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Frogs & Dogs

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Everything posted by Frogs & Dogs

  1. An agility friend once told me that other breeds work because they love their handlers, but BC's love their handlers because they let them work.
  2. Kit has incredible coordination with her front paws. She will take a treat toy and hold it over her head, letting gravity empty it into her mouth. She can hold it there for minutes at a time while she chews. And she uses her dew claws to help manipulate it. On a hot summer's day, she also bobs for her ball in the water buckets at the dog park. She purposely throws it in, and then dunks her whole head under in an attempt to grab it. Once she gets it, though, she drops it right back in. She looks pretty ridiculous when she's done with this game: sopping wet from the neck up, but otherwise dry.
  3. I also tried it once. It was really fun to watch how the sighthounds' style differed from that of my BC mix. As the lure bounced along the ground, Kit was anticipating its every move and adjusting her course accordingly. Also, once the lure stopped moving, she lost interest immediately and didn't even touch it, whereas the sighthounds ripped the bag to shreds every time.
  4. BC's are often billed as versatile, because they excel at so many things. Mine competes in two sports, and will start a third soon. But the limit of her versatility is as a therapy dog. Wiggly and bouncy with an almost obsessive need to administer kisses to any and all human faces - she'd be the worst ever therapy dog. Good thing I never wanted anything like that for her.
  5. Around here the judges joke that the dogs are required to run naked, but they prefer the handlers to wear clothes.
  6. I didn't read all the replies, so I'm not sure if this was already said. But Fido's Farm caught my eye. I've been there once for a disc dog event! Actually, there's a huge, active disc dog club in Washington. It's called WOOFD2 (Washington Owners of Flying Disc Dogs). You might consider attending an event or two in the spring to meet some BC's and see them in action.
  7. Wow, that sounds familiar! I agree with the other posters who said every dog will be different. I expected my BC mix to be slightly less intense than a purebred BC, because that's what I was told she'd be. But as it turned out, she's actually a lot more intense than a lot of purebred BC's I've met thru sports. Build in an off-switch, though, and it's completely manageable. Really I think it comes down to whether that intensity is something you're going to want in your life. If you could do without it, don't go the BC route.
  8. My thoughts exactly! I compete in NADAC agility, and I'm lucky to live in an area where NADAC, CPE, and USDAA are popular, and AKC is not. In a year or two I will move away from this area, and I don't know where I'll be going. Wherever it is, though, I will not support AKC, even if that means giving up agility.
  9. It's probably been over a year since I've visited here, but I came back, and I have updates! Kit is her same happy, healthy, bouncy self. Nearly three years after adopting her from a shelter, I still wonder how I lucked into such a fabulous first dog. She's crazy enthusiastic about anything and everything I can dream up for us to do. Her drive blows me away. And then there's her smile... We compete in disc during the summer. Here's a pic of us that was published in the local newspaper last summer: We also take weekly agility classes and compete in NADAC trials year-round. We recently earned our novice versatility title, but we're going for novice superiors before moving up. We're getting close to superiors in tunnelers and weavers (of all things!). Here's a video of our first weavers run: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuTX3oNIQZs We will also be starting nosework in January. As with everything else, I suspect she will love this. Needless to say, after just one, I'm hooked on BC's (or mixes thereof) for life. It'll be many years before I succumb to the impulse to get another (geez, how would I keep up with another Kit?), but when I do, I'll be lucky if I can find one with half the heart she has.
