Monday, October 26, 2009


I have been working on Wyatt's downs a lot. He has been coming up into a sit lately. He has done this before. Not sure why it happens periodically. Perhaps it has something to do with the colder weather or a physical discomfort issue.

I made some tunnel bags yesterday for a about $2 a piece. Much cheaper than the $100 most places get. I'll take a picture and describe the design in my next blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ob Class - Challenging

Wyatt and I had a challenging obedience class last night. First, we did long sits and downs. Wyatt has been having trouble with downs so I decided to stay in sight. The down was first. I asked the teacher if the dogs were too close since we had many dogs against the smaller wall. She say no so I went ahead. A few minutes into the down, a black Briard lunged over at Wyatt barking at him. He broke and walked towards me. I put him back in a different spot and he was OK. He proceeded to do some really great drops and retrieves. I decided to try directed jumping next. Wyatt had a difficult time but we did have some success with help. For example, I had to use cheese and go up to him for the sit. It was definitely harder at class. I assume this is because of the new location (also, there were poles next to the jumps) and greater distances. He has been doing a 100% unassisted directed jump exercise at home. So that's fine. Need to practice more at class with support. We then decided to try scent discrimination, which is usually a fun no brainer. Wyatt has a lot of trouble with that too, which is very unusual. The difference was the location and greater distance and I think, more importantly, that the "steward" handled the articles. So I definitely need to practice with different people's scents too. It may be that Wyatt is going to the hot scent and not my scent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NADAC Results

I had a very fun weekend at a NADAC trial. The weather was miserable Sunday but Wyatt and I had one of our best days ever. We came very close to having perfect day and getting our elite versatility title missing Touch N Go by a few seconds. But we got 5 Qs in regular (2), chances, tunnelers, and jumpers. We did not get any regular and chances Qs the day before. The courses were really hard so it was great to get all of them Sunday, a first for us. This puts Wyatt at 10 more Qs for his NATCH for regular and chances. He got his elite chances title Sunday. We also got 2 jumpers Qs this weekend. Wyatt needs just 3 more for his superior elite jumpers title. I will probably retire him from jumpers after that. We have been in a bit of a slump for jumpers lately. I made sure I did not take any jumps for grants and stayed connected the whole time. Wyatt really rocked. He only missed one contact all weekend and I did what I needed to do to ensure good contacts. Patriot really did well too with lots of Qs and seem to really have a good time except when the weather got really bad and except when I demotivated him with an intense calloff. That really slows him down. I'll write more later on what it felt like to have an almost perfect day as I have been thinking and writing about the mental aspects of qualifying lately.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wow, Great Practice

Wyatt had a very good practice last night. I really worked on distance all night and kept a good distance away at all times. He did great and I could not believe how much farther he works than he used to. The other dogs, who we have been in class with for years, do not work much on distance so I could really tell how much Wyatt and I have improved comparing the distance we now work at comfortably with the other dogs. It was nice to work the distance in a relaxed fashion. I did get a few good tips too on some harder sequences that had lots of jumps side by side. That can be hard at a distance for sure. His contacts were great too although that does not mean much, if past experience is a guide, for our NADAC trial this weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Agility class tonight. Wyatt and I are dropped in for a tune up and practice some distance before this weekend's NADAC trial. I signed up Wyatt for Novice and Open and Patriot for Novice in a December AKC obedience trial.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obedience Class

I took both Wyatt and Patriot to obedience class last night. We got there late but I worked with Patriot in Novice/Open for about a 1/2 hour. He did well. He needs work on drop on recall. He retrieves but is hesitant and not too motivated. Good sits and downs. If only I could combine Patriot's sits and downs with everything else for Wyatt! Wyatt was happy to be back in class and also did well. The "judge" moved towards his in the retrieve over jump and he needed a second command. He also needed a second command for his first article. He went down once on the long sit even after months of practicing. Oh, well! More work to do. His broad jump and gloves were great. I am going to try and get to class every other week alternating with agility. I'd like to enter Wyatt in the Spring and possibly in a December trial.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Grasping for Qs

The elusive Qualifying Run (Q) in agility. I thought a lot about getting Qs and earning titles Saturday at the local NADAC trial. I have a goal of getting another agility championship with Wyatt in NADAC agility. The title is called a NATCH. It's a good goal. It has forced me to learn how to handle Wyatt at a much greater distance. That process has been very fun and it has forced me to improve my handling. Ultimately, I do agility because I like to learn new things and improve. I also like the excitement of having a fast and clean run with my canine partner.

But I have been too focused on getting Qs and getting that NATCH title. Focusing on these is not bad by itself. However, it was decreasing my enjoyment and actually counterproductive to our success. We have this part of mind called the ego that is always grasping for things, criticizing, and calculating. So when I messed up and lost a Q for us, I was beating myself up and having a lot of so called bad feelings. When we got a Q, I was too proud and having a lot of so called good feelings. And the grasping for the Q increased my nervousness, which decreased my performance and was resulting in handling errors on my part.

So I tried to take the No Q approach this weekend. When I found my mind saying we really needed this Q for a run coming up or calculating how many more we needed for a specific title, I just let it go and return to breathing and focusing on the upcoming run. I have found that I really need to remind myself lately of what I need to work on for each run, whether it be how I handle Wyatt's contacts (he need to hear from me throughout the contact, I need to drive to the end very smoothly, I need to paint a line with my hand a few feet ahead of him but stopping at the end of the contact), keeping my arm straight out for an "Out" command and not pumping, and a number of other things I tend to forget in the intensity of the run. So I focused on the course, keeping connnected to my dog, and what I need to work on and also remember for each run. The titles and Qs should follow from that. Starting for a place of grasping for Qs results in nervousness and also bad handling. I also find that I will take shortcuts and allow things that that I should train in the ring for if I want the Q too much. This actually results in less Qs in the long run.

I did well after our first jumpers run. We had a great run and I ran close to Wyatt because he has been running around jumps. I was pulling or pushing him around them no doubt. He did great. I thought he Qed but I saw we had an off course and a missed obstacle lately. The judge pointed out the jump I had missed lately. So I stayed happy with Wyatt's great performance and did not beat myself up. The next run was Chances, our hardest game. We qualified in Elite for the second time! I actually found it harder to stay focused on fun and the next run after getting a Q. My mind tended to go back to that place of calculating how many more Qs I needed for title or what I could get that day if things went well. Again, all things that are counterproductive. We had some other really nice runs where we missed one thing, which I accepted and focused on what went right. In regular round 1, we had contact problems. But I figured out what I needed to improve on next time and Wyatt's contacts were excellent for the rest of the day. We also had an awesome Weavers run and got Wyatt's elite Weavers title. It is extremely difficult to make time in Weavers. We had a perfect run with 3 awesome 12 pole weaves.

I found I had a very enjoyable day at agility, much better than my last weekend when I felt very disappointed. So my new mantra is: "have fun and focus on the run."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Agility Tomorrow

I can only do one day of agility this weekend and it's tomorrow. We are entered in a NADAC trial in VT. It's upposed to rain. For some reason, I am not too excited about it. I've had a very stressful and tiring week and have also been feeling that we need to practice more. Oh well. I am sure it will be fun to get away and who knows? Maybe we'll have an awesome day.