Friday, December 10, 2010

Patriot Obedience Practice

I took Patriot to a new obedience class.  It is fairly close, which is nice but $20, which is double what I used to pay.  Patriot NQed on the broad jump and the retrieve over jump at the trial, so I wanted to practice and proof both.  He did not walk on the boards like he did at the trial but did go around a few times when he was deliberately distracted by the instructor.  His retrieves were pretty good but he does space out sometimes and not go out.  He is not the retrieve maniac that Wyatt is but I am hoping I can qualify.  He did go down on the long sit in class - we were directly behind him - but I think he will be more reliable than Wyatt and the sits and downs. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sad Day

I put all the agility equipment away for the winter.  I think it's good that we will rest up for the winter, do a few trials and classes, but focus more on obedience during the colder months.  It's a good time to repair equipment too.  All my weave poles need retaping and the bases need to be cleaned and painted. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Obedience and Rally Results

I was thrilled that Wyatt and Patriot came in first and fourth respectively under Celeste Meade in Rally Excellent B on Friday.  Wyatt also earned another RAE-2 leg.  I think he has 5 now.  They both did great.  I loved seeing 2 whippets place in such a large class. 

Patriot had his first try at Open A obedience and I was very encouraged.  He did well in heeling except for sniffing the judge and stopping in the figure 8, which was unusual.  I should have given him an extra "come" command much earlier.  He had a good drop on recall, which has been Wyatt's issue.  I gave  a short and wide throw on the retrieve over high jump and he needed a second command to go out and then stopped at the jump.  He also walked over the broad jump; I am not sure why.  He never does that at home.  Maybe I need to start him farther way?  He was rock solid for sits and downs, which is also Wyatt's issue.  Wyatt has one of his best Open A outings of late.  I did get one automatic sit.  He followed me on the recall (strange since he usually freezes).  He did drop though.  His retrieves and jumps were really nice, as usual.  He went down on the sit and came up on the down!  It is clear that when I am far away, he is stressed and makes mistakes. I would have to trial and proof him much more if I ever wanted to pass Open A and the NATCH/MEDAL is my number one goal right now. 

Whippet Sydney and his handler Lesley got their first Open A leg Saturday, which I was thrilled to be able to witness. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Obedience and Rally

I entered one day of the Thanksgiving Cluster at the Big E.  I have Patriot in Rally Exc B. He needs one more leg for his RE.  I have Wyatt in Rally Adv B and Rally Exc B.  He has 3 or 4 RAE-2 legs.  I also entered Patriot in Open A for the first time.  He may not be ready.  His heeling has been great but he is a little hesitant to go out for recalls at a trial, he has been cutting the broad jump at home, and can go down on the long sit if I am out of sight.  Wyatt is entered in Novice B and Open A.  I may scratch one of those depending on what is first and how things are going in Rally with him.  I work with both dogs almost every night in obedience but have not been going to class or proofing.  Should be interesting!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Tunnelers Video

I have been talking about "that feeling" you get when you are working well with your dog.  This is an example for me and Wyatt from Sunday.  It is so fun when everything clicks.  Yes, I can can brag about the yards per second, placement, fast time in the class, Q, but it's really about "that feeling."  We had it quite few times this weekend and I am still feeling it. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

I have been thinking about the meaning of Qs lately (qualifying runs, which for us, are perfect runs with no mistakes in NADAC Elite.)  I have been feeling a little discouraged lately in our quest for a second agility championship in 2 different venues.  We need 9 more Qs in NADAC Elite Chances.  We got our first 3 last year and only 1 so far this year.  Wyatt is 8 so I wonder if we will ever make it.  I try to just run for the fun of it but the quest for this title is a motivator for me.  I would not feel as discouraged if I had not been working on it so much with daily practice and also taking some classes specifically for distance this year.  Changes was next to impossible today.  No dogs qualified in Elite or Open and only 1 qualified in Novice. 

I got a reminder today of why I do agility.

After a rough start feeling out of sync with both dogs this morning, that magical something kicked in and we got 5 Qs in a row, all firsts.  Wyatt had a really nice, fast jumpers run as did Patriot.  Then Wyatt really rocked Elite Hoopers.  These courses have been getting much harder and today was not exception with a bunch of complicated numbered tests.  We went right down to the end with Wyatt going right ahead doing all 4 test hoops pretty much on his own.  We then executed a complex 6 hoop test, which was basically a figure 8.  We then did a pretty easy 4 hoop U and ended with a 4 hoop serpentine.  I was able to connect these tests into a course with good flow and minimal distance. 

Wyatt is good at Hoopers and it reminds me of CPE Snookers, which we also used to like.  He was the only dog to qualify and there were no bobbles or restarts.  It was a thrilling ride.  Wyatt next rocked Elite Tunnelers with a blazing run and one where we were perfectly in sync.  Patriot also had a nice tunnelers run.  The difference between Wyatt and Patriot is in the speed and handling.  While Patriot moves along on a good run, Wyatt's drive, speed, and responsiveness makes it an exhilarating experience when everything is working right. 

So what I got today was it is not the Qs themselves that are important but the feeling you have everything is flowing.  That's what it is all about, at least for me.  I don't expect it all the time and I always strive for it and appreciate it when it comes. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Distance Work With Wyatt

I am still working distance with Wyatt and I think I have discovered a few things.  I stopped going down to our lower lawn where the dogwalk used to be.  He still associates that with getting hurt.  He had a few falls off the dogwalk.  I redid the dogwalk planks but he was still slipping so I just took it down.  Even though there is a tunnel there now, he was still hesitant to go in the tunnel area so I just took it down. 