  10. My experience has been that there seems to be a bit of a misconception about rescue dogs in my area: many people I meet (even those who have rescued in the past) seem to think that all rescue dogs necessarily have issues. I compete in disc with my rescued BC mix, Kit, and we are also getting close to trialing in agility. She is incredibly drivey and intelligent, but with relatively good focus on me and no fear whatsoever. Additionally, she loves all people, all dogs, toys, and anything even resembling food. Unless you count exuberance as an issue, she's pretty much devoid of problems. Although she is very clearly a mutt, I get asked all the time where in the world I found such a dog. People are generally shocked when I say "a shelter". They usually proceed to tell me how lucky I am to have found a dog without issues in a shelter. Now I will be the first to admit that I was picky when I chose her - I am a first time dog owner and I knew I didn't have the experience it takes to deal with issues such as aggression and fear. But I maintain that luck only played a small role in it: continued training and hard work is a much bigger part of it, along with being picky in the first place. Despite what a lot of folks I've met seem to think, there are plenty of dogs in rescues that are not yesterday's trash - undersocialized, fearful, and fraught with health issues. Many of them, BC's in particular, may be going a little stir-crazy in a shelter situation, and that may make them appear as if they would make unsuitable prospects as pets or anything else (as was the case for Kit). But with a little work, I maintain that carefully selected rescue dogs can be more than just great pets. I support one's right to purchase a dog from a breeder, but I doubt I'll ever do it. As strongly as I believe in rescue, though, I think it's kind of rude to go around asking complete strangers if their dogs were rescued. That's sort of like saying "Are you catholic?"
  11. Thread's a little old, but I'm just seeing it now and thought I'd add my two cents... I think that "women's work" is indeed coming back into style now. Young women still want their careers, but many are choosing to spend their free time doing activities mentioned here. I'm 25 and am pursuing a PhD in Zoology. Most of my free time is spent with Kit, but once she's tuckered out, I enjoy knitting (see attached pic), dyeing wool, gardening, and buying food at the local farmer's market. I also cook and bake a lot: I try to make something new and interesting every week using only vegan ingredients.
  12. Get some paper, a pen, and put all his toys in a big pile. Rank them from 1 to whatever based on how obsessed he about each one. Starting with the lowest-value toy, work on "leave it" and other games. Maybe practice tricks and use this toy as a reward. When he can successfully work and think around that toy, exchange it for the next highest on the list. Eventually you should be able to get any trick in his repertoire with any toy as a reward. The real test is teaching new tricks using high-value toys as the reward.
  13. A favorite at our agility class is string cheese. It's very conveniently packaged and you can just tear off small pieces when you need them. No need to cut it up ahead of time, and less chance of dropping pieces all over the place. I buy 12 or 24 packs and just store it in the freezer. Natural Balance rolls are good, if you're willing to do some chopping. You can cut them up into long skinny pieces ahead of time and then just break them apart when you're ready. Another of my favorites is salmon treats: 1 can of salmon 1 tbsp oil (any kind) 1 egg 1 cup flour (any kind) Mix ingredients, roll out dough, and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, flipping in between. You want them slightly moist, not hard as rocks. Warning: Don't make these when housemates are around - they're stinky!! Kit's all time favorite treat, though, is popcorn. I don't give it often, and usually not more than a couple of kernels. I do stove-top and give her a few pieces before I season/butter mine, so hers has nothing but a little veggie oil on it.
  14. I'm a PhD student in Zoology and I study amphibians (frogs). In the past couple of years, since adopting Kit, I've become somewhat obsessed with dogs. Just thought Frogs and Dogs was cute, since it rhymes. On another forum, I'm GottaLuvMutts, but that didn't seem to make much sense on a breed-specific forum like this.
  15. A blessing and a curse, for sure!!! My instructor is always going on about how it's a good thing that I'm young and fit so that I can at least have some hope of keeping up with Kit, although I know darn well that I'll never actually be able to. The one time I tried, I landed flat on my face. I blamed the wet grass, though Seriously, though, Kit was clocked at 27mph with a radar gun, so I'm just going to have to learn to handle more efficiently. You have a really good point about finding an instructor who has experience training a fast dog. Our normal instructor doesn't, as far as I can tell, but a good friend of mine does. He helps us out on occasion, and his advice is usually better than what I can get out of the instructor. Actually, Kit's probably only half BC and I didn't get her with sports in mind. I just wanted a dog with enough drive to play fetch at the park. I got her from a shelter at 7 months, and after a couple of months here, she started showing some real talent (speed, drive, flexibility, jumping ability, intelligence). As people started to notice, I sort of stumbled into the world of dog sports. Last month, we took 1st place in the Sport and Open divisions (novice class) at the NW Regional Skyhoundz championship (playing disc a.k.a frisbee). Agility success is slower, for sure, but we'll get there. Even though I didn't get Kit specifically to play sports, I'm sure glad she does, and I wouldn't diminish the drive at all, even if I could.
