PBH USDAA Trial 5/23-25/09: General Overview


I’m still too whiped out to even begin to write much about our weekend.  Overall, Miles and I had a very good weekend.  It was quite hot and by yesterday I could tell it was affecting him.  We only entered Saturday and Monday, but we were busy outside on Sunday and he didn’t get as much of a rest day as he should have.

In summary, Miles finished up his PI Pairs title and his PI Snooker title.  He also got a voucher for his Grand Prix/Performance National Standard run and is just one leg away from both PI Gamblers and PI Standard titles!  The only runs we didn’t Q in were PII Jumpers due to bars and miscues from me, oops. 

Even though he did great on paper, I thought he just wasn’t giving me all that he could nor what I expected from him on our home turf.  Outside of the ring he was VERY comfortable…he crated under my new shade tent both days and had no problems warming up right next to the ring.  Inside of the ring, he didn’t seem to mind the “go” button, the snooker flags, ring crew or the timer/scribe.  I think he was more comfortable with the judge’s position as well…he blew right by her and almost knocked her down in our Gamblers run yesterday!  Unfortunately, he just didn’t have the speed that I have come to expect from him and his bars in Saturday’s Jumpers run were likely due to the trial photographer.  Similarly, his bar yesterday was caused by him looking at a spectator who was leaning on the fence.   

I obviously need to work on desensitizing him to the sight/sound of the large cameras and probably to people close to the fence.  His slower speed may have just been due to heat and fatigue.  He’s never done that many runs in one weekend and the runs yesterday were back to back.  I had also taken him for a short trail run in the morning where we became surrounded by coyotes who were obviously not just watching us.  I’ll just have to see how he is in class tonight speed wise.

Will post more specifics later with videos 🙂


Training update 5/22/09

There have been a few new changes over the last week or so around here. 

Rue got her prelim hip and elbow films done which are pending review from OFA.  The vet who did them thought they looked great (for what that’s worth) and the best news is that her growth plates are fully closed, yahoo!  Number one, she’s not going to get any taller (yay, her last unofficial measurement was 19.75″), but also I have been able to start some jump work at speed as well as weave training!!

She’s had two sessions with 2×2’s and completely understands the entry.  We’re now starting to “work around the clock” with 2 poles….will try to get some of this on tape soon.  I totally love Susan Garrett’s method on teaching weaves with 2×2’s.  I retrained Miles’ weaves last summer using her method and except for the occasional soft side entry, he’s pretty solid (have some new suggestions to work on to help this).  I figure she’ll be weaving 12 poles by the middle of the summer.

I have also made her a new board for contact training.  I am now using a 2×12 and have painted it with non slip blue paint with plans to add a 30″ yellow contact zone (for now I’m just using tape).  She’s had two sessions with this board at the same height that I had the previous board at and she looks fantastic!  Her hits are mainly with her front now and nice and low.  I think the added length (from 8 to 12′) plus the non slip surface has really helped her striding.  Here’s her session from last night…looks like I might be able to raise it up soon!

I’ve been working on some handling with jumps as well and am amazed at how easily she’s picking up on things.  I taught her to jump using Linda Mecklenberg’s foundation exercises.  Right now the bars are set to 16″, but as soon as she’s showing good form on a stationary 20″ jump I’ll move them up.  I still only do jump training 2-3 times per week as I don’t want any soft tissue injuries.  Here she is flying along in a little home set up last night.  She dropped a couple bars when she was unsure or my timing was off.  I need to start teaching her what a rear cross is 🙂

With Mr. Miles, I’ve cut his weave poles down to whither height in order to teach him to lower his head more.  I’m hoping this will help him increase his speed in the poles.  So far he’s liking the shorter poles and his form is improving.  Will video some sessions soon.  Last night I worked on proofing his 2o/2o using Rue’s board.  He always wants to play on her board after she uses it…silly little boy…so I figured I’d let him and found a way to make it a learning experience for him 😉

We’ve got home court advantage this weekend for USDAA!  I’m looking forward to some fast and fun runs with good teetering experiences 🙂  It would also be nice to pick up the last leg needed for his PII Jumpers title….but I’ll be happy with fast runs regardless!

Teamworks Dog Training Club CPE trial 5/15/09

This was supposed to be a weekend off of trialing, but because Miles refused the teeter last weekend at another local trial I wanted to collect some data.  Miles had never done or seen the teeter at the site last weekend and he got pretty spooked by the cameraman, however he’s had several good experiences with the teeters at Teamworks during run-throughs.  My hope was that he would do the teeter here which would just continue to prove that it’s “other stuff” at trials that cause him to refuse the teeter not the teeter itself.

