Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Class 09/29

Today we did a short course right off the bat.

I led out the first two jumps and then had to turn her about 90 degrees to the next obstacle the tunnel. I led out the first 2 jumps and tried to turn her to the 3rd...mistake #1-she missed the turn and went wide around jump #3. Dogs work better off of body movement...I should just lead out the first jump, go with her to the 2nd and turn to the 3rd.

Next part of the sequence was tunnel rear cross to jump then a-frame. My rear-cross ended up far to close to the jump, I should have been at the tunnel exit urging her on then slip behind her there. Oops #2.

A-frame was good. There was a target. Annie expects treats if there is a target. Pam reminded me to put the treat on the target to train the head down stance we want not to treat her from my hand.

Next sequence: Jump, broad jump, jump...tunnel...jump. Annie does not recognize the broad jump as a "jump". We'll need to train her a cue for that such as "over" or "big".

I have to be careful that Annie actually commits to tunnels before I pull back. If she is not in it and I go towards the next jump..there is a good chance she's going with me! I need to be definite with my cue...bowl low for tunnel keep my arm out...make no mistake about it kind of cue!

We then worked the first section to practice the cross (tunnel to jump). It's much easier when timed right out of the tunnel.

Then to the weaves...Annie needs to gain some speed here. We also worked a cross behind on the weaves (put them on A-frame contact) release, weave...they should drive to weave poles, slip behind them. We need to work on our sending to obstacles. She understands but relies on me to go with her.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Diva's 2nd and Last class at Smallie Acres

Due to bad weather today was Diva's 2nd and last class. She and KL (and I ) learned a ton.

First we showed off what we'd learnt the past couple of weeks working at home. Then we learned all sorts of new stuff.

Circles: Teach the dog to follow you. Inside and outside circles. Start with the dog on your outside and jog a large circle, treat to keep the dog running by your side and watching you. Do both ways and then switch to the inside. Inside is harder than the outside. This is a really good exercise to teach your dog to run with you and stay to whatever side you're asking her to run on. Always treat with the dog side hand.

Next Diva met her first piece of agility equipment - a big scary tunnel. At first she was not so sure but then when it was squished up she went through. After that, there was no stopping her -she was quite confident going through the whole thing extended.

Next we did an exercise that will be the foundation of rear crosses. Put your dog in a sit and then step back a few steps to the side, then back. You should be able to go right around your dog without it busting its sit. The dog should turn its head left when you're on the left, and then when you step over the line to the right, you're looking for the dog to turn its head to the right rather than move or try looking over its shoulder at you. Slowly add distance.

Out: Use something like a cone to get your dog to walk around while you walk a straight line. Treat the dog in a straight line as soon as it goes out around the object. You want to treat with the dog side hand. Gradually increase the distance between the cone and the handler.

Make a Choice: A fun game to teach the dog to "leave it". Hold some treats in your hand, and make a fist. When the dog stops trying to get the treat or looks away, click and treat with the OTHER hand. After a while you can open your hand when the dog steps back. The goal is to be able to get your dog to ignore something dropped on the ground so you don't have to use "leave it".

Watch: Put your hand out, when your dog touches, click and treat. Gradually demand more of a touch to get the reward.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Agility Class 09/22

Today Elizabeth taught our class. She had a course from the Worlds set up and adjusted for novice dogs. It was fun to break down the elements and then put it all together.

Things I learned:

Gotta remember a different cue for Annie for the broad jump. First time she trotted over it again.

Serpentine: Raised arm means out, dropping arm means close.

Precue: Remember when doing wraps a front cross precue will get them closer. It must be visible to the dog!

It was fun to watch Kira today. She was reluctant to perform so Elizabeth had her handler run with Desi and Kira loose behind...you should have seen Kira wake up and want to do stuff too! It was a good eye opener on generating interest in YOU the handler.

Annie weaved really well today -it was the 20" poles - I wonder if she likes that spacing (or if that is what I have here)?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Class 09/15/09

Today it was wet so we worked indoors - a good opportunity to practice handling in a tighter space.

First course issues: Handling the best line-some choices to push or pull, which way to wrap around a jump. Annie did the opening two jumps and tunnel well but then had weave pole issues. Pam reminded me when correcting weave poles REPEAT the obstacle before the weave poles to get the flow back-don't just drill the weaves. The 2nd time I still had problems, so we did a 3rd, and we were successful -Pam said I used a much more definite tone of voice-remember tones!

On the table I forgot to rotate Annie and remembered as soon as I asked her to down and she sort of shuffled down like where am I supposed to lay?

The jump to teeter closing was OK- my rear cross was misplaced - I forgot to draw some straight lines to the obstacles. I should have drawn out away from the second jump to allow Annie room to make a nice forward jump.

Red line is correct path, green is the one I initially tried-cross ends up way to close to jump

Other topics of the day: Delivery of Random Reward-don't always treat just the contacts. When doing discrimination exercises reward the tunnel as much as the A-frame. Occasionally just throw out a jackpot at a jump to keep jump value up.

The last exercise we used timers to see what path worked best for our dogs. The first time through I led Annie out by one jump and then curved her around me for the turn to jump 3 and 4 - and then crossed behind for the tunnel -it worked OK but I think the next pattern worked better. I led out two jumps and front crossed Annie to turn her to the next two jumps. She certainly hustled the first 2 jumps and we got a tighter turn to jump 3 with this method. Gotta always be aware which handling method will work best for MY dog.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Class Sept 08

Today we played snooker in class. Annie was very good as she lets me tell her where to go.

