Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From trainwreck to DANCING WITH THE STARS!

I KNOW I am saying it a lot lately.....but BABY DOGS ARE A TRIP! It was not that long ago that I had a baby dog to run before Cricket so why is this all suprising me so much?

Tuesday I was practicing with Alicia, her last practice day before she goes back to her home ;-(, and Cricket could not do 2 jumps in a row. She was a trip, she just could not keep from watching me. There is no way she was even close to looking to find any obstacles and would just curl back. The plan was that no toys on my body, I would have to put all the toys out on the ground from now on, or have other people throw the rewards. Plus I needed to work a lot of straight lines.

Later that same day after a quick trip with the dogs to the beach I swung by Contact Point to use their yard. Same dog, same when we were working with just a few jumps she would take eight jumps in a row, being very clever to find obstacles all on her own without a glance back at me standing on the take off side of the first jump, lOL. It was too funny. So lots of work breaking it down rewarding for checking in and paying attention, a new plan was born.

Next day, Wednesday.....Cricket and I had her third ever agility class, I knew there would be an aframe so I emailed for a copy of the course in advance so I could plan what I wanted to do since Crickets aframe is not totally ready to just run in a full course. I looked at the map...

after Tuesdays morning practice I was thinking that the obstacles from #5-#11 would be another trainwreck....the serpentine to that nice arcing line where I knew I would end up way behind Cricket would be a killer for a dog that just curves into me. I was tired and figured we had enough practice on was windy, so i really wanted to blow off the class. Being the agility addict I picked my butt up and went to class.

SUPRISE, SUPRISE,SUPRISE.....BABY DOG STRIKES AGAIN AND WE WENT FROM TRAIN WRECK TO DANCING IN ONE DAY! Hey I know it will surely all fall apart numberous more times but it is such a rush when all of a sudden things click....even if it is for a split second.

We had a bit of trouble in the box in the middle of the course, I was worried and hurried wondering how I was going to get where I needed and Cricket was frenzied and wild. I was proud of both of us because I stopped, took a breath, remembered an agility mantra I have always remembered, WORK EACH OBSTACLE UNTIL IT CAN NO LONGER BE FAULTED, I quit worrying about how I was going to handle three steps forward and just worked each obstacle and IT WAS FANTASTIC! When I took a breath and settled myself down and concentrated on just doing my job, Cricket turned into a confident looking, quiet thinking dog just doin' her job. She was GORGEOUS!

I was so proud of my girl. I got a little video, on the first part I just isolated the aframes, and I noticed when I edited the video that my stride regulator was zinging all over the place, poor Cricket. After the aframes there is video of the aframes in sequence, and you can see her awesome dog walk end.


Miley and Diana posted their third week weave challenge video, they look really great. I love how happy Miley looks doing weaves ;-).

I do think that Diana brings up a point with how she is doing her weaves that it is a super good idea to throw in 12 weaves ever so often so the dog is not patterned to think weaves just come in 6's with all the weave work we are doing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Today might be a very cool day, agility people were asked to blog about some aspect of volunteers at agility trials.

I do not remember any subject that seems to have sparked as much discussion or controversy and to tell you the truth it surprised me.

Some people felt they pay their entry fees so they felt they did their part;-). I can sure see feeling that way.....

Unfortunately the cost of entries would not cover a trial with all paid workers unless the entry fees were raised a lot. I wish I could come up with some sort of brilliant discussion for or against volunteering or perhaps some really funny or profound thoughts on the discussion-but I have to say I am sitting here drawing a blank!

The most profound thing I can say is that I understand how intimidating it is to go out of your comfort zone, but I am just going to encourage anyone who is new to trialing or new to volunteering to try it-just jump in-they always need volunteers and it feels good to go out of your comfort zone. I was extremely nervous about volunteering because it was intimidating not knowing how hard the jobs were to do, and it is hard to feel out of your element. I have to say once you get your feet wet, most jobs are set up so you can learn them quickly, and there are just a few things to know there is usually someone around who will take you under their wing and show you what to do-you will be suprised at how easy it is.

Volunteering is great for getting to know some new people, as you are sitting at the scribe table next to the timer, you can make a new friend. Building the course can help you work on your skills for seeing the patterns in a course and memorizing a course. Scribing can help with understanding the judges calls. Working as a gate steward can help you learn more people/dogs names, and it helps with ring nerves as you see you are not the only one who feels nervous and lost before a run. Doing a job helps to pass the day ;-).

