Alice Agility

August 25th, 2018

Sue and I had a puppy training morning. It’s a good idea to get the puppies out on their own, away from the big dogs occasionally.

We worked a jump grid and a course Sue picked up at a Theresa Rector seminar. I need to remember to be crisp and clear with my handling. I tend to do things slower than I need to, and muddier than I should. We’re a work in progress!

Teeter:

Jump Grid:

Focus Forward:

Jump Grid:

Jump Grid:

Theresa Rector Course (in which she forgives a VERY late blind cross! She is a very forgiving dog to work with):

Tunnel Call Off (this is huge, since switching between handler focus and obstacle focus is most definitely a work in progress, especially if the obstacle is a tunnel!);

Connection work:

Alice Agility

August 21st, 2018

So it was hot so Sue and I just did some noodling around with the puppies. Alice did 6 poles straight up for the first time ever, incuding as part of a sequence! I’d say she had about a 70% success rate, which is HUGE at this stage, as far as I’m concerned, and many of the misses were handler errors.

BPIG is 11 months old today. I love this puppy so much, I so hope I don’t mess her up! She is very forgiving and not worried about mistakes, which is what you really hope for in a sport dog! That Puppy Culture stuff really works – a jump standard blew over today while she was working and so she RAN OVER TO IT AND CLIMBED ON IT…no fear.

Typically we do SOME work every day (she demands it), and we rarely do the same work two days in a row (this is for both mental and physical reasons). Today was the first time she has EVER done 6 poles straight up, she has done 4 a couple of times, 2 separated sets of 2×2’s several times, and a single set of 2×2’s many times. She has also done an open channel of 12 poles several times. We are working around the clock entries with a single set of 2×2’s and the wide open channels. We only work weaves maybe 3 times per week for sessions lasting less than 15 minutes. Weaves have a mental and a physical (muscle memory) component, and I am trying to work them enough that she can start to develop both parts without overdoing it (repeated high speed weaving is very hard on the dog’s body, but short, slower sessions like this are unlikely to be harmful). It is a huge bonus that she does not get frustrated and does not get overwhelmed. Like her father, if she doesn’t get it, she thinks it through and tries again (Zhora is more a “bark at it and keep throwing yourself at it until you get it right” sort of dog). I am not taxing her excellent work ethic, but I am also not handling her with kid gloves, she genuinely likes to work and she likes a challenge. She is not afraid to be wrong, but she is also still a puppy, so I need to be aware of what is a learning issue she needs to work through vs what is a puppy brain on tilt where she needs a break. Sue and I normally do several short sessions with our puppies in a given training session, they rarely work more than 5 minutes at a time.

At home in addition to the channel weaves and 2×2 and running dogwalk mat work, we are also working on hind end awareness exercises including pivoting with the front feet on a balance disc, and the Linda Mecklenburg one jump exercise (which is also helping with her hind end awareness in addition to starting to develop her jumping skill). Most sessions are 5 minutes at most. I am thrilled with how she is doing so far!

Here are a few training videos from today:

6 weave poles from a jump:

6 weave poles:

A bit faster, unsuccessful (she is SO unafraid to be wrong, I LOVE that):

Unsuccessful, rewarded anyway:

6 weaves from a jump:

Jump, 6 poles, push (I mishandled the backside):

A just for the hell of it attempt at 12 poles:

Tunnel exercises:

Short sequence with weaves:

Short sequences with 2×2 and weaves:

Sequence with dogwalk and frying puppy brain (last one, playtime after this!):

OMG ALICE!

August 19th, 2018

Today, at the St. Catharines & District Kennel & Obedience Club Canadian Kennel Club show, Alice won Best of Winners for a point, and THEN SHE WON BEST PUPPY IN GROUP!

I thought the judge was walking over to give the ribbon to the top Mudi in Canada who was beside us. She wasn’t. When she said “thank you all for showing me your puppies today, my best puppy in group is the Swedish Vallhund” I nearly burst into tears. I am so proud of this puppy! Showing in breed is way less fun than playing agility, but she’s a real trooper, she loves to work no matter what the work is, she really inherited her parents’ lack of quit 😉 , she showed her heart out all day (and we had two shows today). She still had a happy face and a spring in her step even after a long LONG day of showing.

