Retraining…

Continuing on from my last post, we’ve had a few hiccups.  We’re still in our “retrain” phase, but between Rue’s heat, Miles hurting his back, and then me hurting my back, it’s been interesting.  Miles’ injury was thankfully very short lived, but both dogs had to miss a USDAA trial at the end of October.  My back injury started not long after he got better and is still ongoing.  Through chiro, massage, yoga, and not running I’ve managed to get it a bit better but still not at all where I’d like to be.  Very depressing really.  Running has always been my “therapy”, so trying to exist without it has been difficult.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to still work with the dogs to some degree and Rue has been to 3 trials.  Miles has been to one.

Right now Rue thinks she’s pregnant….she has very pronounced false pregnancies and the hormones really affect her.  During these 63 days, keeping her attention and her interest in training/running with me is really put to the test.  This is the best she’s done with it so far, but she’s definitely not at her best.  We’ve been continuing to train our Silvia Trkman foundations and she can now do multi-wraps with the bar at 10″ pretty successfully.  We’ve also spent time going back to open weave pole channels and play chase the toy through.  The weaves are probably her least favorite obstacle and we lose a lot of time on course depending on when the weaves occur.  If they’re early on, she’s painfully slow.  If they’re at the end, I can count on a fairly fast performance.  So I’m trying to retrain these and make it all about powering through them to get to the toy.  We started with 12″ wide channels and are now at 9″.  Working on entries as well as driving ahead even if I’m not moving.  Miles and I are pretty much still concentrating on his up contacts.  We’ve had 11 sessions and I don’t think he’s getting it, so I have some new ideas to try.

Which brings us to the last two weekends.  Rue was entered one day at Teamworks for AKC on 11/13.  This is an outdoor venue and definitely NOT her favorite place to trial because there are so many distractions both visually and olfactory.  She actually ran pretty well though.  Had a bar in JWW, but ran great other than a bit of a trot out of a tunnel in Standard to get 4th place and 20pts.  Then Rue and I traveled to one of her favorite indoor venues in Concord, NC on 11/17. Again, due to her false preggo she’s not running even close to 100%.  She had a pretty speedy Standard run at 4.3yps but popped the last pole.  Her JWW started slow, but ended very very well for a Q and 9pts.  Geez if she could only run that speed all the way through…she’d be incredible!  On Saturday and Sunday (11/19-20) we were entered in a USDAA trial at the site where we used to train.  Rue ran fairly well and picked up a PSJ Q with a 2nd place in Rounds 1 and 2 to her brother.  She missed her DW contact in PGP because I failed to give her any information about a turn and she left the DW high.  She also ran Masters Pairs with a friend of mine and her BC.  Rue ran really well in her half, but we got an E when our partner found the poles a bit too soon 🙂  Her 3rd run on Sunday was Masters Snooker.  She gave me trotting off the line and for more than 3 obstacles, so we left the course without a party.  Yes it was 75 degrees out and yes, it was her 5th run of the weekend and yes she had trialed the previous Sunday and Thursday and yes she thinks she’s pregnant.  HOWEVER, she had just given me a LOT more in her other runs that day, so I had to make it clear to her that trotting does not end in any sort of party/food/play/etc.  I haven’t had to do this in nearly a year, but it’s been an effective reminder in the past so I used it.  She doesn’t show again until December 17th which will be indoor USDAA.  I pulled her from several classes that I had originally entered her in because I realize that this is a tough time for her.  Her “puppies” are due sometime between Christmas and New Years, so hopefully it will be all out of her system soon!!

