Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second to Last Lesson

...before my trip anyway.  There will be plenty of agility after that :).

We had a good lesson and worked through some challenges.  Jonah and I had our cues mixed up on wraps.  There was one where Jonah was supposed to come out of a tunnel, turn to his left, wrap a jump and then run back the other way to the right.  Well, I cued him fine out of the tunnel but then got impatient when I thought he had committed and I started off in the other direction.  He stopped, put his ears down, looked at me, and pulled off the jump.  Poor guy.  I really need to be more clear to keep his confidence high.  Anyway, we tried it again, and if I waited to move until he was in the air the line flowed nicely and he kept his energy.

The other place we had to wrap was a long line of jumps.  The first few were straight, and then one was offset to the left and then the next was offset to the right.  It was a tricky line.  The offset jumps were pretty close together so that it was almost like a threadle.  I tried it with a leadout so that I would call him over the straight jumps and then wrap around the left-set jump, then pulling him around to the right jump.  It worked, but his engine cut way down and it took him a few more obstacles to pick up the pace.  Next I tried it with rear-crosses, but the jumps were so close together that, by the time he took the first and checked in with me, he was almost already past the next one.  We're going to have to work on this more in the future.

Our final challenge was discriminations.  He'd already done a course with discriminations and he did them fine, but as soon as we set up an exercise to work on them he got tunnel suck (which is quite unusual for him.  Normally he will choose contacts).  It took a few tries to get him back paying attention, but by the end he was getting the discrimination with reasonably good speed and solid confidence.

The only other problem of the day was that he was not very friendly with other dogs.  He barked at two dogs in the ring, one of whom he's met and been fine with before.  I really hope we can get through this and get our polite dog back.

The last thing is that, when I tried to get Jonah to speed up in the poles he shut down a little bit.  Joan suggested going back to a small channel to see if he can improve his footwork.  I don't know if I'll have time to do that before I leave, but I'll definitely do it when I get back.  I'd like to have weaving be a strong point for him.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Picture

The pictures are up from our trial last weekend.  Most of the shots were a little awkward, looked like he was really slow (which he probably was), or were jumping pictures that we already have lots of.  I did order one of Jonah weaving.  His left eye might be closed, but he looks focused and his footwork is good.  It's definitely the best weaving picture I've seen of him.  The best thing about it, though, was I got to download the picture instantly!  Most of the other photographers send a file a few days later with some cropping and/or their copyright on the image.  I certainly don't mind either of those things, but having a picture immediately is lots of fun.  Thanks to Penny J. Wills Photography!

Hopefully I can get Dave to update the blog with our new pictures this weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Riverside Fun

We had a great lesson today up at Riverside.  We did quite a bit in our half hour!  There were four different courses.  Jonah did them all correctly without any mistakes the first time.  Then we would go back and clean up some areas where I hadn't given him the best lines or where things had just been a little sloppy.  Highlights:

1.  He was very fast most of the time!  There were still some points where he'd lose motivation (especially in a pinwheel and a turn coming out of a tunnel), but in general his speed was better.

2.  His dogwalk is looking super.  He had dead-on contacts, and he was super fast all the way up, over, down and into his 2o2o.

3.  He's gotten a lot more confident on the teeter.  It's really loud, but he has learned to like it anyway.  If I'm not paying attention he'll go over and get on it by himself between rounds (but I'm trying to break him of that habit of taking obstacles when I don't ask for them).

4.  We had an innocent bystander come stand in the ring while he was running to look like a judge.  Jonah didn't blink an eye.

5.  Some of Joan's dogs escaped into the ring, so Jonah got some surprise social time.  He wasn't especially friendly, but he didn't do anything bad.  He was super excited to start a run after that!

6.  Jonah is loving his bait pouch.  I throw it at the end of a run, chase it, open it, and dispense the goodies as he's moving.  He really drives for it.  Great idea, Joan!

