Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wyatt's Checkout

We visited Julie Roos, DVM yesterday. Julie specializes in Sports Medicine for dogs. She found some problems in Wyatt's back and especially pelvis. Last time, it was more of a back issue. So he is on rest for 2 weeks and partial rest after that. She also recommended glucosamine and massage. Last time, rest meant no agility and jumping, but she thinks this is more due to the daily runs and the long sits so those are out for a while. He can get a daily walk of 10-15. Wyatt hates the cold anyway so it should not be too hard. We go back in early February to see where he is at. She said I caught it early this time, which is a good thing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scent Discrimination

We have been socked in with snow and cold. Wyatt does not like to go out in the cold much so I have been doing 3 training sessions a day instead of the usual 2 t keep him with something to do. Lots of run thrus and classes have been cancelled too.

Something interesting I noticed with scent discrimination. On the first article, he seems to sniff all all of them, including the correct one without any indication on the correct one. He then makes a second pass and gets the correct one. It would seem that he is making sure he has the correct one. For the second article, he only makes one pass and stops on the correct one and retrieves it,

I am thinking of starting to train brace for our national specialty. I need to buy one of the those coupler collars. It should be a hoot!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dogs Off

The dogs seem off due to the ice storm and lack of power. They also had a fight over a huge hunk of cheese they somehow got the other day. Wyatt cut a small cut right above his eye, which is too close for comfort. I should have anticipated the issue as I did see Patriot digging up the cheese and flaunting his ownership of it by running around "proudly" with it in his mouth with Wyatt watching. I was not sure what it was initially and thought it was something out of the compost. I am trying to get back into our usual routines with them, which should help. I am sure they are picking up our increased stress levels as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice Storm

Lots to write about with the loss of power for what looks like it will be a week. Really changes your life and outlook. However, I can't write much. I just ran into Northampton to check email. Here are some quick photos I put up of the storm.


I have tried to continue my 2 obedience sessions with Wyatt every day. He still waits for me to do down cellar with him, lights or no lights!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Agility Class- Layering Jumps

After a long break of about a month, Wyatt and I returned to agility class. It felt good to be out there and Wyatt seemed very happy to be running. I really worked on pushing my distance so it was challenging. We had some trouble layering jumps and going by jumps. Wyatt loves jumps so much. But I really needed to be aware and precise in my path, that is was heading in the correct direction. At the same time, it only worked if I ran parallel to him, not ahead or behind.

New Blog

I have a new blog, which will be devoted to more general topics such as religion, philosophy, politics, parenting, nature, and life in general. I will attempt to make it personal and to share the occasional insight or at least deep question about life.

It can be found at Reflections From Cricket Hil

Friday, December 05, 2008

Down Problems

I have had a few down problems again where Wyatt gets up immediately from his down into a sit. I am not sure if this is due to:

a) colder floors
b) practicing sits much more than downs lately
c) a physical issue
d) unknown and mysterious dog thoughts

I am having him checked out next week for physical issues since I was seeing some possible jumping issues. If the issue is colder floors, I should not probably not practice unless it is warmer or I put something down. If the issue is not practicing, then I should just practice more, which is somewhat in conflict with "a". He has been better the last few days as I have kept the downs very short and in sight. He did great last night and did a 3.5 minute out of sight sit. I had Tibby crowd him as well for the other stuff hoping to get him more used to judges who stand close to the dogs. I just printed out a premium for mid-March. That will probably be our next attempt.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Go Outs Versus Drop On Recall

I was thinking that Wyatt may be getting the sit part of the go out and the drop on recall confused. That may be why he downs on the "sit" part of the utility go out. I did notice that this happens more when I am a long distance away, which resembles the drop on recall.

Go Outs

I am going back to practicing more utility obedience and also taking a break from agility. Wyatt seems to need that break every winter for his back to stay healthy. Go outs are going well but Wyatt does a down sometimes. Not sure why.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Open A Results Today From A Friend

Here's the breakdown from your run today:
Heel free 12pts off
Drop on Recall NQ
Retrieve on Flat 5pts off
Retrieve over High Jump 1.5pts off
Broad Jump 1.5pts off
Long sit Perfect!
Long down Perfect!

I'm so happy that he held his stays today....yay!
Keep at it....you'll get there I can just feel it.

NQ but Great Sits and Downs

I was very pleased today that Wyatt had perfect sits and downs. Another almost Q. This time, he did not come on the initial part of the drop on recall. He was more nervous in the ring today though his heeling was better; he seemed afraid of the judge - big guy. The judge moved towards him quickly at the start and caused some kind of reaction. The judge also stood very close for the drop and it was in the very corner of ring. 3 dogs in a row missed the initial come part of the drop (Wyatt was one.) That seems to be a fluke. I am feeling pretty confident that we can qualify and title in open though it won't be in the 3 next attempts. Will continue to fine tune; continue to work on the sits including more proofing, and try to proof for the "big guys."

Saturday, November 22, 2008


A friend checked my scores after the trial...

Here's the scoop on your score:

Heel free / figure 8 had 11 pts off
Drop on Recall had 1.5 off
Retrieve on Flat had 1 pt off
Retrieve over Jump had .5 pt off
Broad Jump had .5 pt off
Sit stay was NQ
Down stay was perfect
Total points off was 14.5 which would have been 185.5 score which is really good!
Once you get the sit/stay solidified you're going to right up there in the placings.
I didn't see any of your heeling pattern, just from the figure 8 on.....everything I saw looked really nice!

So Close!

We had a great run today at our Open A Obedience trial. There was a real crooked sits and some lags and out of positions at first in heeling but then we clicked and he finished great. The drop, retrives, and broad jump were really nice with no or minimal points off. He went down at 25 second on the long down and did great on the long sit. I was happy he did so well in our first outing. Definately need to proof the sit more. He has been doing well at home unless I go and do other stuff. He will then go lay on the couch. We would have been in the 190s I think if we made the long sit. We will see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I backed off the treat and praise reduction plan a bit since it seems to be stressful for Wyatt. At run thrus last week, the lack of treats and reduced communication did not seem to affect him. Perhaps, he now knows and contextualized the fact that treats come later when we are at an agility/obedience trial but not at home. We had a good run thru. His drop was slow so I gave a second command but it turned out he was dropping so I should have just waited. Sits were difficult for both dogs today but Wyatt has been good at home. I do need to proof the sits more at home and away from home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things Fall Apart Before Trial

Not unexpectedly, things are falling apart a little before our first open obedience trial. I have been weaning Wyatt off treats and lots of verbal praise in anticipation of our upcoming Open A obedience trials. For whatever reason - probably the weaning off of treats and verbals but also possibly in my tone of voice or stress level - Wyatt is having trouble with heeling of all things, which has been very solid for at least a year. I am seeing lagging, not going with me on the heel command, and no sits. I am going to back up and give more treats or verbals if he seems stressed and also back up to 2 exercizes and then a treat.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prep for Open A Obedience

I am excited about entered Open A Obedience for the first time in a few weeks. Unlike Novice, I am genuinely looking forward to it and I am not feeling nervous. My confidence in the sits and downs is not high but I know about the problem. In preparation, I am doing lots of run thrus in the basement and changing the treat schedule so that treats are after a number of exercises, gradually moving to one big treat at the end. I am also doing either a sit OR a down after the regular exercises. Wyatt has been very good with his sits and down at home and at least at our last few classes, so you never know! We may have to trial quite a bit to get get the sits and downs done however.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Running Around Jumps

I am worried Wyatt's back problems are cropping up again. He seems to be running around jumps, especially at the end of jumpers courses. This is very uncharacteristic although I do have to remember to maintain contact with him for all jumps, even if it seems like straight line. While it could be a handling issue, it would be wise to check for physical issues. I pulled him from an upcoming CPE trial and entered open obedience at the cluster instead. I am trying to get him into our local sports vet, Julie Roos.

