Monday, February 27, 2012

reflections on competitiveness ...

Final house league was today ... I spent a whole lot of time over the past 4 months looking at numbers and putting them into a spread sheet. Talk about proof that statistics exist to be manipulated! Individual dog scores were easy in a raw form but when trying to calculate variations of top dawgs it got complicated. When pulling together team scores, this year, it became impossible. We had a couple of teams that never got to run as the same team. Hardly fair to just write them off. If I used a "system" the littlest change had the team results changing. I decided it wasn't fair and stuck with individual scores.

Lynne and darling Amy - getting ready to run for the love of it!

Even that caused grief of course. Should I only consider the dogs who made every single run? That wasn't fair - some days ran late and people had to go, one day we had terrible weather, and so on. So I figured out a system for standard runs (best 5 runs) and just did raw math for speed scores and points scores. Interestingly enough some of the top dawgs missed runs. Was quite pleased that Brody and Sally were both quite respectable in the group.

In the interests of saving my brain I also didn't include scores from today. Too much to judge three classes, do prizes and try to score. House League was a lot of work last year. A LOT. It was less work this year but still probably an average of 3 hours between each one and then the never stop pace for me of the day itself. Between certificates, tallies and prizes the last day probably took 8 or more hours. That's enough!

I'm sure some people wanted to know exactly how they ranked compared to everybody - so I did lists of top dogs in terms of faults earned, points earned and speed. People poured over the lists. No shock to me!

I have always competed against myself in agility. The concept of a Q fascinated me at first. Then it thrilled me. Actual swag for competing against myself and measuring our skills against a standard and doing what was wanted required. Then a pretty ribbon and a record online? Amazing. It has never been about the placement for me  - mostly because Brody was often the only dog in in his height when we started (and Thea nearly always runs against herself). Had I started with a 22 regular dog I might have been more aware of placements but I wasn't ... and, honestly, I think that's a good thing!
Thea's second AAC Q - lots of fun in this ribbon as Sally and she were the only 2 Qs in the class - and Thea was only 5 seconds slower than Sally!

I run for me. I run for my dogs. We have fun. That's truly what has always mattered to me!

Sally. being Agility, runs to win! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

All you need is toys ...

Well not really but they sure make Sally happy ....

This short week was a very very long week in work land ...

Sally got to play with a new toy very briefly today ... I tried to take pictures as I threw the flyer in the house .. and then I let her have it on the couch for about 30 seconds so I could get a photo or two ...

Its a flyer from Cycle-dog - a very cool company that works with recycled rubber

Sally sure does love her toys!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

lovin' my little hairy old man ...

Brody had a blast  at the hall last night. Jumped 10 inches and he was really happy to be JUMPING! He also offered multiple teeters from all over the place. Made me recall our gambling days and our multiple advanced gamble qs on the one night we were in that level.

We played on contacts and then had some fun jumping.
Thea got to play too! She did 6 weaves a few times (for the first time since April); some jump tunnel work and then lots of dog walks. She wasn't confident to start but then she was zipping along it. Nice aframes too!
Sally got to play too - many many aframes were in our picture last night. she was sticking her contact quite nicely. And finding her contacts too! We also had some fun with weaving at the end - flying through  a tunnel to get her on the "wrong" lead for an entry then getting the flying change to make a smooth entry. Took a couple of tries but she figured it out. From failure come the best successes!

Had a training buddy with me which added to the fun ( and meant we could film a little). Thanks AFJ .. if you ever trip across this - Goob is an awesome puppy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Webb is coming to town ...

Webb Anderson is coming back to town at the end of the month.

I'd be excited anyhow but this time I'm even more involved so I'm even more excited!

Sessions include:
The first day: Handling Weaves & Contacts
Even the best trained dog appreciates thoughtful handling when performing weaves and contacts. What your dog needs to do is to enter and exit these obstacles safely, quickly and accurately no matter where they are on the course. These sessions will help you give your dog the best information possible and create a smooth path on course, with fewer missed entries or awkward approaches

The second day: Course Analysis, Strategy and Handling Challenges
Analyze courses based on understanding your dog’s path and how they would run the course if they could read the numbers. Challenge yourself to communicate effectively with your dog to create a smooth running course. Think through principles of strategizing to play to your teams strengths.

