Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I noticed a big change last night doing agility/rally with Wyatt at home when I used string cheese instead of the usual Charlie Bears. Lots more speed and enthusiasm.

We have agility tonight and I am going to try moving him up to 12 inches. We have not been doing any agility to speak of outside of class. It's cold and I think the time off it better for him anyway. He seems to be better around the house. Yesterday he came charging to one of our coaches and jumped over our other whippet Patriot and onto the couch. He is quite the kamakaze (for better of worse) when he is feeling good. Hestition in jumping on things was one of the many signs I missed or ignored over the last few months. More on that later and also how your goals and priorities change when your dog get hurt.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Last Night

Wyatt did really well last night. We wanted to do agility and had some good runs. We are having a major contact suck issue right now with contact/tunnel combos but I was just happy that he was happy. I had him jump 8 inches to start. The weather is cold right now so we won't do agility in the yard (which seems to have a negative association for him anyway) but I will try running him at 12 inches next week.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back to Agility

Well, our week off of agility is up. It has been too cold to try much outside. I will probably go to class tonight and try some light jumping (low jump heights) and short sequences. We will see what happens! Hopefully, he will want to play and his back will be OK. I need to remember the warm up and cool down procedures...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What We Are Working On

While we are on our agility timeout, I have been working with Wyatt on obedience and rally. We have been perfecting our rally excellent moves including left pivot, 3 steps back, side step, and some others. He is doing real well, at least at home, and we should be able to get our last RE leg as long as he wants to play. In tradional obedience, I am really trying to finish up open and utility training. The hardest items are go outs, drop on recall, and group sits. I have working on go outs by baiting a target with cheese wiz and putting the target on a ring gate. I command "go out" and he has really been running out at a good clip. I then (sometimes) ask him to sit. I have been using a low board to prevent creeping. I have also started using 3 different gloves on occasion. Everything else is pretty much in place (at least at home) includingt scent discrimination and retrieves. I need to check the heeling part of utility and check signals. I beleieve all the pieces are in place including a moving stand but need to try putting it all together.

Of course, the proof is in the proofing!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

X-RAY Results

Wyatt's X-Rays were clean so that was a relief. It rules out arthritis. Regular Vet said we could try anti-inflammatories. I am going to check in with the specialist I have been using - Julie Roos - on next steps.

My computer is down so I will write more next week when I get back...

Monday, January 15, 2007

X Rays This Week

Our regular vet happened to see Wyatt last week for a shot and also saw the back pain. So I scheduled X-Rays for Wednesday. She mentioned that he might have some arthritis but that could be treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs. Meanwhile, Wyatt seems better to me in terms of his energy and back pain.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Time Off

As I expected, the time off from agility with Wyatt is harder for me than for him. He is enjoying a rest and seems to have more bounce and high spirits. I definately miss practicing with him. Due to the weather, we usually slow down in the winter especially with practice at home. This year's mild winter allowed practicing in Novemeber, December, and January during a time when Wyatt (who does not like the cold) usually hibernates.

He seems to be enjoying the massage he gets everyday. Still a week and half to go on the time off...

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I took Wyatt to Julie Roos, who is a vet and does PT and chiropractic. Basically, she found that has back pain caused by too many years of agilty without proper streching, warming up, and cooling down. This probably caused our current problems in combination with all the trauma and spills of this year along with the additional stress of the baby and overpracticing him. So he gets 2 weeks off and lots of massage. Meanwhile, he are having fun, running in the woods, and still doing rally and obedience.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wyatt Status

I am getting a full evaluation of Wyatt next week from Julie Roos down at Clean Run. She is a vet, does acupuncture, and chiropractic and has lots of experience with agility dogs.

I am running him at home very lightly and easily and keeping it fun just to keep him in the game. Still thinking of taking o complete break. The crash into the tire set him back quite a ways in terms of motivation and the contact and discrimination skills we have been working on - no doubt, due to increased stress.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I ran Wyatt yesterday and he did great. Very motivated. Did not have to bribe him to play. On the way back to the house, I sent him through one more jump combo and he knocked over the tire jump and had a minor scrape. But he seems to be back to being totally spooked about practicing. I am taking a week off from agility with him even though I am anxious to work with him to get comfortable again. It really is showing me I need to focus more on my dog being happy and less on the various skills, titles, and goals I have. What a hard lesson to learn...

I am thinking of getting a full physical and eye exam for him too to rule out a physical problem.

Monday, January 01, 2007


I have had a lot of ups and downs with Wyatt in agility and this weekend was no exception. Wyatt is about 10 Q’s away from his CPE agility championship. During the competition this weekend, he did not want to run; something I have never experienced before at a trial. He has typically been a very high drive, high motivation dog especially for a whippet. He has always been a fearful dog but his desire to work with me and to jump has seemed to overcome his fear. He tends to be a bit of a kamikaze and I worked with him for years to get a good 2 on, 2 off contact.

