little Lokimotor

I put a tunnel in our yard yesterday. It took a lot of discussion with the dogs about where would be the best place for it given there are lots of gardens with rock borders, and where I was thinking of having it only has a narrow path or rocks in the way so it affects how Lu sets her line… So, I moved a couple of rocks, pushed a little plant to the side that was being eaten by slugs anyway, curved it around a bush, and BAM, tunnelyard. Which is very very excellent because it means Lu’s little “mini-sessions” for a bowl of food can now include many more things. For example, this afternoon we did a tok-ketschker-tunnel, lapturn, threadle-arm into tunnel, blind-cross, backside push… All in one little sequence. not bad for a very small space and two bars and a tunnel. Actually, writing that all down, I’m quite pleased with everything I managed to fit in tonight. And Lu was BLITZING. I was tripping over my own feet trying to be in the right places for her.

But this post isn’t meant to be about Lu. It’s about the other L dog. The little Lokimonster.

So he’s helping me set up the tunnel. One end is open, the other is facing the ground. He trundles in and of course, then he’s stuck. He just stands there. I open up the tunnel and he’s all: “Hey, you wrecked my cave. But it’s cool, no probs”. And I’m all like: Ok dude, you’ve only done tunnels twice but you’re looking keen so maybe I’ll get a ball and some food and see what you think.

Seriously, he’s done tunnels twice – straight ones, chasing a ball. That’s it.

And with no trouble at all, I achieved:

Sends from at least 3-4m back

Threadle-arm into the close end of the tunnel (because I thought why the hell not? If he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t do it… but nah, he can do it)

Cik/toks around a bollard, into the tunnel, out of the tunnel, around the bollard, back into the tunnel…

(that video doesn’t even give you a good idea of what we were doing but it’s very hard to hold an iphone pointing at the right place and cue with your body, too)

He is one way too cool little puppy. Gosh it would be so easy to overdo it with him. You’d just want to play agility all the time because it’s so easy and fun. I’m trying very hard to not do too many cik/caps, or too much of this thing or that thing… but he’s so fun, and so keen, and just wants to do more more more more!

Gah. He’s so cool. What a little dude.

I love my Little Mate.

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.

tunnel call-off

I set up the tunnel at the park this morning and decided to do some call to hand stuff PAST the tunnel (eg. don’t take the tunnel).

One thing I can say fairly confidently about Lu is that she will not take the tunnel unless I’m very much telling her to take the tunnel.

I even set her up in a scenario where I did a lead out to the tunnel and called her to hand while I ran forward. Meaning, she ran past two tunnel entrances, one that was oh-so enticing. Good girly.
Of course, this comes back to bite me in the butt when I want to pull her across from one entrance (the far one she prefers, which is just weird) to the other (this morning it was the entrance closest to me)… The slightest shoulder pull and quietest “Lumen…!” is enough to take her off the whole obstacle. I’m going to have to be very careful about how I direct her when around tunnels and remember that she is anything but a tunnel suck!

Next time I might try the ‘come to hand’ exercise with a straight tunnel. They are slightly more enticing. Then a jump (she would much prefer a jump than a tunnel) and then… dun dun dunnnnnnn (dramatic music) a dogwalk.

But hey, at least calling off tunnels is one thing I really don’t have to worry about.

Don’t mind everything else. 😉

 

It’s very nice to be out running around with her. A guy turned up at the park today with 3 working kelpies- a herding judge with 2 herding champion dogs and a puppy. I even managed to get her NOT to bark at him and then she got to run with them and I actually saw old Lu-style flat-out running coming back! After seeing her not managing to keep up with the dogs on the beach the other day and just not running ‘herself’, I was feeling a bit sad, but she was looking much much better today. With a bit more stamina and a bit more flat-out running to stretch her stomach and open her stride up again, I think I’ll start seeing more and more of my old Lu-style running.

 

For those of you interested in Mal (who isn’t?!), I took him to a muscle therapist today as his limp had gotten better, then worse. She’s had a stroke and has a very limited vocab so it can be difficult to understand what she’s trying to tell you, but from what I gathered, she had some concerns about his tail (tail set maybe) and a point in his back was troubling her, and that his pain was from his back and his shoulder. When he got there he was standing VERY strangely on his front leg – it was bent sort of like #4 in this picture:

But not quite as bad as #5. Usually I’d say he’s a 1 or a 2, I guess. I think it’s looking more normal now and his limp has certainly gotten better since the treatment, so he’s going back in a week.

Lu as usual lapped up the attention as she got an ear/head massage, some work on her back, and a little on one shoulder, then was given a “Good, good!” bill of health. I’m always amazed at how gracefully she moves after a treatment there- she seems to just glide.

DIY Tunnel Bags

So sometimes, in our attempt to do things on the cheap, Husband and I DIY… and when I can’t find a google solution to what I want, it’s time to make one.