I have been using the upper lawn with hoops, tunnels, and jumps.  I am working to getting Wyatt to go ahead of me without looking back.  Once again, it appears to be a number of things, rather than one thing that makes it work.  I have found that I need to do the following.

1)  "Paint the line" about 2 feet ahead of Wyatt.
2)  Use multiple verbals (such as "Go Ahead, Tunnel") and repeat as needed.  However, don't yell at him so much he stops.  Keep the tone pleasant and fun.
3)  Keep moving.  Nothing stops him faster than me stopping.  Moderate my footsteps so they are smaller.  If I run out of space, I kind of jog in place. 
4)  For tunnels especially, look at the tunnel opening. 
5)  Use our "switch" command when turning him and sending him out such as shown below. 




We'll see how it goes this weekend.  We did have some good practices with me basically totally outside of the mini-course.  Sometimes, Wyatt did not want to practice. It seems to be related to temperature, amount of exercise, and time of day.  I am trying to just accept it when he does not want to play and not get nervous about it and not try to coax/bribe either but to try again at a different time.  He used to always want to play agility so it may just be part of working with an older dog. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Letting Your Dog Lick Your Face

Wyatt tends to wants to jump up on me and lick my face when waiting for an agility (or obedience/rally run.)

I have, for a while, not let him do this.  Usually, I stay standing up.  I have felt that he can sense my "nerves" by changes in my scent that occurs due to ring nerves.  Now, I am not particularly nervous before a run but there is some adrenalin, especially before runs I really want to qualify in.  I also chew an Altoid before a run to disguise any scent changes. 

I don't know if there are any studies on this but I have observed some changes anecdotaly.  During last weekend's trial, I felt relaxed and had Wyatt out a little early and was sitting down.  I let him lick my face.  I still felt fairly relaxed for our NADAC Regular run.  Sure enough, he was super anxious in the run, having weave entry troubles and barking at me there.  Also, he did his classic leap off the dogwalk, which I rarely see these days. 

It makes me wonder how many problems could have been avoided in the past by simply not letting him lick my face. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Difference Between Q and NQ

Wyatt had a very nice jumpers runs yesterday but ran around one of the last jumps.  I was thinking how different we treat a Q and NQ in our minds when the reality is that they are almost exactly the same in some cases. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dogwalk and Wyatt

I repainted my dogwalk with the hope that that would fix some safety issues with it.  Wyatt had 2 or 3 slips, one of them rather frightening.  I had also been wondering why Wyatt was reluctant to do agility at home.  I had not connected it with these dogwalk issues.

I repainted it but it still seemed to be slippery and/or unstable so I was not sure what to do.  I tried Patriot on it and he was had a problem so I decided to take it down rather than repaint (again) and try to make it more stable.  It was the right decision.

One interested thing is that when I took the dogwalk out and replaced it with a tunnel, Wyatt still showed reluctance to go into the area the dogwalk was located.  After 2-3 sessions, that seems to be abating.  Dogs seem to be much more location specific in their learning.  They don't generalize like we do.  In this case, it worked to my favor since he did not become afraid of all dogwalks.  But it has worked the other way too when we had to proof contacts at trials for years! 

Since he seems OK at trials with the dogwalk (still jumps off occasionally), removing it at home seems like a good decision.  I may get a new rubber one at some point.  But not having it there opens up a lot possibilities for distance work and the A-Frame at a distance.  That's much, much more common that the dogwalk in NADAC Chances, which is my major goal right now.  9 more for our NADAC championship.

Just goes to show you that going cheap is counterproductive in the long run.  It did seem to work OK for years though.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Designer Whippets

There's been a recent controversy about a whippet breed club (American Whippet Club) member who was asked to resign because they purposely bred their purebred whippet to another breed of dog.  I believe this refers to someone who bred one of her dogs to a border collie with the intent of producing "border whippets" who would excel at fly ball.  I do have concerns about the plethora of new designer breeds like Golden Doodles and the like and I think that people should really consider an established breed first.  However, the whippet was itself a "designer breed" at one point in its history.  Also, the American Kennel Club is now letting mixed breed dogs compete in agility, obedience, and rally. 

Good breeding is the most important thing, which includes health testing, temperament testing, having good homes lined up, and being willing to take back dogs.  In this case, this was all done. This has been a major concern of mine with some of the designer dog breeders cropping up.  Established breeders don't always so all these things either.  Unfortunately, a lot of people believe mistakenly believe that purebred dogs are inherent less healthy.  I've always thought it was about the health testing though certain do have issues, they can largely be dealt with by testing the parent dogs. 

So while I do have concerns about all the new designer breeds, I think the breed clubs should focus on promoting and improving their established breed and not trying to police people who, for better or worse, are experimenting with mixing breeds as long as these people don't claim they are whippets.   Breed clubs have plenty of work to do improving purebred dogs.  [I think established breed is actually a better term than purebred dog.]

