Friday, September 29, 2006

NADAC Results

I have been remiss in reporting our NADAC trial last weekend. Wyatt and I attending a NADAC trial on Saturday only.

First up was elite jumpers where Wyatt had an off course. A beginning jump sequence turned in a semi-circle. Instead of turning Wyatt went way out to another jump in a straight line. I needed to turn him sooner I think. It was also our first run and he seemed to really want that jump but I need to really see these possible off courses during the walk throughs.

In our first elite regular (standard) run, Wyatt jumped off the end of the dogwalk. I took him back and he did it again so I took him back for the third time and he did a nice 2 on, 2 off so we left the course with a lot of praise. The course had a distance weave pole challenge (which we never got to) so I did not have a lot of confidence we would qualify. We have been working on weaves at a distance but it looked like it would be hard for us.

For the next elite standard run, I thought it was very doable. We have not yet got our first elite standard Q after 5 tries, so I thought this might be the one. Sure enough, we have great 12 weaves at the start and got all 3 contacts but, again, I assumed that he would go up the dog walk (there was a tunnel on the far side of the dogwalk), and he needed more cuing. It was still a great run though and I was very happy.

We qualified in open tunnellers finishing that title with a really nice, fast run. I tried to give him more distance but still need to trust him more to work far away from me in tunnelers. He had one wide turn that cost us sometime.

We also qualified in open chances with another dogwalk tunnel discrimination challenge, this time going for the outside tunnel. There were 2 points in this course that I knew would be hard. The cool part was that at both points, he looked back at me for more information where there was a choice to make and I was able to signal him to the correct obstacle.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I have been having trouble with a very common obstacle discrimination problem - a dog walk and tunnel right beside it. I was using an opposite arm signal which tends to turn my body out. But it did not always work. I tried some experiments at home. If I use our already existing out command AND the opposite arm, that seems to work every time. If I say "walk it" and run parallel to the dogwalk without any special OUT command or arm movement, he goes right up the A-Frame. Adding the "out" really seemed to make it clear for Wyatt what I wanted. Sometimes it is so obvious but takes us so long to figure it out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Heeling Improvements

I have not been to obedience class in a while. Since the last class, I have been working a lot on attitude and crispness. I have kept thing short and fun. I have rewarded Wyatt for being in heel position. I have been trying to make it a game - Keep Up With Me If You Can.

He did great in class. Usually I see a degradation in performance in class. I used lots of treats and voice. I used to expect all the work at home to carry over and I would see a degradation when I went to class and used less treats, and less voice, AND there were all the other dogs around. So now I am trying to get him to the same level I see at home before facing voice and treats. I may try to fade voice and treats at home. I tend to treat once for every performance and need to get on a variable schedule.

I did notice degradations when the teacher was close when heeling and also very clearly with the dumbbell when other dogs were close by. There is one dog in particular that is aggressive that he if afraid up. So I tried to really keep the dumbbell fun at class even though not as much is needed at home. To do this, I use a lot of voice, skip the finish and start from heel position frequently and throw it low to the ground after revving him up.

The teacher taught us a good exercise for drop on recall. (I have been having trouble with creeping). You start the dog coming to you. When you say "Down" run to the dog as fast as you can to stop then cold and make sure they can't fail in their down. This teacher always says, "Make it so your dog has to be right."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Steeper Better?

Wyatt has some great A-Frames last night - the best the teacher had ever seen. That was after we raised the A-Frame to USDAA height (or close to it). I am wondering if steeper is better. I will try it at home. Getting rid of our "slider" A-frame with a slippery surface could also be helping....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New A Frame

I set up our new A Frame from MAX 200 and I love it. Wyatt does too. He goes much faster without sliding down. Our old one is too slick. He loves it so much though, that I have to overdrive him if I want him to take a different obstacle. He tends to want to take contacts if there is a choice. I was getting really frustrated with that the other - call offs were doing nothing - but when I shut up and overdirected him with my shoulders he took the series of serpentine jumps in the middle of the course rather than the dog walk and A frame on the outsides.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Babies and Agility

My wife was on a businness trip Saturday but I decided to drive about an hour to catch some agility run thrus. I was a little hesitant because I was not sure I would be able to have someone watch Aidan when I ran. Aidan has a lot of agility aunties but I was not sure if any of his regular aunties would be there. I threw caution to the wind, packed up all the baby and dog stuff (yes, we have a new minivan) and headed on down.

Luckily, there is, believe it or not, another baby named Aidan, who was there with his mom and dad. Sue watched Aidan when I ran and got a portable crib out of her car for us to use. What luck! Actually, there are 2 other couples that do CPE agility that also have new babies. We got to visit and compare notes and also run our dogs. What a great day.

Wyatt ran well besides the usual first A-frame missed contacts. There were snooker, standard, steeplechase, and jumpers courses with some nice challenges. The trick now seems to be running great the first time (just like a trial). There typically will be some challenge I did not anticipate that results in an off course or some other issue. So now I need to be able to get it right the first time. And this is an issue for me and not Wyatt...

