things I learnt this weekend

It was our first trial back for a month and a half, maybe 2.

It was the first time in about a year that I entered Lumen in agility (not just jumping). My plan had been to use those two months to find a way to teach her how to do dogwalks, but then it got very wet and muddy and I trained it maybe 2 times. Still, I had a plan… though, we hadn’t trained weaves, a-frames or seesaws in those 12 months, either.

So, the learning bits.


  • Must train her what I’m on about if I do any kind of V-set. Once she decided that cos I was kind of in her way that maybe I meant go do the backside of the bar (but then not really so maybe just avoid the bar altogether???), another time she thought it maybe meant go out and do a tunnel somewhere???? So while I’m trying to be very helpful to her by shaping her line, she’s finding it very strange. Maybe I got in her way, I’m not sure, anyway, there’s work to be done.
  • Um…. practise on the A-frame. She missed 2/3 a-frame contacts and she’s my RELIABLE A-framer. Whoops. So, maybe actually work on an a-frame before the next competition. It’ll come back, she’s always been a beautiful A-frame hitter.
  • Maybe actually do some weave entries sometimes. Y’know. Even easy ones. Though I can’t fault her independence in them. A+
  • Holy moly dogwalks!!!! I only saw one of them, and I heard one of them and it sounded DEEP… I worked out, at home, during one of our two training sessions, that I just need to shut up. With both of them. No “go go go go go!!!”, just “GO!” as they get on, and that means go, unless I say turn. At home, Lu cottoned on to this beautifully and worked out all manners of ways to hit. Her turns of any degree still suck bigtime, but suddenly, even though she wasn’t going full speed, she always hit. What what?? So, having hardly trained dogwalks, and knowing how nervous she used to be on dogwalks, we went to this trial and I said “GO!” then shut up. One she didn’t get faulted for (I didn’t see it, too busy running) so it must have been in… one sounded deep, lots of feet right to the end (didn’t see it, too busy running), and one was a nice safe Lumen-y front foot hit. Confident and happy. Gone was my stressy high, no-separation hits that I used to get from trying to impose speed with yelling. Now she could work it out herself. And she wasn’t trotting, Lors no (been listening to “The Stand”), she was running – not full speed, but when does Lu ever do ‘full speed’? and she was happy!! So, lesson learnt. Shut up and just run, Em. She’ll make it work. She’s a good girl. Now if I can just figure out how to get her to understand turns. This is going to take some thinking, since she’s such a bouncy, non-forward-driving dog. Hmmmm….


And little crazy Loki-pants. Huh. Well, after 2 months of no trials he was a little high. Usually he settles by the 3rd run but no, there was no settling for my boy.

  • He has a very nice start-line stay. Good boy.
  • I have some ideas of some jumping grid type exercises to work on over the next few weeks that shouldn’t suck too bad or be too boring I hope. This was a weekend of many, many bars.
  • We should probably train weaves sometime. Maybe before a trial. I started walking him out if, after the 2nd attempt, he still had lost his brain and couldn’t do them even vaguely correctly. Boy’s gotta learn and he’s not gonna learn there’s anything wrong if he gets rewarded with more agility.
  • And dogwalks… well… they’ll come. He was just too excited.
  • I started working him with food outside the ring, doing heeling obedience-y type stuff, and this was actually lovely. He had fantastic focus on me and was able to ignore all the agility going on. No wrenching my arm off, no crazy-eyed whining as he watched, biting madly at his rope and getting my fingers in the process. Just a lovely, calm, focused dog. So, I’m hoping this helps. And I might start using food in training more, too. Let’s take Loki from OMG CRAZED NEED TO GET MY TOY AS FAST AS I CAN dog, to a bit more thinking, a bit more of a working dog. Yes. I think this is a good plan.


Sometimed after agility training I look at Loki as he lies on his side asleep and I think: I did too much, look how tired he is!! Collie down! Collie down!!! 
Then I look at Mallei & Lumen who have had 2 solid days of doing literally nothing but sleeping, and they’re also fast asleep like Loki. 


too sleepy to fully open her eyes. its been a hard few days of lazing around.

Then I don’t feel so bad. 


a very traditional Mal sleeping pose though usually upside down against a couch. here he’s taking advantage of me sitting on the floor to use my legs as his support.

Tried working on DW turns today. All was good until I added speed. I have to remember to take it in more gradual steps. He seems to understand so then I rush on instead of really cementing his understanding. I have to just chill out, not rush it. I can relax- he can do all the things & his weaves are looking bloody spectacular, we’ll figure out the table thing & just keep working on body awareness with non-winged jumps. Turns will come. It’ll be fine. 

courses for horses


I feel like since RC class has ended and Loki & I are settling into how that whole behaviour is going to look, I haven’t been nearly as active on here. Also I just don’t have time. But otherwise I suppose things are just chugging along.

Weaves are slowly closing – I tried to push too quickly and blew his brain so now I’m being more careful and moving them all in about 1cm at a time every few sessions. Also working exits & always independence. Funny though he’ll do the whole 12 with me running backwards or sideways or whatever, but if I race him to the end, that’s where we run into trouble.

Possibly not that surprising. Interesting, maybe.

