Monday, December 27, 2010

Misc agility stuff going on

Today I worked with all three dogs this morning and went to a fun run tonight. This gave me split agility focus disorder today. BTW, this is my first IPad post!

Thoughts #1 - the training of Tangle in the next five months
Tangle had an awesome training session this morning. He is really coming along, focusing on the task at hand and beginning to add speed (yeah, I am a speed junky). I introduced a plank today. I just want Tangle to run the plank, drive off the end and get his treat. My goal today was just to get him trotting the plank beside me. I want him to stay on the plank until the end and go to the food dispenser. In the end he did a fine job and I actually had a little more speed than I anticipated. I will try to post the video.

Second we worked on rear crosses. We are doing these with a jump upright since I have not thought of a suitable substitute. We made improvements, me on giving him the correct cues and he in turning away from me. We worked up to being about four feet from the jump.

Lastly we worked on cone work. We are doing figure eights with the cones and sends. Tangle had great speed today and was turning very tightly. We also worked with lateral sends and cones.

So, were are we going in the next five months. Well, here are misc thoughts that will be put in a timeline soon. I will probably start jump training when he is ten months. His growth plates should be mostly closed by then. Between now and ten months I will work on his dog walk contact to almost fun height. Just not a ton of repetition. We will work with LM presentation positions and small sequences that involve those. Weaves, not until ten months too!

Thoughts #2 - two older dogs
I have been working contacts with both dogs. They both have been fairly solid on the teeter at home. Split's DW has been excellent. It was time to up the training. Teeters at the fun run, about fifty percent. Splits DW seventy five percent. K, needs work again.Split on teeter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The boys were on FIRE!

I took all three dogs to the field today, been a while since that happened.

I decided to take a pulse check on where Tangle was when working around the other dogs. I put the other dogs in the yard which is right next to the agility field. I was fully prepared to have to back down and lower the distraction at the first sign of trouble. First I warmed Tangle up with recalls, he did awesome, 100%. OK, I ramped it up a little. Next we did flatwork, at a walk first and then at a trot. Tangle did awesome, never once ran over to see where the other dogs were.

Interesting to me, he completely understands following body motion and really has since day one! That is his natural talent for sure. I didn't fully appreciate it until I watch a couple of other puppies work and it wasn't the same level of understanding.

Split starts barking because he is getting left out, still Tangle is with me.

Next we did cone work, first single cone just for food and then two cones for food and then toys. I did both the stand in the middle, send, FC, and send to the next. Then the stand a send to one with forward motion and the other with lateral motion. Tangle's sends were beautiful today. On average I was sending him about 12 feet or so. He would drive out, round the cone with the same speed, accelerate into the turn and speed back to me. His speed is beginning to pick up which is awesome. He does still "offer" the cone to me without me asking. He just gets a "good boy", but no huge reward. In the long run I don't want him offering obstacles. I want him to wait until he has been queued.

We ended the session with a great game of table, Tangle's favorite game. This time I threw him a little twist and asked him the lie down a couple of times before I would start the game.

Never once did Tangle get distracted by the other dogs who by this time were barking and whining (that is a whole other training topic).

Next to work out was Split. I warmed him up with the extension and collection work. That boy is so awesome. Totally understands his foundation. I wonder if the herding has something to do with it. Both boys are very herdy and both are awesome at the foundation work. Next we worked small sequences with contacts in them. Split was awesome. He hit his contacts 100 percent of the time. I ran past, front crossed, stopped and started again, he remained through it all on the DW. His running contact was a little slow, but accurate. Speed will come in time. I worked some turns out of tunnels with Split for fun. RC before he goes into the tunnel, does he come out running in the correct direction? Boy did awesome. Lastly we ended with weaves-fetch which he loves. I worked on speedy entries, and some lateral motion. Seems like 24 inch poles have made all the difference in the world!!

I won't leave Tip out. She did really well except for waiting her turn. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010


Tangle is an amazing little boy!

We have been working his recalls very heavy lately. I (we, my family) view a recall as the most essential command our dogs should know. We don't settle for the average "things are quiet around the house, call the dog" and he comes. No, I don't consider that my dogs have a good recall until they are faced with the most amazing of distractions (squirrels, running deer, someone they love) and they can still respond and come to whomever called them. This takes time and many, many places and circumstances to train. I figured I would take a moment to comment on the skills that Tangle has to date.

This past weekend I took Tangle to the dog park. It is a 40 acre, unfenced dog park. I get there nice and early so that I can avoid the "but he just wants to play (while he is rolling your dog)" crowd. Everyone knows who I mean. We don't have the rest of the pack with us (it is easier to get a recall with the pups pack around). There are still plenty of distractions there however (dogs, rivers, smells).

I train my recalls two ways. The first is to just walk! Whenever the dog begins to venture off, act independent, I walk in the other direction. They eventually see that you are walking away and they come without a word. After doing this for 10 minutes or so with Tangle he kept a very good eye on me. THAT is exactly what I want to train. He needs to know that it is his responsibility to keep an eye on me and not loose me. I train this in many, many wide open spaces, on walks around the neighborhood, everywhere.

Next we worked on the actual come when I call. He was awesome. I pulled him off of dogs, good smells, and somebodies left over breakfast. Good boy!! I have also started to incorporate a whistle in the recall. I want him to come if I call or if I whistle. When he came, I heavily treat him. I want my dogs to know that there are always good things waiting for them when they come.

This morning we were training with another puppy. Several times they were chasing each other and I called Tangle off. He came every time! I was so proud of him.

Tangle still needs work on his recall, but we are getting there. He is challenged when he is over excited, the rest of his pack is running away from him, and probably other things I haven't discovered yet. But for 5 months, he has a better recall than most pet dogs for sure.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let me remind myself

From time to time things happen or life just get too busy and you forget why you decided on your hobby and what is in it for you. Today, I am taking that all important moment to remind myself why I do agility.

I am not doing agility to win first place, I am not doing agility to Q, I am not doing agility to be famous, I am not doing agility to have well-trained dogs (although I do), and I am not doing agility to prove that I can master something (been there done that). I do agility because I love interacting with my dogs and I love to see my dogs truly happy to be working with me. I adore learning what my dogs are capable of and I adore their look when they ask if they got it right. I love building a team with my dogs. I love the puzzles this sports asks me to solve. In short we are in it to build our relationship and have fun!

My dogs help me EVERY day be a better person!

Why is it important to remember why I do something? So that I can keep the knowledge and experiences that are aligned with my goals and let the others drift out to sea.

BTW, we have had two days of awesome practices. I can't even tell you how impressed I am with my dogs right now. Split totally stayed on task through nail guns and saw sounds, and Tip was game to try a new reward system (she has an amazing work ethic), and best of all I met my expectations for being a better trainer.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Two posts today! This came in my email today and I thought it was worth remembering! Remember, it isn't always about winning the class (although that is awesome), we need to remember what we are doing better than we did yesterday!

Scenario One – Performance Goal Focus

So in this situation, the coach chooses to focus the team’s attention to how they performed as a team. The hard work we put into practice had come through in our performance during the game. The players can see that they were successful in their performance and that by continuing to work hard they will achieve even greater levels of success in their performance which has side effects – positive outcomes in their games.

Scenario Two – Outcome Goal Focus
In this situation, the coach focuses the team’s attention on how they lost the game. The players know that they have been working really hard in practice to develop their skills, however, this clearly wasn’t good enough. They quickly learn that despite their best efforts during practice, they still failed. Their motivation to continue to work hard in practice diminishes and their development stops, thus feeding into the poor outcomes they will undoubtedly experience in the future.

