I’m only feeling badass because of the song.

Yesterday I moved the weaves to see if I could trick him. The answer seems to be NO!

Now for independence, entries, and weaving in other locations.


Remember last week I said we were struggling with the weaves? Remember how I kind of asked for help but then solved my own problem by deciding to close up one pole instead of 2?

No? Then your memory is as good as mine!

Really though. I went and did that – I closed up the most middle pole so there were 3 straight ones in a row. The rest were at varying widths. First session and he struggled with those poles a lot. I went against Silvialosophy and slowed him right down. Close, angled entries, no speed on the approach, no rushing him, no hanging back or moving sideways, just jogging along with him while he worked it all out. By the end of that session it was looking shaky but he had it. The next session, he hardly missed those poles and was looking confident. I obviously do too much with me on the right of the poles to practise left entries because as soon as I went on the right-hand side he was missing those closed poles again. Slowed him down, and off we went.

Then we had Niki’s seminar and then I gave him a break until this afternoon – I took him for a nice hike so he was warmed up but not exhausted, warmed up his bendy spine and went to play weaves. He had no trouble with the middle 3 so I thought I’d test him by closing the next middle pole. That would make 5 closed. No problem! What?!!? I truly expected to go back to skipping poles and head explosions. Since he was doing so well, I closed another.

And another.

And another.

Until all 12 were closed….

And…. he just did them.


He could cope with any entry though I didn’t push him on speed too much for this session, and he still found me being on the left a challenge so I obviously need to work on that but … I have closed poles!!! I have a reasonably consistent contact behaviour on both obstacles! I have turns! I have tunnels! I have going very very very fast!

I… have absolutely NO table behaviour (maybe I’ll just call him back before it, slingshot him around my legs and THEN get him on it, until we get out of Novice & the table goes away! No? Oh), and jumps without wings are questionable so… that’s something to work on. But I pretty much have all the required ingredients now to enter his first trial in August!!! YAY!!!!!

And we joined a stay class! So maybe we will have lovely start-lines too!! Everything’s coming up Roro.


Hey! So, to take a break from agility for like, 5 seconds… I’ve been teaching myself a language. And it’s completely impractical because it’s a language that like, 98% of people have never heard of, but some of my kids at school speak it and I think it’s really fun to be able to say little things to them in their own language and the more they teach me the more they open up to me so that’s really fun, plus I just find language fascinating. I find learning new sounds fascinating, and new letters, and new ways of pronouncing things. I find figuring out how to put words into sentences fascinating, and I love watching them teach me. One of the kids who’s in year 6 is becoming the most awesome teacher – he knows to speak nice and slowly and clearly when he’s teaching me new phrases so I can watch his mouth to get the sounds right and then he’s so stoked when I pick it up on the first or second try. I know how to call someone a dog as an insult, so that’s handy, and they’ve now told me how to tell someone to be quiet (which they then laughed and said it’s more like ‘shut up’. Yes, I have VERY easy-going relationships with my kids. I’m not strict AT ALL and that’s how I like it). I just taught myself a few ways of asking how they’re going (though, they told me the “cool” way of saying it already) so I’ll go in tomorrow and ask and see if they understand me or not, hahaha.

It’s difficult though because I’d like to continue learning, and actually work out how to make my own sentences rather than just getting sentences made for me, but I don’t know if I’ll be teaching there next year. I’m currently driving an hour each way to school and I love it there – I love the philosophy, I love the kids, the staff are cool, the Principal is great, we laugh in staff-meetings and have wine in the 1st grade room on Friday afternoons… but… I’m a teacher… one of the brilliant things about my job is my ability to work 5 or 10 minutes from home. Think what I could do with an extra 50 minutes a day!!! All the hiking I could do, maybe I could actually train Lumen sometimes! When we get another dog (in a couple of years) I could actually have time to train all 3! I could write books! I could actually do my own exercise, or go to a yoga class and not feel guilty because it’s a “one or the other” scenario (dogs or me). But it’ll be sad… I have such a nice little bunch of kid-friends at my school and I really have them trusting me… I don’t want to abandon them. And what if a different school is all strict? And what if they don’t like how I do things and they want me to do worksheets? And what if kids don’t walk around at yard duty chatting with you about things and teaching you how to count in another language? Sad times.

Speaking of learnings though (I can’t keep away from agility can I?) – Loki has his first seminar ever this weekend. A FULL WEEKEND OF AGILITY. His face is going to melt off. I can’t even… he’s going to explode by Sunday. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it. It’s OMD. It’ll be fun. I think I’ve mentioned it.

Lovely DW hits tonight. When we finished I took him for a walk around the paddock then we came back and worked on tight turns off the DW. Although he wasn’t targetting his target, he was hitting consistently every time, collecting up… so maybe it will all be ok.