Then a day of privates ....
He may stay up in town longer - and I'd love to figure out a session working on static behaviours - start lines and tables

If there are any great ideas for workshops anybody feels an urge to share that would be awesome!
Space is going to be pretty limited but if anybody would like to come and play that would be too much fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Big choices, little choices ...

Playing  Training with the dogs inspires daily choices ...

What dog(s) to play with train?
In what order?

What are we going to play work?

What are the other dogs going to do while we are busy?

What rewards will I have ready?

What happens if things get derailed?

How long should we play train?

How will we end the session?

None of these choices seem monumental, nor even all that important, but each choice contributes to the overall success of the plan. 

The mission ("To run every run with intention, passion and commitment; to hone my handling skills and maximize my dogs' potential for excellence") isn't sustainable without  choices.

I hate making choices. I need to get over it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

educable moments ...

There have been many gems of training wisdom that have stuck in my mind over the years

here are a few of my favourites:

Until I learned to find the fun with my dog I found training very frustrating. Our Irish Setter Kelly had a great sense of  humour and an amazing ability to push people's buttons (as did Rufus) Once I started finding the amusement in their activities playing together progressed much faster - and was a lot more fun!

Self evident. With the caveat that if you rely on tiring your pooch out to find peace it may backfire badly as your dog will just get fitter and fitter and be harder to tire out!

Learned this in life. Apply it to dog play regularly. If there is a no stress way to accomplish something I'm in. Which does not mean I avoid stress at all costs - stress has a role in life but it doesn't need to be punitive, or negative.

Different dogs, and people, find value in different things. Brody taught me this in a way no other dog has. When he gets the point and wants in the game  he is as driven and engaged as any dog but he needs to know the value before he decides what level of arousal to bring to the court!

This is the one I get the most pleasure from ... when the dogs show clearly show me what we need to work on, or what they want from our relationship it just makes me grin!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

sometimes the challenge is ...

figuring out the non yelling, non punitive solution to a challenge ...

Sampson has come so far ... he is a delight to play with but every once in awhile he gets overwrought. When we are on a walk and he gets this way he flies at Sally and makes her cringe and screech at him. He isn't trying to hurt her but he's quite a lot bigger and heavier than her and she clearly doesn't love this enthusiasm. He basically leaps in the air around her and air snaps. He occasionally bounces off her.

It's so tempting, and easy, to yell "NO SAMPSON" at him ... but yelling isn't particularly effective at controlling his bounding from half a field away and I always worry Sally might think that she is in trouble as well even though we are simply trying to protect her.

I've tried various things on our walks. He seems to get most worked up coming out of the pond and at the end of the walks. Sometimes if I feel him start to "get full"of himself I can call Sally to me and do a little off leash attention work. Sampson often goes off to do his own thing then and I can release Sally to run again. Sometimes I simply engage both of them in playing with me. Throwing a stick or toy deflects the energy nicely.

Today I had a small dog leash in my pocket so I simply called  Sam and asked him to do a little attention work, I put him on leash to maximize our opportunities for success. It took about 1 minute for him to get engaged and work nicely - when I released him he happily zoomed off to do his own thing leaving Sally alone.

Love it when a plan works. Love it when a light bulb goes off in my or a dog's head.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ottoman training fun

We actually work table in passing quite often. Today I got ambitious and spent a WHOLE 3.13  minutes building 4 dogs mad table skillz.  The video is very close to the entire session- only edited to move the bloopers to the end and cut the time it took to set up and turn off the camera! Sally really didn't want to get pulled off the table. Brody really wanted to be paid. Sam and Thea both thought the whole thing was fun. I was happy with the way all 4 dogs allowed each to be worked in turn. I suppose I should work Brody and Thea first next time!

My expectations are clear  for Sally and Brody the cue "table" means they will drive onto the table and lie down. Sampson has no cue yet  - though after this session I think he is probably ready. Thea has no real cue either - she hasn't worked table much. The table here is usually Sally's height and Thea doesn't get to work in class. Given I doubt she'll ever run a standard aac class (which has a table) I'm not too worried about saying  "table" and then "down" if the need should ever arise.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pretty pretty ...

