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.