Category Archives: Our Dogs

Strata’s Contact Training Journey

Mr. Strata! (Photo by Katie Rogers/Smiling Wolf Photography)
Mr. Strata! (Photo by Katie Rogers/Smiling Wolf Photography)

In my previous post, I wrote about common stopped contact training mistakes and promised to share some of the errors I’ve made along the way with Strata. Learn from my mistakes! :)

Strata is my six-year-old Shetland Sheepdog. He’s earned his MACH and a USDAA Performance Tournament Master title, and has competed at two AKC Nationals as well as International Team Tryouts last year. So, he’s a pretty experienced competition dog.

I originally wanted to teach Strata a running contact using Silvia Trkman’s method, but after a couple of months realized that I did not have enough access to equipment to pull it off. (At the time, I was traveling 45 minutes each way to do ring rentals.)

Begrudgingly, I started teaching him two-on two-off for the dogwalk and teeter. He already had a pretty consistent running A-frame, so I didn’t need to change that.

Our first contact training problem had nothing to do with the end position. Strata is afraid of heights, and it took a lot of work to get him over his fear of the middle plank of the dogwalk. (Yes, really. Here’s a video of him trotting across the dogwalk in an Open Standard run. And this was an improvement over where he had been for some time!)

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My Crew’s Favorite Dog Treats

Do you have trouble finding great training treats for your dog? In today’s post, I share which dog treats work best for my three dogs in training.

Strata’s Favorite Dog Treats

Strata Gets a Dog TreatStrata is by far the easiest dog to find treats for. He will eat almost anything with a smile on his face and song in his heart. He wasn’t always this way! As a young puppy, he was so picky and I was always offering him new things. Once he hit about 8 months old, his “sheltie stomach” kicked in and he started eating anything and everything, including fruits and veggies!

Strata has some food sensitivities, so anything with feathers (not just “conventional poultry” but also duck, ostrich, etc.) is out. Previously, we thought his sensitivities included beef, but recently we’ve reintroduced it without a problem. We generally stick to the protein sources of fish, lamb, and pork for his dog treats.

Strata’s favorite treats are…

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Our Trip to AKC Agility Nationals 2014: Part One

Strata at the 2014 AKC Agility Nationals!
We have arrived!

Wondering why the blog went quiet for a little while? I was a busy bee getting ready for the 2014 AKC National Agility Championship in Harrisburg, PA!

We started the journey to AKC Agility Nationals by trialing for a few weekends leading up to the big event. I know some handlers feel better if they focus on training, but I feel that my dogs and I do better the more we compete. So compete we did.

The weekend before the NAC, we showed at the LEAP AKC agility trial in Tolland, CT. This was our first opportunity this year to trial on a surface other than rubber mats, which was nice for a change. The facility in Tolland has field turf, which really lets the dogs dig in and run as fast as they can.

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ACNH Agility Trial 1/25-1/26/14

Last weekend I attended my first agility trial in three months! I took a much-needed break over the holiday season to give the dogs time off and tackle some training projects, most of which are unrelated to agility. I don’t like entering trials in the winter anyway, due to the unpredictable weather up here, but I wanted to squeeze one trial as a test to see what skills we need to refresh before our main “trial season,” March through October.

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Strata & Spark: Jump Sequences

I put together this quick video of Strata and Spark working on some jump sequences at the barn before teaching my Competition level class at Crossbones. With a bit of luck, this will be my last iPad video production. I ordered a GoPro camera the other day and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will arrive before I do any more sequencing at the barn.

The video shows Strata’s first time back at 18″ after taking a couple months off, then resuming training at 16″. And Spark, well, everything is new to him, being such a babydog. (He’s a year and a half old.) :) I trimmed out the beginning of the video when he insisted on cutting behind me to the wrong tunnel entrance about six times. He’s also started vocalizing a bit while he runs… uh oh… he better not become one of those “barkenstein” shelties!

Dog Training in a Snow Storm

We were slammed with snow all day yesterday, into this morning. Every time I checked the weather report, they had increased the snow totals by another 3″ or so. I’m not anti-snow the way many New Englanders are, but I was pretty bummed about canceling run-thrus and the first week of Foundation Agility last night. :(

My buddy Rob shared that clip on Facebook last night. It appears that if you were growing up in the ’90s, that is your snow storm mantra. I was not the only person who admitted to singing this under my breath while shoveling!

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Introducing Myself

Katherine Ostiguy and Strata
Katherine and Strata in August 2009.

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m really excited to have a new place to write. I want to dive right in and introduce myself so I can start sharing my experiences with all of you.

My interest in dog agility started when I was just a kid. My mother gave me the book The Soul of the Silver Dog by Lynn Hall, which is a fictional tale about a Bedlington Terrier who learns to do agility after going blind. That was my first introduction to this great sport. Shortly after that I started watching it on television and I was hooked.

At the time my childhood dog, an English Springer Spaniel named Tessie, was about two years old and had never been to a training class before, but that didn’t stop me from encouraging her over broomsticks and under lawn chairs for pieces of leftover hot dogs. We found a local outdoor agility class that required us to take her to an obedience class first. By the time we finished that prerequisite, winter was coming and agility classes were done for the season.

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