Vacation agility training

We’re right in the middle of a 10 day vacation, so not much time to post.  Of course, I did bring some agility equipment with me (6 jumps, lightweight tunnel, lightweight chute, and 6 weave poles) because I’m obsessed and couldn’t take that much time off from working the pups. 

Mostly we’ve been working on all kinds of weave entries with Rue as well as what can I do while she’s in the poles (run fast, run slow, push/pull, front cross before/after, rear before, blind after, etc.).  Her understanding of weaving has really increased and I think she’s only missed 2 entries this whole time.  I’ve kept the channel open to 1″ to continue to emphasize speed and foot work for both dogs and we’re still using our “baby poles” at 20″ tall.  I also put out jump chutes yesterday to work on speed and extension over jumps.  She is now comfortably bouncing 5 jumps set alternately at 12″ and 16″ and spaced at increasing intervals from 8-14′ 🙂  We’ve done a bunch of walk handling followed by running the same sequence which she finds really fun.  I tackled teaching her a threadle last week and she’s now a pro.  One thing that I’m having a “problem” with is she will sometimes take stuff behind my back.  I *think* it’s if I take my eyes off of her and if I’m standing closest to the thing behind my back than I am to another obstacle.  I need to set up some video to see if that’s true.  She’s been highly rewarded for interacting with whatever it is that I’m located near, but I don’t want to make a habit out of her taking things behind my back!  Perhaps this will resolve itself as she gets more experience with sequencing, but I do need to be aware of it.

Miles is kind of in a holding pattern.  I’m doing most of the same things with him that I am with Rue.  I have been doing more walk handling with him which is quite interesting.  Since he had such a different introduction to agility, he does NOT just willingly go out and grab stuff that I’m near and more often waits for me to give a command.  Once we get going, he’s great and he’s a pro at shaping, so I know this will all come along soon.  I think it will be good for him to have the confidence to take what I am indicating with my body/motion without relying on a command.

Impressively, neither place we’ve been staying has had a fenced in area and both are riddled with baby bunnies….and Rue has been the epitome of focus!  I’m really really proud of her and I think we’re starting to really communicate well 🙂  Our nextdoor neighbor at our rental house is also the owner and has an enormous Great Dane (ehh when are they not enormous).  She and her sister as well as the GD came out to watch us practice yesterday.  I knew this wouldn’t be an issue with Miles so I worked him first and then braved it with Rue.  She was a superstar!  Even with them talking and applauding, she stayed right with me until we were done, her leash was on, and I released her to go visit them 😀

It’s pouring rain today, so it looks like they’ll have a day off from agility practice….

Training notes for the last couple of weeks – dogwalks, teeters, and weaves oh my!

We’ve been doing quite a bit of training here lately, but I haven’t had a chance to write it all down.  Both dogs have been working for breakfast and dinner for the last month or so which automatically increases training time.  I like to do that from time to time to remind them where their bountiful feasts come from 😉

Miles:

Weaves – keeping him at 1″ spacing on my weave poles for the forseeable future.  I would really like to see him change his style to single stepping and to stretch out more.  His poles are 20″ tall still and I don’t think I’ll need to go lower than that as they seem to be low enough for Rue as well.  Interestingly, I measured my pole spacing at home and it’s only 20″ which is likely one of the reasons why he learned to weave very upright instead of pushing through with his rear end.  Miles does have some very mild elbow dysplasia which may limit how much he wants to contort himself through such narrowly spaced poles.  So, now I’ve added 22″ spaced weave poles to my shopping list.  The trial this past weekend used 24″ spaced poles which was awesome, but not a lot of clubs have switched to that yet and we also play in USDAA where the max spacing is 22″.  So I figure if he’s single stepping in 20″ poles with a 1″ channel, then giving him 2 more inches in spacing should do the same thing for him. 

Here are some videos of him on 12 poles with 1″ spacing.  He had some entry issues in the first video that I figure out were due to the taping on the poles…he couldn’t see the first one, so I switched them around and he was good to go.  The second video is from the side….you can see his head lower, but you can also see how he scrunches himself like a slinky in order to single step through those narrow poles 😦

Teeter – I’ve been seeing more and more fly-offs in practice and he nearly had one over the weekend in our second Standard run.  I don’t want to have to add a stop back in, but I will if I can’t correct it in another way.  Since he hasn’t been doing it at trials, I may not have to do anything at all, but I think as his confidence grows so does his speed and the likelyhood of flying off.  Last night in class he launched himself off 3 times despite me slowing down at the end of it.  So this morning I thought I’d do some work on it and see if I could communicate to him that flying off was not the correct behavior.  So we worked some fun and fast tunnel/jump sequences with the teeter and on his first rep he flew right off.  So I stopped and gave a no reward maker.  So we tried it again, and he stopped in a 2o/2o….quite an impression I made I guess!  Still not what I wanted (I want him to ride it down and then move on), but I rewarded the valliant effort.  Third rep was perfect.  Fourth rep I tried to push him and got a lot of speed going and I kept running….fly off.  So I gave a non reward marker again.  We did 4 or 5 more reps and he was perfect each and every time.  We’ll see how this goes!