Monday, September 06, 2010

For Best Results, Leave Your Dog All Day

We were running late from my parent's house yesterday leaving Wyatt and Patriot home alone for the afternoon until 9 PM, which is something we don't usually do.  We called a neighbor to let them out and feed them.  They were so happy to see us, especially Patriot.  When we did some obedience late that night, Patriot was super motivated, much more than usual.  Makes me wonder if I should do less warmup and hanging out with the dogs at the trial and the few days before. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Distance Work

I have been using this little course for a few weeks with both Wyatt and Patriot.

Running the circle course from behind the jumps is good distance practice.  More importantly for me and Wyatt, running the square course gets lots of practice at the "switch" command at a distance.  I am finding that the timing has to be just right.  The command for 4 has to be in time and also, very important, I can't just focus on on 4 but have to give the "go ahead" command for 5 in time or Wyatt will turn back to me. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wyatt Does Want To Practice

Wyatt seems recovered after his fight with Patriot Saturday.  They had a crate fight at an agility trial.  Drawing blood a first in the crate together.  I have very occasionally heard growling if they knock into each other when I back up in the driveway.  He did not want to run Sunday and he was very anxious as Sunday progressed.

In my last post, I was wondering why Wyatt does not seem to want to practice agility in the yard.  Well, I tried again early this week and had the same trouble.  It was hot and they had gone on a run.  I tried before running and earlier in the day.  Wyatt did not seem to want to come down to the field so I (deliberately) started with Patriot and Wyatt came charging down ready to play.  Today, I just started without him, running an "invisible" dog and, once again, he came down.  Again, it was prerun and cooler.  He did some great distance work too.  I'll post the course soon though I am camping Thursday to Sunday and off the net.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wyatt Practicing Agility At Home or NOT

After a few months break, Wyatt, at least yesterday at around 5, was not into practicing agility at home.  I had set up a few hoops and a tunnel.  I did lure him, with difficulty, into doing some obstacles, but he clearly was not into it.  He seems fine in class and at trials.  Not sure what is going on.  Maybe he would rather do obedience, which we do twice daily and is part of his routine?  Maybe he got a bee sting or something doing agility in the recent past?  Maybe he was sore after 2 walks yesterday and it was still a little hot?  I am not going to push it but I find it very curious. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Checking In Too Much

I have seen at agility class the same issue with Wyatt.  After the first run, he tends to check in too much and not go ahead as well.  Part of this could be my stopping short but I don't think that's the main issue.  I can - with many commands - get him to go ahead after he checks in but it doesn't feel good and reduces our flow and distance.  Last night, I did move in closer and kept positive, which helped a lot.  I don't see this at trials much unless I stop short.  But I think I need to work at home (and class is now over) with automatically going ahead unless told otherwise.  I now have 3 hoops and materials for 2 more so I am planning to work on this.  The hoops will help to reduce jumping stress.  We have not practices at home for months.  If you recall, I was seeing some resistance to practicing at home (but not at class.) 

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Taking A Break

I've been on vacation the last 2 weeks and have been doing minimal training with Wyatt and Patriot but they are getting lots of walks and hanging out time.  We have a NADAC trial next weekend and I have the chance to pick up more Chances Qs.  My other goal right now is to get Patriot ready for Open A obedience.  I think I'm going to focus on Patriot rather than Wyatt.  Wyatt learns so quickly and is very high drive but gets so stressed at obedience trials.  Patriot takes much longer to train but is a much more confident dog. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Obedience Disappointments

I went from a real high leftover from agility last weekend to a disappointing day less than a week later at an AKC Rally and obedience trial in Tunbridge, VT. Patriot was entered in Rally Excellent B. He has one leg. Wyatt was entered in Open A obedience and Rally Advanced B and Rally Excellent B. Wyatt was in Open A first. I did not have very high hopes since he showed consistent problems a few weeks before. The problems I have been seeing are: lack of automatic sits heeling, not coming on the recall, and going down on the long sit. I did ask the judge to give him time to sit and I also told the judge that I would be giving extra commands on the sits. True to form lately, I did not get one sit for the heel free or figure 8, at least without an extra command. I believe this is due to his nerves. With cheese (or not) outside the ring, he was sitting fine. He did come on the recall and drop, which was great. I gave a loud, but cheerful command and put my whole body into it. He sat too far away and did not sit on the last part to qualify for this part though. He did not come in far enough on the retrieve on flat and needed an extra command for retrieve over jump. He also went down on the long sit. We are definitely not ready, especially at a new site. I am thinking about trying Open B because the initial heeling seems to be so demotivating or dropping back to Novice B.

What was really tough was that rally, where Wyatt usually scores in the high 90s, was also a struggle to get sits, stands, etc. Wyatt did manage to get a double Q, but it was a real struggle. I attribute it all to nerves (mostly his) but it was a frustrating day. We need to get back to the high 90s before we try obedience, I think. I also made a couple of 10 point handler errors, unusual for me.

Patriot, on the other hand, did great and had a 100 going until I blew by a sign, another first for me. I am working hard on getting Patriot ready for Open A. Even though it takes him much longer to learn new things and is not as motivated to work and retrieve, he is a much more confident dog and I think he'll actually do really well if I can get everything trained.