The underlying issue when you focus your goals on either the competition outcome or your performance is control. You can’t always control the outcome of a competition. When your goals are outcome oriented, you can only contribute your portion to the outcome. You can’t control what your competition does. You can’t control what a judge or referee does. Ultimately, you are leaving your success up to someone else. You can, however, control your performance. You can make changes to your training to improve your performance. When your goals are performance oriented, you can make them happen.

While “they” may not ask “How?”, you should. It’s a dead simple way to get more enjoyment out of your sport and motivate yourself to put in the effort in practice to develop your skills.

Good Trainer!

I am going to take a moment this morning to pat myself on the back (Click N Treat)!

The other day when I was running Split at the fun run I caught myself re-working something that Split had done wrong, then he did it right and I went on without rewarding him (shame on me). I know that I have done that before. I get caught up with my enjoyment in running and not paying the right kind of attention to the dog's performance. We have all done that right? So, I scowled myself and made a commitment to be a better, more consistent trainer.

Before I went out to work the dogs this morning I took a moment to decide what I was going to work on with each dog and then also to remind myself to be a good trainer!

With each dog, I worked very small segments, little trouble spots we have had. After each correct performance, the dog got amply rewarded. Actually over-the-top rewarded (if there is such a thing). In trying to build new habits it is good to exagerate the part that you have trouble with. It builds better muscle memory, or in this case, better behavior patterns on my part.

So, today I take a moment, smile and say "You were a good trainer today!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Never can predict when the challenge will come!

Anybody who has read or met Split knows that he is my soft dog. Not only is he my soft dog, but he get spooked/thrown off by the strangest things. Most of which I can't identify.

Last night we went to a fun run at a place that we have been many, many times. I took Split and Tangle. Split had been doing awesome on his contacts at home so I wanted to start working them in another environment. Really his contacts haven't been that bad, I just wanted to clear up the criteria for him.

I walked the course like I usually do and at a fun run I tend to work the dogs stays. I ask them to sit on the sidelines and wait while I walk the course. For some reason Split could not stay. Wasn't too bad, just kept scooting closer.

I went to warm him up on the practice jump, asked him to stay and I walked to the other side. He could not sit, he followed me around the jump. I was shocked. For all of Split's issues, he has ALWAYS had a rock solid stay at a practice jump and at the start line. ALWAYS! He has broken his start line twice in his whole career.

So the lesson continues with Split, I never know exactly what I will be training that day!

At the practice jump I started with him, got him jumping and happy. Then he would stay, still not happy, but he stayed.

Our turn on course now, I put Split at the start line and walked out. Guess what? He followed me again! OK, it is apparent we are working on confidence and happiness today on course.

Split is such a funny dog. When he looses confidence it never slows him down, he just runs fast, but with no brain engaged and in a velcro style. He broke his start, leaped off of contacts, took every jump remotely near him, and nailed his weaves (why did he do those right?). I tried to just run him, find something I could reward (that WAS hard) and make him a happy camper. I didn't feel really successful!

My wish? I wish that I could see these episodes coming, figure out a successful plan of attack and turn them into a positive training session. I can never get all three of those wishes at once! That is my goal with Split. Funny goal for an agility dog eh?

BTW, Tangle was picture perfect when I was working him ringside on his foundation work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Never overrate foundation

Every once in a while I gain a deeper understanding of why foundation is so important! I have been watching Mary Ellen Barry's (MEB) new foundation DVD. Fabulous addition to the library and she is just an amazing teacher.

I was working out the dogs today and I think that I could spot every foundation skill that either I didn't work on or I short-cuted. All three dogs!! Something MEB said on the DVD is that she spends a ton of time on foundation skills, perfects them, so that when she is teaching agility equipment she is not fighting the lack of any other skill! HUGE!!!!

Examples from today's' practice:
Tangle - Although he isn't even 5 months old and I have not finished his foundation by any means, I can spot what I need to work on more. I started out with just a little circle work at a slow trot. He didn't know that he was suppose to stay with me. It was easy to remind him, but I need to incorporate some specific training that helps him understand that better.

Split - he is a really strong flanker. He always wants to be slightly ahead and turn into me. Again, I need to go back to foundation work and teach him the value of being at my side. Also, Split has zero forward send to a tunnel. The nice thing about that is that I have to be moving in order to get him into the tunnel. However, if I start off with some motion and send him 5 feet he should be able to get into the tunnel without looking back at me.

Also, Split has lost/never had a strong enough understanding of the weaves. We went back to almost square one today and worked on weave entries. I was going to click/treat it, but Split would not take food today--interesting. So, instead I clicked and threw the Frisbee. We worked with just 4 poles and worked my way around the clock from 9 to 3 on the entries. Once we got past either of those he could not get his entry anymore. We will work that. I also noticed that he is dependant on my motion. I need to think about that and decide how independent I want that performance. Ie, I am moving forward in the general direction he needs to go, but I should be able to peel off laterally. I don't want him doing the weaves if my motions is going against the flow.

Tip - Tip was my first dog and I will always give her credit for that! She has adapted to so many different techniques, it is amazing that she can be successful on course at all. Tip does not have a good balance of obstacle/handler focus. She is way more obstacle focused. Probably because I was when I taught her! We need to review her permission to take an obstacle! Her start line stayed sucked today as well and I have been working that as well. Need to go back and work impulse control work with her.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Incorporating training into my workout!

It is always a challenge to fit everything you need or want into your day. I really try hard not to compromise and blow off my workout. If I am not in good health I am not good to myself or anyone including my dogs.

Today the dogs and I took a jog in a local park that has a ton of undeveloped space. Double bonus the park is next to a bunch of soccer fields as well (more mileage and varying terrain).

We jogged probably 35 minutes or so. While I am running I threw the Frisbee for the dogs (not Tangle, he really just wants to chase the other dogs right now). Anyone who has a pack that plays fetch knows that one dog can be the hog of the toy. To combat this behavior I have trained my dogs that if I call a name before I throw the toy that is the dog who gets to fetch it. This is a really nice foundation impulse control game, especially for the dog who views it as her responsibility to ALWAYS get it (the dog that needs the control).

After we were done jogging, I needed to get in some wind sprint work. This aids me in agility since most of that is start/stop speed work for me. On the soccer field I put all three dogs into a down. I take off running, release the hounds, and they chase me. Again, really nice for recall, release work, impulse control and also gives the dogs some chase/speed work themselves. It is fun to note who catches you first. I did this 6 or 7 times. Tangle, the baby actually did awesome with this. Only broke once.

Now, I upped the anti. Again, all three dogs in a down, and I take off running. I only release one dog to chase me. Again, dog's name and then the release command. This KILLS the other dogs. Tangle, the baby of the pack had a little bit of trouble with this one. He broke twice before he got the hang of the game. I only did this 4 times to introduce the game. To up the anti next time I will increase the reps and which dog gets to play.

The last thing I did was just with Tangle. We ended the session with some flatwork (to him it looks like a controlled chase game). He is ready to add more motion to his flatwork and it gives me an opportunity to exercise my lateral movement muscles.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lateral sends

My plan was to work on contacts this morning, but the contact had a think layer of ice on them (didn't want to teach the slide). So I worked the two older dogs on lateral sends. Turns out it was a good thing, we were a little rusty. OK, well, mostly me.

My secondary goal was to just get Split out on the agility field and happy to work. Yesterday they were firing off nail guns (BIG scary thing for him). He decided that he was done dealing with it, somehow escaped and ran home (about 1 mile). At least he ran home!