A middle-light:  Jonah blew another A-frame contact!  I know that sounds like a bad thing, but it was nice to have Joan's eyes on it to see that he is actually naturally jumping off if he is going fast and gets air over the top.  We put up a hoop at the bottom so he would run down and under it.  He didn't mind the hoop at all, and that way we can keep him running full speed over the A-frame.  Dave suggested that we might have to make an A-frame when I get back from my trip.  It would be a big project, but we'd be well on our way to having pretty much all the equipment (broad jump?  a tire that's not just a hula hoop?  we've gotten quite the collection already!).

Low-lights (my problems!):
1.  I keep making turns too wide.  I really need to get used to the fact that Jonah can jump a small section of the bar, can jump on an angle, and doesn't need me to babysit his lines.

2.  I bring my hand up too high for front crosses.  He can't see my hand much above my waist, so why bother with the extra motion?

I love our lessons so much.  I'm really going to miss them when I'm away.  We'll see how much time I get to do agility at home in the next couple weeks, but I'll post when we do anything exciting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Socialization and Discrimination

On Sunday we took Jonah to an off-leash dog park.  He was good, as in he didn't interact badly with other dogs, but mostly he couldn't have cared less that they were there at all.  All he wanted to do was play with us (and he happily tugged on a stick and chased a ball with us away from home!).  I guess that's not the worst problem we could have (we watched other people chasing endlessly after their dogs with little success when trying to take them home), but it would be nice if he could run around and get good exercise with other dogs.  When other dogs would approach him he would either be friendly but quickly disinterested, give a quiet little growl and walk away, or occasionally bark and walk away.  The growls and barks were not aggressive.  I wish he wouldn't even do that, but for now just having him  not do any behavior that worries the other owners is a good step.

After the dog park I took him to an Ultimate game that Dave was playing in.  Jonah hadn't been to ultimate in a while and he was very good.  He met another dog perfectly politely on-leash, played with a small girl who giggled a lot at him (he really wanted her juice box!), and was friendly to every other human who approached him.  Our friend who had met him a lot last year commented on how much improved he was, so that was nice to hear.  Sometimes when you're with your dog all the time you don't recognize slow changes, but someone who sees the dog more rarely sees them clearly.

Yesterday I set up a small exercise that went really well.  I just had a straight tunnel with two jumps about 5 feet away from it, as a discrimination.  The jumps ( | ) were parallel to the tunnel ( O===O ) entrances:

|                 |

At first Jonah had tunnel suck, so I had him do the jump line a few times with me on the outside of them, away from the tunnel.  Then I'd run between the obstacles and have him stay on the side I'd set him up on, whether tunnel or jumps.  Next I put him in a stay about 15 feet in front of the discrimination, went past them, and released him while telling him which option to take.  After that I worked on layering.  I started with the tunnel, sending him to that, waiting until he committed and then running on the outside of the jumps.  Then I'd wait less and be parallel with him as he drove to the tunnel.  Once he understood that I did the same with the jumps.  He was awesome!  It was fun to watch him a few times when he was headed towards the tunnel and then when I'd say "jump" I could see him change his line and go to the jumps.  The whole exercise didn't take more than 10 minutes.  It was fun, fast, running and a little bit of a challenge, making it a really successful session.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pre-Trip Goals

Here's what we had hoped to accomplish in March:  
1.  Work on accelerating out of technical questions.  
      Yes.  There's definitely still room for improvement, but we've worked on tight turns into big runs both at home and in class, and Jonah's doing well.  He has shown that he can slow down on course and then recover back to a faster pace, which is something that used to be a problem for us.  So, we can keep working on this, but we've made real progress.

2.  Four more Qs at All Dogs Gym.  

     Nope!  We missed the Q in Snooker, due to my weak handling which made it unclear to him which tunnel entrance to take.  I think we did a good job keeping it positive anyway, though.  I'm not sure he knew he did anything wrong.