Can't Get Away With It

We worked on Chances at class last night.  The course was one we did not get at the last trial.  I did improve but never got the whole thing perfect.  Some critical parts: 

  1. I need to push out to certain obstacles like the weaves.  This means keeping pressure on the dog's line.  Wyatt does seem to be able to run parallel in a line of jumps and tunnels but not the weaves.  Lynn says you should push anyway when running parallel. 
  2. Timing is very critical for the switch at a distance.  It is very easy to be late.  When that happens, Wyatt stops and looks back to me.  
  3. I can't stop or Wyatt will stop.  I need to leave enough room and take smaller steps so I can continue moving.  
It is definitely challenging to work so far from your dog.  Everything must be better or things break down.  You can get away with a lot more when you work close to your dog.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top Ten Things To Keep Your Whippet Fast in Agility

For the fastest dog around under 200 yards, whippets should be really fast in agility too.  But I see many slow whippets and I also see many whippets that slow down over time.  Here are 10 tips for keeping your whippet (or any other dog) fast in agility.  I will write more about each tip at a later date.  

1)  Don't correct.  Don't let your dog know you are disappointed.  Your dog should never know if your qualfied or not.  

2)  Keep practices fun and short.

3)  Avoid RFPs and call offs. 

4)  Give your dog distance.  Don't crowd.  Work on distance all the time and from the beginning.  Distance is not something you only use in Gamblers. 

5)  Don't yell at your dog; use a cheerful tone of voice.  Even if you choose to mark a mistake, keep it happy and try again.  

6)  Don't let your dog know you are nervous. 

7)  Don't front cross in your dog's path.  

8)  Try NADAC especially NADAC tunnelers

9)  Run fast; make it a race. 

10)  Have clear and consistent handling, don't flail your arms. 

Moderating Footsteps

I am working on what I call "moderating my footsteps" in agility with both my dogs. For Wyatt, I am trying to keep my foot turnover the same but take smaller steps when working distance.  This is especially needed in NADAC Chances where you have to work very far from your dog and not cross the taped line on the course.  It is tricky though because you can't slow down too much or he slows down or turns back too.  With Patriot, I am working on his typical midcourse slowdown by keep a few feet ahead of him but, again, not slowing down my steps or going too far ahead, by keeping my feet really moving while not getting too far ahead.  It's tricky because you have to adapt to your dogs pace, which varies according to the temperature and other factors. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Agility Weekend For Wyatt

I am very happy with the results of our NADAC agility weekend.  I handled well (for the most part), focusing on drawing the line and staying centered.  I felt relaxed and my dogs never knew if we qualified or not.  I was always happy with them during and after a run. 

Wyatt finished his regular (standard) requirements for his NADAC Championship.  He qualified 3 times.  He had already finished his Jumpers requirement so now he just needs Chances, which is the NADAC distance game, very difficult at the Elite Level.  On Sunday, he earned an Elite leg, so we now have 4 of 13 and need 9 more.  I ran out of room at the tape and had to send him out to a tunnel about 15-20 feet away from a stationary position, but he did it!  Wyatt also earned his Elite Hoopers title with a great, fast run so he now has all his NADAC elite titles.  He ended up qualifying 4 out of 6 on Saturday and 3 out of 6 on Sunday.  A great weekend for Wyatt!  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update on "The Boys"

Wyatt looked great in agility class last night. He was super motivated and eager to run. I gave Patriot the night off. This was the last class in a 5 week series. I got good feedback from the teacher, who said my timing and handling, in general, showed much growth. I needed some feedback, I think, to get me back on track. If you don't get any for a while, it's hard to see what is going on and you can drift away from good handling. I also picked up some great tips in this class. The biggest thing that has helped me is to keep my focus on "drawing a line" on the ground about feet in front of my dog. The 2 feet in front and on the ground parts are really important, it turns out, both of which I was not attending to. I am also working on not cranking back my arm past my midline when sending out but keeping arm arm out the whole time. If I do need to send out from a stationary position, I am staring the motion from my midline.

I picked up another great tip last night when sending Wyatt to onside weaves at an angle. The tip is to send him to a point behind the weaves so he can get a good entrance rather than trying to send directly to the entrance.

I have Wyatt and Patriot entered in rally and obedience at a couple of during the week obedience trials. I am working on Patriot's excellence stations - back up 3 steps and moving down/sit in paticlular. They both need a refresher on offset figure eight too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dance With Your Dog

I got some good advice from Lynn Smitley at class this week, "Just dance with your dog."  I had been focusing on my footwork and leaving enough room to push out on an elite chances course.  But it messed me up and, of course, Wyatt was confused.  I am finding that if my main focus in on "painting the line", which means drawing a line where you want your dog to go a few feet in front of your dog, that sets me up to "dance with my dog."  I asked if the painting itself provides information or is it a technique to get the handler's body in the right place and flow.  I was thinking it was the latter and Lynn confirmed that.  Lynn thinks it really the eyes that are most important and that the technique forces the handler's eyes to "draw the line."  I'm not sure about that but it definitely keeps my shoulders and whole body in the right place as long as I keep ahead of my dog and cue fast enough.  We tend to focus on obstacle performance and crosses, position, etc but we need to focus much more on the overflow flow or dance. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vet Results

I need to trust myself more. What I thought was going on with Wyatt was correct. Basically he has a sore right hip; which is always a weak spot for him. That's what I had thought. I needed to cut back on the long runs, less agility, and more ball work and other exercises. I was relieved that there was not a major problem. He was fine at agility practice last night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vet Tomorrow