I set it up as a jump into a serpentine with a tunnel as bait behind the serpentine. I worked both directions of the Serp.

Split did read that I wanted him to turn, but boy was he wide! I had to work on first the deceleration cue into the Serp and then we worked on the lateral send. He really just needed reminding what the cues were. Also, I rewarded just about everything I could to make him happy to be there again. He did keep looking around, but powered through being scared (there was no nail gun going on).

I figured out that if I started very close to the beginning of the serp, I could show more lateral motion and Split's turn was much tighter. Something I learned this weekend at the Carrie Jones seminar. Makes sense when you think about it.

Tip, the more experienced, tighter turning dog decided the tunnel was the obstacle of choice, but only going left to right. I will have to film myself to see if my cues are not as strong in one direction vs. the other. So, to get Tip to follow the lateral motion I actually had to start further away from the second jump. Probably has something to do with the way she was trained :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today's work

Tangle and I did a boat load of work today. I didn't get to work out the others because a storm rolled in this afternoon :(

We took a ton of video while playing all these games. Since Tangle is a wee one I can't always see how well he is lined up with me. The video really helped. It also helped me spot where I was not releasing properly!

We played a ton of short games:
  • start lines stays
  • table games
  • "round" the cone
  • "8's" around the cones
  • "feet" on the table
  • FC, RC, pull and push

A lot of these games have releases in them. I am trying to release either in motion and completely still (ie, don't introduce a new motion when saying the release). For the most part I was fairly good with this, but I did notice that in the table game I was REALLY bad about releases and starting motion at the same time.

I was really pleased with his no motion flatwork, just the basic crosses. He was lined up well, and followed perfectly. I did notice that his rear crosses still need work (my coordination which I am sure he can then follow).

Playing with Tangle on the table

Monday, November 15, 2010

Foundation - the real story

I attended a Carrie Jones Seminar this weekend. The first day was at the Master's level and the second day was Foundation. I want to focus on the Foundation topic since that is what is of interest to me this morning.

With the other two dogs I never had an opportunity to attend a foundation seminar. Mostly because they weren't offered or they were not available to the masses (I didn't belong to agility clubs). So, lately I have attended two foundation seminars. The first seminar was Tracy Sklenar and the focus was a lot of "Say Yes" training stuff. Fabulous information and Tracy was amazingly entertaining! The second was Carrie Jones and covered the basics of sit, stay, down, tricks and the FC, RC, push and pull basics. Again, good information, just really just the basics or beginning of foundation work.

Now, I have attended novice seminars and your dog is expected to already be sequencing obstacles and have contacts (not perfect however). So, to me it begs the question "Isn't there something in between these stages?", "Isn't that prior to 10 obstacle sequences stage REALLY important?". Too me, that is foundation work as well. You begin to get a fair amount of movement into play, combinations of skills are expected (stay, jump, read my motion). What is the best way to bring those together?

I would love to attend a seminar on how you begin to pull some of these skills together. Great, I have done some flat work, one jump work, cone work. Yes, I can read some books, blogs, and web sites, but this stuff just doesn't seem to be out there. I have to piece it together. Am I missing something?

I know that the one dog I did train with the foundation skills was not able to go from "one jump" work to "sequences" automatically. We had to build up to it. Who is going to be first in line to provide the resources on putting it all together?

Friday, November 12, 2010

20 degrees and still training

This morning, mostly because I had a long list of choirs AND it was 20 degrees we stayed inside to train. Tip worked on sit stays and provided the distraction while I worked Tangle. Let me just say, she needs work :)

We started off with the 'round' command with Tangle. I have a traffic cone in the middle of the floor, and he is suppose to go around the cone. We just worked this with food and little motion. He demonstrated that he was ready for more!

Tangle and I worked on the 'feet' command. His criteria is to put his back feet on a plank and his front feet off the plank (the 2o2o position). He then waits for the release and should move forward upon my release. He was brilliant! Because he clearly understood the command we moved to the next stage which is having me in different positions. I worked the right side and left side. Right side was stellar and the left was a little week. I need to remember to work that side a little more for all things, he is clearly a little weaker on that side.

We ended the training session going back to the 'round' game. This time I started him in the 'side' position, gave the command, and then rewarded with tug. After the first time it took him a little bit to get his head back into the game (over stimulated) and remember what he was suppose to do. Once he got it however, the tug really caused him to pick up his speed going around the cone to come back and play.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Subscribe Via Email

There is a new link on the page, "Subscribe Via Email". Not that I don't want people visiting the site, but it is a nice feature for those of us that like "push" technologies. I never remember to visit the blogs that I am following. I love them dearly, but life just gets too busy. If something shows up in my email box, it is now in my cue to read!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Audience

Most mornings I am over at the agility field (and new house) to work out the dogs. These days I have an audience to watch over my practices. It was the General Contractor, now it is the Framers and perhaps next it will be the Plumber. They are a friendly audience, even when things don't go right, they are appreciative and impressed. The framer even asked the other day if his work bothered the dogs. I, of course love their work because it gives my dogs more distractions to work through :)

This morning we worked on contacts. Split did an AKC trial this weekend and his teeter was less than impressive (from a trainers perspective). It was spectacular in that there was a lot of air to be had! His teeter this morning was flawless. Front crosses, running full speed past, rear crosses, throwing the toy, he stayed through it all. That is what I love about Split. He does come back into compliance very easily.

Next we worked a short little sequence that I happened upon when rearranging the field. I was trying to work the A-Frame with Split, but really turned into a jump grid exercise. The distance between 3 and 4 was a problem for the dogs. Both dogs dropped the bar a number of times while figuring out how to go from extension to collection with the rear cross.

Set it up so that it is a bounce jump for the dog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Agility skill inventory

Yes, I know, I have been writing a bunch about Tangle lately...

We went over to the agility field early today to work out 'the boys'. I wanted to have a few moments to work on the fundamentals of Split running AFrame (we have a trial today) and Tangle's basics. With Split, I got out the box on the ground and did some target work with that. Then we did some AFrame work, cleaned his performance right up!

Let me say that most of the behaviors that I am working on are not the final behavior. I am in the mode of building tools that I will use later to put the end behavior together (hopefully, very quickly).

Teeter work - Tangle was more excited to get on the teeter today. Quicker to get on and get back on if he moved off the contact. The things that I am trying to remember: bring him around or send onto the teeter, reward at the end quickly with a party, feed low, release with 'ok' and I move after he does. The teeter right now is just being used to get use to motion and perhaps a little of the end contact behavior. It is about 6 inches off the ground. The command right now is "slam".

Table - The table is completely flat. We are working on tugging on the table. We do the ready-set-go game, race to the table, once he is completely on, I begin madly playing tug with him. If he comes off the table the game stops until he is back on. There is no command to this behavior. I am going to use this later on to introducing tugging at the bottom of contacts. I want him to be very comfortable with tugging on equipment (and perhaps chairs in my house etc). Also, this game will lead to his table performance.

Flat Work - We are just working on the six presentations of LM's flatwork. Tangle is awesome at them since most of it is natural behavior.

Flat Work with a hoop - I introduced this today. Tangle did awesome coming through the hoop to all the presentations. The one thing that I noticed was he does not have an understanding of 'stay' when the hoop is present. When I put my hand out in prep for the RTH he would come, not when I released him. I went back to see if that was the case "on the flat", and it is not. The hoop made some kind of a difference to him. Fun!! We worked on the stay command in the presents of the hoop.