Rue:

Weaves – This little monkey is doing amazing things with her weaves!  She is one smart potato and once she understands what I want (sometimes that’s a tough battle ;)) then she is rock solid.  She’s graduated to 12 poles and worked from a 3″ channel down to straight poles in about four sessions.  She is a speed demon single-steppin’ fool!  Just this morning I started working entries, so I added a jump 15′ straight before the weaves and led out just past the jump to release her.  She drove right ahead of me, hit the entry, and just flew through.  I have also just finally added a word to this behavior…”weave”.  Up until now it was just the release word to go do something.  We worked through Joe Canova’s 5 actions with the jump in this position (dog on left, dog on right, recall through the poles, rear cross dog on left, rear cross dog on right) and then I moved the jump to “station 2″ which is a 30 degree hard side entry still 15′ from the poles.  We did the first 2 actions before she finished her breakfast, so we’ll continue either tonight or tomorrow morning with this station and then change it again. 

This is the only recent weave video I have of her and she was finishing up her 12 poles at 2” channel.  That was on 7/5, so you can imagine just how fast she’s caught onto this!

And this was her first attempt at 12 poles with the 3″ channel:

Teeter – Again this little girl has made some HUGE strides lately.  I hadn’t been doing too much teeter stuff recently because I’ve spent most of my training time with her on weave poles and her board/running contacts, but I decided to do a session the other night and she was on FIRE!  Totally driving to the end and sliding into her 2o/2o position.  Only issue is that she doesn’t stay on the board after her reward, so I have to start proofing my movement and her staying on the board until released.  I didn’t video this session, unfortunately because it’s better than the one I did video, but you can still see her driving much farther than she did when I initially transitioned her to doing it unassisted.  I think the most notable thing about this session, though, was that she had to poo really badly (I didn’t know it but as soon as we were done she went).  In the past she would have left me and just gone and pooed, but she continued to work really hard.  She does go off from me once for a brief moment in this video and I think that’s probably why…but she came right back when I called her name 😀

Dogwalk/running contacts – WOW, what can I say here other than she’s AMAZING!!  She has been on a full dogwalk five times now and has had *two* misses, that’s it.  Holy cow!  The first video here is her second time on the evil giant slatted bouncy wooden dogwalk at PBH.  I am starting with her in the video, restraining her before the upramp and running with her.  Her striding is a perfect 5-strides, but you can tell she’s kinda bouncy and not really driving forward…yet.

This next video is on my new home dogwalk, yahoo!  It’s aluminum and fiberglass with low profile slats and is very sturdy.  I started by restraining her as I did in the above video since this was her first time on this dogwalk and then proceeded to send her into a macaroni tunnel before hand.  She is really starting to drive in this video.  You can see her one miss is very close and she may have gotten a toe in the contact, but it was not what I wanted so she was not rewarded.

And finally, here is her most recent session.  I decided to add a jump about 12′ after the down ramp and then placed her food reward 8′ after that.  I’m going to attempt to fade the food lure now, ack.  In her second rep in this session she actually does the whole thing in FOUR strides!!  I have no idea if she’ll ever do that again or whether that was a one time deal, but it was something awesome to watch!  She also has a near spill in the 3rd to last rep…I think she just got on a little crooked, but managed to hang on and still hit her contact.  I was freaked out and had her do it two more times.  She was definitely slower, but still looked good.  We’ll work it again tonight and see what we get!

So that’s it in a nutshell.  We have another private lesson tomorrow night and I’ll only be working Rue.  The plan is to start working on turns after the dogwalk as well as proofing the stop on the teeter and handling (jump grids, figure 8’s, etc.).

Moore County Kennel Club AKC trial 7/1-3/09: Miles earns his OA!!

What a great weekend we had!  Miles has come such a long long way in the last year that it is almost impossible to remember where we were last July. 