  16. First, let me apologize that I forgot all about this thread. My last visit to the BC boards was a while ago, so kudos to you guys for keeping this going while I was falling asleep on the job! Sometimes I leave for a while, but I'm never really gone. To respond to a few comments... MrSnappy: I guess I am trying to slow her down because the instructor wants us to have more control. I didn't realize that speed would be hard to get back if we temporarily put it aside. I'll keep that in mind. Regarding the instructors calling her over obstacles, I agree with you 100%. It's SO annoying. Again, the class is tailored towards dogs with less drive - dogs that need to be encouraged to do the obstacles by any means necessary. Everyone sort of gets lumped together, even though I'm facing very different (but no less serious) issues. I'm starting to see the wisdom in running Kit silently. I feel like at this point we don't have the experience to do that yet (she's not going to know where to go next when her 27mph self gets ahead of me), but we'll get there eventually. AgileBC: "Zen game", staying in the crate with an open door, and waiting for a release in front of an open door are all things we've worked on and mastered. Same for tug toy games and ball games (not allowed to retrieve it until released). Targeting is something we started at the beginning of agility class, and by the second week we had everyone in stitches because Kit was not only doing it, but was doing it was such gusto that she was purposely rearing up and pouncing on the target, and then looking up expectantly for her treat. I guess the trainer prefers to use herself rather than the target as something to drive towards because some dogs don't find targets particularly enticing. As far as progress... Right now I feel like our progress has mostly stalled. Same tired story: my issues aren't being addressed because they're very different than the issues that other class participants are dealing with. We're definitely going to be moving to a better facility within the next couple of weeks, and if I'm really lucky, we may be switching instructors as well. We seem to have gained a little more control over the enthusiasm surrounding the teeter - I think that was the worst - we just needed 5 minutes alone with the teeter an no one else there to hold it steady or offer treats. As it turned out, the instructor with treats was the source of all excitement. Remove that and the teeter turned into no big deal. Contact zones are coming along nicely. I've heard that that's key for a drivey, speedy dog - slows them down like nothing else. Footwork in the weaves is gorgeous, and with nice speed to boot. I've started removing the guides. I was pleased to discover a few weeks ago that we've mastered serpentine movements with sets of 3 hoops/jumps. More than anything, I think Kit has learned that if she went over/thru the last one from left to right, that the next one should be right to left (as opposed to watching me for cues), but still, she's doing it, and with nice speed, too. If anyone knows of some control exercises that haven't been mentioned here yet, I'd be anxious to hear them.
  17. The last pic and its caption made me LOL. Congrats on the new addition!
  18. Kit will be 2yo tomorrow (!) and is very high drive. Maybe only medium energy, though. Right now we have disc class on Mon nights, agility on Tues nights, then a break on Wed, we play disc on Thurs, break on Fri, and often a disc competition on the weekend. I keep training sessions short (about 10 mins) and give plenty of water/walking breaks. Sometimes I'll throw in a little agility training in the backyard on a day off, but it's short and easy because I don't have a huge area or a ton of equipment. I find that freestyle tricks are an easy way to wear Kit out mentally without having to worry about the stress/strain of too much jumping. We probably do 5mins/day of freestyle tricks, and she probably knows 25 or so. 100 is a great goal, but how do you think up that many tricks? I'm already resorting to arcane tricks like cross-paws (both ways), chorus-line kicks, jumping over my airplane arms (while kneeling), etc.