I have been working for the last month on 'stays' with and without motion, walking, running etc. He does great with those. Just proof that you have to really "proof" your behaviors.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three dog training

Well, Tangle is getting to the age where he gets to take part in the daily ritual of training. I am excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I had developed a nice routine with the 'black and whites' and now I need a new routine!

This morning I jogged over to the agility field. The job actually starts our training for the morning. All three dogs were on their best behavior since yesterday they all got sent home (during the job) for not listening. Believe me, the older two knew EXACTLY what was going on.

First thing I learned, Tangle can't be in the middle while jogging. Has nothing to do with size or age and everything to do with the fact that he is a brat! He runs along holding on to Split's ear. Split is too kind to do anything about it.

I started this morning's drills with jump grids, Tangle in a kennel, Split on the table and Tip got to go first. I am maintaining the jump grids that I pounded so hard in August to get Tip's rear stronger. Tip did an excellent job, so much so, I raised the bars to 22" for her. She did great.

Next was Split. Split really does hate jump grids and it is hard to make them exciting. Can't really use a toy since he will solely focus on the toy and not the job. He stuck with me today and was a happy camper through the drills. He always does a great job because he is a powerful pup and he wants to please.

(Split and Tip's stay on the table while the other is working is getting better too)

Next we worked on jump skills and the broad jump. Probably inspired by Mary-Ellen Barry's article in Clean Run and that I got to use my new broad jumps.

Both dogs did great, although in the beginning they wanted to cut the corners. Didn't take much to convince them that was not going to work for me. The red and pink paths were the hardest, you have to have your timing down well when you cue them to 'switch'. I decided that turning on the flat before the jump was the best course of action.

Tangle's training this morning was continued work on Mary Ellen Barry's method of proofing contact end behavior on the flat. I am using this for startlines and a good understanding of releases. We started with rear crosses on this exercise today.

Next we worked on increasing speed when driving to 'dead' toys. He was doing much better today then two days ago. Probably helped that we went nuts in the living room last night doing this :)

Then we worked on our recalls to heal on the flat. He really has not had any problems understanding any of the recalls. We are just trying to perfect the heal position from all of these positions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

For the love of the dogs

Just remembering this morning why I do all of this crazy dog training :) It is for the love of the dogs. Truely amazing creatures who really want nothing than more to play with me. One wants to please more than the others, but they ALL want to play with me.

Aren't I blessed!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Visualize the team you want to be

This has been lifted from Susan Garretts blog, but I wanted to put it somewhere for safe keeping so I can play with these words and form my own vision of the Tangle/Mary team.

Trained skills of the most brilliant agility dog your mind can visualize
1.) A rock solid, confident but excited start line.
2) Runs in “squirrel speed” around the course
3) Ability to drive lines. She locks her head on a line and doesn’t look up until the run is over (ie doesn’t have an unbalanced value for the handler over the obstacles)
4) Comes off any obstacle when prompted by her handler’s body cues (ie doesn’t have an unbalanced value for the obstacles over the handler)
5) Amazing tight turns.
6) Lightning responses to her handler’s cues: front cross, rear cross, threadle arms, post turns, accelerations and deceleration cues.
7) Full independent obstacle understanding (does not relay on the handler’s speed or body position for her ability to complete any obstacle at full speed).

You can get to the whole article here,

The followup thought to these is of course, what is my training plan for getting there?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Progression of Back!

I decided weeks ago that I was going to teach Tangle to back up the stairs. Don't really know why, could be the whole hind end awareness thing, or maybe just fun to have another stupid pet trick!

I started with teaching him "back". Which was on the floor and just walk backwards. He caught onto that in about 15 minutes. Mostly the behavior was shaped with just a little bit of luring (pressure to start going back). He now has a better back than any of my other BCs.

Tonight I decided to work a little bit on the stairs. Mostly because he kept offering me back in response to everything :). At first he would not back up into the stairs. Probably actually a smart move on his part. Again, I mostly shaped it, but I did apply the "back" command as well.

So, as you watch the video you can see that he knows it involves the hind end. He just doesn't quite know how to put all the motions together to make it happen. He was rewarded anytime it involved the hind end.

Give us one more session and perhaps a little more growth in those legs to actually get up the stairs and he will have this down!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trial this weekend

We did a NADAC trial this weekend. Tip earned her lifetime points, only one Q away from her points in Weavers for V-NATCH. Split earned his weavers title. Proud of both of my dogs, but Split did excellent. He had some really awesome runs this weekend. Really proud of his work and our team work. He didn't Q a lot, because I choose to train his runs. He didn't get called for contacts by the judge, but it wasn't what I wanted to see in a trial so I trained. We have been working on running contacts!

Tangle did a great job at the trial as well. Got to meet a ton of dogs, we did a lot of trick work 10 feet from the ring. He was totally focused and with me the whole time. Funny, the most distracting environment for him right now are his two pack mates running around the agility field. Working at trails, soccer fields, in parks he has down cold! Love this pup!!!

We worked this morning with his playmate Soleil. Both dogs did great! I will just comment on Tangle's work. We worked a little on teeter work, restrained recalls on the teeter, cone work, FC, and RC. He is working with my motion really well. At this point he doesn't try to herd which is great. I am sure that I will have that issue at some point :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

And so the fun begins!

This morning I took Split and Tangle for a long walk. Split has had a strained muscle and we are trying to work it out with walks, message, and chiro. Things seem much better today. Then I came home and went for a 1.5 mile run with Tip which she completely enjoyed! She loves being the ONLY dog getting attention.

This evening I took Tangle and Split over to the agility field for a workout. This is when the fun began. It has totally clicked that great things happen at the agility field and Tangle was completely over stimulated!! So, I get to figure out how to get BC #3 in focus and ready to work. Tip and Split both took something slightly different. With Tip it took 10 minutes of fetch, with Split it took mental work.

After I figured out that I was going to have to get Tangle focused first, I started with simple games that he knows really well. Touch, lay down, and the bang game. This seemed to get his head in the game a little better (not completely). Then I began with the startline work again.

Startline proofing--on advice from friends from my last round, I need to make the game look as much like a startline as possible. That is, when I lead out, start running as fast as possible and then release. I was just kind of trotting because I was trying to set him up for success.

So, today, I lead out maybe 3 feet. "On your mark, get set (I started running), go". I release maybe 1.5 seconds after I started running. He did great. Anytime he broke the stay, I walked back, put him back in the original spot and did the game again. The next time I didn't lead out as far, nor wait as long to release. Trying to keep him successful. Once he broke so bad that the game stopped for 2 minutes or so.

We have also been playing the bang game. I have the teeter set for 6 inches off the ground. Tangle hopes on, stays on and get a treat. I work this from both sides, by my side, sending him. He is awesome. Each day we do this he seems to enjoy it more and more.

We ended with a little bit of circle work. He is a natural at this. Runs by my side, recognizes front crosses, post turns, he is just doing awesome.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Startline and stay work

Well, the Tangle-man is proving to be a great student, so we worked on startline and stay work today. I have to say that I was amazed at this 14 week old puppy's ability to stay until given his release word "OK".

Imagine this when you watch the video: We are having work done on our house right behind me. There is the pounding of knocking down walls, there is a skid steer picking up trash, and the GC is watching very close, and Tip sitting at the sidelines. This little puppy is focusing through all of this!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Loose leash walking

I had to drop my car off at the local automotive place and decided that Tangle and I would walk home. It would give us an opportunity to practice the loose leash walking, getting past barking dogs in a calm fashion and just general have some good exercise.