I have been in a holding pattern, giving Wyatt a break from agility, while I wait for his sports vet appointment tomorrow night with Dr Julie Roos.  I have been thinking about the worst case, if I need to retire Wyatt from agility.  I have been doing obedience with Wyatt and sometimes with Wyatt and Patriot on a daily basis.  I am trying to increase motivation on sits, heeling, and recalls.  I am also working on Patriot's down by doing lots of "foldback" downs and now trying to do those when moving.  I am also working on Patriot's recalls and some on sits and downs.  Patriot needs a few things to pass open:  a better drop, a more reliable out of sight sit, and more enthusiasm for the dumbbell. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agility Class

One very valuable thing I picked up already at class was that I was not consistently "painting the line" 2 feet ahead of my dog.  I saw that improving this had already helped a lot. In general, focusing on consistent arm motion in terms of the height of one's arm and the distance in front of the dog seems to have side benefits of handing more consistently.  I have also noticed last night with myself and other handlers how often assuming a dog was committed or assuming that an obstacle was easy is the kiss of death!  Focusing on my arm motion seemed to help stay consistently connected with my dog for the whole course. 

Wyatt ran pretty well last night though he slowed down quite a bit for his last run.  It was very hot and he did a walk and a run during the day.  I am still perplexed that he wants to run in class but not at home.  I am scheduling an appointment with our sports vet, Julie Roos.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deaf Dogs Part 2

In doing some research on the issue of allowing deaf dogs to compete in AKC Rally, Obedience, and Agility, I found out that the breed club for Dalmations, the Dalmation Club of America, requires breeders to euthanize deaf puppies.

As with any breed of dog, there are a few things you should be aware of when choosing a Dalmatian as regards faults of health. One is congenital deafness. This occurs in Dalmatians at the rate of about 12%, although whole litters are often born with no deaf pups. However, ethical breeders have their litters tested for hearing impairment at a professional facility by a trained technician, when such facilities are available to them. Any puppies proven deaf are euthanized. The test, called a BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test, measures the hearing response of each ear on each puppy. The tester then provides a printout of each puppy's test, which is then given to you at the time of purchase. In this way, you know your puppy hears.

Do not adopt a completely deaf dog even if it is given to you, as you will be letting yourself in for a lot of work and probable heartbreak: work, because the dog cannot hear you, and for all but the most experienced handlers is rendered untrainable; probable heartbreak, because if the dog ever escapes from you, he cannot hear traffic. You can conclude the ending. The deaf dog leads a sadly neurotic life, as every hand on his fur or step on the floor startles him because he cannot hear. Most deaf dogs become so fearful and timid that they must be put to sleep anyway; it is better to do so right after the BAER test proves the dog deaf, before a family is attached to the dog. Should you somehow procure a deaf Dalmatian, the breeder is obliged, by any code of ethics, to replace the puppy with a hearing one or to refund your money and take the dog back. 

On the other hand, there are numerous people who have raised deaf dogs very successfully and argue strongly against this policy.  The deaf dogs can be spayed or nuetered so that's not a good reason to put them down. 

Rescue Story 


I was shocked to discover this DCA policy.  I don't have tons of experience with deaf dogs but the one I see in agility who runs regularly seems wonderful and has a great partnership with its owner.  What do you think?  


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wyatt Status

I just can't figure out what is going on with Wyatt.  I practiced agility in the yard with him yesterday morning and he was very skittish and not into it.  He seemed especially spooked with tunnels.  Also, in the house, he jumps off the couch as I approach, which is usually a sign of injury for him.  I took him to our first class bringing Patriot along as a "backup dog."  I figured there was a small chance Wyatt got stung by a bee or something in a tunnel in the front yard and that was causing the problem.  I was surprised that he ran like a champ for all of class.  I ran Patriot first, which, let us say, increases him motivation but still.  I am going to rest him, one walk a day, no running, no agility at home and see what happens.  I had been doing some longer 50 minute runs.  That may have been too much.   More about the actual practice in the next blog entry. 

Deaf Dogs

I was reading that the AKC was considering letting deaf dogs compete in rally, agility, and obedience.  I say,  "Let them play."  The few deaf dogs I have seen definitely had a harder time succeeding in agility in spite of talented handlers.  They just don't have access to as much information.  Some claim they have an advantage because they can tune out distractions.  That's just not what I saw.  Also, the visual distractions may be heightened.  Besides, who cares?   99% of us are there to qualify and support any and all dogs that can qualify.  Especially handicapped dogs.  Though some breeds have deafness issues, agility, rally, and obedience accept breed disqualifications (not to mention mixed breeds) so it's not about breeding.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wyatt Back to Normal?

Wyatt seemed much better yesterday yesterday in terms of wanting to do agility.  I did bring him out to the field on a loose lead and he was fine after that.  Still not sure why he did not want to play for a few days but he does seem a little skittish still.  Could be all the tick checks and hygiene stuff. 

I am practicing the switch part of the last course I posted, trying to get it more smooth and flowing.  "Painting the line" with my hand seems to help. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scaredy Cat Dog

Wyatt is so funny.  He had a little hygiene problem yesterday after pooping.  I cleaned his rear with some baby wipes.  Well, it must of hurt or something because he would run away from me all night.  I tried to do some agility and he ran away too.  That worried me because it could have indicated an ouch.  But then I remembered why he was avoiding me.