This actually puts her (temporarily, I’m sure) into the #2 spot overall, making her the #2 Vallhund in Ontario currently!

Alice Backyard Agility

August 15th, 2018

A few videos of Alice running an open 12 weave channel to the Manners Minder (we also work 2 x 2’s, but they’re not in this video, she can fairly reliably weave four poles straight up now). There’s also a little of her targeting a mat as early stages of our running dogwalk.

I am varying my position in relation to her and the weaves with every repetition, and I even do some rear crosses in the videos. The OMD folks say you should start varying your position and working on independence from the very beginning, because that way that’s how things just are from the start.

One of the things I love about this puppy (almost 11 months old now) is that she is SO resilient. We had some technical difficulties with the Manners Minder and she just goes with it (at least she knows verbal markers so she knows when she’s right even if the MM doesn’t think she is!). I also love how she pounces at it to try and get it to feed her.

I love that she ignores the neighbor dog barking at her too!

Really loving training her, and really excited about her!

Channel Weaves Back:

Channel Weaves Side:

Channel Weaves Front (with rear crosses):

Mat Work:

Alice Agility: Teeter, Dogwalk, Sequencing

August 11th, 2018

The hot weather broke somewhat so Sue and I took advantage of it and worked the puppies!

Alice is doing great! She’s 10.5 months old now, and she’s for sure in a bit of a young teenager phase, where she knows how to do the equipment so doesn’t really always think she needs me. She is already building speed and she has a ton of confidence. You will see in one of the teeter videos that she comes onto it too fast for her liking out of a tunnel, so she bails off. I absolutely encourage this because safety is way more important than qualifying. You can see the next time she runs onto the teeter with speed, she checks herself.

She worked on the teeter with the TipAssist quite a while ago (at least 2 months ago), but today we lowered the teeter for the babies and had them run the full length. She’s played the “go bang” game in the past also, and has done a lot of work on the baby teeter and also different balancing things so she is confident with unstable surfaces.

I had to walk her down and lead her back to the crate twice today because she didn’t think her turn was over when I said it was…but basically she’s a really easy puppy. That said, she needs a job, and thrives on work, and would be unhappy (and probably a PITA) if she didn’t have an outlet for her working drive. I wanted working dogs, I got working dogs.

I am definitely finding that the OneMind Dogs folks are really right that you need to start adding difficulty right away, like as soon as you have the dog working the obstacle, you add another obstacle, you add distance from the handler and changing handler positions right away. You up your reward rate, but I am definitely finding that this has made the process really flow well for Alice, she has been running sequences since she was really tiny (like 10-12 weeks old, with bars on the ground), so she already has some fluency with chaining obstacles together, and this has made it really easy for her to add new obstacles into sequences as she learns them (this was the first time she’s done a full (lowered) teeter on her own (i.e. without me lowering it slowly for her), and as soon as she’d done it a few times, I right away added other obstacles before and after (same with the a-frame), so now it’s just another obstacle she’s added to her repertoire. She still goes through the side of the tire occasionally, but other than that she is really working incredibly well.

I’m really amazed at how quickly she is coming together already. Love her!

Sequencing:

Teeter:

Short sequence with teeter:

Alice Agility

August 7th, 2018

It’s HOT here. But holy cow, when I bred this litter I wanted sane, correct Vallhunds with serious working drive. I got what I wanted IN SPADES. Alice literally DEMANDS to work and she will keep working and working until I make her stop. This is not to say she doesn’t get puppy brain, because of course she does, but holy moly am I loving working with her!

Here are some videos from training today. We worked the lowered a-frame and Alice says “no problem!”, she’s running over it enthusiastically and taking it well in a small sequence. She’s also working 2 x 2 weaves really well at home so I put them in a speed circle and small sequence to help her start seeing them as an obstacle in sequence early on (a mistake I made with Zhora is NOT doing this until we started trialing and this weakness in our training popped out). This puppy is already COLLECTING to go into the 2 x 2! The 2 x 2 speed circle is something I got from my training partner and BFF Sue Verbocy, and it’s ENORMOUSLY helpful to the dog in learning how to collect, learning how to see weaves as an obstacle in a course, and just generally helps with fluency with weaves. You can do it even with babies once they are performing one set of 2 x 2’s well, since you can do it with just single sets of 2 x 2’s (as I did here) and other obstacles in between, so it’s not hard on their growing bodies.

