Monday, April 30, 2012


So my last post was about our "wins" from our previous trial (over 2 weeks ago now!)  Here are a few opportunities from my point of view, and then my husband's.

My Opportunities:

  • Run.  Be Confident.  Trust Your Dog.  In so many videos I am standing, waiting, jogging, or worrying about the dog's performance.  I have to trust that my dog knows his or her job.  And if they don't, then I have to go back to train more.  But, this has to be the biggest difference in how I run in training and how I run in a trial.  
  • Timing and Clarity of Cues.  I really need to work on my timing.  I tend to give directions too late, and then make up for it by giving them too early.  I think the more we work on this, the better we will get. 
  • Stay Positive and Have Fun!

Jonathan's Opportunities (he came up with these):
  • Be an Active Participant in the Run (Be Less Passive).  More often than not the dog controls the run, and not him.  He wants to dictate the pace of the run.
  • Take Control.  (see above!)

Friday, April 27, 2012


I thought I'd borrow a page from what we do at work...think about our last trial and jot down a few wins and opportunities.  It's helpful for me to emphasize the progress we've made from trial to trial.   And writing down our opportunities will help me to focus our training in the months to come.

1.  Lexi's table. Not too long ago Lexi would bounce off the table like crazy.  I think she thought it was her personal speed bump.  Also, she got impatient and often lifted her elbows up before the count was finished.  We worked it just a few times, and she seems vastly improved!
2.  Bentley's weave entries.  Last trial Bentley missed several weave entries.  I think he's been rusty, so it's something we've worked on quite a bit in the yard.  This trial he really seemed to go out and try to find it on his own.
3.  Lexi's teeter.  HUGE win!  She showed no fear, no hesitation, and never refused it.  On every teeter she ran to the end and rode it down.  (Now I think it's time to further proof the end behavior).  Just a few months ago she didn't want to get on at all.
4.  Bentley's teeter.  He is going much farther down the end before stopping.  Last trial there was a lot of cajoling and encouraging when he stopped short.  (He did fall off this trial, but that was a product of him losing his footing)
5.  Lexi's attention in Snooker.  My husband chose difficult snooker plans and Lexi stayed with him the whole time (though she wasn't always happy about it!)
6.  Bentley's contacts.  Our criteria for Bentley is 2o2o in practice, and no missed contacts in a trial.  Because of the way that he thinks and works, we accept 4-on, or even bounces (on the a-frame) in a trial.  He didn't miss a single contact!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Incredipaws: Day 3

Masters Gamblers
Bentley:  I thought that there might be a tiny chance that Bentley could do this, as long as I could get him in the tunnel.  Well, apparently I couldn't get him in the tunnel so I'll never know!  I even practiced sending to the tunnel in the opening (which he did perfectly) and then he didn't even look at it in the closing.

Lexi:  This was tougher for Lexi.  I knew she'd send to the tunnel, but we've been working really hard on her looking for us as she comes out rather than just blasting out to the nearest obstacle of her choosing.  I also didn't push on her line (though I'm not sure she would have seen me in time if I had).  Check out how at 17 seconds I take one BABY step forward, and Lexi shoots off to the jump rather than the teeter.  This is exactly what I mean by the fact that I need to learn to be TOTALLY AWARE of any and all forward motion when I handle doesn't take much.

Masters Standard
Bentley:  The last words out of mouth before Jonathan ran this course were "be careful, several dogs have missed jump 15.  It's a tough angle" and then he missed it.  Did I jinx him? Ha!  Other than that, a  nice run.

Advanced Standard
Lexi Q:  Possibly the world's ugliest Q?  But I'll take it!  Lovely table, again.  Something we worked on a little, so I'm happy that we're seeing good results.  She didn't lift her elbows once!  I knew that the weave entry would be an issue.  I was really struggling with running down the line of jumps fast enough that she wouldn't get ahead of me and turn off of one, but yet decelerating soon enough to cue the turn to the weaves.  Clearly I didn't decel fast enough to show the weaves, but that timing is something I'll just have to work on.  And then, my new invention...the "dog cuts behind you send to the dogwalk".  I was really worried that she'd get a refusal getting onto the dogwalk, so I pulled her out farther than necessary, then I didn't cue a turn and she cut behind me.  Trying to salvage the run (and avoid a refusal) I just threw her onto the dogwalk-ha!

Masters Snooker

Lexi:  She had a very nice weave entry in this one (the second time around) but then she almost took an off course and Jonathan didn't collect her well enough to get the correct side of jump 3.  It was a pretty tough angle and I saw a lot of dogs take it the wrong way or miss it altogether.

Bentley Super Q: Again, since Bentley doesn't really need Snooker Qs, Jonathan wanted to try all 7s (show off!)  It took him so long to get Bentley back around to 7 for the final attempt that he didn't get through the closing.  Felt like Bentley was getting a bit pokey at this point, not to mention it was quite the distance!

Masters Jumpers

Bentley:  Jonathan's goal for this run was to help Bentley pick up speed and feel confident.  That's why he started at a run rather than a stay, and why he missed jump 3 (couldn't get enough of a push).  But, Bentley had no idea and continued on to have a very nice run.

