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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:44 pm 
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Yeah, that's right, all three of us agility and fly ball peeps ;) But I think having one place to periodically do progress checks would be really useful. Not only can it help with our own training, it could make a convenient resource for anyone considering a Lacy for dog sports. I'd love to encourage some serious agility competitors in my area to try Lacys, but I don't want to base all my advice off one dog. So I hope you can check in and start building a mini database.

Sadie
2.5-year-old female

Sport: Agility
Experience: Group class for 8 months
Strengths:
Speed - She is by far the fastest dog in our classes, even the distance course we are taking with experienced competition dogs. And she can turn on a dime. Even if we screw up, we'll never have trouble with course times.
Intelligence - She figures stuff out extremely quickly. She doesn't get confused by new things or slow down to think about it like some of the other dogs. We do it a couple times and she knows the drill.
Drive - She loves agility. When we get to the field, she wants to get to work and is happy to be there. I never have to coax her into doing something, the drive is always there.
Weaknesses:
Enthusiasm - Related to her drive, and it's a good thing, but we need to rein it in a bit. When doing a long course, she'll get so excited in the middle that she'll try to jump up on me and even nip me. I don't want to eliminate it or even tone it down, I just want to direct it properly.
Details - Again, given her drive and enthusiasm, it's no surprise the little details are harder to nail down. Why stop for a contact when you can just take a flying leap to get to the next obstacle even faster?!? Well, because you get a DQ for not touching the contact, even if you have the fastest time in the class.
What We're Working On Right Now:
Control - To get this blue tornado around a course, I need more control, especially from a distance. I think all of the little issues we are having would be 99% better with more handle. I'm trying to do that through increased focus and distance work.
Competing - The goal is late summer/early fall for our first trial. There are NADAC trials in August, September and October and a USDAA trial in October that I'm looking at.

Sport: Flyball
Experience: We stopped after four classes. Sadie had all the right moves, the trainers were thrilled with her speed, but it was not a good fit for her personality. Getting a dog with aggression issues revved up and then putting her in a triggering situation was just not safe for the dogs or the handlers. But I absolutely think a Lacy without that problem would kick total booty at flyball. That is one of the reasons I was so excited to see Chris and Remi get involved, they are going to open up a whole new world for Lacys!

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"You must be a very small minority no matter who you hang around with. Maybe you should start a magazine, Vegetarian Hog Dogging Monthly, find some like-minded individuals."
- Inspiration for my next project from TBH

True Blue Lacys: http://www.truebluelacys.com
More Lacy Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julieanna/sets/72157605027566732/


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:41 pm 
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We are about to leave for our second session. Tonight's goal?

Don't get kicked out!

I'll provide more details manana.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Excellent goal :-BD I can't wait to hear the story! And please take your wife with you to take pictures one week, we gotta see this.

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"You must be a very small minority no matter who you hang around with. Maybe you should start a magazine, Vegetarian Hog Dogging Monthly, find some like-minded individuals."
- Inspiration for my next project from TBH

True Blue Lacys: http://www.truebluelacys.com
More Lacy Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julieanna/sets/72157605027566732/


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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:35 am 
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I might have to solicit some help to get Ann there to take pictures :-?

But wow... where to start.

We were off working on having the dog come to your hand and touch it with your nose. The goal is to have them go through your legs, then wrap around and sit next to you. It's how to position them for the start of an agility course. She looked at the mass of spaghetti wrapped around me, and said "He's really going to get into this, isn't he?"

Uh huh... yep.

Then we started some crate work, and that's when she put up the special "Cannon fences" between his kennel and the ones on either side of his, so the other dogs could get into their kennels unmolested. I think the other dogs are thinking of the area around Cannon like the sea lions do in those Discovery Channel Shark Week films, running a gauntlet to get back to their island.

"Please don't kick us out, please don't kick us out" was running through my mind.

Cannon hadn't been in a crate for many months until last week, but while most of the other owners were luring their dogs into the crate with treats, Cannon was going in on command, and staying in until released. In and out, in and out... so long as there wasn't a gap in the fence to the next dog.