Here’s her highlights from these last few shows:

And then there was Miles.  I did not enter him in either of the AKC shows that I brought Rue to.  He doesn’t need any AKC Qs for anything until the qualifying period for 2013 Nationals starts on December 1st.  And since we’re in our “retrain” period, I thought that wasting $$ on AKC would be silly.  We do need USDAA Tourney Q’s, however, so Miles also ran last weekend.  He was entered in 4 classes on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.  He picked up a PSJ leg with a 1st Place finish in both rounds.  He also took 1st in PIII Standard and 2nd in PIII Snooker.  He was an off course away from a PGP leg, a PIII Jumpers leg, and another PIII Std leg.  Oh and we missed the Gamble in PIII Gamblers.  Overall, I was super pleased with our weekend.  I had no focus on qualifying, but simply used these runs as “training”.  When there were handling options, I chose the ones that would be hardest for us.  We did a lot of rear crosses, haha.  It was also cool to see his dogwalks.  He only missed one up-contact all weekend, which was sweet!  I still think I need to figure out a better way of helping him to understand what the criteria is, but it was nice to see that he can hit it 😉

Miles is also off until our 3-days of USDAA in mid-December.  This trial was supposed to be the first in our 2nd phase of gearing up towards Nationals and to be used as a test of what we’ve trained.  However, due to above mentioned injuries and the Thanksgiving holiday we’ve not gotten to where I thought we’d be with his understanding of the up-contacts.  I’ll still use this trial as a “test” trial, but also realize that I cannot test his ups quite yet….

Deep Thoughts….

As some of you may know, Miles, Rue and I recently competed at Cynosport World Games last month in Louisville, KY.  This was Miles’ second trip and Rue’s first.  It was overall a great trip.  Rue blew me away with how well she handled the pressures of a REALLY big show.  She brought her a-game to each and every run and was rewarded with making it into PGP Semifinals.  She also had very solid team runs.  I couldn’t have been more proud of her!  Miles’ time at the games was a bit disappointing.  He missed his up-contact on the DW in PGP Quarters, had an off-course tunnel in PSJ Quarters and then he and his teammate both tanked in Snooker.  Don’t get me wrong we had some GREAT runs, but it made me rethink some things for him.  Of course, keeping it all in perspective as compared to last year he was super confident and VERY fast.  Can’t complain about that!!

Here are the videos:

Since we returned from the games, I and both dogs have been in a period of rest and recharge.  I figure there were 24 weeks between USDAA Nationals and AKC Nationals which makes for a very convenient  separation of three 8-week periods.  The first 8 weeks are planned for rest, reflection, rebuilding and retraining which is where we are right now.  The number one item on Miles’ list for retraining is to attempt to teach him to hit the up-contact.  That one thing alone has cost us more USDAA runs than any other issue.  I decided to try using a board on the ground and reward him for hitting the “up” similar to how I started training Rue’s running dogwalk with a plank on the ground.  We’ve had 5 sessions thus far:

Rue is on a slightly different path as I don’t plan to bring her to AKC Nationals this year.  Instead, her “goal trial” is the Mid-Atlantic USDAA Regional in Palmyra, PA three weeks after AKC Nationals.  Conveniently, that breaks down to three 9-week periods.  For Rue’s retrain, I’m concentrating mostly on revisiting our Silvia Trkman Foundations Class exercises.  This online class was a true turning point for Rue and I this past summer.  We both benefited from going back to the basics and we still have more to work on so even though we completed the class, we are going to go back and make sure those things are solid.  We will also continue with a lot of conditioning (both dogs) and working on speed, speed, speed!  My other desire for Rue is a startline stay.  We’ve avoided them because starting with her is more fun and less stressful for her and most times I’m fast enough to be able to do what I need to do with a running start.  However, because we start together she’s not always as fast as she could be because she’s not totally sure where we’re going next.  If I can get to the point where she will allow a little leadout, I think I could get her the information much sooner which will increase her confidence and speed off the line.  So here’s what we’ve been working on so far:

We will have a few trials during this retrain period, but I will not expect any of our new behaviours to be solid at all.  Here’s to happy training!

Blowin’ off the dust….

Ok, it’s been a full year since I’ve last posted to my blog.  Too much time doing?  Not enough time to write?  Too much time on Facebook?  All of the above, I’m sure.  A lot has happened in the last year….a LOT.  Both dogs are doing great and we are about to embark on a new journey.  In the process of moving forward, I feel it’s also necessary to look back at the past year to see what we’ve done.

So in that vein, I thought it would be good to take a look at my last blog post which was about my goals for 2011.  I’ve copied that post here and have added comments.  I’ll be back later to talk about what’s next on our agendas.