Lexi:  I did a VBT (very bad thing).  I have to preface this by saying I spent 32 hours at the tiral over the course of the weekend.  Lexi went really wide and barely escaped taking an off course (as I yelled her name) but it was my fault--to much forward motion (again).  However, I was frazzled.  Then she DID take an off course, and I think it was her fault (I looked at her, squared my shoulders and was moving forward) and I was so flustered.  The judge said "your dog needs a new handler!" (he was joking around) and it just totally shut me down.  I often feel bad about my handling skills because Lexi works so hard for me, and I just stopped running and picked Lexi up and left.  I wasn't mad at her, just frustrated with myself.  As soon as I got off the course I gave her cookies and talked nicely to her, but she is so sensitive.  I should have kept running but I wasn't in a good place anymore.  I feel terrible about it.  I didn't even want to post the video to youtube, but I am going to, and I'm going to post it here to remind myself how NOT to act when I get upset.  It will hold me accountable and I won't do it again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Incredipaws: Day 2

Masters Gamblers:
Bentley: I knew before we even started that Bentley couldn't get this gamble.  Way too hard!  I decided to just work his contacts and then see if I could get him to weave without me.  Success!

Lexi: In retrospect, I think Lexi could have done this if I had turned her to the first jump rather than sent her straight (the second jump was a bit off the line, so a turn would have helped her to see it).  I still think she did well (but was a bit naughty on the a-frame contact, she came off early!)

Masters Standard:
Bentley:  Alert!  Handler error!  Alert!  Jonathan went way too wide to get Bentley as he exited the tunnel and then couldn't push him to the a-frame.  Not a lot of Qs on this course, but I know Bentley was capable of it.  The rest of the run was nice (I especially liked his teeter, as he has a tendency to stop short).

Advanced Standard:

Lexi: Do you like my new move?  The "sheltie push ACK GET OUT!" is what I call it-ha!  I babysat her tunnel entrance at the beginning too much, and therefore almost didn't make it to cue the correct end of the tunnel.  And then I got flustered and was in the wrong position and clearly cued the tunnel when it should have been the a-frame--Alert!  Handler error!  The she broke her contact, so I made sure to mark it (hence why the next few seconds are ugly because I wanted her to know that she made a mistake).  I have to say, though, that her table looked great all weekend. After the table I just busted my butt and I think she handled really nicely!

Masters Pairs:

Bentley & Lexi Q:  We got to run together!  How fun!  And since in USDAA you can only have 1 Q with a partner, so we won't be partners again for a long time!  Anyways, it went well.  Lexi's weave entry was nice, though she was none too pleased that she had to stand there and watch Bentley run!    Oh, and this was Bentley's Relay Master title!

Masters Snooker:
Bentley Q:  Because Bentley doesn't really need Snooker Qs, Jonathan likes to try to accumulate as many points as possible.  So, here he tried all 7s and almost made it!  He hurried Bentley at the end and Bentley lost his footing on the teeter, so he bailed.  Everyone was cheering for him.  He's such a good little snooker dog!

Lexi Q:  Jonathan wanted Lexi on his right so that he could make sure that she didn't take the red coming out of the tunnel.  Unfortunately, it put him in a place where he didn't cue the a-frame in time, and Lexi went around it.  But, because he did all 7s in the opening, she still Qd.  Hooray!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Incredipaws: Day 1

What a long weekend!  I know, it's Wordless Wednesday, but I have way too much to say, and way too much to catch up on!  Because of the massive amounts of videos, and because both dogs are in most of the same classes, I'm going to post them by day.

The weekend was very long--but very successful.  Many people had not done USDAA before, so a friend, my husband and I were pretty much in charge of scorekeeping the entire event!

Day 1 began at 5pm, and ended at 11:30.

Masters Gamblers:

Bentley: I really, really though that Bentley could do this.  I was very hopeful.  Bentley needs 4 Gamblers Qs (and 4 Standard Qs, but those will come) for his ADCH and I know they will be so difficult.  Anyways, it didn't happen.  I don't think he even saw that jump out there.  Oh well!

Lexi Q:  Guess she liked the approach to the weaves better when I wasn't standing in her way!  I knew the entry would be tough, and was quite pleased when she got it the second time around.  There was some weird padding under the end of the dogwalk that stuck out, and I think it bothered Lexi.  It took her a few runs to want to get into position off the end.  At least she was still in her 2o2o!  Also, I opted to pull both dogs out of the tunnel and then send them back.  I knew that way I wouldn't run the risk of getting a refusal.  I really should have stood farther out and pushed both her and Bentley's lines (I just sort of stood on the line) but luckily Lexi looks for jumps, and decided at the last minute to get the gamble.

Grand Prix:
Bentley Q and 1st:  Bentley has never gotten a GP Q before--guess it was his lucky day!  He ended up coming in first and was awarded a bye at Nationals!  A little miscommunication coming off the a-frame (where's that 2o2o?!) but Jonathan kept him on track.

