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.