3.  Work on off-side weave entries.  

     Yes.  In practice his entries are getting pretty strong.  Today in the trial, though, distraction made weaving difficult.  He just didn't focus soon enough out of the tunnel to find the entry (it was maybe 10 feet from the end of the tunnel to the entry).  I guess we just need to keep proofing the weaves.  However, my practice this past week at home with weaves was making him a little dull, so I don't want to put too much pressure on him.  Sometimes I just have to be patient.

4.  Fast tunnels.  

     Yup.  The tunnel sprint game (straight tunnel, we just sprint back and forth) has been a good addition to our exercises.  He's driving into tunnels from a good distance now.  This is another area where I've seen real improvement.

5.  Go to Willards Woods and keep him on-leash for some introductions.  

     Yes.  We need to keep working on our social skills, but we're making progress.  Today's trial was a huge step in the right direction.  We'll keep taking him lots of places to work through distractions with cars, on leash dogs and also off-leash interactions.
6.  *Hopefully* (weather permitting) set up our outside agility area.

     Yes!  Everything's up and running.  I haven't had as much time to use it as I'd like, but it's great to just pop over the contacts fairly regularly to keep them fresh.

Considering how busy I've been with school, I think we did pretty well in March.  Here's what I'd like to do before I go to Greece and Turkey (only 22 days!):
1.  Happily walk on the sidewalk while cars pass without barking or lunging.
2.  Polite behavior on-leash meeting other dogs.  If this means not saying hello but just walking by, that's fine, but I'd like to be consistently confident that we can be near other dogs without any disruptive, reactive behavior.
3.  Give Jonah some off-leash social time to see if he can figure out how to get involved in playing and running when he'd like to.
4.  Get Jonah to play tug outside of our yard (for example, at a local field, at a dog park or at one of the training facilities).
5.  Go to another DogStar run-thru and have positive runs.
6.  Develop a plan for A-frame contacts and for managing in-ring distractions at trials.
7.  Enter Muddy Paws and Bo-Gee for after I get back!

I realize most of that does not seem directly agility related, but I think they will all help our trial experiences.  When Jonah is focused and not over-stressed, his actual agility skills are pretty good.  I just need to help him be focused and manage his stress so that he can do the things he can do.

Our First Outdoor Trial

We had a truly beautiful day today:  high of 63 and sunny!  It was a real joy to sit in the sun between rounds.  It was so bright that at one point in the afternoon I had to move into the car to get some shade and avoid getting burnt.  It was wonderful socialization for Jonah to be sitting quietly with us while other dogs walked by, without being so close that he felt pressured.  He did bark a few times here and there, but overall he was excellent.  It was so much less stressful between rounds than in a cramped indoor space!

As for the actual agility, Jonah was fairly distracted.  Here's the run-down:

Round 1:  Fullhouse Level 3
     Jonah warmed up well and let me rough him up and get him to bark before we started.   We started with a long straight line of jumps where he was great and fast.  Then we turned and did the A-frame.  He ran right up without a thought, but then he saw the judge, who was standing next to him.  He stopped.  I got him going, but he was spooked and never got his speed back.  We qualified easily and got first place, but he was clearly a little scattered and bothered by that funny man standing in his ring.

