Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday December 30th 2006 - practice at Red Gate

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Oh well, so much for the winter-long agility break! Went for a spur-of-the-moment agility practice with some friends today. All jumps were kept at 16". The people who used the facility before us had been running a jumper's course from a major event (can't remember which one) and took a few minutes to walk us through it before we left, so that's what we started the day with. An approximate diagram is below but I'm pretty sure I didn't get it quite right. Walter and I squeaked our way through it cleanly and it was fun though neither pretty nor fast! Then we brought in the contact obstacles and just played around. The highlights of Walter's day were that he had no dogwalk issues and no problems with rear crosses with jumps (no spinning - guess the flatwork is paying off).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wednesday December 24th 2006 - practice on the flat

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Have been practicing some circle work and cross work on the flat at a local field. We can now do rear cross exercises like the "zig zag" one described at Agility Nerd.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday December 13th 2006 - Novice 3, class #7

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was our last class of the session and year. We worked on using the flip to do a rear cross between jumps at 90d. Then we did 6-pole weaves as part of a sequence with jumps, tire, and tunnel, including a challenging off-side entry coming out of the tunnel, and Walter ended the session on a great note with the weaves, being 100% tonight. Also on one pass I ran laterally away from the weaves while he weaved and he stayed in them. Then we did a sequence with the teeter and he did a great job of sticking the 2o2o when I ran a metre or two ahead of him as he did the teeter. Finally we did a sequence with frame, flip into tunnel and some jumps, and I think the tunnel and frame are the obstacles that have suffered the most from our lack of practice in the last few months. We'll take a nice break from agility until the spring and come back fully recharged!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Wednesday December 6th 2006 - Novice 3, class #6

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Not really anything to report other than Walter's confidence on the dogwalk seems to be coming back.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday November 29th 2006 - Novice 3, class #5

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Did more work on the flip around a jump standard. Ran a sequence starting with a jump, 90d left to weaves, tunnel, back to weaves. He got the difficult offside entry, which I was suprised but happy about, but then on the return pass I was ahead of him on the near side as he entered the poles and he entered at the second pole, twice. The instructor suggested that we need more practice with him nailing the entry while I'm ahead of him. We learned something new tonight: jumps at 270d. On the first try the instructor put a pair of standards to represent an imaginary jump between the two jumps, then on the second try she removed it and we are supposed to run the dog as if there is an imaginary jump to help guide them through a good path between the two jumps.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday November 24th 2006 - practice at Red Gate

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Checked out a nice new agility facility. Worked on SLS including in front of a tunnel (boy does it ever suck him in), 12-pole weaves, and miscellaneous other stuff such as going across the dogwalk a few times. His first pass was nice but on the second it's like he remembered his spook of a few days ago and was very hesitant on the upramp but I said nothing and let him decide what to do, and he completed the obstacle.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday November 22nd 2006 - Novice 3, class #4

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Startline stays: The instructor suggested I try running and jumping and generally acting kooky as I lead out to further proof his stays. So I acted mildly kooky today and he stayed; good boy. Dogwalk: One of today's sequences had the dog come out of the tunnel which is snaked under the dogwalk and immediately turn 180 onto the dogwalk. Well his turn was quite fast and his footing on the upramp got messed up, which spooked him; he managed to scamper across the dogwalk, but on several subsequent tries of just the dogwalk alone he was very hesitant, even choosing not to take it a couple of times. I kept things light and he finished with a couple of half-decent passes. Weaves: Used his tug to reward weaves today, first time ever doing that with the weaves. He entered at the second pole but after that initial goofup he did well, including each of two passes on a sequence with frame, jump at 22", weaves with a slight off-side angle entry from jump to weaves.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday November 15th 2006 - Novice 3, class #3

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter's start line stays were noticeably better today. Could be because I've been working on them outside of class, or maybe just because he was pooped after a long walk this afternoon. In addition to working on them outside of class I'm making a point of going back to reward on random lead-outs in class. We had trouble today with the tunnel in sequences where it was adjacent to the frame or dogwalk. He wasn't trying to take the contact, it's just that he didn't want to go in the tunnel, but he did eventually do it. Oh well. On the bright side, so far in this session Walter has been 100% for his weaves. Today on the 4 non-sequence passes of the 6-pole weaves I "pushed the envelope" by running (slowly) ahead of him as he weaved. Then we did a sequence where he takes the weaves immediately after a tunnel (easy head-on approach) and he got it both times.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday November 11th 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Got our brand new fixed upright weaves today! I got them with plain poles (no stripes) so that Walter has the opportunity to get used to different-looking poles. I put him through them a few times and he had no trouble. Now that he can weave uprights, however, I won't be doing much weave practice at home because there's just not enough room for him to get up any kind of speed before or after the weaves and I don't want to pattern him into weaving slowly. The neat thing is that the base of these weaves come apart in the middle so I can easily transport them to different places for a change of scenery. Other news, I've started watching the Success with One Jump DVD by Susan Garrett, and I'm learning tons from it.

Walter showing off his brand new fixed weaves!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Wednesday November 8th 2006 - Novice 3, class #2

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Got in some more time on the teeter, and this time I didn't say anything at the pivot and after a few passes he had much more confidence than last week. Did 6 passes on the set of 6 weave poles, including him starting at 5:00 and 7:00, and he did every pass correctly. A weak point in our training showed itself clearly tonight, which is his lack of drive on the frame, particularly when I rear cross behind it. Also, we did some sequences and the instructor noted how after I've led out, when I raise my hand Walter stops looking at me and looks ahead to the obstacle in front of him, looking for his line. Apparently this is something you want to teach your dog in agility, to "find his line". In theory I should be able to lead out ahead of him and be at quite a lateral distance, for example, and when I raise my hand he should look ahead to find the obstacles he's supposed to take. I look forward to learning more about that in later courses! Meanwhile it sucks that the agility field has closed for the season since practice opportunities will now be few and far between! Oh yeah, one last thing: a few of the sequences we ran tonight included the chute, and he did it on the first try (today was his first time with this school's chute).