Originally posted 9/29/10

First, my long term goals for each dog:

Miles:

MACH by early spring 2011 – Woohoo!!  Earned at the HOTC trial in Huntsville, AL on 5/8/11

Qualify and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals and run clean in finals of PGP and PSJ – Well, we qualified and we entered.  But didn’t make it past Quarterfinals due to an upcontact call on the DW in PGP and an offcourse tunnel in PSJ.

Qualify and attend 2012 AKC Nationals running clean in all rounds – We are qualified!  Last year Miles had a bar in Round 2, but was clean in Rounds 1 and 3.  We were privileged  to be able to run again in the Challenger Round.  We put in a great run, but had an offcourse.  I couldn’t have been more proud of our first trip to AKC Nationals!

 Attend 2011 Golden Retriever Nationals – Nope.  Chose to focus on USDAA Nationals instead.

Rue:

Attend 2011 Golden Retriever Nationals – Nope. Chose to focus on USDAA Nationals instead.

Qualify for and attend 2011 SE Regionals – Yep, but we did not enter tournaments there, just titling classes.

Qualify for and attend 2012 AKC Nationals – She finished her qualifications in September.  The jury is still out whether I’ll take her to Reno, NV.

Qualify for and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals – Big yes here!  Rue did amazingly well for her first trip to a national event.  She made it through PGP Quarters and ran in PGP Semi’s with a gorgeous run.  She had a bar, but would have needed to be a touch faster to have made it to finals.  Rue also ran great in her team events, putting in fast and solid runs.  VERY proud of her!

And my short term goals for each dog (ie. the next 1-2 months)

Miles:

– Continue fine tuning our warm-up and  cool-down routines for agility – We got it down.

– Continue to stretch him nightly and after strenuous activities including jogging, offlead hiking, swimming, and agility – Of course.

– Do ball work/strength work 2-3 times per week depending on agility schedule.  Work up to longer duration on the ball.  Master side sit-ups, crawling, handstands, and 1,2,3,4 exercises on the floor. – All is being done/been done except the side sit-ups….

– Make and use cavalettis and/or ladder – Oops, not yet.

– Continue monthly massage visits, every 1-3 month visits with chiro, and semi-annual visits with Dr. Schwabe – He gets a massage and a chiro adjustment every 3-4 weeks and continues to see Dr. Schwabe bi-annually.

– RUN like I mean it in trials and in practice.  Drive my dog! – Oh yeah, baby!  This is something that I’ve gotten really good at 🙂

– Make the finals of PGP and/or PSJ at 2010 USDAA Nationals – Again, nope.  He did great last year at Nationals, but had an offcourse in PGP semi’s and was 1 spot away from PSJ Finals.  Didn’t help that I almost missed my run and then had no mental capacity to remember the course.  We got through it, but I was NOT driving him….

Rue:

– Give her a 2 month break from competitions to enable us to go back over missing foundation work and to continue to increase her drive for agility – Yep, and boy did that help!

– Continue to find new places to work on focus and motivation – We did lots of “taking it on the road” last fall.

– Continue to build upon our tug/play/agility sessions by making the agility portion a bit more prominent and/or more difficult – For sure!

– Continue to stretch nightly and after strenuous activities including jogging, offlead hiking, swimming, and agility – Of course.

– Do ball work/strength work 2-3 times per week depending on agility schedule.  Work up to longer duration on the ball.  Master side sit-ups, crawling, handstands, and 1,2,3,4 exercises on the floor. – Again, all but side sit-ups.

– Make and use cavalettis and/or ladder – Nope.

– Continue monthly massage visits, every 1-3 month visits with chiro, and semi-annual visits with Dr. Schwabe – She is on the same schedule as Miles.

Me:

–  Lose the 5 lbs I gained since February plus the 5 more I’ve wanted to lose for years by Dec. 31 2010 – Yes, I did…but I gained 5 back…oops!

–  Continue keeping a food diary 5 days a week and being sensible on the weekends – This is definitely routine now.