And his weaves are nearly there. Entrances are BRILLIANT. I can hardly trick him with left entries now from what we’ve been doing (always work to do) and the middle poles are ALMOST closed. Oh, so close. I have them at an angle now as Silvia says in her DVD but as soon as I make them straight his little brain can’t compute. Not sure how to get to the next stage here apart from ‘keep trying!’. He can do the first 5, then misses 2, then does the last ones.. just those 4 in a row of straight poles are very hard for his brain. Maybe I just close one at a time instead of the 2 middle ones. That might be a better idea – then he’s still doing 3 closed poles in a row, then slightly closed. Yep. I’m going to do that. Thanks everyone for your input.

Everything else is super funtimes. A-frame/tunnel discriminations are good to go. Tunnel threadles are still a work in progress but usually ok. Bars without wings BAAADDDD NEWS but we’ll get there. Backside-y, wrapp-y jumps are looking lovely… did a sweet backlap to a far tunnel the other day… Oh here, have a video. Lots of learning going on!!!

weave weave weave 

Such a fun fun fun training session with Loki tonight. 

I actually am getting the hang of dogwalks in sequence- eg. Jackpots = stop & reward, reward hits= keep going with the sequence, non reward hits = stop & try again. I like doing them in sequence too because it means I can be way more efficient in what I train. Hurray!
But the main amazing thing was Loki’s weaves. I did about 3 sessions using the weave-grab to help him learn to collect for the 2nd pole. Tonight I couldn’t make him fail. Not once. I did fast entries from 90 degree angles. I did extremely fast tunnel entries. I did entries with me on the ‘soft’ side with lots of speed. I did rear-crosses. Not one of them did I weave-grab, he was on his own. And he was amazing. Once he accidentally did a bar that I wasn’t wanting him to do so I was like: oh well, I’ll tell him to weave even though I’m not near them or cueing them…  BAM, he went and hit the entry. Way too fun. 

So now we just need to keep closing them centimetre by centimetre. I feel like they got knocked wider at some point Cos they were pretty easy tonight at first. 

We might actually have solid obstacle behaviours for everything by August. 
Except the table. We fricken hate that thing. Yuck. 

training ‘n things

A windy blustery day today. Does the wind make anyone else feel a bit discombobulated? I was worried Loki was going to get blown off the dogwalk. Lu was pretty convinced she was going to be.

I’ve been thinking a bit about this blog and the purpose of it. As it descends into whiny dogwalk land once more, I wonder what I should do with it. I don’t want to be an advice blog, telling people how to do agility… but I’m pretty sure there’s only so many times that people can read about my efforts so solve Loki’s dogwalk… Plus, the blog is hardly about Lu any more and so the title seems inaccurate… but I don’t necessarily want a Loki-themed name, cos what about when another dog comes along? I was thinking of a name with a Light/Dark theme in it (from Lumen being Light and Loki being the dark sort of trickster in Norse mythology) and although I don’t mind darklightmotion it sounds more like a movie production company than an agility blog. Any ideas?!

While we were on the topic of dogwalks, I’ve discovered a few things about Loki from tonight. 1. Doing soft turns as a single exercise stresses out his little brain and leads to much collection. 2. Doing dogwalks as part of a sequence promotes really nice running and really nice hits, especially if NRs result in no sequence. Loki loves him a sequence. 3. Could the answer to my soft turns problem be poles stuck in the ground to promote going-forwardness + sequences? Possibly.

Lumen also got to do DWs tonight. I’m trying to do them more regularly with her but it’s hard. I don’t find it as fun, even though it really is fun, and even though she actually likes training DWs and is happy. I’ve been working on the same turns with her because whenever we get anything vaguely not straight at a trial, I get no hits. So this is a good experience for her. She doesn’t do sequences after it.

I asked my personal agility trainer (OMD coach Niki) for some help in getting Loki to collect when entering the weaves, as he was coming out way wide and missing the 2nd pole. I’d watched Silvia’s DVD and kind of disagreed with her suggestion (this seems to be happening more often with me now and I think this is ok… it seems like an expansion of my understandings and techniques) to open the first poles more and work on more extreme angles there. To me that wouldn’t necessarily promote a whole lot more collection than what I was already seeing. Niki suggested two things – one was a little fence (which OMD uses a lot to help with different things, usually commitment) which I didn’t have and it would have been too windy to stand up, and the other was to do weave-grabs through the 2nd gap, reward with food there, then progress to moving the hand earlier and earlier. After just 2 sessions of doing this, working lots of angles and adding speed, I’ve seen a huge increase in his understanding. He’s failing WAY less than with the other method, and is actually coming to understand how to use his body. He’s hitting entries from tunnels (so, FAST) that I wouldn’t have dreamed he could hit the other day, and I’m really not helping him all that much, and sometimes I’m testing him by not being there with the grab at all. The middlest poles have about 3cm left to close, and the outer ones have 5-7 left, so there’s not far to go. I figure once he understands how to enter properly, then I’ll work on independent entries again. It’s very fun.

So – any ideas for the blog? Any ideas for names?

If you’re interested, “dothelokimotion” isn’t taken yet, nor is “onesmallbc” but … y’know… he is small (33lbs/15kg). Both are pretty Loki-centric. Maybe it could be “extrastreme”  because we say that Loki is extrastreme because it’s like extreme but even more extra. Maybe my blog could be extrastreme…Or how about orangesplodgecollie – sums up my 3 dogs? I could go down the Silvia path and have MaLuLo 😉 Hmmmmm…Help!?

letting it be, part 2.

