Gosh I haven't updated the blog since 16th November. How bad is that?
The reason is quite simply lack of time. We've been really busy with work and weekends have been busy with training.
I have managed to get myself very behind with Andy's accounts and so have had to knuckle down and get them ready for the accountant who has been nagging me for weeks. Andy's year end is 31st August and the books were only complete up to February - oops. I have put in a lot of hours on them and I have just some bank rec's left to do. Then I can put it all on a disc and send to the accountant and hopefully forget about them for a while.
We did a training day for a group of agility handlers a couple of weekends back. The weather was absolutely atrocious. I was lucky as my group worked in an indoor school, cold and dusty but dry. Poor Andy was stuck outside in a soggy sand school and it absolutely poured down.
I haven't done much with Zeki's agility training lately. The main reason for this is that I really want to concentrate on Niamh at the moment. That said I have enrolled in the local dog training class which is held at Chiddingstone Causeway village hall. Zeki has been twice and we are going to do the Good Citizens. We're starting off with the puppy foundation assessment and so far she's doing well with that.
The main reason I wanted to take Zeki to training was to give her the opportunity to train around other dogs. She is very attentive when we're on our own but as soon as other dogs come into the mix then her strong eye comes into its own! I can easily distract her if I have food but it's not so easy if the reward is a toy. The first week we arrived at training she was quite a handful. She barked a lot and went nuts anytime a dog took to the floor. It's a typical village hall with a noisy, slippery wooden floor and this really excites her. I worked on getting her to pay attention to me and clicking eye contact etc. She gradually got better. When it was her turn to do the exercises I used food to reward and she was really good. We did lots of different exercises:
A little exercise where the dogs had to trot round the hall and negotiate a nylon pipe tunnel, two little hurdles set really low and a little collapsible tunnel. Zeki had no problem with any of these items;
An out of site recall (new one on me) and she was brilliant and came straight away to find me in the broom cupboard;
Stationary position whilst the other dogs (11 of them) weaved in and out of a circle. Then we had to weave in and out ourselves;
Jump a small hurdle, pick up a tennis ball and bring back to handler over the hurdle (she did this perfectly and I was very proud of her);
Demonstrate she could sit; down and stand;
Negotiate the gate by sitting whilst I opened it and walked through, recalling on command through the gate and then sitting whilst I closed it.
We really enjoyed ourselves and she was very tired at the end of the session. She'd had a big walk that day plus a tiny bit of agility in the garden and when we arrived home she was hypo tired. She shot round and round the sitting room at high speed and took off over the back of the sofa, luckily landing in Andy's arms as he walked into the room. At that point she was "de-podited" in her little pod where she fell immediately asleep! De-podited is a new word invented by Jackie back in the summer. It is used exclusively for placing shelties in their little travel pods!
We went back to school last week and I was amazed at how much better Zeki was when other dogs were moving round the floor. There are lots of different dogs at the club, all shapes and sizes. They are all very friendly which is good. We all sit on our chairs along the front of the stage until it's our turn to work or when it's a group exercise. The dogs are all sat quite close together and are mostly well behaved. Zeki is very friendly with the other dogs and the children who come along. She barks if the children run fast across the hall but when they reach her she is very friendly to them. That's a real relief to me because her bark is quite an angry one and it's good for me to know that she shows no sign of nipping or any other type of aggression. It really is a case of desensitising her to the noise and movement and she definitely had improved from the first to second week.
We did a couple of different exercises this week which included a mini A-Frame and hoop to go through in the little obstacle section. We also did weaving in and out of cones (Zeki made me smile here because she wanted to go around the cones rather than stay in heelwork with me.) We also did group recalls where we all stood in a circle and had to leave our dog and call them to us one at a time. Then we were each given a dog bowl with a large tasty piece of sausage. We had to put these on the floor and our dogs couldn't move until told. Zeki was top of the class for this exercise. When released she ate her sausage faster than anyone though!
We also have to do things like examine our dogs ears and teeth, poo bag spot check (thank god I had one in my jacket pocket), pick up their paws etc. It's all good fun and the main thing for me is that Zeki is getting to work in a different place with loads of distractions.
We stayed on for the second class and I worked Poppy in that. She really enjoyed herself and everyone was very impressed with her stop on the bottom of the A-frame trainer! Bless. The second class is nearly 2 hours long and Pops was absolutely exhausted at the end of it. She slips a bit on the shiny floor (Pops can't do anything delicately) so I probably won't take her every week as I don't want to break her. Once in a while it's a nice evening out for her.
That's about it on the Zeki training front for now.