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!