Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Agility Practice

Had awesome practices with Wyatt and Patriot tonight. Patriot, who has not seen much agility action, was super primed and galloping through the course. AND he was following my cues. He was going too fast to make weave entries but who cares. He needs the enthusiasm. Wyatt did great too and was working well at a good distance. I have really been working obstacle discrimination at a distance and I have seen much improvement. I will go back to two tunnels right next to each other, which we started with and found difficult and also the dreaded tunnel/contact combo at a distance.

Obedience Class

Wyatt did very well in class last Thursday except for sits. He went down twice on his long, out of sight sit, and then once in sight too. I was a little disappointed since he has been doing much better (perfect) at home. I am going to back up a little next class (there is a 3 week break in classes) and stay in sight. Patriot keeps going down at home as soon as I go out the door so I am working on that too.

No dog events this coming weekend. In fact, we are leaving them with our dog walker to go to a Bluegrass festival. However, we have the CPE Nationals and then a NADAC trial the 2 weekends after that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chances Course

What we had trouble with was the 6 to 7 taking the 9 tunnel instead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Great Chances Class

Wyatt and I had a really good Chances class. Chances is NADAC's version of gamblers. It is a numbered courses with (at the Elite level) a discrimination, directional, and distance challenge with a line where you 10-20 feet away from your dog. Wyatt did great on the really challenged first part but we had trouble with the second part. He kept ignoring my pushing him him out when there was a tunnel involved. Lynn suggested kind of stomping my feet and emphatically moving out quickly which seemed to work. I have to work hard to drop an opposite arm thing I sometimes use for discrimination. It does not work 50% of the time and what seems to work a lot better is use smaller steps, "saving room", and pushing out to outer obstacles with my path so that he will take the outer obstacles. I'll try and sketch the course tomorrow so this will be more clear.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tracking Saturday

I went tracking on my own Saturday. I found a field I can use 5 minutes from the house so it takes an hour rather than the hour morning to go with the local group. The field was very wet. I backed up and did some longs straights, lots of baited gloves, only one turn. Wyatt was eager to start but kept veering off. I held my ground if he got farther than 10 feet from the track. (The track was very visible.) I was a little disappointed. I wonder if I should have aged the track more in the wet conditions. I waited 1/2 hour. Anyway, seems like we need more straight work. I believe he still may have the scent when he veers off but is air scenting too much and not keeping his nose to ground enough. Too easy to miss a corner that way. I'll keep working the straights for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sits and Downs

Sits and downs, at least for Wyatt, seem to be improving. Still seeing an occasional problem but he has been doing great, even out of the door and out of sight. I was seeing some creeping so I put a small board in front of him, which is stopping creeping.

Patriot, on the other hand, has been going down on his sits fairly often. I am sitting him back up and just not rewarding him for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2 Tunnels

Wyatt and I are really having a hard time with 2 tunnels directly next to each other and sending him to the outer tunnel from a distance (or even very little distance!) This was from NADAC elite chances course where you had to send your dog to the outer tunnel. I tried opposite arm and also backing up and altering my path to head to the outer tunnel. Success rates to the outer tunnel we re about 50%. Not sure what the best combination of body and voice cues will work. I have an out command, an opposite arm, and also a change of path. I'll be taking a distance/chances course with Lynn Smitley next starting next week so we can start qualifying in Elite chances. For Wyatt to get his NATCH (NADAC championship), the 13 chances Qs are going to be the hard part. We have our jumpers Qs already and have some regular Qs (you need 23 of these) but there are 2 chances a day and Wyatt and I finally seem to have good trial contacts.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sits and Downs

Sits and downs with Wyatt seem to be improving. I backed up and went back to in sight and I am gradually adding the out of sight element back in. Right now I am going out the door but staying in view (they are big glass doors.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lessons Learned - Agility

It was an interesting day of agility Saturday. I did learn some important lessons. See the video to see examples of some of this.

1) I used to pull back and give Wyatt room to go ahead to the weave poles. This used to work great. Now, I am stopping him and frustrated him. I need to just run straight ahead, slowing down a little and not using an opposite arm. He does not need this support anymore and it actually hurts his performance. What works at one point may totally change at another point in time.

2) There are certain things that really demotivate Patriot. One is going back and redoing something like a weave entrance, another is front crosses, and another is not seeing me when he comes out of a tunnel. I need to minimize these though I believe I do need to restart weaves or he will get in the habit of partially completing them.

3) I need to really change my path in chances (gamblers) when there is a directional challenge at distance. At this trial, you had to send the dog to the outermost of two tunnels at a distance. Using an opposite arm and an out command was totally ineffective!

Tunnelers with Wyatt Saturday was one of those thrill of a lifetime runs. He is so good and so fast and motivated at tunnelers. We are really in synch in tunnelers and I can (usually) adapt on the fly. For example, he was way out ahead after tunnel 3 of where I thought I could be so I adapted my plan on the fly very successfully. He flies out of every tunnel and checks with me and if I am handling well and indicating the next tunnel, he is off again as fast as he can to the next one. What a thrill, like driving a performance sports car. Check out the video (the last run if you have not had a chance yet.)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sits and Downs Fell Apart

Sits and down seem to have fallen apart for Wyatt. I have been working at home with going out the door rather than just going around the corner. He is repositioning and moving forward on sits as well as going down. On downs, he is getting up and standing or moving into a sit. Last night in class, he did great on all the utility and open exercises but had both sit and down issues. I usually have the teacher fix them while I stay out of sight and no cheese when I return. Time to back up and move back to novice sits and downs (in sight 1/3 minutes) and gradually increase the difficulty from there. Sometimes I wonder if there is a physical component to these sit and down cycles. By the way, we tried putting a lot of pressure on Wyatt to see if he would "freeze" for the initial come command on Drop on Recall but he came every time. I also tried one at over 100 feet and he was fine too. Sigh. It would be easier if I could replicate the problem in class.

We are at a point where we are working on some really hard stuff - CDX and NADAC championship and sometimes I get a little overwhelmed on how hard some of things are to get right, especially at trials.

Wyatt Agility Photo

I just received this cool photo of Wyatt doing agility at the AWC National. Photo by InMotion.