bend, 2.

So I did a little bit of jumping stuff with Lu this afternoon and I think it’s fair to say that currently she can’t bend, or at least finds it very difficult. Even when I was completely stationary, holding a toy at the landing position, and not setting her up to come in from too hard of an angle, and the bar at 400mm, she still sliced it, then turned back to get the toy after landing.

Curious about whether this was a new thing (eg. sore back, post surgery loss of flexibility etc) or an old thing, I just had a look at some old videos of our training, and sure enough there’s plenty of slicing and not much bending… how much of that has been dependent on my handling, I’m not sure.

Which then begs the question/s:

1. What do I do to solve this issue?

2. Should I rename cik/cap given the cues she has already don’t necessarily mean what I think they mean, for her. Eg. they don’t mean jump close to the bar being your body.

 

So to answer question 1 I think I have several options, none of which are fantastic because most of them involve 1 jump stuff which I suck at.

Options:

1. Susan Salo jump grids focusing on the ‘bend work’ grids.

2. Go back to a very low bar/no bar for cik/cap (and rename as discussed above?). Build up as per foundation program focusing on proper technique of wrap.

3. Use mat for foot targeting (tried this today and realised I’d forgotten how much we don’t like mat targeting but it could teach good takeoff points).

4. Other suggestions?

 

Polona said she indicates landing point and has the toy there and the dog basically lands while grabbing the toy from that point. While I think this is all well and good if my dog doesn’t actually physically know how to turn herself mid air, then I don’t think this is going to work as a viable option. Possibly if I were to move around and increase the angles from straight jumping to more of an angle maybe that would help. I’ll add that as option 5.

 

All that being said, even Silvia’s dogs sometimes slice like Lu:

slice & dice

slice & dice

But certainly not on every jump that requires the dog to turn, just ones where it seems harder to cue the turn early enough due to needing to push out or similar, or when the angle is such…

 

Bu coming in from the hard side-ways angle but cued early for a wrap:

1

1

2

2

But then, that doesn’t necessarily seem the norm. And I’m not saying that I’m like Silvia (duh) or that my dog is like Silvia’s (duh) but just analysing to see if there is really an issue here or if I’m making things up. Bi seems very bendy in this video.  I don’t think I AM, I do think she needs to learn to take off closer, and to twist herself around the upright, even a slight twist would be fine!

 

Bendy.

Bendy.

Then again…

Hmmmm….. So much to consider. BUT… all of that comes back to the fact that Lu slices like this even when the angle isn’t hard from the side but even if she just needs to do a regular turn at the top of a pinwheel. So I definitely need to do something.

 

… Just… not sure what that something is.

 

(Edit to add: That being said, have a look at this, from back in November. Jump heights are probably 300 or 400mm here but look…

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 9.27.04 pmI think that’s the most ‘mid air turning’ I’ve seen her do. And she landed close, too…. Hmmmmm…)

 

Weekend Wrap-up

A big weekend just passed: it was a public holiday Monday and so we  headed off for a more regional trial. The day before, however, we met up with Penny and her crew and drove around some hills looking for campsites. Everything was muddy, wet and boggy, and very full of motorbiking people, so we went south into the Strezleki Ranges area, almost got bogged, towed Penny’s van up a slippery hill, and came to stop and set up camp at a great little spot about 30 minutes from the trial. Prime. Wishing we’d brought more alcohol post-towing-adventure, we built a campfire, tied Lumen up and ate bananas and chocolate and other sweet things until we felt ill.

Next morning was the trial, so we were up bright and early, snagged ourselves a good spot and began. Lu’s first run was excellent jumping – a course that had HEAPS of tunnel discriminations and threadle-arms into tunnels… I haven’t included the video of that one in the compilation below because something happened at the startline and she stood up, turned around and sniffed. This is so unusual for her- either she smelled Penny, or a dog had peed there recently (and being hormonal, this could be a high likelihood)… but anyway, when she looked back up, I released her and she crashed into the first bar and maybe hurt her toe or something, so the whole run was a bit off (though she did the tricky bits just fine) and not at ‘competition speed’… It was much more back to her old ‘training speed’ before Polona’s class.

Then we pulled out some really cool agility runs.

Some things I’ve noticed:

