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we did jump grids and they were fun

Yep. I don’t post in 3 months, and I’m here to talk about jump grids.

Go figure.

I hate jump grids. I hate the formulaic approach. I guess because I can’t see the improvement from them. Never have I done a jump grid and then seen actual improvement in jumping ‘in the real world’. So what’s the point?

But I saw a nice video of Justine Davenport doing “power jumping” with her dogs as part of their ‘cross training’ and I thought it looked like a nice strength exercise while not technically ‘jumping’ since Loki is sort of on a break (though, easing back into it now). Basically, from what I could see, the dogs were coming down a line of jumps set maybe 30cm high and bouncing them.

I went out and set it up, focusing for once, not on compression, but more on extension, I guess. I also set up a compression grid but we never ended up doing it. Maybe those are the grids I hate. The compression ones.

Anyway, we did this nice grid and it was nice. Then I moved a jump so he had 4 to bounce, then put in a stride, then do the last one. Then I basically made up my own rules. I spit on the rules. I’m a trainer without a cause. I did varying combinations of bounce and stride, on a whim! And we enjoyed it, thoroughly. I also love Loki not only because he is just amazing in general but also because I could stand at one end of the grid, hold his collar, point him down the grid, go: “OK, go go go go!” and he would do the entire grid in one direction, wrap a pole, and do it blazingly fast back to me. Two for the price of one grids. Winner. So maybe there is my solution to hating grids. Throw out the rule book. Do your own damn thing. Surely practise in general won’t hurt, and if he has any indication that bars knocked = not as exciting party times rewards, then maybe he’ll try a bit harder to not knock.

I wish he wouldn’t eat everything all the time though. Today he ate some foil that had melted cheese on it. Like… he had jumped onto the kitchen counters while I was at work. Also I think he ate something from the compost. I swear to god I feed him enough, but he doesn’t think so. I used to think Mallei’s food raiding was bad. Loki takes it to another level. I feel like, in general, his self control is at a 2/10. If I subscribed to the gospel of SG I would prescribe crate games and it’s yer choice.

They’re about as fun as jump grids.

jump proofing: fail

So I watched a One Mind Dogs video last night about proofing your dog’s bars. Pretty much what Justine Davenport does. So since Loki has been knocking a few every now and then I thought I’d have a go. I thought it would be fun y’know- muck around, act silly, see if I can get him to knock bars. Big mistake.
First time I do it I pretend to fall over by crouching. This was ok. The next time, I wave my arms and Loki is convinced I’m trying to kill him with his toy and that the bar is evil. Suddenly my driven, do anything, obstacle loving dog is walking up to the bar and looking at me suspiciously over the top of it. I try and act cheerful and have fun with him, show him it’s all ok, the bar isn’t evil, I’m not possessed and he’s not a bad dog, but I can’t convince him. I manage to get him to do some cik/caps over the evil bar in and out of the tunnel but when I face him straight on to it from where the evilness began- nope. Not doing it. Too evil.
And now I feel like such an asshat because I broke my perfect border collie and now he hates jumps. Wahhh.

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…)

 

A quick thought.

Lu’s trial on Saturday went well. Looking back at the video I had a thought re: her slicing jumps rather than bending around them. If you look at the screenshot below, she favours taking off far from the bar. I already knew this. But then I thought that in terms of physics (and how one can move one’s body), when you take off that far, bending yourself around the bar isn’t going to be able to happen, physically. I don’t think. In fact, I just tried it myself by jumping over a draft-stop snake thing and sure enough, you can’t.
So how about using mat targeting like we did when we were working through Hit the Ground Running – put it nice and close to the bar, and work bends with a mat for a while. I’m so, so useless at one-bar stuff like this but I think she really needs to do it. It can’t be good on her body to constantly land in a slice and then have to adjust herself to get to where she needs to be – better to be curving and landing facing the right direction. Also means my handling is better because she’s not landing wider than what I think she should.

 

Thoughts, clever internet people?

It's a bit fuzzy, probably, but she's coming at this jump and taking off already - I'm telling her we're going to her right - not in a tight wrap, but a bend would be useful. But, I don't think it would be physically possible for her to bend, given how far away she's taking off. I think it HAS to carry her forward... I don't THINK my handling is so bad that it's saying "we're going over there so you should slice this bar", but possibly I need to cue even EARLIER but the problem is, is that because she takes off so early, there's really not a heap of time between one obstacle and another to cue stuff. I'll post up the video later so you can see.

It’s a bit fuzzy, probably, but she’s coming at this jump and taking off already – I’m telling her we’re going to her right – not in a tight wrap, but a bend would be useful. But, I don’t think it would be physically possible for her to bend, given how far away she’s taking off. I think it HAS to carry her forward… I don’t THINK my handling is so bad that it’s saying “we’re going over there so you should slice this bar”, but possibly I need to cue even EARLIER but the problem is, is that because she takes off so early, there’s really not a heap of time between one obstacle and another to cue stuff. I’ll post up the video later so you can see.