Round 2:  Standard Level 2
     Again we started with a big line of jumps, and Jonah was flying!  We turned to the A-frame again and this time had the opposite result.  He caught air over the top and bounced right off, blowing his contact.  He's never, ever done that before, and honestly I didn't even notice, so it must have been really close.  I didn't see the judge's signal so I just kept going (well, I couldn't have done anything if I had seen it, anyway).  He raced into a tunnel and then...saw his dad.  Suddenly I was left in the dirt and Jonah was racing over to Dave, who had our baitbag.  Oops.  In coming back he took an off-course jump and tunnel, but then we got back on track.  He flew over jumps, through tunnels, back over the A-frame beautifully the second time, weaved perfectly, and didn't blink an eye at the teeter.  Then we raced for the last jump and once again Dave caught Jonah's eye.  He flew past the last jump and I had to bring him back around to finish.  Of course, I came off the course thinking that we'd had to work really hard but at least we'd managed the Q.  I was wrong thanks to the blown contact.  Dave said it looked to him like he had touched the yellow, but I wasn't going to bother trying to argue.  It was an embarrassing run which probably didn't deserve to Q.  Nevertheless, I was rather frustrated.  No level 2 title for Jonah until I'm back from my trip.  I'll have to talk to Joan and see if we need to rethink our running contact strategy.  Despite all the troubles, we ended up with almost 100 fewer faults than the other dog in the class, so we got a blue ribbon.  I felt a little sheepish picking it up, but I'm not complaining.

Round 3:  Wildcard Level 2
     This was more like the kind of run I had expected to have.  Jonah was absolutely obedient but he was pokey.  He did everything exactly as I asked except he lacked that edge.  I had to lead out, so I didn't have the chance to really rev him up, and I wonder how much that contributed.  Maybe I'll have to work on energetic lead-outs at some point.  It was an unexciting round, but after the Standard run it was a breath of fresh air.  We Q'd and got first place.

Round 4:  Snooker Level 3
     Whether it was from sitting out in the sun all day or just being late in the afternoon, Jonah lacked some energy in this run, as well.  I got to rev him up and he started well.  Our opening was beautiful, actually, and we got 6-3-4.  It was a fairly difficult Snooker, and that was a higher point opening than almost anyone managed.  I don't know why no one else used the same plan I had, but it worked great for us.  I kind of like to do something different from everyone else, anyway.  After the opening, I sent Jonah to a tunnel.  He was pointing right at the close end, but for whatever reason his focus momentarily disappeared again and he went to the far end.  It was bidirectional so we continued on, but it was a really strange decision on his part.  Anyway, after that (I might have made him concerned when it took me to figure out that the tunnel was bidirectional and we could keep running) he was kind of scattered again.  He needed lots of support through a line of jumps, then did a beautiful wrap, went into a tunnel and just came out looking confused.  He missed a weave entry right in front of him because he was looking at people and dogs outside the ring, but then he came around, weaved nicely and raced over the last jump to the table.  We got our fourth blue ribbon of the day, Q'd, and had the highest point total of any level 3 dog.  It wasn't a beautiful run thanks to those two brain fades, but it got the job done.

In summary, Jonah found the outdoor agility to be a bit distracting.  We got better (although slower) as the day went on, and I have lots of hope for future outdoor trials, but this wasn't our best.  It is true that we haven't been to any trial in just about a month, plus this was his first trial at a place he hadn't been to before as well as his first time doing any agility outside other than in our yard.  With that in mind, the day's events really weren't so bad.  I am concerned about the blown contact since that's so uncharacteristic, but we'll try to get that figured out.  I just run as fast as I can past A-frames, and even if we kept the running contact I could slow down on the down ramp to get him to run more to the bottom.  Or, we could set up more jump gymnastics so he goes to the base, puts in a stride and jumps so he gets his muscle memory in gear a little more.  I think the problem is that he normally doesn't catch as much air over the top as he did in that Standard run, so his footwork must have been unusual.  So, we just have to figure out some way to encourage him to race over the top but still go down to the bottom.  I'm sure it's a fixable issue.

So, that's it for trials for us until May 29!  A long break, but hopefully we'll return with renewed enthusiasm.  We still have 3 more weeks of training before I leave, but no pressure of a trial is nice.  I'll post a goals list shortly so we have some focus.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Pictures

I got these shots from Donna Kelliher Photography a little while ago but forgot to post them.  Hopefully Dave will help me put them into the page design soon, but for now you can see them in this post:

This is a shot of me successfully getting Jonah excited to start a run.  I like it because you can see us both starting to accelerate onto the course.  When I let him go, you can see he takes off!