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Wednesday November 1st 2006 - Novice 3, class #1

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was our first class and first time ever at a new-to-us agility school. The first task was a simple set of 6 fixed weaves. The weaves were set up with some strange looking, large wooden training blocks jutting out from the poles to encourage the proper path. Walter and I had never seen anything like that but the instructor said why not try them anyway; well that didn't work at all, Walter didn't recognize them as weaves and just ran right by them. So she pulled the blocks out of the way leaving just the regular 6 fixed weaves, and voila! Walter had no problems at all and did them correctly all 4 times, hooray! twice with me on his right and twice on his left, me standing lateral to the first pole and calling him from a sit stay. I had been wondering before the class how he would handle a different set of weaves since he's only ever weaved my wams and our practice field's weaves, so I'm really glad that he did them great! Other exercises included a review of the flip and some sequences that use a lead-out pivot, as well as a false turn to adjust the dog's path between a jump and the two ends of a C tunnel (use false turn to get them to go to the far entrance). Oh yeah, and we tried their teeter which is a bit different from the one we're used to. The instructor advised that I shouldn't say "easy" or anything to slow him down at the pivot, since speed is a crucial part of agility and the dog should be allowed to find his own way with the teeter; interesting advice and makes sense to me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday October 31st 2006 - photos

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Here are some photos (thanks Melissa!) from our final outdoor practice of the season last Thursday.

Doing the "real thing": 12 fixed weaves, yay!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday October 29th 2006 - home/walk practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter's start line stay has been deteriorating. It's as if saying "wait" and giving the signal have become a cue for him to get anxious, fret, and skootch forward rather than to stay put. Since these SLS issues will only get worse if not addressed, I have started a concerted effort to retrain his "wait". So I'm starting back at square one by not leaving his side at first, and once he shows he's comfortable with that I will begin to add distance.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday October 26th 2006 - last outdoor practice of the season

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was probably our last practice at the field for the season, and it was a good note to end on: Walter did a bunch of excellent passes on the 12-pole fixed weaves! I timed one of the runs and he came in at 4 seconds. I hereby declare the goal that I set on August 31st, of Walter being able to weave by January, achieved! Weave-related goals for next year's practice season will include proofing and working on more challenging entries. Here's a link to a great article on proofing weaves.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday October 25th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter's weaving success rate seems to be really improving! Over the course of the practice I ran him through the 6-pole fixed weaves about 10-12 times, sometimes as part of a sequence and sometimes not, and he only did one unsuccessful pass where he entered at the 2nd pole, and I'm pretty sure it's because I didn't rev him up enough first (that combined with no obstacle before it). He weaved successfully with him starting at 6:00 (facing the weaves head-on) and me standing at 12:00, 2:00, 10:00, 5:00, and 7:00. Also, I put a couple of jumps at an angle before the weaves (see below) and he got the right entry from either jump! (although I only tried the off-side one once so as not to push my luck!) I rewarded primarily with the ball today and twice while he was running around with the ball after being rewarded with it, he ran through the fixed weaves of his own accord! However, both times he either bypassed a pole or popped out one pole too early. All in all, an encouraging practice!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday October 23rd 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Kept the practice short like last time. Ran some different sequences with the 6-pole fixed weaves and he did them right 4 out of the 5 times! The one he got wrong he entered at the 2nd pole instead of the 1st.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday October 22nd 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

I think it was good for Walter to have had this past week off from agility (darn rain!) because he did quite well today. Towards the start of the practice I did some single jump to 6-pole fixed wams then replaced with fixed weaves. He seemed bored/unmotivated with this and didn't do extraordinarily well. So to mix it up a bit I put the weaves as the last element of a sequence. It was like magic, as if his brain suddenly turned to full power because he did them perfectly every one of the 5 or so times! Also today, for the first time I tried a lead-out pivot, just for the fun of it, between jump 1 and 2 below. I was amazed, it worked! It's neat to see him thinking and paying attention for directions. Also, today I worked on getting some lateral distance at the a-frame.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday October 15th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today for the first time I presented Walter with 12 fixed upright weave poles, and he did several successful passes! But also several unsuccessful passes, such as bypassing the first pole(s) or bypassing a middle pole or two. It will be very helpful to get in some practice with 12-pole wams so that I can boost his confidence by putting the poles at an angle to ensure success. Unfortunately this is not possible at this time.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday October 14th 2006 - Advanced II/III, class #6 (last class)

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today's class started with individual warm-ups followed by two standard courses, run one way the first time and backwards the second time. In the warm-up Walter did a number of clean passes on the 6-pole fixed weaves, yay! The standard courses included a serpentine, flip from frame to tunnel (Walter went way wide on this, I think because I didn't have his focus before flipping him), and off-side weaves (upright wams) in the second run which posed some problems. But overall it went as well as it could given the cold, rainy weather. The instructor said Walter has very good contacts. I shall have to find us someplace to practice and/or take lessons over the winter!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday October 12th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today we had a Eureka moment with the rear cross! A series of jumps was laid out nicely for a series of rear crosses, so I thought we'd give it a try. He got every one of them, no spinning at all, yay! I will have to try some more rear crosses next time with different obstacles/set-ups to see if tonight was just a fluke! Weavewise, he was quite slow and unmotivated tonight. I have been slacking off big-time at home; I can't remember the last time I did the wams with him at home and it is definitely having an impact on his performance at the field. Must get back to doing the short daily home wam practices!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Monday October 9th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Anticipating the upcoming closure of the agility field, I took Walter to get in some more weave practice. Warmed up with some wams, then did the following set up: jump, 6 fixed weaves, jump, 6 fixed weaves, jump (jumps only at 10" since he worked so hard yesterday). I videotaped the whole session so I could keep track of the successful and unsuccessful passes and note any trends. Out of 20 onside attempts, he did 14 successful passes, 5 passes where he bypassed the first pole, and 1 pass where he popped. Out of 26 offside attempts, he did 11 successful passes, 2 passes where he bypassed the first pole, 9 pops, and 4 passes where he got the wrong entry and popped. (Note, an attempt refers to an attempt at one 6-pole set.) I noticed that the unsuccessful passes tended to clump together. Overall, a 54% success rate, and his speed is improving as he gains more confidence with the fixed weaves. I started rewarding with a ball instead of treats half way through the session to freshen things up for him, which worked. Next time I will do a different set-up because the way I had it today meant that if he did a successful pass on the first set of weaves and I didn't stop to treat him and he goofed on the second set of weaves, then either I had to reward him for the goof-up or not reward him for the first success. Also, I will try to keep the practice shorter - I had no idea until I watched the video that I had asked him to weave almost 50 times today! OOPS! Note, it was 13 degrees during the practice but it felt warmer than that (t-shirt weather).

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Sunday October 8th 2006 - part deux

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Here are some photos of Walter from our practice on October 6th. A big thank you to Melissa for taking such great shots!

Doing the fixed weaves, yay!

