Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finished back-chaining!

As of today, we're all done back-chaining the dog walk! We still have to increase the distance/speed that Wall-e is approaching the DW at, and fade the target, but blah blah blah....It feels good that we're done back-chaining and that Wall-e knows how to control his body to stop at high speed!

When we went to the field yesterday we saw that somebody had set up a Starters Jumpers-type course and left the numbered cones! Wall-e and I ran it clean, and very quickly, yesterday (it was a rush!), and today we ran it in reverse. We had a bit of trouble with missed jumps, a refusal at the tunnel, and off-courses, probably because I set the jumps at 6" today, while yesterday they were at 10". I have to remember that Wall-e is still green; I have to run fast and cue extension, while not getting too far ahead of him.

After that, tunnel sends. No refusals in any of the 4 reps.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Mika's been doing

(Trying out this template. I'm not sure if I'll keep it or not yet.)

Mika is still on a break from agility because of her shoulder. She's not showing lameness anymore, but I'm still resting her just in case. We've been getting back to tricks, which we haven't trained for a while.

We did a couple sessions of backing up today. It's a trick that I've been training on and off for years, but we just never completed it. She's always had a bit of a tough time with it. The traditional way of teaching it -- stepping towards the dog to get them to take a step back -- never worked. If I try that, Mika just sits down. I've tried luring her backwards with a treat, but it's just awkward and she isn't thinking about what she's doing. I've tried shaping; not much luck with that either, as the most I could get was a tiny step backward with one back paw, and it didn't seem like she was doing it intentionally. What has worked best for us so far as been using a low platform for her to target with her back paws (as explained in Sassie Joiris' "Tricks: Backing Up" article in the October 2009 issue of Clean Run). I started using this method last October, after being inspired by the article. When I wrote about Mika's progress with the method in October, I said:

"Mika actually did incredible with shaping this trick. She's not a thinker and gets "stuck" easily (when she doesn't know what to do she'll lie down or sit and stare at me). But she only got stuck ONCE in this 5-minute session! By the end of the 5 minutes she was backing up onto the book every time. She barked through the entire 5 minutes, hahaha!"

Well, one thing hasn't changed; Mika still barks the entire (I repeat: ENTIRE) time when we shape the back up trick! But she's also improved; we did 2 very short sessions today and she never got stuck at all!

Instead of using a book, I used a low block of wood that worked just as well. In our first session, she didn't really know what she was supposed to be doing and jumped over my legs a couple of times (I had my legs in a "V" channel the help her stay in a straight line). She soon remembered, though. Our second session was only one rep; she backed up onto the block of wood perfectly the first time, so I gave her a mini jackpot and ended the session. Yay Mika!! I'm only requiring her to back up one step right now, so she's just taking a backward step onto the block. When she gets more consistent, I'll increase the distance very gradually.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yet another day of training

Back-chained on the dog walk from the top of the up plank. There was one rep where he stopped in a handstand and literally stayed there for half a second, hahah. His other stops were beautiful, though. Just a couple more sessions, and he'll be running over the whole competition-height DW and stopping in 2o2o!

We've developed a routine in our training lately: first we train the DW, then we run a sequence, then we finish off with something easier. So, predictably, after training on the DW, we ran a sequence. This one had a 45 degree on-side weave entry at the beginning and then some fast lines of jumps and tunnels. Wall-e didn't even see the weaves at first because I'd set him up in the direction of a jump, which he raced over to and tightly wrapped. I set him up properly the second time and he hit his entry perfectly...then saw the DW and snagged it! I let him run over it because we were going in that direction anyway...when he got to the down plank he jumped off and zoomed towards me. Apparently, he'll need some more work to have his target faded! :) He did an AWESOME finish of the sequence -- he put one huge stride in between two jumps where I would have expected him to put two; and he sent into the tunnel with me catching up behind, not even glancing at me as he happily took the obstacle.

When I set him up to try the beginning of the sequence again, he spotted a car driving by and chased it halfway across the field, then turned on a dime and zoomed back to me without me even saying a word!! Next he spotted a TRUCK. (If you ask Wall-e his opinion of which vehicles are the most fun to chase, he'll say the bigger the better.) He took off for it, but again came back to me right away. It's as if he's thinking, "Whoopsies, I'm not in the backyard, I'm at the field...s'posed to be training right now!" GOOD boy!! Anyway, when we actually got around to trying the beginning of that sequence around, he saw the DW, but came right to me when I called him. He's way too good.

Finally, we practiced Susan Salo's set-point grid. I did this a lot with Wall-e in his jumping foundation, but he haven't trained it in quite some time. The grid has 2 jumps; the first is 6" and the second is 10", his current competition height. Wall-e jumps the 6" jump and then takes off for the 10" jump as soon as he lands from the first jump (a.k.a., a bounce stride). He jumped with so much power! He did launch himself once, but usually jumped very nicely.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Great training session!

