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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Open Obedience Exercises Update

I think that our Open Obedience exercises are coming along nicely, although we still have a long way to go before we are ready for the ring.

Since the heeling portion in Open is very short, I really want to have perfect heeling. I want prancy, heads-up, full attention heeling for the entire pattern. I also want nice drive (a pop-up) out of the sits and drivey about-turns. Bosley can be a gorgeous heeling dog and I want to take that into the ring. We practice bits of heeling every day working on his heeling focus.

Drop On Recall:
Bosley is still sometimes anticipating the drop (which is not a bad thing - it means he is trying to do what I am teaching him) so we do many more straight recalls than drops. His drops are getting faster with less creeping, which is nice to see. I am also starting to add some more distance.

Retrieve On Flat:
I am so pleased with Bosley's retrieve. I was battling him not going out on the first command, so I went back a fews steps in his training and did more restrained retrieves and short retrieves. Lots of fun and getting him excited. Bosley did not take to retrieving naturally, so I need to keep him loving the dumbbell. I am still working on getting straighter fronts when he has the dumbbell - sometimes they are great (when he slams the dumbbell into me :0) and sometimes they are kind of sloppy.

Retrieve Over High:
Bosley really drives out to the dumbbell over the jump. I am starting to practice making it more difficult for him by throwing the dumbbell well out to the sides of the jump so that it is easier for him to run straight to the dumbbell and back rather than take the jump. This is forcing him to make the right choice on this exercise. So far, so good on that - it helps that he likes to jump. I really need to work on rewarding his stays, as I can anticipate him taking off over the jump before I give the command.

Broad Jump:
I have taken away the training bar jump completely and he is clearing his full competition distance (44") without stepping on the boards (yay). I am still working on straight jumps over the broad jump and have not asked for a formal front and finish yet. I want to make sure that he really understands his job with the broad jump (going over without touching boards or cutting the corner) before I start to add the more formal components. I don't feel any rush to add the front/finish until I am 100% happy with the actual jumping.

Out Of Sight Stays:
Still need lots of practice with this - more so with the sits. 3 minutes is a long time. I am not worried about the out of sight part (I am quite sure Bosley won't come looking for me or cause a disturbance during an actual trial) but without me there staring at him, I worry he will forget that he is supposed to be sitting. We did a 1 minute sit-stay in class the other night with me out of sight and he was fine for that short period of time, so I guess it is just building up duration.
Amanda wants to start an Open/Utility Obedience class if there is enough interest. Too bad there isn't more interest in competition obedience in our city - it is hard to have classes when there are only a couple people who want to join. Hopefully the class will get going - I am really looking forward to it.

Photo credits go to Wendy

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lethbridge Dog Show

This weekend was our local dog show. I didn't have either dog entered, but I still got to enjoy the show. I was a ring steward for obedience all weekend. I learned a lot from working in the ring - mostly by listening to the judges comments. Some judges talk to the ring stewards a lot about what they did and didn't like about each team's performance. It was nice to interact with the judges and see them as "people" rather than just the "scary judge". The judges really want all the teams to do well and are genuinely disappointed when good teams fail because of a small error.

I also had the pleasure of watching some really good obedience teams this weekend. There were some very nice performances, including a perfect 200 score. The judge who gave the 200 said it was only the 2nd perfect score she has given in 28 years of judging. I also really loved watching the non-traditional obedience breeds perform. There was an amazing Italian Greyhound, that is a very accomplished obedience dog (I think he has an OTCHX) - he was fun to watch. There was also a whippet in Novice A that was a good little dog that came oh-so-close to qualifying today.

Oh, and I just want to mention to anyone who may want to go watch an obedience trial. Please, please, please don't take food and sit right at ringside and eat it. Yes, our dogs are supposed to be proofed for these kind of distractions, but it still doesn't make it right. This weekend, while a Novice A dog was doing it's off-leash heeling pattern, an older couple came to the ring with a big order of fries and gravy. They sat right at a ring barrier (practically leaning on it) eating their fries as the dog heeled past them. It was too much temptation for the dog and he ran over to them, where the couple cooed and smiled at the dog as the handler tried to get the focused on her again. I felt so bad for the handler.

