Rugby’s Advent Calendar

The moment you have all been waiting for… Rugby’s 6th annual online Advent Calendar starts tomorrow. I will be posting a picture every day until Christmas of Rugby with something Red and something Green.

Here are some examples from previous years to get us started.

RED carpet, Green rug.

How to wrap a Christmas Present
Red and Green wrapping paper

Day 3
Red jacket, Green wheelbarrow

Feel free to join us and take your own red and green photos. If you send them to us we would be happy to share them on the Leash Free Living Facebook page as well! The more red and green photos the better!

Truxtun Park

We had a great turn out for today’s Power Training Session at Truxtun Park. It has been too long since our last training field trip, so this was a good mental exercise for all the dogs. Information on the next session will be posted soon! Can’t wait!

Down Stays at Truxtun
Recalls at TruxtunPower Training Session
Truxtun Park

Fourth of July Photos

We had a great turn out for the Canine Good Citizen test last week. Thanks to all the dog and handler teams that showed up and to the volunteers that helped run them through the test! We will have another test later fall/winter so keep checking for details.

Canine Good Citizen TestCanine Good Citizen TestCanine Good Citizen Test

After the CGC test, a few students stayed to really put their training to the test with a Fourth of July photo shoot. The dogs were wonderfully well behaved! The rest of the photos are on the Leash Free Living facebook page. Go check them out!

Fourth of July


Louisville Road Trip

group2Rugby, Parker and Bourbon headed to Louisville last week for the American Maltese Association’s National Specialty. I thought it was rather ironic that they had this years specialty in the heart of Bourbon Country, so it was a must that we road trip our way there so the bitch could come with us.

We arrived in Louisville on Tuesday evening, and it took the dogs all of Wednesday to rest up from the trip. Riding in a car for 9 hours is a good way to tire dogs out! Wednesday evening all three dogs brushed up on their Obedience skills so they could get their game faces on for the Trial the next day. Training session was much needed and everyone was able to polish up their problem areas.

Thursday was the big day, so Rugby and Parker slept in to conserve their energy. Both boys were ready to go by the time the show started at 1:30. Rugby went first in Utility and Open, earning a score of 195.5 in both classes, for High Combined and High in Trial.

Heeling Firsts Drop on Recall Articles

 Parker was next in Graduate Novice.  I was so proud of Parker watching him work in the ring. He was focused, attentive, obedient and happy throughout his performance. He qualified with a score of 193.5 and first place. Go Parker!

Broad Jump Figure 8 Heeling Recall

The last Obedience class of the day was one that we requested for the boys, Obedience Brace. In Brace, you complete a novice level obedience pattern but with TWO dogs at the same time. We had been practicing this for a week or two before the show, but the boys were still figuring out how to work tied together (they have very different working styles). To make matters worse, we decided I should hide while they were showing so that Rugby wouldn’t be too distracted by me. That was a mistake. He was way more distracted by the fact that I had gone missing than he was by me sitting there. Oh well, they were still pretty good entertainment. And they managed to qualify with a score of 178. We will take it!

ama2 brace2 brace3 brace

Rally was the last thing of the day. Rugby showed wonderfully in Excellent B, but I did one of the signs wrong and he earned a 90 for first place. Parker continued his winning streak earned a perfect 100 score in Advanced B, also for first place! They boys rocked it!


After the Obedience Trial was over, the only thing left to do was enjoy the trip! There aren’t many dog things to do in Louisville (or we couldn’t find them), but we kept busy by visiting the Falls of the Ohio State Park. It was HOT there, and not easy to hike on the drift wood for the people or for Bourbon. The little ones had to be carried most of the way. Tip for those wanting to visit Falls of the Ohio, enjoy the view from the parking lot and don’t bother hiking down to the water.

bndohioriver2 bndohioriver bndohioriver1

Luckily, there is a cute little ice cream stand down the road from the park that made the trip there worthwhile (The Widow’s Walk Ice Creamery). The dogs shared their own vanilla ice cream in the shade next to the river.

bndicecream6 bench

We couldn’t leave Kentucky without a visit to a Bourbon distillery. On the way out, we went to Four Roses Bourbon Distillery since Bourbon is named after Bourbon Roses, and took some photos of the dogs.

