Actually, we don't have any real tricks to share with you today. Lots of things in progress but nothing ready for primetime! We've been communicating with Marie from resqtails about focus and pivot training for rally/obedience - here's Dare playing the Watch Me game with Marie for instance - and so for this week's tricky t-day video, we decided to show you my extreme powers of focus - it just comes naturally to me and I doubt that it can really be taught! LOL!
As promised we went back to learning more about turns in our handling class today. The entire class was about rear crosses! Not a strong point for me and mom as I tend to be behind her most of the time and you can't rear cross when the dog is behind the handler! LOL!
Jenn explained today that there is more to rear crosses than just changing sides behind the dog. She said she could lecture for days on rear crosses alone (thank goodness she didn't - :) ) For today we talked about two kinds of rear crosses - the first one is when you rear cross your dog and cue extension. So say you have two jumps in a row and then perpendicular and out a ways to the left, you have the third jump. You start with your dog on your left and drive toward the second jump and send the dog ahead and then the handler moves laterally to the left behind the second jump and behind the dog, cueing the dog with extension and then also to turn left. The handler might end up kind of close to the second jump.
The second kind of rear cross we talked about is a rear cross where you cue collection and a tight turn. Say you have the same two jumps in a row again but then off to the left side you need to kind of cut back and head at an angle to the aframe (so the aframe would be to the left and over a ways and behind the plane of the second jump). Dog on your left again. The handler needs to decelerate as she approaches the second jump and start to move laterally to the left to cue collection plus a left turn for the dog as the dog is sent ahead. If you do it correctly the dog will land with a tight turn and take the aframe instead of heading out and taking the original jump (farther out to the left and perpendicular) from the first exercise.
Jenn was telling us that the handler should be able to stand right up at a jump and call the dog to jump and cue the rear cross right there at the jump and the dog can learn to read the handler's motion at the last second. You wouldn't do the crosses like this but it is an exercise you can practice with one jump (in the bedroom like we do) to teach the motion to your dog. A handler can also do a rear cross running parallel to a jump but you have to dip your shoulder to cue the dog to take the jump or according to the rules of motion and body position, your dog should continue to run next to you and not take the jump because they are trained not to cross in front of the handler's body in that instance. Another important thing is that to do a rear cross a dog must have a send. Seems logical but Jenn said lots of people try to teach their dogs rear crosses before they ever teach sends and it needs to be the other way around.
I sure hope I am explaining all this ok - sorry if we get any of it wrong - we're just writing it down to the best of our ability and memory. It's all very interesting. Mom thought this class was completely over her head when Jenn started talking. But we actually did the sequences and exercises with the rear crosses! It wasn't the fastest way for us to do them, but Jenn was impressed that I read mom as well as I did and was able to go ahead of her and complete the crosses!
My neighbor gave mom the great idea of boiling ground turkey as a training treat - mom put a third of the package of ground turkey and a little garlic powder in water and boiled it until it was done. It breaks up into nice little bits for training but doesn't seem to get too crumbly. That's what we brought to class today and I give it two paws up! It's super easy and should be pretty healthy too.
We made a new friend on YouTube the other day - Tim and his poodle Tassilo - and we were inspired right away to learn a new trick from Tassilo's video! Tassilo does is much better than me and also does more than I do, but I wanted to show off my new trick any way for this week's tRicky T-Day!
Actually getting that far was pretty easy - mom rolled up the towel and told me, "Nose" and I went right over and started unrolling the towel! Then mom just had to say, "Down"! She wants to call the trick something like "Let's go to the beach" so she is starting to say, "Beach, nose" to me - you are supposed to put the new command before the old one when you are teaching a new command and then eventually you can fade out the old one. And in the video, you can't see mom but she isn't doing anything other than what you hear - like no special off-camera signals and no telling me to lie down - that's all part of the trick now. Maybe someday I will learn how to roll my towel back up and carry it away like Tassilo does!
We're still trying to figure out how to edit Flip videos - all the videos we have made lately were put on YouTube directly out of the Flip software. So they take FOREVER to upload but come out looking awesome in HD. This one we made for today by converting the MP4 to AVI (with free converter software called AnyVideo converter) and then put it into WMM. So we got to use WMM , and the upload time was quick, but the video quality is horrible - even though we used an HD camera. This is crazy. We might end up having to spend money on editing software, but it's too bad because WMM does enough stuff for us and we are comfortable using it. Why can't everything just be compatible with everything else? Can't we all just get along - lol!