She is at the stage where she has the taste for how fun agility can be, so she often makes her own decisions about what she’ll do, but that’s normal and just something we will work through. Overall I am beyond impressed with how well she’s doing at this very early stage! She’s only 10.5 months old!

(please excuse the barking, the adult dogs wanted it to be their turn, nothing like training with barking dogs to make actual trial environments seem tranquil by comparison….)

A-frame using the Manners Minder:

Various sequences with 2 x 2’s:

Alice Baby Channel Weaves

July 31st, 2018

Here is a short video of 10 month old Alice running through a wide open set of channel weaves (they’re stick in the ground poles set as channels). I misplaced one reward throw partway through this session and so she was popping out where the misplaced reward was (prior to that she’d been blasting through all the way). Just goes to show you how critical reward placement can be! VERY pleased with her. She is MAD when we stop working, she will work for as long as I want her to. Quitting while she’s still wanting more is easy, since she always wants more! I have to be strict with myself about stopping sooner rather than later and avoiding “just one more” syndrome.

She’s working two sets of 2 x 2 poles set apart from each other, and wide open channels. This way she is getting the idea of weave poles with no real stress on her body. I am making sure to move around myself so my position and movement (or lack thereof) are not a factor. I am really aiming for solid independent weave performance.

I actually videoed after we’d already been working for a bit, so this is towards the end of the (very short) session. It’s hard to throw accurately while videoing so I will use a tripod next time.

She’s in season but other than making her more cuddly than usual (she is the least cuddly of my Vallhunds usually), it hasn’t really affected her.

Tamarack Lake Agility Club AKC Agility Trial

July 29th, 2018

Mary Mullen. Tough courses. But so much fun. Zhora had a perfect weekend, even though Mary was maybe a little kinder than she needed to be on the table in Standard today.

SO proud of my girl. She earned Nina-level points this weekend.

We’re off until September. 3 QQ’s to go for MACH4!

Saturday Jumpers (QQ #76, third place, 21 points, 5.245 YPS, career high YPS to date!):

Saturday FAST (NQ):

Saturday Standard (QQ #76, third place, 29 points, 3.853 YPS):

Sunday Jumpers (QQ #77, 19 points, 4.691 YPS):

Sunday Standard (QQ #77, first place, 27 points, 3.653 YPS, very low Q rate on this course):

Greater Pittsburgh Golden Retriever Club AKC Agility Trial

July 22nd, 2018

Nina’s scratched from this weekend and next thanks to a newly-diagnosed heart murmur. Until we know what it is (appointment with cardiologist is August 16th, also my wedding anniversary). Regardless of what it is, she will return to agility, since for her it’s a quality of life issue for sure, she loves agility more than anything. I just want to know what we’re dealing with.

I can feel myself using some of the concepts Melanie Miller taught me! And they’re helping!

So Zhora came out to play with Judge Sherry Jefferson on her own. One bar yesterday cost us a perfect weekend. Today she double Q’d even while practically swiveling her head on her neck like Linda Blair in The Exorcist to watch Sherry (she LOVES Sherry). Our Standard run today was just a thing of beauty, fast (she came second), accurate, connected.

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (Q, third place, 14 points kinda poky, 4.34 YPS):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ, nice run):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (QQ 75, third place, 17 points that’s more like it! 4.56 YPS, watch for head swiveling to see Meatball Sherry):

Zhora Sunday Standard (QQ 75, second place, 33 points, 4.18 YPS, really enjoyed this run):

Oops They Did It Again

July 18th, 2018

YEAH THEY DID! And comfortably too!

(Nina was diagnosed with a new heart murmur on Monday, we’re going to a cardiologist on August 16th, I am keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that she will be able to attend the Invitational this year. She has no symptoms, she is 100% her normal bouncy self)