Tuesday, August 14, 2007

NADAC - What I Learned

I mentioned previously that I had some great insights last weekend at a NADAC trial even though we did not Q very much.

We have been prefect in class, rarely having a problem. However, at trials, we have many NQ's almost always a blown contact or off course. I beleive both Wyatt and I - mostly Wyatt - is faster at trials (and he is already very fast in agility!) What do I do - slow down at trials? No, agility is about speed. Speed up in class - hard to do. Lynn Smithley suggested of these to use distance more. That will help handle Wyatt when he is faster at trials. I have thought of this before but I really put it into action at this trial and it worked beautifully. One example was in tunnelers. There was an opening of 3 tunnels in a row. However, you had to pull your dog off the straight line to the third tunnel and do 90 turn to a different tunnel. Typically, I would not have been able to stop Wyatt from taking the third tunnel. I might have turned (too late or not enough). I might have tried to call him off. What he does in this case is very dutifully look at me and see that I am still pointed where he is headed and keeps on going. This time, I called him when he was in the second tunnel and made very sure I was pointed 90 degrees to the other tunnel. He also gallops during tunnelers so I was a good 15-20 feet away when I called him off. He went right for the correct tunnel. On this course, I continuned to work him at a large distance succesfully. Unfortunately, I got lost for a split second and sent him to one incorrect tunnel. But the strategy worked. In another elite regular run, Wyatt got a really tough distance gamble without difficult. So it is clear that he can work at a distance but I need to change my handling to allow him to do so succesfully.

My previous goal has been to increase our Q rate at trials but I realized that this was too unspecific a goal. Instead, at this trial, I picked spots where I have been having problems and tried to anticipate them and improve. This also worked great and was very satisfying to improve even though we may not have qualified. I think I am getting close to being able to generally put the whole thing together at trials.

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