Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm going to start by posting a few videos from our run-throughs this weekend, and then voice a few of the concerns that I have.

These courses were from the October issue of Clean Run, on page 54.  We started with the Starters course, then the second one is the Advanced course.  I felt that they were both extremely challenging, and much harder than any Starters course that I've seen!

Lexi Course 1:

Bentley Course 1:

Lexi Course 2:

Bentley Course 2:

My first concern is with Lexi.  She is all over the place!  I know that there are dogs that go out and run away and grab whatever obstacle they want.  That's not quite Lexi.  She's just so excited, and she's running so quickly, that she'll grab whatever closest that she thinks I want her to take.  I can call her off, if I'm fast enough, so she is clearly trying to do what I ask...but she's so quick, that she often goes off course.

I don't want to ruin her enthusiasm or drive (the mistake we made with Bentley), but I wonder whether or not we need to try to reign her in.  I feel like any time I'm slightly facing the wrong way BAM, she's gone.  I need to be able to make some slight mistakes, or we'll never be able to be successful.

My second concern is the reason I started this blog...Bentley's running contacts.  His A-frame is really nice, and I'm mostly pleased with it.  I have seen him miss a few times, but in my opinion, not too much.  The dogwalk, on the other hand, is just atrocious.

During our daily trainings, he really seemed to make progress.  But as soon as we stopped the every day stuff, he just lost it.  He now hits (in sequence) about 25% of the time.  I think he has missed in every trial that we've entered him in since we started retraining.  It's so incredibly frustrating.  I'm seriously considering going back and retraining 2o2o, but I'm afraid that that will make it even more confusing for him.   I think it's at least time for us to get the board back out in the backyard, and start doing that again on a daily basis.

Also, I wonder if we aren't correctly rewarding/correcting him like we should be.  If he misses in sequence (except trials), we stop, and either start over at the beginning of the dogwalk, or pick him up and put him halfway up to try again.  If he gets it, he gets a treat.  90% of the time he gets a treat when running in sequence if he gets it.

Big decisions ahead.


  1. I studied your video. I think that you are expecting too much from Lexi. She is a baby and the biggest problem that I see is the lack of teamwork. It takes a while to develop the desire in the dog to work as part of a team. She is starting to crowd you and get all under your feet. You need to KEEP MOVING and tell her to get off of you. She is looking good. On her contacts, you need to really start working independent skills. Just because you can run with her, does not mean that you should run with her. She needs to learn to get on and finish independently from your position. When she is on the dog walk, leave her half way over and make a 90 degree turn and see if she will finish it. Start using lots of verbal praise with Lexi. Now for poor Bentley. He is so confused. The problem is that in times of stress a dog will always go back to the first thing they ever learned. That is why dogs always sit when they are confused. It is so much harder to fix something than it is to train it properly in the beginning. I sympathize with you because of my troubles with Surf's dog walk. I can give you some ideas for getting a paw in the yellow. To totally fix him, you would need to pull him from competition on the dog walk for at least one year. I was not willing to do that with Surf. I have about a 75% dog walk. It is a crap shoot. I worked with Cindy and Iris and she got all of her contacts at our last trial. Basically, you have to outsmart the dog.

  2. Thanks so much for the advice. You are right on both counts.

    We went back out last night for a bit and ran that same course with Lexi. I tried to be a bit faster (and more confident) with my directions, and she did well. Honestly, it was a tough course, and I forget that she is really just a puppy. At this age, we hadn't even started agility with Bentley! You are right that we should work on independence. She has the confidence, so it's time to make her do them on her own.

    And you're also right about Bentley. In order to truly fix his contacts, we would need to stop trialing, and stop all instances where he could mess up and we could keep going. I'm really not ready to make that kind of commitment. But, next time we are out at the field, I welcome any suggestions you have to make it better. It's just really hit or miss with him, and he just doesn't seem to understand the criteria, which I'm sure is my fault.

    Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you this weekend at the field! Hope you boughts lots of fun stuff in Kentucky. Hopefully we can make it next year!