Monday, February 27, 2012

Slip Slidding Away - To Chalk - or - Not to Chalk?

That is the Question!!


What do you do with your dog to help him remain upright on a surface that just doesn’t work well for him? On the first run on Friday his feet were ‘naked’ and he did a face plant after a pinwheel. It probably didn’t help that I’d tripped on a turf seam as he was taking off, but YIKES!!

This isn’t necessary uncommon for him to do at least once during a weekend on this particular turf.

If you look at the picture that’s posted, you just see a black and white smear, however, if you look closer…those little white dots on each side of his body, at the bottom are feet. In other words, he landed with his hind legs spread, so his abdomen was literally rubbing the turf. That couldn’t have been too pleasant. On this same run he also slipped on the way into the tunnel, and into the entry of the weave poles. He was able to hold onto the entry, and they duct tape them down, so it could have been either the turf or tape he slipped on, you just can’t tell.

Thankfully Sandy had brought some rock climbers chalk,
 no Seeker is NOT taking up rock climbing!

I’m not sure it this is really the answer,
so looking for others thoughts or ideas here!

Here’s a video clip with the Friday,
without chalk, and Sunday’s slip with chalk.
(Click on the box at the bottom right to make if full size)

The chalk is in a bag, and we patted, rubbed and patted it on some more. I think it helped. The down side of chalk is that you don’t want them to stick when they shouldn’t, and it dries out their pads.

Someone else was using water, I’m not sure that worked much better. The thought behind the water is that it creates traction by softening the pad. The analogy given was: ‘if you try to pick up a piece of paper with dry hands you can’t, but if you wet your finger you can.’ INTERESTING! Better yet, it would make the surface sticky, and wouldn’t dry out your dog’s pads.

Does anyone else have any ideas for helping a dog maintain traction on such surfaces?

Am I the only one that has this problem?

PS - I do shave the hair off the bottom of his pads the day prior to running on any surface. 
I also put off dremeling for week, so his nails are a bit longer.
He's been fine at Soccer Blast/Crystal Lake and Glen Carbon turf,
'bare naked', nothing on his feet.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Class Clarification - Skills/Full Course Work

I've had a number of questions regarding the early session of class.

To clarify what this class will involve: 

1/2 of your time will be spent with me, working one or two different skills each class.  These skills can be determined by you, or if no one has any ideas, I'll choose.  Skills will involve shorter sequences = mastering, front crosses, rear crosses, discriminations,  start lines, table, contacts, threadles, back sides, blind crosses...well.....I think you get the picture. 

It is not meant to be beginner training, more of a 'sharpening' skills set.

The other 1/2 of class will be spent with Bill running a full course, either Jumpers or Standard.

I will stitch off on rings, so one week I'll be on the Jumpers side, the next on the Standard side.  

If you have questions, please let me know! 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Homework From the MAC Trial

We had a lot of fun up at the MAC USDAA Trial in Cannon Falls over the weekend.  The ‘games’ we played on home last week really paid off in competition.   Of course we always come away with a bit more homework, so more games to play!

Some of our homework comes from the Gambler’s class.  I’m hesitant to work on it, as the last thing I need him to do right now is to go ‘search’ for obstacles on his own.  That being said, he does need to work on ‘focus forward’, as we’ve, missed out on a couple simple gambles due to lack of it.  I also realized this weekend, that I’ve never given a jump a name, it’s in front of you, and you should jump it (which he does).  So, it might be helpful in Gamblers to not only work on focus forward, but a jump command as well.  Funny things you don’t realize until they bite you in the bum a couple times!!

Speaking of ‘bums’….I had the opportunity to work in an ‘ass pass’, also known as a blind cross in a jumpers run.  It worked really well! Something else I want to continue to work on, and use when the course dictates it.      

While Seeker’s Grand Prix run was nice (shown below), his Steeple Chase wasn’t.  He qualified, but the run was UGLY!!  Stacy P was giving me some grief about handling tentatively.  Yep, I needed it!  Yep it showed!  Tentative handling is NOT your friend! I won’t make that mistake again!  In Steeple Chase Round 2, I was much better, but we need to work on a Broad Jump cue as well, since he kind of landed in the middle of it after my front cross.  Sorry puppy! He still managed to come away with enough money for us all to enjoy a Dairy Queen treat.  Seeker loves his baby cones!