Sunday October 8th 2006 - Fun Match

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter and I had a great day today enjoying the beautiful weather in our third fun match together. Going into it, my personal goals were to give commands earlier and to properly study the course from a handling perspective to know where I need to be and when. Today's courses were standard and jumpers (without weaves, yay!) and I decided we'd try both the starters and advanced courses in each. Walter was on his game today and even got an imaginary Q in the starters jumpers! (It was our first fun match course that didn't have weaves in it, so it was nice to be on even ground with everyone else for once.) In the standard, he displayed very nice control on the teeter both times and did a good flip from the frame to the tunnel, but he was slow to down on the table. He didn't knock a bar all day (22"). His start-line-stays definitely need more work, but compared to previous fun matches where by the last run he seemed to have had enough, his concentration seemed to last the whole day this time, despite the warm weather. I noticed today that if I focus him just before entering the ring by saying "wanna go play agility?" in a perky voice, it really gets him excited and thinking about the task at hand. From watching the video afterwards, I would say that I improved on giving commands earlier and I feel I'm getting better at mentally picturing the course and therefore remembering my path while doing the run. It was a wonderful day and a great way to end the fun match season.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Saturday October 7th 2006 - Advanced II/III, class #5

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

I think Walter used up all his brain power or concentration at today's flyball practice because it was a bit of an "off" day day in agility today. It wasn't terrible or anything, it's just that he was sniffy when I was setting up for his start-line-stay, his table was atrocious (took forever to down), and he was just generally not focused in parts of the standard course that we ran today. However, part of it can be attributed to me because I didn't have my handling lines straight in my head, so my uncertainty showed up in my body language no doubt. The instructor suggested we get some practice in at making the table a wonderful place to lie down, and practice sending him to it, as well as working on his start-line-stay.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thursday October 5th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

More BIG NEWS: At today's practice, Walter weaved 6-pole fixed weaves not just once, but multiple times! Here's how it happened: I set the wams up between the tire and a jump, starting with the poles at an angle then quickly moving on to straight up. After quite a bit of this, mixed in with time spent on other obstacles and sequences, I replaced the wams with a 6-pole fixed set. The transition wasn't totally smooth, so I put the wams on the other side of the tire so that the entire sequence was wams, tire, fixed weaves, jump. I started him on the wams end at first, which really helped "warm him up" for the fixed weaves. Then I alternated which end of the sequence we started on. I won't say he got every try of the fixed weaves perfectly, but he really is getting the idea, getting used to the fact that the fixed poles don't bend very much. I tried him on the other 6-pole fixed set between the table and a jump and he was able to do those ones properly too. Of today's unsuccessful tries on the fixed weaves, his most common problem was entering at the second pole instead of the first. But he did about 7 or 8 successful passes on the fixed weaves, yay! Once he's more confident on the fixed poles and has a higher success rate (I'd estimate he was at 50/50 with the fixed poles today) I'll start thinking about adding more poles to the mix. Hopefully this will happen before the field closes for the season! Regardless, it's so exciting to see such progress, and I must say it's nice with the fixed poles not to have to go and make the poles straight again after every single pass. I hope the next fun match (the last one of the season) will be the last agility event in which we have to run past the weaves instead of weaving them! Note: The temperature was a cool 11 degrees today, which I'm sure helped Walter maintain his focus and concentration.

If I could offer just one piece of advice to someone just starting to learn the weaves, it's to get a set of training weaves (wams, 2x2, whatever) at home so you can practice every day. I have no doubt that this was key for Walter and I, looking at the progress he's made since we got our wams at the end of August.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Monday October 2nd 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Put the wams (6 poles) in the middle of a bunch of obstacles so that we could do some sequences with them (jump on one approach, frame the other, and other jumps scattered around). Got him to do the wams fully upright, and after several repetitions of the wams as part of sequences I replaced them with uprights (6 poles), hoping that Walter wouldn't notice. The first couple of times weren't perfect, but then he did a perfect one! His first time ever doing 6 fixed uprights! By then though he was starting to get tired and the next repetitions weren't as successful so I put the wams back to end it on a good note.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday September 30th 2006 - Advanced II/III, class #4

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Started with a serpentine exercise and ended with snooker's. I goofed in the transition between the opening and closing, making Walter go through the tire the wrong way so we got whistled off. Afterwards we had a chance to try the closing (tire, tunnel, frame, pinwheel, teeter, weave-o-matics), and it was no problem.

After class, I put the wams in the yard for a change of scenery and this went fine.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday September 25th 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

BIG NEWS!!! Walter can now weave his wams fully upright!! Here are some photos from today to mark the grand occasion:

I took him to the field yesterday for a practice after being inspired at the fun match (with Lucy). We did some wams but it was nothing special. Then later at home I tightened the bolts on the wams to make the poles give less, so they'd be more like the ones at the field. Then I did a wam session and he has just been so darn consistent at 1" off center that I decided to put one pole, then two, then finally all of the poles fully upright (at least, as close to fully upright as I can approximate with the wams) and it was no problem for him whatsoever -- No poles bypassed! Yay!! I must contain my excitement, however, because I still need to get him to do this (a) on the wams at the field, which have a wider base and are more closely spaced than our set and therefore harder for him, (b) on actual uprights, (c) on 12 poles instead of just 6, and of course (d) at all kinds of angles and as part of sequences. So there's still LOTS to be accomplished before he "has his weaves", but I am thrilled that we finally reached this first milestone! A little bit of practice (ok, a whole lot of practice actually) and a ton of patience really can get results.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday September 23rd 2006 - Advanced II/III, class #3