 We started out with the AKC Match on Wednesday afternoon.  I signed him up for 1 JWW run and 2 Standard runs.  Since it was tall to small in JWW, we were like the 7th dog to go.  Surprisingly, Miles was quite comfortable walking into the arena (just this past March he was extremely stressed going in the front door when we were there observing AKC Nationals and couldn’t even eat treats).  So when I found him to be eager to tug on his ball tug and eat frozen Bil-Jac, I was overjoyed!  I used the match mostly to get Miles used to the astroturf and to the building.  In JWW, we ran out and did about 8 obstacles, left to get a few cookies, and went back in and did 15 or so more.  He was FLYING and just having a grand ol’ time.  He was definitely slipping on the turf so I was really glad that he got a chance to experience it before the trial.

It was then a really long wait for Standard as it was small to tall.  I ended up moving him down to 20″ in order to go a little sooner and only stayed for one run.  For this run I wanted to make sure he got his feet on all of his “stressy” obstacles…teeter, table, dogwalk, and chute.  So we did jump-tire-teeter (which he ran by at first, but then happily performed) and ran out for cookies.  Then we did tunnel-aframe-jump-table with a “down” and ran out for cookies.  You only got 60 seconds per turn so when I looked up and saw that I had 18 seconds left I busted out to do a big loop of tunnel-triple-panel-weaves-jump-jump-tunnel-dogwalk-chute 🙂  He was SOOO happy!  Unfortunately all of the sliding about on the turf caused him to rub off about 25% of his pads down 😦  Good thing I thought ahead to bring his Pad-Heel stuff and slathered it on that night and made sure to bring a wet washcloth with me to wet his pads down before his runs for the trial.

Thursday:

First up was Open Standard and they were running tall to small all day.  I arrived just as the judge was doing her briefing, so I was a little stressed that I wouldn’t have enough time to walk, but thankfully she gave us 8 minutes after her briefing!  The opening was very similar to that of the match except more of a straight on approach to the teeter.  We were in a different ring than the match ring, so it was a different teeter.  Plus the photographer was sitting right next to it, so I figured we’d earn a refusal there.  My only hope was that he’d then hit his weaves so that we could Q.  He did in fact run past the teeter the first time, then looked at the photographer, and decided to go ahead and do it.  after that it was a piece of cake.  I chose a blind cross after the weaves to show him the chute so I could get out of there and get to where I needed to be for his a-frame.  Miles was a superstar on his table and went right into a down.  He popped up in order to see over the curtain since they were applauding in the other ring, but quickly laid back down.  He was naughty and didn’t stop on his dogwalk, but happily came back to do the tunnel before the finish.  Normally he loves to tuck into tunnels under contacts, but he saw the finish jump and was anticipating the cookies 🙂  This earned us our second Open leg with a 2nd place!

We didn’t have long before Excellent JWW started.  We were like the 25th dog to run and I was excited for this course.  Miles seemed to have other intentions because after I pushed him back at the start line he decided it would be fun to say hi to the timer/scribe!  Silly boy!  In the past he’s been way too afraid of them, so this was an interesting manouver.  I called him back, but then he was set up wierd to take the first jump and nearly earned a refusal at the weaves, but somehow escaped that and hit his entry.  I had debated about layering or not layering in the first box we encountered and decided that I would need to layer as it would be too hard to make it inside for the front.  When I got there, I should have commited to the front because I had to slow way down and did a funky layer and then a rear cross.  He was such a good boy and stayed with me and kept the bars up for a really nice run!  This was our second leg and a 1st place!

Friday:

Again we started with Open Standard, but small to tall so it was a pretty good while before I got to run.  I was confident that today he’d do the teeter on the first try and he did….and nearly had a fly-off he was moving so fast!  He went right into his “sit” on the table and stopped on his dogwalk  too 🙂  I thought he was just great in this run and earned his OA with another 2nd place finish (by .02 seconds). 

It took about 4 hours before we were ready to run Excellent JWW.  I had watched team after team run this course and I think I got a little too comfortable with it.  I didn’t focus enough on my walk through and it showed as I was not where I should have been for the serpentine out of the second tunnel.  He saved me by keeping the bar up there, but then a tunnel call-off and me again being in a wierd spot caused a bar to come down at the double.  I was super proud of him in this run though as he was starting to open up a little more and really seemed to have fun.  So we’ll be in Excellent A until the next trial….

Overall, he just got more and more comfortable there and I’m sure would have just gone even faster if we had stayed for Saturday and Sunday, but I wanted to have some family time too 😉  We’ve got a few weeks break again and then a few trials in August indoors before the Fall trial season kicks into gear.