Monday, April 30, 2012

And Again!

I think he gets it!  Our evening running session was phenomenal.  Jackpots every single time.  I think it's time to put things up again soon!


We did another running session at 30" today, and Jonah was once again 100%.  I'm starting to think he might understand, but I don't want to get my hopes up.  But he's just jackpoting and jackpoting and jackpoting over and over.  It's fantastic.

Today I made an extra point of working both sides, of running with him, of letting him run ahead of me, of leading out so I was in front of him, and of rear crossing the DW.  I haven't tried a FC yet as I fear it would be demotivating, but I suppose I should try that soon, too.  I even did the A-frame with a tight turn to the dogwalk, which he handled beautifully.

Pretty much, he's a rockstar.

I fixed the paint on the new board that got screwed up, so either today or tomorrow I'll take that outside and then I can put the hardware on the boards.  I think I'm going to need to put the whole dogwalk up again soon, too.  Wow!

Here's hoping that things continue to go smoothly!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I just put the dogwalk up again and Jonah did a perfect session.  One repetition wasn't a full Jackpot, but it was a hind leg solidly in the contact zone.  Every other repetition was a jackpot.  What an awesome boy!

I was so proud I figured I should grab the tape measure...and it's at 30"!  Only 18" more to go...while we keep performance and add turns and all the other important things.  Ok, I know we still have a long way to go and tomorrow he could totally regress, but I am thrilled for now!

Bo-Gee Trial

Jonah and I had a pretty good weekend.

First off, it was just wonderful to be outside, and this venue is quite lovely.  There is a stream around the huge field where the trial is, and Jonah and I would take a nice little trip over to the water after each run.  We were also able to run around in the field, practice tugging, and generally be happy and excited.

He was not ever rudely barky at other dogs.  Some of that was because he was being good, and part was just because there's simply more room outside.

The biggest difference was in being able to get him excited before going in the ring.  That was good stuff.

Saturday Round 1:  Standard Level 4
     This was our first run yesterday, and it went alright.  Actually, it started quite well and we got through all the tough stuff pretty easily.  Jonah was running nicely, making tight lines, and looking happy.  Then came the teeter, and he was suddenly nervous.  The teeter's never been his favorite obstacle, but he's generally good about it.  Well, he was super slow and I had to take a step back and wait for him.  He tipped it and then jumped off the side.  The judge didn't call anything, but if he touched yellow it wasn't much!  I was caught off guard, but we continued on.  Then there was a 180 and he was still just unmotivated after the teeter incident, so he was pretty slow.  Once he got to the weaves, though, he picked back up and ran the end of the course well.  He did pull a bar, so we ended up fourth.  Even with the slowness, he had the fastest time in our class and would have won without the bar.  Anyway, I was feeling lucky to not have been called on the teeter.  I'll take the Q!

Saturday Round 2:  Jackpot Level 4
      The most logical opening involved the teeter, but I wanted him fast and having fun, so I made up a different plan.  We had 25 seconds so I was thinking we'd get in 10-12 obstacles.  Well, he was flying!  We got through the 14 I had planned for and I had to improvise after that while waiting for the buzzer.  What a good boy.  Then the closing was difficult.  It was like this:

Well, we got it!  Jonah slowed down a little bit when I gave the 'out' command.  I think he wasn't 100% sure he was doing what I wanted, but he went out to the far tunnel entrance at 2.  After that, 3 and 4 were a breeze.  Woo!  I was surprised that our opening was not enough for first place--we were 2nd.  A Q is a Q, though!  That earns us our CL4-S title and makes our goal of being in level 5 for 4 classes by nationals.

Sunday Round 1:  Standard Level 4
     Well, we screwed up.  I was worried about him being nervous about the teeter.  It was the third obstacle.  He'd let me rev him up a lot before the run and he started really fast.  Maybe too fast.  He flew over the first two jumps, lept onto the teeter and then didn't want to stop!  He flew right off.  Having blown it, I took a chance in the weaves and tried to leave him while I went to put in a FC.  It pulled him out of the weaves.  It shouldn't.  I guess I need to work on weave independence again.  It's a skill I don't practice very much and I guess I can't just take it for granted.  Anyway, after that we once again flew through the difficult sections of the course.  No problem.  He did run through his DW.  I'm so glad we're going to have a legitimate running contact soon!  Oh, and then we pulled the last bar.  Doh.  Not our best work.  He was fast fast fast, though :).

Sunday Round 2:  Wildcard Level 4
     This time we got things back under control, but then we lost some of the speed that was so nice in standard.  It wasn't too tough a course.  The weave entry was a little tricky, then there was an unintuitive tunnel entrance, and then a discrimination.  Jonah didn't blink at any of it.  Just a little pokey.  It was enough to win our class, though, and to finish level 4 for Wildcard!  That means we just have colors and standard to finish in level 4.

Sunday Round 3:  Colors Level 4
     This course was pretty similar to the Wildcard course.  In fact, it was almost exactly the same except they shifted the tunnels and switched some single jumps for doubles, etc.  This time was better.  We cut 3 seconds off the time of our first run.  I still think he could have run faster, but it was a smooth run and he was happy, so I won't ask for more.  I didn't wait to see how we placed but I got our score sheet to verify our Q.

