OMD times

So, Loki’s first seminar. Gosh he’s a little champion. He ran his heart out, and only at the very end he refused a Jaako or two because he was all: “really? I have to?”

We both learnt a lot – possibly me more than him (isn’t that always the way?). I improved my techniques on a lot of the turns immeasurably and you can see it in some of the moves on the video – the first attempt often worked ok but the last attempt was way better. I didn’t include all the fails on the video of course.

The sequence was good too and showed some definite places for us to work on (*coureversespinsgh*) – as in those situations Loki gets patterned so quickly and so begins to predict that despite my spin we’re still actually going forward. He also found Forced Front Crosses really difficult even though we’ve done plenty that have included a Jaako – take away that 2nd part and he wouldn’t take the bar. Cheeky. And, any front cross where I was up near the bar & he’d bring it down – if I was far from the bar it was ok. Obviously need to get him ok with me ‘crowding’ him a bit and still keeping it up. I still need to work on his commitment in German turns, not for the push part, but for the ‘come back over the bar’ part. I had a lot more success once I started using my off arm like they do in OMD but I liked Justine & Jessica’s rule of keeping that for ‘take the non-obvious side of the obstacle and flick back’. We were discussing this the other day in our little group of friends and didn’t come to any conclusion – some of us thought it would “muddy the waters” and dull down the signal when used for a threadle, but we also wondered if the dogs weren’t smart enough to differentiate between one and the other cue given that the situations and the rest of your body language is going to be very different.

He got to run 3 dog walks – the first one he didn’t hit because he was looking for the wrong exit, and he doesn’t usually hit the first time on a “new” dog walk. The 2nd had a backfoot JUST in, and the 3rd one was picture perfect and got a big reward right away. He even did seesaws! And, we started the weekend with no stay behaviour really, and by the end I could pretty confidently leave him and he wouldn’t pop up. That was lovely, but obviously still requires some work. But I think I found a way to practise it and reward him that seemed to work over the weekend so I’ll keep that up at home.

The only bad part of the weekend wasn’t part of the weekend at all – a friend told me that a lady (who is a dog/horse/human physio-type person) said to her that she suspected Loki was sore in the rear end. So Loki is getting the week off – personally, I’m not so sure – he wasn’t knocking bars or showing any signs at all to me. In general he has a sort of weird gait sometimes but so do his brothers so I’m thinking that’s genetic. I’ve had him checked over by vets and muscle people multiple times about his back legs in the past but he was given the all clear, told he had great muscletone, etc… he was very tired by Sunday but that’s to be expected… I guess that put a damper on the weekend for me – I don’t know why I feel like I’ve taken it personally, even though I don’t think it’s any kind of reflection on me, but an observation… It’s just made me feel tense, I think.

The photos aren’t wanting to upload from school so here’s a video for now instead. 🙂

RCs and RCs.

No, this post isn’t all about running contacts. Only half of it. This weekend Loki and I worked on both versions of RC – running contacts, and (cue dramatic music) rear crosses.

Spurred on by a friend’s Facebook post about her triumphant rear-crosses in a competition, I had set up a course already that saw me get waayyyyyy behind Loki at a critical point where I needed to throw in some kind of cross. I went out there with the theory If you’re confident enough, you’ll pull it off!

Uh… fail. My dog span back toward me. Ok, this could have been a matter of timing but regardless. I realised that the course I’d set up lent itself beautifully to at least 3 rear-crosses if you were to run it backwards. Not… running backwards… doing the sequence backwards. You know what I mean. That being said, I tend to walk rear-crosses in my first walk-through before pondering how on earth I can get out of doing them (because I hate them) and coming up with some brilliant plan to do blinds and fronts and whatever else instead. With Lu, it works. With Loki, at low bars? Not so much. So, we’d best practise rears.

