Dominic's first time on the beach.  While he was pretty excited about everything going on, he was also pretty beat from the hike and was pretty content to head back to the van and pass out for the drive home.

It was a pretty great day and both dogs had an excellent time.  And I even managed to snap some pictures of them that I am absolutely loving!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Catch Up

I hate playing catch up.  Rather, more correctly, I hate falling behind.  I start getting to a point where I'm like, "but there's so much I want to share and there are so many cute/adorable/awesome/smart/etc. things that the dogs have done!"  Then I start wondering if I should even bother catching up or if I should just pick up right where I'm at when I finally make some time to update the blog.  But there's stuff I want to share!  But it feels overwhelming when I let it go too long!  But the dogs do such cute things!  And I'm taking so many pictures and video again!  It's a busy place inside my head.  Thankfully I haven't been slacking on the blog for too terribly long, so I opted to do a general catch up post, so that I can lay the background that'll lead into other more interesting (to me at least) posts.  Or more precisely, the random crap that I really want to share and I enjoy rationalizing why I feel the need to explain why I'm doing a catch up post. ;)

The baby dog is getting bigger!  Which, in part, means that he's getting to go on more hikes that are actual hikes!  I started testing how he did on some more challenging (for him) trails that are some of my favorite spots "close" to home.  He's handling them like a champ.  The only thing holding him back is his body growing faster than his brain can keep up with the adjustments.  Which means some general clumsiness that I just try to keep an eye on by keeping the pace slower so that he theoretically doesn't feel rushed and feel like he needs to keep up.  Granted, Miley is always running about and he very much wants to keep up with big sister and explore everything that she's exploring, but he's figuring it out.

March marked Dominic's first group hike!  Once the weather is a little nicer and more predictable (usually March through October or November), I've started putting together monthly group hikes.  This year I decided to up the anty and we're going to be doing one easy to moderate level difficulty hike a month and one that's more challenging.  I'll bring the dogs on the easier monthly hike, but not the more challenging one.  March's group hike was Angel's Rest in the Columbia River gorge.  I've done this hike before with Heffner several years ago, but obviously not with either Miley or Dominic.  They both did really well and I would have more pictures and probably more fun moments to share if it weren't for the fact that my foot crapped out on me during this hike and I was in a fair bit of pain throughout (because I insisted on trudging through it).  Plantar fasciitis reared it's ugly head and I have had to stop running for the time being and completely overhaul my exercise routine.  The foot is doing MUCH better now, but that was not a pleasant hike for me.  The above picture is one that a friend of mine took right after I had unloaded the dogs and they were just a smidge excited to get going.  My expression is intentional and played up a bit for the camera.  The dogs weren't horrible, but Dominic in particular has the habit of swirling around my legs like a cat when he's excited about something.

The first weekend in April was the Willamette Great Dane club's double specialty in Albany, OR.  Which is in conjunction with an all breed show.  The double specialty was held on April 1st and since I knew that we were going to be there for a large portion of the day, and Miley had been doing so well in training for rally, I decided to also enter her in the all breed rally trial that day.  The double specialty and the two days of all breed dog shows after it were mostly uneventful.  Miley didn't place in her class for three out of the four shows and got fourth one of the days.  She still shows well and is a happy dog in the ring and that I am very pleased with.  She has developed the habit of pooping in the ring one of the days that we show, though.  I thought we were in the clear when she didn't do it on the day of the double specialty, but was I was wrong.  On Saturday, after she did her individual go around, she pooped.  I was able to get it cleaned up pretty unobtrusively and thankfully didn't have to stop the class to take care of it.  This time.  But Miley is now known as the one who poops in the ring.  I swear I walk her!  And most of the time she poops at home before we leave for the shows!  To poke a little fun at the situation, I brought my poop emoji pillow (a Christmas present from some friends) and put it up on her crate.  You know, just to make sure that EVERYONE knows that Miley is the ring pooper.

Oh, you caught that little bit about Miley entering her first rally trial?  Yeah.  We did.  I jumped the gun and got a little to excited about how she was coming along.  Emphasis on coming along.  Not how the final product was.  She really is coming along very well, however, I have not fully proofed her for a competition setting and she was not ready for all of that yet.  Our run was not a disaster, but I did ask to be excused before we finished the course.  There were moments where I had her and I got snippets of the attention that I want to have and I know I can get from her.  But the duration wasn't there and she started to look a little stressed a couple of times.  I knew we were toast when I lost her as we entered the ring.  Yep, those ring entrances that we practiced at the rally match.  She's coming along and I'm really happy with how she's doing.  She just needs more time and a lot more training in distracting environments so that she really understands that I am there to support her.  On the up side, I'm proud of myself for not slipping backwards into pleading with her in the ring.  Once we left the ring we played a little, we did a few quick maneuvers where she got rewarded heavily and then we ran back to the conformation ring for our class.  We also very nearly had a ring conflict.  Smooshing a rally run in between two conformation "runs" probably also wasn't the wisest thing.  It was hard to really gauge how well she was acclimating and I definitely didn't feel as sure about our warm up prior to entering the ring.  It was a learning experience and we will be much more prepared the next time.  Which won't be for several months.