Tangle got to visit everyone in the car shop, get treats and pets. He also greeted the residing dog and did a fine job saying hello.

Tangle did really well on the walk home. For the most part he respected the end of the leash. I only had to stop a half a dozen times to remind him that he was pulling too hard. Good boy.

We past a Great Dane, a small high pitched barking dog. Both times when Tangle approached the area where the barking was coming from he began to yawn. I was really proud of him, with the GD his tail stayed down and his walk was very calm. The smaller dog was a little harder. Again, yawning, but the tail went up. He then began to sniff and hang out in the area. Never once did he decide to bark! We are making progress :)

Side notes: Tangle got to go to agility class last night. We worked on running over a plank, watching nicely while other dogs ran.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skid steers, dump trucks, and agility

This morning we went over to the field to train. I suspected that we would have some distractions, and the construction people didn't disappoint me!

There were skid steers, dump trucks, people pounding and walking around. This was actually great for two reasons: Split and Tangle. Split does not like loud noises and machinery, and Tangle is to the point where training with distraction is good.

With Tip and Split I worked on jump grids, contacts, and lateral sends. Tip has been knocking bars and not acknowledging that she knows she is turning. We worked on that and it only took her 4 tries to get back into shape. Split was perfect from the beginning.

When I get a second I will post the jump grid that we worked on.

Tangle was stellar this morning. It took him about 30 seconds to get over the distractions (mostly the other dogs actually) and figure out we were training. Once he knows we are training he is ON THE JOB!! We did a little bit of teeter work. That is the teeter was about 5 inches off the ground and he was just on/off it making it move. My goal was not the teeter, but the movement! He still does not have control of his hind end (not surprised) so keeping his hind end on the teeter is a bit of a challenge. That will come.

Second we did flat work. We are working at a walk and just following my movement. Although he has always been good, today I noticed more fluid motion in the work. We did front crosses, rear crosses (not natural yet) and walk beside me. We also did recalls to my side.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Starting Monday off right

Tangle and I went to train with a friend and her sheltie. Tangle's growth is beginning to outpace the sheltie, but he is still playing nicely. It will be nice if he can keep his manners and play with small dogs too!

We worked both pups with agility equipment today, but no agility of course! We first worked the teeter. We had the pups walk part way up the down side of the teeter, turn around and come to the end and get fed. When they were at the end, the other person would let the teeter fall the 2 inches that they were holding it off the ground. The objective was to get the pups use to walking on a board, slight movement and turning around on boards. Both pups were unphased and loved getting fed of course.

The second thing we did was restrained recalls through the tire. The tire was completely down. It just really introduced some distraction to the recall and showed them the tire. Just kinda fun and different.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A good weekend

Well, just got back from a long walk with Tangle. We purposely went pass fences that we knew had barking dogs. As we went on our walk he got treated any time he looked at me. When we started to hear the barking dogs, I would tell Tangle "watch" he would look at me and get treated for not barking. If he started barking we would move further away from the fence to distance where he would relax. He got treated for being relaxed again. By the end of the walk he was getting so he could move (not run ) away from the sound to a place that felt safe, he was also looking at me. Good boy!!!

On our walk we encountered: burrito dogs, rude lunging dogs, polite dogs, playgrounds with kids (he LOVES kids)

The older two BCs went to USDAA trial this weekend. We had some outstanding results. Both Tip and Split got Team Q's for Nationals. My most proud moment was when a train was going by and Split went to the start line, waited until I released him, and ran an awesome run with me. He is VERY afraid of loud noises. After we finished he did beg to go to his kennel, but that is fine! Split is now in Master's jumpers as well!!

Of special note, Split made all his AFrame contacts this weekend!!! Remember, we have been retraining from 2o2o to running.

Tip did an awesome job this weekend. I am growing to expect that of her finally!!! Boy, we have come a long way and I wasn't sure I would ever see that day :)

Things we need to work on from this weekend: Split's weaves! He still isn't hitting those 100 percent of the time and he is old enough to be solid on those.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An act of bravery!

Well, this morning I took all three dogs for a walk. Previously, it has been Tangle and one of the other dogs. I knew that I had to have NO goals in mind (like actually getting my heart rate up), deal with things as they come and train what needs to be trained.

Split and Tip did all their usual things. Tip walked nicely on the leash, Split pulled because he NEEDED to run out to his favorite spot, and of course Tangle NEEDED to follow him! So, we trained loose leash walking for a while.

We crossed a very busy street where we have to pause in the middle to wait for the other lanes to clear. Tangle did an excellent job. No trouble with cars shooting past him at all.

The next obstacle that we encountered was the BC mix who herds the dogs at the fence. For some reason this sent Tangle OFF!! Barking, lunging, just generally going friggin NUTS. He wanted a fence fight! Ah, found the next thing I have to train. This morning I just got past the problem and made a mental note to do this again, just with Tangle and totally awesome treats.

Finally we got to the park. I let Tangle off the leash (first time ever in public). I needed to test where he was at in terms of the desire to stay with his pack. He did absolutely magnificent, which was my expectation. He herded, followed and watched. As we walked around he never once strayed from the 30 foot boundary he seems to have with his pack. Good knowledge to have!

Getting back home was uneventful except for the desire to bark and 'fence fight' with dogs.

So, on the list to train--more loose leash walking and relaxing around barking dogs :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A good game of chase!

When I have a puppy around the house it causes me to remember to go back and play games with my other dogs. Sometimes it is just plain FUN to kick back and play a good game of chase!

I took Tangle for a walk this morning. He woke up feeling full of energy and therefor full of piss and vinegar. Tangle is 11 weeks today and he got his first taste of what it is going to be like jogging with me. (Nobody worry, I am not about to take an 11 week old for an hour run!) We went less than 1/2 mile and it was mostly "READY", I would take off running, 10 seconds later we would stop and be sniffing something new and different. Tangle really began to enjoy the running and chancing!

Just a fun, fun, fun morning romp with the pup :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Greatful for an excellent practice

Today I took Tip and Split over to the house for a practice. We worked on some short courses authored by Kathy Keats (on the Cleanrun site) and some jump grids.

First I worked Split prepared that we might have to scrape the course work and go back to circle drills (he was a little wild yesterday). Split was 100 percent in the game and ran the courses exactly like I asked! It was a great course because we had an opportunity for me to work on my timing with him. I am trying to better hone when I can cue and good and when I need to wait and be patient! In general I need to wait when I need collection--working on being better about that.

Tip did an AWESOME job on the same course. Very tight, not straight forward and she ran it clean. Man she still amazes me how far she has come. She watches me so close now!

We need worked on jump grids. I went back to the tunnel, three collected jumps and an extended jump. I felt that I had more to learn in terms of timing with the dogs. It was very fun to play with this. Split needs me to be slightly more patient with him on the collected jumps. Tip, she gets the cue and then I can go. In some ways Split is way more sensitive to my lack of motion that Tip.

I will throw in here a word about Tangle's practice last night. First we worked on recall. Boy do I need to shake this up. When he sees the treat bag he is ON IT and knows the game. It is probably time to up the distraction a little and see how he does. Maybe a park this weekend. Next we worked on sit, tug (from Susan Garrett's book). He got really good at this one as well. My goal is to get a really fast sit with him which he is well on his way to achieving! We are also playing the ready, set, OK game with tug. As soon as he hears "ready" his butt is down waiting for the next round to begin! Such a bright boy. Tangle has been getting daily walks with a little running in there (not much). He sees horses, goats, skid streer's, dogs, people, birds, etc.. We make it a little further every day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Training Update

Well, I have been training, but haven't been updating my blog.

