Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mika's weaves and distance skills

I'm really looking forward to next year! Lots of trialling with Mika, hopefully even more than this year (where we barely trialled for the first half of the year and then had a whole bunch of trials at the end of the year). In March we'll be competing in Advanced Gamblers -- Mika will have to work away from me at distances of around 15 feet. (In Masters it's 20 feet!!) Mika used to be a "Velcro dog", that is, she didn't like to work away from me. That changed this summer, when she started to be able to work more independently, and she Q'd in Starters Gamblers the first time we tried it (that was in September). She wasn't ready for the Advanced Gamblers distance at the time, but we've been doing quite a bit of distance work lately. I try to include distance in all the agility obstacle training we're doing in the backyard and basement. There's no room for sequencing, so we have to practice individual obstacles.

Lately Mika's weaves have been falling apart. The problem started at the CKC trial in October. There was a set of 6 poles after a 12" jump (Mika jumps 12" in CKC). Mika took the jump and then entered the poles at the second pole. I did a half-circle and took her back to the poles again. This time, she entered from the left side of the first pole (but that was a bit of my fault, because I was crowding her). So again, I did a half-circle and helped her get the entry a bit, and that time she got it.

The next time I knew there was a problem was in the November AAC trial. This was Mika's first time in Specials (10" jumps). She took the 10" before the weaves and entered correctly, with lots of speed through the poles, and then saw a 10" jump in front of her (the next obstacle on course after the weaves) and couldn't control herself to finish the last pole in the set of weaves -- she wanted to fly over that fun, low jump! I called her back from the jump and brought her around again to the weaves (although I should have just continued...) and told her to weave again. She entered at the left side of the first pole. So, I brought her back again, and this time she got it.

Last year, the popping and skipping problem was caused because I practiced 12 poles in the snow, which gave Mika a negative connection to the weaves because the snow was so cold on her pads. My reasoning for why we're having problems this year is because of how much more drive Mika has. The lower jumps at the trials increased her drive even more, and put her into what I sometimes call "GO mode" -- where she doesn't think and just wants to GO GO GO! That's exactly the drive I want, but it still caused the weave problem. I'm hoping that it's just temporary, and that once Mika gets used to being in Specials she'll get control over her "GO mode," but still keep her speed. And during trial season, I'll practice weaves EVERY day!

These weave problems happen every winter. Two years ago when I was teaching Mika weaves, they were stressing Mika because I wasn't training properly. Last winter it was popping out and skipping poles. This winter it's popping and ENTRIES! Yes, weave entries, I can't believe it. Mika, the weave entry expert! To fix this entry problem, a few weeks ago (before all the snow was here) I put three stick-in-the-ground poles in the backyard. Every day, whenever Mika goes outside to go to the bathroom, I send her through the three poles. It was the funniest thing, the first time Mika went through them; she's never worked only three poles before, and she hopped left, hopped right, and then hopped LEFT again, expecting more poles to be in front of her! She stopped for a split second, looking completely baffled, then in a smooth, flowing motion turned left and hopped through the poles in the opposite direction. What a silly little girl!

Up until now I've mostly been working on sending through these three poles, but we're going to start working on lateral distance.

What about the popping problem, you may ask? The thing is, there's no room to work 12 poles in our house (she doesn't pop out of 6 poles), and last winter when I tried to fix the popping problem in the backyard with the stick-in-the-ground poles in the snow (I didn't know then that the snow had caused the problem in the first place), I only made it worse because the snow was so cold on Mika's feet. So we'll wait until we can rent an arena to start working on the popping problem. I'm going to wait until spring, when the snow is melted and the field is open again, to seriously work on it. Although it should be better by then...after all, weave problems seem to be an off-season, winter thing!

Wow...sorry for my ramble...I didn't mean to make this post this long!!



  1. Best of luck on the weaves. No trails anywhere close down here. The closest might be in Miami and that is a three hour drive.

    Guess we'll just have to settle for fence patrol.

    Essex & Deacon

  2. Hey, don't apologize for "rambling". I for one enjoy reading about people's training experiences and welcome all the details. :)

    I'm sure Mika's weaves will get back to fine form. She seems like a very smart girl who loves to do the right thing.

    Coincidentally, Lucy and Walter have been working weave entries with three poles at home over the last week. Nice to know we have company in that deparment. :D

    Have fun working on distance. It's one of my favourite things to work on. Can't wait to see her in Advanced!

  3. Best of luck on the weaves and merry Christmas to you, your family and the dogs :o)

    Best wishes

  4. Thanks :)

    I love working on distance too; it's such a thrill to work with a dog when they're far away from you! :)

    Merry Christmas everybody!!