Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NADAC Trial Run Descriptions

I went into the NADAC trial really focused on my contact criterion. I pledged to forget totally about qualifying or placing. I also thought of the whole trial as a very long show and go. My only goal was to have a consistent criterion for 2 on, 2 off contacts. If I did not get a 2 on, 2 off, for whatever reason, I would go back and redo the contact.

Our first run was regular (which is a standard agility course), and he blew the dog walk and A Frame. I took him back both times and felt really good that I was able to keep to my goal. This is hard to do because sometimes your dog can get the contact (hit the yellow zone) but not give you the 2 on, 2 off that you are looking for. It’s hard to forget about qualifying. You have to remember, though, that what you are doing today will result in many more qualifying runs in the future, while if you let it go, you will have a lot of problems qualifying in the future.

The very next run was another standard run and Wyatt ran perfectly getting all his contacts. He even got second place and a really fast time. I held the contacts for a time that felt long to make sure I was really getting a good release. Our next two runs were touch and go’s (TNG). TNG has 4 contacts (one is repeated) and tunnels. Wyatt qualified in both runs. We had never qualified in TNG before. One the second run, I put him back briefly because he jumped a bit off the end, but the judge let it go, perhaps because we hit the yellow zone coming down.

We then had an awesome jumpers run getting first place. The Wildcard (similar to gamblers) had an A-Frame/Tunnel combo where you had to send the dog to the far tunnel from the A-Frame side and Wyatt took the A-Frame. However, I did make sure he got a great contact on the A-Frame. We had 4 Q’s out of 6, which is great for Wyatt and I.

On Sunday, he missed a teeter on his first regular (standard) run. His foot slipped a little off the teeter and he bailed in fear. He is pretty reliable on the teeter so I did not worry too much but I redid the teeter twice and he did fine. On our second regular run, he was in the yellow zone but jumped from the end before being released so, hard as it was (we would have finished our novice regular title), I had him redo the contact and we received an NQ for training. But I was happy with myself that I was again able to stick to my guns.

Our first weavers run was great. Wyatt got all 3 weaves with no problems and we ended up getting third place. For our second weavers run, Wyatt seemed a big stressed. He had been in his crate alone and was showing some signs of separation anxiety (he likes to pull down and rip the tarp on top of the crate to shreds). We had to restart the 12 weaves once and the 6 weaves a bunch but we finally got through it. On the final chances of the weekend, he went on the near dog walk and not the far tunnel as required and did a nice teeter.

Some of his contacts were a bit high with all four feet on the contact but he did generally wait to be released. It was a huge weekend for Wyatt; the best contacts ever in a trial. He did seem pretty calm all weekend. I am still trying to understand how much of this issue is stress, how much is training (such as the release improvements I have been writing about), and how much is about going back when the criterion is not met. I will write more about that tomorrow. But I am really happy about this major breakthrough (I hope it was not a fluke) because I have been trying to fix this problem for over a year.

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