But the next exercise is when Cannon started to really show his Laciness. The goal was to get the dogs to sit when you touched the latch to open the crate. You touch the latch, the dog sits, you click, open and treat. The first time, you have to just wait until they sit, then reward that, and repeat until they get the idea. Well, it took Cannon literally about 20 seconds to figure that one out, and suddenly I was a human treat dispenser. Touch latch, he sits, click and treat, close the door. He immediately stands, I touch the latch, he sits, and I click and treat, close the door and he stands. Everyone was watching, and I was laughing like crazy as he just repeated the sequence over and over and over to get his little bits of raw pork, while the dog next to us was still standing up. Anita (the instructor) came over to see what was happening and ask how he was doing.

Jim: "He keeps standing up to do it again and get another treat"
Anita: "If he stands up, don't give him the treat. Just close the door and start over."
Jim: "No. He stands up -after- I give him the treat and close the door, so I'll do it again."
I demonstrated
Anita: "Oh, I see. He's quick!"

So while he is still a major disruption, he's also the star pupil :ymapplause: We had to move on to lengthening the time he sat with the door open before I clicked and treated. Of course I could have waited 5 minutes and, while he would have complained like mad ("unfair, unfair I'm sitting here and there is no reason I shouldn't get my treat and be let out!!"), he would have stayed put, because, for whatever reason, one of the things he is really good at is waiting for a release. Go figure.

Anyway, I'm really jazzed.

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 Post subject: Cannon Status Summary
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:53 am 
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We are in a "foundation" class that is intended to get the basic relationship and training methods down before even trying any of the actual agility skills. Two sessions so far, so these are currently just "initial impressions".

Cannon
1-year-old male (currently intact, but probably not for much longer!)

Sport: TBD; most likely one of the agility disciplines. I still don't understand all the flavors.
Experience: 2 sessions of a 6 week foundation class
Strengths:
Intelligence - He figures it out faster than I do, and then it's like "okay, what next?" I got the last homework done the first day after class, and then found other things to work on, like "eyes" and such (thanks Julie!). He cut through the second session exercises like he'd been doing them for years
Trainability - The first week homework stuff was getting him to step into something. A box, a hula hoop, etc. Once he figured that out with the first item, all I have to do is set some new thing down and show it a little interest, and there he is inside or on top of it. I can point to anything and he'll get on it. I can say the word "table" and he'll be on top of the table. We go past this flood irrigation structure on our walks. Doesn't matter how long since I've done it, but if I say "show me the irrigation" he will dutifully put his front paws on it. He loves to please, so long as it doesn't conflict with what he might consider a "higher priority". You know, like making sure he doesn't miss out on whatever the next dog over is doing.
Drive - Cannon loves anything that exercises his "inner dog". I -think- agility fits that, although the most amazing look on his face (and energy) still happens if I say "Find Ann!", which sends him off running at breakneck speed to hunt her down. She had gone inside last time I did that, so I had to open a door and let him race through the house to where she was. He is a real tracker at heart.
Weaknesses:
Distractions - Getting him to pay attention when there are other dogs doing interesting things is a real issue. I'm hoping that will calm down, but I'm not sure it will.
Argumentativeness - Cannon has that Lacy "If I don't like what you want me to do or think you aren't doing right by me, I'm going to get in your face and let you know." So sometimes he'll talk back, with great vigor, before deciding to do what I want him to.
What We're Working On Right Now:
Clicker Basics - Mostly me getting my timing down and directing his focus the right way and not making too many mistakes
Handling Distractions - I can't get him to forget about the other dogs in the class! Aaarrrggghhh!

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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:18 am 
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Jim you make me laugh. It sounds like the instructor just didn't realize that a dog could be that smart. :))

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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:38 am 
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Great story, Jim!! I would love to be able to watch all the goings on!! It has to be a hoot!!