In sum, it was a good trial.  I'm a little bummed that we would now have to go 3/3 at nationals to finish level 4 standard, but oh well.  We'll get there when we get there.  Today marks our 80th Q, which means we're 2/3 of the way to a CATCH.  It's looking like, depending on what our trial schedule is this summer and fall and how much USDAA we do, we may have a shot of finishing it up before the end of the year.  Of course, as soon as I start running our dogwalks we may have a lot more NQs :).  My plan at this point is to get our AAD in USDAA and then really focus on CPE until we have our CATCH.  Then we'll pretty much just switch over.

I feel like there's so much I want to do to make Jonah 'the complete package' (running dogwalk, improve teeter performance, proof weave independence, practice discriminations, teach a left and right, work more on wraps, improve drive with tugging...).  I guess that's good--it means we have a long time to improve.  Part of me is impatient.  I just want it now.  But the journey is fun in itself.  He's such a good boy and I'm so lucky to get to share the ring with him.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bo Gee Trial Preview

Today we're headed up to Deerfield, NH for two runs at Bo Gee's trial, and then we'll be back tomorrow for 3 more.

Today is Standard and Jackpot.

Tomorrow is Standard, Colors and Wildcard.

I'm really really hoping for a Q in either Jackpot or Wildcard so I can meet my goal of being in level 5 in four classes by nationals (we're already there for snooker, jumpers and fullhouse).

Standard Qs are important--we need four more in level 4.

Colors is the class we're most behind in.  This would be our second Q in level 4 if we get it tomorrow.  Colors should be the last Q we need in for our level 4 title (hopefully this summer), but I'm still pretty sure we'll catch up and Standard will be the last Q we'll need for our CATCH (this fall?  winter?)

Anyway, it's cool but otherwise a beautiful day.  I'm excited.

This morning we did a running dogwalk session and Jonah's looking fantastic.  He lept once, but otherwise he was always jackpot-ing.  I swear I'll find that tripod sometime soon so I'll have video again...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dogwalk Update

We've done three excellent sessions on the dogwalk today.

First off, I brought a new board out so it's officially full size now--three 12' boards.

The first two sessions the height was about 20".  For the last one, I raised it to 24".

Jonah was awesome.  A few leaps here and there, but overall he's looking great.  We're half way there!

I promise I'll find the tripod soon!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Awesome Class

Tonight was probably one of the best classes we've ever had.  Jonah was awesome!

Our first course ran beautifully.  Honestly, there wasn't much of anything I would have done differently.  He was fast, took good lines, and there weren't any sticky areas at all.  What a good boy.

So...the second time through I decided to make things a little tougher and handle things as gambles.  Here are some of the gambles we strung together:

There were only 2 trouble spots.  In the second gamble, I pushed towards the weaves too early and made him miss his entry (he entered at pole 2).  The second time I waited and he nailed it.  I just need to be patient in those situations.

In the third gamble, the chute to the triple proved just too difficult.  He was coming out of it so fast that by the time he saw me and my motion out, he was already past the jump.  Oh well.  If the weaves hadn't been there, I could have called him over the line towards me and then sent him back out.

But other than those two things, he was awesome!  I didn't know that he would be able to get number 4 to 5 in the second gamble, but he nailed it.  It's so cool when things go right :).

Our second course of the night ran really well until I took things for granted right at the end.  In the first gamble map above, the course ran from the tunnel at 5 to the jump 3, and then to the tunnel under the A-frame.  I serped it, but I guess I pushed to the tunnel too soon and he took the A-frame.  I wasn't anticipating that.  The second time we tried it I was more careful and we didn't have any trouble.

People in our class were saying we were too good for them.  I absolutely disagree--I always learn a lot from watching them, and they're doing really well!  One dog in our class just got their first 2 QQs in AKC this weekend!  The compliment, though, felt good after our disastrous weekend last week.  Sometimes it just feels good to do well.  It just felt so easy and flowing tonight.  It's fun when he's so focused and fast.  I'm so lucky to have such an awesome dog!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Running Update

Sorry for the lack of updates of late.  Today was my last day of class, so things have been busy.  Not that they get easier now...the next few weeks will be crazy with final papers.

Also it's been raining.

And I can't find the camera tripod.

And Jonah hurt his paw the other day.  It was bleeding all over the place, so I figured I shouldn't have him train.

We have been running the board some though, promise.

I added an up ramp.  Jonah has been doing...well.  Not great.  Not bad.  He misses sometimes.  He jackpots sometimes.  Sometimes he gets one foot in.  I have to admit I wish he understood it by now, but he doesn't.  I just have to be patient.

On the board front, I finished painting.  Then this morning I went to check on things.  They look awesome.  So I took off the tape.  And, on one board, the tape pulled off about a 6" section of paint, all the way down to the wood.  Bummer.  Now I need to sand, prime and paint that spot.  At least it's the bottom, but I'm ready to be done and get the boards out there already!

