Sunday, October 30, 2011

Indoor BRAG trial

We competed in our first indoor trial on Saturday.  Honestly, it wasn't as bad as I expected.  It was certainly the best Lexi has looked indoors.

If I remember I'll try to post the course map for Steeplechase (there were none for Adv. Standard...which is sort of annoying since they didn't have any at the last trial either) if I remember.

It was also a tough trial because we only had the dogs entered in a couple things, but we didn't want to get their too late.  There was no masters (due to the rule regarding size of ring, they can't hold it indoors at this venue) but there was only one ring so it went really slowly.  

First up was Lexi and Advanced Standard.  I'm one that loves to agonize over the course maps, so I felt a little off when I just had to walk the course to see the numbers.  It was probably the toughest Adv. Standard course I've seen.  That is not an excuse--they are definitely skills Lexi should have!  She just doesn't :) At one point there was a 3-way discrimination between an a-frame, a jump, and the teeter.  I made eye contact, but dropped too soon and she took the a-frame.  The second time we came around she didn't take the teeter.  But other than that, I saw some really nice stuff!  No insanely wide turns, and she was one of the few dogs that got into the correct end of the yellow tunnel.  Oh, and how about that weave entry?!?!  We've been working on them, and I was so proud!  (I should note that no dogs Qd on this course).

Next up was Jonathan running Lexi in Steeplechase.  Again, I feel like steeplechase courses are getting more technical, but Lexi was up to the challenge!  Just one mistake at the end (darn those tunnels!)  I think that if she had been on grass she wouldn't have gone out so wide coming over the jump at the end and would have made the turn.  The same I think is true for the weave entry.  I saw a lot of dogs miss that entry or not be able to hold onto it coming around that turn.

And lastly was Bentley's steeplechase run.  I wasn't sure what to expect since he hasn't run in over 3 months!  But, he ran pretty well.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't get at least one 2o2o, but his contacts were much better.  The second time he even slowed down coming down, just couldn't quite figure out the correct position.  Definitely more work to do, but at least he is aware that there is something he should be doing there! :)  And he took that off course because I accelerated over the broad.  He has a tendency to nick the broad (or tumble over it!) so I wanted to push him over, and I pushed him too far.  Darn!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lexi's worrying patterns; flyball version

We've had a tough couple weeks the last two times we went to flyball.

Basically Lexi's turns at home are great.  I took her to class and even without the ball, and without the trigger, she just doesn't want to put 4 feet on the box.  I'd get 2, or 3 (with the third way down at the bottom).  I don't think she put 4 on a SINGLE time.  I had her out there with treats and she just wasn't doing it.  She was revved up and excited, I tried running with her, sending her, etc...nothing doing.

So, I decided to work on something else.  I started with triggering the box myself and throwing treats out.  Lexi did not appear worried about the noise at all, and was very excited about the sound since it would immediately lead to treats.  So, I started having her trigger the box and I would throw a ball--awesome, no trouble (she was just pushing with two feet, but I figured that was okay since I was just working the noise/feel).  Then I had her actually triggering the box to get the ball.  She did it about 3-5 times, was excited, up, happy, etc...and then all of a sudden, she wanted nothing to do with it.  She went from triggering the box and fetching the ball to refusing to put any feet on the box at all.

We took a long break, then I went back just a few more times and had her trigger the box for a cookie, and we called it a night.

This reminds me of what she did with the teeter.  No issues that we could see, but one day she would just refuse it.  We must have retrained it 3 times.  Looks like a similar pattern with the box.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lexi's flyballs turns

Have been working Lexi's turns this week.  They aren't half bad!  I hope she's able to make them translate to the box with a ball.

The hardest part for her I think is going to be the noise of the box.  She tried it last week, took the ball off three times when it triggered, and the third time she decided it was scary and didn't even want to put one foot on it.  So I put her back on it without triggering it until she was jumping on it again, and then just triggered it and threw food at Lexi so she wouldn't be worried about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rubber matting

I think I've talked before about how poorly our dogs perform on rubber matting.  I created a little video of Lexi slipping on the rubber matting at our Stuart seminar.