4roses4 4roses

Last stop of the trip was in West Virginia where we picked up the car again and rested up before heading home. Bourbon got a huge kick from driving up the mountain to the cabin for whatever reason. She was pumped when we finally got to our destination!

cabin cabin4

It was a very successful trip for the Leash Free Living team!Now it’s back to reality, training for the next event!

2014 National Obedience Championship

(C) American Kennel Club

(C) American Kennel Club


Rugby and I had the pleasure of attending the AKC’s National Obedience Championship this year in March. This was Rugby’s third time attending this event so we had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The NOC is a tournament like event, where dogs show 6 times a day for two days, and do a set of group stays. Points are cumulative and added up at the end of the weekend. That is a lot of showing and a lot of hours spent for all the dogs entered. Rugby’s sling (to save steps) and doggie crack (for an energy boost) were essential to him surviving the weekend.

We didn’t prepare nearly as much this year as we did previously and Rugby exceeded my expectations. He managed to qualify in every exercise in all 12 rings AND hold his stays.

Come  RIngside  Broad Jump

I was thrilled with him. He worked so hard all weekend, showing 8 and 11 hours a day and maintaining his consistency for the entire tournament. I couldn’t have asked for more.

0329_NOC_06405_thm 0329_NOC_06408_thm 0330_NOC_06452_thm

And… Rugby placed 2nd in the Toy Group! 

(c) American Kennel Club

Rugby enjoys doing his job in the Obedience ring, and I am so happy we got the chance to go this year. Fingers crossed we can make the next one too! Nice job, Rugby!

Generalizing the Retrieve

The retrieve is my favorite thing to teach dogs. It means I can have them carry things for me, pick up stuff that I drop and take really cute pictures with them holding props.

We teach this initially with a dumbbell, but to make it truly useful, they need to practice picking up different sized, shaped, textured and weighted objects.

Argos demonstrates how practical the retrieve can be by learning to put laundry into the laundry basket.

Zach and Bourbon are working on just that! Starting with “easy” objects, I place each item in their mouth and tell them to hold. Then I have them fetch the object from a couple inches away, and repeat until they can pick the object up from the ground without help. Since they have each had lots of retrieve training with the dumbbell prior to this step in their training, this process only takes a minute or two.


Once they have mastered these easy objects, we make the objects bigger, heavier, harder to hold, harder to pick up, etc… until they can handle anything. I can’t wait!

Zach’s Rally Weekend

Zach RA Zach RA Zach RE

Last weekend Zach, the Golden Retriever, showed at the Cherry Blossom Cluster in Timonium, MD. We were hoping he would be ready for Open by the time this show came around. He is *really* close, but not quite there so we decided to wait another month. Instead, we entered him in Rally Advanced. Our goal was to give him some ring experience with familiar material, get him used to the busy trial site and to test his mental stamina.

Friday Zach earned a 98/100 for first place at the Golden Retriever Specialty.

Saturday he earned a 99/100 for second place.

Sunday we had to redo an exercise when he walked on the wrong side of a cone and he still managed to earn a 96/100!

With the three necessary qualifying scores in Rally Advanced, Zach earned his RA title on Sunday! He was entered one more day so we had another decision to make. Stay in Advanced for an extra leg, call it a successful weekend and scratch our Monday entry, or move him up to the next level and show in Excellent.

For whatever reason, I was feeling particularly brave and decided to move him up. The fact that he had never successfully performed (or been introduced to) several of the Excellent level signs didn’t deter us. Most of them were just different combinations of things he knew well. The two skills he did not have were the moving stand and backing up in heel position. We practiced backing up before leaving the show on Sunday and spent our warm up Monday morning learning the moving stand. Zach pulled it all together just in time. He ended up having to back up AND do two moving stands during his Excellent run, and he did more than just qualify… he earned a 97/100 for fourth place!

Very proud of Zach! He knows what this trialing stuff is all about now and really enjoys it! Can’t wait to get him in the Open ring!

And just in case you aren’t sick of watching rally videos… here are Zach’s Rally Novice videos from last year that I never posted.
First leg (100/100). Second leg (99/100).  Third Leg (99/100).