I recently bought 2 dog tunnels for agility – nice, thick and sturdy… of course, I have no way to hold them down – yet.

There’s two companies in Victoria selling ‘tunnel bags’- bags full of sand that you can velcro over the top of a tunnel.

They were priced from one company, at $65 per pair. So, for 3 pairs on one tunnel (both ends and the middle), we’d be looking at $195 per tunnel – almost as much as the tunnel cost by itself! No thanks.

So, we donned our el-cheapo hats and got to thinking… here’s what we’ve come up with- I’ll let you know how they work out when I get to try them.

Sand

Green/reusable shopping bags

Bungee cords/octopus straps/tie-down straps

Some heavy-duty garbage bags

Possibly some old pillow-cases, either from home or from an op-shop.

I figure, fill a garbage bag with sand, approx 5-7kg (11-15lb)? Double bag it for strength, then slip it into a pillow-case. Could be a good idea to tie the pillow-case closed with some rope or an elastic band or something.

Put the pillow-case full of sand in the green shopping bag.

Then, loop your strap through the handle of the shopping bag, over the tunnel, and through the other handle of the shopping bag on the other side.

If you’re using tie-downs, adjust to the appropriate length or just tie it in a one-sided bow-type knot.

————–

 

Update! My tunnel bags have been working fabulously so far. The only downside is needing to carry them from the car to wherever I’m training since we don’t train at home, but given that they have handles, they’re actually not that bad. The heavier ones are certainly more of a pain than the couple of lighter ones I made, and the lighter ones seem to do an equally good job, so there’s a tip.

The tunnels seem pretty sturdy though and don’t move around at all, so if you’re looking for a shorter-term, el-cheapo solution, this is probably the way to go!

what we’re working on

I don't look impressed, hey? Must have been a slow one.

I don’t look impressed, hey? Must have been a slow one.

Welcome to this week’s what-we’re-working-on

Bit of a special one this week – I’ve actually got a video for most of it! So if you feel lazy and can’t be bothered reading, you could just watch the video!

I was actually really happy with her drive in the video, into cik/cap (or cik/tok as it is now – easier to hear the difference for her) – granted, I had to be running with her to then kind of lure her around a bit, but she wasn’t looking at me, she was driving ahead. I don’t know, if at this stage, whether she’ll drive forward with speed from me standing still. But the more people I talk to and hear from, the more it seems as though really fast speed will come- it just takes time and confidence. I was speaking to my agility instructor last night and she told me that she’d been talking to these other competitors who are at the top of Victoria’s agility scene at the moment – super fast border collies – but they’d been talking about their dogs and how when they were younger, they didn’t think they’d ever be fast agility dogs, and look at them now. That gave me a lot of hope, and I can see in that video that Lumen is finally starting to run into the wrap, even if it takes me running with her a bit, that’s ok for now. Silvia Trkman said she definitely looks like she’s getting faster and I should keep doing exactly what I’m doing there. So, this morning at least, I’m feeling optimistic.

We’re working on our ST Foundation assignments, which includes the above, but also starting to do some more turns out of tunnels (also in the video). I started with her blasting through straight tunnels, then curving it a bit. On Monday I  got Mallei out of the car to help proof Lumen’s stays but then decided to help her with the tunnel I would put Mal through first, then have her chase him through. This worked a charm as I could see the intensity that she was putting into her run through. Mal of course thought it was great fun – all I have to do for treats is a stupid tunnel!! Little did he know he’s helping mentor the pup! Looking at her tunnels on the video I definitely think she’s putting speed through, which is awesome and opens up heaps more training opportunities if we can have curved tunnels. I think I’ll keep starting with straight tunnels to make it fun and speedy, then curve them up.

We’re also trying to do tricks for strength, balance and/or coordination every other day at the moment, which means lots of tricks on big sofa cushions and the fit-ball, lifting legs, sitting pretty to down, to pretty again, hopping up on things (instead of scrabbling up with hind legs – lazy!), and getting confident with being on things.

We’re also starting to do a bit of hill walking while I have time off school, and of course plenty of visits to the dog-park for socialisation. I must remember to keep taking her to more busy, people-filled places like main-streets and such, but it’s difficult to fit everything in all the time.

I also plan to get some tape or material and measure out the distance between weave-poles and set up an open channel to begin teaching her how to go through independently! How exciting! I would LOVE to have a dog I can trust absolutely to weave from anywhere, without fault, no matter what I was doing. I taught Mal to weave on 10 poles, and, funnily enough, he popped out on the 10th pole about 25% of the time – I always had to babysit him as he weaved, and his entries were very limited. I’m looking forward to taking it nice and slow with Lu, showing her all the entrances, and teaching her completely independent weaving behaviour. Yay!