This might not be the greatest teeter picture you've ever seen, but it's by far the best that I have of him thus far.  He looks cutely focused on pushing the board down.  You can see that he doesn't go all the way to the end to tip it, but I'm alright with that.  We can work on speeding up his teeter performance at some point, but for now I'm just happy when he does it confidently, even if that's at a slow pace.

I'm not sure if there will be a photographer this weekend, but I hope so!  I'm still hoping to collect a good picture of every obstacle, so we're looking for the dogwalk, weaves, tunnel and chute.  The blog is looking pretty snazzy though, (I think) so I'm less in a rush to get new pictures than I was at first.  We got a lot of nice shots from our first trial, but now I only want excellent shots :).

Trial Preview-Gemini

Here's just a quick look at what we have ahead of us for tomorrow:

Round 1:  Fullhouse Level 3
     This should be a good class to open the day.  My plan is to have a nice, motivational flow where we pick up points on easier obstacles at first and then we move onto tougher things.  I'm hoping there's a teeter out there, but we'll definitely try to hit some contacts so they're not new equipment when we get to Standard.  There's one other dog in our height class.

Round 2:  Standard Level 2
     These courses aren't usually that difficult, but the new place and the outdoor environment might be tricky in themselves.  I'm just going to focus on not taking anything for granted and really supporting him through the contacts and turns.  Again, there's one other dog in the class.

Round 3:  Wildcard Level 2
     Again, this shouldn't be too difficult a course, but I need to be clear about which of the options I'm taking so he can really know what his job is.  This would be our last Wildcard Level 2 leg if we qualify.  There are two other dogs in this class.

Round 4:  Snooker Level 3
     Snooker's my least favorite game but I hope I can come up with a good plan.  I don't want to get greedy.  We're the only dog in our class, so I don't need to try to be competitive; I just am looking for our first Level 3 Snooker Q.

Tomorrow will be a big day for us and I have no idea what to expect.  Judging from our session today, he could be great.  There are lots of new things to be concerned about, though.  Joan told us on Wednesday that lots of dogs who are used to doing agility inside just can't focus at all outside the first few times and act as if they don't know what they're doing.  I'm going to hope that's not us!  Dave said he would video some runs, so hopefully you will get to see how we do.

Run Thru

Today Jonah and I went to Grace's new facility, Dogstar Activity Center, where they were having an agility run-thru.  It was a super experience for us.  I just wanted to take him to a new place and have a positive time where he could learn that he can work in an unusual environment.

I got there, went in without Jonah at first and got the tour.  It's a nice facility.  They've put in blue rubber mats with jigsaw connections so there aren't any gaps between the mats.  The footing felt good and Jonah ran well on it.  It's a relatively small space (40'x80') as far as agility goes, but I was very impressed with the courses they had set up.

They didn't have a dogwalk, poles or a chute up but they had everything else and some nice jumping questions.  When I got there a cute terrier was running but he was the only dog there at the time (The run-thru was 3-7 and I got there just after 3.  I bunch of people were arriving as we were leaving.  I was glad we had a quieter time there just so Jonah could be more relaxed).  When that dog was done, I walked the easier course and went to get Jonah.

He went in cautiously but obediently.  I walked him around the perimeter of the room once just to get him a little sense of where he was and I banged the teeter so he could hear it before he was on it.  Then I took him over to the start, had him do a few tricks to focus in on me, and I took off his leash.  As soon as I took the leash off, he was excited.  I roughed him up a little and then sent him into the tunnel to start.  It was a pretty basic course, but he was pretty much perfect.  Not the fastest he's ever been, but about his average speed.  He didn't look nervous although I'm sure there was an element of that in there somewhere.  The teeter and A-frame didn't give him any pause and he cruised around everything in lovely form.  Good boy!