Looking back, I see that there were signs that we might be in trouble as team; signs I minimized or ignored. It is a terrible feeling to see your teammate not want to play with you. I do have faith this will be one of the many things I have worked through with Wyatt. However, one always fears the worst case – that his career could be over.


We went up early for run throughs Friday night to a new beautiful new facility near Saratoga Springs, New York. I wanted to do everything I could to make Wyatt feel comfortable in a new place. Our first run was a little tentative but not bad. On the second run, he started to show some signs of stress and slowed down and may have stopped before a jump until I coaxed him over. On the third run, I really increased my praise after every jump and obstacle and we had a much better run. He used to be a dog I could run very quietly with. So it seems like he needs more praise and encouragement right now.

For the first run on Saturday, he hesitated going into the ring and I gave a little leash correction to get him moving. This has been something I have also been seeing in class. Typically, I can both take pressure off the lead and encourage him to come with me or give a little tug and encouragement at the same time to get him going in class. This is a new behavior though and one I was worried about. I believe it started early fall of 2006.

In any case, he started running out of the ring when I took off the leash or would refuse to jump over the first jump and would run back out when I turned around and/or started moving back towards him. I ran out and grabbed him and kind of tossed him over the first jump but he still ran back. On the next run changed to For Exhibition Only (FEO) and ran him on leash and was very positive when he went over a few jumps. I kept it short.

We also tried having Dawn run him on Saturday and she experienced the same behaviors of running out of the ring.

I then tried taking his leash off partway through the run but he would not go over a jump off leash. On another run, I got him over the first jump but he stalled on the A-Frame and I could not get him off. When I moved towards him, he headed back over the A-Frame. Heading outside on Saturday, he even ran away from the practice jump and I had difficulty coaxing him over the practice jump. I could get him going eventually by leading him close to the jump on leash and then using treats. I also did a bunch of deconditioning around the ring entrance where the biggest stress seemed to be occurring. But I am wondering if my picking him up and tugging his leash may have exacerbated the problem on Saturday. I also wonder if I may have forgotten to release him. I have worked with Wyatt on not releasing until he hears the specific word OK. I will occasionally forgot and expect him to go, which I am sure confuses him. And then having me really stress out and carry him into the ring may have made the problem much worse.

On Sunday, I was hoping that he would be OK but had the same issue. Though he seems fine warming up, he again stressed out when crossing into the ring. So I changed him to FEO and did a couple jumps, tunnels, and obstacles on leash and left on a positive note. After the run, he did not show signs of stress on the practice jump, which was encouraging. On the next run I did the same thing but tried to get him to run off leash again without luck. On the next run, I though I would get him away from the start and take him off leash at the end of ring heading back. Sure enough that worked, and he has nice obstacles and jumps off leash on the way back. We got a big cheer since folks knew I was struggling all weekend especially friends that have seen Wyatt “smoke” many a course. I was still seeing stalling on contacts, which clearly is a sign of stress as I have done a lot of retraining of contacts at home.


Wyatt crashed into a triple jump at the National Whippet Specialty April of last year. He limped off but appeared fine for jumpers when I tried him on the practice jump. He crashed into it again in jumpers. He tends to take off early and will very occasionally knock a bar especially on a triple jump. I bought an AKC style triple for home which he has been fine on. I added the word “big” before “jump” to indicate a double or triple jump.

We adopted a baby boy in June. Wyatt seems to adjust fine. We still practice obedience, rally, and agility every day.

At a summer trial, I remember having a stressful weekend with the baby and having a tough weekend especially on the first day. Wyatt crashed into a jump when I was wrapping him around it tightly during a snookers run.

This summer, Dawn dropped a hardcover book on Wyatt. He was sleeping under a blanket on his dog bed at the side of our bed at the time. He panicked and ended up stepping on Patriot on an adjacent dog bed. The exact details are unknown but they ended up in a fight resulting in 5 stitches for Wyatt. Wyatt was upset for quite a while though seems fine with Patriot now. He took off a week or more of agility but seemed OK after that.

Sometime in the fall, I started seeing him resisting starting agility. I remember this starting before he fell off the dog walk in November. However troubling, I could easily get him going with a little rug, relaxing the lead, and/or doing a little cheerleading/moving forward. I have noticed him heading towards the exit on occasion during class especially if I am stressed about something.

At the Conway CPE trial (our home ring) in mid October, he has a great weekend with 6/8 qualifying runs and lots of high placements but I did recall that seeing the resistance to going into the ring. At a trial a few weeks later, he did stop running at one point during jumpers (I was shocked because he loves jumpers so much) but attributed it to a very late run in a dark, damp barn. I did coax him over the jump he stopped in front of. All in all, we had a pretty good weekend as I recall. I do remember feeling stressed with the baby on Saturday.