I broke the sequence into little parts (very smart idea!) and placed one of his toys behind the bar I was going to cross. Suddenly, it all seemed much easier. In the end, I didn’t have to do half as many rear-crosses as I’d anticipated as I could get ahead of him here and there by legging it away from the tunnel. But he could do them, with minimal knocked bars (at 30cm) unless I crowded him (fair enough, dude). I also had him sending out and doing bars around the back of a tunnel (which considering yesterday he didn’t think these (wingless) jumps were actually jumps is pretty good) and getting HUGE working distance out of a tunnel and over some jumps. I’m still working out my body-cues for rear-crosses. I used to throw up my off-arm into the air kind of across my body but I don’t think that’s done any more, so I’d best figure out how to do it with the dog-side arm. I’m always thinking of Silvia’s advice which is that it should feel like you’re going to step on the dog’s tail – hence the occasional crowding. Sorry, Ro.

He just really is way, way too much fun and such a very good boy. The way he searches out a tunnel when he hears the verbal cue just floors me every time. He’d come over a bar, working probably 7-8m from me, heard me say “tunnel tunnel tunnel!” and gone way out of his way to take the tunnel that was sitting around as a distant distraction. It was pretty impressive. I saw him looking too like; “Yep, got it, tunnel, now, where is it!? You mean that one over there?! OK!!!” I’ll just have to be conscious of this!

Loki tunnels

Meanwhile in the land of running contacts, the lowered apex is still working well and I do think he’s thinking very hard about how to get jackpots. I’ve taken to starting our session by putting him at a random place on the dogwalk and running him. Usually he’ll miss once or twice and then do an awesome hit. The video below must have been from a very hard starting spot because the best he could manage were high rear-feet hits. He doesn’t have a lot of separation along the plank until the last stride or two but I’m thinking maybe that will come with practise and confidence – once he knows for sure what his job is, he’ll run easier and more naturally. Right now I think he’s concentrating very, very hard.

birthday bean

Yesterday was Lu’s 2nd birthday. It’s certainly been a year…

We got to full height on her DW, closed the weaves, dealt with the stomach ulcer saga and subsequent recovery, got her DW back to then have her desexed and find out she had an iliopsoas strain, she got her first title and got restricted to on-lead walks while we work on her hunting. She’s become happier and more engaged with me, more food and toy driven, and more focused. This morning I too her out to do some Justine Davenport Foundations stuff, and worked on threadles like this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.32.42 amWe did it with her on both sides – with her on the opposite side to this picture, I saw her start LOOKING for that bar to flick back to. YES!!! On the side in this picture she was still turning back very late. But the amazing progress on the other side means it won’t be long until she’s anticipating that flick back. Of course the bars are only low for now but actually I think that’s ok as she gets the feel for what she needs to do.

 

So happy birthday, Bean. Let’s have a less stressful year this time, ok?

Lu birthday

 

full

This photo has nothing to do with the post, it's just adorable and Penny must have taken it secretly when we were at the beach last time because it just appeared on my phone.

This photo has nothing to do with the post, it’s just adorable and Penny must have taken it secretly when we were at the beach last time because it just appeared on my phone.

 

My head is full right now. Full of ideas and things and training plans. It feels as though I have a swarm of those little midgeflies all telling me lots of things. Good things, but lots of them.

I’m at the OneMind dogs seminar in Sydney right now, and last night we had our introductory lecture. It was a lot of information packed into about 5 hours. Lucky I took notes. I’m also beginning this play class with Polona, which should be really interesting, except for the fact that she recommends you stop all training for 6 weeks. And also there’s some compression jump grid/speed circle stuff I’d really like to try with Lu, and meanwhile I still need to close the weaves, and get her dogwalk back (I think I’ll back-chain this again, so start from a point on the top plank where she’s happy and I’m getting full speed and work my way back. At club the other day she had real issues with running up the up plank, until the first apex. So it’s like she’s afraid of the first plank, or of what’s going to happen after the apex. If I work backwards I should be able to get her back to the start without her realizing what I’ve done), and at some point find an adjustable A-frame so she can learn that, too.

In fact, I have so much information in my head right now that I’m not even sure where to begin writing about it. My thoughts are jumping here, there and everywhere. Maybe a list would help.