Also that weekend we celebrated my dad's birthday.  My parents' house is sort of in between my house and the Albany show grounds, so I brought Dominic along to the dog show on Saturday and we hung out at my parents' for a while after the show.  Naturally, the dogs LOVED running around my parents' yard!  I grabbed a few shots of them looking super cute in the ridiculously nice weather we've been having.

Which leads us into this weekend!  Yesterday we had another group hike, but this time on the Oregon coast.  But I will leave that for a separate post. :)

I've been doing some tweaking of our training routine, adjusted some of what we're training and have been fixing some of the things that weren't just not working.  That will also be a separate post.

And I finally drank the Kool-Aid and joined the world of Instagram.  That happened yesterday.  You can find us at @termabader.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rally Match!

Today was Miley's first rally match!  And I'm happy to say that I'm pretty proud of that little turd!  I intentionally picked a training facility that we've never been to before because I wanted to see how she did in a totally new environment.  I also chose to do only two runs.  At this point, more than that is going to overload her.  I also wanted to see what kind of an acclimation period she was going to need.  I already know from our weekly attention practices out at various stores that she doesn't need more than 5-10 min. in non pet stores before she's focusing on me and wanting to work.  Pet stores are an entirely different beast and I have an entirely different set of goals for them with their cascade of ultimate distractions.  True to form, Miley was ready to start focusing and working within just a couple minutes of getting brought out of her crate.  And I even managed to video our warm up!

The blue square that you see on the floor is just a taped off section.  Since I did so much front feet targeting with her on various objects as she's been growing up, she naturally sees this outline of a square as something that she should target.  I'm totally okay with that. :) It's our warm up and I want to see how she processes and reacts to this brand new environment.  And check out that rear end movement!!  Girlfriend has some skills!  It actually didn't take much to get her to start pivoting into heel position.  I got so excited and was really jackpotting for it when she started doing it, that you can also see that she's started getting a little over zealous with it and has started wrapping around behind me.  She only recently started doing that and it doesn't take much from me to get her back into position, so I'm not going to worry too much right now.  We're gradually working on the whole sitting in heel position.  When she's had a really good warm up, it comes faster.  It's just not automatic right now.

Part of what I was shooting for with today's match was maintaining focus as we entered the ring and went up to the start sign.  If I lose Miley as we're entering the ring, or even before, I'm setting us up for a struggle.  She's a little sensitive to proximity of objects around her.  So going through a ring entrance is a type of pressure that she's not comfortable with without some help still.  This also carries over onto the rally course a little bit.  There is proximity of signs and obstacles that create spacial pressure on her that she isn't entirely comfortable with without support from me.  This is something I'm confident she'll get more and more comfortable around with time and more maturity.  Right now I'm pretty pleased with how she's doing.  She is definitely the most attentive dog that I have had to date.  Now I need to not ruin that!!  I did take video of both of our runs, but I will admit that the vast majority of that is going to be interesting only to me.  I did pull out a clip of us working on ring entrances, with a little bit of the course afterward.

I can't help it, I'm proud of her!  Her very first match, in a brand new building!  Her focus just makes me want to squeal at times!  I love it!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Thanks in large part to the tricks class that we're taking, I'm getting better about recording our various training sessions and I wanted to share some of coordination/balance work that we're doing.  There are posts littered throughout the blog where I talk about the various pieces of stability equipment that I work the dogs on and the various exercises that we do with them.  Today, I'm sharing some clips of the dogs working with our two FitBones in a few different configurations.

Things are still a work in progress for both dogs, just for different reasons.  Miley is periodically fearful of the equipment and this has led to her being generally more hesitant.  She has days where she does just fine and her movements are sharper and she has more enthusiasm.  Then something will happen, and she loses everything that she gained.  It can be something as simple as literally a plastic sandwich bag shifting on the dining room table.  This slight movement, combined with a slight noise, is apparently enough to send her into a bout of fear.  I just can't control for all these random things.  So we keep plugging away and I hope that she'll either work through it, or that this is just a hormonal issue and once she's eventually spayed, this will stop.

