December 2019 Issue Article List
Volume XLVIII ~ Number 3

  • Tuesday, December 31, 2019 12:30 AM | Anonymous

    In fall of ’71 the first issue of Front & Finish® was published in tabloid newspaper format.  Initial hopes were high that we might be able to fill 8 pages a month.  The first issue went oversize with remaining issues only to grow larger.  

    In September of 2000 Front & Finish® moved to an 8.5 X 11 inch magazine format.  This allowed us to provide issues to our consumers via the internet as well as paper.  Foreign subscribers were the most to benefit as they had access to issues immediately instead of waiting months for delivery or paying additional postal costs for faster service.

    In January 2011 Front & Finish was published in its last printed version.  Many publications at that time were struggling due to competition with the Internet.  Times were tough and in order to stay afloat countless publishers were forced to make difficult decisions about the format and delivery of their content.  Most of the large publishers had the financial means to weather the storm but smaller organizations weren’t so fortunate and their options were limited.  Most solutions followed one or more of the following threads of thought.

    • Reduce the size and quality of their printed matter.
    • Downgrade their mailing services.
    • Increase subscription and advertising fees.
    • Merge with other publishing companies.
    • Offer some type of digital format.

    Although we operate on a smaller scale than the big dogs, our problems were similar.  Knowing that our subscribers preferred printed versions of F&F, we truthfully had no other option than to move to a digital solution.  Everyone’s situation is unique.  In ours, we were also battling significant reductions in obedience participation plus the genesis of social media (e.g. Facebook).  

    The winter has been long but in another year we will recognize a decade since going 100% digital.  We have the most dedicated, supportive, and understanding subscribers on the planet.  This must be due to the sport, because obedience trainers are the kind who have a desire to understand the details that make up the whole picture.  Your support is incredible.  Thank you!

    From our dog house to yours, we hope your Christmas season is blessed, healthy, and happy!

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  • Sunday, December 29, 2019 5:33 PM | Deleted user

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    Now begins the real work involved with getting a new puppy. Prime socialization time is up to 16 weeks, and I’ll be doing my best to pack in all of the positive socialization experiences I can during that time. I want this puppy to believe that the world belongs to her, because it can! 

    At 8 weeks the pups got their first shots and a chance to go on “walk about” around Ken and Aimee’s acreage. Adventurous, but keeping an eye on their humans, they had a great time. They’re getting cuter every day, and I am now able to see beyond the wild curiosity and observe their personalities starting to emerge. 

    Each puppy gets individual attention from me. I can’t just work my own puppy, especially when all of them are clamoring for attention. First the puppy goes outside on leash for a chance to pee, and they do pretty quickly. I try to preempt accidents and so far not one has had a potty issue during a training session. Once pottied, we work in the kitchen/living room area on the tile floor. It’s a big combined room with a huge island separating the two rooms with bar stools on one side. I sit on the floor with a bag of fresh cooked treats (chicken, turkey, pork, liver, cheese, etc.) on the high bar stool where I can easily reach it. I give the pup a couple of minutes to explore before we start, play with toys or whatever, then when the pup orients to me we begin. Using a treat as a lure I hold the treat above the pup’s head and usually he or she will sit to look up. The key is, if I hold it too low the pup will just try to pry the treat from my hand or jump at it, if I hold it too high the pup may lose interest. As soon as the puppy’s bottom hits the floor, I have to quickly get the treat to him or her before the pup can bound out of position. They need to get the treat while they are doing what I want. We work a little, then they run about a bit and explore, then they come back to see if another treat is available. There is plenty of time for puppies to just be puppies, but I also want them to “learn how to learn”. It’s about figuring out that when they do something specific I will deliver the treat. So far, so good. 

    At 9 weeks of age the pups are progressing well and I’m adding behaviors. Sit is now a solid behavior, and they will all quickly plant those little bottoms when they hear the word sit, without a treat being presented. They naturally come to “front”, sit and look up at me, because that’s how we’ve been working on sit. Now I’m adding a lure into a down, and also a lure into a stand from both a sit or a down. We’re also doing a lured “spin” or “circle”, one right and one left. I am also trying to teach the pups to follow the treat in my hand as I toss it a foot or two away. Visibly following something a person throws is a new concept for a tiny pup. Once they go get it, I call them back to front and they get another cookie for coming back and sitting. They’re learning come and go. No pressure, no stress, and we quit if the pup becomes tired, full, or disinterested. In any case, with 4 puppies to work each one probably only gets 5 to 10 minutes. Everyone is responding well, except Carl sees no point in laying down. Oh Carl! He’s so silly, and funny. He looks at the cookie I’m holding against the ground, looks up at my face, and sighs, and he will do that several times. Everything else he is quick to do, but the down position appears to be pointless to him.  Ah, well – plenty of time to get there. 