Next we worked on the closing for the snooker pattern. Two jumps in a row then a 180 back behind the 2nd' jump so a front cross was in order, and then to the weave poles (basically a loose serpentine pattern).

My first try Annie got behind me and on the wrong side for the cross. Pam showed me how to precue the cross by getting my non-dog side hand out as she's going to the jump so she sees me as she's going over not blowing right past me. It worked great! Yeah!

Next we worked on jump, weaves a-frame tunnel jump...Annie did it well. Then we changed up to the tunnel instead of the A-frame. Now the dogs were patterned to doing the A-frame instead of the tunnel so we really had to work and getting their attention and performing the tunnel. A low cue is in order rather than waving a high hand at the tunnel...high makes them look up..what's up? The a-frame. Low they look down...what's down? The tunnel! Also it helps to not just shout one command but several so a cue of Tunnel, Tunnel Tunnel...worked to get the dogs attention.


I certainly was anxious to see how Annie responded in a trial situation after a summer's hard work...so we eagerly set off to the labor day weekend trial at Watt's arena. We left at the wee hour of 4:50 am...with Annie meeting me outside our front gate after hurdling over the fence in the dark. She was eager too...

Our first run was a novice jumpers run and it wasn't the easiest of novice runs. Annie worked well but got sucked into the wrong end of a tunnel. I was very very happy with her and she payed attention to me the whole way around -we got a bit discombobulated in a couple of turns but all in all a very respectable run.

Her next jumpers class Annie just flew....she knocked a bar but with a time of 4.65 yps I now know I have an AGILITY DOG! Yippee! And do you know? She didn't even look like she was going fast...

Next came a gamblers class -it was an ugly gamble. The dog had to do an out blind to the handler therefore relying solely on voice cue - Annie wasn't ready for that but we used the time to practice our contacts and such and she did them nicely.

On to our standard runs. I think Annie was getting a bit stressed by this time. When we walked into the arena she started looking all about ...I had a sinking feeling...oh oh...is she going to take off? Happily...once started she stuck with me. A couple of times I thought I was going to loose her when her attention strayed but she stuck with me the whole way through...even when she stopped at the end of a tunnel with her head up in the air like a giraffe looking across the ring at the other ring...when I called her name her attention came back to me. Happiness! And our first half cue of the weekend (we knocked a bar along the way)

The next run was even better and we got our 1st full cue of the weekend and a good time -10 seconds less than course time, and our first title Novice Standard! Way to Go Annie.

Sunday I was flat out exhausted. Getting up early, fighting allergies or cold or whatever the krud was, working, driving etc. had really taken its toll on me. Annie seemed a bit different too..in her crate she made a commotion at another dog and while walking outside her attention was wondering to the other dogs...I was worried I might have trouble.

Happily Annie was a good dog ALL DAY. We earned 2 more regular legs with great times (averaging almost 10 seconds less than course time). Her gamble she went out to the tunnel, but came back out to me around the jump. I was able to send her back out to the chute but out she came after the shoot again. We'll have to work on keeping her out and sending her out after tunnels.

She gained 2 more standard legs on Sunday and had what I thought was a faultless jumpers run but somehow got 5 points so no cue.

All in all - a huge success!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Diva's First Class

Diva had her first official dog class tonight. She and Katielyn started a foundations for agility class with Mama spectating. We got off to a bit of a rocky start, traffic was bad, Emma needed to pee so badly she couldn't stand it, KT was stuffed up from allergies and when I got Diva out of her crate her whole butt was soaked because she threw up. We got everybody sorted out and ready at last...

First thing on the agenda was to introduce the dogs to clickers. Michelle showed us how to load the clicker. Click and treat, click and treat until the dog knows click means treat.

Then we started on some shaping exercises with wobble boards. Diva wasn't very interested and Kt not to patient but I think Katielyn understood what was wanted...I'm not so sure about Diva!

Next on the agenda was playing to liven up and loosen up the dogs. Poor Diva was really too stressed to play so Katielyn went for a run around the yard with her. Michelle suggested putting something really yummy in a mesh bag and play tug with that.

The last exercise for the night was walking on a loose leash. Take a step if the dog doesn't pull click and treat. Take another step click and treat, take a couple of steps click and treat. If the dog pulls no click no treat.

So Kt has some homework to do, and me too with Annie. My goal is to get Annie to show some interst in toys.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Annies 3rd agility class

Today we did some dogwalk exercises. Pam says to always bait the bottom of the dogwalk -sometimes with a target sometimes with not.

We also did a jumping exercise, involving a pinwheel to tunnel to 3 jumps, a vertical to a broad jump and then a cross after the broad jump to another jump. I had troubles with the cross. Pam pointed out I was using my away from dog hand and Annie really couldn't see the cue very well as my body was blocking her.

After that exercise we did an A-frame exercise and tunnel discrimination. One of the dogs got to barking and making a big commotion with the horse across the fence while Annie was running. It was too much for Annie and she had to dart off to see but I hollered "Annie come" and wouldn't you know it -she about faced and came to sit in front of me and Pam said to carry on don't make a big deal of it. I was pretty tickled that Annie came back so quickly, and Pam said it was very good! Yeah progress.

I was a little dissappointed with Annie's lack luster attitude at class today. It was a little cooler and I was hoping that it would make her a little more enthusiastic. Somehow I've got to find what makes her tick!