Thursday, March 31, 2011

Training and trialing

Last weekend was three days of AKC. Because of his injury, Summit is behind in qualifying for AKC Nationals. This time last year he already had the six QQ's needed. This year, we have not gotten a single one yet and we didn't get them last weekend either. But we had awesome runs and he won Standard and FAST on Friday, I sent him off course in Jumpers that afternoon. Saturday second place in Standard, won FAST again, and two bars in Jumpers. Sunday won Standard (no FAST offered on Sunday) and dropped second to last bar in Jumpers. The dropped bars in both Jumpers classes were located in the same area of the ring where the ground was churned up and very deep. After his Jumpers run on Sunday, I scribed the next class and the judge said to me, "Nice run too bad about the bar; it is really deep back there and if you had run at the top of the class, he probably wouldn't have dropped the bar."

This weekend we have a two day USDAA trial and still need two Steeplechase and one GP leg for Nationals.

Soleil is doing very well with her training and I will post some video soon. She is now doing the full height teeter. She is driving ahead of me to run to the end and shifting her weight back as the plank drops. We are beginning to do a little proofing of the end behavior. I am going to start RS's drills to proof the release (on the flat) in preparation for proofing the end behavior on the teeter.

We started DJS this week. She is offering to jump the bar at 14 inches. Last weekend she was measured by a VMO (unofficial measurement) and she is 13 3/4" tall. I think she will definitely stay under 14".

We are playing on the table again. The verbal "table" has become a cue to have a rough game of tug. I enjoy pushing her back and revving her up and then saying, "Taaaaaaaaaaable" as I race her to the obstacle and play tug. Not asking for a position yet.

She is still running a low dogwalk and is close to 100 percent. However, I have decided to put a stop on the end. I will still have her run it for another month at the low height to maintain confidence and speed (I did this with Summit). Once I have the 20/20 on cue and proofed on the travel plank, I will raise the dw and backchain.

Here are the videos from last weekend...
EX. B FAST - 1st place with 80 points, 30 seconds

Standard - 1st place, 35 seconds

Jumpers with weaves - wrong end of tunnel. It was a stronger push than I anticipated and Summit didn't read it.

Saturday Jumpers with weaves - two bars (I actually caused the last one by moving too suddenly into him as he was over the bar). Would have been 1st place. I love his independent weaves!

Saturday Standard second place - we lost all the time on the dogwalk. Almost every dog bailed the dw at the end to take the wrong end of the tunnel. I should have trusted my dog but instead i way overhandled the contact (direct eye contact, shoulders turning into him, outside arm), poor boy didn't know what I wanted. You can see he's confused.

Saturday Ex. B FAST - First place with 78 points, 29 seconds
So I am not sure if I "broke" an APHS rule ;-) Did I cue my dog to diverge or did I send to a non-turning obstacle. My plan was to run a straight path along the gamble line and use the obstacle name for the aframe and see if he would figure it out - he did!

Sunday Standard - first place, 34 seconds
That little stumble at the end.... I momentarily forgot where I was going and was moving towards the chute when I suddenly realized, "Wait, we already did the chute!"

Sunday Jumpers with weaves - one stinkin' bar.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

USDAA and Soleil's Teeter

Summit had a great weekend his first trial back after over two months off. Friday was all team events and although Summit was a Rock Star - my handling was not. The first class was team jumpers. I was a nervous wreck and hoping his rehab vet was right and that he was ready to go back to work.

I pulled him off a tunnel and then sent him over the wrong jump - EEEEEEE for the team! I felt bad but my teammates were awesome and assured me my timing would improve and that Summit looked great and fully recovered. I started to relax and not worry about my dog and started handling better. Our team ended up with third place and the Bronze medal.

We didn't get either a GP leg or Steeplechase. I pulled him off a tunnel in Steeplechase (seeing a pattern here) and so he took the a-frame. He did have a nice run in GP but dropped the triple. He did get several titling legs though-
Snooker Q, won Gamblers, 2nd place in Standard, another Snooker Q, won Pairs Relay, and nice run in jumpers but dropped the third bar. Not bad for two full months off from agility.

Soleil is now performing a full height teeter dropping onto an 8" table. She continues to be very confident and fearless. Once she's performing the teeter without the table, I will switch to rewarding with the tug toy for the end behavior and food for the release.

Her running contacts still look good except that I am not exactly happy with how much time they suck up. I work and have limited training time. I am finding that these running contacts not only take a lot of time but are somewhat boring to train (what! did I say that?)...

Here is a video of Soleil's teeter session this morning. And a few from the USDAA trial.

Summit's jumpers run. Notice my abrupt pivot out of the front cross which causes him to drop the third bar (would have been 2nd place).

Summit's standard run - 2nd place

Summit's gamblers run - 1st place (there was grease on the lens so video is cloudy).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Running Contacts

Well it certainly has been a learning experience. Who would have thought I would have spent thousands of hours carefully observing my puppy run on the flat, on a board, on a wide plank, and now on the actual dogwalk. The wide green plank has gone away and been replaced with the dogwalk plank. Although the wide plank was 16", I lowered the dogwalk flat on the ground and spent a week backchaining until she was running the entire obstacle. Dogwalks look funny when they are flat on the ground (and longer ;-)
Her gait and speed was good but we did have a problem with an ocassional rear foot (or two) coming off the side at the end. I put two jumps parallel on each side of the end which really helped keep her on the board. She had over a 90 percent accuracy rate the entire week so I raised the dw a few chain links, good; raised it again, and this morning, raised it to four chain links (13 inches).

She jumped the first attempt and then followed with five successes. I had my video camera set to film but forgot to turn it on. I did capture the second session and she was 4/4. The last attempt I could tell she was tiring so we stopped after the fourth rep.

1. I reached a point when I was back chaining the flat dw that I could no longer stay stationary and send her ahead as I couldn't throw the toy that far and have it land 20 feet beyond the end plank. So I had to figure out how to solve this problem. I tried sending her to a dead toy....

2. She does not drive to a dead toy at top speed.

3. I can't outrun her - that little girlie faster than me ;-)

4. When we start from the other end of the dw, I need to start running and throw the toy when she is on the middle plank. This not only allows the toy to land at least 20 feet beyond the end of the dw but also creates acceleration down the end plank.

5. If I throw the toy too late (after she's on the end plank), she can jump. I need to throw the toy no later than when she is on the middle plank.

6. I am peeling away laterally after I throw the toy and she is continuing to drive ahead on the dogwalk to get the toy.

7. I do not use a NRM with her. Good attempts - reward with tugging; Excellent attempts - big tug party; jumps - say nothing. just try again. She gets the toy but no tugging.

Friday - Sunday we will be at USDAA! Summit gets to compete and I need to get a measurement on Soleil.