Training Blog

So much training so little time! 

I know I have not been updating my blogs very well. I have just returned from Camp Gone to the Dogs Summer Camp, marking the end of a very busy spring season for me. I am hoping to get back to some more regular updates on each of the blogs but I am also considering combining them all into one page. I am going to update you on exactly where I am in training of each dog on their web page today.

The Beginning of Blogs! 

I have never done a blog before and it has been a number of years since I kept any training records. In the past, when there was a clear end to the agility and outside obedience trial season, I was very good at setting goals before each trailing season and coming up with a training plan to help me reach those goals. I had a big binder that had pages for each of my dogs. On those pages I would attach a bunch of 3x5 cards. On the first page I would list all the accomplishments and major training successes I had with that dog all listed in some fancy ink color to remind me how important they were. The next page would list any goals that had not been met along with the reason or obstacles that prevented us from meeting that goal. The next page would have a list of all the future goals for that dog. These goals were separated into short term goals and long term goals and listed in order of priority or importance to us as a team. As the year would progress I could check off things that had been completed and add things that may have cropped up. It was very nice when we met a goal to come in and get out the binder and celebrate with the dog as we checked off the goal as done and checked out all the things we had accomplished so far that year. These goals were very detailed and very few of them had anything to do with getting titles, with the exception of my more advanced dogs. Those goals that were title oriented were set more for me to remind me of what venue or activity was to be the main focus for entries for that dog. The final pages were than an action plan for how to accomplish each of those goals, sort of a record of what I should be doing and a reference for what had been tried in the past. These action plans would change as I found things that were working or not for that problem and that dog. I think this record keeping process was very helpful and aided the success of my older dogs. It has been 4 years or so since I have been really committed to starting a new dog and this practice of record keeping has gone away. I have still set my own goals each year but have not tracked those dogs progress toward those goals.
As 2008 comes to an end I want to try to get back into the habit of setting goals and tracking my training toward those goals. In today’s world I thought a blog may be a very good way to do this and share my experiences with others. This is also a really good time for me to do so because I am beginning to training some new dogs and also starting some new activities. I am going to attempt to keep these updated so I have a real good record of my dogs’ progress. . If I get really good at this maybe I will also include a log of my students (with names protected) progress throughout the upcoming year. When I was first considering setting this up as a blog my first thought was to separate things by activity so I could go look at all the things I had done in one sport, but I decided against that as it would be harder for me to set and track each dogs’ goals and progress. I will continue to track things by dog. So to bring you up to speed on each dog here is a little background on them:
Dixie is my older female golden retriever and as we start his blog she is almost nine years old and has been a great agility dog. Dixie is a very easy dog to train. She is easy going and very easy to pump up. She does not mind being wrong and is willing to do things over until she gets it right. She lacks some self control which has caused start line and contact issues. She has earned her MACH, ADCH, NATCH and Silver MEX titles. She has numerous other agility titles along the way. We have been privileged enough to have appeared on TV several times including competing at the eastern regional’s of the Incredible Dog Challenge. She has also done major agility demo’s including the National Dog Show and an appearance on the Today Show. She now two legs toward her RE in Rally Obedience and recently completed her CD. As we get started here she is starting to work on MACH 2 needing 19 QQ’s and NO points. At her age she is still very competitive in the large 20” division in AKC. She needs 13 standard Q’s for her Gold Merit of Excellence in DOCNA (an agility organization). If she can get those in a timely fashion she will be the first dog to earn that title (she is currently the only Silver MEX dog).BTW she is also serving as my 11 year old son’s training dog, as she has finished the various parts of her gold title in DOCNA he has taken over handling her in each class. I am also hoping to finish her RE soon. I have not decided if we will beyond that in Rally as we have not really spent much time training her for rally or obedience. She is starting dumbbell work to prepare for her CDX and she has recently started tracking training so she has something fun to do in her senior years. I think tracking will be very good way for her and I to go out and have a healthy, safe activity to do together. I have never done tracked before so it is something new for us to do together.
Drifter is my male golden retriever will be six years old in May. He is an extremely smart dog but lacks some common sense. I was unable to train him in agility while he was young because he had no respect for his or anyone else’s body. I have decided to pull him from agility for now because he still has problems making good and safe decisions. It is like his mind is way ahead of his body. He also does not like being wrong so in agility when he has choices to make he tries to do everything at one time to cover his bases. He really enjoys the little bit of obedience and rally training we have done. He has picked up a few agility titles along the way and earned his RN late this year. He has also earned one Q toward his RA. He needs a lot more work to really get him ready for the rally or obedience ring but once he is prepped I think he will be very good. He has also recently started tracking training.
Disco is an almost 15 month old Border collie mix. He came to us from a family member who found out the wrong way that this type of dog needs a job in life and should not be considered a lay around the house lap dog. He came to live with us this summer. It has taken me a long time to warm up to him as I really wanted to get a new golden puppy this year to start training as my next agility dog. He is a very intense and loyal dog. He has chosen me as his person. He came with and still has lots of basic behavior problems. While he has yet to be in his own class yet he has shown that he is a very willing and serious worker. He is an extremely fast dog but lacks any real obstacle commitment point or focus yet. He made a fairly successful DOCNA agility debut a couple of weeks ago earning 4 Q’s in his first weekend. The trial setting also exposed some new training issues to work on. I knew he was not really ready to trial and was very proud of the work he did.
Dynamite is our 20 month old female chocolate roan cocker spaniel. She has only done a foundation agility class and some basic obedience with Debbie. This was an extremely busy year for me teaching classes and traveling to judge and my young dogs training really paid a price. I have been doing tracking at home with her for three weeks and she is awesome at it. She went to her first class today and ended up running the more advance track, a short track with a couple 90 degree turns and no food drops. She really gets into tracking and of my dogs is by far the most intense tracker so far. I am hoping this will build or bond and get her started in training for other things.
Daphine is also a 20 month old red and white cocker girl, she is not Dynamite’s real sister but they think so. Daphine has also done some foundation agility work and some basic obedience with Debbie. I have been taking her with me to recent trials and getting her some much needed socialization and personal time with dad. She has also been going to my Monday night classes and hanging out with me during my breaks. She is very toy motivated and ball crazy. I also started her tracking three weeks ago and she seems to really enjoy it. She is a little less intense than Dynamite but loves the game and finding the cookies.
I do have several other older dogs but none of them is doing any formal training right now. To view a dog's blog click on their name.