Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 2007

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

Tuesday July 24th 2007 - semi-private lesson

It was Walter's first time at this facility doing agility and we had a gamble-skills-oriented lesson which was a lot of fun and really useful. She gave us a number of exercises to work on, and she made an interesting point, which is that a dog should be able to do gamble work without needing momentum to launch them into it. In other words, if your dog can do gamble exercises starting from a stay, then they have well-developed distance skills. Despite the heat he was well-motivated throughout the lesson, especially when we brought out the squeaky ball and flying squirrel!

Thursday July 19th 2007 - Advanced Trial

A good evening at Walter's and my first ever Advanced trial! We were entered in all classes: Standard 1 and 2, Jumpers, and Gamblers. The night got off to a late start due to a thunderstorm passing through, and the rain stuck around for the Standards after which the sky cleared. I really liked the courses which sure were a lot more interesting than those at the Starters level, but not super-hard either.

Standard #1

Given the weave "problems" Walter's been having lately, going into the trial I was 95% sure I'd make him skip the weaves. But, the rain seemed to have kept him cool and fresh so at the last minute (ie while he was approaching the jump that preceded the weaves!), I decided to heck with it and let him do them since calling him off would really interrupt his flow. He did the 12-weaves clean on the first try!!! Our dogwalk to snaked under tunnel was really messy but somehow we didn't incur a refusal. He crept up on his table down causing the countdown to restart, but I wouldn't want to lie down on a wet table either. Towards the end, he took the offcourse frame which I had thought he had sucked over to, but a keen observer noted that my body language was actually sending him straight to the frame. Silly mistake -- I should have taken special precautions since he's already told me several times that he loves frames! That offcourse gave us some faults for a NQ and we ended up with third place.

Standard #2

Wow, he didn't hold the dogwalk contact at all and seemed to have caught a scent. While I was trying to get his attention back and set him up for the weaves which followed right after, he hopped back on the down contact which gave us our only faults of that run. I was thrilled that he did the 12-weaves clean on the first try again! The run was good enough for first, but no Q to accompany it.


My handling plan at the pinwheel section got messed up, but Walter was very forgiving and managed to go through clean for a Q, first place and best Specials run for a cow thing tug prize!


Walter contributed his own recommendation to our opening which messed me up and I was sure we hadn't gotten enough points, but I was really glad that he did the gamble! The gamble was said to be easy for an Advanced gamble: frame parallel to gamble line, turn toward handler into snaked under tunnel, then jump following the tunnel exit at the max lateral distance. HOWEVER, his contacts were HORRIBLE. Sure he always hit the yellow, but I don't think he held a single 2o2o, on either the teeter or dogwalk in the opening nor the frame in the closing. I could understand the frame in the closing since I haven't proofed it much with distance, and I guess I'll "blame it on the rain" for the rest of the blown 2o2os... but I believe a fun match contact proofing session is in order! Somehow we ended up with enough points in the opening for a Q plus first place and best of Specials for another tug prize.

All in all, a good night that I really wasn't expecting much from other than finding out what Advanced courses are like and having fun with my dog. Note to self: During both weaves, I said nothing at all while he was weaving, neither a "yes" for entering nor any "good boys" so maybe I just need to shut it while he weaves. Gonna give him a nice break from agility unless we get a bout of cool weather and look forward to trialing some more in the fall.


Facility: All Dog Sports Club (outdoors on grass)
Weather: Thunderstorm preceded event, then rain during both standards and dry for last two classes; 20 degrees according to Environment Canada but it felt quite a bit cooler than that
Pre-event exercise: 20 minutes long-leash at BP
Crating: cool enough for the car -- seems happier staying in the car than in his xpen
Classes entered: 4 (Advanced Standard 1 and 2, Jumpers, and Gamblers)
Qs: 2 (Advanced Jumpers and Gamblers)
Time/SCT: 78.38/69.00 Standard #1; 72.70/70.00 Standard #2; 33.84/42.00 Jumpers; 56.06/60.00 Gamblers
YPS: unknown (forgot to write down yardage)
Difficulties: Deteriorating 2o2o

Tuesday July 17th 2007 - practice

Short practice using a super duper treat to reward the weave-a-matics. Trying to build a really positive association with the weaves.

Sunday July 15th 2007 - K9 Kup #2

Well, that feeling of being totally in sync with one's dog eluded me today in Walter's runs, but, that said, it wasn't *that* bad. I think I'm getting worried that the weaves are becoming an "issue" (more on that below) which is pushing aside in my mind the stuff he's doing well.