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today we were introduced to flipping: With a treat in both hands and the dog at your side, do the hand motion to flip the dog away from you, treat with your other hand now that the dog is on your other side. Walter liked this game and picked up the basic hand signal quickly. The next step is to try flipping the dog around something like a tree or jump standard and add distance. This move would have come in handy at the last fun match to send the dog from the frame to the tunnel! Then, we practiced the dog moving forward away, working up to jump jump jump table, put a target on the table and all you should need to say is "go table". Then, we did a circle exercise: jump, jump, tire at the bottom of the "u", jump, tunnel. Draw lines and work on not having to cross them. If you want the dog to move forward away from you, you do NOT want a lead-out because they will see you slowdown and stop and they will likely stop as well. Instead, don't lead out and instead make it seem like it's a race and allow the dog to "win" so that you don't have to come to a dead stop. Finally, we did a gambler's where the gamble was jump, straight tunnel, table, using lateral distance which Walter did alright since it wasn't a big distance. The rain stopped soon after the class began, yay!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday September 22nd 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Here are some photos from today's wam practice. He's now very consistent at approx. 1" off centre, yippee! I hope the fact that he pushes them aside won't cause problems when he's ready to move to uprights. Also, it would be nice to try him with 12 poles but there's simply no room at home and the field I go to has only one 6-pole wam set at the moment, so it will have to wait.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday September 20th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Practiced a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Walter must have been watching Lucy from his crate when she did her spontaneous upright weaves, because he did the same thing! I threw such a party for him. And, like Lucy, it was a one-shot wonder for today. So, we will keep woming at home every day! Of note, I was able to put the woms equally as high as they are at home, sending him from further back and different angles than space allows at home.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday September 15th 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Have been doing one or two 5-minute weave sessions with Walter pretty much every day. He's coming along nicely, but sometimes I get pushy and try to put one pole straight up with the others bent, and that's when he starts to bypass poles. Someone gave me some advice that once the poles are 1-2" off centre, to leave them there for a month of daily practices to really work it into muscle memory, then try putting poles straight up, starting with only 1 or 2 near the middle. So I will force myself to be patient and follow this advice which sounds pretty reasonable to me. I hereby declare this to be the start of that 30-day period and promise not to put any poles straight up until... at least October 1st. :-) Also, I've been playing around with different ways of rewarding, such as treating from my hand or putting treats on the target. The former may lead to pop-outs, and the latter is not great because if I send the dog and they miss a pole, they still get the great. So just recently I've started putting treats into a bait bag which acts as a target. This really gets him excited, gives him something to drive to, and he can't self-reward for a faulty pass. The first photo below is the weaves at the height he's now consistent with, before he weaves through them; the second photo is after he weaved through them. You can see I need to re-adjust the poles quite frequently!

Gee, I just scrolled down this page and looked at Walter's weave-o-matic photo from two weeks ago, and he really has come a long way, which I need to remind myself when I find myself wishing for an "easy button" for the weaves. Having never trained a dog to weave before, it's hard to be confident that it will happen... but it will!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday September 10th 2006 - Fun Match

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

See below for the course diagrams. It was our second fun match, and we took turns with M&D and J&S in filming each other's runs which was so useful for watching at home afterwards. Here's a description of our runs (all at the Starter's level, 22"):

1) Standard, first try
- Walter didn't put on the brakes on his approach to the table so ended up jumping right off it. The video showed that I didn't slow down approaching the table and in fact ran past it too, which explains it.
- He ran the teeter too fast (didn't pause at the pivot), so we took it again right away and this time he paused properly.
- No bars were knocked down!

2) Standard, second try
- He ran the dogwalk, probably just to stress me out.
- Since he doesn't weave yet, I made him heel past them, but too slowly since that's the only time on all the runs that he sniffed the ground. He stopped sniffing as soon as I started running again.
- Since he had never done this chute before and the course had been modified to exclude it, I had him do the chute after the course. The instructor held the fabric up a bit the first time just to play it safe, no problem; second time, he did it all on his own.
- No bars were knocked down!

3) Steeplechase first try
- He knocked the bar of #3, then ran to the right around the next jump. The video shows that I was running laterally towards him between 3 and 4, possibly explaining the run-by.
- He jumped the tire way too high, brushing his back against the top of the tire.
- His downside on the frame was really slow (getting tired).
- Rear cross to last jump, he ran around the far side of the jump, twice. Took the line again, and that time he got it.

4) Steeplechase second try
- Since he was pretty tired by now (the event was running two hours longer than expected) I did lots and lots of treating and threw the ball for him at the end.
- No bars were knocked down!

In summary: He paid no attention to the ring crew, even with them sitting just feet away from the start-line stay; he knocked only one bar all day; need to work on rear cross and of course weaves! Also, I need to get it straight in terms of what I expect/train for at contacts... 2o2o with bow, or just 2o2o?

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Saturday September 9th 2006 - Advanced II/III, class #1

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

See below for exercise diagrams. The first exercise involved a lot of jumps, a front cross at #4 and a coincidental chute trap. I led out to between #2 and #3 We did alright with the exercise until the weave-o-matics when Walter ran right by them. Looks like we need more practice taking them at speed and with him on my right. The second exercise also went well. He headed for the tunnel after #2 but I was able to call him off in time. All jumps were at 16" today. The instructor hasn't seen him since the beginner's level back in January and she noted that his confidence has really increased.

Exercise #1

Exercise #1

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Wednesday September 6th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today for the first time I got some video footage of Walter and me in action (thanks to M&D for helping!). Took some shots of miscellaneous sequences, then at the end ran a standard course with a couple of nasty jump approaches. Got in some practice with jumps/tire at 22" and he knocked a few down but overall not bad at all (this cooler weather really helps). Also did some 6-pole weave-o-matic work; the home practices seem to be helping. From watching the footage afterwards, I learned some things: I need to be more clear in my cues, particularly setting up and releasing from the start-line stay; I'm waiting too long before saying the name of the next obstacle; Walter's jumping is better than I thought (though far from springy) (I noticed he did a bounce between two 22" jumps); we need to work on him looking ahead more since he sometimes looks at me too much and misses the next obstacle; lots more work to be done on automatic bows at contacts as well as improving lateral distance.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday August 31st 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Here's Walter showing off his brand new weave-o-matics! My goal for him is to weave uprights by January 2007, which should certainly be attainable since we can now have short but frequent practice sessions.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday August 27th 2006 - Fun Match

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was our first ever agility try-all, and Walter did great! It was a fun match with treats, toys, and training allowed in the ring, and we shared the day with Jenn and Sammy. I had registered him in the 16" class because I didn't want to overload him and had no idea if he'd even set foot on a different set of equipment; turns out it was a safe choice too because it was a day of steady showers/rain. The day started with a standard course (see diagram below; chute replaced with tunnel due to rain). We were the second team up since there was only one dog at a lower height and no others at 16". The first time through I made it a training exercise, stopping and treating at contacts and some other places too. It took us just over two minutes to do the whole thing. The second time through (everyone gets a second turn after all dogs have gone) I held back on the treats and went for it, albeit conservatively. The only trouble we had was the last obstacle (a jump), which was very close to where the ring crew was sitting with ponchos and umbrellas, and Walter lost his focus and ran by it but recovered quickly to finish the course within the time allowed (1:03), with 20 faults for NC on the weaves (which we obviously didn't even attempt).

The standard course (starters).

Our second time on the standard course: pausing for a good contact.

Our second time on the standard course: Walter just refused the green jump and we're setting up to get back on track.