(Disclaimer: This stuff is pretty boring and technical to read so we understand if you don't read! We're writing this down for us so we don't forget it).
Jenn was back to teach our class this week. Today was all about recalls to heel. We have not practiced this at all since mom never does a lead out with me. So it was very new for us. First we practiced a serpentine recall over one jump. Mom sat me parallel to the jump - close to the standard. Then she went to the landing side of the jump 12" from the bar (or whatever height you dog jumps) and kind of in line with the opposite standard on the other side. She turned her outside foot in the direction we were going to go and presented her inside leg and arm to me and said, "Jump" and cued me to jump with true collection and land right next to her inside hand. It's very difficult to describe - easier to see but we have no video. After you practice this (it is a learned skill for the dog), you can then use recall to heel in a serpentine - like the second jump of a serpentine - so instead of mom running to the take-off side of the second jump in a serpentine, she can stay on the landing side of the second jump and recall me over. So mom stays on the same side for all three jumps. We did well with this because I am pattern trained to do serpentines this way. Jenn told mom to be careful and try to find the tightest path for me so I don't have to cover more yardage than necessary. That is important and mom will have to try to remember that!! We also did a cool sequence where we did the first two jumps of a serpentine (with the recall to heel) and then a send into the tunnel - so the tunnel was the third obstacle in the serpentine.
Our second recall today was the foundation recall (all of this handling is based on Linda Mecklenberg's Awesome Paws handling system). I wait on the middle of the take-off side of the jump and mom goes to the middle of the landing side and faces me - again 12" from the bar - and this time she calls me over directly to her inside hand for true collection. If she stands farther back she can still do recall to heel but it would cue extension. Both are needed some times. Again all hard to explain and we hope we have it right in our minds. We did some sequences where mom did a two-jump lead out and then called to me. You can imagine that I was not super fast coming from the startline. But we were there to practice a new skill that who knows, someday we may need!
There are 6 positions of recall to heel and we are going to learn 4 of them. But Jenn says you can get super detailed about it all and she is just giving us the basic idea and then it's up for us to decide how much we want to do with them.
At the beginning of class I was very distracted by stuff that I could've swore was food on the floor! Jenn said she never realized how easily distracted I was - she told mom to try and get me to focus on her more. Well, that was great because it meant more chicken for me! The best thing about today's class though was Jenn noticing and saying I did a fast dogwalk! Hurray for me!
Yesterday I went to my first-ever Show N Go! It was held at the training club where I go for practice every Wed. that we have free. We did two runs of an excellent standard course (easier than most excellent courses, though). My first run was clean but slow and I was very sniffy. I did the chute though with very little hesitation and my dogwalk was fairly fast. I did manage to finish under course time - 60.14 sec/ 62 sec. My second run was faster but not clean. It started out well and when I came out of the tunnel, mom noticed that they forgot to lower the table for me. I can easily jump up there (which I did) but mom was a little freaked out about it. (In class last week I did a table that was set two high and I hit my muzzle and my leg on it on the way up but I was ok and still went to the table and still took the chicken, etc). Then I refused the aframe - don't know why but I thought I should go to the tunnel there - and mom - even though she is constantly telling herself to keep going - told me it was wrong, called me back and had me do the aframe!! Lucky for her, it didn't bother me and I stayed happy. Then mom skipped the jump before the teeter. After that I did a very fast for me dogwalk and mom surprised me with a piece of chicken! WooHoo!
So overall, it was a good and fun experience! And unlike a real trial, I did two runs in an hour and was on my way back home! Can't beat that!
Ok, this may look easy but for me it was not! It didn't take all that long for me to learn backwards circle in the one direction (starting from mom's right side) but the opposite direction was really difficult. So enjoy my short but very tricky t-Ricky T-Day video!
I didn't feel like going to class this morning. Mom told me what we were doing and got my harness (I got a Walkeez harness - I forgot to tell you - and I don't think it's all that great) and I ran in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, mom was having none of my antics. She says I should be darn lucky to get to go some where let alone an agility class!
