Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wall-e's weaves update

Quick update:

I was going to keep the weaves open at 10" for a while, then realized that he'll be weaving 6" wide poles at classes, so I want him to be used to that. I don't like to practice things at classes that we haven't practiced at home already if I can help it, becauste class is such a stimulating environment already that I want the exercises to be fairly easy for him.

The first eight poles of the weaves are now open at 6" now, and the last four poles are open at 8". If I have all the poles at 6" he'll pop out or run by the poles altogether, so I guess he's not ready to have all the poles at 6" yet. He single-strides through the 6" poles and simply gallops through the 8" poles. I love watching him single-stride, it's just beautiful.

(We don't do a lot of reps -- just two to three per session, and probably a session every couple of days. No need to rush.)


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pinwheels at a distance

I set up a 5-obstacle sequence in the backyard today. It was a pinwheel (3 jumps in a circle), then a straight line to the mini-tunnel and then a tire straight after the tunnel. This was a great exercise for Mika because she doesn't really understand pinwheels at a distance. I handled at 15' lateral distance for the first rep. She almost went over the third jump in the pinwheel after jumping the first jump, but turned just in time and sent over the middle (correct) jump. Good girl! The next rep she knew exactly where to go. for the last rep I handled at a 20' distance, and she was perfect and very fast.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video of agility and The Single-Striding Sheltie :)

My little guy really is single-striding! As you can see in the video, he wasn't completely single-striding when the channel was 6" open (he single-strided the last 3 poles in the first rep), but after I decreased the channel them to 4" he single-strided the whole second half of the weaves. He really seemed to get it at the end of the channel.

I've decided to stick with the single-striding -- if he can single-stride these weaves that have a weave spacing of 22", then I'm sure he'll be able to single-stride weaves with a spacing of 18" or 20" that we have at trials. I've never seen weaves that are spaced more than 20" around here. So, single-striding it is! Since they're stick-in-the-ground poles I changed the weave spacing to 18" to help him single-stride easier. I also opened the channel to 10" because after I put the camera away, he started having trouble with the 4" spacing (popping out and running around the weaves), and because I don't want to stress his joints too much...single-striding is stressful on the body, and he's still young. He turns 11 months old next week, on the 29th.

We went to the field today too, and we had so much fun! Mika was really really happy. I'm sure she's absolutely thrilled that the field is open. She was even more happy today than on Thursday, and was working really hard too. She was GRUNTING with excitement as she was going through the weaves! Silly schnauzer!


Single-striding sheltie!?

Wall-e did a lot of weaves yesterday. We'd been working on them at around 12" on Thursday, and yesterday I pushed them to 10" and then decided to just move them in to 6" and see how he did. Wow, this dog is going to be a FAST weaver! He was moving through the channel so nicely. Watching the video in slow-motion, the first time through the channel he actually single-strided the last 3 poles. (At the beginning of the channel he just runs through, then at the very end he shows his weave style.) A single-striding 14"-high sheltie?!

I went on Google today and looked for some information on single-striding, as the smallest dogs I've seen single-striding is 17" BC's. I found a couple normal-sized shelties who single-stride. Hm. If Wall-e single-strides more today, I'll probably make the weave spacing 18" apart (instead of 22" like it is now) and see if that helps him single-stride. I want to encourage whatever style is more comfortable for him, and he hasn't really shown any hopping. Once he showed what looked a bit like hopping, but it wasn't really hopping. I'll see how he does as his weave training continues. No concerns at all though, his weaves are blazing fast right now! He did pop out twice but after giving no reward each time and just racing back to try again, he stayed in the poles and didn't pop for the next two reps, so I think he was getting it.

Crazy single-striding sheltie! Well, he does have a fairly long body, and maybe that's why he single-strided those last 3 poles. If he can single-stride on 22"-spaced poles, I'm sure he'd be able to single-stride the 18" - 20" poles at trials. Well, he only single-strided 3 poles, so I guess that doesn't mean much...but still. Let's see what happens...I'm excited!

(I'll post the weaving clips in a video I'll post tomorrow. I'll likely take some more today too.)