  • Play class with Polona: starting with food play. Pretty good at this already, I think. Not too concerned here. Missing a week anyway. Couple of things to try but not stressing over it.
  • Speaking of which, Noora from OMD had been talking about skills you can practice at home for agility, so I asked her later about whether there was a good way to reward recalls that tied in to agility training (I thought this was a fairly legitimate question) but she didn’t seem to have much of an answer other than to tell me don’t stress. Uhh… Yeah, no. And actually, I wasn’t stressing, for once, I was simply curious if we’re on the topic of ‘stuff you can do at home that will tie in to agility’, surely recalls can be a part of that too? Maybe my face was stressed.
  • Need to teach Lu sends better. Lots of this handling seems dependent on being able to send and go. Her sends to wraps were pretty good so it should be ok.
  • There is no such thing as a wrong obstacle. I think I’ve said this before but I’m saying it again so I remember. There were some great examples of the dog being pointed at a particular (‘wrong’) obstacles, and of course doing them. I really want to be ok with Lu doing the obstacles in front of her- I think this will do wonders for her speed and confidence, but to do that, I can never stop her for going ‘off course’ – I need to find the next closest obstacle (in training) and do that then reward her, or, just keep going and try again next time, or try and loop my way back to where the mistake was. This last option will be difficult- I’m not that good at thinking on my feet.
  • There were a couple of little jumping/bar/body awareness things I want to try with Lu, and some proofing exercises I want to do as well. These should be easy in the backyard. The great thing about all the handling moves we’ve learnt about in the seminar is that I can do them with just one bar, or at most, a bar and a tunnel. They have an interesting way of teaching a wrap that might appeal to the Lu, so I’ll be wanting to train this at home, especially since she’s forgotten how to do it.
  • The value and importance of reward placement, and rewarding on the dog’s line rather than from the hand. I realize that this would be better with a dog who drove to a static toy but I might have some luck with her food pouch tug. Or even just a plate with food on it.
  • That I haven’t been supporting Lu’s weave entries very well sometimes, in terms of where my ‘laserpoint’ is and just expecting her to do it, which is sort of ok because she should be able to do it independently but also sort of unfair in how I was doing it. I’m not going to baby her but I think I can provide clearer directions even while she’s still being independent.
  • Thinking of how to combine OneMind dogs, Justine Davenport, Silvia Trkman and Polona’s play class all into one glorious mess. This, I think, is what’s filling up my brain most of all. There’s so many ideas. So many. How do I choose what will work, be good, be what I need, and what I should leave behind?

 

I’m really enjoying a lot of what OMD has to say- the importance of showing your dog where you’re going very early so they know where they’re going! Of making sure their nose is turned in the right direction before they land! Of having very independent obstacle performance and great commitment (which I know Silvia says too, but theirs is said differently for me) so you can cue something and move on and know that your dog will complete it that way without you so that you’re then set up for showing them where to go next.  It’s actually been really nice seeing Noora use food with the dogs all day, like it’s ok to reward that way. In fact she says she teaches a lot more using food before she uses toys and only does toys later, and when the dog is eating its reward from the ground (because its rewarded on its line!), she gets people to move off, so the dog is performing the obstacle independently and not reacting to the handler’s motion so much. It sounds so counter intuitive, like teaching them to ignore the handler’s movement, which frightens me a lot, but it makes sense. I think. Maybe. Like, you should be able to cue “take this bar” and move off parallel to it as the dog has committed and know it will take it regardless of your movement after that point. I think it makes sense. My head is having a hard time with it but I think I like it.

 

My handling diagrams have gone downhill RAPIDLY. This is a prime example. It was meant to be a dog, doing a ... German turn... I think. I could open my notes and check but that would require effort.

My handling diagrams have gone downhill RAPIDLY. This is a prime example. It was meant to be a dog, doing a … German turn… I think. I could open my notes and check but that would require effort. Also the stick man on the left looks like he’s up to no good…

 

new games

Hey, hi.

Been busy. First week of school, putting an offer in on a house (2 acres of FLAT LAND) in the COUNTRYSIDE but only 5 minutes from a train station for Nic and … well… 45 mins to work for me. Ok, I could change schools, but I like my school. I like the kids. They let me have my dog at school.

