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.