After the show today, I came home and practiced some Open Obedience stuff with Bosley. Being at the trials helped to inspire me a bit and motivate me to get working harder to get in the Open ring. I really can't wait until it is my turn to be in the ring again - I think I see it as a less scary place now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bosley Jumpers Video

This is Bosley's Starters Jumpers Video from Saturday. I'm not sure why my arm was trying to fling him out to the middle of nowhere on the series of jumps after the first tunnel. Sometimes my arms seem to have a mind of their own ;-)
I never realize how much Bosley has to duck to get in the tunnels until I watch him on video. No wonder the tunnels slow him down.

Here is Bosley holding his new title ribbon. He was not too impressed that I asked him to hold it (can you tell?).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Body Adjustment / Brain Adjustment

I will try to make this short, as I am very tired and really need to go to sleep. I got back this evening from an AAC agility trial in Calgary. The courses were very technical and challenging, but also very fun. Here is a summary of the weekend:

Body Adjustment:

Maggie was in 3 runs on Saturday. Her first 2 runs were a standard and a gamblers. She seemed to run OK in the Standard - she knocked a bar and wasn't super speedy, but was OK. Next was gamblers. The final gamble was very difficult. I thought maybe she could pull it off, but I didn't put enough pressure on her on the send away to the weaves and since it was a 17' send, she just didn't know what I wanted. She gave a nice effort and had an awesome opening with 33 points (which is very good for Maggie). Here is the tough final gamble: teeter - tunnel - turn away and send 17' to weaves - out to jump. Yikes!
Maggie's last class of the day was Masters Snooker. She refused the first jump and really hesitated on the second jump - that was a far as we got. She was limping on her back leg. Because of all the great agility people (one in particular this weekend), there is always someone around to help. Maggie had an appointment at the Chiropractic vet later that evening, thanks to Shannon. She really needed an adjustment as there were 2 spots near her shoulder that were out and her sacrum was really out (causing her to not be able to extend her left rear leg). After her adjustment she was walking fine again.

I ran Maggie in 2 runs today (the vet said it was fine) and, well, she was less than enthusiastic. She was really not herself at all today (even not on the course) so I am not sure if it has something to do with Saturday's problems or not.

Brain Adjustment:

Bosley was entered in all 7 runs this weekend. His first 2 runs were horrible. I mean, really, really horrible. The back of the arena has some very interesting smells (apparently) and Bosley would not even look at me or respond to me, all he wanted to do was sniff - I could not get his attention. He is never like this. After the first run I was a bit frustrated, but when the same thing happened on the second run (only worse as he kept running away from me) I was getting very frustrated. I had to grab him by the tail to catch him and hold him by the scruff to keep him from taking off again (the judge didn't really like that) and someone had to bring me the leash - Bosley did not want to leave the smelly area of the arena. I took him right to his crate without saying anything and put him away. I ignored him for about 20 minutes until I was calmed down a bit. That seemed to do the trick and he didn't blow me off at all the rest of the weekend.
His next run after the "brain adjustment" was snooker. I was really happy with this run. I drew the opening sequence I had planned on the map below. I left Bosley at the start line at R2 and led out to the 4a jump. That is the furthest I have ever led out in a trial and it worked great. Bosley was totally zeroed in on me and we had a great opening (I even did 4 red jumps). We got all the way through 7 in the closing for a total of 48 points and a Q! Bosley now moves to Advanced Snooker.

Bosley's last run of the day was Starters Jumpers. It was a nice run at 31.86 seconds. Good enough for 2nd place and a Q. I have video, I will try to post in tomorrow.

Sunday we started with Jumpers. Bosley ran nice, but not super speedy. He was 2 seconds under time for 1st place and a Q. He now moves to Advanced Jumpers.

Next was Gamblers. I picked an opening sequence, but it was hard to get lots of points because everything was so spread out. We had 23 points in the opening. The gamble is below: the final is jump - 13' send to the tunnel - a go on over the jump then back towards the gamble line for the final jump. I sent Bosley to the tunnel and he ran out no problem. When he came out of the tunnel, I made sure I was close (laterally) to the #3 jump and kept my arm out to keep the pressure on him to stay out there and take the jump. He did it! Then just a call back to me to the final jump. His first gamblers Q and 1st place in his division and he was 1 of only 2 dogs who got the gamble.