We only got 2 Qs this weekend though one as our first Elite Touch and Go Q. Contacts continue to much improved. We had a lot of almost Qs - .5 second over in tunnelers, one dropped bar in regular on an otherwise awesome run, getting a very difficult gamble in Chances but missing some easy stuff. Oh, well!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sits and Downs Last Night

Hey, Wyatt was perfect last night in sits and downs. He did one out of sight sit, one out of sight down, and one in sight sit! Thjey were not for the full time but still...

Thursday, October 30, 2008


We had guest teacher at agility class last night and I learned something really valuable. She had some serpentines set up with the last obstacle offset (ahead of the others). For example, one had jump 1, another jump 2 (from the opposite side), and then a tunnel 10-15 ahead of jumps 1 and 2. Normally, I would do a front cross in on the far side of jump 2. Instead, she taught me to stay on the near side of jumps 1 and 2. Send the dog over jump 1, move laterally so that the dog comes back over toward you to jump 2, and then just head out to the tunnel. The handler path is much shorter and you head off potential off courses if there are other obstacles near jump 2.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


After worked for many years on pivots for rally, gloves, and heeling, I am seeing some real nice pivots on Wyatt. The left pivot especially is difficult. I am seeing Wyatt "jump" into position now, which is amazing. There seems to be a magic spot to look too so that if your look behind your dog at the magic spot, they line up perfectly straight. This obedience stuff really takes a long time!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I have been tuning into ways that more communication/information is needed in certain situations in agility (and obedience). When the dogs don't get the information/support they need, they often don't do what we expect. However, from what I see, they aren't blowing us off, we aren't giving them what they need. Last night in agility class, there was a jump, tunnel, tunnel serpentine. Wyatt came out of the first tunnel on the wrong side. However, when I called his name - when he was in the tunnel - he came out on the desired side. For some reason, I often forget to communicate when Wyatt is in a tunnel.

He had some great weaves last night - fast and he was also able to find the entry on his own from some distance and from some difficult angles. What I do need to do is bring targets to class to reinforce the end of the contact 2 on 2 off. He was going down most of the down to the yellow but in trials, he goes less far down, sometimes in the blue zone.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Somewhat Disappointing OB Class

We went to obedience class last night after missing a few weeks. We did lots of retrieves, which are no problem for Wyatt. We did get some good proofing but I was a little bored. At the end, we did sits and downs. The good news was that Wyatt made his 5 minute out of sight down with no problems. But we went down twice on his sit. He has been doing so well at home on sits and downs that I was a little disappointed. I will probably try staying in sight and/or closer next time for the sit. He missed his first drop on recall too but I think I know why. If I look at the "judge" for her hand signals, he frequently does not drop. If I look at Wyatt and keep the "judge" in my peripheral vision, he seems to do fine. Just something I need to remember. I was hoping to enter open at the Thanksgiving Cluster but it is not on Thanksgiving weekend and we had already signed up for an CPE agility trial 5 minutes from our house. Will have to wait until winter/spring. There do not seem to be any trials on December/January/February though.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

CPE Results and Off Courses

Wyatt and I had a fun weekend at our local CPE trial 5 minutes from our house. We rocked Saturday with 3 Qs and 3 first places right off the bat in the level C - Champion - 20 inch class. I was having visions of a perfect weekend at that point. How delusional! We had an off course in our last run of the day, Wildcard. But our Fullhouse, Standard, and Colors run were great. We had an especially good standard run with picture perfect contacts. It felt kind of easy compared to NADAC Elite Regular courses but that's OK!

On Sunday, we had 2 real good runs - Jackpot and Standard. In Jackpot, we racked up tons of points and were on the final gamble obstacle, the A-Frame. But Wyatt stopped in the blue zone and I jerked a bit to get him down and he released. I definitely need to work on driving to the end. He frequently stopped high and I need to coax him down. Better than leaping off though. A groan went through the crowd when he released from the blue zone. In Standard, there was a difficult three discrimination challenge I could not get; he was too far ahead of me.

I really went for it in our third run of the day, Snookers. The course had triple combos for #6 and #7. We did 1-6, 1-7, and 1-2, which had great flow. Wyatt did great. We did not make it through the final 7 in the closing sequence but had an awesome run with lots of cool wraps and speed. A Q and a first. I was hoping for a great closing Jumpers run but we bombed out. I lost contact after several jumps and he went around. I was worried about his back since he avoided jumps in the past when he had a sore back but, looking at video, I think it was a handler issue. They seem to need a connection before they committ to the next obstacle. You can never assume they will take a certain jump even in a straight line sequence, at least in my experience.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Running Patriot

I also ran our other whippet Patriot last weekend at the VT NADAC trial. My wife trained him and usually runs him but has been staying home with our son at times. Patriot is very different from Wyatt. He is much less driven and also slower but usually more consistent. He was pretty slow this summer except for the first run of the day. He tends to not run well in the heat. Last weekend, he was pretty fast but I was having a lot of contact problems. Dawn is retraining him for a running contact. I lost a lot of Qs due to contacts and then decided I needed to try something different. All I did was slow down and maintain voice contact on the contacts and we were much more successful on contacts. Kind of what I saw with Wyatt, they both seem to need a connection on the contacts even though they are much more independant at home.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wyatt's Perfect Contact Weekend!

Wyatt had a great weekend. For the first time EVER, he stopped for every contact. Loyal followers will know that Wyatt has had contact problems for years. Lately, his A Frame and teeter have been good but the dog walk has still been a real issue. What I was seeing was that when I was behind him on the dog walk, he would fly off at the slightest change in my speed, arm movement, voice, whatever. See Video for an illustration of the this. I had been trying to really still my upper body as we approached the dog walk end. However, though it sometimes helped, it did not work most of the time. I got to thinking before this trial about what else I could try. Lots of our NADAC courses lately have been starting with a jump and then the dog walk. This is the hardest way for us to start as Wyatt can get lots of speed right off the start line. I thought I would try a lead out first. Sure enough, for our first course, there was a jump and a dog walk as the first two obstacles.

I tried to lead out but Wyatt started. Luckily, the judge was having an issue so I got to try again. I was able to lead out laterally but not ahead like usual. My second idea was to somehow get him to stop and wait for me if he got ahead of me on the dog walk. I called his name as I slowed down and sure enough he stopped and waiting for me. I then have to coax him down to the yellow zone. Not ideal and not what we have at home, which is a nice independent 2 on, 2 off but it works. I used the same technique and it worked all day and the next day 2. I was very happy that we seemed to have found a solution to our dog walk issue.

I am going to go back to using a target at home and in class to reinforce going down to the bottom on his own. I also picked up a good tip from Dave May for the jump, dogwalk start. That is to start at an angle to the first jump, sending him out. That gives me more time to get to the dogwalk.