At least my excuse is that the sky is currently very dark and it's going to rain hard very soon!

Now back to work.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Statistically, this was by far our worst trial--we came home 0/4!

Besides having my pride hurt, though, all but one run had an overall positive vibe.

Round 1:  Jackpot Level 4
     This course was a little too good to be true, and I blew it.  It was non-traditional, and there were 3 available gambles.  You could do all 3, and you could do them at any time.  We went in the ring and he started fast and furious.  We got the first gamble (15 points).  Then we got the second (20 points).  It was the letters as below:
I thought that would be the hard one, but he raced out to the tunnel like a pro.

Then I did a little loop around collecting points and we started for the third gamble (numbers above).  Well, I wasn't careful enough and he was in the tunnel before I realized it.  I knew he would look for it since he'd just done the 'out to tunnel' gamble.  My bad.  Anyway, the buzzer still hadn't sounded so I called him back and we turned around to do the numbered gamble.  The buzzer sounded just before we did the numbers (for another 20 points), meaning we had another 18 seconds to collect points and get to the table.  So...I got greedy.  In the end, I got to the table 1.05 seconds too late.  Bummer.  We got 84 points, though!  And Jonah ran fantastic.  He was flying, and I take 100% responsibility for any mishaps we had.  Good boy.  Anyway, it was an NQ.

Round 2:  Standard Level 4
     This course still has me shaking my head.  It was a great run.  Except for when he fell off the dogwalk.  I really don't know what happened but I looked at him up on top of the dogwalk and he was flailing around trying to catch his balance.  He failed.  Once he fell I was kind of shocked, but he just grinned at me, leaped and barked like "MOM.  You're SLOW."  So, we went on and finished the course.  He was flying again.  I guess it was just a big oops moment. There goes level 5 for standard for nationals.

Round 'would have been 3': Colors
   Dave was cranky and the trial was going really slow (they didn't finish until after 8:30pm!!!), so we scratched.  Kind of a bummer, but we had a lovely afternoon trail running, hiking, and camping in a state park up in ME.

Round 1:  Wildcard Level 4
    Well, it started great.  Again, he was totally full speed and having a blast.  Then there was a line of jumps right towards the spectators.  He flew down the line but then instead of nicely wrapping the last jump and completing the course he disconnected for a few seconds and looked for dad.  Grr.  He recovered, but he was so out of position that he latched onto an off course jump and I couldn't call him off it.  Yarg!  The rest of the course was flawless.  Thanks, bud.  Again, NQ.

Round 2:  Standard Level 4
    I had really high hopes that this would be the run where everything would come together.  He'd been so excited and fast and happy for the whole trial experience.  No signs of nervousness at all.  Just a little distraction from dad, but even that hadn't been bad at all.  The course had some challenges, but nothing too bad, I thought.  Well, things didn't come together.  The second obstacle was a tunnel and he went in...and then it was several seconds before he came out.  I have no idea why.  He's not generally a tunnel rocket dog, but something was up.  Goof.  Then we got going again until there was a tunnel to RC.  He headed for it and I started to accelerate behind him and I guess it was too much pressure because he turned around.  I put him in the tunnel and off we went.  The next jump was towards the spectators, and he disconnected again so then he missed a discrimination.  We went back and got the A-frame and he was doing OK but turning really wide and generally being slow.  He was slow on the teeter and then ran past a jump (again near the spectators).  I got him going again, and this time he went all the way over the dogwalk (yay!), but he was looking around and ran through the 2o2o.  Yay for training a running contact.   After that he picked up steam and got to full speed, but still.  It was an overall bad run.  Another NQ.  So frustrating.  Not a good note to end the weekend on.  I feel like we're so much better than that.  I don't know why he has runs where he's that unlike himself, right after fantastic runs where he's full speed and happy.  Maybe some day we'll get it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20 Running

Today I put the table up to its full height.  Our next height change will probably go down, actually, but it will involve the full length dogwalk!  Very exciting.  Of course, I have to finish painting first...

Anyway, today's session was good.  We had some misses, but in general I'm pretty hopeful.  I still don't think he really understands why he doesn't get cookies when he leaps, but it's becoming a habit to just run down the ramp.  Hopefully in time he will understand, but so long as he's doing it right and getting rewards, I'm not upset.

Here's the video:

April 19 Running

Here's yesterday's video, as promised.  It was a short and sweet session!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great Class

Jonah was fantastic at class tonight.

The first course started with a fast opening line of jump-jump-A frame...and then a backside of a jump.  It looked nasty, but Jonah did great.  I ended up pushing to the backside off the A-frame and then serping the landing side.  It worked really well.  Everyone else in class put in a FC after the A-frame.  I did that the second time and somehow did manage to get it done in time, but it was much messier.  I liked my push better.

Other than that, there was a hard pull out of a tunnel.  The dogs saw the weaves while they were in the tunnel, but they had to turn hard to get a good approach onto the DW.  I called hard and Jonah did great.