Part 2... So she looks like she's looking the right way but you can tell she's going to land facing the wrong way and in the middle of that bar

Part 2… So she looks like she’s looking the right way with her nose, but you can tell she’s going to land facing the wrong way and in the middle of that bar

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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…

 

is this what ‘fun’ means?!

Penny and I had a joke today that we couldn’t understand what a ‘fun’ day was, because the concept of ‘fun’ is difficult for us to grasp.

But then Lu went and pulled out this run and Penny did an awesome job with Badger and we were both smiling and it was wonderful. Look at my little girl go! No big weird leaps, a saved bar at the 2nd last that she was about to miss because I probably wasn’t indicating it well enough, beautiful drive into the tunnel (even if it was the wrong side), and one random bar down (not sure why, spacing might have been tight there). What a good little girl. All in 14.06 seconds! Not bad for an unmotivated dog. 😉 And she was super happy at the end, and we played tug with her tug-treat pouch and she enjoyed that a lot and kept wanting to play more later on.

Yay the Lumen! 🙂

 

 

Also, hey, so we sent in the contracts all signed for this house. I should have my actual, own, real-live, flat, big, grassy training area by the beginning of September. Just when I’ll wanting to be starting RC with the Lokster. (that looks like Lobster, which is pretty funny). How awesome is that?! I have so many plans. Lights! Hiring out my paddock to people for money! Little classes! Workshops! Filming and direct feedback! Weekend training sessions with friends! Bigger classes!? Puppy tricks classes! Oh it will be so good, and think of how good it’ll be for Lu! There’s a normal ‘dog paddock’ which is the bright green area just outside the house in those photos, and then there’s a completely separate area for all my gear, so we can really go into ‘work mode’ once we go through the gate, and I can have a hose there for fun hose-time jackpots, and I can have a BIG BIG channel for little Loki and a normal weaves for Lu and I’m getting a seesaw tomorrow from a friend and one day maybe I’ll get an A-frame and if I do classes and stuff I can make more wings and maybe have actual real jumps made of metal and stuff. Wheeeeeeeeee.

 

Oh, AND…! Despite the excitement of the fun day and then a 2 hour beach romp, Lu did some awesome weaves this afternoon, closed to 6cm at the back of the pole… thing… meaning probably 5cm from the centre of the pole to the line? She did SO awesome, we were doing the most amazing soft entry from the left-hand side, and I could totally not be helping her at all and she was still getting in, even with good speed, too. Mega impressed. Must get video! Will try soon.

 

AND AND! I took Loki out when the agility was running and we ran around together and played with toys and he did tricks for food and he was SO focused and so keen – I was worried because he’s so friendly and just loves meeting people and dogs that he would be more keen to do that than stick with me and play, but once we were ‘on’, he was absolutely focused, even with dogs barking (which he worries about) and dogs running agility (very exciting). It was awesome.

hello speed, bye bye jumping

I played a little game with Lu today. Because she’d been doing so well with our curved-tunnel game (basically the 500-ball game with a curved tunnel), I decided I’d ruin it all by putting some jumps in. Because I was thinking what if she’s got all her speed from chasing a ball after the tunnel but then suddenly we do sequences and it takes too long to chase the ball?
So I wrapped her around a tree, went over a bar, into the tunnel, over a different bar and off to chase the ball.

Well, I had some nice speed but her jumping form (what little there is) went right out the window. She didn’t smash any bars or land on top of any like she was for a while, just taking off early, folding her legs right up, and landing pretty close to the bar on the landing side. I tried racing her, I tried waiting back to not race her, but I had big high foldy jumps.

So I have 2 thoughts about how to tackle this. Because although she might be jumping weird because she’s looking for a ball, I don’t want to not throw the ball ahead because that’s how I’m getting speed.

Option 1) Have 2 jumps in a line instead of side by side. The first jump closest to the tunnel should have a bar and be at a nice height, and the 2nd one, furthest from the tunnel, should only have the bar that holds the whole thing together (5cm high). Therefore, the 1st bar should be jumped normally, and the 2nd is just an endpoint after which the ball shall be thrown and since it’s so low she doesn’t need to do anything weird to get over it. It could teach her to stretch out her stride there.

Option 2) Go back to much lower bars and play the same game as today. Do this for a few sessions, then raise the height slightly. Continue as long as there is confident, fluid jumping. It could simply be a matter of her not knowing how to jump with the speed she has when blasting out of the tunnel, since she’s not usually that fast. Possibly with some sessions on a lower height she’ll start to figure it out.

 

I’m thinking option 2 is best even though it’ll take longer than the other to get up to full height but maybe that’s ok right now anyway.

 

Also I made a list of pro/con for BCs and Aussie vs. BC arguments.

BC came out on top. I’ll share later.