Funny how it seems like I had to figure out what Wyatt needed rather than training him. I can work now from where we are and get him to drive to the end of the contact at trials.

Saturday, we ended up with 4 of 6 Qs including our last open Touch and Go leg. That earned Wyatt his NADAC open versatility award, which you get when you complete all your open titles (with the exception of the new Hoopers game.) Getting 4 of 6 is very rare for Wyatt. We had a very nice Hoopers run after quite a few frustrating NQs. I think I am getting the hang of hoopers, which is to treat the hoops like real obstacles. Hard to explain. Sunday, we got another regular (standard) Q, which again is unheard of for us to get 2 regular Qs in one weekend. We had some minor issues in our other runs which causes NQs on otherwise super runs.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

AKC Stats 2007

Here are some graphs for the 2007 (and earlier) stats for entries, titles, and whippet titles by sport. The actual numbers (which show much more detail can be found at Numbers

Monday, September 29, 2008


Last week, Dawn took Patriot to obedience class. He was very sluggish and unenthusiastic. He felt discouraged and was wondering if she could continue with him and she was even talking about retiring him. I got to thinking about the day and asked her is she fed the dogs when she got home. I usually get home first and feed the dogs. Sure enough, the dogs were double fed. We then noticed that Patriot had diarrhea and was vomited for a few days. Just goes to show you to rule out physical problems first when things seem to be going wrong. Wyatt did great, even double fed. His drive is strong. He did go down on his long sit though at 2 1/2 minutes, which MAY have something to do with a full stomach.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NADAC Results

Wyatt and I had a couple of heartbreakers Sunday. First, we had a great Elite Chances run. It was jump to weaves to start. He missed the weave entry but I was able to send him back. He then went out to a bunch of jump and then a switch to a tunnel. We have been working on sending out to tunnels at home. I was so happy that we got our first Elite Chances Q but later found out we did not Q. The judge said when I sent him back to the weaves, he must have stepped over the line with all 4 paws. We had a great weavers run, the first time with no restarts. Again, I thought we had Qed but were over by 3 seconds. They were not his fastest weaves but I did not say anything to speed him up afraid he would pop out. We also had great contacts in our first regular run (I got ahead of him and was able to control the dogwalk release.) Check out the video which shows the dogwalk issue very well. I can try to get ahead of him but also need a way to control the release when I am behind him.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is my friend David May who earned a NATCH-3 and Versatility NATCH yesterday.  Very impressive.  They are a great team. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008


We had a good day today with the exception of the dogwalk.  Wyatt got 2 Qs in tunnelers and jumpers with 2 second places.  I ran Patriot and got 3 Qs in regular, tunnelers, and jumpers.  I also ran Wyatt in a practice Hoopers run trying out some new things.  Hoping for a better dogwalk tomorrow.  I went back for our first run and walked him off twice after that.  On our last Touch and Go run, we missed a discrimination challenge and missed the dogwalk.  Too bad as we had 2 excellent A frames.  Jumpers and tunnelers rocked.  Our last regular run was great too but we missed the second to last dogwalk.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

Down Idea

I was the only person at Open Class last night and discussed Wyatt's down issues with Tibby Chase.  I was thinking that maybe I should teach a fully rolled over down and I was initially very excited about this idea.  But then thinking about how nervous Wyatt is, I wondered if this would be feasible around other dogs.  Tibby agreed and suggested that I train Wyatt to fold in one paw and sit with one hip rolled over.  This would make it harder to get up that his current very alert sphinx position.  We started working on it with success and I am hopeful that this will be helpful.  To get the hip rolled, you don't roll it but you gently apply pressure to his rear side.  Initially I will do this training on a mat.  I may also have him looked at by a sports vet who has helped us in the past.  I believe that Wyatt wants to do the right thing but has a lousy build that sometimes gets in the way.  

After that, we did a quick run through which Wyatt aced with what would have a scores in the 190s.  I believe if we can fix the sit, that we can make it through Open pretty easily.  His sit is not 100% but is pretty solid at this point.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Go Ahead

I have been working with Wyatt with agility go ahead.  I believe we are making progress.  I got some really good distance today but pushed it too far and he lost enthusiasm a bit so I broke off.  I am working on go ahead when I am moving and even from a stationary position.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

OB Class Last Night

We had a good class last night.  There was a lot of distraction and discrimination training.  Tibby had us do recalls and drop on recalls with the dumbbell in or close to the dog's path.  Wyatt had no trouble with this and had very good recalls and drops all night.  He had an awesome 3 minute out of sight sit but came up on his down twice.  We have had more trouble with that lately than the sit.  Just can't figure it out.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Need Agility Class Again?

I am wondering if we need to be in agility class again.  I dropped in last night and we did OK but I saw other dogs had made more progress.  My biggest goal now is to be able to send Wyatt ahead much more so we can get Elite Chances Qs in NADAC.  You need 13 to get a championship. We came very close once but have trouble sending ahead long distances.  Our local class does not focus much on this but I need to work with Wyatt somewhere on this.  I did set up something at home but we are not doing that much agility.  Time to at least work on this at home.  I need to think up or get some ideas for working on this too.  There is a local person who specializes in this.  Maybe time for a private lesson!  

Friday, September 05, 2008


Wyatt did well on sits and downs last night in class though we could not really get out of sight, we were out of the ring.  He did turn to face me.  This morning though, he kept coming up right away on his down.  I finally got a 3 minute in sight down.  I can kind of predict when this will happen because he goes down very reluctantly.  I wonder if he is tired or sore or tight when this happens.  Of course, I want him to be reliable no matter what (unless there is a serious physical issue).

Monday, September 01, 2008

Quick Update

After having a perfect day Saturday after little sleep and going 0 for 6 NADAC agility Q's, we had a good day Sunday getting the long sought last Elite Regular Q for Wyatt's Elite Regular title.  He also earned his Elite Tunnelers Outstanding title (10 Q's)  and also picked up his 11th Elite Jumpers Q. Patriot picked up one AKC LC point today, which qualifies him for the American Whippet Club CAVX title - Champion Award of Versatility Excellent, which is earned about once every 4 years by a dog.  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Same thing?

I had the same thing happen with out of sight downs with Wyatt the last few days where it seemed to fall apart just as Drop on Recall did a few days ago.  Seems to be back again.  Interesting.  I can't explain it.

We have a NADAC agility trial Saturday and Sunday where we can camp with the family and some lure coursing Monday for Patriot.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Drop on Recall BacK?

Wyatt did a great drop on recall on the first attempt this morning.  Hopefully, that is fixed.  Funny how things can fall apart and come back together.  

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Drop Fell Apart

For some reason, Wyatt's Drop on Recall has fallen apart.  He seems confused.  He is not dropping, especially the first time, not starting the recall, and/or anticipating the drop.  I am going back to basics and lots of treats for each part, and using my hand and/or moving in for the (first especially) drop.  No worry but he was doing so well before this.  

Friday, August 15, 2008


I will be mostly offline for about a week.  Have a great week with your training!

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Titles and A Thrill Ride of a Lifetime

We have some new titles to report. Seven year old Patriot received his WRA CRX title last weekend. He worked hard on that and was always a solid C racer and one of the fastest bench champions around here. We remarked last weekend that we would love to see more bench champions doing WRA and NOTRA racing in New England. It tends to be the same 4 of us. It was kind of sad to see what may be his last race. He also finished a bunch of NADAC agility titles this weekend earning his Novice Hoopers, Open Regular, and Elite Jumpers Skilled titles.