Friday, April 24, 2009

Agility update

I haven't been talking about Wall-e's agility classes very much, so here goes:

1st novice agility class: Well he was a lot slower than usual this class in the Susan Salo jump exercise that we did, I don't know why, one of his off days I guess. His weaves were really nice, they were open at around 8". I think a big reason he was slowing down (in the jump exercise, not the weaves, the weaves were pretty fast) was that he was confused. He slows down when he's confused. We've worked on LOTS of Susan Salo exercises, especially when he was younger, but we never ended up working to the advanced ones.

2nd class: A lot faster this class! The mini A-frame (his very very favourite obstacle, he just loves that A-frame) was in this class so I think that perked him up lots. He was really flying over that A-frame. I thought at first that he was missing contacts, but then my instructor pointed out that the contact zone was smaller than a regulation A-frame because it was a mini A-frame, and that if he'd been working a regulation A-frame he would have hit the contact nicely. Oops, my fault, sorry Wall-e! He did miss one contact that he would have missed on a regulation A-frame, but all the other repetitions were perfect.

3rd place: For the full class, we ran jumping sequences, working on front crosses. It was lots of fun! Wall-e, like most very green dogs, still needed me to babysit him a bit over most of the jumps, but he was getting some good distance in a few parts. Since I had to babysit him, we had a couple near-collisions when I tried to front cross. When he gets more experience I'll be able to get more lateral distance, and I should be able to make more front crosses. We practiced some rear crosses in this class too. We'll have to practice more rear crosses over jumps at home, because we're not too great at them, yet!

Great news!: the agility field is open!! We went for the first time yesterday, and set up an easy, very fun sequence that both dogs could run. I set up six 6" jumps and a tunnel all along the perimeter of the fence in a huge circle. Then both dogs ran it, starting and ending at the tunnel. It was really a blast, and boy was I tired after from all that sprinting! It was a nice break for Mika to just open up her stride and run (she LOVES straight lines), and Wall-e had amazing speed. After running the sequence, I took out the new Soft Bite Floppy Disc, Wall-e's new favourite toy, and threw it for them. I always throw it low so that Wall-e doesn't have to jump up and catch it (he's still pretty much a puppy), but the strong winds lifted up the disc once really high in the air, and Wall-e actually leaped up in mid-air and tried to catch it!! I was so happy! He got a nice tug session for that! I'm really looking forward to teaching him a bit of disc dog when he's older. We're not going to compete or anything, but disc looks like something he'll enjoy.

Okay, last paragraph. Promise. Today I did some linear sending with Mika, setting up the four 10" jumps at sharp angles to each other, almost in a straight line (so she would jump them almost like a serpentine). I thought she would run around at least one of the jumps to get to the loaded target, but no, she jumped them all! We did 4 reps and she got it perfect each time. She's really a fantastic little dog.

Oh, and -- I've registered for Wall-e's herding instinct test, at the end of June!

(That wasn't a paragraph so I didn't break my promise ;)


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mika's AAC agility trial Apr. 18, 09

Lots of fun! NQ, NQ, and another NQ, but her speed was incredible, the same (or maybe even better overall) as our March trial!

I had to lead out for all three of the runs because I had to front cross in each of the courses right at the beginning.

Her weaves were awesome, I was surprised and really happy -- she didn't pop either set of weaves, and she got her entry both times! Her dog walk was great too at this trial, I handled the contact a bit (pointed at the yellow) which helped her know that she had to hit it instead of flying over just above the yellow :) We need to work on 270's, there were two of them this weekend and she had no idea what to do.

I honestly don't mind the off-courses. Honestly. I'm absolutely amazed with her speed! Her reckless take-whatever-obstacle-I-see is, in my opinion, a lot better than running at the speed she was running at last year. After five months of rewarding for off-courses and convincing her that she can never make a mistake, her confidence has increased a LOT. YES!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Collected jumping with Wall-e

Did a bit of collected jumping with Wall-e today. I set a jump at 6" and threw treats over, very close to the jump, so he had to jump very round with an arc. He started to simply step over the jump instead of jumping it, so I ended up changing the height to 10". After that he understood what to do a lot more. By the end of the session he was taking off at the very base of the jump, landing and swinging his rear around in order to grab the treat. Perfect!