  19. Yeah, neither did Kit. It took me a year to get her to the point where I could actually take her to agility class in the first place. Sounds like a long time, but I'm a first-time dog owner and didn't really understand what I was getting myself into when I adopted her. I'm not one to give up, though, and we're learning together. As pammyd said, a dog with this sort of drive is hard work. It's a darn good thing she doesn't try these shenanigans at home anymore. In some ways, I'm probably overstating the case for how bad this problem is. Kit is absolutely loving agility, and I love doing it with her. Our instructor keeps threatening to dog-nap her. She has incredible speed even while I'm trying my hardest to slow her down. She usually follows my cues pretty darn well, which often surprises me and the instructor, consider how amped up she is. I think part of my frustration is that we're sort of in a unique situation in our beginners class. The other dogs in the class need encouragement (in the form of food, praise, etc.) to get them to do the obstacles, and since they're in the majority, the class is geared toward them. On the other hand, Kit's combination of very high drive and zero fear means that she thinks every piece of equipment is the best thing she's ever seen - there's no chance of her missing that hoop, going around that jump, or balking on the teeter. When we're lined up in front of an obstacle, I need to start INSISTING (to the instructor/assistant) that I get a second of impulse control out of her BEFORE they start calling from the other end of the set of obstacles to get her attention and encourage her to come. Their presence there is enough enticement in itself. If I did it their way, I'd be hanging onto the collar for dear life while she lunged at the equipment frantically until I finally let go, at which time she would do everything perfectly and in record time, get fed, and walk away having learning nothing - NOT GOOD! Our instructor keeps telling me that a local agility guru who I know fairly well started out with a very high drive dog, just like Kit. Now his dog is 7 and absolutely amazing. Still high drive, but so focused that they're my favorite team to watch at trials. His method of keeping the dog under threshold is not something that I see often, but maybe that's because I'm still new to the sport. He remains very quiet throughout the whole run, only saying the dogs name calmly when he needs to get her attention. Everything else is hand signals and body language only. She's wicked fast, and considering the speed, fairly accurate, too. I wonder if I'll have to learn to stay silent to get Kit to stay under threshold. *Unearthing CU now.*
  20. Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Class went a little better this week. I started by arriving 10 mins early so that we could do some control exercises in the parking lot and on the way to the agility field. She was relatively calm most of the way - we'll keep working on that. During class she was still VERY interested in running over to the assistant to jump on her, but she minded me pretty well with a little management. I think part of the problem here is that the instructor and assistant reward with cheese (yum!) to motivate all the other dogs, whereas I reward with the lowest-value treats possible (cheerios and dog food), just to keep her under threshold. So naturally, she's looking toward them when her attention should be on me. But if I upgrade to cheese, then we'll really have problems. We are working on getting contact performances solid. There are certain pieces of equipment that she realizes have a contact zone at the end (A-frame, dog walk), and certain ones where she's still learning that (teeter). I have a ramp in the backyard with a target plate at the end, and she never blows a contact on that thing. I own a copy of Control Unleashed. From my readings, it seemed to be geared toward fearful and/or reactive dogs, which Kit is not. However, I didn't get all the way through it (yet). Will give it a second look. I've never heard of Shaping Success, so I might check that out, too. Alaska, I like your suggestion of throwing a toy behind the dog to get them thinking about what you want as opposed to how much they want that obstacle in front of them. Kit quivers with excitement at the start line, and it would be nice to tone down the anticipation a little bit. I've done a few "fake out" exercises with her where I'll put her at the start line and give the hand signal for stay. Then I say "ready, ready, ready...." and do/say everything possible except the release ("okay") to see if I can get her to break the sit. She's pretty good at this game at home, but I'm thinking it wouldn't work as well in class (too amped up). I might give it a try next week.