Wyatt earned a very difficult title yesterday. It was the NADAC Elite Jumpers Outstanding title. This takes ten qualifying runs at the Elite level. NADAC elite times are very difficult to make. This is roughly equivalent to the AKC MJX title.

Yesterday, I had one of the biggest thrills of my life with him in tunnelers. He got very excited seeing the IG Gabe running tunnelers before him and he was super fast, even faster than usual. He had a blazing fast time, perfect clean run, and worked great at a distance going at top speed and checking in quickly at the end of each tunnels for my command for the next tunnel to take. He reached 6.67 yards per second, which is a national level time for any breed. It was quite a ride. Thanks Wyatt and Patriot.

Their full names are now:

Patriot - C-ATCH Ch Seaspell's Concord Point, CAV, RA, SC, OA, OAJ, CD, OAC, EJS, OCC, TG-N, TN-N, WV-N, HP-N, CRX, OTR, CGC

Wyatt - C-ATCH Wyatt of Dodge City, AV CD, RAE, SC, NA, NAJ, OAC, EJC-O, OCC, TG-N, TN-E, WV-O, HP-N, CGC

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPOBkVQVZ0I for some tunnelers runs for Wyatt. Too bad I did not tape yesterdays tunnelers run.

John and Dawn Heffernan

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Plugging Away

I am plugging away with Wyatt's obedience training and we are doing sit and downs at least on alternate days.  Occasional mistakes but overall pretty good.  We did a little agility last night in preparation for a NADAC trial this weekend.  Patriot finished his Companion Racer Excellent title last weekend. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Broad Jump - Left Side

We hear that the AKC is likely to allow the judge to specify that the handler stand on the left (new) or right (old) side of the broad jump.  We tried it in class for the first time.  Wyatt seemed confused and walked over the boards the first few times.  I practiced at home and now he seems fine.   It is interesting how a different visual picture will be very different to our dogs even though logically to us, it is the same thing.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tracking Sunday

Wyatt did a pretty hard track Sunday of 400-500 yards with 4-5 turns.  In other words, it was a regulation TD track.  I did use 4-5 articles though.  I tried treating out of my pouch but he got distracted with that.  I am going to go back to putting treats in the articles.  I see no advantage to treating from the pouch anyway.  Seems better to just reduce the number of (baited) articles slowly and/or leave some unbaited and just praise him.  I am getting better at reading him and am working of trusting him more even if he appears to be drifting off.  He seems to drift back.  I can tell by his head movements if he is on the track.  Corners are harder to read.  That is the next task.  

Training Log

I have started to keep a log for sits and downs.  I am hoping to see some patterns.  Wyatt has been pretty good lately with an occasional failure.  Right now, I am doing 1 minute out of sight sits and 3 minutes out of sight downs successfully.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Runs Thrus Nailed

 Wyatt and I did some run thrus at Clean Run last Friday night.  We really rocked.  I did not have any dog walk issues (he saves those for trials I guess).  On the last course, a really tough USDAA style master's course, he nailed it.  Fast, good distance, and no faults.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Second Chances - Status

So far so good on second chances.  When Wyatt has popped up on his long down, I have walked away and stopped practice.  He did it 2-3 times and after that, he has not for 3-4 times.  I am sure it is not the last mistake but, so far, I am cautiously optimistic.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Second Chances

I am wondering if my general policy of trying again and giving a second chance is backfiring.  I am seeing three specific instances where Wyatt is consistently doing an incorrect behavior the first time.  These are:   drop on recall where he does not drop on the first one of the day, dogwalk contacts where he jumps off, and on long downs where he frequently pops up.  On the dogwalk, I have been doing only NADAC where you can train in the ring (no Q, of course).  He will consistently blow the dogwalk and I take him back where he almost always gets it the second time.  [This could also be related to my position relative to him where he has a real problem if I am behind him.]  So, what I normally am doing is giving Wyatt a second chance and he still gets a treat after the second, correct performance.  

I am wondering if I have inadvertently trained him to do it "wrong" the first time since he is still rewarded.  I am going to try consistently breaking off training with no reward when he does not "do it right" the first time.  Interestingly, I only see the dogwalk problem at trials.  I cannot get him to fail at home or in class.  The obedience issues I see both at home and in class though I see it more in class.  

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tracking - What Does He Look Like On and Off

We went tracking yesterday and did a long course with 5 turns, one of which was acute.  Wyatt did well except on the acute turn.  He does drift quite a bit and I believe he is checking out the edges of the scent rather than following the strongest scent.  I am going to work him on some easier courses next with lots of straight legs and less turn.  One light bulb went off in reflecting on the session.  What I really need to do next is to really tune into when he is on the track and when he has lost it.  This will not look like a GSD or Golden!  So, instead of trying to make him look like a GSD who is pulling very strongly with nose right on the track, I need to figure out what he looks like when on and off the track.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Drop

We have having a real issue with the first drop on recall of the day.  Wyatt does not drop if I do a cold recall with no practice downs beforehand.  If I practice him, he is fine.  I am trying to get that first one.  I suppose I can practice before we go in the ring but I wanted him to be able to drop the first time, everytime.  I have been working with him hoping we will get the idea but no improvement yet.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Video of Some Nice Qs This Weekend

More later on some interesting contact progress...

Monday, June 09, 2008

NADAC Hoopers and Jumpers

Here is video of me and Wyatt last weekend at a NADAC trial.

Patriot CAVX

I am trying to finish up a few titles for Patriot. He needs one more point for his Whippet Racing Association, which he can get by coming in third or higher in one straight race heat. That should be pretty easy. He also needs one more AKC Lure Coursing point for the American Whippet Club Champion Award of Versatility Excellent. To me, this is the highest award a whippet can earn. It means they are a conformation champion and have significant achievements in 3 or 4 other sports. These AKC points are hard to come by. Since he became a veteran Saturday by turning 7, I figured he could beat one other veteran and get his final point. The other veteran did not show so I had him run alone and then in Best of Breed. He has slowed down and not been coursing that well, but I was very proud of him in Best of Breed. He ran his heart out and had some great stretches being in the lead and running great. He was coming in very strong but really died on the final leg. But I was so proud of him being competitive with the special dog (a champion) and the open whippet who went on to get Best in Field.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Slowing Down For Contacts

I have admit defeat on my latest contact strategy for Wyatt. Last year, when I was working towards Wyatt C-ATCH, I developed a bunch of strategies for contacts at trials. These were little things I could do to get him to slow down and not jump off. Of course, at home and in class, he has an independent 2 on, 2 off contact. But it was hard to remember all the little things to remember to get a good contact. So this year, I committed to just doing NADAC where I could take him back on a blown contact and not have to do all the little things. It did not work. He definitely needs more support at trials.