I love when clubs reward their volunteers with lunch, or trial bucks to use towards future entries.

I think we should all help when we can and understand there are times when it can be hard-if we all do what we can to help then we can all have a good time. It is disconcerting when we are about to run novice and they can not find any bar setters, and things get delayed trying to find enough help ;-(.

Some of the jobs you might want to try ;-).

Scribing-writing down the calls the judge makes-taught me a lot about the different faults and calls. The hard thing about that job for me is that there are a lot of dogs/handlers I do not know so it makes it harder to make sure I am scribing on the right dog/handlers sheet and you are not supposed to ever watch the dogs/runs you are just supposed to watch the judge for his calls. I find not watching the dogs is hard for me. If you know a lot of the dogs, or have a timer that does it is a pretty easy job. There is a little cheat sheet that shows the hand signals, it only takes a second to learn them, by the end of the class, you will know the signals well ;-).
Course building-that is a great job, you get to help build the course and see how it feels, what a great way to know the courses.
Gate Stewart-is a favorite job of just make sure people are at the gate and know when to go in, and let the scribe know if there are changes so they can keep their scribe sheets in order.
Leash runner-jump setter-tunnel/chute straightener, or runner to pick up the scribe sheets-are jobs that you might end up running around a bit if you are a chute straightener and need to straighten the chute out after each run, but they are really nice easy jobs if you want to help out without feeling a lot of pressure. You get a front row seat to the action for most of those jobs.
Timer-with the electronic timers, usually it is just a matter or pressing a button, making sure the timer starts and stops correctly and writing down the times. You can watch the dogs and the runs if you are timer unlike being the scribe, so I like that one better.

Yea one of my favorite dogs-Jive,who is Crickets brother-look how good his weaves are looking, he is on week 4!

Nari is doing week 1-Look at Nari,wow, great weaves,what a cool dog.. and a wicked running dogwalk.

Then on Sunday Nari got right back to work and did week 2. I LOVE Nari, what a cutie. I really like how they did a full set of weaves at the end, I think I am going to do that too because Cricket and I have had some popping on the tenth pole lately ;-(.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

our weave challenge #4

Cricket/me with jump in position 4:

humm, I am super happy with our weaves....but yikes we seemed to have lost our forward focus in a lot of our training this last week, and the weaves seem to be no exception-guess I will have to watch that......


This seemed very appropriate since so many people are working on our weave challenge.

One of the things that is fun on youtube is seeing all the enthusiastic young trainers and how they are progressing with their dogs-you know they are the future of agility ;-). Our of the girls Megan who has a yellow lab-Amber made a video with videos of dogs from youtube weaving. My girls are in there and there are some nice weaving shots of Breeze, who is no longer weaving ;-(, so those ones esp made me excited. You did a fantastic job on the video Megan.

Pam and Twix posted a video for challenge 4-good job!

Twister has got to be the cutest pappillon ever, Twister got a great video--GOOO Twister!

Learning to Run ;-) Avoiding Trainwrecks

(this is what it sometimes looks like when Cricket and I run, LOL)

I was on the road a lot yesterday traveling to do agility with a friend who is visiting from out of state. I worked with Alicia for a few years when she lived her, but she has since moved away. I managed to go from Point A to Point B yesterday without getting lost.. I did not end up in Sacramento like I had the week before ;-), (Yippie!).

I used to have no doubt Cricket and I could do anything together, just because we were determined, I had no question in my mind...but lately I have had my confidence somewhat shaken. Working with Cricket at this stage is either super exciting and a total rush, or just scary wondering how I will ever figure this all out. We either look like we are dancing or it is some sort of train wreck, not a lot of inbetween.
It all feels like an such an awkward stage. I am remembering now that running a baby dog has a lot of highs and lows, it is never dull or boring!

Not suprising Cricket is doing FANTASTIC at individual skills, and she has plenty of drive, she is SUPER FAST, of course she does not totally get the game yet so she has to be supported just as all baby dogs do so I can not yet get as much lateral distance as I need to move to the next area Cricket will need help at. When that happens there are sometimes little collisions, or Cricket and I both sitting and looking at each other totally confused, her wondering where to go next and me wondering how will I ever get there? POOR US!

