Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter Weekend

It's finally time to face the fact that our outdoor training is going to start to be limited.  This weekend the highs were in the mid 30s.  When we went for a walk past a little pond nearby, it was mostly frozen over.  Puddles have clear ice crystals in them.  We had some great training time this weekend, but my un-gloved hands were definitely feeling it by the end of our short, 15 minute sessions. 

We had three focuses this weekend:  weaves, contacts and rear crosses.
1.  Weaves.  Jonah had been a little slower on his weaves recently, so I was hoping to speed him up.  The leaves around the poles are getting a little bit deep and he's been knocking poles over and I had been complacent about slower performances.  This weekend I made an emphasis on really getting him excited before sending him through.  When I do that, he flies through.  I'm not sure exactly how we'll do when poles become part of sequences/courses that don't allow me to excite him beforehand, but I'm hoping that, if I just keep making him go through quickly, it will just become habit for him to go faster.  I'm thinking again about buying a real set of poles with a metal base.  They would probably be easier to move and he could go through them without worrying about knocking them over.  Then again, I had thought that a teeter would be the next equipment I'd buy.  We'll have to see.

2.  Contacts.  I worked on doing a rear cross while Jonah was on the dog walk.  He loves the dog walk so much he didn't care much at all if he could see me or not.  His contacts are pretty good these days, but I got a lot of repetitions for them this weekend.  Still, he doesn't like me to be very far away from him and he turns toward me when I'm not right next to him.  We'll keep working on this.

3.  The big project of the weekend was front crosses.  After some online searches, we found a few good exercises.  First we tried a setup like this:

___                   ___


___                   ___

Say I started at the bottom right with Jonah on my right.  We would jump the diagonal (bottom right, middle, top left), and I would ask him to do a rear cross at the top left, curl around and then he would jump the other diagonal (top right, middle, bottom left).  The first few times we were a little confused.  If I stopped suddenly, Jonah would, too.  Sometimes he would turn the wrong way after the jump.  After doing the pattern a few times, though, it started to flow nicely.

Today we did a series of exercises that we found on (check it out if you haven't already!).  First we did a zig-zag on the flat.  Jonah was excellent, and we could do it at a medium jog.  
Here is the video:

Next we did landing side rear crosses on a zig zag.  This one was a little tough for me to figure out my footwork.  Jonah didn't have any trouble, though.
Watch it here:

Finally we did the same zig zag with the rear cross before the jump.  The sequence of exercises worked beautifully, and Jonah did the crosses confidently, and faster than the dog in the video.  
Here's the last exercise:

After he was doing the rear cross smoothly, I played around with sequences, having him wrap around jumps, leading out and mixing front and rear crosses.  Jonah was loving it.

Two things of note:
1.  I've raised the height of the jumps.  Now he's jumping about 16", and I think he's happier with the higher jumps.  It's clearly not difficult for him, but it's enough of an effort that he notices the jumps.  When we were just using paint cans he was pretty much stepping/tripping over the jumps.  It's nice that he's now close to competition height and he seems perfectly happy with it.

2.  I brought his kong outside, filled with peanut butter and I'd throw it out in front of him at the end of a sequence.  I've tried this with toys before but he is so food motivated he hasn't really cared about the toys.  When I've tried throwing food he loses it in the grass.  The kong is a good middle ground.  I've been looking at food tubes online and I might give one a try some time soon.

This week is Thanksgiving.  We have class on Tuesday night, but that will be about it for agility (Dave and I will be away).  The following week I'm hoping we'll get to go to one of the new places.  I'm a little anxious to get him settled in a new class location and moving towards being able to compete.  He's doing so well...I want to be able to put it to the test!

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