Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday was an exceptionally good agility day. :) Wonder's magic pocket tug came in, and it's everything I hoped it would be! He LOVES this thing, won't spit it out for treats even!

Jumps went pretty well yesterday, we're still working on taking a line, he wants to be right by mama. I think we'll need to do some intensive one-jump work with it for a while. He very very rarely knocks bars anymore unless there is handler error (doh!) and is collecting much more. Yesterday we were doing a five series grid with a tunnel as an added challenge at the end. He seems to know the command, and I found that if I say "Go tunnel!" about three jumps in, he'll take the last two and hit the tunnel. If only all trials were like that! ;)

Weaves rocked yesterday too. I closed the channel down one more mark, and he performed flawlessly. I closed them down another so that the whole set is only one mark from straight, and he had a really tough time finding his entrance. Hopefully Robin can help me with that on tuesday. I opened the channel on the first pole just one more mark and he got it and did the rest of the set perfectly. What an amazing dog. :)

After that we putzed around on the course that was set up, and I found out we're a fairly decent team! There were two jumps in line at the start of the course, then a 90 degree right to the AF. I said, "What the hey, let 'er rip!" Set W up, good start line stay so far, led out to the AF and had him take the first two jumps. Took the AF fairly slow on purpose to hit contacts, then there was another 90 degree right to a jump. Little trouble there due to me having a brain fart, then a 270 left to the teeter. Took the teeter, then hit the pause table where he insta-downed (thank you puppy foundations!). The next series was an offset two jump set, then over a broader jump at a 90 degree right to the first two. Yikes. I led out to the last jump, got him over the first two, and we totally biffed the third. W was confused, but popped over anyway, I called it a success and we headed to the DW, good there, crap contact so we did it again. Hit his contact and got a GO TUNNEL command, which he did. Then we partied like animals. This...could be addicting. He loved it just as much as I did, too. Seriously, best dog ever.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Closing In!

We took yesterday off to go run around and play like goofballs, but back to the grindstone today! Jumps went well, varied height grid of 4 with turns. He's still slightly confused about heading one way, then turning back to take a jump, but he is learning that mom is bonkers and he must watch her. I'm pleased with it. :)

Weaves went even better than I expected. I brought the whole channel in one notch and he completed them flawlessly, no missed entry, lots of enthusiasm, just awesome. He did just as well on his off side as his on, not even one missed pole! I did one on each side and called it done, I want him to know that if he does it right, I won't bore him with it again.

Then we tottered around on the obstacles, he's working some good speed on the A-Frame and DW. I'm trying to figure out what method to use for contacts. He's having a super hard time slowing down on the A-frame without sliding sideways, and I don't want him to try and jam his shoulders down past the contact as a solution. Maybe a running contact for that? We can get some slow down on the DW, but I'm not sure I want to ask him for that, he's going at the speed he's most comfortable.

We had a bit of a regression with the chute, but putting him in a down stay and calling him through a few times completely remedied that. He seems to be making word associations with obstacles now, he's pretty sure he knows what a tunnel and a teeter are. He voluntarily does the teeter, numerous times when I'm not paying attention. Goofy dog...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Second Class

Last night was our second jump and weave classes, and I think they went very well. Patty had us go first, she's having the big dogs get there at 6 to work, and the little dogs at 6:30. She set up a six jump series, one more than last week, all at 16". Wonder's first and second attempts weren't successful because I led out too far, he skipped the first two jumps and started the series with the jump I led out to. We had him go over the first and second jumps, threw a party and tried again with me closer. Seems I'm going to have to trust W to take a line ahead of us for now instead of asking him to catch up, I can definitely do that. Once again we'll be working on him taking a line with the word "GO!" As long as I throw his toy as a signal, he has enough direction from me. Hopefully I can fade that easily into an arm extension.

We also worked on turns. He completes two jumps on my right and I create an imaginary leash between my finger and his collar to "pull" him over to the jump on my left. I HAVE to remember to stay with him, especially here so he doesn't return to heel. Also, I need to throw his toy over the jump on my left at the correct time to give him direction. We did this on the other side as well and called it a night.

During weaves, Robin tapered the end of the set to see if he could complete them with less space. He had a tough go, and we tried 3 or 4 times. Thankfully, it seems he thinks of the weaves as one unit and not individual poles. He knows what his job is with the weaves, but lacks the muscle memory to keep rhythm. It'll just come down to practice, and that we can definitely do! Our job this week is to gradually reduce the channel without frustrating him too much. I have high hopes. :) Hopefully his super-fun-awesome toy will come in soon and that will encourage him to run clean.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gooooo better day!

Much better day at training today, and I have proof! I video'd a short weave session and a jump sequence. You'll notice we both are still making novice mistakes, but we are taking classes.

The next video is a quick session of fronts without his U-box and a impromptu heeling pattern. He was spot on in his heeling, but still moving slightly to my left in his fronts. I need to be spitting more, I think.

Comments and critique welcome and encouraged!

Set Backs

Yesterday I learned what it's like to work an empathetic dog when you shouldn't be training. I had a physically tough day at work and was a bit tired and hurried coming home, but I was definitely looking forward to working W. Gather all my stuff, chop some hotdogs, you know the deal. We get to CCSC and W is looking a little "slow," sometimes that happens if he sleeps too much in a day but I figured we could work through it.

