First of all, thanks to everyone who left advice for us on how to increase my ground speed and motivation. We are working on some of your ideas already - like racing to the target. The first time this week that mom showed me there was food waiting on a target plate she raced me and she beat me! Well she grabbed up the food so quick, I had no chance. So ever since that one time I have beaten mom to the target every single time!!!!
We also started working again on trying to get me to focus on mom and to leave food that is on the ground alone. This is EXTREMELY difficult for me. I make mistakes - ie. go and grab a piece of food that I am supposed to leave alone - and then I get all nervous. Today was our third time trying this (this week) and so we decided it was so hard it should be a tRicky trick!
Do you think there is hope for me? - LOL!
It is super hot here for May and the cottonwood trees are making my backyard a huge snowy mess. Although it was hot, I went to a friend's house for my first-ever agility play date today! I will blog all about it later!
Class was fun today - only three of us showed up so it was almost a private lesson! We are nearing the end of this session so we did longer sequences. I was really into sniffing the floor and looking for food and swiveling my head this way and that while I was running just to make sure I didn't miss something on the floor. Jenn says mom needs to practice with me on that - putting stuff on the floor and getting me to ignore it. Great - take all the fun out of it for me!! LOL! Mom actually had to give up on the handling and run some crazy outside lines to get me to focus at all! The best news of this morning however is that I did the CHUTE every time! (Mom says why today and not all weekend?)
The class was specifically about how to turn at nonturning obstacles - weaves, contacts, curved tunnels. Lateral distance does not cue a turn and lateral motion in and of itself does not cue a turn - the handler uses deceleration or body language (like shoulder turn) and/or verbal commands including the dog's name if necessary. For instance, if the sequence is dogwalk, straight to the tire, and then left end of a curved tunnel (with the right end of the tunnel straight in line with the tire), handlers will try to just run with more lateral distance from the dog when the dog is doing the DW and tire and expect the dog to go into the left end of the tunnel. But their forward motion is cueing extension and it just propels the dog into the right end (straight in front of them after the tire). So the handler should run closer to the dog on the DW and then begin lateral motion away as the dog goes to the tire and then can use exaggerated shoulder movement to help show the dog the left end of the tunnel. We also talked about how the handler's motion should not affect the dog while they are doing a nonturning obstacle - so if the handler does move laterally away from the weaves for example, the dog should stay in the weaves and complete them before turning away. We practiced deceleration at the chute to get the dog to turn back to the handler (rather than running with complete forward motion which should suggest to the dog that the next obstacle is straight ahead).
Jenn says that my performance of obstacles has gotten faster - like my DW and weaves - but that I need to get my ground speed to be faster. Anybody have any ideas about that? I am a fast dog when I choose to be!
Dawn wanted to know how my cousin Wilson was this weekend. He was bored because he had to stay at home while we were at the trial! And then on Friday when we got home, it rained and we couldn't play outside. Plus I was tired! Other than that, I guess he was good! :)
Some thoughts from the trial though - it was our first overnight trial experience and even though we didn't stay in a hotel, mom was really happy with how I dealt with it all. I rested well at Wilson's ( usually I don't), I didn't get any stress-related IBS, and I was happy and relaxed at the trial venue - I did tricks and even tugged on my leash a little bit. Definitely Q rate is not what it's all about!! (Although we don't mind Q's at all)!
On Friday we headed down to a trial near my cousin Wilson's house (it ended up being only 10 minutes from his house - very cool!). Aunt Laura came and kept us company and also video-ed all my runs for me - thanks Aunt Laura!! Meredith (Laura's daughter so she's my human cousin) came to see me run on Saturday. She gave me good massages while we waited for my turn!
There's really not that much to say about the trial days - it was a good venue and a smallish trial and we were done by 2:00 on Friday and 1:00 on Saturday. I felt pretty relaxed there and did tricks and tugged on my leash a little bit. I was slow in my STD run on Friday and didn't feel like going in the chute and then mom messed up my Q in JWW that day. On Saturday, the STD course started with the chute and I sure didn't feel like going in there then so I skipped it and the rest of my run was pretty good. Mom held it together in the JWW and ran fast around the outside to motivate me and we Q'ed (finally a Q) but just barely made time. Here are the course maps and the videos from each day:
While we were gone, my new 2X2 weave poles came! They seem really nice - heavy bases and well made. Mom set them up and I tried them a couple times. We put them in the grass and didn't stake them and they didn't move one bit. We're really excited to practice with them and to see if I can speed up my weaves away from home now!