I guess I should point out that my handling stinks (I was being lazy, and was upset after a pretty frustrating day) so that accounts for a good portion of her wide turns...but she goes wide, slips, and goes out even wider.  It's like she tries to control herself, finds it too difficult, and floats out as she slips.

We are trialing indoors at the end of  the month, but the dogs are only entered in Steeplechase, and Lexi is in Standard, too, and just on one day.  I was thinking of trying some of the spray or wax to help with slipping, but I may just not worry about it.

I was feeling really frustrated in the video because of Lexi's performance...she has gotten SO much better in terms of turns and collection, and we've gotten better in terms of cuing her, but we were just terrible at the seminar.   I'm a bit emotional in general, but at the end of the day I thought I was going to cry because it seemed like we hadn't made any progress at all.

My thought is that we've worked so hard to get tighter turns and collection on grass (we're getting there...sort of), and then we go on rubber and it's a whole different beast...I almost want to say why bother?  And just not trial indoors.  I know we're limiting ourselves, but we're just a bad team indoors and it's demoralizing.

Also keep in mind that during this run I was told to run the perfect dog, so I wasn't supposed to go back and get her, or correct her, just keep going.  I was also being given some instructions as I ran.  Basically, don't get hung up on the handling, it sucks.  Just check out Lexi's slipping.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Awesome night!

I am going to preface this by saying that I had just typed up an entire post and it got deleted.

But anyways, we had an awesome night last night.  Bentley got his contacts.  I couldn't believe it!  This was his first time on the equipment since his surgery, and he was awesome!  I know they aren't perfect, and we have a long way to go, but I am so proud.  We've been waiting on this moment for two years!

And secondly, Lexi was invited to play at flyball with some other club members last night.  We had a blast!

I warmed her up by just practicing turns (no ball).  They were okay.  I think we got two feet about 75% of the time, and some ugly variation of four feet the other 25%.  At least she didn't seem scared, she didn't hesitate, and hit the box confidently in some fashion every time.

Then the three other people there lined up and worked in one lane, and we worked Lexi in the lane next to them to see how she would do.  We started just by doing restrained recalls.  I thought she would be worried, but she ran back and forth to my husband and me with no issues at all.  I eventually started sending her to get the ball and she only got worried when one dog came into her lane.

Lastly, we put her into the end of the "rotation" (after the other three dogs).  She didn't do any passes, and she didn't trigger the box (we just set the ball on it).  But she did great!  The first time she had to check out the box loaded (though the box loader did admit to saying her name, so maybe that distracted her?), the second time she dropped the ball, but the third time she was awesome!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The way dogs learn (2o2o)

I've posted before about how interesting I find it that dogs learn differently.

 My two, for example, are night and day when it comes to training and learning.

 I remembered a perfect example yesterday.

 Lexi misses contacts for one reason, and one alone. She's excited and going too fast and either doesn't slow down, or doesn't slow down in time. When she misses in training, she gets a marker "what happened?" and she does the obstacle again. If she does it correctly, she gets a more positive marker "that's it!" but no treat. She does it a third time, and receives a reward if she does it correctly, and at this point, she always does. 

[Background: This entire blog was started to track Bentley's contact progress. I don't have the time (or the patience!) to list the things that we tried and the mistakes that we made, but we have finally settled on re-teaching the 2o2o and were in the early stages when Bentley had his surgery. We are just now getting back into training, and we have him on the down side of a dogwalk plank, and a low a-frame. He's still using targets for some of the time, but we're working on fading them.]

 That being said, yesterday we took Bentley out to work on the a-frame. He did well, and we put him back inside to work Lexi. We brought him back out and immediately put him on the a-frame with NO target. You can see in the video what happens, but I knew that as soon as my husband started to do it that it was a bad idea...Bentley missed his contact, though you can see that he stops himself and tries to figure out what he is supposed to be doing (he lays down!). My husband makes him do it again, and Bentley gets his 2o2o. I would have rewarded that, but my husband used Lexi's method, and just gave him a verbal marker, and then asked for it the 3rd time. The 3rd time Bentley jumped. As if he was saying "well, I didn't get it the first 2 times, I should try something else". So, lesson learned. At least until he is more comfortable with the position, he should get rewarded for the correct position, no matter how many attempts.

