Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guides Canins trial

Our first time at the gorgeous Guides Canins trial in Saint Lazare, Québec. The facility is just fantastic, three rings going at once, hundreds of huge trees all around the site providing plenty of shade, shower facilities and indoor washrooms available, and even their "outhouses" are fully equipped washrooms with plumbing and sinks.

Since the first walkthrough was to be at 7am Saturday morning we arrived Friday evening around 5:30pm to set up camp and here I was thinking we were plenty early to find a site, but actually it was already Tent City Extravaganza. However, there was lots of space around the Starters ring so that's where we set up, which turned out to be convenient since it was easy to watch our friends' runs in that ring.

Friday night in the tent Walter was a bit restless at first but eventually we all fell asleep. It amazes me that with all the dozens and dozens of dogs onsite, not a bark was heard all night long.

Thanks to friends and a kind stranger, all but two of Walter's six runs were caught on video.

Here are some run-by-run notes.


Standard (ring 3): I didn't take the time to set him up properly at the start resulting in a runout on the #2 tire and often when we make a mistake at the start, or more specifically when he knows we've made a mistake at the start, the whole run falls apart. Should have just kept going with him when he went to the frame, but oh well. However, despite the myriad of mistakes, he still seems fairly upbeat throughout. Oh and for the first time in a while he weaved all 12 poles beautifully on the first try! Woo hoo! Anyway I can't stop laughing at myself while watching this run so I thought I'd share it with the world so y'all can feel better about any tough agility runs you might have had lately.

Gamblers (ring 1): He was uncharacteristically flat while waiting his turn, but in the video he doesn't look too bad. The first part of the main gamble was the weaves and of course he got the wrong entry and popped so no cigar.

Snooker (ring 1) (didn't get caught on video): This run was around 4pm after a long break for us. The 12-weaves were #7 and I knew I couldn't count on them for the closing (nor the opening obviously), so I had planned a nice course that covered the #6 teeter three times for an easy Q without the weaves. Well, I set him up in front of a red, released him, and he went around the jump and directly onto the nearby dogwalk. Woo hoo! We have now become official members of the Zero Point Snooker Club!

Jumpers (ring 2): Not a terrible run, but an uncharacteristic knocked bar due to my cueing the turn too desperately kept us from a Q.


Jumpers (ring 3) (didn't get caught on video): Several mistakes and runouts but some decent parts too. Can't remember the details.

Snooker (ring 1): Again with the #7 being the weaves, we had to go for three #6s (two-jump combination) in the opening to get the Q. I can't get over how much Walter forgives my pathetic attemps at handling. Anyway we made it through for a Q, our first and only Q of the weekend! :-D

Some general notes:
- He didn't do 2o2o at all but not once did I go back and make him do it again (training in the ring is allowed in AAC). Maybe I should have, but I guess I figured since he can be a bit weirded out at new places I didn't want to risk demotivating him. Not that he necessarily gets demotivated by redoing contacts, but well you never know.
- In retrospect from watching the videos, he wasn't all that unfocused considering it was his first time here and that his runs were constantly changing from one ring to another. Actually he handled himself pretty darn well all things considered and was upbeat throughout.
- I led out on several runs and he did minimal scootching-forward on all of them, yay!
- Ok I really need to work on providing less foggy and crouched-over body/arm cues. Honestly how he manages to decipher from my wimpy arm positions and everything else what I'm asking him to do is beyond me.

In summary: despite our ultra-low Q rate, it was really a lot of fun and I am definitely looking forward to trialing at Guides Canins again next year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

More weaving fun

I think I've been pushing Walter for too much too soon weave-wise recently, in anticipation of an upcoming trial. I need to slow down and ensure success to get Walter to be a Happy Weaving Boy. So today we did 8 and only 8 poles. All of his four attempts were clean, woohoo! From watching the video, he's single-striding all the way through every time which is good since his footwork has been inconsistent lately. (Lately as in the last six months or more!) I wonder if throwing the reward lower would help encourage him to lower his head a bit? I kept a wide lateral distance on every pass tonight, wonder if that partially explains the lack of popping.

The plan as it stands at the moment is to give him a day or two off, then next time do only 8 weaves just like tonight, perhaps making it as part of a short sequence. If that goes well, then next time up it to 10 poles, and so on until voilà, he will be a Happy Weaving Boy with all 12 poles! Thinking positive here :-)

Of course we worked on a few other things too:
- flip away from dogwalk to tunnel on far side - good
- dogwalk/tunnel discriminations - still need to clarify my body language when he's to take the closer obstacle

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Photos from July 27th Krazy Kanines' fun match

Forgot to post about the fun match back in July. For the first time ever in an event situation, Walter actually broke his start line sit-stay to take the jump before being released! gasp!! The game was Gamblers; he did the minis well but the main gamble included the frame to the far end of a c-shaped tunnel, one of our weak areas for sure, so no cigar.

Here are a few photos from the day. Walter jumped 16", our usual practice height, instead of his competition 22" jump height. Many thanks to the photographers who offered all their photos at no cost to everyone.

The week before the match we had a painting party to freshen up all the equipment, some of which dates back to the 90s. Doesn't the see-saw look so bright and happy. Please excuse the bird droppings next to Walter's foot.

Apparently Walter wanted to try a 1RTO contact on the dogwalk today. Actually I think what happened here was I had started to praise him up for sticking 2o2o and he started to self-release but caught himself just in time to stick the one rear toe. I love his eager expression and high tail in this photo.

Nice on-the-flat photo but too bad about that jump standard!

Here's a jumping photo from an uncommon angle. Would have been neat to see it with him jumping 22"; oh well.

Weaving practice again

Started with the 8-weaves. Tried a few times putting his toy as a target, but then when he popped and went to the toy, it sucked to have to tell him that no I would not play with his toy with him because he had goofed.