–  Integrate more protein into my diet and avoid processed foods as much as possible – Yup.

–  Take my multivitamin daily!!! – Haha, oops.

–  Train for and compete in the 2011 Tobacco Road Marathon – Nope, decided it was too much time away from family and pups.  I still run distance, but not for race training.

–  Continue weekly personal training sessions to help with strength and power – Aborted in the spring when the trainer became a flake.  Need to find a new one.

–  Continue yoga/pilates 1-2 times per week to work on flexibility and core strength – Fell off this wagon…still trying to get back on!

 


Goals for the rest of 2010 and beginning of 2011

I decided to lay out my goals in a little bit more of a coherent fashion, plus I’ve added some personal goals to my list at the end.

First, my long term goals for each dog:

Miles:

MACH by early spring 2011

Qualify and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals and run clean in finals of PGP and PSJ

Qualify and attend 2012 AKC Nationals running clean in all rounds

 Attend 2011 Golden Retriever Nationals

Rue:

Attend 2011 Golden Retriever Nationals

Qualify for and attend 2011 SE Regionals

Qualify for and attend 2012 AKC Nationals

Qualify for and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals

And my short term goals for each dog (ie. the next 1-2 months)

Miles:

– Continue fine tuning our warm-up and  cool-down routines for agility

– Continue to stretch him nightly and after strenuous activities including jogging, offlead hiking, swimming, and agility

– Do ball work/strength work 2-3 times per week depending on agility schedule.  Work up to longer duration on the ball.  Master side sit-ups, crawling, handstands, and 1,2,3,4 exercises on the floor.

– Make and use cavalettis and/or ladder

– Continue monthly massage visits, every 1-3 month visits with chiro, and semi-annual visits with Dr. Schwabe

– RUN like I mean it in trials and in practice.  Drive my dog!

– Make the finals of PGP and/or PSJ at 2010 USDAA Nationals

Rue:

– Give her a 2 month break from competitions to enable us to go back over missing foundation work and to continue to increase her drive for agility

– Continue to find new places to work on focus and morivation

– Continue to build upon our tug/play/agility sessions by making the agility portion a bit more prominent and/or more difficult

– Continue to stretch nightly and after strenuous activities including jogging, offlead hiking, swimming, and agility

– Do ball work/strength work 2-3 times per week depending on agility schedule.  Work up to longer duration on the ball.  Master side sit-ups, crawling, handstands, and 1,2,3,4 exercises on the floor.

– Make and use cavalettis and/or ladder

– Continue monthly massage visits, every 1-3 month visits with chiro, and semi-annual visits with Dr. Schwabe

Me:

–  Lose the 5 lbs I gained since February plus the 5 more I’ve wanted to lose for years by Dec. 31 2010

–  Continue keeping a food diary 5 days a week and being sensible on the weekends

–  Integrate more protein into my diet and avoid processed foods as much as possible

–  Take my multivitamin daily!!!

–  Train for and compete in the 2011 Tobacco Road Marathon

–  Continue weekly personal training sessions to help with strength and power

–  Continue yoga/pilates 1-2 times per week to work on flexibility and core strength

 

There, now maybe you all can help hold me accountable!!!

Goals revisited

Yes, it’s been awhile but we’ve been very busy.  We’ve had some changes around here as far as where I’m going with both dogs and my plans to get there.   I’ve had a big shift in focus with both pups, but for different reasons.  Before I continue, I would like to say that we have been trialing, but I’ve just not been motivated to post about them.  So if you’re interested in seeing our runs from the summer months, go here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/tailsofgold?feature=mhum 

With Rue, my main focus now is fun, fun, and more fun.  As time went on, it was becoming more evident that she just wasn’t having enough of it out there and was showing me that in the form of trotting painfully slowly around the course.  It wasn’t every time, but it was becoming more and more the norm to have her just barely make time or totally lose her to sniffing on course, bleh.  I believe part of her issue was that she was going through a false pregnancy through June and July.  It was also hotter than heck here in NC this summer.  Add to that a tick disease and loss of muscle mass, poor girl just didn’t feel good.  However, I know Rue and I know she’s got some issues with pressure, so curing the tick disease and getting her hormones back to baseline were not the only answers.  So we’re doing some fun and unique things in training and in trials I spent the entire summer running her on 5-10 obstacles only on course.  I saw a definite improvement in her drive off the line and have recently been occasionally running a full course with great success.  We have a long road ahead of us and it’s up to me to continue to stay focused on FUN and not get wrapped up in the Q.