 Sorry about the bad camera work...I was holding Lexi and she was not happy!

 Here is a video where in the beginning Lexi comes off her contact. You can see how Jonathan marks it, she does it again, he marks it more positively, and then she does it a 3rd time for a treat.

 (Warning: turn your volume down...lots of barking in this one!) In this video I am holding Bentley and he is barking and growling, and an ice cream truck is parked right outside our house playing kids' songs and Christmas Carols!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Backyard handling

I wanted to work on some handling with both dogs.  Lexi always needs work, especially on the  more technical stuff, and Bentley is rusty so I wanted to see where we stood.

Both dogs did well..though Bentley was a bit rusty (both his fault and ours!) as expected.

We set up this short sequence based on a steeplechase course that we ran back in August.

Here's the video of both dogs, alternating dogs and trying different handling.

Lexi is a few seconds (2-3) faster than Bentley.  But the interesting thing was that her run with the FC is much faster (2-3 seconds) than her run with the RC.  Definitely a reminder to keep moving.  Lateral motion really helps her get her job done.

Also, you can see our outtakes where we just couldn't figure out the timing for Bentley to commit to the jump with a RC.  Always a weakness of his, it's gotten worse since we've spent all this time running Lexi.

The other night Lexi got to work on gambles.  We rarely work that with her because her default is to work away and grab whatever...but it was her birthday so we let her choose ;)

Here she is doing a masters gamble from a course map that I had.  I thought it would be easy, but she really wanted to come out and take that jump across from the tunnel (jump 1) rather than make that turn.  We had to work on it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Flyball introduction to the moving box

Tonight was another good night.  I made sure to warm Lexi up first by just doing some up close stuff.  We moved back slowly.  She did great!

All night she never dropped the ball once.  The only issue she had was that if I didn't put the ball she had just brought back into the bucket or in my pocket, she wanted to go get that one rather than the one on the box.

I also made sure to not run with her, but to rev her up (she already knows the get excited command since I use the same one at gets her spinning and crazy...I say "reeeeeeeeeeeeady!?!?!") and send her.

We did introduce her to a real box.  That was interesting.  She didn't really like it much even though we didn't actually load the ball (just set it on there).  She didn't seem to worry about it or anything, just only wanted to put 2 feet on instead of the 4.  So, I put the ball away and just worked with shaping a turn (just like I did at the beginning with cookies).   If she put 2 on and turned, small cookie, then I upped the criteria and after just a few tries she was putting 4 feet on again.  The turns weren't beautiful, but I was glad she figured it out so quickly, but they were fast and hard (not hesitant or worried) and we ended on that note.

Oh, and tomorrow Lexi turns 2 so we brought cookies to agility class.  Our instructor said, "I keep forgetting how young she is.  She's still a baby!  You guys have tons of time to keep working with her.  She's doing great for a 2 year old."  I'm reminded how young she is all the time...but it's easy to forget because of how often we work with her.

Bentley's back! Earns a blue ribbon, and DH joins the dark side!

Here's an update on Lexi's rear end awareness/using her back legs to rotate around a target trick.  She's quite good at going this way (not so much the other way!)

And because I can't leave him out anymore, Bentley is back!  We have been doing a lot of the ball work, and walking, and slowly allowing him to do longer and longer sequences.  It has now been 2 months since his surgery and he's doing great!  He does seem to get tired a bit faster, but it's an endurance thing that we are building on.  Here's a video of the most he's done in awhile, and he was so happy about it!

I should also add a few other notes here.  This past weekend there was a local pet expo where some of our friends were doing a demonstration.  We went for fun (it was a lovely fall day) and the dogs really enjoyed it (though they were bummed that they couldn't participate in the agility demo!!)

Jonathan was asked to run our instructor's dog since she was injured, and here he is "joining the dark side"!!

Also, our babies were so well behaved!  Bentley won the "Simon Says" contest.  Really, it was just a competition of what dogs could do what tricks.  Lexi was eliminated because we never taught her to shake.  Here are a few pics of Bentley's big win! :)