    Jimmy has surprised me. Jimmy is a problem solver. I have mentioned before that he is very thoughtful. He has figured out that something he does will get me to give him the treat, and he has started “throwing behaviors” at me. I hold a treat in my closed hand and he will dig at my hand, sit, down, stand, dig again, sit again, etc. And he is tenacious. Not only is he a gorgeous puppy, he is brilliant! Oh, my gosh – he’s going to be just amazing! Judy Blume, the prettiest girl with the most white coloring, has a very strong social attraction to people. She doesn’t venture off as much as the other pups, preferring to stick close to whatever human is handy. She’s quite a love, and very biddable. Her attitude is delightful. She’s also quite a chow-hound and her nose is constantly in over-drive. While all of the puppies air-scented the location of the treats on the bar stool and studied how they might get up there to retrieve them, Judy is always the first to indicate their location. She is a spectacular puppy! 

    Honestly, I would have been delighted to get any one of these pups. Their potential is off the charts. But Daisy continues to tug at my heart-strings. She is clearly absorbing the lessons on how to learn, and each time I work with her we become a little more in tune with each other. Initially she goes on a flat-out run to burn off some energy. Then she checks in with me and we do a couple of things, then she goes and gets a toy or weaves in and around the rungs of the bar stools, then checks in with me again. To me it is the perfect mix of attentiveness and independence. And she’s so doggone cute! I can’t stop looking at her! She may just be the cutest puppy ever born, but of course it is possible that I am biased. The next step with Daisy was to take her to a new location. Since she had not been in the training building (a lovely 50 by 60 foot air conditioned structure with thick black mats), we stepped out there to see what would happen. Confident and curious she examined the jumps, then came back to check in with me. She explored a bit more of the ring, always sure to observe my location so I didn’t get too far away from her. If I did get more than 20 feet away, she came bounding back to get under foot. In fact, it’s hard to walk with these pups because they are almost always under foot. I was pleased with her reactions and we quit with things on a positive note, returning Daisy to her brothers and sister to play or rest. 

    At 9 ½ weeks we took the two girls on an outing. The boys will get their turn, but they are also going to their new owners sooner than the girls. Janice Carpenter, a friend of mine, met me at the downtown area in Kissimmee, FL, and we each took a puppy and set off on an adventure. We walked to the lakefront across streets and grass and metal grates. The girls got to see ducks and ibis in a pond with a fountain. A train came by and they watched traffic pass. A number of folks pet them and asked about them. They went up and down stairs and heard someone singing in an echoey bathroom. We worked our way over to the playground where a number of kids were enjoying the day with their parents. The kids came squealing up to see the puppies, who took all the attention in good stride. We found a hill to walk up and down on the way back to the car, and the pups slept well on the way home. So far, so good! 

    The pups are 10 weeks now, and just as spectacular as they have been all along. I’ve been working with them every couple of days and training is progressing well. In addition, I have started taking them all on outings as time permits. One of my favorite places to take a dog is my car dealership. Starling Chevrolet is very welcoming of pets and I would often bring a dog, hang out in the waiting room and train around the building. Lots of people and noises, loud-speaker announcements, horns honking – it’s a great place for socialization. Pups did well and are winning hearts left and right. 

    At just over 10 weeks the two boys went to their forever homes. Carl will be an Agility dog in Wyoming, and Jimmy will do Agility, Conformation, and will become a “toad hunting” dog. Now it’s just the girls to get out and about. We’ve had great visits at Home Depot & Lowe’s hardware stores and a variety of other places. There is construction near my Vet so we went by and watched that for a while, and on another outing several fire trucks passed by, which the girls found fascinating. With each outing they become more and more confident in the big world around them. 

    The pups are now 11 weeks old and Real  is coming home to me, my husband Chip, my Boxer Maya, and Cavalier Dylan. We are planning to attend a conformation class, puppy Agility (even though I don’t do Agility, I feel it gives them great skills and balance), a puppy class, and various other activities. Daisy will be 4 months old at the AKC Classic pre-shows and should be entered on Thursday and Friday there. Wish us luck! We will occasionally report how we are doing together, and thanks for being patient with me over my excitement of getting such a spectacular new puppy. 