Anyway, I did eventually coax him into doing some agility and he did great.  I did the following course, which was similar to Sunday's NADAC Chances course.  The map is not to scale but I believe I was at least 30 feet away laterally from the weaves, which is great.  I don't always have confidence that we can do these distances but yesterday proved that we can.  I did have trouble sometimes sending out from jump 3  to jump 4.  However, I was able to consistently send him out even if he stopped and looked back for direction.  Something I have learned this year is not to give an out command if you want your dog to straight (for example from jump number 4 to the number 5 weaves.  This has the opposite effect and brings your dog into you.  Just keep running parallel to your dog. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

NADAC May 2010

I felt relaxed and not nervous all weekend.  However, the weather was a distraction.  It was very cold and rainy Saturday and very cold and VERY windy Sunday.  Not too many Qs but Wyatt got a regular Q he needs for his championship Saturday and a tunnelers Q Sunday.  Patriot got a jumpers Q Sunday. 

Patriot was very slow Saturday so I was not sure if he was not over his injury or just did not like the cold rain.  It was the latter because he was very fast on Sunday, so fast he was hard to control.  However, I just ran him happy and ignored any off courses.  That is a wise thing in most cases but it is especially important to keep Patriot happy.  I should be practicing with him more.

Wyatt and I had a bunch of real close heartbreaker NQs.  We missed time by less than a second in weavers and Touch and Go Saturday.  On Sunday, he ran by the very last jump in jumpers.  That would have been his Superior title.  I may have pulled him off.  On Saturday, we got the very hardest parts of Chances, which we really need, but missed the "easy" last part, which I largely ignored during the walk through because I thought it was a no-brainer.  Had a nice Q and first in tunnelers Sunday.  The video is below.  No regular classes Sunday because of high winds. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Here's part of an elite chances course from our last trial.  The line that can't be crossed is after the "first" curved tunnel.  We got most of this including a discrimination of an A-Frame and Tunnel after the last jump from a large distance.  In this course, you take the curved tunnel and then go around the outside staying behind the 0 line.  I did great moderating my steps and leaving plenty of room to drive out to the first 2 jumps.  People that did not save room had trouble driving out to the first 2 jumps.  Wyatt took the tunnel back towards me.  The mistake I made was trying to give an "out" command after the second tunnel.  That drew his attention towards me and to the tunnel.  Successful teams kept running parallel to the dog.  I also found that this worked at home after a little practice. 

NADAC Trial This Weekend

I am taking Wyatt and Patriot to a NADAC trial 20 minutes away in Greenfield, MA this weekend.  I am looking forward to it.  I have been working with Wyatt on driving to the end of contacts and also on distance.  Biggest thing in distance is definitely on my end.  If I don't cue him early enough or in the right way, we don't get it.  I also worked on a specific challenge I'll write up later.  I need to create a little course map for it. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Contact Confusion

I made a mistake yesterday.  I have been working with Wyatt on driving to the end of contacts more.  This used to be his default behavior until I found that it just was not carrying over to trials.  In trials, I changed over to moving with him to the end of the contact.  However, this does not always work in Chances, when the contact is ahead of the line that you can't cross.  While he is driving to the end OK at home with targets, I was a little unclear yesterday what I was expecting.  You really have to be 100% sure in your mind in agility what you are expecting before you go in.  Today, I am going to go back to our old way and think about changing over when he can drive to end again without targets. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Learning and Serialization

I saw a phenomenon with Aidan that I also see in myself, particularly in dog agility.  I recently picked up a nice John Deere play tractor at the Conway Mall, also know as the dump.  I ordered and installed a new battery and it works great.  When he was first learning to drive it, I noticed that he had difficulty steering and operating the gas peddle at same time. 

I notice this in agility too when I learn a new task or when I am really focused in one part of my handling.  It seems to take a comfort level before you can do many things at once and/or rapidly switch your attention to the many aspects of dog agility that must take place simultaneously.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wyatt Stress Part 2

A lot of people provided suggestions for dealing with Wyatt's stress.  Thank you.  I have been thinking about it and reflecting on the 7 years I have had training this dog, all of it wonderful and a great learning experience.  Here's a list of things that I could do:

1)  Try to increase motivation.  The issue I have with this is that he is very motivated already.  But people generally think that if you can increase motivation even more, that will help when they get to the trial setting.  In class last week, I did see one technique that could help with freeze on the drop on recall problem, which is to have a helper hold the dog while you run away from the dog.  You also run away when the dog is coming to you.  Wyatt shot out of the stay like a cannon.  I am working on some variations of this for solo training.

2)  My wife has some meds she uses for public speaking that help with anxiety.  I may try this so Wyatt goes not pick up on my jitters.  I can also try peppermint and not allowing him to lick my face before going on, which is something he tends to do.  I wonder if there is an equivalent for dogs too.  I could also use my iPod before our run and not watch other people. 

3)  Try to fine tune Wyatt's routine to reduce his stress.  Some ideas here are:  trialing in the only the best, most familiar places, trying to trial more and do rally too (this will be hard with my schedule constraints.)  Trying to fine tune our warm up routine to reduce stress.  Go to as many matches as possible.  There aren't very many in New England but...