First Tangle - He has been doing awesome. We have been working on skills every day. Still most of the skills that just make him a good household member and pack dog. The items that we have been focusing on are: socialization, new experiences, sit, stay, lie down, come, and tugging. Tang is doing REALLY well. Yesterday he got to go to the soccer game and we played games while watching soccer. His attention span is improving and the distractions proved to be no problem at all! Very proud of the little boy.

Tip and Split-I have mostly been working on my timing with them, both on courses and with jump grids. It has been hard for me to run Tip and Split since their timing is so different. Split has been the one that has suffered the most. So, this fall I am focusing on getting his/my timing down better.

Tip and jump grids - if you have been following this blog you will know that Tip had a sprained hock last year. The vet expected that the problem would always plague us and the PT wasn't sure how long she would be able to compete. Well, Tip had started to drop a LOT of bars over the last six months. I was really worried that this was a sign that it was time to retire her. I was doing jump grids with Split and decided to include Tip in that work as well. Keeping in mind that I made the work easier on her. Well six weeks later the progress has been amazing and just what she needed. Yes, her hind end was getting weak and the jump grids have helped that problem. Interesting, I did a three day trial which 4 months ago she would have been stiff by the second day. This past weekend we did 2 days and I didn't see a single sign of a problem. Just like new she was. Amazing!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today's training (4)

All three dogs got to go over to the agility field today. We were going to meet Carol and Tangle's half sister Dash.

Mostly we were helping Carol out with her APHS jump exercises. I decided to use this time to train Tangle on recalls. When we had breaks from working Dash, Tangle would get his recall exercised. He did really well!! He has the basic desire to be with me so when I call, his recall is probably 80 percent. Fairly good for having the pup three days!

I am hoping to hit the field again tonight so I will leave this short.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 3

Today I was back to work and had kind of a busy day. Tangle got to be included in some of the activities.

Sam stayed home with him this morning. He had a walk with the big dogs. I understand it was a little better than yesterday's leash walk. Then Tangle got to go to an office party (outdoor BBQ). He got to experience balloons, things blowing in the wind, plastic bottles (the BIG hit), and games where people were throwing things. He was a champ and only a poped balloon scared him a little!! He slept about half the time in the cool grass and then visited the other half.

I did train the big dogs this morning, but Tangle was left at home. The dogs needed to jog some and Tangle is still too little for that.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 2 - Over the travel hangover

I would like to blog most days so I will keep these short most of the time.

Troop woke up a different man this morning. Full of life! This is the first day he got to train with the big dogs at the agility field. Big dogs worked on jump grids and turns before/after the broadjump. With Tangle we worked on priming the pump activities. I worked on learning how to train three dogs in our morning sessions and cleaning up my body language on jump grids.

This morning I rotated the dog that was working, each getting about 5 minutes of my time. The ones that were not working got treated sporadically for being good.

Tangle worked on click-n-treat, just getting us ready for shaping. He worked on recalls (a skill I don't do well without), and a little bit of shaping "look at me". Also last night Sam helped me with restrained recalls which he LOVED. Interestingly, he was more out of control when I was calling him then Sam.

Misc work around the house was tug: He is better than he was yesterday and has thrown in a little growl and rooing for entertainment value!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 1 - Introducing Tangle

Introducing our newest little one Tangle (Cedar Rem X Cadet).

Today we are spending the day just getting to know each other and getting him settled in. We are beginning with activities that prime the pump. I am teaching Troop that I am the funnest person on the planet. Lots of his food will be coming from me, I always have toys and play with him and when I call him there is ALWAYS a huge awesome reward waiting for him!

All these activities will help lay the foundation for his journey to be an awesome member of our household and an excellent agility partner.
BTW, I changed the color of the blog to red in honor of the new color I added to the pack!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Progress on the dropped bars?

We did a USDAA trial this weekend. Out of 9 runs Tip only dropped 1 bar and that was totally my fault. To me, that is a dramatic improvement over most of the trials this summer. Sure enough, when we don't drop bars we take 1st in everything we do!

I looked back on my last post about working the jumping skills. After those drills I dragged out my Linda Mechlenberg jumping skills book. I decided to start from the beginning of her advanced grids and work my way through all the skills again (urging from a friend).

Before this trial we had gotten through the three jumps in a row, the pin wheel sort of jump drill. These drills were really hard for Tip. I filmed each series and could tell at the beginning she was really working her muscles. Toward the end, her skills seemed more effortless. With each exercise I didn't move on until I saw that effortless performance. In general I would say that we worked them for several weeks a piece.

She nor Split are particularlly trilled with the exercises, but to their credit they both do what I ask of them.

Here is a link to Split doing the pin wheel grid. He showed little effort when doing these and had a nice jump style IMO.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jumping skills

I really wish I could find the instructions for improving dropped bars!! Anyone? Anyone?

In the last several trials of Tip's the dropped bars have kept her from qualifying in everything. She is to the point where she has the most amazing runs, fast, on course, but it is always a dropped bar that keeps her from qualifying. I am beginning to get a little disappointed running her and that is not fair to her.

This moring we worked on jumping skills. I am starting with what I believe to be the foundation of jumping ability, are the muscles built up right? We worked on lines of jumps, I am out ahead and have no motion going on. Just call her too me.

Then we worked on turning jumping muscle building.

She did fairly well on the straight line of jumps. She had two shortened strides inbetween each jump (4 in a row). When she kept them all up, I threw a party and awesome game of fetch (low throws, don't freak out). When she dropped them, I was quiet, picked up the bar and we started again. My goal was to have her successful almost the whole time. Will she make the associated between parties and bars that stay up? We will see. I am not too worried about the muscles involved with straight jumps since we do a lot of that, jogging, ya know straight-line activity.

Next we worked on turning and jumping. Today was mostly teaching her the drill. Two jumps set side by side, the bars on the inside are set at 12" and on the outside 20". We worked on jump, turn, excellerate out of the jump today. I did see weakness on left turns which made sense. That is the side that has the arthritis. We will work these muscles sparingly but consistently to see if we can build some strength and stability.

Stay tuned...In the meantime if anyone comes up with answers or suggestions I am all ears!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Value of Earning a Living

I saw this behavior a lot in Tip, but I didn't expect it out of Split. Apparently he needs to earn a living too!!

I have actually seen this behavior coming on for a little while and I reached my tipping point this morning. Split has been valuing good behavior and cooperation less and less. He has been slow to do things that normally would be quick and painless for him. We were working on the agility field this morning and it took him 4 minutes to give me a sit! Bad dog!!!

We stopped the games, went home and Split had to be reminded how to earn a living.

I fixed both dogs breakfast and built some excitement around Tip. Tip got her breakfast after her normal couple of stupid dog tricks. Split ran over to his spot, but his breakfast never arrived :(

Waiting for Split at the other end of the room he finally came over. "Yes", good boy, here is a couple of kibble. "Sit", wait for it, wait for it....about a minute later I got a sit. "Yes", good boy and he got more kibble. I continued this for a minute or so, treating only when I saw cooperation. Finally, the big challenge "Bang", his cue to lay down dead. He just looked at me, kinda bummed actually. But after about 30 seconds he gave me the "Bang"...I paid a big reward, pieces of raw. Again "Bang", I got the behavior almost immediatly!! That is what I was looking for, recongnition that he was having to work for a living!!!