After that we took a break while the terrier ran again, and then I walked the harder course and ran that.  It was a much more difficult course, including a tight wrap, a push-back and some other tricky lines.  Once again Jonah was fantastic and ran the whole thing clean.  I think Grace said she'd adapted it from the hybrid course at nationals last weekend, so that's pretty cool that we can do some of those same questions!  Again, Jonah wasn't as fast as a dog in finals of nationals, but the fact that he ran clean and confidently in a new location was a big accomplishment.

I'm really proud of him and we're looking forward to this weekend!

Lesson Time

Sorry I'm late posting.  I'll have to have a few posts tonight to catch things up to speed.  Some day school will settle down and I'll be able to commit more to agility and this looks like that might be some time in June.

Our lesson this week was very good.  I brought my new goodies and Joan helped me figure out what to do with them.
1.  The bait bag.  The bag I got from clean run is a small pouch with a clip to hook onto your pants, and it comes off that clip via a strip of velcro.  I got the small pouch because I have the fanny pack that I've been using and it's bigger.  I know, fanny packs are generally thought to be much out of style, but a college teammate of mine is really working on bringing them back as a classy accessory:

I can't say I wear mine with quite as much swagger, but it's done the job in our agility adventures thus far.  The small, new baitbag is now a device more for throwing than for storage.  I would just put a few cookies in it for each run and throw it at the end of a sequence.  Then I would run to it, open it and walk backwards while he ate out of it in motion.  Once it got stuck on his nose.  He didn't mind; it smelled delicious.

2.  The other new thing from clean run was the food tube.  First off, luckily the package came with two, because I think I broke one before I even put anything in it.  The clip is a long plastic device with a stick in the middle.  I thought you were supposed to fold the tube and slide the stick between the folded sides of the tube, but once I did that I can't get it off!  With the second one, I kept the stick of the clip on top of the folded tube and it seals just fine.  I'll be able to get it off now.  Sorry if that description didn't make any sense.
    Anyway, I filled the unbroken tube with a delicious mix.  I melted some peanut butter just a little bit so it was soft and then mixed it with apple sauce to thin it out a bit.  Jonah thought it was fantastic!
    To use the food tube, I could just squeeze it so a little bit came out and let him lick the good mush, or I could throw it like the pouch at the end of a round and he would go chase it.  I'm not sure which of the two he liked better.  He was excited about both.

Aside from our Clean Run goodies, I stopped at Trader Joes before class and got some dried chicken and some beef jerky treats.  He loved them both.  Basically, I was thinking that his lower levels of motivation might be improved by better treats, and it seemed to work.

As for the actual agility in our lesson, Jonah was mostly good, although there was one turn where he went behind my back to get to the dogwalk.  He did that a couple times and then the next time I went to actually grab his collar and not let him get on the dogwalk.  Well, he's faster than I am and got a few feet on the dogwalk and I accidentally ended up pulling him off it and he landed scrambling.  Then he pouted at me for a minute.  He wasn't hurt at all but his confidence was clearly shaken.  Sorry, bud.  You could have just not gone behind my back...

After that little episode he was himself again.  We worked on some discriminations, wraps, etc.  It was not a perfect day for us and we had some other mistakes here and there, but overall his motivation was a lot better than it has been, so that's a big plus.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ground Work

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately.  We've been dog-sitting a friend's dog and it turned out to be a bit more of a commitment than I'd anticipated.  He didn't settle into our house very well and his nervousness led to a number of accidents, even right after we'd taken him outside.  Aside from the housetraining, this dog was a big puller on the leash, barked a lot and was generally not very obedient.  It made me really realize how lucky we've been with Jonah in so many ways.