After looking at video for Saturday's NADAC trial, I saw that be was releasing when he either heard of saw the slightest thing from me that could possibly be interpreted as a release. That could be a jerky body movement (proofed at home, of course). So, on Sunday, I thought, what is I try walking for the length of the contact? Sure enough, it worked. I think he is so ready to spring at trials that the littlest thing is interpreted as a release. When he finally got 2 contacts in regular (I have needed one more for his elite title for about a year), he has trouble popping out at the last weave. So that last leg is still eluding us. However, I do think, based on Sunday, that this will work and I can't wait to try it out at the next trial. I am not worried about speed right now. He has plenty for the rest of the course and I figure I can try to work up to a very controlled job later and work up to a run.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting Old

I took Wyatt and Patriot coursing this weekend for one day. Patriot really seemed to have slowed down since last year. He will be 7 in 2 weeks. He was quite a bit behind the 2 and 3 year olds that he was coursing with. He was so far behind, he got unsighted several times during his first run. His second run was better. But it really sunk in that he is getting older and will not be with us forever. Wyatt and Patriot are our first dogs and it was hard to realize that Patriot's prime, at least in coursing, is behind us. Wyatt had an awesome first run but his second run was not as good. He should have gotten first or second single though; we did not stay for awards.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Agility Update

I have been working with Wyatt on 12 pole weaves at a distance. He is doing very well with this and I am able to work about 15 feet away. His success does depend on the placement of the previous obstacle but he is progressing well and I am gradually increasing my distance and putting things like tunnels between me and the weaves. I am working on contacts too but he is really good at home. But I try to fool him to realize early or not stop. But he really seems to understand the behavior at home. Trials are a different story of course! He does not go all the way down and will stop higher up sometimes if I am way behind him unless I verbally encourage him to go to the very end.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Safety in Pack Animals

I was at a little horse fair Sunday and there was a horse whisperer type of person. What he was saying made a lot of sense to me and was also relevant to dogs. He was a positive trainer and emphasized that ideally he animals elects you as their leader rather than through force. In any case, he has a mustang is a large ring before he started. The horse was upset and galloping around the ring and heading towards a fence. The owner was not visible and another horse of the owner's was out of sight but could be heard. The guy claimed that the horse was actually showing a fear of death since it was a pack animal and separated from his herd. My wife told me to watch out and that the horse might jump the fence. I was skeptical but sure enough, the horse did eventually jump the fence.

Anyway, he was saying that you had to convince the horse that you would protect and ensure the horse's safety. It made me think about Wyatt, who is a fearful dog with some separation anxiety, and especially working the out of sight sits and downs now with difficulty. It gave me the idea to work with Wyatt sits and down by actually going out the door. He could not do this at all with his back to me but I was able to work with short (10 second) sits and downs with me going out the door. He seems to break most often when leaving when you have your back to them so I hope I am on the right track working specifically on anxiety when leaving. It is almost makes this less of a training issue and more of a emotional training issue. I also wondered when I saw that horse how it relates to dogs. Wild canines are also pack animals. Maybe what we call separation anxiety is a normal response to being a pack animal.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Drop On Recall Progress

I believe I discovered the solution I was having with drop on recall. When I took Wyatt to class he would sometimes fail to drop especially the first time. I wondered if I had trained him to do this. Somewhere along the line, I had been told it was good to do a straight recall first (without a drop) to get the speed up. So I would always do a straight recall first usually with a treat visible. This did work great but I believe that he came to expect that we always did this first and would not stop or creep a lot if I did a drop first. I changed my habits at home to do a drop first and he seemed to have improved greatly in his first drop of the session.

Last night in class, I got great a great drop, broad jump, and retrieves all with perfect fronts. He did go down on his sit right at the end so we did it again with me coming back early and he was fine. If we could only get the sits and downs 100%, we are so ready for open!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Time Tracking This Year

We went out on a straight track first. Wyatt tracked all the way to the start pulling hard across a big field so he clearly enjoys the game. There was a strong breeze and we had a 1/2 hour track so the scent was strong. I held ground when he started going too far off track. However, this seemed to stress him out. He may have been confused because he was on scent and I was stopping him. Tricky, you want the dog to be right on the track but if he still has the scent, he probably is confused about why he is being stopped. The instructor told me to try and be more smooth and not stop him suddenly but increase the tension more slowly. They also noted that my voice and body language seemed to throw him off at times. I think he is so responsive from obedience and agility but in tracking this can work against you. They suggested using a lower voice (in pitch). I may also want to try and work without much voice and use my body language instead (except when he finds an article). Second track had a turn. He had trouble on the turn but seemed to gain confidence on the last long leg. We seemed to lose a little over the winter but that's OK. I hope to actually practice at home more between going to the practices.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Don't Reward the Correction

Reward the correct behavior and not the correction. Something I have been thinking about. I think we do reward the correction a lot and need to be very careful about that. Example is when Wyatt pops up on his down stays (like this morning - frustrating!).

If I put him back in a down and finish the down stay and then reward him, I am probably rewarding the correction and may be unintentionally rewarding the incorrect behavior - exactly what I don't want. That is pretty clear. So what is a poor trainer to do instead?

I can finish the down stay and praise but not treat him. That is what I usually do. Or I can stop, do something else, and try again later.

How would you handle this situation?

Monday, May 05, 2008

NADAC Tunnelers and Jumpers Video

Wyatt and Patriot earned Elite (Wyatt) and Novice (Patriot) Tunnelers titles on May 5, 2008. Not my and Wyatt's best run but it does show the speed he has in tunnelers. Patriot and Wyatt also had great Elite Jumpers runs and Patriot's was captured on video.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Open Run Thru Results

I am very happy to report that Wyatt did perfect sits and downs last night (out of sight). We have been working on this every day for over a year and this was the first time he achieved perfect down and sit in class. I don't think we are out of the woods yet but I am cautiosly optimistic that we are making strong progress.

For the rest of the run through, Wyatt did great. We lost 4 1/2 on heeling, 0 on retrieve on flat, 1 on retrieve over jump, and 1 on the broad jump. I had to give a double command on drop on recall to get him to drop. He is occasionally having drop issues but I am not too worried about it. But we would have received a 193 1/2 assuming we had a perfect drop on recall.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Popping Up On Downs

I was very frustrated yesterday when Wyatt kept popping up on his downs. It seems to happen most when I when walking away from him initially. It also happened once when I was out of sight. I have no clue why this happening and it is a new behavior. I never saw this in novice. I did treat him a lot for just being in sit when I would gently touch him all over to increase stress a bit while rewarding him for being in a sit. I thought it might be related to cold but he is still doing it now in the Spring. I got mad and used a very stern voice to "make" him sit back down. I guess I need to back up and go for shorted periods, stay closer, and reward him when he is staying. I am also walking away, circling around, etc so he will hold his sit no matter what I am doing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Negative Training

I was surprised to talk to a few people here at the National that still use aversive training techniques. One lady, who has been in whippets forever, was trying to get her dog to do a down for the first time. She told him DOWN and when he did not, she violently pulled his leash down to force him into a down. I yelled a her to "Get some treats" but she kept this up for a while. When your dog has no idea what you want, how can you possibly punish him for not knowing what to do? It was hard to watch.

Another handler, who is actually very good and has fantastic heeling feels that ear pinches are necessary just to they know they have to retrieve. She also thumps her dog on the chest when she "makes a mistake." She wanted to demonstrate this to me so she put her dog into a sit, paid no attention to the dog, and thumped the dog on the chest after a few minutes when the dog went into a down. They are a very impressive team. I guess her dog is not 100% reliable on sits and down and she also uses rewards. So I guess a mixed system or even an all aversive system can work but I believe that an all positive training is the best way to train your dog.