Then, it was time for snooker (see diagram below). Because it's a fun match, no one was whistled off for doing something wrong. Both times we did red, dogwalk, red, 4a/b, red, 6a/b, then onto the closing sequence. The first time we had no trouble on course and Walter was about 8 feet away from the down contact on the dogwalk when the time was up so we ended with 31 points (assuming the weaves weren't part of the course), 6 short of the required. The second time, well, it had been really raining on us while we waited for our turn which annoyed Walter, and I could tell he had to pee but refused to, so those are my excuses for our less than stellar last run. He ran by the first red, then after 4b I had to think about what was next (almost forgot the next red), then at 6b (as the obstacle of choice) Walter refused (but did it after 3 or 4 approaches). The closing sequence was fine.

In summary, Walter did just great; I really couldn't have asked him to try any harder. He didn't "forget" how to do any of the obstacles (including the scent-laden table and mildly different-looking tire; his feelings about the different-looking chute are yet to be determined), he never got the sniffies or zoomies, he was attentive to my directions and didn't make up his own course, and he offered his bows on the contacts when I didn't rush him. I on the other hand was not so great, occasionally forgetting the course and slowing Walter down, and my arms were probably all over the place. Things I learned include the following: $10 rain boots actually provide decent traction on wet grass; it's true what they say about agility being good exercise for the human; with few dogs in a trial (approx 12 dogs participated today) your turn comes up *fast*.

We ended the day with a nice (if rainy) walk at the off-leash dog park.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday August 25th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Did the same exercises with Walter as I did today with Lucy - see entry on Lucy's page for details. Nothing much new to report, but I noticed he seemed to be paying more attention to me instead of just assuming which obstacle is next.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday August 21st 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Brief practice today due to the day getting hot. His contacts, especially on the a-frame, are noticeably improving in that he usually goes automatically into the bow. Sometimes he stops before 2o2o and I have to urge him further down so that he's 2o2o, but he's got the idea of having to bow. Tried the tunnel curving left to jump gamble; he missed the jump the first time but got it the second. I will start to make a point of practicing more distance work like this more often.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday August 15th 2006 - Advanced II, class #6 (last class)

Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Being the last class, it was games day: Gambler's, Standard, and Team Relay. Note: Jumps/tire were at 16", weave-o-matics were used in place of weave poles, and see-saw and a-frame were set lower than regulation. See diagram below for course set-up!

Gambler's: 50 seconds to rack up as many points as possible; tire 4 points, mini-gamble (6 points) is jump #1 to tunnel and you can't step beyond the jump. Then 18 generous seconds to do the gamble: jump #9 to to table, you can't step beyond the jump. We got 43 points including the mini-gamble, but missed out on the gamble. Obviously we need more work on distance! One dog out of the 5 in today's class got the gamble, a keen and speedy black/tan aussie.

Standard: Follow the numbers on the diagram to see the course. Walter did it in 66 seconds and we got a clean run, yay! (He had a refusal at jump #11 but that doesn't count as faults at the starter's level. When doing this serpentine he often has trouble with the middle jump which he did on the first try so I probably let my guard down for the third.)

Team Relay: Paired with flyball teammate Abby, Walter took the first half of the standard course up to the table, then it was Abby's turn to take the rest. I think our team's time was 76 seconds. Abby scored clean but Walter got 5 faults for off-course by taking the wrong tunnel entrance. I will take the easy route and blame it on the baton which was a chuck-it, proving a bit of a distraction to Walter. I probably should have taken the time before starting to show him that there really and truly was no ball in it.

It was a fun class and Walter didn't have the sniffies at all while on course. (Note to self: Took him to the field before class where he played with the black labs and a new dog, a whippet.) We will certainly continue with classes, hopefully the next session in September if schedules cooperate!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday August 13th 2006 - Fun Match

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Watched our first Fun Match today! The courses were standard and gambler's. The mini-gamble was chute and see-saw parallel to each other, dog goes away from handler through chute, turns left and returns over see-saw, there is a line the handler must not cross. The gamble (starter's level) was to send dog through a tunnel curving left (under the dogwalk, but not a trap), then over a jump which faces the dog as they exit the tunnel.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday August 10th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Practiced some of the sequences we did in the last class. Had some successes although not consistent with all of the exercises. Sometimes hard to convince him to follow my instructions rather than to go to the obstacle that *he* thinks should be next, especially when trying to use only one or two types of cue.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Tuesday August 8th 2006 - Advanced II, class #5

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Well, today wasn't Walter's most impressive class, that's for sure. We started with these warmup drills: jump to a-frame (aim for speed and good contact); weave-o-matics (work on off-angle entries); and tire (send from distance). This went fine, especially the tire one where we got some good distance, 20 feet or so. Then, we did an exercise using the following set-up: jump, jump, jump (all three jumps are parallel to dogwalk, approx 8 feet away from dw), handler is between the jumps and dogwalk, then using your feet only (slow your pace in advance of the turn to the tunnel), get your dog to turn 90d right to the tunnel which is snaked under the dogwalk (can cue "tunnel"), end of exercise. Note that there is a table after the third jump so the dog may want to go there instead of turn to the tunnel. Walter kept avoiding the second and third jump, coming to me instead, but he did it after a few tries. Another exercise used the following set-up: jump, jump, then there is a tunnel in a backwards "c" on the right, then the a-frame which is in line with the jumps. The exercise was jump, jump, tunnel using further entrance, a-frame. The point is to use your gait to slow the dog so that they listen to you and take the tunnel rather than go to the frame. The first time I didn't quite believe that it would work, so it didn't (I ended up running too fast which just served to push Walter forward to the frame), but the second time I believed, and it worked! To close we did an exercise with dogwalk, tunnel, and two jumps, and it was kind of tricky remembering the steps so I wasn't exactly smooth, but Walter responded well anyway. Today was the first class that the jumps were raised to the 2nd highest setting for the taller dogs. (Jumps on 3rd setting for first time through a drill, then raised to 4th for second time around.)

Back to the basics: I have decided that I need to go back to the basics with Walter in using the hand to guide, having severely neglected this exercise lately. After class I went to a park and did circles, both directions, inside, outside, first with food then with ball for variety, mostly walking with some running. I can tell that this will be a very valuable exercise to practice regularly, on and off the agility field. What I especially noticed was that if I moved my arm back a bit, say while doing the inside circle, Walter responded by slowing, making it easier to do the circle.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Sunday August 6th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Played around with this and that. He remembered the "l" exericse from yesterday and did it fairly well so I added in the other two jumps for the "L".