  • I need to get much better at cuing a pinwheel turn earlier for her. Send and go!!! I’m still lingering too long to make sure she takes the bar but I suppose it’s a balancing act between pulling her off (being a baby dog) and giving her enough information.
  • I need to do lots of just straight-exit RCs because her stride has shortened a LOT… And look, it’s probably competition, too, I know she needs to get up her confidence and that her striding will come with time and confidence and more trialling, but I also feel that she’s lost some of her reach and confidence because of the turns we were doing. I think that just doing straight exits for the next few sessions will help though, too.
  • Unfortunately I really set back my calf healing process during the last run of the day (if you watch me closely on the last run you’ll see me hobbling) so we both get a bit of a break unless I can convince Anne (whose field I use to train on) to help me… somehow. I just don’t want to have to do RC with me being static, I think she needs to know that if I’m stopped, it’s a deceleration cue and she shouldn’t ignore that and drive forward to the tunnel without me. So training RC with me standing isn’t the best idea.
  • I still need to work out my timing with front-crosses. There’s one on the video where I crowded her and all she could do was come over to the wrong side of me because she was confused. Poor Bean.
  • Need to do more weave practise. For some reasons he got a bit tangled up in the weaves during open agility which cost her a pass and considering how broken I was that was so annoying – I thought she went through clear. I don’t think it was necessarily because I did anything, I think it’s because she’s only been weaving for what, 2 months? And just got a bit tangled. On another agility course she was finding it tricky to get her rhythm so definitely seems like something to practise.
  • I have a lot of work to do to be able to predict her speed and timing of my turns- rear-crosses in particular. One rear-cross I did really badly because I forgot that I’m usually more ahead of her than I think I will be… and I’d planned to rear-cross her into weaves but said (out loud, too!) that if I had beaten her to the weaves, that I would cross her at the top instead, I wasn’t going to stand at the weaves and wait for her and then cross. Sure enough, I got there first so resorted to my backup plan. Need to remember to do that for all times I plan a rear-cross because I’m often ahead of her.
  • I need to go back to doing multi wraps and sends to cik/cap. She seems to have lost a lot of her turning ability since we took the Foundations class for the 2nd time OR since she had her long break after the surgery (or both). She seems to want to slice the jump and then turn, not turn in the air, even when we’re just doing little things at home and I’m making sure I’m being SUPER obvious with my cues. I’ve put a little sequence of pictures just below to show you what I mean. It’s a good example, I think, because in OMD world, I would be saying “we’re going back over there!” and I don’t know if I could have cued it earlier… Maybe I could have! Maybe she’s just forgotten how to wrap.

Otherwise, I was so pleased with her. Given I thought that we’d be going home after the agility run if she was running like she did in the very first go, she picked up and ran beautifully. Her A-frame contacts are so awesome now, I just love being able to trust her to just do them and I can’t wait for her dog walk to ‘settle’ into a routine, to get back to the long and low striding.. I miss being able to trust her to just do them. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how much is ‘trial stuff’ and how much is ‘having done turns training’ stuff.

 

And now for the video

 

couple of videos

Here’s some RC. I’m really pleased with this session because she looked really nice doing the tunnel-jump bit, especially since Mal missed that jump a few times (what the?!) and Lu just stretched out and took it… and there were lots of really nice hits even though she was coming at it with speed. I expect the 1st run will be a leap and then she goes: “oh yeah, this thing” and does it properly. I didn’t even start her slow for this session, just ran her on.

Then there’s some weaves and I think I’m throwing too late so she’s looking at me rather than forward. I’ve widened the channel again because she was having a lot of trouble with the 2nd pole so I’m going back to this and then will narrow them again when her entries are more reliable. I think I rushed a bit.

And then a little sequence that was just meant to be figure-8s, eventually including some other stuff but you’ll see that she’s looking for obstacles so much that she goes behind me and does some random jumps. LOVE that she’s looking for obstacles- don’t love that she’s ignoring me. So I think I’ll do this again and with more of a call to hand, and reward from the hand some, and THEN get her going through the tunnel, and repeat the same on the other side. She was jumping really nicely though…

I’m wondering if she’s a bit sore actually. We’ve been doing a fair bit of walking, though nothing excessive, and the wraps are still at 400mm which is high-ish… I’ve just been seeing more of her ‘tired-dog’ walking at the end of a hike, where she pace-walks, and swings her back legs out wide with each step… Even when we were doing 1.5-2 hour hikes in the bush I hadn’t been seeing MUCH of that walk but I certainly saw a lot yesterday. So, since the weather is going to be nice and cold for the next 2 days, we’ll have hiking days, and then see how she goes with some RC on Thursday, and possibly even leave wraps until Friday or Saturday. Which is annoying, because I’d like to train the call-to-hand-wrap-with-distraction-obstacles but I’ll leave it. It’s just a feeling I’ve got, you know?

nothing much

So. The video below shows Lumen punching me in the groin with her nose. That was fun times.

 

 

Then the video below this shows a little sequence (nothing much, really) using some extension jumping and one tok (beautiful!!) and one cik (good, but not as great as the tok). With some nice Lumen speed and no weird jumps and throwing herself into the curved tunnels. Yay! After this one, I’d done too many and got LOTS of weird jumps on the next sequence. Should have quit, but I only realised how many little goes we’d had after watching the video. Bad me. She still looks like she tucks her legs up under her too soon but maybe that’s because the bar is still quite low for her so it’s basically a slightly higher stride? Which is fine! Because it means she’s finding it nice and easy. Apart from the last go, she didn’t even do any weird ones out of a tunnel today, so that was cool, too.