My shift for Miles is to focus more on conditioning than on agility alone.  He’s had a couple of health scares this summer (Lyme disease, followed by near liver failure due to doxycycline for the Lyme, followed by some minor back issues).  It’s become much more apparent to me that my relationship with him and his health and happiness come way before any competitive goals.  No, I cannot help that he got a tick disease, those suckers are evil and get on them regardless of Frontline every 3 weeks.  But I need to be his advocate at all times and pay attention to what he’s telling me…no matter how subtle that may be.  Further, I can make it my duty to keep him as sound as possible.  So my focus is on conditioning and finding a balance between too much agility for him and too little for me.  I thought this would be more difficult that it is, but I’m finding that I really missed having multiple weekends at home and I thouroughly enjoy having more time to take the dogs hiking and just plain existing with them. 

All that being said, I decided to go back and revisit the goals I wrote out for us in the beginning of this year to see what we have accomplished, but also to see where I can make some changes.  Here are the goals as they stood in January….comments and revisions are in italic red.  Thanks for reading!

Long Term Goals (Define Your Destination)

Miles: MACH by fall 2010   We’re getting close!!  Only 5 QQ’s to go 🙂

            Qualify for and attend 2010 USDAA Nationals  Check.  Heading out in 4 weeks!  Qualified for all events and even earned a bye to PGP Semis!

            Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals  Check.  We were qualified by the end of April.

            Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Invitational  Letting this one go.  Requires far too much trialing and led me to focusing on the wrong things for me and Miles.

  –Rue:   Qualify for and attend 2010 Southeast USDAA Regionals  We went, but played in Starters classes only.  She loved Perry!!

                 Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals  Haha, nope.  We have 3 QQs, but very few points.  Gave this up back in May when I decided that she wasn’t having enough fun in agility yet.  *Maybe* we’ll be ready for 2012….

                  Qualify for and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals  This is still a realistic goal.  I’d like to see her being able to play in a couple events.

 

Short Term Goals (Make a Road Map)

 – Miles: MX/MXJ by spring 2010  Completed both by mid-March

                  Earn Q’s in Performance Speed Jumping, PVP and Performance Grand Prix by spring 2010  That was easy!  We were fully qualified for Nats in February after only 2 trials. 

                  ADHF (Golden Retriever Agility Dog Hall of Fame) by summer 2010  Miles fulfilled his requirements over Memorial Day weekend!

This month:

 – Learn how to communicate the difference between a lateral motion rear-cross and a forward motion/deceleration rear-cross Feeling much better about this.

– Trust him in longer lead outs if needed in competition  We’re getting better, but he still needs more jump starts than leadouts to keep his motivation high and stress level low.

– Practice pushes into a tunnel under the frame/dogwalk  Haven’t concentrated on this much.

– Practice lateral pulls off the aframe  Circle of death training completed and he’s been a rock star with his frames!

–  Practice discriminations without having to go so deep to get the tunnel  Needs work.

 – Maintain at least 5yps course times in JWW and at least 4yps course times in Standard  Definitely there and getting even faster.

 – Achieve and maintain consistency at speed earning at least 130 points per month  No longer concentrating on points since I dropped the Invitational idea, but still pushing for speed since it’s fun!

Rue: AX/AXJ by early summer 2010 Rue earned her AXJ in January, her AX  in March, and her MXJ in May. 

              Earn a Q in (at least) Steeplechase by late spring 2010  Didn’t even enter any tourneys in USDAA.

 This month:

– Make the teeter a favorite obstacle  It’s not a favorite, but she seems much more confident with it.  Need to continue to play teeter games a few times a month.