Anyway. A friend’s friend sent her some notes relating to Justine Davenport. One of the games was to help teach tunnel/jump discrimination. We did the tunnel version this morning (and the jumping one last night). Basically we walked up to the tunnel and I stood there all tense and she was like; OMG DO I GO IN THE TUNNEL NOW? HOW ABOUT NOW? NOW!? NOW NOW NOW!? and then I’d say: “TUNNEL TUNNEL TUNNEL!!!!!” and she’d race through and we’d have a big play with her toy. And then once she did it without me saying and I said; “ok let’s try again!” so we went to the entrance again and did it again. So, excellent learning for Lu: 1) tunnels are good fun when you do them. 2) Tunnels are full of excitement and self-control (and she loves self-control. That whole tense-ready thing is a big draw for her) and 3) It’s more fun to do the tunnel when I say so than when I don’t. I think this could be very excellent for Lu.

I also did the same thing with a jump with excellent results, except that then she didn’t want to do the backside of a jump. But that might have just been forgetting how to do the backside of a jump and also being tired.

Still learning the weaves. Must be careful not to rush. But it’s very difficult, there’s a lot to practise, eg. entries, independence AND closing the weaves. RC was easier because it was just height height height height… I didn’t have to think about other stuff yet. But at the moment she’s finding some entries hard, so do I stay there until the entries are easier? Silvia seemed to suggest that I should close the weaves more and go back to harder entries later. How do I judge when to close the gap? I need a system here. I really liked doing RC because it was black and white- 80% success rate x 3 sessions = raise the height! I can have 80% success rate on WEAVING, but not entries! And as soon as I add a bar or something, that’ll be a whole new ball-game again, so I could be training entries forever but never be able to close the weaves.

The other day I sent her around a jump-wing with no bar and into a straight weave entry and she couldn’t do it. So weird. Good excuse to do fast straight entries though.

Help! Someone give me a system. I need to watch the DVD again. Not sure when I’ll have time. Would like my own training area now so I can set tunnels up around the place for discrimination. Very impatient for this now.

Hoping for a beach trip this weekend. Also visiting Tink again. Made my mind up by about 90% that I’d like to get her, just DREADING the whole puppy thing again, then teenage energy levels, biting, sharp claws… That being said, her breeder (Amanda) sent me this message yesterday: “you should have seen Tink yesterday! She LOVES the tunnel! Raced through the tunnel full pelt and then turned to chase the puppies. Gosh she is entertaining!! And sooooo cheeky!”

Oh lord, like I need more cheeky in my life, but doesn’t she sound awesome? ADULT DOG TUNNEL.

 

Here she is. Just cos.

1186168_574391375985451_680592998_n

non dog-side arm, eg. off arm, eg. collection arm, eg. I don’t know what it’s called

Apologies for that last post. Penny made me do it. Here’s an actual, real post.

I’ve discovered something about my dog!

Yep, pretty exciting.

When I take her outside in the morning at the moment she gets all razzed up so I thought I’d do some really simple handling-on-the-flat stuff as a way to get some of her energy out in a low-stress, recovering-from-surgery kind of way.

And I found that she has no idea that the non-dog-side-arm means “come over here”. Instead, she ignores it completely. eg. if I stand near my fancy new wings and say “ok!” and give her my off-arm, turning into her, everything, she’ll go out around the wing and do it that way. I thought off-side arms intuitively meant “come here”, but it doesn’t seem to be a strong command for her! I know I’ve done it before for a serpentine when she’s coming out of the tunnel and I want her to take the inside of the first bar rather than the outside, and that seemed to work, but she really found this most simple of exercises challenging!

See, this would mean “go out over there and do that bar”, or in a 180, it wouldn’t mean “do a threadle” it would mean “go to the backside of that bar”.

 

I’m wondering how I’ve accidentally trained this along the way. Is it my cik/cap cues which I give VERY early with an off-side arm, signalling a wrap, but sending her out to do it? (eg. ignore my arm, use it as a pre-cue only? and therefore in future situations: this is a pre-cue to come in, after you do that obstacle).

 

But I guess there is other times you use the off-side arm, like this:

As a kind of… turn away… signal

 

Ok here’s another example. Dog comes out of the tunnel, off-side arm, dog comes in, does the bar from the inside. Lu? She’d be wanting to go to the outside of that bar… Probably.