I signed up for the first two runs, Jumpers and Standard.  He had a grand ol’ time in Jumpers and had the fastest time with 18 seconds (5.1yps), but dropped a bar.  Not sure why but I’m sure I caused it somehow.  He did get a little distracted by the judge when he came out of the first tunnel and slowed a little, but recovered just fine for the remainder.  Here’s his run:

The Standard run looked to be quite fun and the best news was that the teeter was the second obstacle.  Couldn’t get more perfect than that!  Nothing to “mess up” or stress out about before it 😉  Mr. Fabio was a crazed man before this run…tugged on his leash while growling at me, barked loud at me for his treats, and was just really fired up before heading into the ring.  When we got in there, I grabbed his scruff and said “who’s naughty…are you naughty?  ready?  ready?  READYYYYYYYY?” and off he went like a shot.  No hesitation on the teeter and no reaction to the bang.  I made a booboo by not cueing a jump and then asking him to come back (hard habit to stop), but he had a great run with great speed over the dogwalk (didn’t totally stop in 2o/2o, but stopped on the ground) and I thought his a-frame looked fantastic!  He’s digging the “running a-frame” we’re doing now.

So the things that were different here were:

1.  No automatic “go” button
2.  No cameraman
3.  Very small trial, so no crowds or tents
4.  Familiarity of the teeter
5.  Historically great experiences at this site
6.  Teeter at beginning of course
7.  Judge further away from teeter

We’ll see how this progresses, but I feel like I have a lot to work with now to help him become even more comfortable 🙂

Training, etc. update

I met with Melanie for private lessons last Sunday to review things that I learned from Wendy and to also set goals for the next few months for both dogs. 

 Of immediate concern for Miles was that he refused the teeter at our trial last weekend.  I still really don’t think it’s a teeter problem, but more of a confidence issue which is something that we’ve been dealing with for a very long time.  He still appears to have no issues with the teeter in practice/run-throughs even when they are new teeters to him.  Melanie asked me to make a list of things at trials that I know cause Miles some concern.  So here it is:

1.  Automatic “Go” and “Ready” buttons
2.  Speaker/sound systems
3.  Proximity of timer/scribe to the field and especially to the start line
4.  Snooker flags
5.  Large crowds of dogs and people
6.  Tents and other flappy things like flags, sheets, tarps, etc.
7.  Judge’s proximity to any contact obstacle that he is performing
8.  Judge shouting points for Gamblers, Snooker, and FAST classes
9.  Placement of the cameraman
10.  Any loud sudden noises

Keeping this in mind, we worked on a course that she had set up.  I was to walk it and then get him out of the car and go though our pre-run routine for trials before stepping to the line without any rewards on me.  We didn’t have a “go” machine, but she said “go when ready” and then acted very judgely by running with us and coming very close to the contacts.  Miles was definitely not his normal drivey dog that he is in practice.  He was a little nervous on the a-frame and had a tiny hesitation at the teeter and the table.  He also blew off his 2o/2o on the dogwalk and messed up his poles.  As expected, his jump and tunnel performances were just fine.  Wow, amazing that we were able to recreate some of his trial issues so easily!!  So now the plan becomes trying to make him more comfortable to “things that happen at trials”.  For sure I need to proof him against the cameraman as this has caused issues more than once in the past 😦

In keeping with this theory as well as his teeter refusal last weekend, I decided to sign him up last minute for a Standard CPE run up at Teamworks this Friday.  I need to know whether his problem last weekend was trial stress plus new teeter or just one of the other.  He’s been to Teamworks many times and really likes the trial site.  We’ve also practiced on all of their teeters before without a hitch, so we’ll see.  I decided to go up there last night for their Course of the Week (COW) just to be sure that I had a good baseline for successful teetering there.  He of course did fabulously and barely even blinked at the teeter.  I tried to make it as trial-like as possible by not bringhing anything in the ring with me and going through our pre-run routine.  I wished I had someone to act judgely, but I didn’t know anyone and felt a little strange asking.  We’ll see how he does tomorrow!

With Rue I was hoping to get some new ideas for things to work on now that she’s nearly 1yr old…holy smokes!  Here’s what we’ve been doing:

1. Board (running contact training) – We’re up to three 2×4’s under her board and will continue to progress until I get her on a normal dogwalk.  After that she should be able to learn the a-frame performance quickly.  I did show her a full-height frame last week just for the height experience, but won’t do anything else until she has her dogwalk. 
2. Teeter –  She’s now flying up the teeter and letting me drop it from about parallel to the ground and is having a blast.  We also continue to play the bang game on both ends to proof her for movement and noise. 
3. Handling/Jumping – Her handling is going well around standards and I’ve done some low height one jump LM style activities with her.  She’s showing nice form at 16″ so far.  We also continue to work our “Recall to Heel” stuff as well as sending through tires, tunnels and chutes. 
4. Table – She’s driving nicely on and off of a very low table, but I need to work on a fast drop into a down.  She has nearly mastered “down while moving” meaning that she will lay down on command without me breaking my striding (both walking and jogging) which will help with independent table performances and possibly the teeter as well. 
5. Weaves – I plan to start her 2×2 weave training in another month or so. 

