Saturday, February 18, 2012

All-In-One Course Setup

After our recent trials I have collected several things that have made it on the training list.  It seems, particularly in USDAA that the course designs are changing and beginning to include some new elements.  USDAA has announced that this was going to happen, but in general regardless of the venue we tend to see trends in course design.

This setup came about in a very organic way.  I just set up "work stations" to practice a particular skill or obstacle.  As I have practiced this week this design kept growing on me because it was so versatile.

I have setup several numbered exercises, but there are so much more to be discovered.

Skills this design has allowed us to freshen up:

  • Sending to backsides of tunnels (turns out of tunnels)
  • Discriminations
  • Tunnel / Weave - short collection distances, rear crosses, opposite ends of the tunnel, front crosses, and if you move the tunnels out a little you can do blind crosses out of the weaves, "not" the tunnel after the weaves
  • Off set line of jumps. Irregular distances between jumps (scoping skills for the dog)
  • Serps with obstacles other than jumps.  For example, dogwalk-jump-weaves, backside of tunnel-jump-dogwalk**
  • AFrame in a fast line, backside of tunnel-Aframe
  • Triple-turns, and at the end of a fast line, or alone 
  • Very fast long lines of jumps
  • Turns across the broad jump
  • Slight angles onto contacts and manged (safety) dog walk entrances
  • Send to weaves from the opposite end of the dog walk through the tunnel (yes, I saw this (actually AFrame) on a USDAA Starters course with Tangle)

I am sure there is so much more that I have not seen!  I think that this setup will be around for a couple of weeks since I have not explored all of the possibilities yet.

**I have seen several courses setup lately that have less than friendly contact entrances (several on novice courses).  In general I try to assist the dog by managing/shaping their entrance.  However sometimes either you don't see the bad entrance or it happens accidentally so I train my dogs to straighten themselves before entering a contact.  Post from Amanda Shyne seminar

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Tangle (the baby) and Tip had a big weekend.  We packed up, drove 9 hours and did a USDAA trial in Lawrence Kansas with good friends and team mates.  And, let me just say wind, 20 degrees, 75% humitity is NOT my favorite weather combination!  For those of you who deal with that on a regular basis I am sorry.  My recommendations is Colorado.

(An exhausted Tangle after Team)

We decided to do that road trip to do USDAA Team.  There is only one team event here locally before Nationals (ironic since Nationals are here) and I really didn't want the pressure of having to Q in Team with just one try. 

Tip did a great job with team for the most part.  Sometimes she can be a really hard dog to run.   She has a strong mind, able body and sometimes just needs to run her own course (which doesn't end in Q's).  Other times she is a speedy little race car with tight turns and precision steering. 

Tangle also did a great job.  A 19 month old border collie running Master's courses, he did awesome.  None of the runs were his personal best, weaves were an issue for some odd reason, but at the end of the day his head was still in the game!  I am grateful to his two team mates who knew going into the day he was a baby dog and all that brings.  They did a great job carrying the team and we got a Q.

Although Team can be fun because it is a team event--multiple people running your dogs, working together, combining your results all for the common goal of Q'ing.  We decided that the problem with Team is that you don't always trust your training.  Above all you don't want to have an off course in Team.  Knocked bars, missed contacts, refusals are just points against you.  An off course is an elimination and very costly to the team's goal. So we were all running our dogs very conservatively, handling to ensure no off courses, and making decisions to take a refusal or missed contact instead of get an off course.  The saying for the day was "Why train your dog when you can just micro-manage them".  :)  T-shirts might be made.
Tip and her team mate both did a great job. Our runs might not have been our best, but got the job done in the end with a Q.  Again, we are both more than capable of absolutely beautiful runs under normal conditions.  Team doesn't bring out the best in the handler/dog team and at the end of the day just be happy you get the job done!

Although we met our goal, running the dogs on Saturday (not Team runs) was awesome.  I could go back to trusting my training, running the course how it needed to be run.  After all, I was the only one with a Q at stake :)

Snippets from Tangle's runs