In November, he fell off the dog walk during a routine practice. We shook it off and ran the dog walk again but it was a good fall. After that, there was a definite resistance to going to the yard to practice. He has previously shown some resistance to the front yard after a Frisbee fall he appeared to work through that. I started to have to bribe him to play. I developed a “find it” game where I throw a treat for him to find. Typically once I get him down to the first field (jumpers and weaves), he is fine and wants to do agility. I would also lure him down to the field with a treat sometimes but this did not work as well. I am wondering now if I inadvertently was reinforcing his fears. Did I train him to not work without a specific bribe of the “find it” game first? I did notice initially even more resistance to going down to the lower contact field. Gradually, I worked with him so that less and less of a bribe was required to get him to do agility so I was pretty confident going into this weekend’s trials. I was did a lot of contact work so that stalling on the A-Frame was down to a very occasional occurrence. I also worked a lot of tunnel/contact discrimination. He was getting really drawn to contacts probably due to all the contact work we have been doing. This too was very much improved in the last few weeks.

One side note is that I have resorted to blocking him from going up contacts a few times in the last few months (once especially in class on a particular start). This seemed to really cause some stress. He seems to stall right away when he see I am not moving towards him. I have been unsure of what to do in this case; I have sometimes had to bribe him down with by showing a treat. I have tried not to treat him for being off course and have improved with this but used to sometimes treat him by mistake when he went up an unwanted contact. I also have realized recently that have inadvertently trained him to go right back up over a contact. When training him to drive to the end of contacts, I used to rapidly switch directions and head right back over. I did use his release word but he got very used to going up and down and was heading right back over contacts if my body started turning anywhere backwards towards the contact again.

In early December, we went to some run throughs at a new facility in Connecticut. His first run was tentative and he crashed the final triple jump. I took him back over it but his next run; he did not want to run. I recall using treats to get him started again on the second and third runs but seeing the jump refusals. I attributed his initial tentativeness to the lack of gates on the side of the ring and some barking dogs close to ringside. Now I wonder if there was more going on.

I also recall during November that Wyatt had trouble starting a rally run. He would not sit and then would not initially start heeling with me at the start.

At runs throughs during class last week, I don’t recall any special issues or problems.


• Should we take a complete break from agility? If so, for how long?
• Should I take him to class this week and see how he is? I probably will.
• What should I do if he resists starting his run?
• If I trial with him (FEO), what should I do if he runs out of the ring?
• Should I not use treats during warms up and only reward after a run?
• I wonder if the extra stress of trialing with the baby is increasing my stress enough to affect Wyatt’s stress level? Ironically, he seems less nervous at trials than he used to be but the stress may be showing up in the ring and not on the sidelines.
• I have been, at home, class, and at trials, been “making” Wyatt go all the way to the end of the contact since he tends to start stopping higher and higher up especially at trials. However, this seems to be a stressor so I am wondering the best way to handle it and if I should relax this criterion (for now) at trials.
• Should I crate him at class? This would be just like a trial and would bypass some of the avoidance behavior I see when I walk courses with him at class.


• Cut back on agility practice, classes, and trials and/or take a complete break from agility for a while.
• Put a jump close to the cellar door and only treat after he as gone over the jump. Just work with that one jump for a while. Be very positive for coming out to play without a bribe. Set up gates in the yard and make sure he is OK going through the gates to a faux start line without having to treat him.
• Make sure he is warmly dressed before doing agility in the winter.
• No more “find it” game with treats to get him to play agility.
• Cut back on obedience until he is into agility again and/or only do obedience after agility.
• Do as many run throughs and possible. Do trials FEO until enthusiasm is restored. Use the leash to start him and try to wean off the leash until he can start again without it.
• Eliminate or cut down on warm up treats especially at trials. Increase value of treats. For Wyatt, cheese and steak are the highest value treats.
• Consider using toys more. Use the rabbit skin on a string as a reward instead of food sometimes.
• Play with Wyatt in the yard around the equipment. This consists of throwing toys, which he chases, takes a victory lap around with, and retrieves. I have been doing on this on occasion but could do more.
• No triples at runs throughs or trials unless I can practice it first or lower the bars.
• Continue to practice the triple at home.
• Always warm up with the practice jump before a run.
• Try trialing him without the baby.
• Do not run when I am stressed.
• Change my goal from a C-ATCH (or whatever) do my dog having a good time.
• Reward releasing more strongly in obedience and agility.


I placed a jump close to the cellar door yesterday and Wyatt went right over and it the agility fields without a need for a bribe, game, or treat. He then ran very enthusiastically even though the weather was cold and wet.

Patriot Video

Here is one of Patriot and Dawn's run from this weekend. Patriot needs only one more Q for his CPE agility championship.


Wyatt really shut down this weekend ;-( More on that later.

Patriot Standard - December 31 2006
53 sec - Jan 1, 2007
Description: Whippet AWC Triathlon Winner Ch Seaspell’s Concord Point, CD, SC, OA, OAJ, CR, OTR, NJC, TG-N, CL4, CL5-HSF, CGC “Patriot” CPE Level 5 standard run

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