Split earned all of his breakfast very fast after that!! Good boy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moments of Brilliance!

I have been having a problem with Split on the agility field lately and I didn't really understand what was going on. At my new agility field he would rather chase horses and follow smells than play agility sometimes. I noticed the problem over at a friend's house as well. Also, Tip was misbehaving and wasn't able to stay when I was training Split. She had this down cold!!

Hum, with Split was it:
  1. Tip stressing him out
  2. The smells were just too overwhelming
  3. Losing his drive for agility

I think I had a moment of brilliance last night on what the problem was. I was reading one of Susan Garrett's books in preparation for the Red Headed Puppy. The section I was reading was on building value in something. The dog does what he wants, and he does what you want because there is something of value in it for him. I had momentarily forgotten that I built value for Split in food, and I had been training lately (actually before the new field) with toys. (picture ah ha moment now).

The value of smell and chase were higher than the value of toys. When introducing the toy I did not build the value the same way I did with food!! Tip's high value is a toy, which Split was playing with now (her medium value is food, hence her ability to stay).

This morning we went out to the agility field and I got out the food. Split was off doing his thing with smells/horses. I ran across the field, Split chased me, I rewarded with food. Tip chased too, I rewarded with food. After about 10 minutes of this, Split was GLUED to my side and Tip was sitting patiently and watching the game. INTERESTING!!! I love these moments!

Split got trained with food this morning, and Tip with toys. My well-behaved, high drive dogs were back!!! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seeing RED

OK, we have had black and white BCs for a long time now, 20 years. Here is the litter that we will be getting our next puppy from, they are RED!!

Too be honest, I don't care at all about color! I appreciate my dogs for who they are on the inside. They have all taught me huge lessons and I am sure this next one will be NO different :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twist on distance debate

So, I have been chatting with a friend about handling at a distance. She handled a certain part of the course in a way that had her easily 15 feet or more away from her dog. Someone commented “nice distance” which started the conversation. Since she does not do distance (as in the nasty ‘distance’ word)…

I asked her what she thought of as distance…

I think of distance as cueing direction/obstacles from a distance (meaning you cue the dog when he is far away, to take an obstacle or to turn). I cued my dog when he was very close to me, to take the jump that was right in front of him, in his path, and then turn back to me. Yes, he ended up a fair distance away from me, but the cueing happened in close (one jump away). I think of it as a boomerang.... that FS (forward send). In my mind, they are very different things. The FS is cued by forward cues (inside arm, verbal jump) in conjunction with deceleration. Very different cue combination than what I consider "distance" cues. I don't ever do distance with my dog, that is why we suck at Gamblers....

Makes sense right? So the next question was “what kind of distance do you consider distance? 10, 20 feet?”

at this point, I think of distance more in terms of how cues are delivered rather than absolute distance away from dog. Distance to me is when I can't

really set a line of motion for the dog but rather have to use verbal cues or shoulders/arms instead... so the verbal (right, left, get out) or the hands override the motion cue (which might be no motion at all)...

so standing at a gamble line "sending" the dog to the A frame.... distance

i think it is possible to set a line of motion for the dog from a distance.... but there is still the same "connection" to the dog. What I think of as "real" distance is when the cues change because that "connection" isn't possible.

I thought this conversation was worthy of a post. Very good content. We both agreed it is no longer the “distance” bebate, but rather needs a new title.

Running AFrame

I have decided to retrain Split's AFrame. Two reasons primarily: 1) since he is not as motivated as Tip he tends to slow down and make sure he does it right 2) his reluctance at approaching the 2o2o spot makes me think it is painful or at the very least uncomfortable on his shoulders/ankles to hit that spot. If we work the AFrame a lot I do see a slight limp--not good.

We started about 2 weeks ago with the "hit-it" game. I have an old pause box that I use. I ask him to run, put a foot in the box and keep running. After he gets a foot in the box I throw the frisbee. At first my distance was minimal from the box. Now I get to be about 20 feet away and send him to the box. I will alway run with him straight into the box or laterally send to the box.

In general I am happy with his understanding of the game. He is almost 100 percent on hitting the box. However, I would really like to see more amperage in the game. This is my first challenge.

Today, I filmed Split and Tip's AFrame. Tip's AFrame speed will be my goal for Split. She has a phanominal aframe with speed and accuracy. Not sure how I got that but glad that I have it.

Split-1.86, 2.15, 1.85 seconds (running start)
Tip - 1.19,1.18 (running start and running contact)

Next steps--lower the aframe and begin to race Split!

Day 2
Started out the day playing tug, which Split is reluctant to do on the agility field. I used a tunnel, got him charges and finally he would grab it and tug. Then we just did some 2o2o AFrames. He seemed faster, but I didn't time it.

Next and this is the first time I have put the box on the contact. We just hit the box, jumped off and tugged. Next we ran the Aframe, hit the box and tugged. After a couple of repetitions Split went back to stopping. Repetition is not his friend. Even though I was rewarding him, he tends to think that it wasn't right. After this I mixed it up with other games.

Times: 1.22, - these were quick release.

7/13 - Split is gaining more confidence to run through the contact. He actually looks happier and not as worried about performing the contact. New found confidence, new found problems. He has now upped his percentage of jumping from the yellow instead of striding through it. He does hit the yellow, but it is not the behavior that I want. Time to brain storm again...

7/14 - I lowered the AFrame more today. I need to get him running the entire obsticle. I think if I can do that he will catch on very quickly. He is a 'learning' dog. He know that when we train I am trying to communicate something to him. Reading to get some ideas on how to get the running performance.

Monday, June 21, 2010

USDAA Regionals with Split

Each of my dogs continue to teach me things always!! Split and I went to USDAA Regionals in Utah this past weekend. I only took Split for two reasons: 1) Tip was seeming a little soar when I signed up the dogs and I decided not to put the mileage on her when I wasn't going to Nationals. 2) I wanted to see if I could really figure out some of the secrets to running Split since he is so much different than Tip.

This was a three day trial, most of the team events were on Friday and then regular events the next two days.

Split is such a dog of routine. He loves his people, his home, his everything. Friday he seemed to have some trouble later in the day. His head just was not with me. I tried toys to bring his focus back to me, but 20/20 hind sight I don't think this was right. He was nervous and then when I amp the excitement level he just could come back to me and be a team.

On Saturday and Sunday I used food and circle work to get him more engaged with me. This worked much better. I think that calming effect of food is what he needed.

Our runs this weekend weren't horrible. We ended up with some Q's, but in general I would say that I didn't feel like I was as skilled as I wanted to be running him. This is something that I really need to work on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lessons to remember

Things I learned from this mornings practice. I already know them, but can't seem to remember them!
  • If you want the dog to see the turn, you have to be in motion too!
  • When the dog has choices, you have to give more or stronger cues
  • Split does not turn and send from a RC, he will only turn

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Official Party

Well we broke in our new property right. Invited several friends over from agility, BBQ, and some beers. Most everyone brought at least one dog if not more. In total we had about 12 dogs on the property and not a dog fight to be had!

We of course had to celebrate with a whopping round of "Beer" weaves (explanation later). Except in this case it was GnT weaves. We had three dogs in the weaves at once. Didn't quite manage anymore 1) our timing was slow 2) the dogs required certain 'space'

Gnt Weaves - Handler must sit in a chair with a beer/GnT in hand. Send the dog on verbal command to the weaves. The dog must complete the weaves, then a ball or Frisbee is thrown as a reward. This is a great thing the practice. Teaches the dog to drive through the weaves independently of the handler. GnT in hand assures no interference from the handler.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good Dogs!