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Saturday August 5th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Pushed my luck with Walter's energy / mental concentration level and tried to get in an agility practice this evening after a morning flyball practice AND walk at Conroy. This proved to be too much, or at least that's the excuse I'm using for his lack of attention this evening! I tried the "l" jump handling exercise and he just didn't want to come back over the middle jump. He kept returning to me either between the 2nd and 3rd jump or over the 3rd jump. So after multiple unsuccessful attempts I cheated and brought the 2nd and 3rd jumps tight against each other. It worked and by the end of the practice we could do the exercise with the jumps properly spaced out. He was just generally distracted this evening so it wasn't exactly our most productive practice, but we still had fun, especially when I brought out Walter's new favourite toy, an old beat up soccer ball. It was also fun watching and taking photos of one of the teams who's in our class. That dog is soooooo quick to respond to his handler, it's really something to watch. And the dog is a hound, would you believe it! (No more excuses for Lucy!)

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Tuesday August 1st 2006 - Advanced II, class #4

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Last week's class was cancelled due to rain. Today, with the temperature at 36 degrees and the humidex making it feel like 46, Walter thought it would be a good idea for him to stay home and instead send me to class to sweat and take notes while he relaxed in the airconditioning. So I did, and he did, and this is what we will practice at our next practice:

- Set up three jumps, end to end, forming a long line like a miniscule "l". Send dog over the first jump, call over the middle jump using a ... can't remember what it's called, a fake cross or something. In this case we start on the right of the "l", so the fake out is done with the right arm coming around to the left hip to bring the dog to you, then send over third jump with left arm.
- Now, add a fourth jump at 90d to the first, forming a majuscule "L" and with a fifth jump at the end to form a mirror image of the first (got it?). Set dog up behind new first jump from an angle so they can see the second jump, call/send them over, then contine with the third and fouth jumps, remembering the fake out cross, ending with the fifth.
- For another exercise, place two jumps leading to a curved tunnel such that each opening of the tunnel is equidistant from the center of the jumps. In other words, if the dog is going over the jumps directly over the middle and keeps going, they'd run into the center of the tunnel. For this exercise, you want the dog to go into the right entrace of the tunnel. So, after they do the second jump, do the fake out bringing your right arm across to your left side, then send to the tunnel.
- For the last exercise, snake the tunnel under the a-frame so that the entrance to the tunnel is adjacent to the a-frame plank. Place one or two jumps in front. After the second jump, do the fake-out and guide them to the tunnel. It's ok to call their name to get their attention too if you have to.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday July 30th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Had fun practicing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Managed to snap these photos:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday July 23rd 2006 - home practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

I've been having difficulty getting Walter to bow on command without using a hand to lure. So I took him to a park and showed him a ball, and he had to bow, or at least start to bow, before I'd throw it. This worked like a charm. Now he does a nice, if brief, bow when I have the ball out. The next hurdle will be getting him to maintain the bow position since after a couple of seconds he turns it into a down. I'll also have to work on getting him to bow without being lured on the contacts.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday July 22nd 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Took advantage of a nice cool evening to get in another practice. Worked on jumps and tire at 22". He's getting better at jumping at that height now. Checked with a measuring tape and realized that I had set the tire at 26" yesterday, oops. Must be an optical illusion that makes the tire look shorter than jumps set at the same height. Set up the weave-o-matics (6 poles only) with a 10" jump before and after which helped a lot in keeping him interested and motivated. Worked on improving contacts on the a-frame which was set fairly high.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday July 21st 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Worked on individual obstacles mostly, particularly weave-o-matics, sending to tire at 16", tire at 22", jumps at 22", and see-saw at full height. He took a wrong step on the dogwalk and ended up leaving it from the middle section, landing calmly on his feet. It was no big deal; I asked him to do the obstacle again a couple of times right away and he was fine.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday July 20th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Focused on weave-o-matics since haven't had a chance to practice them much lately. He did pretty well and even let me take a few photos. (Some of the poles are loose which explains why some of them stick out at different angles.) I've had the poles up a bit higher before, but I didn't push it today because I want to get more practice in at this height first. Broke it up with working some other obstacles now and then, such as the teeter at full height for the first time (he didn't seem to notice the difference). Got nice bows on all the contacts but I still have to lure him into them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tuesday July 18th 2006 - Advanced II, class #3

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today we learned all about snooker! I learned a lot about how the game works, and we even got to try a snooker course. The opening sequence I used was red, tire, red, chute, red, a-frame. The closing sequence was tunnel, a-frame (snaked around each other), tire, chute, 90d left to weave-o-matics, 90d left to dogwalk. Fortunately for me, Walter did everything I asked of him in the opening sequence and nothing I didn't ask for, so he made my job easy. We made it to the end contact of the dogwalk just within the 60 seconds and racked up the required points. Next time I see a snooker competition I'll be able to ooh or aww along with the audience :-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday July 16th 2006 - K9 Kup

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Our first agility competition! Ok, so we were just spectators, but it was really fun to watch. We watched a bunch of human-dog teams (mostly at the starter's level) do standard, jumpers, and snooker. Having no clue of the rules, I couldn't follow the snooker and didn't have the faintest idea why the crowd was awwing or oohing or why the judge was blowing the whistle. Anyway, some of the teams were spectacular on course and what they all had in common was that the dog was extremely attentive to their handler. Seems to me that if you can get and maintain your dog's focus, you have it made in agility.

Walter posing in front of the standard course

The standard course

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday July 15th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Stayed around for just a few minutes after flyball. There were 5 jumps set up in a row, and an a-frame/tunnel off to the side. So I got Walter to run over all the jumps in a row, then after a few repetitions I would have him do 2 or 3 of the jumps, then call him over to the a-frame or tunnel so that he had to decide not to continue with the rest of the jumps. He responded well to my instructions, turning away from the rest of the jumps when I asked him to. Then I got him to bow at the contact of the a-frame a few times. That's pretty much all we did since it was starting to get warm.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday July 11th 2006 - Advanced II, class #2