My friend Alicia is a good person for me to be working with right now because I have been feeling somewhat intimidated-I can totally see how I can keep up once Cricket does not need to be supported as much as she does now, and once she gains the confidence to not check in quite as much, but for now it is a real challenge to keep up with the baby dog, because I am really slow. Alicia always been good about just having a quiet confidence in me when we are working together which makes it easier for me to just take a breathe and take one step at a time without panicking. Alicia is just visiting from out of state but I am not sure I can allow her to go home at the end of the month ;-). I think we just have one more week together and that is definitely not enough time to get us straightened out, LOL!

I keep reminding myself of the biggest rule for this whole thing, it is all a game and should be one will live or die if I get to where I need to be for a front cross, LOL, at the end of the day if we are lucky we will all go home and the dogs and I will cuddle up and watch tv or read a book together-that is what really counts.
And yet more WEAVING UPDATE: ;-)

I have to say it is so much fun seeing how many of the dogs/people have been doing so well and I for one have noticed how confident and happy the dogs have all seemed in all the videos. That is just so cool!

Miley and Diana posted a video of them working with their weaves in the second jump position, check out how fast Miley is and how happy she looks-like how happy does that have to make you to see your dog doing something you taught and looking so happy doing it? They did awesome

Dare and Marie got their week 3 challenge done-WELL DONE! Check out how Marie is rewarding Dare after she comes to her in the recall. Seems like a great idea ;-).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Amanda Shaynes Contacts 360-what I thought ;-)

I was exhausted after our Saturday afternoon fun run and it was a really hot day so Sunday afternoon I went through my video collection and watched Amanda Shyne's DVD CONTACTS 360. There is a video preview on youtube for the DVD.

The DVD is filmed at a seminar. I have had it for a few years but I have to admit that I had never watched the ENTIRE thing (there is 4 hours of video). At the very first I have to admit I found it distracting that there was a horrible rain storm, which made it hard for me to get into the dvd. If I would have persevered I would have found that the rain soon ended and the DVD was back to a better energy in a fairly short time ;-).

I have seen Cricket is doing her dog walk really nicely, nothing to complain about but I do see some stickiness and I would not be surprised if it started to slow down eventually....I was not sure what to do about that, but I was hoping this DVD would give some me some ideas so I would know what to work on.

I do like Amandas approach which is to train each component you might look for on your contacts separately, like you work on speed, you work on control, you could work on position, but you keep in mind which component you want to work on and you carefully evaluate how you reward so you can reward for what you are training for. For example Amanda says she rarely ever does a full teeter. She trials every weekend so I am sure her dog does a few full teeters at every trial but every day she works on speed across the board or she works on the end position, but she keeps them separate so she can make it clear to the dog what she is looking for.

For speed across the dog walk Amanda will use a board to have the dogs run across, when the dog is running quickly then she will let them go across the dog walk when they have built up speed. I can not wait to get my board in place and try that game. She says she rarely does more then one dog walk, if she gets a good performance at anything then it is time to stop. She also will not reward a slow dog walk or poor performance by the dog to avoid confusing them.

In her video she covers working on the 2020 position and some games for that. How to build some speed on the dog walk. How to use stride regulators on the aframe to get a faster aframe and a nicer stride. How to work on speed on the teeter or how to work the end position on the teeter. Basically I thought there were some very good ideas, and I am glad I took the time to finally watch the full DVD, I got some great training ideas for the Crickster.

I also liked there was a section on training the dogs to line up to the equipment to make for safe entries, and she showed how to train some exits you should train and practice on the dog walk and aframe, like a flip back into a tunnel, how to teach the dog to let you run ahead to say put a jump in between you and him so you can handle a serpentine to the next obstacle, how to train so the dog can know to wait for a release even if you are pushing past them, pulling, or flipping them into a tunnel on either side of the contact.

I could not resist going out today as soon as it cooled down to try one of the games. I could not believe how great Cricket did at this game since it was her first time trying it. I think the girl knows her target position! In this game I am supposed to move into different positions and give her the "touch" command and without helping her have her jump into position, releasing fairly quick to make it a fun, quick game. Eventually I should be able to run alongside and have her get in position and wait for a release.

Check out Ricky who apparently WEAVES FOR WATERMELON. I still can not believe his sends and check out his moms running-they both look so AMAZING.

Pam and Twix did the jump position 3 and check out how beautifully Twix is weaving, he is a very new weaver and check out how Pam has added in lots of toy distractions, they are doing GREAT! Very Impressive!

Check out Cynthia with Tatum-Tatum is doing great and seems like she was getting the idea of a send, what a good girl!
and Cynthia is no slouch so she had both her dogs weaving! Look at how great Jet did-he has some speedy weaves!