We had a great practice this morning. Only two bars down for Tip and they were my fault. Split did an excellent job with collection.

We worked on the first two exercises of the World by the Tail posted on clean run. Happy to report, all the problems were mine which is the way I like it. Dogs were listening and following really well.

This course went well. I put a FC between 4-5, 10-11,11-12. With Split the FC was essential between 11-12, otherwise he extends. Need to work on lateral motion with him.

This was the second course:

I had a hard time working this course. The movements that I needed to do just was not nature. The green path showed the way I ended up running this course as well. I kinda made up my own course. We will work on this one again.

After we worked these I worked on contacts and weaves. Split and I have been doing a "hit-it" exercise in preparation for moving him to a running AFrame. He always gives me a four on the floor and does not like the 2o2o. Since he is a completely biddable dog I am included to believe that he is telling me something and that the 2o2o hurts him. Hence, moving to a running. This exercise I believe is going to have the added benefit of helping him with independant drive. Since he must seek out the box, jump in it and run, this encourages more independance than I typically see from him.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Back to School

Jogged over to the agility field today and setup the "Back to School" course ( Couldn't work on it since the snow was about an inch deep. As in typical Colorado style it will be 60 degrees this afternoon and I will run the course then.

Worked on exercise 1 & 2. Always surprises me how different the dogs are. I ran the exercise first with Tip. The first time we ran it, she read 5-12-6 as a serpentine. I was layering the #12 jump. Didn't know that she recognized serpintines. Her trouble spots were in the area of 6-7-8. She really wanted to go to 6-8. Then it was hard for me not to get some extension over #7.

Split did a great job on most of the course however I have trouble cueing #14 properly. Also the first time we ran it I converged on his path to #5 and pushed him off the jump. He needed a 'jump' command so that he would not push out.

Exercise #2 - This one seemed a little easier. I did get extension over #10 and #11 so I need to work on deceleration cues with both dogs.

I then worked some on weave entries. Over the next several weeks I will do around the clock weave entries. I also wanted to do a tunnel at the end of the weaves since that is REALLY hard for Split to ignore in a trial.

It is a new day and we ran the last two exercises in the series today. Both dogs did much better at collection today, I was really please. Their strides were very appropriate, collecting when asked and extending when asked. Tip had trouble knocking bars on the jumps that are 3' wide. When I exchanged those jumps for 4' wide jumps the bars stayed up.

We also worked more on weave entries. Tip had more trouble with this next one that Split did. Split tends to collect a little more before the entry hence the ease of making it. We will keep working on this one.

Worked on the exercise below this morning. The opening was really fun. I first ran this with Tip. I did a pull from 2-3, very nice tight turn. I practice this several different ways front cross after 3, rear cross before 4, turning between 4-5, turning out at 4 (toward 7), turn out after 5. The best plan for Tip was front cross after 3, bring her in between 4-5 with a RTH, and then turn her out after 5 and front cross 6.

Split was kind of fun. I first opened the way I did with Tip, standing very close to #2 (on the side of #3). He went very wide. Then I stood more in the middle of #2 to get his path shaped before he jump--WORKED LIKE MAGIC. Ran 4-5-6 the way I did with Tip, but the front cross after #6 was essential for Split. I would like to work on a pull after 6 since that is a good skill to have, but if I was running at a trial the front cross would be the way to go right now.

Rest of the course was cake with both dogs.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

High Impact, Low Impact

Recently I have been feeling my feet and sometimes my bones. Yes, it is probably age. But this got me thinking about my dogs and how I train them. I am able to tell if I have a hard workout, easy, I want to sit in my chair. But, with my dogs who are Bcs, they don't give up their aching secrets as easily. So I wonder, should I design workout routines that are low impact and save the high impact workouts a couple of times a week.

Can I design low impact workouts that still work on the skills that need to be refreshed and improved. Some of the answers are easy, but I am curious how far I can get with this idea.

Low Impact - exercise or activities that involve minimal striking of a body part (usually the feet) against a hard surface. Any physical sport with minimal wear and trauma to weight-bearing joints, especially of the foot, knee, hip
  • Soft surfaces lower the impact
  • Short exercise periods throughout the day should be separated by long rest periods.
  • Exercise periods should be consistent & evenly spaced, rather than compacting all activity into a weekend.
  • Walk the dog slowly for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up. Can proceed this with range of motion exercises
  • Lower the contact obstacles
  • Work on balance and coordination

Ideas for lowering impact

  • Lower jumps below the shoulders
  • Lower the height of the contact equipment
  • If working weaves keep the entrances of the channel weaves closed, but open the inside weaves to lessen the torque on the spine and shoulders
  • Work concepts (acceleration/deceleration, start lines) on the flat

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rear crosses

I jogged over to the new field today and worked on rear crosses with the dogs. Was a ton of fun to be on the new field, but also to discover more things about my dogs.

I got this exercise from Morganne (thanks!). I didn't have my tunnel over at the field yet, so I started with the dogs at 3. Both dogs missed the tighter turn. Next I tried a running start and then releasing them. This was much more successful. I need to remember to take over my video camera so that I can spot the difference.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I finally own an agility field!

We have been searching for a new house for over two years now. You never would think that it would be so hard to find a house with at least .8 acres and enough bedrooms to house three people! It was.

We finally closed on a house that is actually just blocks from our current house. It has an acre of land and NOT enough bedrooms to house three people. That being said, we will be doing some expansion before we move into the house. All I can say is that I might start a whole other blog to talk about that "project". It has already been interesting. Feels like I have bi-polar disorder--good news, bad news, good news, bad news. You get the idea.

Anyway, we take possession of the house tomorrow and I am very excited to set my jumps on the land! It feels like this is just in time since most of the agility fields around town are getting more and more crowded. It is so hard to get time on the field without sharing and compromising what we want to train.

So, tomorrow, the dogs get their first snif at the new agility field!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is coming...

With the glacier receding in the backyard it is time to think about backyard training again...

Split and Tip both did awesome over the winter in their trials. This past weekend Tip got her open standard title in AKC. 7 runs/6 q's. That is an amazing accomplishment for us. There was a day when I would not trial her in AKC because it would have just been an off course mess. Not anymore!

Split has done awesome over the winter. He gets more reliable with every run. His velcro tendancies are slowly disappearing as he gains experience with the game!

Tip Open Standard Title

Split JWW First Place

Friday, January 8, 2010

Training made fun

OK, I would like to add to this post several times. In general I am all about fun. Anytime I can take a situation and put more fun into it, I am there!

First idea, learning what the stressers are in agility
1. Agility Nerd has already put together the challenges, so I don't even have to collect them!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ready for Action

Ah, the rest or change of pace was nice for 6 weeks. I am feeling rejuvenated and ready for another season of agility. But first, herding! Split and I will be attending a herding seminar this weekend. Really looking forward to being able to play with my dog in a different way.

We had our first trial of the season this past weekend, USDAA. We really had some great runs (all three of us). Split did not have any crazy runs around the course without me. He did have some moments where he lost his brain, but we got it back (the pause table is good for something!). Split had a beautiful standard run, but we didn't Q. Video does not reveal what the problem was...I suspect recording error.

Tip had a great weekend, had to pull her from one standard run for a teeter fly off. Her teeter was beautiful on the next run :) Her jumpers run was SMOKEN fast and accurate. One of those runs that everything went right and we worked as a team. Nice to hear the crowd clap for the run!

Beginning to compile the list of what skills we need to hone!