Trial tomorrow with Mika, 2 Masters Standard and 1 Masters Jumpers, looking forward to it!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Regionals preparation

I won't be using my old list on things to do to prepare Mika for Regionals anymore, because I now know what we really have to concentrate on after trialling again, and practicing a bit more.

Here's a new list, in no particular order:

-distance skills
Mika isn't confident enough at a distance to run in Masters Gamblers yet, so we'll have to work on this.

-staying in the weaves, not popping out
I find that Mika gets her entry if I don't crowd her and send her ahead a bit to let her find the entry, so we need to concentrate most on staying in the poles. We'll work with 18 poles when the field opens, so she'll be used to weaving 18 poles and won't anticipate like she does with 12.

Needs work. Period. ;)

-jump wraps
She doesn't really know how to do a tight wrap around a jump. We'll be working on this quite a bit.

-common patterns
I'll train her how to run common patterns independently. pinwheels, serpentines, 180's, etc.

I have major writing block.


(EDIT: See, I told you I had writer's block...I can't even type "writer's block!")

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mika's AAC agility trial Apr. 10, 09

Mika impressed me with her distance with this run, both in the gambles and in the opening! (At one point of the run she raced ahead of me to take two extra jumps.) My super-sensitive girl is getting so much more confident! And, she got the gamble (with a TEETER in it, which had me worried for a second before I realized that Mika has awesome distance skills with the teeter), earning us a 1st place and Q. :D


Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's spring!

Absolute cuteness!

But now it's time to...


(VERY surprised that Mika came out clear in this photo.)

Trying to get Mika to play again...unlike Wall-e, Mika doesn't want to play 24/7!


Wall-e isn't aggressive...

...or vicious...

...or rabid...

...he's just...


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wall-e's weaves

About an hour ago this morning, I hammered 6 nails in the ground and put 6 weave poles over them in a channel. This is what we used to begin Wall-e's official weave training. (He's been learning them at class too, but we haven't been training them at home until today.) The channel is spread 16" apart so he can gallop through it easily without being slowed down by the poles. When the channel is completely closed, the poles will have 22" spacing between them. There are only 6 poles right now (yes, I admit, because I was too lazy to put the other 6 in!...) but later this week I'll nail the other 6 poles in to make 12. I'll likely move the channel closer an inch closer later this week too. I'm still debating about whether or not I should put guide wires on...I'm leaning towards no, because I don't think he really needs them. I can always add them after if he has any problems with popping out.

So, about our training today...we did 5 reps, with Wall-e getting perfect each time and racing through the channel! Each rep, I put him in a sit-stay, and I lead out to the opposite end of the poles, kneeling on the grass as I said "Okay!" to get the maximum speed. The first 3 reps, I threw the food tube as soon as he passed the last pole to make sure that he didn't pop out, but the last 2 reps, I threw it as he entered the channel for increased speed because I knew that he wouldn't likely pop out.

We'll try to have a weave training session every day until the channel is completely closed (which won't be for at least a couple months, because his growth plates probably aren't all closed.)


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mika and Wall-e's agility practice April 1, 09

This was the third Regionals practice, but my second, because I couldn't go to the last one.

I ran the Jumpers course twice with Mika. She was a very good girl! I had to lead out or else I wouldn't be able to handle the serpentine-threadle combination for jumps #2-5. I loved how she sent ahead of me at the end of the course, especially in the second time we ran it, she's never done that before. She wasn't quite as fast as she was at the trial...I hope she gets that speed back. Maybe it's a trial thing. She didn't go off-course though (unless you count that bobble at the pinwheel in the first run to be an off-course)! Still, I'd much rather have awesome speed and an off-course than moderate speed and a perfect run. I've decided that I'm not going to call Mika off any obstacles anymore, even at trials. I don't want to put any doubt in her mind that she's ever making any mistakes. I want her to think that she's always right. (Which she usually is. It's usually my handling that makes her go off-course.)

I practiced a few things with Wall-e too. He had fun!

Then we tried a gamble (which, like the Jumpers course, was from a Gamblers course at the 2008 AAC Nationals). Mika didn't quite understand at first, but then she got it! (Not at the full 20' distance, but doesn't matter.) She finished up the evening with the speed that I love!