 

 

So, my agility-minded friends. Thoughts? Like I said, I’ve been doing plenty on the flat and with those wings around so she can see that if there’s equipment around it doesn’t automatically mean ‘go do it’. It’s kind of ‘call to hand’ but also kind of not, since that can be ‘dog side’ hand too, and mean something different. When we’ve been practicing, I’m rewarding every try, even if she does the back of the bar, and I’m jackpotting the ones where she does it right. I feel like at the moment, Lu doesn’t trust my handling and therefore she’s not at fault for doing what she thinks is right! Because that’s probably how it’s worked so far and she’s just doing it how she knows to do it! I think this is good for her. I think I haven’t done this enough, but I also think we need to get some kind of understanding between us – if I do this, I want you to do this. Because she can sequence obstacles just fine, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because she’s paying much attention to my handling, at all. I think it’s more because a) she takes obstacles that are obvious and in front of her (this isn’t a bad thing!) and b) most of our sequences have been a mix of straight lines and cik/cap, both of which are very easy for her to read. As soon as I try something else (forced front cross, threadle, come in to me before you to that obstacle that I want you to do), she makes it up as she goes along. So, I need to build up her understanding of my handling by making my handling clearer and more consistent, and build up her trust that she’s not wrong, I’m not going to lead her astray, and if I do, it’s totally my fault.

 

Does this make sense? This off-arm thing?

 

Also, I found this really cool looking dog on PetRescue, and sent an inquiry through about him. I’m still in 2 minds – I think a 2nd agility dog right now would be really good for Lu because she’d have more breaks and would get revved up by her ‘friend’ getting to play, she’d also have an actual playmate (Mal doesn’t count!!) and it would take the pressure off her somewhat. Maybe it will mean that in 2-3 years we have 4 dogs for a while as Mal gets older and can’t come on adventures, and we have puppies from Lu (if that ends up happening and if we end up keeping one)… But as I’ve found from this week, so much can change in a week, a month, a year – who knows what will be happening in 2-3 years. I loved what they said about this dog, that he loves to know he’s pleased you- this is something I don’t have with Lu (apparently a very typical Aussie girl thing) but that I think would be really great in an agility dog… Plus, as a greyhound x heeler, it’d be that mix of speed and smarts that I’m looking for.

And I keep looking at this little guy because he’s so darn cute, but doesn’t sound like as much of an agility prospect (but he’s been on PetRescue for a while and every time he gets moved to the top of the list I look at him and think he’s got such a cute face.)

 

handling

Ok, I’ve been thinking about this a bit, particularly in relation to how my handling affects Lu’s jumping…

And I’ve decided that I’m not that great at it. Somehow whatever I did worked with Mal, but it’s not going to cut it with Lu. For example, the little sequence I did on the video the other day? Half the time I wasn’t telling her where to go. Jeez I’m glad I rewarded her one time when she knocked a bar and went and did that tunnel because sure enough, that’s what I was telling her to do.

So I need some help here…

One option would be a Silvia handling class, and I love Silvia, we all know that, but sometimes her handling feels a bit frantic, I guess?

But, woah… hey…  I was just looking for videos from Janita from One Mind Dogs, and I found this one:

Ok it’s really dark but…there were jumps in there that had Lumen landings (almost 4 legs at once). Yay!

So, that’s my other option, would be to poke around OMD’s website… I don’t like their lame sales video but I do like how their handling looks like a dance, how they focus on the dog’s path and take-off point, how they have lots of different moves you can use based on your dog’s strengths and the situation you’re faced with… It seems like everyone who does OMD is a huge believer in what they do, which has to say something…

Urgg, so I don’t know.
See, this lady does OMD handling on US-style courses and it looks quite nice…

 

Ok since I wrote this, I’ve bitten the bullet and we’re heading to Sydney for an OMD seminar in April. It surely can’t hurt to learn some stuff, even if I don’t buy into their marketing. Good thing Nic wants to do the touristy thing in Sydney anyway. 😉

(And Penny, I’m sorry if you want to disown me or something for doing the One Mind Dogs thing, but I have to do something! 😛 )