Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Howl-idays!

And a Merry Catmas too! Pepper doesn't like to wear Christmas outfits but he sure does love the snow. We took a few days off to enjoy the snow and my family. A new video will be posted soon as the wild beast gets back to work.
He is being such a trooper with the antlers on.

Snow dog (or snow beast)!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow Dog Day

Oh my gawd snow! A dog in the snow! Snow dogs in the snow! Showy snow dogs doing tricks in the snow!

Isn't he the cutest? He hopped right up on the bench because he hadn't had his dinner yet and the treats today were too good to be true.

Now he is in the grass! Good snow dog!

More snow and grass!

Whats that?!

Just more snow and grass and woods.

Is it time to get on with the post? Ok. Only one more photo. Too snowy. Too adorable.

I finally got a call back on the job interview I had. They didn't hire me. Sigh... Back to waitressing and dog training. The snow was a total plus side today. The ground is freezing up so there shan't be anymore mud and dirt everywhere in the house. Plus Pepper looks really handsome with the snow in the background.

We are working on "here" and "go" commands. "Go" is to go to a jump away from me. "Here" is for calling him back to me over an obstacle. He did pretty well. The over excitement about the snow and treats made him get a little nippy for the treats. He also did a bunch of jumps without me asking and jumped off the bench when I wasn't looking.

The snow finally makes an appearance and so does the snow dog!

Edit:  Agility class starts on January 8th! I might be getting the class as part of my Christmas present (I asked for it) or I will be pulling from my savings. I really want to get started with the official practice because Pepper really needs to learn to work with me around other dogs and people. The backyard is great but it doesn't have enough distractions and our practice lacks the structure of a class. I'm super excited about that. There is also a dog show coming up that features the "My Dog Can Do That!" program. You bring your properly vaccinated dog to the show, walk him about, and then do a little agility training. All sorts of stuff coming up in the new year. Yay 2013!  :D

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Train Jumps

Our very first how-to-do-it post! Jump training is something that you can do in your backyard even if its super tiny. Jumps take up very little space and a super important part of any agility course. The jumps I have are made out of 1" PVC pipe bought at the local Lowes. 10 feet of PVC costs $2.37 around here so its very economical. The various connectors available are a huge plus too. I will definitely make a post about how to build our special jumps with the unique "no cheating bar" later.

The jump bar is held up by 4 and a half inch bolts. The bar will roll off pretty easily if it is bumped. This is important for safety. If he hit the jump and the bar was attached, he could knock the whole jump over and hurt himself.

The jump can be positioned for the clockwise rotation or counterclockwise rotation. There are also holes to move the jump up or down to different jump heights. One of our jumps is at 16" and the others are currently positioned at 20".

Last but not least, we have the trainer video! All kinds of good stuff going on today. Special thanks to Pepper for being my handsome assistant and for my younger sister Susan for being the videographer.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week 3 Update

Woo-hoo! A video finally. I apologize for the long wait. Here are some excuses: I am still learning about iMovie/finals have been coming up/I have no money for Christmas or gas/I need a new job/I have an interview on Tuesday/I'm stressed out. I did edit together Pepper's progress video for this week though.

The process actually takes a while because I have to get the videos and photos taken, transfer them to the PC ...upload... save them to a special folder, preview and select the best of the best, transfer them to a zip drive, zip drive them to my laptop, edit, paste, BLOG! Amidst studying and trying to see that Hobbit movie I was a little busy. Tomorrow are my last finals though so I will be back in no time with training for real.

You will see in this video that it looks remarkably like summertime. I assure you it is still December but Michigan has not produced even an inch of snow. Today it was a comfortable 50 degrees. How am I supposed to ski in this weather?

Pepper and I need to switch up where the weave poles are in the yard. Not only am I wearing a trail in the grass but I would like to switch up my "circle". I keep doing the same rotation for each video. Even when I try and switch it up it looks the same! When I come into some money (SOON! We can only hope) I will get on those new obstacles.

P.S. That Hobbit movie was really long but also really good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lazy Dog Day

Instead of doing lots of work in the backyard we did a little something different. Pep, my mom, and I all went for a walk on some school grounds. The school has quite a few unused acres and is practically empty on weekends. My mom takes Pepper to play there pretty often with his dog friend Maggie. Maggie is a German Short Hair Pointer and is built like a small pony. My mom has once remarked, "That is one big bitch!" The dogs love to romp around the big grassy space. There are little thickets for Maggie to hide in. Pepper has the upper hand on the grass but Maggie is so tall that she has the advantage in the thickets.

Here they are last year in the little snow.

They are such good friends!

 Maggie loves treats more than Pepper, believe it or not. If you don't believe me you should have been there today. She picked the plastic bag of treats out of my mom's pocket and ate it. Plastic bag included. Apparently she has done this more than once and the bag will "pass"... Gross!

Lazy dog!
After we had a great time at the park Pepper and I took a rest. Look how cute he is on the couch. We did do a little weave and jump work today. I am also now working with my uncle's dog Minnie. I'm teaching her the electric fence and how to walk nice a leash among other basic commands. She already knew sit and we worked on drop it today. She loves tennis balls. Drop it seemed like the best way to go. I hope to get some photos of her tomorrow and obviously a Week 3 Update Video for Peppy!