I’ve started using all the rabbits at the field to my advantage as she seems to need to chase them away before she isn’t super distracted by them… so I’ve started walking over to the paddock with her – off lead. She seems to be understanding really well that if I say “uh-uh”, she’s not allowed to go get them… then I said “OK GO!!!!” and she can go run. I’m hoping that later this translates to being able to walk around with rabbits nearby and she won’t go chase them without being given the signal, OR I can say “uh-uh” and she won’t go chase them. The fact that she doesn’t take off the INSTANT she sees them despite being off-lead is actually really surprising and really promising.

 

Also I’m picking up my dogwalk tomorrow. YAY!! Hopefully by Monday it’ll be all rubberised and ready to go.

 

 

We also hiked about 20km in the last week and a half, the dogs and I. It’s been lovely. Yesterday we did just over 6km with about 3/4 of the distance off-track in the bush. Lu was exhausted. It was wonderful.

Two quick videos: Mal’s RC and a little sequence

Just a quick one for your Friday (a bit early, I know).

I’ve decided that because Lu needs breaks while we’re out training that I might as well muck around with Mallei’s contacts and weaves. So I’m training him RC cos even if it doesn’t work it’s not like we’re trialling anyway, so who cares, and his weaves because frankly, his entries always sucked, he was completely reliant on me, and he usually popped out at #10. If I end up putting him back in competitions when I’m trialling Lu, it’d be really, really nice to have awesome weaves and awesome contacts. In any case, he’s such a sweet, fun, awesome dog. I don’t realise sometimes how hard I’m working with Lu. Mal is just so eager to please- to a fault. He’s a much softer dog. Say “oops!” and he’ll get all sad and mopey like you yelled at him or something… BUT… everything is done with such enthusiasm! Run off this plank!? OK!!!! Do these weaves!? OK!!! Go in the tunnel!? YAYYYY! Did you say ready? I’m ready! I am! I am! Now! Now! I’m ready!!! Ok, so he’s had 8 years of experience at this game but it’s just so nice to not have to try and ‘rev him up’ the way I do with Lu… and to do the weaves? Food in a bowl. And he dives in and sprints down the channel. Love my boy.

So here’s a video of his running contacts from tonight – I’ve begun angling it with him and he’s coping really, really well. Now I have to get some bigger blocks or something to put underneath and possibly fix up the other plank so he doesn’t have to leap onto the down plank. Lu is doing ok… I’ve been familiarising her with the plank by doing some free-shaping on it so she realises she won’t fall to her death if she steps off it (seriously, it was that bad) and running her over the wider carpet on top of the plank… Tonight it was half wide carpet and half narrower plank and she coped pretty well, so there’s hope for her yet.

And then there’s a little sequence I made up which I was quite pleased with. It included more static wraps than extension to collection stuff, and some nice work for her having to avoid going out and around like a serpentine on the bars, but actually come in between them. This was a bit of work actually, so it’s a good thing to have practised! She wasn’t moving today – possibly she works best if I neglect her that morning and only do tricks training, no walk, and then leave her at home instead of coming to school, and then go straight to the field when I get home. Might try it tomorrow.

what we’re working on

Lu and I have been having super-fun-times at the agility field lately, but I feel like we’re slightly unbalanced, and we’re repeating things we love and can do well and missing out on things that need work.

For example, we’ve been doing lots and lots of extension/collection exercises in straight lines, and also lots of serpentines (and working out kinks with them as they appear) but then I noticed that if we’re doing a sequence and she needs to wrap and I can’t ‘show and go’ (show her the wrap and run off) she slows right down as if to say: uhh… why are you standing around? When in fact I can’t move because I need to be there for some reason.

So this week, we’ll be working on those little sequences from our foundation course, but actually breaking them down into 2 or 3 jump sections, and rewarding, possibly from hand, after those parts where I have to stand still. Hopefully this will help her understand that it’s just as fun to do those wraps cos you get to play, as it is to do the ones where we keep running all the time.

I’m also going to go back to playing the ‘race to the bowl’ game. Our weaves have been pretty meh lately, but I think that’s in part because I don’t have a consistent reward system with her for that yet. With the ball she gets too obsessed and forgets the job, and she doesn’t race to anything else. So I might play race to the food a bit this week on the flat, and down a straight row of weaves. Lots of repetitions of that should build a good base so she is confident of where the reward is, and hopefully gets there with speed. And if not, I’ll pretend to eat it by myself. And if she does a good fast one, she can eat it and then we’ll play.

I think in our Foundation Class we’re going to be working on doing the back side of the jump- something Mal was always so useless at. I think I’ll use the word “Push” and I’m excited to give it a try. Possibly it’s threadles, and I’ve always hated threadles (again, Mal was no good) so it would be so lovely to have a dog who could do them, and do them well.

I’ve also been working on a little side project, but I need to speak to the woman who owns the land my field is on before I unveil it (Hi L! If you’re reading!). And I revamped the blog a bit. Not sure if it’s the ‘final version’ yet, but I’ll keep tweaking.