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

A good class, but not the best since I have a feeling Walter had to go but refused to, so he was slightly distracted. The class started with four stations. (1) jump to weave-o-matics - goal was not to get the weaves high, but rather to do it with some speed. Walter did well. (2) Tunnel - goal was to be able to send from a distance. Walter did this alright, but we should practice it some more. (3) Weave-o-matics - this time the goal was to push the limits and raise it higher. Did alright but need more work on this (obvioulsy). (4) A-frame on very low - goal is to get the dog into bow position at the contact. Ultimately once the dog knows bow properly on their own and doesn't need to be lured into it, then at the contact you shouldn't have to lure the dog into the bow, and only after they go into bow do you treat. You want the dog to get into the border collie crouch. At this point Walter only bows with hand lure, so I'll work on that some more this week. After the station work, we did the following straight-line sequence: tire, jump, jump, jump, table. You want to be a bit behind the dog and have them going fast over the jumps, but you don't want them to fly over/across the table. So to collect the dog to prevent them from flying off the table, you collect your own pace and it acts like invisible reins on the dog. I need to work on getting the table a fun place to be again for Walter since he's pokey around it (he used to love it, but it's worn off of late). Then we did part of that sequence in reverse: table, jump, jump, jump, turn left to a-frame. You want to veer your path gradually away from the jumps while extending your hand further and further toward the jumps. Walter being such a keener went to the tire instead of turning left with me the first time, but the second time we did it better. Also, Walter showed me today that he's a glass half full kind of guy when the instructor kept feeding him air treats, about 6 or 7 times in a row. It was pretty funny, actually.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Saturday July 8th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Kind of a scattered practice. I couldn't decide what to work on, and the field was not laid out in any obvious kind of way so it was hard to get motivated never mind try to motivate Walter. Towards the end of the session I tried to lay out a course but it ended up being one big boring loop - just wasn't my most creative day today. :P Can't say we achieved much of anything today, but I learned that if Walter and I have the field to ourselves and another dog arrives, I should take Walter out of the field before the other dog enters so that he doesn't feel like he owns the place.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Tuesday July 4th 2006 - Advanced II, class #1

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

First class of the next level. Flyball teammate Abby is in our class, as well as some other dogs we've met and some new ones as well. Timed a-frame from hitting it to freezing in contact: Walter did it in 2.2 seconds. Received some homework to practice in relation to contacts: Teach bow and teach touch nose to ground in down. 1st sequence: dogwalk, sharp turn right, tire, tunnel curving left, jump, table. Walter deeked around the tire but took it after we regrouped. 2nd sequence: table, jump, tunnel curving right, jump, 90d left to jump, 90d left to jump. Tip: call dog while in tunnel for tighter turn out of tunnel. Did the sequence twice and both times after the 1st jump Walter headed for the teeter, which was to the left of the tunnel. Tip: Exaggerate shoulder turn in desired direction. 3rd sequence: jump, 90d right to jump, 90d right to jump, tunnel curving left, jump, table (ie reverse of previous sequence). Wasn't exactly smooth getting him from 3rd jump into tunnel - was at awkward angle. Tip: practice using right hand to guide dog in counterclockwise "spin" on my left side and vice versa, to help with hand directions. Overall wasn't our best class, but considering first-class jitters and Walter's refusal to "go" before class it could have been a lot worse!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Saturday July 1st 2006 - Jumping seminar

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

A 6-hour jumping seminar based on Susan Salo's methods. We learned a bunch of different jumping grids to help the dog develop/improve various aspects of their jumping technique including bouncing, judging distances and adapting striding, power and drive, and turns. Walter was a very good participant until about 4 hours in when his focus started to go downhill making his waits pretty unreliable. But I'm thrilled that he was a happy, willing participant for most of it, and he didn't deek out of a single jump except for the bend exercises which were the very last thing of the day and it was hard to convey to him the path he was to take since hand motions were not allowed. All in all a fun day!

At the end of the day: "Is it time to go home yet?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday June 24th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Nice long evening practice on a cool shady field. Had the field all to ourselves, so took advantage and moved things around. Spent 3/4 of the session working on individual obstacles and mini-series. Discovered he jumps the tire much better (ie doesn't cheat) with it raised some distance up. Backed up the weave-o-matics by putting them lower and made sure he could take them from a distance back as well as at off angles, which he did very well although not totally consistent in taking them from a sharp angle to the left of the poles. Did some work on the seesaw (still on low) and he usually bangs the thing down pretty hard - not sure how to get him to ease it down more gently or if it's ok for him to bang it down. Also introduced "here" and will work on practicing that off the field; worked on "off" for obstacles that I didn't ask him to do. Spent the last 1/4 of the session on the following series: 1st line: dogwalk, tunnel curving right; 2nd line: jump, jump, jump curving right; 3rd line: jump, sharp turn right, jump, tire, jump; 4th line: turn left, a-frame; 5th line: turn left, chute, jump; 6th line: turn left, see-saw, jump, turn left to table. I have no idea about designing sequences and probably broke a million design rules, but Walter had SO much fun with it regardless. It's like he said, "finally, something I can really sink my teeth into" (not literally of course). One thing I was NOT crazy about was how fast he took the dogwalk when we did the sequence. I really would like him to walk nicely across it for safety reasons (time be darned), but he trotted it both times. It was fun watching him having fun doing all the jumps (still on the 3rd setting). It was a fun evening with lots of breaks for Walter while I moved things around, and he never got whiny or bored.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tuesday June 20th 2006 - Advanced 1, class #6 (last class in this level)

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was a really fun class. We didn't learn any new techniques per say, but instead everyone ran a standard course, then we all did an abbreviated version of gambler's. The standard course as I recall it was thus: 1st line: jump, dogwalk, tunnel curving right. 2nd line, diagonal across the field: tire, jump, a-frame, jump, table. 3rd line: see-saw, jump, weave-o-matics about midway up. 4th line: chute, jump, jump, jump. Note that the elements were not at full height (except maybe the dogwalk?) -- Jumps were on the 3rd setting, see-saw on low and a-frame on beginner's. I tried to get Walter a bit revved up before we started (he wasn't totally fresh since we had practiced for half an hour before class and then gone for a walk), just by using a perky voice and it seemed to work. He did really well (he even did the tire on the first try) until we came to the see-saw, when he immediately deeked around it to sniff the ground at the see-saw's landing for what must have been treat crumbs. I called and called him but had to resort to pulling him off the area, then he did the see-saw and the rest of the course fine except for at the last jumps where I think I pushed him over towards the jumps once or twice. A classmate commented that he looked like he was having a lot of fun! In the modified gamblers (we just did the 60-seconds part where you rack up as many points as you can), I can't remember the order of the things we did, but we focused on weave-o-matics, a-frame, dog-walk, the special jump worth 4 points, and tunnel. We racked up 36 points but lost 9 for taking 9 seconds to get to the table, for a net of 26 points, the highest in the class. Walter was such a good boy and I dare say he was the class star tonight! Our closest competitor should have been a speedy aussie, but she just happened to have an off night tonight, deeking around a lot of the obstacles. Another of the class stars, a little Jack Russell, wasn't there tonight so we missed out on that competition. Some of the dogs had some spin-out moments, especially in the standard course, but Walter kept his cool when they came by to say hello and was totally awesome. We're looking forward to the next level, which is supposed to start in a couple of weeks, and several of our classmates are also continuing, so it'll be nice to have some familar faces along with us.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday June 17th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Stayed around after flyball practice to get in some more agility time. Really focused on the weave-o-matics and he did super, got them high enough to start some hip action happening. I pushed my luck though by putting them up even higher after we had been practicing for about 10 minutes, by which point he was getting a bit bored, and he started ducking out of them. Must learn to not push him with something harder after he's hit the boredom point. Also did some work on the see-saw; he's getting really comfortable with the tilt now.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday June 16th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Missed this week's class (class #5) so got in some practice today. Weave-o-matics are now very high up, with both sets end to end for a total of 11 poles. Did it also from calling over a jump, but was not totally consistent in that sometimes he went right around the weaves to the target. However, when he does enter the weaves, he seems to "get it" and keeps weaving right through to the end. On the see-saw he now seems to get the idea of pausing in the middle. I didn't have him on the leash today but simply told him to wait at the middle, and he's pretty comfortable with the tilt (still on low setting). Worked on the tire but this still needs more work since he often cheats it by squeezing through the tire and frame, especially at off angles. Wanted to practice rear cross by calling over jump and sending to tunnel, but by then he had had enough of the heat so we called it quits for the day.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Tuesday June 6th 2006 - practice and Advanced 1, class #4