Nice ribbon eh?
I had the pleasure of picking up 4 of them this weekend.
1 for Sally's sister Sophie.


That title ribbon belongs on this collection ... but they ran out of title ribbons at the actual trial we were at. 

2 were for titles Sally earned at the last trial. (Perhaps the only standard title she'll ever earn!)

1 was Brody's last level 3 title. 

What good dogs. I wasn't going to pick them all up but then I tried to decide which to take for my guys to pick up and couldn't make up my mind - so laid out my  eight dollars and took them all :)

When you live with a goofball - sometimes all you can do is grab the camera ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Heart Day ... to you and yours ...

Sally and Sampson got more Valentine's than I did  - by a long shot!!

The colours course from Sunday - we ran the squares as I literally had NO time to walk the course and two of the super neat people in agility ran out with me and yelled their plan at me.. it went well - the number 9 tunnel caught an amazing number of people and dogs but both Sally and Brody zipped right through it all.

Sampson is going through a tearing things up phase ... he was sorely tempted by the Valentines!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why does Brody play agility?

He doesn't do it for any great deep abiding love of the sport. 
He doesn't do it because he loves to GO GO GO.
(He is a lapdog after all)

We didn't start agility because of his endless energy or drive. 
We started agility because it was offered in the same church as his puppy classes were and it looked like something different to try.

Brody plays agility to make me happy. 
He loves making me happy. 

He does not like making mistakes and doesn't like leaving me. 
At home or on course - he is happiest at my feet!

Have we done things to help him enjoy agility for agility's sake?
He loves a game we call "Bouncy, bounce".  I hold a treat in each hand and I bounce from foot to foot while facing him. Eventually I take off (in either direction) and he chases me. When he catches me - he gets the treat. 
Simple? Very.
Motivating for Brody? Very. 

Playing at Nationals

I can easily play this at the in gate. It has literally become an on switch over the years. 

Clean Run has a great article about help the disengaging dog in the Feb 2012 issue.
 By Leslie McDevitt,  it is for dogs impacted by ring stress but reading it I realized that the same techniques could help build a love of agility. She outlines identifying stressors for your dog and dealing with them directly. She talks about the concept of not using up your dogs energy bank at the start line~ something I have always avoided doing.She further outlines using Mat Work, the Look At That Game and the Gimme A Beak Game. She builds a neat twist onto Gimme a Break Game. 
She suggests doing one obstacle, rolling a treat along the floor and going to sit in a chair as you say "Good bye". When the dogs comes to see what you are doing return to the agility game and do two obstacles; then roll a treat away say "good bye" and go sit down. Repeat, adding one obstacle at a time until your dog has completed a sequence of obstacles and is begging for more work. 
I LOVE this concept. I suspect Brody would adore this game. 
Brilliance I say, sheer brilliance! 

Can't wait to try it. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm a Ford Tempo, She's a Maserati

Brody's a Cadillac.

And another couple of awesome runs ... good dogs.
Colours - arrived late enough to not get to walk course really but had a minute for a good look at it. Both dogs - awesome.  Qs ...Sally's in 4.8 yps or so
Our other class was Fullhouse ... see video above ... great jobs!

Weekend Summary 

Standard Q level 4 - earned one; missed one when I missed the jump ( #5 earned)
Fullhouse - level 4 Q earned 27 points, level 5 Q earned 27 points ((last one: first one)
Jackpot - level 3 earned - title finished!!
Snookers - level 4 Q earned (last one!)
Colours - level 4 Q earned  (last one!)

Standard Q - level 2 - 2 dog walks blown - whoops - lovey runs otherwise
Fullhouse - level 3 - 2 Qs earned  (last ones)
Jackpot - level 3 earned  (first one)
Snookers - level 3earned ( 49 points) (second one)
Colours - level 3 earned (second one)

Q rate for the weekend - 75 percent overall ... 85 percent for Brody ... should have been 100 percent if it weren't for the little Ford handler ....

Who knew Buddha was a dog trainer?