I've probably been writing too much about training the past few day...but I think it really helps to keep a record of sessions :)

Wall-e and I back-chained from the horizontal plank of the dog walk today. I moved the target closer to the contact because yesterday he was stopping in 4onthefloor sometimes (the target was a bit too far away). I love his 2on2off performance! He stops just at the right spot, eats his food, then shifts his weight to his rear as he looks at me for his next instruction. If I asked, he would also give a nose-touch to the target. I'm using a big yellow target for visibility, but when I eventually start fading it, I'll use a clear target.

After 4 reps of DW back-chaining, I set him up to run a sequence. At first, instead of taking the first obstacle staring him in the face, a set of 6 weaves, he turned away from me to run up the DW! All this DW back-chaining has gotten him LOVING that obstacle! We tried again and this time he did the weaves wonderfully. There was a set of 6 weaves and then a set of 8 weaves, about six feet in front of the first set, requiring the dog to collect quickly to enter the second set. Wall-e got it, WOW!! The rest of the sequence went great too, he was running really well!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dog walk/agility update

Yay Wall-e! Today we back-chained from the part of the dog walk where the horizontal plank connects with the down plank. He had better speed than yesterday!

After that, we ran a flowing sequence and then trained more tunnel sends, and also a bit of jump wrapping. Like the DW, he had better speed today than yesterday.

Mika's shoulder seems to be much better; yesterday, while dinner was being made and she was waiting around for food to drop, she lifted up her front right paw a couple times, like a pointer. (She often does that when she's eagerly waiting for something.) That meant that she was voluntarily putting weight on her left shoulder...a good sign! Today at the field I let her chase her food tube around. She had fun; I could tell because of all the barking!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mika's shoulder and Wall-e's training

Mika was popping out of 12 weaves consistently in training last week, so on Sunday I did the soundness test and discovered that she was limping very slightly, putting more weight on her front right leg than her left. Later that day I massaged her left side and found that when I massaged her left shoulder, near the elbow, she tensed up and lifted her head to look at me. "Ouch!" She also didn't want to go up the stairs that evening; she started walking up them (instead of running up like she usually does) and then stopped when she got in the middle and looked at me.

She'll be getting a complete break from agility for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping that it's just a little problem that'll go away after rest and more massage. I'm not going to overreact and think the worst like I did with Wall-e's lameness :) She did seem a bit better yesterday and today.

Today, a couple hours ago, I went to the field to work on Wall-e's dog walk. We're concentrating on the DW now instead of the A-frame because of the easier angle. Last week I back-chained the 2-foot high DW -- he was amazing! -- and today we started back-chaining the full-height DW. I'm using a food-loaded target at the end to build his independence. All 3 reps were great! He's giving as much speed as he's able; hard to get lots of speed when you're just using the down plank.

Then we ran a sequence to practice rear crosses. The first rep went well, but I slipped and fell in the middle of the sequence, haha, so we tried again. The second rep was good too. I just wasn't running fast enough and he didn't know where to go a couple of times.

Afterward, we trained sends to the tunnel.
I should have accelerated more, which would have cued him to extend better. Oh well, I'm learning!

I might post a video of Wall-e's training on the weekend, we'll see :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gamble dog in the near future?

This morning, I set up a sequence in the backyard from a Distance Challenge article, by Jane Simmons-Moake, in an old Clean Run issue (March 2009, p. 78, Figure 11). I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle Wall-e from the green line (up to 30 feet), but I was going to try the blue line (up to 10-15 feet). The sequence involved four jumps and a tunnel; I shortened the original sequence for my limited equipment! First, I ran with Wall-e at our usual working distance, which he did really really well and speedily! For the second rep, I handled at the 10-15 feet distance. WOW, he got it right away and I even layered the jump at the end!

I think I'll probably enter him in a couple of Starters Gamblers runs in July. I'll enter him at 10" for the Gamblers, but his next Jumpers runs (likely in September) will be at 16" and that will be his height from then on until he's a veteran.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trial June 13, '10

Mika and I were so together in the first run! I love runs like this when she's feeling completely herself and we can run the way we're meant to. I ended our second run a bit early because she was mentally tired from waiting all day to run; she's never had to wait all day for her runs before.

Wall-e was fast! Very fun runs :D He got his first Q, too!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Wall-e's first trial video

WOOHOO Wall-e!! Still super proud of him even though we didn't Q; my goal was to have as much fun with him as possible and to make his first trial experience a perfect one...which it was. It was very perfect :)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wall-e's first trial

This dog is absolutely incredible!!!

It was cold and RAINING, but once we stepped into the ring, Wall-e didn't mind! We just did one Starters Jumpers, at 10". He zoomed off the start and kept most of the speed for the rest of the run! Our only bobble was 2 missed jumps at the very end of the course that I accidentally pulled him off of, but he was really amazing and I was thrilled!!

It was a perfect beginning and I can't wait to continue! Will post the video this week, hopefully!