On another note, I had my first final today. Went pretty well and don't expect my others to be so terrible. I'm trying to study a lot so I'm sorry about not posting the Week 3 Video today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Less Lean, More Work To Do

I took the lean out of the weave poles. There is still a 2" channel so we aren't weaving completely but its pretty close! We are going to have to slowly move the poles closer and closer until it is in a straight line. Pepper has had a few errors the first couple times but we are doing alright by my judgement.

From here:

To here:

See how much straighter everything is? Its a lot more work for Pepper to move through that! In other news, Pepper has made himself at home in the tunnel.

Nothing is cuter than that. Nothing! Except maybe a video of how he is doing. He looks handsome the entire time. Even when he messed up. Oops...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weave Been Practicing

Get it? Weave poles? Yeah, anyway...

Yesterday my sister got some really good videos of Pepper and me. But only after I fell on my butt and got dirt all over my yoga pants.

Those rocks right next to the hoop jump are hazardous! Remember to always set up your home course in a way that won't put you in danger. This means look out for rocks. I learned the hard way.

Pepper was really only interested in the treats in my pocket. Treat hound... Yesterday was an explosion of good work on the weave poles. I was really impressed! He even has that one foot thing going for a little bit. Sometime next week I am going to put the pole completely upright. They are still 2 inches off the center line so there would be a channel but no lean. All steps in the right direction. Check out our video!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Collar Confusion

Not every collar can be used doing an AKC agility trial. Pepper has two collars. The first is a flat buckle leather collar that is used strictly for agility practice. The second is his everyday collar. The everyday collar has all his information on it. This is the collar we walk him with and goof around in the yard with. His everyday collar is considered a training collar. Its great for walks and obedience. The flat buckle collar is used for training because it can't get caught on anything.  It also low profile and won't choke him when he is on a leash in the ring.  Its safe and good practice to work your dog in the collar you are going to use in class and agility trials.

Flat Buckle Agility Collar
 Everyday "Training" Collar

He has an awful lot of "jingles" on his everyday collar. Two have phone numbers on them, one is a pink bow, and the other is a Michigan State charm. He loves to rep his team on his jaunts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Still Rainy. Still Practicing.

 Today was just some more basic agility work. We ran the weave poles pretty well. I don't have to put my hand in there very often anymore which is AMAZINGGGGG. In other news, Pepper is busy learning the name of the equipment. I can tell him tunnel and 8/10 times he actually goes through it. I had to start by putting a treat at the end of the tunnel and now I can just stand next it with a command. Other than that, pretty standard day. I keep wishing for cooler weather. When the ground hardens up, I won't slip around on the mud and such. The thing I am now getting concerned about is snow and ice making it dangerous for us to do contact obstacles. If winter continues like this, then all we will have to worry about is the rain. Gross.

Doesn't he look excited to do the hoop?
 Got a little bit of wiggle room here.
 I can haz a treat, noa, plzzzzz?

And now our video for week 2 overall! Enjoy.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Photos in the Rain

Today we did some work on the weaves and jumps, the usual. I also have pictures of the equipment we're using! Those photos will go onto the "About Agility" page. It was a rainy day and our camera is a 4 year old digital camera. When spring rolls around I'm going to upgrade to the iPhone 5 and take super cool panorama shots of Pepper so just bear with me til then. And pray for better weather, On with the photos!

Tire Jump, 20"
 Standard Jump, 20"
Weave Pole Work- 6 poles
 I promise he isn't fat. Some of the photos are deceiving because of his puffy coat. His hair frizzes out with the rain and the humidity. Today was 60degrees, foggy, with drizzle rain. Not good for his look at all!

The Tire Jump Makes an Appearance!

Ta-da! An updated video of Pepper and me. This video shows him doing 9" jumps, the weave poles, and the new tire jump! I have since altered the tire jump to make sure he doesn't sneak along the sides of it. Obviously we need some work on the weave poles. I am hoping the class in January will gives us lots of time to practice the weave poles.

Right now I am planning on building a teeter or dog walk next. I have yet to decided which one we should start with. The dog walk would give us time to work on contacts with a stable surface but it is expensive to build! The teeter is less expensive but it is also more difficult to master teetering and contact at the same time. I'm going to work super duper hard this week at the restaurant so we shall see. If I make the big bucks, I will post photos of us working on the dog walk. If I make less, then we will have to work on the teeter. If I make only like 20 dollars, then I will post about us doing our regular work.

Moral of the story: Tip your waitress well this week, it might be me attempting to make enough cash for Christmas and agility!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our first couple days of training were done on a makeshift course. The jumps were made from paint cans and brooms. At this point he was jumping about 6 inches. Now we can jump 20!

We are still working on the weave poles. I am trying a combination of the "channel" and "lean" method. I will post a photo of the weave poles I am using tomorrow. We are practicing on driveway/snow markers. They come in bright colors and can be stuck into the ground at different angle and widths. We are running a slightly channeled, slightly leaned, 24" spaced weave course. We have a lot of work to do on the weaves. But so far so good!