We start with weaves at the same spacing we've been using, but minus the wires. He popped three times on the left and I figured the next time had better be successful for his sake, so I got the wires back out. Completely missed the entrance the first time but got it the next time. We did it once more so I could party with him again then switched to the other side. He got it the second time and I decided to stop weaves before I "broke" them.

I set up a jump sequence of 5, just a straight line, with varying heights including one 24 and one 12. Had I actually been using my brain, I would have made them all 12's, gotten two good runs and gone the hell home, but nooooooooo. Too ambitious as usual. He popped out of sequence every. single. time. Must be my fault, poor handling is almost ALWAYS the case for that. I knocked the height down on all of them figuring he was tired, and he would still only give me three before popping out. All of a sudden a lightbulb went on in my teensy head, "Hungry dog! Treats in left hand! Moron..." He was popping to get closer to heel position where he is generally heavily treated. I slapped some hotdogs into my nail-dispenser can and at the second jump, hucked that thing over the fifth. SUCCESS! We stopped right there and then and went to go do some fronts, I know when I've got it good.

We're using the U-box for positioning right now, which is going well. His first front was absolute poo, so I took a break, got a drink, let him get another drink, played a wee game of tug and went back to it. MUCH better this time, eager, correct front. Asked for 2 of those, did a heeling pattern and called it a night.

Maybe next time I should just go train after dinner and a nap, or recognize when we aren't going to be successful and just go play with W instead. I'm all for making him work when he knows what the hell is going on, but I refuse to slow our progress by forcing him to learn when his heart isn't in it. He never retains anything in that mindset. I just need to learn to recognize it and see if there's anything I can do to snap him out of it.

Anyone have any suggestions? Can you work a dog that is TOO hungry?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Running around in circles ain't easy!

Last night was intended to just be an easy-going training night, needed to get my prox card to Kathy, do a few fronts (WITHOUT finishes!!!) and do some sits and downs. Well, we did all that, plus weaves and a quick line of jumps. Great night, right? W's sit needed to be corrected twice, but he was dog tired. I corrected him but didn't worry too much about it.

However, I decided we should do a few rounds with the CKC people in breed ring, just for fun. I want to learn how to handle a brand new (to breed) dog, watch the judge, stack and go with the general flow of the ring. Wonder was an ANGEL, holding his feet where I placed them and tolerating this crazy new game without too much disdain for mom, who had obviously lost her mind. I got some wonderful tips from Bob and generally worked my tail off, and by the end W was holding his stack for exam while mugging my hand, presenting well with good expression and trotting instead of pacing on his D&B. I however, was sweating bullets, panting and done for the night! Bob complimented me on really working my dog the whole time we were in the ring, and said that he was surprised I was a novice handler. :) What I really need to work on is MY body placement during the freestack at the end of the D&B and keeping W's show side to the judge. Thankfully this is a weekly thing, so maybe I can just keep stealing people's dogs to get a feel.

Wonder and I trained a little this morning too, mostly weaves and a few jump lines. I removed the guides from the weaves, and other than a few pop outs, W handled it perfectly! Yay progress! For the jumps, I set up a few bounces, and then did a varied spacing with varied heights. He knocked three bars the first time due to slamming into a 24" bar that was a little too tight. After a quick WTF, we lined up again and he decided he was NOT hitting those damn bars! He thought it through, placed his feet correctly and rocked it!

Before we left, we reviewed the AF and DW. He was pretty sure both at full height were going to eat him, but we shaped through it with no force, and he did the AF 2x and the DW once before I called it a day. He was having a tough time with the DW, so as soon as he got it we threw a party and I gave him his full breakfast and free reign with his tuggie. He always seems to remember what got mama hyped up and should do much much better next time. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jump and Weave

Starting this blog to keep track of Wonder's agility training specifically, but I have a strange feeling it will be a multi-discipline venture.

Last night we had out first class in both Weave 1 and Jump 1. I wasn't terribly worried about jumping because W finds that incredibly rewarding, turns out I was right on the money! The only thing we had issues with is knocking bars, Patti says he "lacks self-preservation," bluntly stated, he's a bull in a china closet! That I knew. ;) After a few sets of teaching him that a dropped bar means no cookies, he tried much MUCH harder to jump clean. No more dropped bars after that one! We did a series of six with me giving him a "GO" verbal at the third, he's just to damn fast for me to keep up! Fantastic start line stay though, good boy. We also did a few bounce sets to encourage collection. When we practiced that today he showed that he was definitely thinking about foot placement, goooooo progress!

Robin is our instructor for weaves and definitely gets the dobe mindset. We did maybe three reps of a twelve pole set with tight channel and guides the entire class. He popped out the first few times, but then understood that running all 12 earns you the toy. Again, when we practiced today he had a few instances of popping out, but when he got it right the first time we threw a major run-around-the-ring-like-a-moron party complete with tennis ball, tuggie and hotdogs. Um yeah, second time wasn't an issue, nor was the third. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this dog?

Now we're just waiting for his chewber and uddertug to get here so mom can be packing dog toy heat!!! Headed to CCSC shortly to get Kathy to fix my prox card, it doesn't like me. :(