Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lesson - Distance Challenge

We worked on the first four exercises of the Distance Challenge in the January 2008 Clean Run, working with the easier blue line. The exercise in Figure 2 didn't pose much problem. In the Figure 3 exercise, I had trouble doing the flip/rear cross between 2 and 3 and in a moment of desperation used both arms to send her out to the tunnel. Heh. For Figure 4, as suspected, Lucy's lateral out is very weak to nonexistant, so we cut the exercise to end at jump 4 with the instructor tossing the treat tug for her. Finally, for Figure 5 I had trouble with the flip/rear cross from 3 to 4.

I'm curious to see how Walter does on the same exercises at Sunday's lesson. He does have, or least I think he has, a basic lateral out thanks to all the playing we do with the soccer goal posts at the dog field.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The teeter and dogwalk were used in today's sequences, and I was glad to see that Lucy showed no hesitation at all on either. But, she did a terrific job of demonstrating that her dogwalk contact is nowhere close to being anywhere close to being independent.

One of the sequences involved a tunnel which was snaked under the dogwalk, followed by the dogwalk. Thing is, the exit of the tunnel was set back from the dogwalk upramp, so the question was how to give a good line for a safe dogwalk. The following detailed graphic illustrates the setup, where the "o" represents the tunnel exit and the "l"s represent the dogwalk:


The following was suggested as an option for handling this: after exiting the tunnel, the dog circles around behind the handler and is then lined up for a straight approach to the dogwalk. A benefit of this handling is that while under full acceleration after the tunnel, the dog can continue to accelerate while circling around the handler, like a horse doing barrel racing. The instructor had seen several teams handle such a setup this way at a trial and it worked brilliantly for those teams. So, homework is to practice the dog circling around, pretty much like a finish in obedience but driving ahead afterward.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This week I wanted to see how class would go if she got lots of exercise before class (she had basically zippo exercise before last week's lesson) so this afternoon she ran around offleash at the local dog park and got chased by some dog friends for 20 minutes. Her concentration was much improved over last week so I'll try this strategy again next week.

Worked on some fun sequences using jumps, tunnel, and tire. I have such an untrained agility eye it's not funny. Our classmates would do their sequences and it looked awesome to me, but then the instructor would have all kinds of suggestions on how to make it better. Frankly if a dog does the obstacles in the prescribed order and with some degree of flow, I'm bound to be impressed! I'm not to the point yet where I notice how wide a dog's turn is or isn't. Just not sure if I'll ever be a technician in agility, but that's fine by me.

I was reminded that Lucy needs a lot of work on finding her line when I lead out laterally. She kept coming in to me instead of taking the obstacle in front of her. But, she did some decent turns with me being quiet, so it seems she's getting ahead of Walter in that department (I've started trying to wean myself and the dogs off of verbal cues in cases where it makes sense).

Oh yeah one last note: jumps were at 16" (not 22") this week which I think she appreciated. She has enough to focus on with the handling aspect without having to worry about jumping on top of it all. So to speak.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back to lessons after a year and a half

How time flies. Just realized Lucy's only ever had one session of agility lessons, and that was back in May 2006. She has really taken a back seat to Walter in the agility department. Poor pup!

At today's lesson we worked on handling a sequence of jumps, tunnels, and weaves. She was a bit scatterbrained at the start but eventually pull herself together. Need to work on her driving ahead more, especially for rear crosses. Oh and we did that thing where the dog is in a stay in front of a jump and you "lead out" parallel and face the way opposite from the jump and the dog takes the jump in front of them. Never tried that before and she didn't understand at first, but a well placed toy helped her catch on.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Morning Star trial

Well, the good news is -- no, the GREAT news is that Lucy had no teeter or dogwalk hesitancy at all. Woo hoo!!! And, she was 100% on all weaves. In fact she loved the weaves so much today that she earned an offcourse in one of her Standard runs by going and doing them instead of the nearby correct tire.

Starters Standard #1: Late cue and/or a momentary distraction resulted in her running past a jump. Also, she scored an offcourse at the weaves.

Starters Standard #2: Got another refusal somewhere but the rest was fine.

Steeplechase: This was her first time ever in the other ring of this venue, so I predicted she might be a bit scatterbrained. Darn, I should have predicted she would be brilliant, because my prediction came true. The first half of the course she kept getting distracted (but not in a sniffy way) and took several offcourses. But she pulled it all together for the second half which she ran clean including a difficult weave entrance.

Regardless of the NQs she reminded me how fun she is to run. Clean or not clean, brilliant or not so brilliant, sometimes she just makes me laugh. :-)

Classes entered: 3 (Starters Standard 1 and 2, Steeplechase)
Qs: 0

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Home practice: Weave entries and "out"

Soft entry
I had started training Lucy on the soft entry earlier in the fall, but after not seeing much success I abandoned it for the easier wrap entry. Now that she seems to have the wrap entry under her belt, I guess I'm forced to go back to the soft entry. :-) So here we go. Today, she did very well with the 2-weaves, but when I introduced a third pole she entered at the second gate. If I stood on the other side opposite the first gate she got it, and I was able to gradually move away from that position. Must remind myself that with all things weave-related, patience is key.

Took advantage of having a couple of jumps in the house this week. Did the same exercise as with Walter but when I added the second jump she wanted to take the closer one. Must remind myself that she's not as advanced at Walter at this and take some things slower with her.

Goals past and present

This time last year I set some agility goals for Lucy. Here they are along with a progress report and followed by some goals for 2008.

Review of goals for 2007

Weave uprights consistently
Yay! Done. As a bonus, she can now do the wrap entry pretty well, at least in the living room weaves. ;-)

Improve and proof 2o2o
Ok on the dogwalk and teeter if I'm babysitting, but haven't done much proofing. Frame is messy right now due to my inconsistent expectations.

Work on distance work
Started on this but lots more to be done. Won't be entering her in Advanced Gamblers until her contacts are totally independent.

Faster down on the table
Once I found out that the table becomes essentially extinct once you reach Masters, I kind of threw this one out the window :-) Her down's not lightening fast, but it's good enough for me.

Participate in more fun matches!

Possibly compete towards the end of the year.

Goals for 2008!

- Regain her worry-free teeter and dogwalk
- Add tunnel/contact discriminations to skill set
- Add "out" to skill set
- Add soft weave entry to skill set
- Take time out at some point to train a running frame
- Achieve fully independent contacts
- It'd be nice to get her up to Masters in some events to reduce ring conflicts with Walter.
- Oh and how can I forget: To keep her agility tail wagging. :^)