  21. There have been a couple of threads recently on motivating our dogs to do sports. I sort of have the opposite problem, and wanted to see if anyone had advice for me. Kit has an awesome off switch, and for that I'm thankful. But when she's on, she ON. She finds EVERYTHING is motivating: any kind of food, the chance to interact with a person (even if they're trying to ignore her), tug toys, other dogs, discs, agility equipment, literally anything. This sounds great, but it can lead to problems.... - Last week in agility class, we were introduced to the teeter. She was so intent on getting the cheese from the instructor that she didn't even realize that the teeter was moving beneath her. Once she was off, she tried to go back for seconds. The instructor said "I've been mugged!" - Doesn't matter what piece of equipment we're doing - she's all about it. I aim her in the right direction and let go, and she's off like a bullet. Sounds great, but I can see how this is going to turn into a huge problem when we get around to actually running courses. Asking for a sit before the obstacle only increases the drive, because she sits there staring at it and getting more and more excited. - She seems to have issues waiting her turn in agility class. She's fine until she hears someone trying to motivate another dog. Then she responds as if they were speaking to her. She almost strangles herself on the leash trying to pull her way over there. This can lead to very loud squealing and sometimes choking. - I tried using tugs as rewards instead of food, but she just about ripped my arm out of its socket. - We love disc and play a couple of times a week. Problem is, she voices her extreme impatience by barking insistently until I throw the disc. This is particularly bad when there are lots of people watching (maybe she feeds off of my nervous energy/excitement?). I've started waiting for quiet before tossing, but she doesn't seem to be getting it. And in competitions, the clock is ticking, so we can't really do that. I finally got her to quit barking in excitement in agility class (usually in anticipation of the release) with a squirt bottle. So far that's holding (keeping my fingers crossed). At home, she's actually reasonably calm. I have some makeshift agility equipment in the backyard and we play a few times a week. She gets excited when she realizes what we're doing, but never gets over-the-top excited. I can tug with her at home just fine. We practice "takes" with the disc and she barely blinks at home. Her leash manners are passable except in highly-stimulating situations. So how can I bring down the drive a notch or two without sacrificing the good parts? How do I turn a highly-stimulating situation into no big deal?
  22. I just have a couple of things to add: For disc (aka frisbee), try "rollers", which means a disc thrown so that it rolls on the ground along its edge. This movement along the ground is a lot more likely to excite prey drive in a dog, because prey usually runs along the ground. Dogs didn't evolve to catch their prey out of the air and it takes a LOT of drive to do that. From the video, I'm going to take a stab at why he might be lacking stamina. His chest looks rather small, which translates to small lungs that don't hold a lot of air. An underdeveloped chest is something I deal with in my dog, as well. Basically, she gets winded sooner than she should. There may be some exercises that can help, like swimming, for example. He may also develop a larger chest with age and by pushing the limits of his capacity on a semi-regular basis.
  23. I'll add a little story: I've taught Kit a fairly large repertoire of tricks, and one of her favorites that always makes people's jaws drop is cross paws. Her signal is me crossing my feet, and she does both left-over-right and right-over-left. Last week I was eating dinner at a friend's house. I had a plate full of food in front of me, and she was laying down a few feet away watching me eat. I wasn't paying her any attention, and I was in the middle of a sentence when I noticed her cross her paws. I looked at her as if to say "what are you doing?", but then I realized that I was sitting with my feet crossed! So technically, I had given the signal, and sure enough, she had crossed the right way. I guess she decided that what was on my plate looked pretty good!
  24. Nice pics, folks! For a beginner's disc, I'd suggest Ruffwear's canvas disc. It's surprisingly durable and it doesn't turn new dogs off of discs the way hard plastic does.
  25. Don't tell my agility instructor, but I'm more into disc than agility, although Kit and I do both and love both. It's just that we're already at a competition level and disc, and not there yet in agility, so my enthusiasm isn't quite there. At this point we're rockin' distance/accuracy, and we're working on a freestyle routine. Jawz discs are great. Hyperflite is a great company and they have some very nice discs available. I also like Hero discs very much: http://www.herodiscusa.com/k9-discs?cat=16. The superhero is a jawz-like disc, and for distance/accuracy competitions, I like Xtra235 Distance discs. I've recently fallen in love with Xtra235 Freestyles as well, but I'm saving them for competitions. As for throwing tips, grip is key. Here's a great youtube video on how to throw properly: As someone else said, I'd practice without the dog until you get the hang of it. Also, look around for a disc club in your area. You'd be surprised how many states have them. We recently started one in my area and there are now classes and competitions galore! As you said, disc is pretty much the most fun that a dog can have (see pic). If you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask!
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