Then after the DW there was a perfect place for a Ketschker, and it worked great.  Aside from that, there was a push out of the weaves and a flip from the DW to a tunnel, but nothing caused trouble.

So, the first time through we ran clean and fast.  The second time I tried to do a section as a gamble and got a little too ambitious.  I wasn't moving as he came out of a tunnel and called "out," but it wasn't enough.  On our second attempt I hung back more so I could take a few steps as he came out of the tunnel.  That worked well.

The second course had a tricky opening that looked like this:

I didn't want to lead out, so I ended up playing it pretty conservatively, and I RC'd the poles.  It worked, but he definitely didn't enter at full speed.  Later I did 1-3 again and managed to BC between 2 and 3.  It would have been a lot faster, but I dropped my bait bag which was a bit of a distraction :).  The rest of the course ran very well and quite fast.

I'll upload today's running plank video tomorrow--got to get to bed for tonight.  It was good, though.  Tomorrow I'll put the table up to its full height.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trial Preview: Happy Tails

This weekend we're doing a two day trial, with just a few runs each day.  We'll see how things go.  Dave will be there, which tends to be distracting.  All of the runs are level 4, though, so they're runs that we need.

Round 1:  Jackpot Level 4
     This would be our last level 4 Jackpot, and would earn us our CL4-S title.  At one point I had hoped to be in level 5 in four classes by nationals.  Now I'm thinking we shouldn't have any trouble meeting that goal, but this would secure it right away.  Jackpot is a good way to start the day and I'd like to plan a fast and motivating opening.  It will be nontraditional, so hopefully it won't be bad.

Round 2:  Standard Level 4
     Every standard round is important these days since we have a shot at being in level 5 for nationals if we get both standards this weekend and both next weekend.  It's a tall order, but I still have my fingers cautiously crossed.  I'll handle this course a little bit conservatively and hope for the Q.

Round 3:  Colors Level 4
     This would be our second level 4 colors Q.  If we get this and the one next weekend, we're on pace to get our level 4 title at nationals.  That would be exciting!  Colors is the class we're the farthest behind in, so every run matters.  Luckily the courses are generally straight forward--there's just no room to make mistakes!

Round 1:  Wildcard Level 4
     This would be our last level 4 Wildcard.  This and Jackpot are the runs I care least about this weekend, but it's always good to get Qs, and it's exciting to finish classes.  We'll see how things go.

Aside from the trial we're planning on camping and hiking.  It's supposed to rain, but hopefully it won't be too bad.

April 18

This session was poorly handled by me.  He was going so well and I said, "Just two more good ones and I'll stop."  Of course, then he started to screw up.  From now on, if he gets the first 6 in a row we will be done.

Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with how he looks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Run Run Run!

Yesterday we watched the Boston Marathon.  It was inspiring.  I'd already been planning on doing a marathon this fall, but now I'm even more excited.  The most fun part was seeing our friends from Back on My Feet.  Two homeless guys from our team finished in good form, even though it hit 90 degrees yesterday!  It was their first marathons.  We're so happy for them (and everyone else)!

Jonah's running is rather different.  It looks more like this:

A good session, especially since it was the first at this height.  He missed twice, but when he didn't leap his form looked great.  What a good boy.  We'll get a running dogwalk yet :).

I'm also nearing the end of the paint job on the new boards.  It will be fun to get that set up!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16

So Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today Jonah and I only did one session each day.  The result was a fantastic session today!  Maybe I'd just been pushing too hard too fast.  Today Jonah was 100% of jackpots.  Tomorrow we'll put the board up.  Tomorrow will also be another 1-session day.

A week ago I said I was hoping to be up to the full 16" table by today, but that didn't quite happen.  Things aren't going quite as fast as it looked like they might at first, but if he keeps up the work like he did today, we may catch right back up.  It won't be long until we'll be setting up a full length (but very low height) dogwalk!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Camping and Frightening Incidents

We headed up to the White Mountains yesterday for a hiking and camping adventure.  Let's just say a few things didn't go according to plan.

First, we overslept so we got a late start.

Second, the GPS sent us on a wild goose chase to find a Subway that didn't exist.  We ended up at a local pizza place, and it's subs were not particularly great.

Once we got out on the trail, things were going great.  We had to be less than half a mile from the summit when the trail became treacherous.  It was a steep rock face which would have been climbable except for the fact that it was covered in ice forms, running water and slushy snow.  We were making our way along it pretty well.  There was one point where we had to lift Jonah up a ledge, but generally it was working.  Then we got to one point where it was unclear how to get up.  I went one way and Dave went another.  Jonah went after Dave.  I'd shimmied my way up to a ledge and Dave was about parallel to me about 20 feet to my left.  Jonah made his push to reach Dave but slipped.  I looked over to watch my dog tumble down about a 15' slippery rock face.  It was one of those slow motion moments, as I wasn't sure when he'd land.  He did, though, and shook himself off quickly.  He seemed fine, and found his own way up the rock.  We went up another few hundred feet and then we got to another very slick section.  It was ice a lot like what you see on the side of the highway in the winter on the steep rock faces.  I'm pretty sure that Dave and I could have grabbed a rock hold about 5 feet up if we hadn't had our packs on.  There was no way Jonah could have done it, though.  We thought about picking him up and pushing him up to the next ledge, but there was no solid footholds for us--it was all icy.  We made the disappointing decision to turn around.  I think of us as pretty hearty, but I have to say I think this was the right decision.