In the first case, the trainer did not even know how to use aversives correctly (if there is such a thing). You must be absolutely sure your dog understands the behavior. I think that is very difficult. How many times have I thought Wyatt understood a behavior only to discover that he was cueing off an unintended body language, was confused by my inconsistent signals or, most commonly, too nervous to attend to me fully because I had not proofed him sufficiently?

I can just imagine how quickly I would ruin Wyatt, who is super sensitive to pain, and super aversive to pain, if I used some of the methods I saw this week. I remember when he would not tug with me for over a year when I accidently stepped on his foot one time when tugging.

I guess people do what they know and have been taught. Luckily, most new people are being trained in 100% positive systems these days and those are the super happy, super attentive teams I saw in obedience yesterday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

At the Nationals

I am at the American Whippet Club National Specialty for the performance part of the show. We had lure coursing yesterday, It was good to be outside and watching the dogs run. It is quite a sight when the whippets are on, it is a lovely sight. We have agility today and I am looking forward to that. It was fun to help out but I do miss competing. The flight out had two stops so I decided not to fly the dogs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Agility Trial of the Year

We did our first agility trial of the year last weekend. I was generally pleased with the results. Wyatt got 3 Qs of 12. He places 2 or 3rd in each Q. Patriot and Dawn also ran well with 3 or 4 Q and some placements. I was hoping our Q rate would be higher but it was better than our last NADAC trial. On Saturday, Wyatt was not lame, but was a bit tentative from a cut he got last week. I was nervous all week before the trial and wondering if he could run or not. Our first run Saturday was terrible contacts. However, since it was NADAC, I could take him back. This seemed to result in better contacts the rest of the day. He missed a few Qs but just one little thing. We dropped one bar in Jumpers, one off course in regular, and got 2/3 challenges in Chances. Sunday was a bad contacts day but I did take him back when there was an issue. We did not Q in elite tunnelers but had an awesome run. I was working 20+ feet away from him. He is so fast in tunnelers that I can't work close to him but it is really cool to steer your dog from such a long distance with any crosses or RFPs.

We ended up with a Q in open weavers (first leg), a Q in elite tunnelers with a YPS of 6.28, and a Q in elite jumpers (NATCH leg).

The snow melted back home and I tried some contacts and it does seem that Wyatt understands an independent 2 on, 2 off. However, I have not been able to get this at trials. I plan a private lesson with some NADAC style contacts to see if I can finally figure this out. We will do only NADAC all this year so I can always fix a contact.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pretrial Routines

What is the best way to prepare your do for an obedience trial in the weeks and minutes before you go in?

I think it depends on the dog. Some need to be pumped up and some need
to be calmed down. For Wyatt, who needs the latter, I found the
following things seem to help.

Get there an hour before.
Cover the crate.
Keep him with another dog in the crate.
Walk him all around the rings and the place well before we go in.
Keep the warm up very short and sweet; take him out as late as possible.
Proof everywhere and as much as possible before entering.
Massage his face and ears when waiting to do in.
Do just few simple warm ups for attention. Don't panic if there is an issue! Just back up and keep it simple and fun.
Show him where the treat jackpot will be after he runs.

Being relaxed and confident is key as well. If you
aren't, fake it so the dog does not know! We tend to behave differently
in voice and body when stressed and dogs read our voice and body
language very well.

As the trial approaches, I gradually do more "run throughs" at home. I
will do the whole routine just like it happens at a trial including
taking leashes off, entering the ring, etc. At first, I treat between
every exercize and praise a lot like I would at the trial. Then I treat
every other exercize and build up to treating only at the beginning and
end. I fade out talking to Wyatt during the exercizes as well. If you
"cold turkey" stop treating and talking to you dog at a trial when they
are already stressed being in a new place, you will likely lose a lot.
They may be thinking they are doing something wrong because you are
acting so differently. As I mentioned before, I have Wyatt trained to
expect a nice jackpot at the end of routine. I show him the jackpot
before we go in and we go right to it after and he knows to expect it
and pulls on the leash to get the jackpot after we are done. I do the
same thing in agility.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I took the dogs for a run yesterday. It had been warm so I tried the woods but we were breaking through some icy snow in spots, especially me. Wyatt got a cut on his rear leg, a pretty good one so I worried that we will be able to run NADAC this weekend. He will probably heal up enough in time but I am not sure. Seems to never fail that something happens before an important trial. I just need to wait and see what happens but it is hard for me not worry about him and also worry about not being able to compete. Of course, it was totally my fault for taking them through that kind of snow. Next time, I will turn back if I see this type of conditions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I have been a little frustrated with Wyatt's and Patriot's sit and downs, which we have been practising religiously every day. Feeling frustrated is always a good reminder (if I remember) to take a step back and try to see what is going on and to back up a little bit if needed. I am sure I forgetting to see progress as well.

We have NADAC trial this weekend and Aidan will be with my parents. Should be fun though there is a forecast of rain for both days.

Speaking of Aidan, he is obsessed with agility. He says "Wyatt, jump" and "Go, Wyatt" all the time as he looks outside at the jumps (still have covered with snow.) He also looks at issues of Clean Run with me for long stretches and says "Wyatt, jump" when he sees each picture. I have been going some jumps in the basement with all of us going over the jump. Aidan's idea of dog training is holding a treat and running around the house with the dogs in pursuit. He does not want to ever give the treat to the dogs but will eat himself when he wears himself out!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Some Wyatt and Aidan Photos

I have the training and blogging blahs so here are a couple of cute shots of Wyatt and Aidan.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Obstacle Discrimination NADAC Style

I used to use an opposite arm signal for obstacle discrimination in CPE. But with the increased distances in NADAC, I am finding that I also need to leave room to drive my dog outward. In other words, I have to also be moving towards the far obstacle as well as using opposite arm.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rusty Contacts

We had some rusty contacts last weekend at our NADAC practice. I put hoops on the down sides which may have thrown Wyatt off. Also, I started working over 20 feet away laterally. Anyway, I was not getting the nice 2 on, 2 off I usually get. He was stopping too high typically or after the contact in the dirt. What I tried was adjusting my body to where he was. So I would watch him and stop when he was in the contact zone. That seemed to work well at a distance. I am wondering if I should use this technique and not expect a totally indendent 2 on, 2 off, which has never been reliable at trials. Or is he just rusty?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NADAC Top Dogs By Breed

Only 2 whippets made the NADAC top 10 list by breed for last year. One was Wyatt of Dodge City, owned and handled by me, who had 40 points for Jumpers and the other was Max, from Canada, owned and handled by Chrissy Llora, who had 30 points for Chances. To get on the list, each dog needs at least 30 points (3 Q's) at the elite level in that class. Congratulations to Max and Wyatt! I would love to see more whippets in NADAC. I think it is a great venue for them in that the courses tend to be wide open and flowing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

First Teaching

I taught obedience for the first time last night. I thought it went pretty well. I kept them busy and went through a lot and offered a few tips that they may not have heard before. One thing that was difficult was being the judge. It's easy to respond to the judge but remembering what the judge says for each exercise was not as easy as I thought. It's tricky too, especially since I was the substitute teacher for just one night, to figure out how much advice to give. It is cool trying to observe what is going on with a handler and their dog though. That will help me I'm sure. I tried to offer some tips on proofing and also on keeping heeling interesting and unpredictable for the dogs.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


We did earn out RAE today with an 83 in Excellent and a 93 in Advanced. I made some dumb mistakes but Wyatt was very good. More later...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rally Points for Different Breed Club Versatility Awards

I did this research many months ago. It shows how rally is treated in different breed club's versatility awards programs.

