Dan is 4!

Dan’s 4th Birthday was this month. It is so close to the holidays that I seem to always miss it, but we have been celebrating life together every day so I don’t think he minds.  Here he is doing agility on his birthday week:

 

I do want to continue my annual “Dan’s Goals” tradition. I have been thinking of writing this post for a week or so, making a list in my head of what we have accomplished and what we need to work on. However, I just looked back at last year’s post for the first time today. I have been having this feeling like we hadn’t accomplished many of our goals, but really when looking over the list we have met about half and made progress towards all of them!  This is why it is so good to write this stuff down – progress is easier to see and feel if it is recorded!

Here are my goals from last year and where we stand with each one:

  • Skateboards: We haven’t tackled this one completely, but I was able to call him away from chasing a skateboard at the park and I can get him to stop barking much faster now. I keep saying this is my priority, but obviously it isn’t as we really haven’t spent much time on this one!
  • Barking like mad at UPS/FedEx/Mailman: Dan will now stop this behavior when we ask. Over the last year we have had some random (creepy) people appear on our porch so I have decided that this one is okay with me. I have noticed that if we have a “substitute” mailman, Dan barks much more intensely. He is very good at recognizing friend vs. stranger. He has a different bark for someone he knows, a stranger, and the UPS/FedEx/Mailman.
  • Herding the cat very intently: This had gotten tons better until about a week ago. I believe it is lack of exercise in these dark winter months.
  • Fine-tune our neighborhood walks: I wouldn’t say these are perfect but Dan hardly pulls at all now, we are more connected with each other when walking, and we can actually walk for exercise, not just training purposes now!
  • Obedience commands in novel environments (parks, parking lots, new buildings, new neighborhoods, etc.): We’ve rocked this one. We’ve been to parking lots, Home Depot, PetSmart, the agility barn, random parks, outdoor eating areas (quiet ones). Dan can heel, sit, down, and stay with almost any distraction now.  Yahoo!
  • Practicing his calm behavior near other dogs in novel environments, separate from playing fetch: We’ve worked hard on this one too! Our biggest accomplishment is a very recent one –we’ve been practicing agility at the barn with new dogs that he’s never met and he has been so good!. I am one proud puppy mama.
  • Continue agility foundation skills: Check!  We took two online foundation classes and one canine fitness class, all to prepare for a solid agility foundation.
  • Do agility in some new places – introduce the rest of the equipment (weaves, a-frame, a full tunnel, dog walk, other jumps): Also check…mostly. Still don’t have the weaves down and we still need to perfect our contacts.  But we’ve done agility in two new places and are working up to a third location (and maybe 4th/5th at some local parks).
  • Take a private agility lesson: Not yet.  But, we did do a couple of herding lessons!
  • MAYBE do a group class – we will see how everything else goes: Not yet.  Maybe this year? We are so close to being able to do this!

So, for this year our goal process is going to change a bit. I want to work on things in several categories: Dog encounters, Agility, and New Sports. This year’s goals are as much for Dan as they are for me!

Dog encounters:

  • Agility with at least 10 new, different dogs – not necessarily all at once. Our club has started hosting monthly fun runs so I think we can practice (work up to this) in that setting. This will need to start with just being onsite while a trial/fun run is going on and we can work up to actually running agility.
  • Walking near other (unknown) dogs at 10-15 feet. Currently across the street is about the distance Dan can handle.

Agility:

  • Dan’s biggest weakness in agility right now is his right-hand turns, especially tight turns. I believe this is a problem with his footwork so we need to go back to basics!
  • Weave poles
  • Improved, fine-tuned contacts
  • Add some advanced/international cues to our handling toolbox.
  • Fitness!! Dan and I both need to be in better shape in order to excel in agility. Some ideas I have been tossing around are biking with Dan, practicing sprints, and even possibly taking an online class for human fitness for agility.
  • A private lesson, or two, or 10….

New Sports:

  • Nose Work: I’ve gotten interested in this and thing Dan would enjoy it. I’d like to do more training at home and take a lesson or two with Dan to investigate more.
  • Herding: Possibly continue lessons later in the year.
  • FitPaws: While not a sport, I would like to treat this like it’s own area to work on. I think it is very important and we just need to make it a priority!

The big one: Compete in an agility trial. I can finally see that this might be a possibility this year. We will see where the year takes us .

As Dan’s trainer, my main goals for myself are to improve my physical abilities for agility training and to keep better logs/data on our training and our progress. I have some ideas for both of these and will try to share with you here as I go.

Happy Training!

Laura

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