On the other hand, a trip to a dog park yesterday, some walks this weekend, and my reading the Clean Run magazine is making me think we have some real basics to be working on.  At the park, it was very clear that Jonah's social skills are poor.  He would want to join in with other dogs playing, but he doesn't seem to know how.  His response was to bark repeatedly at the group of dogs.  After 10 minutes or so he got more involved and would run with the other dogs, but it took quite a while.  Some of the dogs looked startled when he barked at them.  I know that he's not going to attack them, but he doesn't sound very nice, and I don't think the other dogs know he won't go at them.  I know their owners don't.

Then, both yesterday Dave and I took Jonah for a leashed walk around the neighborhood.  Most of the time he was wonderful.  He walked beautifully on the leash, met people and dogs happily and didn't mind when cars drove by.  Most of the time.  Actually, he was good on the leash all the time, but he barked at one large man we walked by (who jumped back and was clearly frightened), lunged at a large pitbull, and jumped at a few cars.  At this point I'm thinking that having good behavior 90% of the time or so isn't good enough, because the 10% of the time he's not good he's pretty bad.

Today Dave and I took him for another walk, just along the road (there's a nice sidewalk).  Every time a car would go by, I would ask Jonah to focus on me and do tricks.  There were still a few episodes of him losing focus and lunging towards the cars, but in general I think it was an improvement.  We're going to keep doing that until he doesn't blink an eye at a passing vehicle.  It's nice, too, to work on the car issue before we focus on other dogs and people, because the cars are never afraid if he barks at them.

We're also going to make an effort to take him to more off-leash dog parks so he can work on his social skills, too.  He's much better meeting dogs off-leash.

Anyway, I don't know when our wonderful little dog has become semi-reactive, but I'm hoping we can rid him of it.  It's interesting that, at this point, I can tell what dogs he will get along well with and which he might bark at.

We have a trial this weekend, but then we're entering a time of a big break between trials while I'm out of the country, but I really want him to be better with these things by late June when we trial again.  He's manageable now, but it would be a lot less stressful if there were fewer 'issues' to manage.  It's nice to have a real focus, and especially when the weather's good and it's fun to go for walks and to parks!

Clean Run Order

We got some goodies from Clean Run this weekend:
1.  A small bait bag that I can throw for Jonah
2.  Food tubes for liquid treats
3.  A Clean Run magazine focusing on motivation

I haven't gotten to use the bait bag or food tubes yet, but the magazine is great so far.  Thanks, Clean Run!

Congrats, Grace and Zer!

Grace, our trainer from Four Paws, was at AKC nationals this weekend.  They posted the results online so we could follow along, and she did fantastic!  Only the top 7% of dogs made the final (in her case, 8 of the 111 dogs jumping 24" made it).  She not only made it to the finals, but she finished second!  Wow!  It's fun to know someone having such big success.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekly Lesson

Jonah was a completely different dog this week at his lesson.  Last week he was dull and slow, but this week he was eager and speedy.

Our first course went pretty much perfectly.  He was fast all around, took nice lines and didn't make any mistakes.  After we finished, there weren't even any parts we wanted to do over.

Then Joan gave us a harder course, and it did us in a little bit.  First off, I got lost, which never helps things.  Even once I figured out where we were going, though, Jonah had some trouble with some of the discriminations.  He had A-frame suck.  I think it took us 3 or 4 tries to get it right, and I had to pull hard and call his name to get him to un-bid from the A-frame.  Good learning experience for us.

In general, Jonah's enhanced speed made him a little less focused on me.  That meant that any little bits of unclear handling on my part allowed him to go take whatever was in his sight.  It was really good for me because it brought out a bunch of bad habits that I have which I've always been able to cover for when he's slower.  This mostly came across in the placement of my front crosses.  If I was moving at all in the direction of a jump I didn't want him to take, he would take it.  I really had to position myself for the next obstacle.  Also, I can work more on making his line as short as possible by really asking him to jump a small part of the bar rather than always approaching the middle of the jump.

Good stuff.  School is really picking up for the big grind, so agility is a little bit on hold, but I'll keep you posted with any news we have.