So, basically, there are 3 areas to work on:  increase motivation, decrease my stress, decrease Wyatt's stress. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Patriot HIT

I learned a few months after the fact that Patriot won High in Trial at an AKC obedience trial a few months ago.  We won Novice B after a runoff, which was a thrill.  It was starting to snow and I was running late so I left.  I am not even sure it registered that we could have won High in Trial.  Anyway, what a thrill.  My obedience teacher still has the ribbon.  It was a small trial but still, how many whippets win HIT at an all breed trial.  I am very proud of Patriot.  According to AKC rules, he can't show in Novice B anymore, which is too bad.  I was really just bringing him along as company for Wyatt and to give him something to do.  Might have to work more on his open skills.  His drop is not too good and he is not the most enthusiastic retriever but his heeling is pretty good and he has all the basics for open. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Good, Cheap Tunnel Bags

Here's my $2 tunnel bags.  Get some velcro strips from Home Depot (thanks to Lynn S.  for this tip.)  Fill some kitty litter bottles with sand or water and you are good to go.  I was thinking of spending $100 for a commercial set but these seem just as good for home use.

Driving to the End of Contacts

I saw yesterday, that Wyatt really need work on driving to the end of contacts.  He is fine if I am beside or ahead of him but tends to stop early when I am behind him.  This has been a real problem in NADAC Chances when there is a contact with the line behind or at the contact.  I got out some targets but he only did well with the big white ones so back to the drawing board with big, white targets fading out to clear and smaller ones and different colors. 

Sunday, April 04, 2010


I am little frustrated with Wyatt and obedience.  He learns so quickly and does SO well at home and class yet we can not Q at a trial.  Yesterday, he did not sit once for heeling in open and novice and froze on both recalls and went down on his out of sight sit.  He did go down once for a sit when I gave a second command but that did not help for the rest of the novice class.  I thought I would try it.  I think I have been a little misguided in my focus, which has been at tweaking stuff he has been failing on in the ring.  The real issue is stress. He know how to do everything quite well.  More ideas on that in my next entry.

Patriot did very well.  He is a much more confident dog than Wyatt.  But he is much harder to train and still does not do a great drop and is not very motivated to retrieve.  But he had a very nice novice run with a 185.  He did a down when I said sit on the long sit so I had to quickly get him back up and touched his collar so I lost 3 points there somewhere. 

Patriot and Wyatt went charging out of an open gate when we got home and Patriot got injured, probably by running into something.  He is OK but spend the night at the animal hospital. It was a on the bottom of his chest. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obedience Saturday in Taunton

I have Wyatt in Novice B and Open A and Patriot in Novice B Saturday in Taunton, MA.  Things to remember for Wyatt. 

  • Stay up and happy.
  • Don't touch him too much for a reward in the ring.
  • Keep things moving especially for the recall.  Move quickly to the end of the ring and turn around and give the command as soon as possible.
  • If he freezes on the initial "come" part of the recall, quickly move back to him and give an oops word and move on.  Keep the "come" loud and happy.  Be firm for the "drop" command.  Don't explain ahead of time to the judge that you are not going to give a second command.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Open A

I was very happy with Wyatt in Open A AKC obedience last weekend.  His heeling was not hist best.  I did not get one automatic sit but I was VERY HAPPY he did not freeze on the initial recall.  He did not drop though.  He just stopped in a standing position.  Very odd.  That has not happened before.  He did freeze in the Novice Recall.  But I had a brain freeze and it took me a while to give the "come" command.  I am wondering if I should issue the command as soon as I can and/or proof a delay in issuing the command.  I have been treating more for automatic sits and the recall part of drop on recall.  Wyatt passed all four sits (open and novice).  He did reseat himself a bit in the Open out of sight sit.  Patriot did very well, lagged a bit in Novice off leash heeling but ended up with a Q and a 185 1/2. 


Well, I decided to switch Wyatt to Skilled.   He can jump 12 inches.  NADAC allows you to convert Proficient legs to Skilled Legs.  I have some mixed feelings.  The NATCH was my goal for a long time.  Not that the MEDAL is really any different but it does feel like a little bit of a loss.  But my goal has really been to get a second agility championship for Wyatt.  So a MEDAL does that.  For those not familiar with NADAC, the MEDAL is, in essence, a NATCH for veteran dogs.  So even though Wyatt may have been able to complete the requirements for a NATCH at 16 inches, I will worry a lot less and he can probably do agility for longer and be more comfortable and confident doing it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Obedience Saturday

I have Wyatt and Patriot entered in Novice B Saturday and Wyatt is Open A.  I have another trial at the end of the month.  If Wyatt continues to have problems in Open A, I am wondering if I should continue to trial, even though he is so close (yet so far.)  His persistent freezes for the drop on recall (only at trials) and 50% rate in stays continue to be a difficult problem. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I was thinking of moving Wyatt to NADAC skilled. He could jump 12 inches and get a little more time.  He does not need the time (you only get it for jumping classes).  The disadvantage would be that he would not get a NATCH but a MEDAL, which is kind of like a veteran's NATCH.  I've had a NATCH in mind for a long time and we getting pretty close.  I could actually not run jumpers and stop running regular or cut back to one day when we get our remaining 5 regular legs for his NATCH,  Then the only jumps would be in chances, which does not contain very many jumps.  I am seeing him run around jumps on occasion, which can indicate hip or back pain.  Something to think about.  I will probably consult with my sports vet.  The biggest disadvantage is to a MEDAL rather than a NATCH is having to explain what it is and people outside NADAC not knowing what it is.  I don't think NADAC folks would see it as lessor accomplishment but some might.  If I was sure Wyatt was in pain or that is was better for him, I would.  But right now I am not sure and in the past, we have managed his injuries with massage, chiro, and other techniques.  What do you think? 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekend Update

Wyatt did not qualify in AKC Open obedience yesterday.  He froze on the drop on recall.  I may have shouted too loudly and harshly.  I thought going in that that may be the secret but I may have overdone it.  He seems scared coming in and came in front very far away after the second command to come and the drop.  Then he got up on the long sit, which is typically a sign of stress.  I think he may have been stressed anyway.  I was due to the snow situation at home. 