Couldn't get a single popless pass on the 10-weaves so we went back to 8 poles and no target. Finished with three good, clean passes in a row on the 8-weaves and lots of soccer ball fun.

I think I noticed today that he didn't pop the 8-weaves when I was at quite a lateral distance. So maybe I've been crowding him and distracting him from his job of finishing the poles.

Plan for next weaving practice:
- start with 8 poles; increase to 10 if 8 are very strong
- give him lots of lateral space
- have him do another obstacle or two before throwing the toy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weaving practice

Warmed up on the 6-weaves then jumped straight into 12. Walter was popping left, right, and center. Well maybe not center, but if he could have, he would have. Eventually I smartened up and reduced the number of poles so he could be successful again. Poor dog!

Here's the video...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Practice: Weaves

Went to the field that has the good weaves. Brought his half-deflated soccer ball which he loves-loves-loves but which has been collecting dust on the top shelf of the bookcase. Alternated mini-sessions at the weaves with some general distance stuff. Didn't use the wams at all today.

First mini-session: 6-weaves. First couple of tries he blew most of the way past them and weaved only the last 2-3 poles. But he was in a good mood, excited, anticipating his soccer ball so we tried again. After a few tries he was doing it right.

Second mini-session: 6-weaves. Only a few attempts and all were right on. Teased him before each set with "do you wanna weave"? and then he'd get all excited and dive into the poles. Rewarded with thrown soccer ball and game.

Third mini-session: 12-weaves. Amped him up before each send. First pass: me on left; he pops on my side between poles 9 and 10; I hand-wave him through 10-11-12; he gets cheese treat (lower value than soccer ball). Second pass: me on right; he pops on my side bewteen 10-11; I hand-wave him through 11-12; he gets cheese treat. Third pass: me on left; again he pops on my side between 9-10; I point to the poles and say "more weaves" and he goes and does the last three poles; he gets cheese treat with excited praise. Fourth pass: me on left (I think); he does them clean, yay! We stop there.

General notes: Once he's excited and high, sending him ahead to the weaves from quite a ways back, hanging back until he's in the poles then catch up to him and walk alongside.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August K9 Kup

I was really happy with Walter's level of enthusiasm today! He actually wagged his tail on the table, which must be a first for him. AND, he barked on course for the first time ever not including start lines! Ok, so it was while lying down on the table, kinda sorta the same idea as being on the start line. He was nice and peppy in Snooker, the second run of the day, despite the increasing heat.

Weaves: I was bound and determined that one way or another, Walter would complete the 6-weaves in the standard, even if I had to hand target him through every single gate. After several tries he did it (without hand targeting), yay! The trick seemed to have been to start him from quite a ways back and use a peppy voice, and throw in a rear cross to help pull him into the entry, although I have tried those approaches with him before without success. The 10-weaves in the closing of Snooker got his goat but he did weave a few of the poles including the last three, so it was a good try.

Frame: OH MY! Like in the July K9 Kup, I decided to push his speed on the frame in standard. Well, unlike in July, this time he came within a hair of his toes of missing his first ever contact in competition! Actually I didn't check the results so I'm not sure if the judge called it or not but I would guess he probably did, as would I have! The rest of his frames today were fine.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More gambling

Played around with some more gambles today. I keep all the gamblers course maps from trials I've been to together in one envelope. It's our homework file and it's fun to pull a course out and see if we can make progress towards being successful on a tough gamble.

One of the gambles today included an "out over" where there are two jumps side by side as well as an offcourse jump at 90 degrees, along the gamble line. At first he took the closer of the two side by side jumps so I stepped in to help him get it. He seemed to pick up on the concept but it could be he was just patterned to it.

We also tried a tough one where a frame and straight tunnel are side by side, parallel to the gamble line; the dog goes out to the tunnel, then turns around to go back in that same tunnel, then turns around AGAIN to go back in that same tunnel, then goes straight over a jump. I remember watching that gamble back in the spring (during Walter's gambling hiatus) and it was brutal. When a dog got it, the whoops and hollers could be heard for miles, no doubt. Anyway, yep it was hard!! We'll have to work on that one again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gamblin' practice

Had a lot of fun trying several gambles. Walter really impressed me today!

First we tried this gamble posted on Johann's blog a little while ago. Lo and behold, he got it on the first try, although just like Johann he turned right in to me after #3 but sent out to the tunnel. Tried it a couple more times to make sure it wasn't a fluke. We'll have to work on the turn-away because each time he turned in to me but he always sent out well to the tunnel. A few months ago he would never have been able to do the out tunnel. What a good boy!

Then we tried 1-4 (too lazy to set up 5 and the second dummy jump) of this gamble from the 2008 AAC Nationals held this past weekend in New Brunswick. The distances I set up were probably not as far as they should have been, but he couldn't put a foot wrong. Well, to my low standards anyway! :-D

We also tried the two mini gambles in this course, also from the 2008 AAC Nationals. The teeter one wasn't a problem but we (and I do mean "we" - my shoulders are always pointing precisely where I don't mean them to!) do need to work on c-shaped tunnels.

However, just because he can do this in the comfort of his home practice field doesn't mean he'll be comfortable working so far at unfamiliar venues! Hopefully his overall comfort level will continue to improve as he gains more confidence.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Turn away from contact to tunnel: "pip" coming along well. Starting to get some distance on it.

"Go": Realized this has been severely neglected what with all my focus on increasing lateral distance. Did some work on this using baited target or toy, over a straight line of jumps/tire.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Practice: discriminations. Also a swim and a walk.

Today's video reminded me of the value of reviewing video of one's practices when training alone. Yikes. Here's a video of today's practice and for the first time on this blog, some video of Walter just being Walter!