This weekend, 4 friends came to my property, as well as a woman visiting Australia from Switzerland who is travelling with her dog and who will be doing some agility while here.
We sat around and chatted and ate food, then finally got to setting up a course. We started with a Novice jumping course, since we wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of Nina – our Swiss friend, having to compete on this huge, open courses with pinwheels, and what we have begun to term: “GO GO GO, NO NO NO”, which is essentially where an Australian judge plans a course where your dog goes rocketing forward down a line of jumps or similar but then all of a sudden has to not do the obvious obstacle in front of them. Good times. (and to be clear, I have nothing against not doing the obvious obstacle, if there’s handling options available to you, it just frustrates me when judges here try and set up scenarios where you’re not physically going to be able to outrun your dog down a line of 5 jumps before having to call it off a tunnel, for example).
We took turns running the course – Loki first (I might upload the video later) and then the others. I was really happy with Loki’s run. My threadle cue into the first tunnel was too early so he dropped a bar, but I didn’t want to be late, either! I also realised that I pulled my shoulders the wrong way so I need to be more conscious of that. Lu was getting super worked up from her crated position beside the action as some of the dogs were barking and exciting for her and she was carrying on and jumping around in the crate. I grabbed her out, did some quick tricks and then ran. And she was MOVING! I wish I had video but I don’t think anybody got it cos I was like: “oh well it’s just a stupid warmup run, who cares?”, but I would have loved to see how she looked and how my handling was on the places she felt she needed to slow down (in the pinwheels).But oh well.
Then we set up a course for one of the lady’s online courses she was taking – a typical difficult Euro-style course. I haven’t done any of these since the Shape Up Dogs seminar so my brain just wasn’t in it (and neither was Lu’s, I don’t think), but in the end we managed to do a cool weave entry with a very tempting tunnel nearby, finished by a cool blind cross at the end that she didn’t pull out of – so I’m super happy with her weaves, they’re feeling so nice and independent. I want a bit more independence on her entries as I still have to support these quite heavily, but her actual independence in going to the end of the poles is feeling really good. Loki and I had a lot of trouble on this course. I think it was the mix of tight-technical parts mixed with bigger fast parts, and also needing some more commitment to bars that he doesn’t quite have yet (don’t you know it’s faster to run AROUND the bars rather than over them?!) and in general it was all a bit much for him. But he’s only a baby so I don’t care – it was all for fun!
It was great to try handling a couple of sections in different ways to see what works best for your dog. For Lu, one part was really messy with a tight push to the backside-wrap, but worked beautifully as a German=type turn… where for Loki, he doesn’t have enough commitment for a German turn yet (working on it!) but the wrap with him was smooth and awesome, and his commitment for that move was flawless. It’ll be so fun to be running them both in the future and planning my routes for their extremely different styles.
At the end, I got Penny to play with Badger – doing some jumps and tunnels and general playing. Because this had been setting Loki off at trials and making him SCREAM and completely tune me out I figured that this was a great place to practise reinforcing good behaviour and letting him realise that if he goes over to the dogs running, they’re actually boring (because Penny would stop) and that I’m more fun. I actually had him off-lead with his favourite ball and for a while we were just playing. His focus was 100% on me for this and I felt really confident and as long as I was moving he was fine. So then I sat on the ground and waited for a drop, put up my hand for a second to cue a ‘wait’, then rewarded heavily when he stayed. I built up the duration and Badger was even doing tunnels and Loki was brilliant. There’s hope that he might not make everyone’s ears bleed, but of course being on a lead is VERY hard for him.
So it was a super lovely afternoon of agility things – a shame that two of the ladies live so far away (4 hour drive for one of them) so we can’t make it a regular thing. 😦
Loki’s dogwalk seems to be going well, too. You can see the video below, too. He’s sitting at about 80% JP/R rate which is good, but the main thing for me is that his running is looking heaps more natural. He’s got awesome separation and he’s hitting better in the contact zone than he was. Some of his rear-foot hits are maybe a bit high so hopefully as the height of the plank increases, the hits won’t too, because the way he hits seems to be fairly consistent when it’s the rear-foot hits (one at the top of the contact zone, and the other on the yellow tape – about 1/3 of the way down.). He’s coming in with very fast starts too so I’m super happy to see how well he stays on the plank – no slipping, no scrabbling, just confident, fast running. So my plan at this stage is to have another 1-2 sessions with this rate of success, then I’ll raise the 2nd legs to 70cm, do the same, then raise the 2nd legs to 80cm… then I’ll raise the first apex to 1m, but keep the 2nd at 80cm, and raise that 2nd apex by 10cm a time again. That way, he shouldn’t worry about that 2nd apex because it won’t be so pronounced all the time, and will be more gradual.
At the end of the video is just some tunnel stuff – I wanted to work on my threadle/verbal ‘here, here, here’ to get him in the other side of the tunnel so I alternated between ‘straight ahead’ tunnels and ‘pull to me’ tunnels.