    Good training, everyone!

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  • Friday, December 27, 2019 12:30 AM | Deleted user

    I use the ‘Finish to the left’ to set my dog up for any given exercise or skill—and this is in training as well as in the ring—and as a finish command for an exercise.  

    Basically there are five steps to teaching this skill:

    1.  There must be commitment upon lift-off from the sit!  To this end, I teach my dog ‘Get’.

    2.  The next step is teaching my dog to go straight back and deep before turning in place.

    3.  Thirdly, my dog must turn tightly in place (not make an enormous U-turn.)

    4.  My dog must then find heel position.  By this I mean, my dog comes forward into heel position—a position that has already been taught, but one that is constantly reaffirmed.

    5.  Lastly, my dog must do a ‘tuck’ sit.  This results in his sitting tightly and four-square.  A tuck sit helps offset a ‘butt in’ or ‘butt out’, especially in conjunction with his finding heel position.

    The following video fully demonstrates these steps, as well as providing a few hints of what to avoid when teaching this skill.

    Got treats?

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  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019 12:30 AM | Deleted user

     Winter: A perfect time to work on heel position and stays.  With the fall show season coming to a close, this is the perfect time to clean up some of the Rally exercises that you’ve discovered are sloppier than you’d hoped.

    I’d suggest beginning with heel position because it’s the foundation for so many of the other exercises. 

    Although the definition in the Rally rules is a bit more lax than in regular obedience, this is a grey area for a lot of the judges – many of whom are also judging obedience and score accordingly. 

    If you toss out the points I lost for failing to know the difference between my left and right, failure to maintain heel position was my second most “hit” performance area. 

    And rightly so. Despite the 100-plus times I showed without an NQ throughout my RACH journey, and all those high scores I achieved along the way, I finally realized that I’d never really taught my dog where proper heel position was. 

    Sure, he was always on my left side and generally in the vicinity of heel position, but not consistently in heel position.    

    The winter months are a perfect time to make sure you and your dog truly understands where heel position is and maintains it. 

    In obedience, heel position is close to the handler’s left side and the dog should not swing wide, lag, forge or crowd. The dog should not interfere with the handler’s freedom of movement at any time. 

    In Rally, heel position is kind of awkwardly defined as at the handler’s left side, facing the same direction as the handler is facing, and the dog’s body is within the area of the handler’s left hip. The dog should be close to but not crowding its handler so that the handler has freedom of motion at all times. 

    Subtle distinctions, but differences, nonetheless. And ones everyone can work on. Make it fun. Play games with your dog, really reward the position you are striving for while your dog is in it. Not ahead of it, not behind it, not when it’s wide or when he’s sidewinding. Be clear and consistent. 

    In the last year since we achieved our RACH, finding and maintaining heel position has been Buzz and my No. 1 priority. We’re not perfect yet, but there has been a huge improvement – with more progress to be made. 

    Re-teaching a skill that’s not been consistently rewarded when correct or ignored when incorrect, is a process. Depending on how long you’ve allowed your dog not to be in heel position, believe me the transition could take a while to fix. But be patient, you can do this. 

    The second, much easier skill to work on during the winter, is stay.

    I practice stay pretty much every day. Seriously. A lot of people find it a boring exercise, but I’ve always made it a priority with my dogs. I never want to lose a single point on something that should be a no-brainer if it’s solid. 

    Working on stay started as an early puppy life skill, now it’s progressed to a “thinking” skill. And one that has saved me from fetching up shoes that Buzz loves to grab from the closet and trot into the living room with in his mouth.

    He’s never damaged a shoe, but it gets old hoofing it out to the living room to fetch them back up and redeposit them in the closet.

    Although he still enjoys going into my closet and shopping for just the right one before heading off with it, I’d rather curb his enthusiasm for this behavior.  

    So, when I’m doing something in the bedroom – like putting away clothes or getting dressed and the closet doors are open – if I see Buzz is in the room with me, he practices either a sit or a down stay on a small rug on the wood floor. Now I plan to add in a stand stay to the mix since I’m working on open obedience exercises. 

    This frees me to do stuff and gives Buzz something positive to do while he’s there with me. Plus, using this time for “training” keeps his mind on something else. And out of trouble.

    So think about what your weakest exercises are and use this time to work on them. But don’t forget to work on heel and stay as well.

    So until next time, here’s hoping all of your dog training wishes come true.

    Rally On!

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  • Monday, December 23, 2019 12:30 AM | Deleted user

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