It took us a long time to get down, but everyone was safe.  It was a relief to get down off the rock 'slide.'  We eventually found a flat tent site and set up camp.

Then we pulled out the stove, set it up and realized we didn't have anything to light it with.  Oops.  Luckily we had some sandwich left over from lunch, but it still wasn't very good.  We ate a full bag of trail mix and were still hungry.

Eventually we settled down to sleep and all seemed fine.

Then, around 3:00, Jonah was whining and wanted to go out.  Since we went to bed around 8, it didn't seem too unusual that he'd be ready to go out.  So, Dave opened the door.  Jonah went out.

Within 5 seconds, (he could only have been about 15 feet away from the tent), he suddenly started whimpering and he rushed back to the tent, leaping against the door until we let him in.

My first thought was that he would have a porcupine quill on him.  It took us a few seconds to find a headlamp, but once we got to it we couldn't find anything on him--no quill, no cuts, no scrapes, and he wasn't favoring anything.  He was terrified though.  He just stood there looking at the door with his head down, shaking.  It was half an hour before he sat down, another 20 minutes until he laid down, and it was a full 2 hours before he fell back asleep.  The poor guy was just really scared, and I have no idea what he saw.  He's not usually a cuddly guy, but he just lay there right in between me and Dave, while I rubbed his belly and Dave stroked his back.  He never would have let us do that on a normal day.

This morning, he wouldn't leave the tent.  He was still scared.  We called him out and he stepped gingerly out one foot at a time, and then turned and went running right back in.  It took us a while to get him out so we could take the tent down.  Once we left the tent site, he seemed fine.  He's a little stiff, but once we were a few minutes down the trail he was his happy self, and soon he was chasing squirrels and getting far enough ahead that we put him on leash for the rest of the hike.  No more signs of worry.  I'm going to keep my eye on him and tomorrow I'll call the vet.  I was pretty worried there for a little while there, but I think we're through the worst of it.

We decided to just head straight home.  We'd had a good taste of the wild and it's good to be back at home.  Next week we'll try things again :)!

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13 Running Plank

This was our first session at this height.  You'll notice that one of our supports broke in one of the last repetitions, so I might need to figure out a new system :).  Other than that, I apologize for the camera angle.  In real life, a few of what look like 'close calls' on the video were clearly yellow.  Tomorrow I'll look for a better camera spot.  Darn trees!  Anyway, it was far from perfect but the fact that I didn't have to put the board back down is a success.  We'll spend some time at this height before moving it up again.

Breeze Thru Agility Trial

Today Jonah and I drove to western MA for two runs at a CPE trial.  He was very good.  I loved the venue (Roaring Brook Farm in Conway, MA).  It was a horse farm and we ran in the indoor.  The footing was a little bit slippery and kind of dusty, but overall it was great.  There was lots of space outside the ring for dogs waiting to go in, and it was a beautiful sunny day outside with lots of space to walk/play with the dogs.  Jonah and I had a great time together in the sun.  We did a bunch of tugging practice that I was very pleased with.

Round 1:  Standard Level 4
This course started pretty straight forward but then had a section of looping back and forth that was generally not motivating.  That sequence looked like this:

Needless to say, this section slowed Jonah down.  I had to do a little cheerleading, and it wasn't the most fun agility we've done.  Anyway, only three dogs ran the course faster than us so even though it felt overall unenthusiastic it wasn't bad.  1st and Q.  Now we're half done with level 4 standard Qs.

Round 2:  Colors Level 4
Jonah was awesome!  He was excited, fast, eager, and confident.  I didn't stick around to see scores, but it was definitely a Q and we got some good compliments.  I was so impressed with him.  It was one of the best runs we've ever had at a trial.  Granted, it was a pretty straight forward course, but still.  We'll take it, especially when overall motivation is probably our biggest challenge at trials these days.  What a star.  I would be really surprised if we didn't win our class, and I doubt many dogs in the trial ran faster.

So, two runs isn't a lot but we got to sleep in and got home in time to do more board practice and have a nice dinner.  Not a bad day!


Jonah's running plank session this morning was awesome!  He was really excited because the neighbors had landscapers working in their yard.  Usually when he's high he doesn't focus well, but today he was excellent.  8 big jackpots in a row, and I decided to finish with that.  What a star!  I moved the table up for next time.  Hopefully we can maintain this level of success!

Running, Class, Trial Preview

Yesterday Jonah looked good on the board.  A few misses, but generally pretty accurate.

For class, he was excited and especially unreactive to the other dogs.  The first course ran smooth and clear the first time.  Then when we ran it again I tried to get to fancy and screwed him up.  There was a backside jump which I was unclear about and he took the front side.  My fault.