Today, he got a first and Q in NADAC Elite Regular (standard) and he finally got the last Touch and Go Q for his Elite TNG title AND his Elite Versatility Award.  We have been shooting for that for a while and it took many months to get that last TNG Q missing by either a contact or less than a second many times.  We did not get a Chances Q today; the course was very hard.  Only 2 dogs got it.  Weavers, tunnelers, and jumpers to go.  I may scratch jumpers.  I may have to go home today to help with the snow at home. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Distance Workout

I had a private lesson last night with Wyatt.  We worked on distance and we also had a general tuneup since we have not practiced in a while.  We have a NADAC trial this weekend.  Wyatt needs 10 Chances Qs and 7 Regular Qs for his NADAC championship title, the NATCH.  Everything went well.  He did seem eager to practice though he seems to tire at the end.  He worked very far from me.  He did good weaves and contacts at a distance.  He did show some attraction to contacts in obstacle discriminations, for which I had to compensate.  I needed to watch my footsteps and hold back at times when I was coming to a distance line I could not cross and had to work on my timing for certain things.  It did seem to hold back when Wyatt was committing to obstacles and weaves.  Hoping for a good weekend! 

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Things are kind of quiet.  I am training Wyatt and Patriot every day in obedience.  I have a 3 obedience trials coming up in February and March so we will try again for a CDX leg.  Wyatt did pass in a match in January.  We also have a NADAC agility trial at the end of February. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Brace Stuff

I have never heard of anyone doing brace rally or brace open obedience.  Needless to say, that has not stopped me from trying it.  I have seen Patriot improve his open obedience drop on recall if he does it with Wyatt so I am trying some brace rally and brace dumbbell retrieves.  The retrieve did not work if I threw them both far because Wyatt would get them both before Patriot knew what was going on but if I throw closer and to the side for Patriot, it works well!  I am hoping it will increase Patriot's drive and performance. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Long Trip To PA

It was a long trip to PA for a NADAC trial and an even longer trip home through some bad weather.  It was a fun trial though.  Very nice Penn State facility.  It was good to stay in practice I think more than anything.  I did feel rusty the first few runs.  We have not trialed since November and have not practiced either.  Wyatt and I only entered Touch and Go and Regular Saturday.  We need one TNG Q for our Elite Versatility award.  It has been elusive and continued to be.  We had some really nice, fast runs but and off course in each.  Wyatt's contacts were perfect though and continued to be all weekend.  Great runs in regular too but a few knocked bars ruled out any Qs.  I was worried about his jumping but it seemed OK Sunday.  He may not be getting as much traction on the soft surface.  Patriot ran well and had two Qs and first in regular and TNG.

Patriot had more trouble Sunday with no Qs but some fun runs.  I just try and keep it positive and fun with Patriot.  Wyatt was entered in tunnelers (2), chances (2), and regular (2). Wyatt did not knock any bars Sunday so I was less worried about his jumping.  Again, some greats runs.  The Chances courses were hard and we did many of the hardest parts of them.  I ran out of room in the Chances 1 and stopped him.  We did the hardest part of Chances 2 and I stopped moving or otherwise through him off.  I was very encouraged that he did an A Frame at a distance and did not get "stuck" on top as usually happens.  We got one regular Q that we needed and one tunnelers Q.  Had a rare off course in Tunnelers 2 when I lost contact for a microsecond. 

Wyatt now needs 7 regular and 10 chances for his NATCH.  Next trial is at the end of February in Rhode Island. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I am planning on going to State College, PA on MLK weekend for a NADAC trial.  It's a long drive but I can only go on one trial a month so I am hoping to get a NATCH on Wyatt while he can.  He will be turning 8 this month.  Wyatt has his jumpers legs, and now needs 8 regular and 10 chances.  I have been resting him quite a bit as his back and hips tend to get sore by the end of the nice weather and the agility season. 

Monday, January 04, 2010

More on the Match

Wyatt did well in Novice B but failed to come on the novice recall.  I clapped loudly and he came.  I do not want to get in the habit of issuing a second command.  My volume was loud but not overly so.  He did both stays so that was great.  His heeling was OK but not his best. 

I did not expect anything going into Open.  I thought I would go noncompetative.  Why not.  That's why you see me correcting his first automatic sit.  I guess the judge just marked us down for a double command.  I was very happy when he did his drop on recall!  I did use a very loud voice.  I think it scares him a bit but it does seem (tentatively) that I have to use this very loud command to get him off his spot and to also put my body into it.  I was very happy with both retrieves and the broad jump too.  He somehow made it through both sits and downs.  I wonder if it helped that the judge was correcting dogs. 

Patriot had some hard spots.  His heeling was great!  But I needed to go out with him and/or issue multiple commands on both retrieves.  I also needed to jump with him on the broad jump and he did not drop on the drop on recall. 

Anyway, a fun day and the 191.5 and first really was a thrill.  Gives me hope for a CDX though it take a while. 

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Match Results

Yeah, Wyatt and I  finally had a qualifying run in Open A.   More later.