Sunday, October 13, 2013

I designed this course because I needed the practice!

I am learning more and more that practicing agility is to get me the experience that I need to handle my dogs.  Probably 20 percent of our practice is for them.

 My dogs, especially Tangle know what to do when I give them the proper instruction. Now Tip does snipe sometimes, but I forgive her since 1) she was my first agility dog and my learning curve with her was steep  2)  Until I gained enough experience to feel some confidence in what I was doing I put her through about a dozen handling systems.  It is a wonder she knows what to do (must be one smart dog!).

I put this course together this morning with a couple of different objectives in mind.  Again, practice for me.

Objective 1 - To practice running Tangle, then Tip, then Split all in a row.  Since I trial all three dogs, I need to get better about switching between them.  I am trying to get more practiced with my visualization, make it more real so that it affects my performance in a positive way.

Objective 2 - There are elements in this course that were taken from judges who will be judging at Cynosport.  I wanted to work those challenges.

Objective 3 - Put all the obstacles out there so my dogs would see them all before Cynosport.  The broad-jump is missing, but I worked that in a different session.

The opening was fairly straight forward, ran it a couple of times after the initials runs.  I got the tightest turn on 2 when I lead out half way between 1 & 2 and did rapid decel.  All three dogs got the DW/Tunnel discrimination, just used out-walk-it.  #6 was interesting, you could easily get a refusal on that jump depending on the dog's ability to send.  I got a refusal with Split, but Tip and Tangle were awesome.  

7-8-9 I had an error in judgement.  Thinking that I wanted to be on the triple side of the AF, I FC'ed on the landing side of 7 with Tangle.  I did get the tunnel, but bar 7 came down and getting the triple was not pretty because he turned back toward me.  I must have thought I was superman and would be there :).  So, better to handle that sequence on the DW side and rear-cross the triple.  That was actually a great decision because the dog had a clear line of sight from 6-7-8, then turn toward you after the tunnel and a "jump-switch" gets you the jump and a beautiful turn.

10-11-12 was no problem to my surprise, but I did have better commitment to the weaves when I could be slightly ahead of the teeter when the dog was released.  If you can't do that, you better have a very good verbal discrimination!

12-13-14-15-16-17 I learned several things and was reminded of a couple.  1-give the dog more yardage, when you absolutely have to be ahead (rc to the backside of 14).  2-dogs have no clue what to do with a hill-billy** jump when they see it from the side.  The most successful handling strategy was to send the dog to the weaves, layer the tunnel, stay about 1/2 down the tunnel, calling their name so they turn toward you, let them shoot out beyond the plane of 14, rear-cross on the flat, send into the tunnel, run like hell and shape the approach to 16, deceling also so you get the turn for the AF.  Again, run like hell to 18.  You would get a tight turn out of the tunnel if you were down there to catch them but then you are behind when they need you to shape the approach to the hill-billy jump.

All-in-all, I learned some thing, I blogged what I learned and hopefully will retain that knowledge to use it in a competition!!

**Hill-billy jump (not official name) is two single jumps placed 12-18 inches apart to form a double.  I have the winged jump on the back.  All three dogs thought that they should slice between the two jumps.  Interestingly, no bars were dropped, no dogs were hurt, they were amazing.  If the dog had hit the jump, my jumps fall apart by design!