Hope you had a great weekend too...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Steeple Chase

We tried our first ever agility steeplechase last night at class. Steeplechase is a USDAA special tournament class. It has jumps, tunnels, weaves, and an A frame and is designed for speed! The course was one designed by our instructor who used it in a at a trial she was judging the week before.

What a blast! You had to do the weaves twice and they were 12 weave poles. There were 2 pinwheels, a tricky lead out, a tunnel A-frame discrimination challenge, and a triple jump at the end. There were also a number of places where you pretty much had to layer jumps. Lots of off course potential near the A-frame and some of the layered jumps.

Wyatt seemed very happy to get back to agility. He still has his sutures but he seems completely heeled and he is no longer trying to scratch them. We had a few problems on our first run. I did not continue forward enough after my lead out pivot and has an awkward tunnel entrance. There was a tunnel (under an A-frame) into a pinwheel and I was stopped dead waiting for him at the pinwheel entrance. But all in all, we had a good, fast run with 1 off-course on one of the layered jumps.

The second run was awesome. No faults and a really fast time! It was exciting to do so well after our injury break. He, by far, has the best run out there including a really good BC with a 15 year veteran handler.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wyatt the Conehead

Have you seen these e-collars dogs have to wear on their heads so they can't scratch or lick wounds and sutures? It is a clear cone that tapers towards the base, which goes on the dog's neck.

It has been interesting to see Wyatt learn how to cope with his e-collar. At first, he was a real spaz, knocking his head into everything. Stairs were especially difficult. But he quickly learned to slow down and lift his head going up stairs and to also lift his head before jumping on the couch.

Wyatt is getting his stitches off Saturday. I can't wait and neither can he!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wyatt Seems Off

Wyatt seems off when I try to do a little obedience with him. I think his sutures are itchy. I am going to give him some time off or just quit right away when I see he is not 100% into it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Little Training

We mananged to do a little obedience training tonight. Wyatt tried to scratch his stiches when I took his e-collar off so I hjad to put him on leash for a little heeling. We did some dumbbell retrives off leash because they are so high interest I did not have to worry. He really does well after a little time off - very happy, tail wagging, etc...

Can't wait to get the stiches out. I am skipping the agility trial and not even going. I don't know if Wyatt or I would have the bigger problem sitting there watching and not competing! My wife will run our other dog Patriot and I will stay home and watch the baby.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dog Fight!

Wyatt and Patriot got into and inadvertent dog fight last night. My wife accidentally dropped a book on Wyatt. [They sleep on separate dog beds next to our bed.] He yelped, stood up, and got tangled in his blanket. My wife tried to untangle him and he ended up stepping on Patriot. One or both them must have thought they were under attack and they went after each other. Wyatt got the worst of it (all of it, actually) and sustained a bad cut under his right eye. The vet said he would heal faster and better with stitches so she stitched him up using an injectable anesthetic. One always worried with sighthound and anesthetics but he came out fine. Those e-collars are terrible but we either watch him or have him wear it when we can't watch him. He was very fearful and freaked out yesterday. I just hope he bounces back quickly emotionally and makes up with his "brother". They seem pretty OK with each other but Wyatt is more reserved than usual with Patriot. What a terrible thing to see your beloved pet suffering.

I cancelled him for agility this weekend - a trial I really wanted to do but it is for the best.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Run Thrus

We went to some agility run thrus yesterday. It was tough because we had a busy weekend and had the baby on top on that we went and had a good time. It IS harder to run when you are tired.

Wyatt missed dogwalk and teeter contacts on the first 2 run thrus. The dogwalk and teeter were very low and I think that was the problem. In the third run through, I gave him more verbal and body language support and he was fine. In class and at home, I don't say "Spot and Tip It" anymore and don't give him the finger up (hold it) command. But I think he needs it at trials and in a new setting. That was a good lesson! Another explanation is that he was wired for the first 2 run. But I think it was the former especially since it is very rare that he flies off teeters anymore.

He did great A-frames all day with perfect 2 on, 2 offs. We had some problem with a sharp onside weave entry all day - something to work on. Off side is always much better.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Flip Into Tunnel

I have been working on a "flip" into a tunnel from a contact with Wyatt. His tendancy is to go back up the contact unless I really move towards the tunnel. I was making some progress but getting a lot of "errors" still. One idea I had was to move the tunnel away from the contact until it is more solid. Eventually I want to have a command for this. Right now, I am using body language and the "tunnel" command. To be honest, it seems like "tunnel" does not mean a lot to him at this time.


I have been thinking about balance in relatonship to our dogs. It is very easy to start trialing every weekend especially, if, like us, you do multiple dog sports. But I have found it is easy to get out of balance - tired, broke, and burned out. I also tend to not pay attention to other areas of my life if I do too much - family, house, money, spiritual, and other non-dog interests.