For the second course, we missed a weave entry (not sure why--it wasn't tricky) and then he pulled a bar in the closing line when I really took off.  He doesn't like to be left behind, but it meant a bar.  Oops.  The second time through that course was fast and clean.  I got to practice a nice blind cross which worked quite well both times.

And then today we have a trial!  We're just doing two runs:  Standard and Colors.  Of course, both of those runs are fairly important for us since they're the two classes we're most behind in.  The trial is indoors on dirt, which might be my favorite footing for agility.  We'll see what we think of the facility and the courses.  Two Qs would be nice...  There are six dogs in our standard class and three in colors.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Update

Sorry--still no video today.  The battery is currently charging, though, so tomorrow I should be able to take some footage.

We did two short sessions today, and Jonah was excellent in both.  For the second, I raised the table to about 8" and Jonah didn't ever miss.  We only did about 9 or 10 repetitions, but he was doing so well I wanted to stop on a positive note.  Good boy!

The process is definitely going slower than I expected about a week ago.  We've still got about 40" to go! That said, this will be a very satisfying skill once we get there.  Definitely the biggest training project we've undertaken.  I'm also hoping that at some point he'll 'get it' and then we'll be able to move the height up a little more quickly.  We'll see.  Luckily nationals is still 65 days away!

The construction project is going well, too.  I've got the boards primed and sanded.  Now I just have to seal the sand with another layer on the sand, and then it's painting time.  I think they will look very good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday News

I did go ahead and do a short session with Jonah this morning.  I have the table elevated just a few inches--I think the total height is around 5", and then the board off that.  He was not 100%, but much better than yesterday.  I kept the session good and short so he could be high energy the whole time.  We'll see how he looks tomorrow.  I plan to keep the board at this height until he's pretty close to 100%.

Aside from the plank running, I finished priming the DW boards this morning.  Next step:  sand painting.  The whole agility painting thing takes a while, but I've gotten pretty confident about the final product.  It looks really good if I take the time to do it right!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Well, the camera died so I don't have footage for this afternoon's sessions, but it's probably better that way--they were quite discouraging!

I had apparently dropped some cookies on the ground, so Jonah was quite distracted by that.  He'd get excited and run the board, but then he wouldn't want to come back to me to do it again.  He just sniffed around.  That made for low energy from him and frustration from me.  In addition, he wasn't running well. He missed a few times so I put the board down to almost on the ground, and he was still just not focused.  We finished pretty fast, as soon as he had a nice Jackpot.

Then, a few minutes later he was looking very agitated and ill.  I was worried about him.  Another few minutes and he was fine again, but I don't know what was going on.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

A few hours later we went out to try again.  I moved the board so it wasn't where the cookies had been.  Well, the sniffing was gone, but he just wasn't very consistent.  I wasn't throwing the ball perfectly, but he wasn't being gracious about it, either.  If it wasn't perfectly straight, he'd jump off the side of the board.  He lept a few times, too.  I put the board almost flat and he was good enough that I could stop, but I was overall a little disappointed, though I tried not to show it.

I'm thinking I've been drilling him too hard.  I may give him tomorrow completely off.  If I do anything, it will just be one (hopefully short) session.  I'm learning quickly that I can't push this.  Not only can I not raise the height quickly, but I can't take for granted that he'll do the same height well just because he did it before.  Hopefully at some point he'll really 'get it' and understand that he's supposed to put his feet in the yellow.  Grace said it just clicked for Punk one day, so I'm anxiously waiting for that!  Jonah means well, he just doesn't understand yet.

In other news, we have new boards!  I've started priming, but it will take me a few days/a week or so before I have them operational.  Still, very exciting!

Slow and Steady

Here's the video from this morning's session.  I'm thinking it looks pretty good, but I'm going to do a few more times at this height.  Obviously I'd rather not have any misses, but I'd really like some more Jackpots rather than Rewards.  Some of our Rewards today were pretty close, too.  I bet sometimes they'd be called as a missed contact.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Morning

Happy Easter!  We're about to go have brunch with the family, but here's a peak at our morning session.

I want a high success rate, so I decided to put the table down and just run him happily a few times.  We'll get there, even if it takes a while.

I just verified that Home Depot is open, so I think I'll go get boards tonight :-D!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Planking

Here's the video from this morning.  It was a good session:

Then, this evening I tried to move things up.  Let's just say it didn't go as I'd planned.

First I put the plank on the table with the bottom off of it.  It was about 10", and maybe 6" higher than it was before.  That was too much.  He had a few jackpots and a reward or so, but he started leaping and so it was clear that I needed to bring it down.  Unfortunately the leaping continued some even after I'd brought it down.

Our second segment was back to what we'd done for the last few days, and he was good but not quite as sharp as he has been.

Next I put just the table top on the ground.  Unfortunately I didn't get video.  It wasn't any problem for him, though.  He was 100% I'm pretty sure.  I was concerned that just having the table was really changing his stride, so I wanted to make it as easy as possible.  It worked.