So hey.

Good news, Loki no longer seems ‘flat’. I actually wonder if he had a stomach thing or if his food wasn’t agreeing with him. But he’s back to keen and fast and running to the start to do another rep of the DW so hurrah! That’s awesome.

His weaves are coming along so, so nicely. I think the poles are probably about 7cm apart now and he’s starting to understand how to collect for entries of 90 degrees on the left. I need to do more right entries though as he goes in at the 2nd pole. His independence is great and I’ve even been doing rear-crosses into the channel. So much fun. Scares the crap out of me how he does them though – absolutely no regard for his body.

I dropped the A-frame to lower today as well as he’d been trying to clear the down-part in one stride and not getting deep enough so I decided I actually needed to do some work on it, so we had a lovely session doing that, too. I think I need to proof him to my movement…. In Loki world, the priorities are speed first, thinking second. Which is what I’ve found with dogwalks too. LOVE his speed, but this presents new challenges.

As for running DW. I posted last time that he was trying new patterns. Well he’s decided that the most comfortable option for him is a 4-stride dogwalk where he flies down the down-plank and puts in the stride near the end. This actually works most (not all) of the time. I was going to get all pedantic and try and slow his entries to the max to try and get 4.5 strides but really… he’s hitting, and he’s running like this VERY consistently, even with slow entries, so it’s obviously WAY easier on him than his big down-plank adjustments… so I figure if I can JP the best ones he’ll work out how far he needs to stretch. By the end of today’s fairly short session he’d worked out that if he stretched a little more on the top plank, he’d push off the apex with RF and have a beautiful hit in the contact with the next stride. If that’s how he wants to do it, GREAT!!! I’m feeling like this ‘let it be’ attitude is freeing. I don’t want to impose my ideals of how his DW should look if his way is working for him. Also his separation was coming back in this last session. Hurray!!!

Now I need to start introducing different exits with discriminations. Oh boy. How do I start? He can hit any exit, and even when I was playing with tight turns he was doing them BRILLIANTLY! I’ve trained them a little but today ran the whole thing with a sharp turn at the end and he did SO awesome. Maybe this is finally a DW thing he’ll just understand! But if there was an option to race forward and do the forward jump, no way was he turning. He patterns so easily. So I’m not sure how to introduce discriminations without freaking him out, but proving the point that he still needs to listen.

The other day I had a nice setup with a pinwheel option, a jump tunnel option, or a ‘cik’ option…. so maybe I’ll do that again. In the meantime I’ll see what Silvia has to say. I bet she won’t be happy with Loki’s DW behaviour. Meh!

We had such a fun little agility course at the trial today. It had some great little technical bits with opportunities for different handling options… nice dogwalk entry and exit… couple of push-blinds… really fun… and Lu was all flat and bored. I can’t wait to run Loki. It’s going to be THE BEST.

Here’s today’s dogwalks

running, weaving

So of course the afternoon after I whinge and complain about how nothing is going right with Lu and I, and she goes and does all this cool stuff:


Like I said on the video there, that’s the first actual running I’ve seen on the DW in a few months and is almost 100% for her. I’ve seen faster and longer when playing the 500 ball game, but this is pretty darn close. If she keeps running like this I’ll be very happy. And I was happy with her weave training there, too. She was hitting some nice entries, working pretty independently, getting confused about what to do when she’d finished the weaves (sigh). But she was pretty keen… I’ve found that getting her to ‘back up’ before doing anything helps sort of wind her up and she’ll automatically start with more speed than from a stay or a restrain. Now to teach her to back up from further away and in more of a straight line!!


And this little guy is just awesome:


So glad to see him looking more confident along the WHOLE thing now – we’ve been working our way back gradually since his crash as he was quite anxious about the up-plank. But look at him go. What a little champ. Check out the separation on the last hit! If I can keep that going, woo hoo!!! I need to be mindful with Loki though that he lives for this work. I bet that if I’m not careful, I could end up training him to not hit well by ending the session on a beautiful hit like that. Cos he’d start to associate doing that with finishing. So maybe I need to get the good hits, then do something easy like some tunnels, and then finish. He’s not doing it now but I can imagine that it’s something his little brain would figure out. Maybe. But he’s such a good boy that I don’t know if he’d mess up on purpose – then he’d be failing in his duty as a border collie (something Penny said on the weekend that I really liked cos it’s so like that – they just want to do their very very best and if they don’t, they’re failing in their duty… poor little guys) and I don’t think Loki would set out to fail. Anyway, it’s something to keep in the back of my mind.

I actually think Loki’s DW crash taught him to respect the obstacle a bit more – like, you can’t just spazz out and not be mindful of your legs, cos it can hurt! So you need to be THINKING and running. Although I don’t want him to crash and it was very scary, maybe it was an important lesson, too. But no crashes since then!


Here’s a video from the weekend, too.