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I have been working to try to get Bosley moving a bit faster in agility. To motivate him, I use his most favorite treat in the world - the bully stick. I had Bosley entered in a CKC agility trial this weekend and the bully stick made the trip with us. I played "Pass The Bully Stick Baton" with Cindy for each of Bosley's runs - as I was entering the ring, I would pass the stick off to her and as I was leaving the ring, Cindy would pass the stick back to me and I would toss it to Bosley. It worked well and Bosley had an awesome weekend (for the the most part - I will get to more in a bit) and was under time in every run except for one, and we had a good excuse for that one.
The weekend was full of challenging courses with difficult weave entrances. Some of the courses really made you think and you had to handle your dog well to be successful. I was happy with my handling for the most part. I had a late cue that sent Bosley to a wrong tunnel mouth, but overall I was happy and I was really pleased with how Bosley responded to my handling.
The very first run of the weekend was a JWW with a very tough weave entrance and there was a lot of discussion during the walk through on how people were planning to handle it. Not many dogs got the entrance and there were some interesting handling choices. The only way I could figure out to make the entrance nice for Bosley was to do a lead out pivot (the weaves were the third obstacle). It worked beautifully and Bosley got the entrance and 'Q'd his first run of the weekend.
My favorite run of the weekend was the last JWW course of the weekend. The course was tight and it almost made me dizzy but it really forced you to handle your dog. It felt like I did about 20 front crosses but I think I really only did 5. Bosley did a great job on this course and all the front crosses really kept his lines tight. Bosley was 1 of only 2 dogs that qualified on this course - there were lots of off-courses and lots of lost handlers. Here is my drawing of the course - it is not exact but gives an idea of how the course flowed. Can you figure out where I put in 5 front crosses? **(My handling choices are at the bottom of this post).
Bosley had one qualifying Standard run. It was a nice run except Bosley got stuck in the chute. I really hate the long CKC chutes and this one seemed quite heavy and I saw a few dogs get tangled. I sent Bosley in the chute and when I looked back, he was stuck. I was just reaching to grab the end of the chute when he popped out on his own and we finished the course - he was even 6 seconds under time with the few seconds lost in the chute.
The rest of Bosley's runs were nice and he had some really fast straight lines. A bobble here and there, but overall one of the best weekends Bosley has had.
The weekend was not without mishaps however. First, there was the chute incident which I already mentioned. Bosley was over time on one run and that is because he broke the weave poles. He missed the entrance on the weaves but he hit the poles so hard that a pole went flying. I thought it had popped off the base but the judge came over and the pole had actually snapped right off. So I stood there, not sure what we should do and the judge said to send him back through the poles (with one missing). Bosley was funny and weaved through as if there were actually a pole there.
The biggest mishap happened on the very last run of the day. It had just started to rain and there had been a big drop in temperature. Bosley knocked a bar on the second jump because he needed to sneeze right as he was taking off. Since we NQd, I thought I would just run and see if I could really get Bosley moving. I got him moving all right - right over the top of the A-frame for a crash landing on the other side. I forgot about the higher, steeper CKC A-frame and when he went over the top he couldn't collect and fell. He fell hard but landed flat on the side of his shoulder, so luckily he didn't get hurt. It was very scary for me. A lesson learned - know when to push for speed but never sacrifice time for safety.
The dogs and I spent the day at an agility fun match. It was a perfect day weather wise - cloudy with a bit of a breeze to keep those pesky mosquitos away. The match was lots of fun and several Go!Dog!Go! students that will be starting to trial this fall were there and they all did great! We have another awesome group of competitors coming up - I can't wait to see them all at their first trials.
Maggie and Bosley did well today and had fun. They each did a Masters Gamblers, a Snooker and a Masters Jumpers. Maggie was speedy and had lots of fun. She knocked a couple bars, but overall did great! She had lots of enthusiasm and tried very hard all day.
Bosley had a very good day. He was fast in all his runs - he loved his bully stick reward (he will run fast for that)! He did an awesome threadle in the jumpers run (yay) - he doesn't always get those, so I was happy. I was most happy with his Masters Gamblers run. First, he is not even in Masters Gamblers yet - he just got into Advanced. Second, the gambler run was from this years Ontario Regional Championship and it was HARD. He got the mini-gamble twice and . . . he got the final gamble! I was so happy with him, I didn't expect him to get the final at all.