Lexi:  Well, I started off by doing a really poor lead out pivot.  Oops--bad handling for sure.   I thought her turn towards the dogwalk was nice.  I tried to make it a point to decelerate to get a nice send.  And then, my big mistake...I should have left her on the dogwalk and lead out, but I didn't.  Because of that I couldn't get ahead of her to direct her, and she came out of the chute way ahead of me and had no idea where to go.  Once I got her back on track I was impressed with what she did until she cut behind me on the FC.  I must not have cued her early enough, and plus I stood there waiting for her instead of moving.  I also thought she ended very nicely with the RC to a pretty teeter.

Bentley Q:  Very pleased with how Bentley went past the tunnel and the jump to the weaves--a VERY tricky section.  He wanted very much to cut behind me on the FC to the weaves, but made the right decision and didn't.  Then he ended nicely, though I made it a point to continue through the weaves so he wouldn't pop early.

Lexi:  Tough course for Lexi as there were a lot of places for potential off courses (from 5-6 especially).  Jonathan managed to keep her off the pitfalls, but it cost him time, and then on the way back around from 12 to 13 he put way too much forward motion in and not enough deceleration.  And then again, too much forward motion to the weaves (common theme, you'll notice).

Steeplechase Finals:
Bentley 1st:  Can you tell I was tired?  All the other 16" competitors had left, so I just had to run clean to win the money :)  Anyways, some seriously lazy (and conservative) handling in this run.  But my boy is a champ and ran okay despite it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Still here! How do you tug?

I haven't been writing much, but I assure you I'm still here!

A friend posted the question on another website, how do you tug?  I thought this link to Susan Garrett's blog was interesting.

My two are very different. Lexi just tugged the day we brought her home, I think. I think she can get over the top very easily, so I make tugging a fun interactive game with an element of control. We do tugging, give, take, back up, wait, catch, sit, down, take, fetch all at the same time. I made sure to teach her to tug by using her back legs to pull rather than her front/neck.  That's the main reason we do so much tugging while she backs up.  She rocks back and powers from the rear.

I've also found that tugging really centers her before an agility run.  But, once we get into the building and right up close to the ring (which we only do right before her turn) she doesn't want to tug anymore.  She wants to run, end of story.  After her run she wants her cookies, and then we go outside for more tugging and fetching.

Bentley, on the other hand, doesn't get it.  I sort of taught him to tug just to see if I could, but it's not fun for him so I don't have him do it.  I think it confuses him and he doesn't find it rewarding.  I find it better to build drive just by pushing him around--he doesn't need the tug.

Just to illustrate the difference between them--if Lexi "wins" a game of tug, she kills her toy. Bentley just looks confused and immediately drops it :) 

And just for fun, a video of Lexi's new trick (in progress)--weaving between my legs.  Oh, and then her "bang" at the end:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why do you do it?

Someone asked me why I do agility.  I thought about it, and this is what I came up with:

What keeps me coming back is the feeling of accomplishment and emotional connection and the start and finish line of a course.

Looking down after running and realizing that this dog isn't doing this for herself, she's doing it for me.

Bentley's First Trial

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Clean runs!

Really enjoyed our class tonight.  Both Lexi and Bentley ran clean (and were the only ones to do so on the first attempt) and I was very proud.  I took the time to draw it up because I was so pleased with their performance.

Diana was kind enough to actually put it together with the Clean Run Course Designer.  She is the best.  Thank you, thank you Diana!!

Here's how I handled it with Lexi.  Maybe I can get Jonathan to chime in tomorrow with how he handled it with Bentley (I forget!)

Front cross from 2 to 3, send to the tunnel.  RC flip from 7 to 8 into the tunnel.  RFP from 8 to 9 over the a-frame (yes, that's an a-frame, ha!)  No forward motion, but a release/send with my arm out to push her over 10, and a FC on the landing side of 10.  Lexi on my left into the weaves and around over the a-frame again. Forward send over 17 and a FC (serious decel!) to 18 to get the 180 and avoid the pinwheel.  RC on the flat between 19 and 20 and send to the tunnel.

A few notes.  My trainer recommended that I send over 17, trust Lexi and FC between 18 and 19.  I tried it and it actually worked out nicely, though I'm not sure if I'd see that/try that myself.

The only slight bobbles in the original run were the fact that she ran into my leg at the landing side FC at 10 (though she was trying to get on the correct side of me) and then I almost pulled her completely off of 18 because I decelerated to much.  I was able to save it and push her over without a refusal.

Monday, April 2, 2012

IHC Exercises, and a very brief Cik & Cap video

I have always been intrigued by European agility courses and have always wanted to try them out.  They look really tough, so I would never enter IHC at a trial since I know we aren't ready, but they do look like a lot of fun.

Steve over at posted a few international handling exercises a few days ago--so I figured, why not give them a shot?  I am notoriously bad at remembering short courses that use the same jumps over and over, but it was really fun to give them a try.

Lexi had no problems once I figured out where I was going (easier said than done) and Bentley truly had no issues at all (they are much easier for a shorter strided dog that naturally collects).

I made a video of our attempts.  Enjoy!

And, here's a very short video of Lexi showing off her cik & cap.  I just thought to add this at the last minute after she was already tired from the IHC exercises.