I have been taking the 3 pups that are still here for a walk in the evening. They have to go thru a hole between the fence post and the cattle guard to get out of the yard. Lucy walks over the cattle guard, but Larry goes under it. The first time that they hit the cattle guard, they were running after Lucy, but came to a screeching halt after they hit the first bar of the cattle guard. Legs were going everywhere!! So, I took them and showed them the other way and then I got on the other side. All three of them scooted on under and out. It took them just that one time of going out and coming back to learn how to get on the other side. Now, when we go out walking, they head right straight for the hole!! These lacy dogs are incredible smart, but no one really understands that until they see one in action!!

Cant wait to hear more stories from you and the others on lacys and agility!!

Betty

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 Post Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:03 pm 
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Location: Maumelle, AR
Remi
11 month old female

Sport - Flyball

Experience - about 2 months

Strengths:
Intelligence/Trainability – She is very smart and is figuring out what I want from her very quickly.

Speed – At only 11 months she is the fastest dog out there. She is even faster than some of the veteran Border Collies!

Drive – Remi gets so incredibly pumped up for flyball class…she wants the tug so bad that she acts ferocious while she is pulling on it and about pulls me on my face when she hits it. I have gotten my hands in the way a few times and drawn blood. She even went after it last week and my leg was behind it…I swore she went to bone…but no blood that time! We have NO problems here!

Weaknesses:
Distractions – Every once in a while she won’t come straight to me and if she manages to jerk the tug from my hand, I have a hard time getting it back.

Exchanges – She has a problem with dropping the tennis ball too soon…before she clears the last hurdle, which in a competition would DQ her.

What We're Working On Right Now:
Exchanges – I need to learn to drop the tug down at the precise time and we just need more homework sessions…I think she’ll pick this up quick.

Recall – I’ve got a light 50 foot lead I let her drag around at parks and such...when I call her and she doesn’t come I step on it and enforce my command.

Targeting – I’m kinda slacking on this homework but I need to work on her speed coming back after she hits a target so eventually we can get her on the box.

Competing:
I would love to have her at a competition in 6 months or so…I truly believe that if any dog can

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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:20 am 
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Julie,

Remi and I are very excited to be one of the front runners of showing folks how flyball is supposed to be done...wide open at Lacy speed!!! B-)

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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:46 pm 
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Chris, you aren't one of the front runners, you are the front runner. My prediction is Remi will be the first Lacy to get a fly ball title :-BD

It is so cool seeing the patterns in our progress. It is obvious that speed and intelligence are the consistent strengths for Lacys in dog sports. They are very similar to the popular herding breeds like Border Collies in that regard, which is why I think they'll really excel. Of course they have the same difficulties as those breeds as well. Especially when you are just starting out and learning the sport yourself, it is really hard to outrun and outsmart a Lacy!

I think you guys will notice that the problems you have with distractability now will evolve into the issues I have with nailing the details. These dogs are so fast and enthusiastic, it can be hard to keep them totally focused. It has gotten to the point for me that Sadie will do well in the beginning of a course, but somewhere in the middle going fast is just too much fun and she gets too worked up. It doesn't happen every time, but it is definitely a challenge.

Of course one of our biggest problems is handler error :ymblushing: I know the dogs are doing the work, but learning to do it right myself ain't easy! Timing is everything with Sadie, and she is so sensitive to my mistakes, she definitely gets me busted if I screw up.

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"You must be a very small minority no matter who you hang around with. Maybe you should start a magazine, Vegetarian Hog Dogging Monthly, find some like-minded individuals."
- Inspiration for my next project from TBH

True Blue Lacys: http://www.truebluelacys.com
More Lacy Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julieanna/sets/72157605027566732/


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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:11 pm 
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We watched the Incredible Dog Challenge that just showed recently, and even at that level, you see the handler errors that make all the difference. It was especially apparent for one quick little dog on the agility course. The handler just couldn't keep up. The dog would either look back to see what the handler wanted her to do, or go past the obstacle (penalty!) because the handler wasn't there in time. The winner's owner (small dogs) was a fast guy, dressed for the effort and even in a knee support, that managed to stay up with his dog. We owners need to train too!