My new shade tent worked out well, expect that I didn't take into account how high my x-pen is, so the x-pen would not fit all the way to the back. Crates will fit perfect or I will need to buy a shorter x-pen to fit better.
I bought a new little shade tent today. I have a nice, big tent that has lots of room to fit many dogs and friends, but last summer 2 poles broke during a storm. I want to get the poles replaced because nothing is wrong with the rest of the tent, but until then, I thought it would be nice to have a small tent for day trips or fun matches.
I found this little beach tent that should work well. It is easy to set up and will easily fit an x-pen or a couple of crates and a chair or two. It has a front and back door for nice airflow and it is silver on the top so I hope that helps reflect the sun. It will be a bit of shade and shelter anyway and since it didn't cost very much, if it doesn't work out, I won't be out a ton of money.
The dogs like it already. I swear I didn't make the dogs pose for this picture. I set the tent up in the living room (I didn't want to set it up outside incase I didn't like it and needed to return it) and the dogs made themselves right at home. I am surprised I even got it put together because they were trying to get in it while I was still setting it up.
We are half way through the year and I have been contemplating how my training will go for the next half of the year. The dogs and I have taken most of the past month off of training - we even skipped a couple agility classes, which I have never done before. Since the draft and agility weekend at the beginning of June, we have done very little. We had been training so hard, I felt I needed a break and that the dogs deserved a break too.
Here is Bosley at the park enjoying a well deserved break.
We are now ready to get back to work. Bosley has his "game face" on and says he is ready to get back to work too. No more slacking off.
The break has been good and I did a bit of obedience work with Bosley over the weekend. He was super excited to be working again and had lots of enthusiasm.
I now really want to concentrate on Open Obedience. Since it is nice outside, I can take my jumps to the park to practice. I have some ideas for keeping Bosley's motivation up that I want to try.
I think I want to go for Bosley's DDX title, but since there are no more draft tests until next year, we will wait until the fall until we start any serious DDX training.
We have also started to work on scent discrimination. I am not sure when our scent hurdle team will be able to get together to practice again (the summer is so busy for everyone) but I really want to get a good start on the discrimination since Bosley seems to love the rest of the game. I am using a method that I found posted on a Berner Yahoo group. If I have success using this method, I will describe it in a future post.
Agility. I have Bosley entered in a few upcoming trials. Two of the trials are CKC trials where I am now working on Excellent B legs. A total of 20 Excellent B legs are needed to complete a Championship title - that is a lot! I will really need to think about if this is something I really want to pursue. There are so few CKC trials that I can go to (within reasonable driving distance) and CKC is soooo expensive (I can do 2 AAC shows for every 1 CKC show), so I don't know if it is reasonable to set that goal.
My main agility goal right now is speed. Bosley needs to get his speed up on the course. He is usually very accurate and responds nicely to my handling, but he can be slow. He is a big dog and not built for speed (I am not making excuses, just being realistic), but I know he is capable of being fast when he wants. I just need to bring that out more in agility. Fun games and better motivators (ie yummy food) will be what we need to work on to get that speed up.
"See, I can run fast when I want to."
(BTW - this photo was my first attempt at panning - I was happy with how it turned out, although the background was not the best to show off the movement.)
Poor Maggie is becoming more and more just my cuddler on the couch and less active in "dog stuff". She did an agility demo this weekend and loved it. Tracking is put off now until it is cooler outside. She is entered in one upcoming agility trial for a few events later this summer. I basically want to keep up her agility skills and play around with a little rally but she doesn't love competing at all. She loves doing agility demos and has some more of those coming up too -she is such a nice, happy dog and really enjoys meeting people so she is a great demo dog.
So that is my current training plan for now. I know the summer will fly by, like always, so I hope to get in some good training sessions before we are stuck inside again.
When Maggie is eating a treat or chewing on her Kong, she always needs to lay on her bed or on a pillow (that Bosley has left on the floor). She never will just lay on the floor and chew something. Today I looked over and saw this:
There was a flip-flop on the floor in the livingroom (left there by Bosley, of course) and Maggie thought that would be the perfect place to enjoy her Kong.