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.  
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.  
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your (religious) books.  
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.  
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.  
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day One

Brody earned 4 Qs and I blew his fifth ... skipped a jump on a pinwheel  - making it a harder line than it was ... but he was amazing! He ran steadily and happily. His snookers run started a little slow but he picked up quickly. We did more weaving then we usually do and he was foot perfect.

His first class was a non traditional jackpot class. Going through two specific tunnels doubled your points. One tunnel wasn't a super line for Brody so I opted to do a quite different line to anybody else with him. He rocked it with 45 points. I had 15 seconds I could have used to accumulate points but I knew he had the Q so quit when the buzzer went. (Sally earned 54 points and had 9 seconds more she could have used for more points)

Next up was 2 standard classes for Brody. I totally missed the outside jump on a pinwheel - making a much harder line for myself and Brody but he read it beautifully and ran an amazing course. NQ but  a Q in spirit for the Bman! His second course was also foot perfect. His time in both was over 3 yps so I was happy with that.

Sally is already to go. Brody is always watching me!
Sally's standard classes were great except for high striding off the dogwalk. Not sure if it was the teeter coming up or the fact I was on her left side ( I had one of those moments when I realized that Sally seems more likely to blow a dw if I'm on her right side - I will start collecting data and see if that's true or not) Her speed was good not insane - running just under and just over 4 yps, and her start lines were excellent. The weave angel worked her usual magic.

Next class was snookers. I ran similar courses for both dogs although I did extra weaves with Sally. Brody was literally one foot fall away from completing the 6 point weaves in the closing when the whistle blew. He wound up with 33 points which is enough for a Q for him. Sally ran a perfect run - not one bobble - we did one 7 point aframe and 2 6 point weaves for a total of 49 points.

The last class was Fullhouse and I didn't stay long enough to collect the details (will get them tomorrow). Both dogs ran great courses - I picked quite different plans with them and was pleased with the way they worked. My guess is Brody got about 24 points and Sally about 29. Good dogs!

My messy crating space
So Brody met my weekend goal for him today and Sally came close. 3 more classes for each of them tomorrow. Sally is a little stiff right now as she jumped the standard for the oxer and brought it down .. banging her thigh. Hopefully gentle walking and a good night's sleep will cure her.

Friday, February 10, 2012

anticipation ....

Such fun ... been 9 weeks since our last trial  which is actually not long in our agility scheme of things (16 week gap  before that)

One staying at home dog

Tomorrow Brody and Sally and I have 5 classes then on Sunday we have three classes each. If it's warm Sunday   I may bring Thea as I know she's going to be sad at home but it is supposed to be mighty chilly and snowy so that's no fun for the little bug!
It's at the same place as the December trial so I might pick up the title ribbons from that trial.

Goals? Have fun with Brody - accumulate 4 more qs for the heck of it - jackpot would be lovely as I don't get to run that very often. Sally - 1/2 standard qs would make me very happy ...  4 qs overall for her would be exciting! Good start lines with Sally is on my list too! (as always)

The other staying at home dog!

Sally and I did contacts this week in preparation. And stay work (well we do that all the time no matter if agility is looming or not). Brody and I did a few teeters one night and got his horrible mats out  but he had a hot spot over his loin last night so we took it easy yesterday and today. He's bright and sound so I suspect the hot spot came from his struggles to avoid being groomed.

If nothing else it will be entertaining and fun- as life with Sally and Brody always is ;)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Crazy February

so why not add a complicated weekend to the mix?

CPE trial this weekend - Saturday all day then on my way up to the trial Sunday (starts late) I swing by a tv studio for a few minutes - nothing like packing it all in ;)

Classes are a little strange this weekend

Standard  (2 back to back is blech in my book)


as usual I'm running in everything - well entered - I can always change my mind and pull out of whatever ...

Thea will stay home unless it gets positively HOT out as buildings stay cold and I really want her to think agility is the most fun EVER! If snow hits hard we'll all stay home ...and that's ok too!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

lovely walk at Green Acres

 Brody ran and explored and got soaked

 Thea hollered and hooted and chased the big dogs like the wild child she is 

 Down and up and round and round everybody had a great time

Camo dog 

 Sally ran 

 and ran, and guided the atv

Dogs, Humans, all of us had a great walk!