Dogwalks are also coming along, bit by bit. I initially ignored Silvia’s advice to very gradually add speed, and now I am taking that advice and we are very gradually adding speed. He hits about 90% of the time, but how safe those hits are is the problem. So we’re working on exits. Lots of exits, and we’re doing sequences after. I think he likes this. And if he misses a hit, he doesn’t get to do the sequences… He usually has a really awesome hit the next try. 😉

A-frames are… generally ok. I think they’re ok when a reward follows, but if a sequence comes before and after, it all sort of falls apart a bit. I’m thinking he might need a stride regulator or something to help but I’m not sure it will help, or if I just need to heavily JP the best ones and hope he figures it out. Today I did A-frames turning toward me into a tunnel for the first time and he thought this was super easy, and wasn’t phased by the tunnel/A-frame discrimination either. Go puppy!

And after some bar knocking the other day I’ve been trying to include my PVC uprights more but boy do they come down a lot. The problem with them is that even if he brushes the upright itself (and not the horizontal bar), the bar will drop. So it’s hard to tell when it’s his fault or not. I’m so worried about him jumping the metal jumps that most Australian judges use. He’s knocked off 7 jump-cups from my wings from the height above what he jumps, which means he’s come so close to them that they’ve been pulled off. The jump cups on Australian jumps are SHARP METAL. He’s only done two sequences with those jumps before and I already noticed a little patch of fur missing on his nose near his eye. 😦

Yesterday the usual gang came around for some post birthday agility training and we ran an O/E “Intermediate/Novice” sequence. It was loaded with traps and hard parts but I was glad to see Loki’s speed is back 100% after he fell a bit flat a few weeks ago. On the downside, I just haven’t been working on backsides lately so uh… they were a bit of a challenge (I didn’t include the attempts where he was confused by what I was asking 😉 )

He’s very fun to run, and sooooo different to Lu. But it’s amazing, I feel so much more confident and smooth with her now. I guess having to react so quickly to Loki and having to get from one place to the other so fast, and not having rock-solid commitment yet, when it comes to running Lu, I have a longer time to react, I can get places easier, and her commitment is way better. Shame she thought all wraps should be S-turns 😉


I feel like Loki’s confidence has taken a hit over the past few weeks.
I’m not sure what’s caused it. I’m not sure if he’s getting burnt out, even though we don’t train every day and he’s had a few days off in a row here and there and we have plenty of breaks during our training, and he always gets rewarded (pretty much)…
I’m not sure if it was that time a few weeks ago when I was doing sequences with him and to try and make his toy more exciting I threw it down on the ground, but when I watched the video back it looked like I was really angry and throwing a tantrum or something and now maybe he’s scared of making me angry…
I’m not sure if the dog walk has changed too much over the past couple of weeks and so he’s worried about it…
And I don’t mean that just his dogwalk stuff is showing a lack of confidence… there’s a few things.
Like how he keeps pulling off his wraps that I send him out to do before the dogwalk. Does he not want to do the wrap because the dogwalk comes after it? Does he not want to do the wrap because he’s worried he’s doing the wrong thing?
Or like how the other day we’d done some sequences and instead of bringing me his toy to play with & have another go, he took it away and laid down. Had enough, he said. I gave him a break from sequences for about a week after that.
Even at home, he just seems more flat – not that he’s ever been a dog like Lumen, who is sassy and naughty all the time. He’s always more likely to settle down and sleep, but he’s sort of ‘fading’… Is he not enjoying coming to school with me any more? Does it stress him and the stress is affecting him? He spends 80% of the day sleeping on a coach while he’s here so you wouldn’t think it was that bad…
I try and be very calm and cheerful when I train him – after all, he’s awesome. My rewards are always genuine, even if something goes wrong. And if he misses a DW hit or something and doesn’t get a reward, I quietly walk back to start again. I don’t feel like I put unnecessary pressure on him that’s going to be making him worried.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just talk and tell us what’s wrong so we could fix it for them?

Breaks my heart that he isn’t obsessively loving training right now. I suppose that means I should give him a few weeks off, but I find this SO hard, especially “in the middle” of something. I’m in the middle of weaves. I’m in the middle of DW training. I don’t want to pack it in now & come back in a few weeks and have taken steps back, or for him to be MORE worried about the DW because he hasn’t done it in a few weeks! And I’m trying not to view his “possible first trial date” as some kind of deadline and just enter him if he’s ready or not if he’s not, but it’s still there in my mind.

But maybe this is all in my mind and he’s fine, it’s just his BC seriousness has surprised me again. That’s what’s almost driving me more crazy. Am I making something out of something that isn’t there? Is there not even a problem but I’m making one up. Gah. Maybe we both need a few weeks off.

Edit: The more I think about it, the more I think it’s anxiety/pressure from the dogwalk making him less keen. If I want to do wraps around trees, or do some jumps or tunnels, or some weaves, he’s usually pretty enthusiastic… but once we do dog walks, he sort of ‘fades’. Hmmm… so I don’t know… do I keep working to build up his confidence with it? Do I stop training it? Erg. 

le weekend

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.

Look at how happy and fast she looks :)

Look at how happy and fast she looks 🙂

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. 😦

Ohhh look how he's growing up so nice.

Ohhh look how he’s growing up so nice.

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.

miss Lu

Since this blog is supposed to be about Lu, I guess I should probably actually write a post about her.

Not that much to say though – I’m rarely training her and I think this works best. I try and only train her after I get home from work because then I get maximum enthusiasm from her.

So here it is: basically an entire training session with Lu. The actual video went for 7 minutes – so there was a bit of extra time there with her in a drop stay while I got more food for her toy, and a bit of extra time at the end after I finished with her before I turned the camera off. But otherwise, it’s pretty much “as is”.

Anyway… nothing too exciting, I just like seeing my happy girl and feeling like she’s really running a bit more.

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.