Seeker’s sister, Shiver, was a little torpedo with her running contacts and streamline body.  Holy Cow!  Word on the street is that she’ll be at AKC World Team Try Outs this year, along with Shenna of course!  They are amazing!!  Carol was dubbed, by Bill, as being a “Points Pig” in gamblers, claiming she didn’t have a ‘plan’ with Rio, and then racking up points like there was no tomorrow! 

White wall with white equipment seemed to be an issue with some of the dogs.  Seeker was good with it, but when the weave poles were up against the white wall, there were a lot of missed entries.  I think I might consider painting one of the building walls white, just to work on this. It will of course be a summer project!  Or maybe just a couple white sheets draped over the wall, it would be cheaper and much less intensive. 

We even had a couple visitors over the weekend!  How nice!!!

Linda came out Saturday to see Nettle, she brought along ‘sister’ Keeper.  They were both very well behaved, after the initial crazy happy puppy behavior.  Linda hasn’t seen Nettle since June, so I’m sure she’s changed a bit.  Linda is now my ‘lucky charm’, as we qualified in both tournaments while she was there.  She’ll now be required to follow me everywhere!  LOL 

Krista came out Sunday to see Nettle too!  How nice was that!  Especially since she rode her bike 40 miles, each way, to do it!!  I think she’s crazy, and deep down I think she agrees as well!  It actually was a beautiful day for a bike ride; of course, I’d have limited it to a couple miles of flat terrain! 

Thanks Linda and Krista for coming!  We’ll see you next month!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Master Snooker - What FUN!!!

Handler Rules 
Opening 2-5 are bi-directional.  Combo 6a-b &7a-b may be taken in any manner, so long as each obstacle of the combo is taken only once.  Closing #2 is bi-directional, 3-7 must be taken as indicated.  

Course times - 22/26" = 45 seconds
16" = 47 seconds
12" = 49 seconds 

Remember the basic rules, you begin by taking a red jump (R), then a number obstacle, then (R), a number obstacle, then the last (R), a number obstacle.  Finally you do the closing at 2 until the end.  This must be done in order.  You need a total of 37 points to Q, and there are 51 pts possible on this course.  You want as many points as possible to not only win the class, but to earn a Super Q. 
This was the last class of the day on Sunday, and I thought,
“NO WAY"!!

 My challenge with snooker is that while I get through a complicated opening, I then lose my focus in the closing.  This results in the dreaded WHISTLE  So, I thought I’d go simple and work 3-5’s in the opening.  

Then Ami and I didn’t a little discussion regarding our strategy, thinking 2 brains were better than one here!  She thought 2-5’s and a 7 would work great.  Then I suggested 2-7’s and a 5, which involved a heck of a LOT of running!  We decided we LOVED it, but didn’t want to try to pull the dogs to the inside between the jumps.  It was just more control than either of us thought we had this late in the day.  It is some great homework for later!  Both Seeker and Tazer LOVE extension running, so this was going to be right up there alley!  After 7 runs on Saturday, and this being our 4th or 5th of Sunday, Ami and I were pretty well spent.  Lucky, the ‘boys’ weren’t!  They were awesome!  A couple spins cost us both some time, but they were very good.  Although, I must admit, watching me run 166 yds (that's 1.66 football fields) was quite hysterical.  I still laughing after watching the video. 

Earlier I'd watched a 16” sheltie team accumulate 3-6’s….a really nice smooth transition, and closing.  He accumulated 21 points in his opening, the exactly the same amount we did, without all the running.  It just makes me laugh even more thinking about it.   
We both got though it with 49 points, and a Q! 
Seeker pulled out a Super Q behind Terry and Presto. 
I think he was giving us a chance at the SQ by only going for 50 pts
This was so much fun!
Here's the real funny part!  Ami and I BOTH look like the 'Bubble Girl' running this thing!  
If you don't believe it again!!

Of course Nancy and Schema have to show us how it should be done.  
She's so calm, cool and collected!  
Nice job Nancy and all 51 points to boot.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mother May I? It's a Game!

As if collection work isn’t enough, Seeker is also working balancing his obstacle and handler focus. I think for most dog/handler teams, this is a continual shift, from one to the other. It’s a matter of finding the right balance.