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Got in half an hour of practice before class. Focused on see-saw and weave-o-matics. I'm keeping him on-leash for the see-saw so I can keep him from speeding through the tilt point. A few times the tilt was fairly fast and loud, but he wasn't bothered since he was getting all kinds of treats. After a few practice runs, I raised the poles up higher than ever before, and he did very well. Took our first agility photos:

Posing in front of the dogwalk and a-frame

Outside the ring, taking a break in the shade between practice and class, watching his classmates arrive

The class warm-up was four stations, two or so minutes at each one: (1) jump to weaves; (2) tire, holding on to the dog and charging him up; (3) figure 8 (front cross) over two jumps; (4) see-saw with instructor assist. Next, we did a timed run on the a-frame, from hitting the frame to freezing in the contact. Walter did it in 2.6 seconds, tied with another dog for fastest in the class. Then, she added a jump before the a-frame. Walter scored 4.1 seconds, again tied for fastest. Surprising since Walter's normally not too fast. After that, we did the following sequence: jump, 90 degrees left to another jump, a-frame, front cross at contact, 90 degrees right to jump. Everyone did it twice. Walter did well enough, although his jumps are not very "poppy" and I need to work on getting him to work out farther from me so I don't have to babysit him quite as much. Finally, we learned a new move, the rear cross. The setup was a jump followed by the tunnel in a straight line. Call the dog, who's on your right side, over the jump, then with your LEFT hand guide them to the tunnel sort of curving your hand motion to the right; once they're in, move to the right side of the tunnel and see which way the dog looks when out of the tunnel. The idea is that with 3 of the 4 cues (voice, shoulders, and momentum) you're asking the dog to go straight, but with the fourth cue (hands) you're asking the dog to turn AFTER they do the next obstacle. Eventually (for some dogs quicker than others!) the dog should learn to turn to the appropriate side after the obstacle. Some dogs did this on their very first try, but not Walter, who turned left on both tries. Ah well, something else to work on!

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Sunday June 4th 2006 - practice

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Stayed around after flyball practice to get in some agility work. With Chantale's assistance we did some work on the see-saw with her ensuring a smooth tilt. Then we did a little bit of practice on just about everything. Was able to send him through the chute with the full chute on the ground, good boy! Later on, did a bit more work on the see-saw this time sans spotter, and he did pretty well. I jackpotted him at the tilt point and he didn't seem too bothered by the tilt. Didn't stay very long at agility since he had already had an hour of flyball.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday May 30th 2006 - Advanced 1, class #3

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Today was the third Advanced 1 class. The class warmed up with contact zones and weave-o-matics. It was Walter's first time on the dogwalk, no problem at all (out of the two of us I was the only one who was nervous). The seesaw was set on low, with no table supporting it. The instructor controlled the tilt to make it tilt gently. Walter tended to rush up onto it - I'll need to get some practice in and get him to slow down. We learned the front cross, having the dog (not the handler!) do figure 8s over a pair of jumps. Walter caught on the very first try, but it took me a few essayes to get it right. At the end of the class we did the following sequence: jump, tire, gentle curve left, jump, tunnel curving left, straight to dogwalk, end with dogwalk contact zone. We did it twice and he did every obstacle on the first try, both times. Also, he didn't bark at anyone, although he was tempted when the big standard poodle had a few poodle spin-out moments and zoomed around the field saying hello to everyone.

Monday, May 29, 2006

2006 entries

Walter's 2006 agility journal entries are archived here.

Monday May 29th 2006 (lengthy entry to catch up from January!)

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter's (and my) first experience with agility was in January 2006 when he was enrolled in a beginner's class. In the very first class, I was amazed when he (and most of his canine classmates) showed little to no anxiety doing the obstacles that we tried that first day (chute base without the fabric, slanted walk board propped up on table, and jump, as I recall). It was then that I realized that so much of agility is about training the handler, not the dog, as most of the obstacles found in agility involve dogs doing what comes naturally to them. Over the course of the session we were also introduced to the a-frame, the tunnel, the see-saw, the tire, weave-o-matics, the chute with the chute attached, and... I can't remember if there was anything else. The dogwalk was not used since the indoor class space was limited. Walter was nervous with the tunnel and the chute, and I vowed to get lots of practice hours in in the summer to help him gain confidence with those obstacles. It was a fun course and I was left with the desire to continue with the next level.

In late April 2006 I purchased access to the school's outdoor agility field for the season. For a very reasonable fee, students with at least 4 hours of agility class time under their belt can have access to the field at any time that there is no class going on. I'm so glad that this option is available, since (a) one hour of in-class practice per week is just not enough; and (b) it's another thing to add to the list of fun things to do with my dogs. The first time I brought Walter to the field to practice, I noticed that his confidence level was much higher than it had been in the indoor classes. In fact, he dove through the tunnel without so much as thinking about it first. I'm sure the fact that it's outdoors helps him be more comfortable. Due to a ton of lousy weather in May (rain, rain, rain), we only got in about two practice sessions.

Walter began the next level of agility (Advanced 1) in May 2006.