Dominic is definitely not fearful.  He's quite enthusiastic and really seems to enjoy trying to figure out what he's supposed to do and tackling new challenges.  His only difficulty really is that he's a puppy and he's still learning about coordination.  Not a small task given how much his body continues to grow.  Regardless, he's a champ and a ton of fun to work with!

Without further ado, here's the video of several clips with both dogs working with the FitBones:

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Miley is going through some fearfulness right now.  It's fairly generalized and therefore has moments in everything that we do.  She had started to become a hesitant jumper.  Which progressed to a point where she avoids jumping if at all possible.  Or at least, all jumping that isn't hopping up onto my bed.  You might be more understanding of this if you thought I was jumping her at a normal (for her height) 24" and maybe she just wasn't ready to be jumping full height.  That would totally make sense.  Except that I'm talking 4" and sometimes the occasional 8" jump.  Heights that she can easily clear by walking normally over.  But she got to a point where she was afraid of even that height.  And this fear of jumping wasn't limited to agility and obedience.  This would happen when we were out hiking as well.  Due to a fair bit of rain and wind the past few months, it's not uncommon for us to come across a downed tree on some of our trails.  She doesn't even like jumping those.  And I will fully admit that I don't get it.

I will also fully admit that I was getting frustrated with her because of it.  Agility is primarily a jumping sport.  You have your contact equipment and your tunnels, but the one object that you will see the most frequently are jumps in their various forms.  Miley is still leery of the tunnel and therefore chute, which I'm okay with.  That will come with time and slowly working with her.  She will do the dog walk at a lowered height, but she's not super comfortable with it.  The table, for whatever reason, also weirds her out.  The A-frame she actually likes, though she's only done it at a lowered height.  Once she started avoiding jumping, agility class started feeling pretty futile.  I'm not going to make her miserable and increase her fear by trying to force her.  And my instructor wouldn't be okay with me doing that regardless.  So I decided to pull Miley from agility class indefinitely.

Last year I pulled Miley from obedience lessons for a few months and she came back better than before.  I'm hoping that this time off from agility will have the same effect.  Who knows.  Not every dog has to do every sport.  Agility may end up just not being her thing.  That's totally fine.  Admittedly I can say that because obedience is my favorite sport, so I'm less heart broken.  And I have a second dog who shows promise. ;)

Oddly enough, during our most recent obedience lesson, my instructor set up the jumps for directed jumping.  I was skeptical because agility class had been so disheartening.  In the process of explaining what was going on with Miley, for whatever reason, I demonstrated how she would only go over the jump when I had her heel over it with me.  So Jill, always changing things up for us, decided that if Miley was only wanting to do things in heel position, lets set up a rally course and give it a go!  I was slightly skeptical.  Admittedly (I use this word frequently...admittedly...), I kind of burnt myself out on rally getting Bess' RAE and I was thrilled to be done with rally for an indeterminate period of time.  My original plan was to start playing around with rally after Miley was already competing in obedience, to sort of spice things up and because I felt like we should do rally.  Low and behold, Miley freaking floored me and had a rally practice better than I have had with either Heffner or Bess.  And I'm counting rally practices where I was still using food rewards.  Her freaking left turns had me in heaven.  Her eyes lit up and she was so happy to go along with me and do all of the signs.  I was ecstatic!!  I LOVE heeling and therefore I reinforce it a fair bit and enjoy working on the little pieces of it at home.  Therefore Miley has learned that heeling is the bee's knees.  We're still not to the mental picture of have of where I'd like to be while we're competing, but we are definitely getting there and I'm super happy about it!

This potentially frustrating development has actually had some pretty positive outcomes.  First of all, it sort of cornered me into giving rally a try with Miley.  Which yielded a really positive experience that I hadn't anticipated.  And secondly, after some discussion with our agility instructor, I decided to plunk Dominic into Miley's spot, just working at a puppy foundation level.  He has really taken to it and has already done the lowered dog walk, some teeter banging, the tunnel and chute.  We've also started working on the ground work needed for jumping.  I'm really impressed with how he's taking to it.  He'll be getting a longer period of time developing foundation skills than any of my dogs previously have.  He gets to reap the benefits of the three danes that have gone before him. ;)

I still don't know what has caused Miley to be so reluctant to jump.  She hasn't had any traumatic experiences with jumps that I'm aware of.  And she's otherwise physically fit and able.  Maybe it's just one of those things that she has to work through.  Maybe she's just going to be a late bloomer.  Maybe there's a horrible boogey monster that reaches up and scares the bajesus out of her each time she goes over a jump and my poor human eye sight is unable to detect him.  Maybe I should just not obsess over this for the time being....