See Rally Points

Group Sits and Downs - Big Progress

Wyatt completed both a 3 minute out of sight sit and a 5 minute out of sight down last night. There weren't many dogs; I had the teacher treat him periodically, and I used a matt for the downs (until the weather warms up) but it was still huge. Hoping for continued progress as I gradually wean the treats and the mat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rally Figure 8

Not too much new here. I am spending some time with the rally offset figure 8. That can be hard for Wyatt if there is food and not toys in the bowls. Even toys can be hard because they are in FOOD bowls. I don't practice this much because it is hard and I do not see it much in courses. However, I would like to be confident in every rally station. I pretty much never use negatives but I do have to grab him away from the food bowl if he about to gobble the food. It seems to be going better though I did have to get him away from the good bowl initially tonight. It seems to help to maintain good eye and verbal contact during this exercise.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Onto Teaching

I have a couple of teaching assignments coming up, which will be a new role for me, at least in the dog training area. I teach kids (and teachers) about technology but have not formally taught dog training before. I am also planning to teach a rally class later this year. I am looking forward to it but also trying to think of what I can add that the teacher I am substituting for does not already do. The classes are novice and open obedience drop in classes. I was thinking of showing folks how to keep their heeling fun and interested by adding rally moves, both left and right turns, and making heeling a game. I was also thinking of teaching the Around the Clock method for scent discrimination. I will you how it goes in a few weeks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Our Best Rally Day Ever

What a great day Wyatt and I had with Rally yesterday. In Excellent, we got a 97 and 4th in a large B class. We had a couple of small problems with the first few stations and then things went fine. He went over - very briefly - in the initial offset figure 8 and had crooked sit a few stations later. I noticed that I did not get nervous at all until we were 2 dogs away. But I took some deep breathes and made sure to do my usual warmup. It does seems to help to:

Get there an hour early
Make sure the create is completely covered
Make sure his "brother" Patriot is there
Don't do much warmup and nothing right before we go in
Show him the treats he will get at the end of the run
Make sure we are connected at the start line

In advanced, the course was not bad at all and it was similar to Excellent so I felt very confident. I made sure to stay connected in the initial offset figure 8 and go as far from the bowls as possible. Once we sailed through that, everything was perfect, all straight sits and downs. I knew about 1/2 through that we had a 100 going or close to it. Rather than getting nervous, I felt happy and excited. When he did a straight front for a stationary front I thought we had a 100. Turned out to be a 99 but that's OK. I had a secret goal of getting a 99 or a 100 before we got our RAE.

It was thrill to get such a high score and high placements amongst all the BC's, labs, goldens, shelties, poodles, and aussies.

Check it out...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Aren't we stubborn? It is hard to change our habits sometimes. I have been doing sits and downs in the morning when I have less time. But the floor and basement has been cold in the mornings and Wyatt has trouble with downs in the cold. It took me a long time to change so I do sits and downs at night. Instead, I was struggling with Wyatt. Since I really don't need a down in very cold conditions, it is much easier and will be better for him to do them at night. Easy, but how often do we stick to our guns when things aren't working rather than taking a step back and reevaluating things?

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Site

I went to a different place for obedience practice last night. It is a lot closer (20 minutes versus 45 minutes) but not as good. We got a very small space (Wyatt was the only open/utility drop in dog) and it was cement. There was a barking dog initially in the space and the whole place was loud and chaotic. It was good that Wyatt got to work with a male teacher though and a big guy at that. He was afraid but worked OK and got through everything. This place was good proofing but I think I will go back to my other class and just drop in here once in a while for proofing. One of the stress indicators was not coming in close enough on the retrieves. He could come in closer in general. The teacher has a good idea for that. Put some cheese on a clothespin hooked to your pant leg. This would be for regular retrieves without a dumbbell. You would not want to use this with a dumbbell since they would drop the dumbbell. However, it should transfer to all retrieves.

Monday, February 18, 2008

NADAC Practice

We had a great NADAC practice yesterday with Lynn Smitley. She is a keen observer of what is going on physically between you and your dog. I believe she is a gym teacher. Must be where she gets it from. Wyatt did great with super contacts. We put a hoop on his up contact to prevent him from slamming into the up contact like he usually does. It worked great. It felt funny not to hear the crashing sound. It must be MUCH better for his body. By the end of class, I was able to get a really big distance from him for the Chances courses we were running. Chances courses, in NADAC, contain 1 to 3 distance, discrimination, and directional challenges. He also did great discriminations between an A Frame and a far tunnel at a distance. Lynn taught us how to use a "switch" command to change your dog's lead. For me, it is an opposite arm command that I already do but adding a verbal command and using it at a distance.

Patriot did great too. He still needs hoops for his running contacts and does not work as far away as Wyatt but he was very motivated and fairly fast. That running contact is a great feeling that you can keep on booking it without stopping at all. Patriot really worked to keep up with me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Disappointing Practice

Had a tough practice last night. Wyatt had trouble with the jumps, leaving too early and hitting the jump twice in a row. We backed him up and he did better. Some folks thought he needed 2 strides before the jump. I am not sure. He just seems to misjudge jumps once in while but I am going to try giving him some more room.

He also went down right away on the out of sight sit when we all left (including the "judge".) Going to ask the judge to stay by next time in case he needs a little reminder. She also suggested working spefically on the beginning part when everyone leaves. I came back and set him up again and he did fine. I suggested to the teacher that she check out the difference in our dog dogs during the sit. She saw what I see - how Wyatt's conformation really makes sits and downs difficult though I know he CAN do it. I am also going to have the teacher treat him randomly during the sits and downs. This was the first time I stayed out of the room the whole time without doing a lot of peeking and letting him see me.

He also came up 3 times during the down. This, I believe, is related to a cold/discomfort issue. I am going to put something under him when we do the out of sight down at practice until it is warmer and until we get the sit. At home, I work on both so I will do an out of sight with him on something and do an in sight with him right in front of me so I can fix any problems. Well, I guess I have a baseline to from anyway.

I should try to remember the good parts too - great heeling with almost no lagging and a perfect broad jump and a really good retrieve on flat. The teacher, who is an AKC judge, said I should substitute our other dog (who looks similar to those that don't know them) for the sits and downs. He was rock solid last night. I could not tell if she was kidding or not; she seemed serious! But obviously I would rather get him trained to do it himself. He is so good at everything else though and doing a lot of utility. I sure hope I can get him through this!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Utility Workshop Part 2

Here are some things I picked up at Esther Zimmerman's utility workshop.

1) She watched me heeling with Wyatt and suggested I make really sure I don't turn my shoulder back. I think she was talking about when I stop. I tend to look back and treat him back. She suggested I treat Wyatt forged a little instead. This could help with the ever present challenge of lagging whippets!

2) I learned a great game for the turn and sit part of directed jumping. Throw a visible treat like cheese a short distance. As soon as they are head down for the treat (and no later) give the sit command. The dog will turn and sit nicely. I also treat when they sit.

3) Use different methods to teach the directed jumping go out. I was only using 1, which is a target on the ring gates. I am adding a second method that uses a hula hoop. Put a hula hoop near a ring gate. Put a treat an inch or so past the hula hoop near the ring gate. Start close. Give the go out command. Give the sit command at least initially so the dog sits in the hoop. Wyatt is still getting used to the hoop. He would not sit in a small hoop so I got bigger one.