I think I figured out one thing with Cannon, because I've seen it both sessions. Towards the end, he will just start ignoring the treats and stare off at the other dogs. I thought he was just really interested in the other dogs. But why would he be more interested at the end, than at the beginning? I think he just got to the point where he said "enough". The value of the treats (by then he had a lot) wasn't enough to keep him going towards the end of an hour of training which started at his normal 'settle down for the night' time. And I realized he wasn't pulling to get to the dogs as he does at the beginning. He was just sitting there, staring, letting me know he was through.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:45 pm 
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When Remi is finished...she stops listening and heads straight for the pond.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:34 am 
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Last night was session #3, and you could really see the whole operant-conditioning/clicker-training approach kicking in big time. One of the big things it does is to encourage the dog to figure things out himself. You don't teach a command; you encourage desired behaviors, and don't encourage undesired behaviors. So there can be fairly long periods of time waiting for your dog to figure out what it is that will be rewarded.

Well, for the other owners, anyway. :ymdevil:

There is nothing like this kind of training to separate the dogs whose owners think they are smart from the dogs that are smart enough to think for themselves. ;) And we all know which category our Lacys fit into.

The biggest breakthrough last night was having Cannon working off leash with other dogs around. And I never once had to do the Disney routine of chasing him around the place trying to tackle him! He is gradually getting accustomed to being around the other dogs in his class, with only the occasional need to try to start a play-date. :x He was only really distracted at the start. Our class overlaps with a Masters class, and having dogs he doesn't know running around and jumping over things ("Right over there, jim! You see them having fun?! Right over there!") is a bit much for him. It's far more interesting than a little piece of pork, even though I had him half-starved for the class.

Good grief he is smart. The best example from last night was some individual work, and the instructor of course chose the one thing we had not done.. not done at all. :- I was out of town over the weekend, and so our practice time was limited. I never worked on the "send" we were supposed to do using a food pouch. Heck, I even forgot to start feeding him with that pouch to make sure he was interested in it. But I watched the first team (a little border terrier that is the only dog in class that is learning anything near as quickly as Cannon) do it, so I at least knew what we were supposed to do. We were up next, and I had Cannon sit, walked out maybe 15 feet, put the pouch down, went back to Cannon, and told him "get it". It was like we'd worked on it all week. Not the kind of thing a Lacy is going to have a problem doing: going to get something with food in it. LOL.

We also don't do crate work during the week, since I leave his crate at the agility place (lazy lacy owner!). But I had him sitting in the crate with the door open while I meandered all over the place. He'd come out when released, and head right back in on request. Superstar! Next is to be able to do that without the crate. I didn't tell the instructor that I have him sit at home while a walk 150' out to close the front gate, which I do so he can't get out. :-? I then either walk all the way back with him still there, or call to release him after the gate is closed.

What we are working on now is the fundamentals that will be shaped into the agility skills. Sitting right where you want, facing the right way and holding it during big distractions. Releasing with a big burst from that position to get started on the course. Getting on mats that will become contacts.. being sent out and brought back. Reacting only to verbal cues and not handler movements, which is a big problem for me since I've been using so many non-verbal cues! =;

I wish I'd started the clicker training, and the fundamentals, long ago!

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:16 am 
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Just a small update... Remi's leg is back 100%! We are starting box/wall work this weekend...I don't have a doubt that she will pick this up fast!

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:01 am 
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WOOT :-BD I'm so glad Remi is feeling better. She is going to totally rock the box. I got up to wall work with Sadie and she could push off so fast with so much power.

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"You must be a very small minority no matter who you hang around with. Maybe you should start a magazine, Vegetarian Hog Dogging Monthly, find some like-minded individuals."
- Inspiration for my next project from TBH

True Blue Lacys: http://www.truebluelacys.com
More Lacy Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julieanna/sets/72157605027566732/


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