Finally I raised the table top just four inches or so.  It's actually lower than what we've been doing for the last few days, by half an inch or so.  It does make a difference for him, though.  I plan to keep it at this height for a few days.  Today I moved too fast.  He's still very excited to work on the plank, but I don't want to burn him out and I want to keep his success rate high.

My goal is to have him up to the full 16" table height by the end of next weekend, but we'll see how things go.  I learned today that rushing is very much not in our best interest.  It's a good lesson to learn early.

I also think I'll buy our new planks in the next couple days.  Once we're at the 16" table, the next step is having him run on a full dogwalk, but lowered.  I better have painted planks by then!!

Here's a look at our less successful sessions this afternoon/evening:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Round 2

Here's this evening's video.  He never missed entirely, but there was a lot of variety in his footfalls.

Good Friday Update

We did our first raised plank work at home today.  Overall it went well.  At first, Jonah was really excited.  I'd made him some food balls (tennis balls with a slit cut in them so I can fill them with food).  He thought they were fantastic and was a little too focused on the playing aspect, with not quite enough focus on the board.  Oops.  Anyway, as my throwing got better and his edge started to wear off, he got better.  We did two sessions, and I was thrilled with the second session.  He slipped of the side of the board one time, but other than that it was looking pretty great.  If I didn't know him, I might actually think he was a BC from watching the tape.  I'm so excited for the potential of this running dogwalk to really give him confidence and to allow us to pick up some seconds on course :).

Here's the video:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Running Continues--With Help!

Jonah and I got a big boost on our running contact training today.  We had a half hour to ourselves with Grace, and she really got us on the right track.

...well, to start, she said we were already on the right track, which is always good to hear :).  She said we didn't need to use a carpet and could go right on to the board.

We talked about different ways of motivating Jonah.  I told her I'd had trouble with the ball, but she showed me how she used the ball, which was far better than what I'd done.  Instead of running with him and tossing the ball as he's getting on the plank, she had me toss the ball before he started, from about 15 feet away from the board.  Then I stayed pretty much still, just taking a few steps forward.  It worked really well.  Then, when he hit a Jackpot, I'd chase after him and get excited, roughing him around a little.  Eventually I tried feeding him when he did a Jackpot.  He liked that, but it meant the ball's value went way down as soon as he realized there was food around.  Anyway, he kept chasing the ball over the plank, he just stopped for food afterwards.

So, after a bunch of trips over the board when Jonah was doing really well, Grace grabbed some blocks and raised the board into a little ramp.  It was probably only about 4 inches up, but still--progress!  Jonah never missed (that I can remember anyway), and really didn't even seem to notice that anything had changed.  Wahoo!

The plan from now on is to raise the plank 4-6 inches after 3 or so sessions at a given height, assuming his success rate stays very high.  I'm excited!  We'll try to do 2 sessions of about 10 repetitions each day. That means, if all goes well (which, probably at some point it won't), could be less than 2 weeks.  Wow! We do have a trial next weekend, so I'm thinking I may have him do a 2o2o then, but we'll see.  It will really be a scary moment the first time I ask him to run a DW in a trial!  Hopefully we'll get some good practice at class first.  This could be a disaster, but I'm up for that risk.  It should at least be a fast, exciting disaster!

In other news, Laura Dolan who we've been training with just *won* the 12" division at AKC nationals.  Amazing!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Running Plank Video

After watching yesterday's videos, it was clear that Jonah was missing contacts when he looked up at me.  He was in playful mode rather than driving, full speed mode.  So, I had to get him running faster and not have me hold him up.  Silvia Trkman recommends throwing a ball ahead of the dog, but when I brought out a ball Jonah just got way too high and couldn't focus on the board.  For this session, we set up the camera on its tripod, and put me and Dave on opposite ends of the board.  Then, we'd restrain and recall him over the board.  The result was much, much better.  Take a look!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Running Plank

Here's our first video of the running dogwalk process.  The stats are:

7 misses
10 makes (of which 4 are rewards and 6 are jackpots)

That's not a good stat, but it's only our first day, so hopefully we'll get better!  I notice that when he misses he's looking at me, so I'm going to start using the lure ball like the method suggests.  I thought that the lure was rewarding even bad performances, but now I see that it's useful for keeping the dog focused.

Here's the video:

Monday, April 2, 2012


Here are a couple videos we took last week.  Sorry for the bad quality--it was getting dark.


Today is the day of short posts, apparently.  Jonah has been rather wild this evening, meaning he's forcing me to spend lots of time with him rather than doing work (what a shame!).  We've done two sessions with the running contact board, he's had a chew bone that he had to find, and then we went to Willard's.  Both in the contact training and at Willard's I made a point to play tug with him, and he was loving it!  Yay for already making progress on our goals.  Usually he doesn't like to tug away from home, but today was a good start.

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

Running dogwalk!