We have an appointment for her prelim OFA hip and elbow films tomorrow and so I will be able to tell if her growth plates are closed.  She hasn’t grown in height in at least the last 5 months and is still measuring between 19 3/4 and 20 1/4 inches!

In our private, we discussed different games to play with her one jump as well as walk handling with the jumps at 16″.  I will not do either of these more than twice per week.  Certainly I will want to see what her growth plates are doing as well.  Melanie also restrained her for a few reps on a different teeter.

Here are a few videos that I took on Tuesday evening showing walk handling with both dogs as well as a board session that shows the whole behavior not just the end of the board.

Wigglebutts CPE trial 5/8/09

I entered Miles into a local CPE trial Friday evening for two runs.  I was hoping to get him on the teeter out there as he’s never been on it and CPE is fairly low pressure.  Miles is typically very happy trialing at this site so I was looking forward to our runs. 

Unfortunately the first run, Fullhouse, didn’t have a teeter 😦  Both runs that I entered were “design your own course” types which could be good or bad.  For me, if I can find something flowing then I’m pretty psyched but sometimes that’s just not possible.  We made it work for our first run and he did great.  Very fast and happy except for a brief moment where he went around a jump, but we got it back together for 30 points and a first place.

Our second run was Jackpot which is like a Gamblers course except this one was non traditional.  We had 30 seconds to gather points before the buzzer, then 20 seconds to hit 2 obstacles plus a contact obstacle and get to the table to stop the clock.  They had the teeter out in the middle of the field facing the crowd and I was determined to do it in our gamble despite the horrible location and the lack of flow leading up to it.  Unfortunately my friend who video’d this is having problems getting it to upload, but let’s just say it was not good.  Miles was having a great time running the course I designed (very open and fast) in fact he was going so fast that we ended up having to add obstacles while wait for the buzzer.  When we came around a corner the photographer was laying on the ground and that spooked him to the point that he refused a jump and broke our momentum.  At that moment, the buzzer went off and I had to try to serpentine a tire and a jump to get to the teeter.  He refused the teeter by going around it so I called him back…”ready ready” and he put 2 paws on it and hopped off….ok “sit.  good boy.  ready ready” and he again put 2 paws on and hopped off.  The second buzzer went off  so I had him sit again so he could be successful and ran out to get our cookies.  To say that I was disappointed is an understatement.

I’m hoping that I can get the video so I can watch it again because I’ve been agonizing over what happened with this run.  Could it be that he was so spooked by the teeter last weekend that he’s now going to refuse trial teeters?  Was it the location of the judge (right on top of me) that added too much pressure?  Was it that he got spooked by the photographer and then just couldn’t calm down enough to think about how to execute the teeter?  What was different about that part of the field that caused him to refuse a jump there in our first run?  Sigh.

Video at last 🙂

Training update 5/6/09

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on Rue’s board training.  We’re still plugging away at it and have now moved up to using three 2×4’s.  I need to find something a little more steady than a stack of 2×4’s soon!  She’s had only one session at the new height and hit 6/8 or 75%, but was rewarded for 7/8 ( I marked *as* she was jumping over the zone, oops).  It’s so hard to watch those fast little feet sometimes 😉  

I had moved the board to a different area to make sure we can keep generalizing the behavior at each stage.  This time it was about 8 feet lateral to a small dogwood tree.  She was so cute everytime I sent her up the left side of the board, she went out around the tree first and then around the standard to run the board!  On one of the last reps she went around the tree, then around the wrong side of the jump standard and ended up confused and running alongside the board.  I laughed at her, but I just couldn’t reward that….but it was adorable!  She looked at me like wait what am I doing…this isn’t right?!?! 

Here’s her latest session:

As far as Mr. Miles is concerned, we’ve been doing drop-ins of a Masters/Excellent B/Elite class down at an indoor facility on occasion to continue his journey into liking agility indoors.  We went down last night in the hopes that his little teeter scare over the weekend didn’t translate to teeters indoors.  Unfortunately for both my friend and I, the course they had set up was a JWW course.  She is there to proof her speedy BC’s teeter performance as she had had some occurences of not stopping on the board (all of her other contacts are running).  The class was very fun though and the course was nice a fast.  Miles had a grand ol’ time last night and was the fastest that I’ve seen him indoors!  He was very confident going in the building this time (our third visit) and didn’t even look around at all during our runs.  I even crated him next to the ring for the entire class!  At the end of class, the instructor let Melanie and I work our dogs on the teeter and both did fabulous, so it was a great night!

We have 2 entries in a local CPE trial this Friday evening to do some more teetering and I’m excited to see what I can get out of him!