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Barnhunt Practice

Today I took both dogs out to Newberg for a Barnhunt practice!  I wanted to see if Miley had more interest in the activity and I wanted to see what Dominic thought of it.  Miley still will not do the tunnel, but that's something across the board that we're working on.  I feel like she'll get there, she's just going to be a late bloomer.  Maybe even a really late bloomer.

Both Miley and Dominic had two correct indications.  Or more accurately, I correctly recognized their indications two times each.  Handler error on calling it was more on Miley's run.  And Dominic was more distracted by my hands on his third try, so I incorrectly called the tube.  Probably because he was showing more interest in where my hands happened to be at that moment, but the third time.  He DEFINITELY shows an interest in the tube containing the rat.  Unlike what Miley got at the workshop we went to last month, Dominic didn't get an introduction to the rat ahead of time or get to work through various containers before going to the competition tubes.  We decided to go for it with him and see if he would be interested in the tube out of the three that was different.  And he did!

Dominic was also a little super star at going through the tunnel.  It took a little food reward to really encourage him to go through initially, but by the end, he was popping through the tunnel while the instructor and I were chatting.  Good puppy!

We'll continue doing periodic practices for a little bit before I enter Dominic in an instinct test.  He has to be at least six months old to compete regardless, so he's got a couple months before he hits that mark.  I'm giving Miley time to show more interest before I do anything more with her.  I don't want to force her into doing something that she isn't really all that into.  Luckily enough with this sport, they're either into it or they aren't.  It's not something that I have to worry about allotting regular training time for.  Which makes me very happy. :)

I did make sure to record their sessions in the ring and I've cut the video down to give some highlights.  It was pouring while we were practicing, so the background noise is a little loud.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Puppy Training!

Dominic is one smart little cookie and I am having a blast working with him.  I am constantly blown away by his focus and attention span!  So much so that I periodically have to remind myself that he's not even quite four months old yet and I need to make sure that I don't burn out the puppy!

A couple days ago, because why not.  I decided to pull out the metal obedience article and see what he would do with it.  I've had him take the plastic dumbbell a couple of times a few weeks back, but I didn't really want to do a ton with any of the dumbbells until his adult teeth are in.  But I decided just to see what he thought of the metal article.  I wish that I had recorded the whole session, but when it became evident that he was going to do SOMETHING with it, I turned on the camera.  And wouldn't you know it, the little stinker was retrieving it and actually picked it up properly a few different times! :)

So. Stinkin. Cute!  The metal article video naturally got me wanting to capture more of the things that we've been working on.  Next up was Dominic's progress with the 2 on 2 off position.  This is something that I was aiming to shape, since I've got the time.  Of course, it only took him about three sessions to get a pretty solid seeming understanding of what I was asking for.  Here's the very first shaping session with him at 10 weeks old:

I had a bit of a brain fart at the beginning of the video.  I hadn't thought about what I was wanting to start rewarding him for before plunking myself down.  So I had to take a moment before realizing that I should be rewarding him for the fact that he offering interaction with the FitBone.  Novel concept. ;) From there we picked up more steam and I was really happy with how he did.  Not only that, but I he showed really good focus with a bunch of his toys strewn about the carpet.  Good puppy!  Yesterday I decided to do a third session of this, but using the aerobic step this time.

He's such a good puppy!  Now I'll start slowly adding in bits of difficulty.  Probably starting with me increasing my distance from the aerobic step.  I'll probably also bring out the dog ramp that I have and practise a little with him on that.  He's just so much fun!!

Miley has a different take on doing 2 on 2 off when we train in the house.  Ideally, I want the dogs to learn to search for this position with their back feet.  Which means trying to shape them to back up into position.  Moving forward into this position is a lot simpler.  But teaching them to FIND this position is the trick.  Miley does not want to back into position regardless of what object I use or how I try to manipulate my position or treat placement to make backing up the quickest and easiest physical movement to do.  She's stuck in a similar pattern of circling (I'm assuming to visually place the object) and then searching for the object with her rear right foot.  I'm not sure if this is something that will get better as we're able to build confidence or if this is just a Miley thing.  I'm working with her on the aerobic step outside of doing the 2 on 2 off position, to build up her confidence on it in general and I'm hoping that will help.  Here's where we're currently at:

Working, working, working.  On the upside, Miley is kicking some ass at left turns and I actually have her heeling sideways with me!  The sideways heeling is still a little sloppy, but I'm really excited at how on it she is with these movements in particular.  When we work on heeling, there's this light in her eyes when she locks on to me that's totally addicting to see!