I don't know how much I've actually posted about our new project, but we've started.  At this point, we're working with a board on the ground, and I'm having Jonah just run across it full speed.  I click and treat when he hits the yellow.  If I get him excited enough coming into it, he almost always hits yellow.  I'm not totally sure what that will mean for trials when he's not excited, but for now it's going well.  I'll get Dave to video soon, hopefully.  I'm optimistic, though!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Goals

March was a good month for us.  Here were our goals:

1.  Finish our level 3 title!  We only have one shot this month, which will be this weekend.  I would really like to just finally be done with this.  
     Yes!  We got it.  I'm so glad to have that out of the way.  Of course, we're still behind in Colors, but hopefully we'll be able to get our chances in upcoming trials.

2.  Aside from the colors Q, we'll have CPE attempts at 2 standards Qs, a jumpers run, a snooker run, a wildcard run and a jackpot run.  I'd hope we would get 5 of those 6 Qs.  Things can always happen, but I think we should be able to get 5.
     Yes!  We went 7/7 in our CPE runs this month.  We're doing well.

3.  We have our USDAA trial next weekend where we'll have a Standard, a Jumpers, a Snooker and a Pairs run.  My goals will be to have an uneventful pairs run and at least 2 of the 4 Qs.  The standard would be good since we need those and we missed our last one.  If he managed to get all the games, he'd have a leg in each Advanced game and all he would need would be the Standards.  It seems crazy that Masters could be on the horizon!
     Yes.  We got 3/4, only missing the Snooker thanks to my lack of ability to think on my feet when Jonah ran past a jump and got distracted.  Oh well, though.  I was going for too ambitious a plan.  Next time I'll just try to get the Q (only needing 37 points, I think) instead of trying a 58 point plan.  We also got our AD paper title in the mail yesterday, so it's officially confirmed :).

4.  Put up the contacts!  There's snow now, but in a week or so I'm thinking it should be safe to put them up for the season.  Fun!
     Yes.  They're up and we've had some good practice.  The A-frame especially is looking good.  The DW may well be consuming our lives in the coming future, but it's good to have it up.

5.  Continue to work on wraps and recall to heel.  This is one of Jonah's weaknesses but I really don't think it needs to be.
     There's always more work to do, but we did work on it.

6.  Attend our first seminar!  We're going to a gamblers seminar at the end of the month and I'm very excited!  This was one of our goals for the year, and it looks like we'll get it out of the way this month.
     Yes.  It was lots of fun.  We've now accomplished 4 of our 11 goals for 2012, and have others in the works.  

So, now it's time to look at the month of April.  I really want to make training more of a priority this month, so it's going to be more ambitious!
1.  Start our running DW!!  By the end of the month, I want to have worked through the carpet stage and the flat plank stage, and be starting to put it up to a ramp.  This in itself will be a big goal!
2.  It would be really, really amazing if we could finish our Level 4 standard title this month.  That means going 5/5.  It's unlikely, but would be a huge success, and would mean that our nationals runs for standard would all be at level 5.
3.  Finish Jackpot Level 4.  We'll have two tries.
4.  Finish Wildcard Level 4.  We'll have two tries at this, too.
5.  Get Jonah to be able to tug away from home.  I don't know if we'll get to tugging at an agility location, but at least at Willards or a field or on trails will be a start.

Mostly our attention will be on the running dogwalk.  It's going to be a long, hard process, but I think in the long run it will help improve Jonah's confidence and get him running happy and fast.

Gambler Seminar

On Friday Jonah and I went to our first ever seminar.  It was great!  Grace had the full ring set up, and would change the different gambles around.  So, we'd plan an opening, then the whistle would blow and we'd go to the closing.  We generally got to run each one twice.  After 3 different full courses, at the end we just did a few distance exercises without doing the whole opening.

It was really neat to do each course twice, as it allowed us to really perfect the opening to get as many points as we could.  The ring is fairly small, so I could do more obstacles in the allotted time than usual.

As for the gambles, we had trouble with the first one, but after that we got in a rhythm and Jonah looked awesome.  Sometimes our openings didn't flow beautifully, but I'll take responsibility for that.  I was really tired and just not as focused as I like to be when I run him.  In all honestly, I was probably too tired to give him good handling, and I should have considered just not going, but we did learn a heck of a lot, so that was good.

The first gamble that we struggled with was a discrimination at distance, sending the dog out around the DW to a tunnel.  I guess I need to practice our voice cues more, but this was tough because the gamble line minimized my ability to handle the discrimination with body language and relied mainly on the verbal.  We got it done the second time, but it showed a gap in our training.

Other than that, his obstacle performance at distance is quite good, so teeters, weaves, jumps and the like didn't prove too difficult to us on the other side of the line.  We did some layering that he nailed very well.  Good boy!

Overall it was lots of fun.  Being so tired definitely meant I didn't give him as accurate of handling as I would have liked, but sometimes that's just the way of things.  Also, we worked out of a crate and Jonah really didn't like going into the crate.  Bribery works well, though!  However, once he was in it was nice to be able to go walk a course and not have to worry about him.  I'm not really sure it's worth it for us to put a lot of training into giving the crate more value--the only one we have lives permanently in the car.  Maybe some day, but we have more pressing things to work on for now.

On another note, he was absolutely perfect with other dogs at this workshop.  There were others around and out of crates between turns, but he never barked or anything.  That was a plus!