4) This was really good since Wyatt can be a creeper. Teach an explicit drop back down by luring the dog down with treat towards and under the dog's chest. The front should drop, then the back legs. This makes the dog drop back without moving forward.

Hope these are helpful. Esther teaches at Master Peace Dog Training Center in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Utility Workshop

Dawn and Patriot and Wyatt and I took a utility workshop Saturday with Esther Zimmerman. She has put a UDX on a schipperke, which is the highest title ever for that breed. She uses all positive training and she was a very enthusiastic and skilled teacher. It was a beginning utility workshop so I did not learn tons of stuff but I did pick up some very helpful little things, got some great proofing, and some good feedback from her on my heeling. Dawn learned tons of stuff and it was perfect for her as she is just starting out in utility training. I'll post specific tips I learned later today or tomorrow.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Rally Stats From AKC

This table comes from Curt Curtis of the AKC via Marita Patterson. The formatting was lost in email so I am reposting it here. I beleive what this data shows is that the increase in rally entries is slowing but still growing. However, the number of rally trials is increasing at a greater rate resulting in less rally entries per trial.

Number of Events
Number of entries
Average number of entries per event

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wyatt Rocked

We did run thrus Sunday and Wyatt just rocked. I could tell there were some ring nerves on the first run because he barked at me when I had to take him around for a funny weave entry. However, every contact was rock solid and he was super fast and super focused. Man, I just turn my shoulders and he is off on the next obstacle. I almost think not trialing and taking classes for a while is making him better. I think I am right in only doing NADAC and run thrus for a while so I can redo any missed contacts. I think the uncorrected missing contacts on the first run of day set up a bad pattern for Wyatt. Next stop - try for a NATCH!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Agility Bandwagons

I wonder, after doing agility for a while, how much we are being driven by business interests. It is starting to seem a little fad driven to me with lots of folks jumping to the latest technique for contacts or whatever. Good handling and a good relationship with your dog and lots of proofing are the best thing for a you and your dog especially for those of us not concerned with being at the national level. That's not to say that techniques have not improved and that there is nothing new to learn. But I think we have to be cautious about always changing our techniques and jumping on the latest bandwagon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NADAC Practice

We had NADAC practice Sunday. I took both dogs since our baby sitter had to cancel. I learned more about running my wife's dog Patriot. Wyatt ran great and was very on. We had not run in quite a while. I really see how valuable taking some off is. One thing we may want to work on is Wyatt's up contact. He tends to slam into the up contact. Lynn Smitley suggested using hoops on the up (and the down) to get some muscle memory on both sides and to reinforce the 2o2o on the down. I had previously thoughts hoops and 2o2o were not compatible but why not use the down hoop to help with muscle memory and trial contacts?

I learned not to crowd Patriot too much. It slows him down especially on weaves. Also, we need to be moving when he comes out of tunnels. Sometimes, we will wait for him and crouch a bit to race to the next obstacle. Also, I need to make sure to cue him first and encourage later. I was missing cues with too much cheerleading (at the wrong time.)

Too Much?

I see Wyatt making some mistakes recently such as not going down with my hand signal. I am wondering if we are doing too much or I am putting too much (unconsious) pressure on him.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rally - Not The Best

We did rally for just one day Sunday in a new building in NY State. We did not have our best day but we did get a double Q and our 8th RAE leg. In Excellent, we did pretty well. Wyatt seemed stuck a few times. One was with a right pivot where he did not move with me so we lost 10 there. Maybe I forgot to cue him enough. We lost 3 on out of positions so we got an 87. He also got stuck on the last station, a halt, stand, down. Weird. I did not feel connected with him and relaxed at the start. Somedays, you know you are in synch and others days you get through it and do your best. The new way of doing honor was fine and he did a nice sit. Perhaps I was nervous showing to my teacher, who was the judge and Wyatt was nervous in the new building. Advanced felt worse, with a lot of lagging. We started off with a crooked sit with a stationary call front. It can be hard to feel good afterwards if you have trouble with the first station. I also had trouble getting him to stand later in the course. Beautiful side step though. On the final offset figure 8, Wyatt went for the food. I should have maintained eye contact in the figure 8 I think. I just left and he following after a bit. Saying "leave it" did not work! Mentally, I still carry obedience standards in rally so sometimes I think we did a lot worse that it felt. I am thinking of this as just not our best day and that somedays are like that. I am still hoping to get a 99 or 100. Our highest score so far has been a 97 and we have been routinely scoring in the mid to upper 90 (except yesterday). We got a 79 in advanced by the way, our lowest score in quite a while.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Agility Run Thrus

We did agility run thrus Saturday. This is at a facility that neither of dogs seems to like that much. Wyatt was a little nervous on the first run. I went back on the first contact. He did 2o2o but pulled off before my release. I also has some weave trouble where they had training weaves next to regular weaves. I tried to work at a distance but I think he got confused. When I moved in closer, he was fine. The next 2 runs were flawless and fast. Makes me want to trial again but I think I am going to do run thrus and NADAC trials only until I get the perfect contacts at trials too.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Utility Match Video

Match Results Utility A

We entered Utility A and Open A at a match in Chicopee, MA Sunday. Utility A was first to happen and also our first utility match.

This was a great learning experience for me and I think I finally get all the different parts and rules for utility. Wyatt did great in spite of me. I made some errors such as forgetting to only use a hard signal for signals for the first forward! She let me redo that one. He actually did great on signals. I had to give a double command for the down or the up (can't remember) and I stayed about 10 feet from him but he did everything. I also gave him a side command and not a front command at the end getting mixed up with the moving stand. We have not been practicing signals much and when we do it is only the little pieces and not the whole thing. Lost 8 points for heeling.

For scent article #1, he went right out and got the wrong, adjacent article. I think my turn around for sending directly was a bit spastic. I sent him out again and he got it. He got the second article with only 1/2 off and was whining to get started.

We lost only 1 1/2 on the directed retrieve. It was the #2 glove and not the dreaded left pivot glove.

For moving stand, I only gave a hand signal. I forgot you could do both so he needed a double (triple really) command to stop.

For directed jumping. I just did the jumping part and Wyatt needed a couple tries on each running around each jump the first time. I need to practice this at larger distance is all and was doing that before the snow fell.

All in all, very good for our first outing I thought. I will post a video later.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Open Run Thru

We had open run throughs last run. I was very pleased with Wyatt. I did novice sits and stays and he was perfect. That was a relief. I am planning on talking with our instructor about a plan for open sits and stays. Right now, he is doing very well at home with the 3 minute out of sight sit so I need a plan on how to slowly replicate that in class including a consistent strategy for when he makes a mistake. We did have a problem with drop on recall but I think I figured out why. I was looking at the judge for her hand signals and I was also saying "Wyatt, down" instead of "Down". I found I could see the judge fine with my periperal vision. We lost 5 1/2 on heeling, which I consider very good. We lost 0 on retrieve and a 1/2 each on the jumps. So that was awesome. So, if we did not have a drop issue, we would have gotten a score in the 190s. Looking forward to the match Sunday. Not sure what I am going to have him do for the sits and stays though. Should I try it or skip it or ask the judge if I can stay in sight?