Mom is very excited about today's tRicky T-Day trick - get in the suitcase!! She always thought this was a super cute trick and she's very happy that I am learning it! We started out with the suitcase all the way open and I learned my job was to get in it and to lie down. Then she propped the lid open with about a three-foot pvc pipe (stolen from my indoor jump) and I learned to get in again. Then we went down to a ruler and you can see the results! The lid for the suitcase is unfortunately heavy (the way it is built), so it's not going to be all that easy to open it with my nose but soon I will get that too!
Tomorrow I go for two days of a trial near my cousin Wilson's house! We are driving straight to the trial and then my aunt Laura is coming to hang out with us and to be the official videographer. Then we will spend the night at their house and go back to the trial on Saturday. It is indoors at a soccer facility - should be a nice place. I won't be able to post anything or visit anyone's blogs until we get home on Sunday. Wish us luck!
Yesterday's class was about forward motion front crosses again and also something called a double front cross which we had never ever done before! Jenn sent a sub to teach the class and she did great! She's super nice and really knows her APHS!
One thing for the handler to remember about the double front - get both arms up and cueing! This is weird since sometimes inside arm is blended into outside arm but it's not usually BOTH arms at the same time. I guess a double front is when you move from one front cross into the next so seamlessly that it looks like one motion and not two separate front crosses. Of course this is impossible to visualize so we'll have to try a video - not sure we even know what we're doing but maybe you all can tell us if you see it and we are doing it wrong! (We had to wait all day yesterday and today for it to stop raining again so we could make a video! - Remember -we are new to this stuff and are just trying to learn it all so we don't claim to know what we are doing for sure but showing us trying in the video is easier than explaining in words!)
Jenn had the chute set up for me so I could try it and I refused! Typical, mom says. Mom is very frustrated by my chute/shoot performance or lack thereof. After begging me, I finally did do it and then did it lightning fast several times for big turkey pay-offs. I honestly don't know what my problem is - I am just playing around with mom's head (and it's working - LOL!).
On Wednesday it finally stopped raining and we got out of the house! We spent the morning doing some much needed gardening, then we did a little tunnel/dogwalk discrimination, and after lunch we went to my favorite park.
Then yesterday mom surprised me by telling me that we were going to go to grandma and grandpa's! We hadn't been there since Easter! We had such a good time!
Grandpa's lawn is so lush and green!
Lots of things are growing in the garden - asparagus, rhubarb, onions, carrots, red beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas - the green beans and limas are in the ground - and grandpa was planting zucchini, butternut, cucumber, and tomatoes yesterday. I had my first taste of asparagus and let me tell you, it was delicious! I love my vegetables!
Two years ago it was corn, last year, soy beans, and this year, winter wheat in the field behind the house. You can see the heads of wheat have already formed.
Even wheat is taller than me!
It was a really fun day of running and playing outside and of visiting with my grandparents! Today the weather is still nice and I'm sure we will be out there making the most of it!
Another Thursday is here already? Where do the days go? Well, we are still working on several tricks and had to make a video of a trick in progress again since nothing is really ready yet. We so admire Sara, Oreo and Misty for their weekly awesome tricky t-day videos! A few weeks ago they posted one of Oreo putting away his toys and mom has been trying to get me to do that too. You'll see that Oreo gets it way better than I do so far! And somehow mom has managed to teach me that I should back up when I hold something instead of walk towards her - LOL! Notice that I think putting myself away in the basket is the far better trick!
It's been raining a lot here the past few days and we haven't been able to practice agility outside or go to the park or anything! I am very bored with staying inside and am hoping that today will be different. It's no fun to watch mom sit at the computer all day!
Today's class focused on the forward motion front cross(FMFC). We did pretty well with this skill since mom is almost always ahead of me and I like her to motivate me with motion. Here are some jumbled-up thoughts about it and a really not-very-good video to show you the basic idea of the one-jump drill (it's obvious that we have never practiced this drill).
With a FMFC, the handler passes the plane of a jump and starts to turn her shoulders and gets her outside arm up early to cue the turn. If the handler only moved forward (without the turning cues of the shoulder rotation and the outside arm, she would cue extension - the turning cues cue collection). The dog needs to commit to the jump before the handler fully rotates her shoulders or she may pull the dog off the jump. A FMFC is similar to the foundation recall to heel (RTH) and can be practiced with one jump. As with the RTH, the handler will end up on the landing side of the jump as far away from the jump as the bar is high (for us 12" ) - that cues true collection. The handler turns 90 away from the dog (not 180 - this is important because if the handler wanted to do a 180 at the jump it would be a forward send and not a FMFC). A RTH is done with the handler in the center of the jump but with a FMFC, the handler is on the left or the right (cueing the direction of the turn). You can add some lateral movement to a FMFC if the obstacle positioning allows it. A FMFC can be done on the flat also. And can be performed with no motion - if the handler is significantly ahead of a drivey dog (one that wouldn't mind if the handler were standing still - this is NOT me), she could get into place and perform the front cross as her dog was coming out of a tunnel for instance and the dog would be constantly moving. (Please let us know if we got any of this wrong!)