The final run of the day was Standard. Bosley did a drive-by of the weaves, but thankfully there are no refusal faults on weaves in starters. I got him back, he weaved great, and finished nicely. It was a great way to end the weekend - he got 1st place and a Q on his standard run which also finished his Agility Dog of Canada title!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Agility Class

We are back in full swing at our indoor/barn agility classes.  I train both Maggie and Bosley in the same class, switching back and forth between them.  I wanted to do separate classes with them, but the late class, which Bosley would have been in, goes until 9:00.  By the time we put away the equipment and pack up, I don't get home until after 9:30, then I still need to shower, feed the dogs and get ready for bed which means I wouldn't get to sleep until around 10:30.  Wednesday is my early (earlier) day at work, so I need to get up at 3:30, so . . .  Maggie and Bosley have to share a class.  It is not too bad, the class is small so both dogs still get in plenty of work time.

Last night we had a great class.  There are usually 3 stations set up and we divide up into 3 groups and rotate through the stations.  This gives everyone a chance to work on specific things with their dogs.  At the first station, which was jumps, a tunnel and the table, I worked a bit of distance (sending to the tunnel).  Bosley had a hard time with this because the tunnel was curved with the table in the middle of the curve - he loves the table, so he would just go there instead.  I worked lots on lead out pivots with both dogs.  I tend not to use LOPs too much as my dogs are not super fast so I usually do not need that lead out advantage, but sometimes it is just a better handling choice.  Both dogs did great, as long as I wasn't late cueing the turn.

The second station was super fun.  It include the teeter, 12 weaves, a few jumps and lots of opportunity for distance work.  I was very happy with both dogs.  Both Maggie and Bosley took the teeter with me behind them as well as laterally away.  Bosley loves the teeter anyway so he usually has few teeter committment issues, but Maggie does not always like the teeter.  She did great last night - no hesitation and did great with the distance.  I really pushed the distance on the weaves and both dogs rocked it!  I was was moving away from the dogs as they were weaving and ended up on the other side of a jump and about 15 feet laterally away.  Both dogs fully committed to the weaves right to the end.  I think they each popped the last pole once, but neither missed an entrance even when I stayed behind them.

The last station we worked on quickly as we only had a few minutes left in class.  It had dogwalk/tunnel discrimination,  6 weaves and jumps.  Since we only had a few minutes, I worked on "turn" off the dogwalk into the tunnel - I am trying to do this on a verbal signal only.  Maggie did awesome with this.  The first time I thought it was a fluke (her "turn" on flatwork is not always great), but she did it a second time with no physical cue from me at all.  Bosley is great doing the "turn" on the flat over jumps or to the weaves, but is still confused turing away from me off contact equipment.  He has to come right off the contact, take a few steps and then turn - I guess we will keep working on this.  I also worked my decel cue and wraps on this station and neither dog had issues with that.

Overall, a great night.  Bosley only tried to leave me once to go eat horse poop, so already an improvement over last years barn nights.  Both dogs were focused all night and we all had fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Training

Our break is over.  We have had no agility classes for the past month as we transition from summer outdoor classes to winter indoor (barn) classes.  I did take the dogs out to the agility field a couple times, but mostly we just enjoyed the break.  Bosley and I did a bit of open obedience over the past month, mostly just fun obedience games and a couple drop in classes.

Now it's time to get back to training.  Today starts the beginning of our winter training.  I have a lot of things I want to work on over the winter:  

In agility, I hope to get in some good distance training with both dogs as well as continue to work on motivation with Maggie.  Agility training is more difficult to keep up on over the winter because we can only train in class time - no luxury of having access to equipment during the days or weekends.  I also have a couple agility trials planned for the winter.

In obedience, my goal is to work with Bosley to have him ready to compete in Open Obedience in the spring.  He knows the basics of all the exercises, we just need lots of polishing and proofing.  Since we do less agility over the winter, I hope to be able to get lots of obedience work in.  It would be nice to get Maggie back into at least Rally practice again - she used to really love it.  I have pushed back my goal of finishing her CD -  maybe someday.

I also plan on keeping up with carting over the winter.  Not always an easy task if there is a lot of snow on the ground (unless I get rudders for the cart), but the next draft test in in April so we need to practice over the winter.  I know we can pass - we just need to keep practicing and work on getting through those tight areas.  I am also going to try to get Maggie in the cart over the winter.  This may be easier said than done, as she does not like the shafts touching her.  She is used to seeing Bosley pull the cart and she will walk next to the cart now (she used to run away when it moved) so she has made some progress.  I will try with her, but won't push her.

So, hopefully we can stay busy all winter so that winter will seem to fly by and it will be spring before we know it.