By the time we got there I had kind of forgotten that I didn't want to go. Jenn is out of town this week so we had a substitute instructor. Today's class was all about sends - forward sends, parallel sends, and lateral sends. It was interesting and good for us to try all these sends - mom tends not to do them in trials or training since she is always trying to motivate me to go faster. But in this class we have to attempt stuff that is not our usual handling method. Mom says she is learning a lot. In the first sequence mom did a lead out and then sent me into a tunnel after a couple jumps. Not bad - I can do the send but mom has to go pretty close to the obstacle and support with her shoulders pointed straight. The parallel send was ok. We did the best with the lateral sends - like when you have a 180 and mom sends me over the first jump and then moves laterally in front of the landing side of the second jump and then she can front cross from there.
We got to do a few dogwalks today and I am getting faster (although I jumped the contact once today). Over all it was a good class - I don't think we messed up on any of the handling or the sequences - we just weren't as fast as we would've been with say forward motion front crosses and unconventional handling. I also want to mention that the people and dogs in my class are super nice - it is a very good environment! So far we are really loving it! And yes, I will admit I am glad mom made me go this morning!
In other news, I was out eating that dog delicacy - frozen bunny poop - and mom surprised me with a whistle recall! I immediately stopped what I was doing and flew into the house. It was a great move on my part because I got an even better surprise by running right in - chicken!! We are not really working on recalls outside of the house yet, but I guess mom couldn't help herself!
We made this ridiculous snowman on New Year's Eve day - mom says she hadn't made a snowman since she was a kid. I had a great time scratching at it and barking at it. The snow that morning was super wet and perfect for packing. But by the next morning, Mister Snowman had already fallen over and since then he's just been an ugly lump of snow in the yard!
Don't know where the whole week went. We try to get outside for walks and a little playtime in the frigid, snowy weather. We're working on my emergency whistle recall in the house. Mom tried to use food as a distraction and that didn't work too well - I couldn't react to the whistle - I could only think about the food on the floor. So it's obviously too early for distractions (mom's always in a hurry). We are still trying to figure out a way to put Flip videos into WMM software and /or looking for another solution. And we tried to make a tRicky T-day video of some new tricks we're working on but it didn't go very well. It would've been all bloopers and no tricks! So I guess it was a "trying" week! BOL!
I really wanted to sleep on Monday and bask in the glory of my ribbon wall (sadly it's easy to tell the standard ribbon side from the jumpers :) )!
But resting wasn't an option because we went to my new handling class with Jenn. I had one class session with her last summer (and then her mom taught the rest of the classes - which was cool - we love Susan) but this is my first time signed up to take a seven week class with Jenn. She is a really good teacher - it goes without saying that she knows her stuff (she and Blaster got MACH 9 at the trial over the weekend!) but she also knows how to say things and what to say to each handler. She presents her thoughts in a very orderly fashion and has the 7 weeks planned out ahead of time so that it all makes sense. This class is handling so it's mostly jumping and not much contacts or weaves. And it's not a lot of running and exercise for me - it's a lot of exercise for mom's brain! Yesterday Jenn told us we are going to work on the basic turns (push, pull, rear cross, front cross), sends, and recalls. Each week we alternate - first week was turns - specifically rear cross on the flat and at a jump and forward motion front crosses - then next week will be sends, and turns will be the 4th week and then they will be more advanced. This gives you time to practice each skill before it comes up again in class. (Unfortunately with this winter weather it's kind of tough to practice much).
Class started out with a lecture about the turns and the two we would be working on. Then we got to try some sequences using just jumps and tunnels. First we tried a sequence with a rear cross on the flat before a tunnel. Rear crosses are difficult for us because mom is usually ahead of me. (We seem to do one at every trial somehow though). We did the cross on the flat but it was forced, unnatural and not at all flowing. Then we tried the rear cross before the jump in to the tunnel. That went better but still not our strong point. Finally then we got to work on front crosses - mom does those for me all the time - but we didn't realize we were doing forward motion front crosses. Say you have two jumps in a 180. Most people can send their dog over the first jump and move laterally to the landing side of the second jump and do the front cross there. But since I am usually behind, mom runs to the landing side of the first jump and does the front cross between the two jumps. Mom does this all the time - you can see one between jump 2 and 3 in our standard run from Sunday. But she didn't think about rotating her dog-side shoulder into me and then getting her outside arm ready (like a precue) in order to tell me more specifically where to go. The handler's motion is forward so it would be telling the dog to go forward and the dog needs the extra turning cues in order to know that a front cross is coming. This is especially true for fast dogs - you have to rotate your shoulder and get your outside arm ready before the dog even commits to the jump. This is a learned response for the dog (not a natural cue based on body motion). See - I told you it's a workout for mom's brain! Any way we did much better on the front cross exercises. Mom also needs to remember to pick me up coming out of tunnels so that I know where she is and where to go next. Lots of info for just one class! It was great!
