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.