Seeker is currently shifted to obstacle focus. He’s like a 4 year old in a Toy R Us store! He is consistently shopping for the PERFECT TOY! As soon as he picks one up (or takes an obstacle), he’s looking for another. Does he check in to see if it’s okay to take another, NOPE!! Silly boy!! It’s not that he doesn’t listen, he does, but he wastes time scanning the area.

So, Wednesday we started the “Mother May I Game”. Here are the beginner’s rules –

I give him permission to take an obstacle; he comes back and gives a hand touch. I then give him permission to take the next obstacle, hand touch, etc. Needless to say, he did not appreciate my rules, but he would come back and ‘touch’. Sometimes he would try ‘air touches’, ‘purt-a-near touches’, or at least I’ve ‘stopped-touches’, sorry puppy…’s got to be a ‘real hand touch’. Basic fundamental rule, if you want to go on, you touch.

Thursday was much better. He truly understood the rules, but his nose touches were turning into bites. OUCH! Don’t bite the Momma! I know it’s hard for some of you to understand, but Seeker is just slightly over the top when it comes to agility. Something else we’ve been working on, remaining calm. Back to the game, bites don’t count, only nose touches. He would take an obstacle and push his nose into my hand; he was really getting into this game. Although his position for taking the next obstacle wasn’t great, meaning he was generally facing me.

Today’s criteria will be that he not only needs to nose touch, but also needs to be pointed in the same direction as I am. In other words, it would be best not to run past me and then come back. We’ll see how that goes, but he wants to play, so I have no doubt he’ll quickly learn this rule as well.

This weekend we have another USDAA trail, so the first class is Gamblers. I’m going to apply this “Mother May I?” game in that class. While he won’t actually be allowed to touch my hand, I think I can adapt the rules to something ‘workable’. The Gamblers class is great class, in which to practice criteria, as long as you don’t get ‘caught up’ in the competition of it all.

Our work continues! Re-establishing criteria, while keeping it FUN!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Collection is a Four Letter Word…..

Just ask Seeker!!

Our collection or lack there of, has been deteriorating for quite awhile now. I know, you should catch it early, but why would you want to do that when you can simply avoid it? So, in the meanwhile, it keeps getting worse. I’m frustrated, Seeker’s frustrated, so nobody’s happy! So, it’s back to basics!!

You might be asking yourself, if not…I’m doing it for you….”Why ignore it?” That’s easy! I find working collection rather boring, it’s much more fun to run around a course as fast as you can in wide open arcs! While this type of handling will work on some courses, it simply won’t on others.

Why worry about collection? The most obvious reason is that it wastes valuable yardage, which will add to your overall course time. Keep in mind, ‘Agility is a Timed Event’, just in case you’ve forgotten. Most importantly however, if you’re dog doesn’t understand collection, lands hard and tries to turn, it’s hard on your dog’s body. Fortunately, for Seeker, he compensations (and saves his body), by adding a couple strides (wasted yardage), in order to make it easier for him. Good for him! Not good for our times! Some training is needed here!

So, this week we’re ‘Back to Basics’ on collection! I realize it’s not something we’re going to change overnight, but it will become a focus on our training. I’m going to look for some fun games to play, that will keep us both happy! Luckily, Nettle is ready to focus on this type of work as well, so it’s a double bonus!

Working collection can be a lot of fun! There are so many games you can play, and it doesn’t take much set up. How totally silly not to practice it! UGH!

Monday I went out to the barn, and brought in a large traffic cone to get started. Yep, right inside the house! Could it get much easier? I doubt it! Loaded with some food and a clicker, I simply shaped them to go around the cone. Working turns in both directions of course.

We will continue to build on this, moving out into the building today as we’ve run out of room for tugging in the house. Maybe play a little barrel racing, that’s always fun!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trial Training for a 10 Month Old...

Of Course, Nettle was along for the 'ride' last weekend when we traveled to Lawrence, KS.  There are so many good lessons to be learned, 'on the road'. How to be quite in a crate while I'm running Seeker.  How to walk on a loose leash through a crowd.  How to old position with distractions. So, we of course did all that! 