He was SO not feeling those 6-weaves today. Just like in the first run of the day at our weekend trial in June, he would have nothing to do with the weaves even after a few attempts, so we got an Incomplete straight off the bat. Very clumsy handling from weaves to frame, yuck! Watching his table, such a difference from Lucy, there's NO tail wag happening at all! How boring. Refusal at the tire, not sure why.


Refusal -- maybe a "go" should have been added to my over command or I should have crossed differently? But, narrow escape from a backjump there!! :-)


Stangely, he forgot (?) to pause at the frame contact and I continued right away anyway!! ARGH!!!!!!! I hope hope hope I will not let myself do that again... guess I succumbed to the pressure of this being a team thing and wanting us all to score/place as well as possible. Bad handler, bad bad bad!! But, he held 2o2o at the last obstacle, the teeter, so that's good. Given the relatively warm weather (20 degrees) and his nonweaving weave episode earlier on, I opted to not even try the 12-weaves which were the #7 obstacle.

Weave Issue Developing? Ok, here's the situation. In practice and at events lately, Walter has not been weaving well, either popping or just not doing them at all. Unlike Lucy (who is a two-footed hop weaver) and many other dogs, Walter is not a dog who can do the weaves halfheartedly. Maybe it has to do with his being a single-strided weaver, but he has to really be into it right from the start, otherwise the weaves just don't happen. Warm weather really contributes to his weaving halfheartedness. His recent weaving performance reminds me of his lackluster attitude doing boxwork at flyball, NOT good. To address this, I will (a) go back to the weave-a-matics at practice until his speed, drive, and confidence are back up, and (b) not do fixed weaves (not even the 6-weaves) until he's driving well and staying in the wams. This means we will bypass the weaves in all events at our first Advanced trial later this week. In a way, this is kind of cool because it means there's no hope of a Q in the standards (and possibly Gamblers... do they put weaves in the gamble at the Advanced level?) so it will be a no-pressure opportunity to get exposure to the sorts of things one might see in Advanced-level courses and more importantly to focus on just getting Walter to have more fun! :-)

Friday July 13th 2007 - practice

12-weaves: The goal was to get a clean pass as part of a sequence in the hopes that the excitement of running a sequence would pump him up enough to do a clean pass, but it didn't quite work. He kept running past or popping, so as soon as he did one good pass it was party time and no more weaves for the day.

"get out": Following the post on Bud Houston's blog, today Walter started his "get out" training with two jumps and a tunnel. He did well until I rushed things and put a third jump as a decoy and then he wanted to take the jump. Why oh why is it always so tempting to push? :-)

Tuesday July 3rd 2007 - practice

Well, today's plan didn't exactly go quite according to plan. He hasn't done any weaves since the last trial, so today's plan was to simply run him through the 12 weaves 3, maybe 4 times MAX and really jackpot for that since he's tended to pop at the last couple of trials, and spend the rest of the time playing fetch/tug. The first goofup was I forgot to bring the super-duper treats. Oh well, I still had some other delicious treats and figured I'd just give him even more of them. Well, on the first pass he popped between poles 9 and 10. Hmmm. Again, same thing on the second pass. On the third pass he popped even earlier. Ok, Houston we have a problem, so I removed half of the weaves; now he should definitely be able to do it. Nope. Popped between poles 3 and 4, just like at our last trial. I always mark the entry with "yes" and it seemed today he was pulling out after I said it, but now that I think of it he didn't pull out so early in the 12-weaves so I don't think that's it. Funny how in both the 6- and 12-weaves he popped on the left side between the 3rd and 4th last poles. Am I somehow unknowingly pulling him off? Anyway, he did do one good pass on the 6-weaves so after playing I put him away to work with Lucy. Brought him out for one more exercise which was a run on a nice easy course with the 6-weaves in a different part of the field halfway through the course. This time he did it right on the first try, yay! Resisted the urge to try it "just one more time" and instead ended the session with a fun game of fetch the flying squirrel.

Sunday July 1st 2007 - practice

  • frame to tunnel: getting a bit better.

  • serps and threadles: much better than last time we tried them.

  • started work on "get out".

  • getting Walter's attention off the frame when it was in his face as a potential next obstacle: at first he wanted to take the frame but then he clued in that that wasn't necessarily what we were doing.