Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday January 28th 2007 - home practice

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

Directionals breakthrough!! I haven't put a whole lot of effort into teaching left and right since first teaching Walter to spin left at our beginner's agility course a year ago, but I had it in the back of my mind that that was one thing I'd like to get done over the winter. He's got spinning left down pat, but over the last few weeks I've been doing the occasional short practice luring him to spin right but haven't been able to fade out the luring. Until tonight!! Walter was able to spin left and right on verbal cue only (well besides any unconscious nonverbal cues I may be giving) and I made sure to randomize which direction I asked for. It was so neat!! Just like I never thought I could teach a dog to weave, I never really thought I could teach a dog to distinguish between left and right either. Of course, we'll still have to work on him generalizing the directionals to mean things other than a spin directly in front of me. I found that using the clicker to mark the moment when he turns his head and is committed to the desired direction has really been effective. I'll admit that until fairly recently I was reluctant to use clickers for anything because I didn't understand their use (didn't understand that it's a training aid for teaching new things; thought I'd forever have to bring a clicker with me everywhere I went with the dogs) but I'm so glad I finally "gave in" in the fall and bought one. My appreciation of clicker training grows with every new thing I use it for!

Another thing, I've just started teaching wave and sitting pretty. Ok they aren't strictly agility-related, but the idea is I want to build Walter's repertoire of "tricks" (perhaps "tasks" is a more appropriate term?) which come in handy for focusing him before agility runs and lots of other situations where I might want him focused on working with me instead of worrying about what might be going on around him. So far we have a few of the basics: the obligatory sit and down, as well as bow, hand-touch, spin left, spin right.

On another note, January 2007 marks Walter's and my first year agility anniversary!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday January 13th 2007 - Fun match at Red Gate

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

Today was our first Red Gate fun match, and the runs were standard and gambler's (jumps at 16" for the first run, 22" for the rest). I was very pleased with Walter's performance today considering our almost total lack of practice recently. For the standard, we did the starter's only since I wasn't up to memorizing multiple courses. He did a good job with 2o2o on the contacts except he tended to sniff the ground for crumbs instead of coming when I released him. For the weaves, the course provided a nice easy straight line into them with me on the left side, and I'm really happy that he got the entry both times (I had had visions of him repeatedly bypassing the first 3 or 4 poles), but he tended to pop out at the 10th pole. Understandable I suppose since he's had hardly any practice on more than 6 weaves in the last few months (or ever, come to think of it). There was no table, so nothing to report there. For gambler's, we just played around with the two starter's gambles and I'm happy to report that although not every attempt was successful, he did do both of them successfully several times (both were tunnel/jump combinations). At the start of the fourth and final run I decided to try recalling him through the weaves just for the fun of it but that was just not happening; he totally bypassed them and ran straight to me instead. So I didn't push it and instead we went on to do some more gambles. He did knock a couple of bars over the course of the day. Rear crosses over jumps were spin-free, yay! Of note, he displayed neither the tunnel hesitation nor the dogwalk hesitation that he had developed towards the end of our last agility class session. In summary, it was a fun day and I gave him several play breaks during the runs so I hope he'll fall asleep tonight thinking about the fun time he had today.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Monday January 1st 2007 - Goals for 2007

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

My goals for Walter's 2007 agility year include the following:
  • Improved drive on the a-frame
  • Work through SLS issues
  • Improved distance work with all obstacles
  • Faster down on the table
  • Proof 2o2o
  • Ability to tackle challenging weave entries
  • Further develop our agility partnership in general
  • Compete!