We also played a bit with the practice jump, when of course no one else wanted to use it.  This was on Sunday while they were setting the courses, so dogs weren't running at the time.  There were people moving around close by, so plenty of distractions and opportunities to leave her 'work', but she didn't!  Not quite the same energy that I get at home, but it was a great first experience.  I was so happy with her sits, not on foot moved.  Earlier, before people started arriving, I set her up for recalls in the alleyway. She would sit and I could run 50' away, stop and call her.  She never moved!  GOOD GIRL!!

Then we moved onto the table.  Can you get up, do you care about the wicket?  Do you mind the slider bar? I even dropped it once, as you know...that can happen!  I moved her around, because sometimes the judge wants them to stand the opposite way you've loaded them onto the table.  No problem!  Another great experience! 

Make sure you're using your puppies trial experiences to your advantage!
Not to mention, it will make your evening at the hotel much quieter!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Master Pairs - It's Plain FUN!!!

Seeker and I teamed up with Zildjian and Liane Lewis, from Texas, to compete in the Master Pairs Relay on Sunday at the Lawrence, KS USDAA Trial.  This class consists of two handlers, two dogs, and a baton which the first handler must hand off to the second after completing their part of the course.  Each dog completes 9-10 obstacles, with an exchange area somewhere in the middle. 

Both dogs, and handlers, must remain in the ring while their 'team' is competing.  You are able to hold your dog, or keep it on leash, while the other dog is running.  It's obviously an advantage if you don't have to, so, your exchange is cleaner. Another great reason to work on your impulse control! It's really nice when you pair up with someone, and they tell you their dog is solid at holding position.  I think our exchange saved us a lot of time.

Which half do you do? On this particular course, it was dictated to us which dog needed to complete a side, the lower height dog, Zildjian, needed to complete the second part of the course.  If you get to choose, then you obviously try to pair the dog's strengths with that side.  Another great asset is when it doesn't matter to either handler. 

Pairs is really fun.  You get to meet new people, and run with new dogs.  You must run with 5 different pairs partners (as in dogs) to earn your ADCH (Agility Dog Championship). If you don't have a partner in mind, you simply list the dogs you've successfully competed with and the trial secretary matches you up with someone. 

More Homework at this trail!
Bars all stayed up!
But we need some collection work!
More to come on that later!!  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Herding Rabbit?? BC's Beware!!

Look out Border Collies, you're about to be replaced! 

Okay, maybe not, but it's rather cute.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The 'Bark Side'??? Super Bowl Commerical previews....

I can't believe there's not a Schnauzer!
Am I the only one that feels that way??

Sorry Rilda and John!

Okay...not really!!  LOL

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great $5K Running Contact Debate..

If you compete in agility, and don't live under a rock, chances are you've heard of the upcoming running contact seminar offered by Susan Garrett. It's for 5 handlers, 5 dogs, 5 days....thus costs 5K.  Okay, well, maybe that's not exactly how it works, but it gives you the basic idea.

In my opinion, this is a fantastic marketing ploy.  You shock the small agility community with a seminar that most could never afford (or would be willing to pay that much for) to build hype.  Then you select 5 people, that have 5 dogs that you are sure will to be able to offer what you're looking for.  Those handlers, in turn sign a waiver, releasing all royalties, then you turn this seminar into the real big dollar deal, on line running contact classes.

By listing this seminar as a $5k course, she's going to reduce the number of applications to review.  Along with the fee, you need to be able to get off work, and pay travel expenses, not cheap.  Who knows, maybe once they get there, or are chosen, it's free?  Please donate to my 'PayPal Account' (just kidding!!) G

Let's say she wanted to do this seminar at no cost to participants, but you still needed to sign the waiver for rights.  Can you imagine the nightmare if she opened it up 'free' to any 5 people that was interested? She would never be able to review all the applications.

Logically, what she's doing makes sense.  I'm not saying I agree, or disagree, just that it's a great marketing idea.

I think Susan is a great dog trainer, along with a lot of others out there.  Do I think running contacts are worth $5K?  Personally, no, but I'm sure there will be some that do.  Along with most other people, I'm curious as to who's willing to pay it.  This might be a awesome reality television show!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kruz Continues to Improve.....

and is giving me heart failure in the process!!

Yesterday, he decided he could jump up on the window ledge!!  
I took this picture, then carted his arse back to the floor!  UGH!!  

Note the x-pen in the background, those are protecting my summer gold fish from Nettle.