Yesterday I also started my emergency recall lessons. Grandpa gave mom a whistle that he used when he was an air policeman in the air force when mom was a baby. She decided to use a whistle for the ER since she doesn't trust herself to be able to yell a word without panic in her voice. You are supposed to start in one room of the house and practice there for a whole week. The first time she blew the whistle I was standing right there - it's a small room and I knew she had turkey meatball in her pocket so I wasn't going any where - and I thought, "What the heck?" But as soon as I figured out I should look at her and then go running to her when I heard the sound, I loved the game!!! What could be an easier way to get meatball? So mom couldn't manage to stick to one room for even one session because she was sure after a few tries that I would come flying to her any where in the house when I heard the whistle. And I did! But we will not be moving outside or trying any distractions until after a week of practicing every day. In order for this to work, I have to automatically respond to the whistle - no thinking involved or necessary! So then if we ever need the ER, hopefully I will immediately stop what I am doing and just react to the sound!
Second day of the trial today! Mom, grandma, and I got there at noon and that was of course way too early. But we sat and watched a lot of the Exc JWW and got to see some really outstanding handlers and their dogs. Mom had the course memorized before she walked it. We almost had a conflict again - mom got us moved up in the JWW so she wouldn't miss the walk-thru for Open STD. Our JWW run went great! Mom actually ran it like she walked it (she thinks) and it worked well and kept me moving. We Q'ed and got 2nd place and our AXJ title!
After that exciting run we went over to wait for our Open STD run. This course started out similarly to yesterday's - a few jumps and then the chute. Today mom made sure she didn't run past the chute and coaxed me in - I went in and didn't get called for a refusal. Then we were going along just fine and I decided it would be cool to do the chute again!!!! Mom veered to the right and I went left and I completely shocked her and she yelled, "Ricky!!" and saved me from the chute but I was not thinking about jumping and knocked the top bar of the triple. Oh well. Mom says although we didn't Q (or get that last leg in Open but who's really counting - ha), she is super proud to think that I wanted to repeat the chute of all things! I am gaining more confidence every time I run now and it's not a bad thing to stay in Open a little longer. Once we get to EXC STD we can't make any mistakes and we have to run faster to make time. So waiting is a good thing! (PS. We just found out that the standard course time was 71 and my time was 66.83 - so I was well under course time! Yay! That's major progress!)
As if all the agility this weekend wasn't exciting enough, tomorrow morning we start a new handling class taught by Jenn Crank! We are super excited to be taking her class and we will tell you all about it. For now I have to rest up - a dog's work is never done!
We went to the trial today that is being held 5 minutes from our house! That part was awesome! We got there at 1:00 (trial started today at 9:00) and didn't run our first run until 4:30! Mom was super panicked because both our events were happening at the same time. She walked the JWW course and then had to go over and walk the STD course and warn the gate stewards that we might have a conflict. We were ok and ran our EXC A JWW run first. It went really well - I was happy to finally be doing something! We Q'ed and got 2nd place!!
Then it was straight over to the other ring for Open STD. We waited a little bit - fortunate for mom who was gasping for air from running the first time! Our Open run went well too - except for the refusal at the chute - but I did it! And we actually made time! Q and 3rd place! WooHoo!!!
The field turf surface is very good - it does get all over your feet and shoes and sheltie fur like newly-mown grass. We weren't expecting that part. The facility was really nice except did you notice in the video the basketball playing going on behind the see-through mesh curtains?
We didn't go through trying to convert the video to avi today so that it would work in the WMM. So sorry about the no-frills, black background, horrible Flip software editing! And the movie took forever to upload to YouTube because I guess the mp4 makes much bigger files. Maybe the actual video quality is better?
Well tomorrow the trial starts at 8:00 so we should be done a little earlier! This will be our first time doing two days of a trial with two runs both days. But I feel really good and I had fun today and I think tomorrow is going to be fun too!
PS. Grandma came with us again today - I really like having her there! Thanks grandma!
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!