– Tug in as many different locations/situations as possible  Boy have we been places 🙂  She’s a tuggin’ fiend!

– Achieve a reliable and drivey start line routine  This is coming along for sure, but I’d still like to see her blasting off the line more consistently.

– Visit and train in as many different locations as possible  Still working on finding new places.

– Alternate running courses without cookies with higher pressure short sequences with rewards on me  Changed this to her tug toy.  She seems to be just as drivey if I have the toy or if I throw it down before we start.

– Ask neighbors to come over and watch us train and act as ring crew/judge  Slacked on this one.

– Start working more seriously/systematically on dogwalk turns  For now I’ve decided that she gets extension cues for everything and then we turn on the flat.  Seems to be working!

– Achieve and maintain at least 4yps in JWW and at least 3yps in Standard  4yps is just plain slow.  I want to see her in the high 4’s to low 5’s in JWW and the high 3’s to low 4’s in Standard. 

 

 Word your goals thoughtfully:

– Rue is motivated to work/play with me
– I am confident in my handling choices for each dog
Miles slams into a down on the table
– Rue had a fast and drivey teeter
Rue runs fast and extended
– Rue and I move together as a connected team
Miles rides the teeter all the way down

Rue blasts off the line and drives around the course
– Rue flies through her poles
– Miles loves it when I lead out

 

Know the reasons why:

– Winning is fun

– Proving that Goldens can be very competitive in agility

– Becoming a more credible dog trainer

– Pushing myself beyond my limits

Motivation:

Carrot:

 – More letters after/before my dogs’ names

– Recognition from peers, instructors, and elite competitors

– Credibility

Sense of accomplishment

Fun

 – Sense of self-worth

Stick:

– Fear of failure

 – Fear of injury

 – Embarassment

Catching up

Boy have we been busy!  I have three trials to post about so I’m just going to do them all here.  Overall the pups have been doing great.  Miles is really stepping up his game and Rue is on a new program to help her get faster.

Memorial Day weekend we traveled to Asheville, NC for one of my favorite trials….BRAC’s AKC trial.  Indoors on dirt and this time in three rings.  Overall the big accomplishments were that Miles got QQ #10 which landed him in the Golden Retriever Agility Dog Hall of Fame (ADHF).  He also was an international superstar and took 2nd place in ISC JWW 26″ earning himself (and me) $33!  Rue nabbed QQ #3 and her MXJ!  Here are the videos:

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday:

Our next adventure was down to Perry, GA for USDAA Southeast Regionals.  This was our first time to a Regional event and I was cautiously optimistic for Miles.  He was entered in Team and Grand Prix Semi-finals and Rue was in 5 Starters classes.  Major accomplishments for this trial was that somehow Miles’ team went for NQ to Q due to a kick ass Relay run which in turn gave Miles his Accomplished Tournament Dog (ATD) title.  He also shocked and amazed me by making it to Performance Grand Prix Finals and then coming in 7th for a bye to Semis at Nationals!  I also learned a ton about Rue and her ring stress.  As you’ll see in the videos I started out with only doing 5 obstacles on course and gradually increased it.  Bye the end of Sunday, I decided to try an entire Starters Snooker course (13 obstacles) and she freaking ROCKED it!  You’ll be seeing us doing mini loops on course for a little while to come.

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday:

And now onto the business of yesterday.  We headed down to Bon-Clyde just for one day of AKC agility.  No real goals for this trial and honestly the sand surface makes me a bit nervous, but we’ll be trialing her a few times this summer so I wanted to get back on the horse so to speak.  Again the plan was for Rue to just run a few obstacles and get out.  For Miles I was just hoping for fun and hopefully some points.  Unfortunately he had a massive fly-off on the teeter which caused us to miss a QQ.  I’m in the process of adding a stop back in because he just is getting more and more naughty on this obstacle.

(I need to add Rue’s JWW run, but YouTube keeps flaking out on me.  Hopefully will have it up later).

So that’s it!  Today I have a private lesson with Karen Holik then on Friday I’m doing a few runs at a local CPE trial with Rue.  The following weekend we’re back at Bon-Clyde.