By far the best part of the class was that mom brought STEAK for me - I had never ever had STEAK before and boy was it good!!
We are planning to get 6 weave poles with a base - I need to practice real weave poles more often since all we have at home are stick-in-the-ground ones. We were looking at buying 3 sets of 2X2s so we would have more options in the future (plus they should be cheaper to ship). So far we are considering these from Max200 - any advice or opinions?
Off and on for quite awhile, mom has been trying to teach me to pull open a door. She really needs me to be able to do this trick so that I can help her when her hands are full and we are heading outside. From the video (hastily made - sorry), you can see that I am very willing to go and grab the rope and back up a little, but then I drop the rope like a hot potato and ask for my treat. We cut the footage down a lot (you can thank us later - lol!) but I only managed to slightly move the door in the last clip (blink and you miss it)(Actually, we just watched the video again and I move the door a tiny bit in the second clip too!). Does any one have any suggestions? I am not clicker-trained but I do know "yes" as a marker word. Mom tried to get me to progress by making me try again without a reward and hoping I would get mad and just yank open that door. But I don't get mad!
I also wanted to tell you that we are sorry but we're trying out "word verification" for comments now. We keep getting spammed by the same person in Chinese (Priscilla told us to delete all his comments - he is not nice - thanks, Priscilla!) and we are hoping word verification will help.
After having last Monday off, we went back to agility class today! The theme for the day was lateral sends. The point is to cue your dog to a turn by moving laterally while supporting forward motion to the jump with an inside arm, shoulders forward and a verbal jump command. You can practice this with one jump - set the dog up on a stay about 8 feet from the jump. The handler starts very close to the jump, gives the ok, and as the dog comes towards the jump, takes one step to the side still cueing the dog to jump. Then as you get better at the skill, the handler moves farther to the side and adds motion etc. There are three main ways to cue a turn for the dog - deceleration (like we did with forward sends), lateral motion (as in lateral sends) and no motion. Jenn pointed out that we use lateral motion with a 180 all the time - with a front cross or without. But she said you need to be careful to train your dog to do the 180 with lateral motion because if the handler just uses deceleration and than turns around and runs in the opposite direction without the lateral motion, the dog may learn to do 180s that way and then if the handler needs to pull the dog through the two jumps, the dog will not read it that way and will automatically do the 180. Make sense? I am terrible at writing this stuff down!
We also worked a little bit on independent obstacles and lateral motion away from the weaves, a-frame and dogwalk. Every one did quite well except for the dogwalk. We all wanted to jump the contact and mom already knew I would do exactly that! But I did a fast DW and that is important right now!
The photographer from our last trial recently put all his photos up on his website - there are some pretty funny ones of me on the table. Here is the link in case you want to check them out -
Last Saturday afternoon, mom and I were vacuuming the house - well, I was technically not vacuuming as I had been barking and carrying on and mom got tired of that and put me on a down-stay in the upstairs hallway. Any way, then, mom was vacuuming in the dining room and all of a sudden, she turns the machine off and starts exclaiming excitedly about something she saw out of the window. I can't see it because I am still doing my down-stay. Mom runs past me, grabs her camera, runs past me again and takes some photos. First she took a few photos out of the window and then she ran downstairs and outside and took more photos. What did she see? A deer!
That deer was trying to weave!
Then the deer jumped over into our neighbors yard:
Back into our yard and over to the terriers yard:
Mom climbed the fence to the terriers yard too because the deer jumped into yet another neighbor's yard and mom was going to open the gate for her to get out. Then my terrier neighbors came blasting out of their house and the deer jumped back into my yard and disappeared out the front yard. It was 3:40 in the afternoon! Poor deer must've been hungry and confused. We don't live in the country, you know. Definitely city suburb. We are in a neighborhood of over 200 houses, mostly fenced in yards. We are a 1/2 a mile from a major highway and lots of other busy roads. But near the highway is a railroad track and we think the deer hang out along there and every once in awhile make their way up into our backyards.
Pretty exciting, huh? Well, I didn't see any of it. Mom was outside talking to our neighbor about the deer for at least 10 minutes. When she finally came back inside, she fully expected to see me standing at the door waiting for her. But where was I? Still in the hallway on my down-stay!!
My name is Ricky (Covewind Little Ricky, AX,AXJ,CGC) and I am a six year old tri-color Shetland Sheepdog. I do agility and I like to learn tricks too! This blog is about all that and some other stuff as well!