I just want to remind everyone that anyone can join our challenge at any time. If you have a video you want to share the link to and I missed you you can email me your link at .
The directions are posted at

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mr Toads Wild Ride....AKA our Funmatch

Cricket and I went to our first real fun match. It was a totally new place...and just like I suspected it gave me a lot of info about where we are now with our SKILZ.

I really wish I had video but I was not able to get video so I will use a little clip art to sort of help you visualize the days happenings, because I really wish I had something to show you all.

First off the flyer for this fun match said they would have a novice and open ring, but they lied. There was one course all day and it was a pretty challenging course, at least it was for our team ;-).

THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE DAY WAS that I went to walk the course and there was a jump, about 20 feet to a set of 12 weaves, and then about 20 feet beyond a pin wheel. I have a baby dog that is just understanding how to stay out to get jumps so there was no way I could hope to get to that pinwheel and be ready for the front cross after it.....

EXCEPT.........WE HAVE BEEN DOING THE WEAVE CHALLENGE, and proofing our weaves ;-).
so I could get to where I needed to be....independant weaves are a beautiful thing!


Boy I was happy we had worked on recalls through the weaves and I could trust little Crickie to do her job and I did not have to babysit those silly weaves. We ran the course THREE times, with 12 poles and the third time Cricket missed the entry with the first try, but got it the second. It was like a sign from above telling me that yep, the investment we are putting in now will pay off over the long time. I was not sure because we have worked with SIX poles in the weave pole challenge and this was 12, but little smartie is understanding so much these days!

Yikes, not totally unexpected but Miss Cricket was a NUT around the ring. Yikes, lunging and pulling and so over stimulated by the dogs running. It did not help that the way the whole thing was set up you had to get over to the entrance of the ring and wait, and the order and what they were doing kept changing. Waiting right outside the ring when it was almost our turn was challenging and it did not help that they called and said to get in the ring, then some people just walked up and started walking the course, for about ten minutes.


I was worried what would happen once Cricket got in the ring because she was so excited and over the top while we were waiting our turn, or when we were within say 2miles of the ring.

No worries, once she got in the ring she was all business. What a good girl. She held her start line stay, she was totally into the game. It was like someone flipped a switch as we walked into the ring and the over the top puppy disappeared and the working border collie appeared.

I jumped Cricket at 20 inches, which is pretty new for us, and she did pretty good....I think she is going to do ok at 20. She read a really hard serp into a very tight wrap to a front cross. She did not however read a line from the panel to the tunnel to a double at the end, it was an insane course for a novice dog and one that was hard for me to break down.

THE WHOLE THING LEFT ME A LITTLE SCARED.....SCARED I MIGHT HAVE BIT OFF MORE THEN I CAN CHEW, scared I might not be up to this challenge-Cricket is going to be quite a lot of dog ;-).

Cricket was SOOOOOOOO fast:
way faster then she is in practice...she was like a speeding bullet or a racehorse...


Friday, June 17, 2011

Wish Us Luck!

Cricket and I are off today to a fun match. It is the first fun match that is not at the local club-a totally new place for her. Why did I leave packing until this morning? It is never the best plan to do that, and geeze seems like ya need a lot of crap for trialing in hot weather. ;-).


It has been so cool to see all the great weaving and how great all the dogs/handlers are doing with the weaves. I hope everyone has been having fun with the training.

Dare has an awesome week 2 video-they are looking great, check out how great Marie does at running TO the thrown toy as a reward.

Check out Miley and Diana-look at Miley go, she really looks like she aced the first jump position!

How Can There Always be More to Learn About My Dog...and Myself?

I think the cool thing about training/trick training/agility training is that you really see how your dog thinks, and how you communicate. I have been doing so much training with Cricket right from the start that it is suprising me to find out that I am learning even more about her learning style with the weave challenge.

It is funny because what really shows with the weaves is that we go out to work a new thing and it is always seems like a totally NEW thing-it is ugly and I think wow, this is going to take forever. Once Cricket gets anything "wrong" it really does not fix in that session-no matter how it is trained.

What I learned about me is that I want to keep repeating what we are doing until it is right. Hummm, sound a little ineffective?

The weird thing is that if I leave it alone and go do something else Cricket can be successful at, or wait until the next soon as we go out there it is all MAGICALLY fixed and perfect.

I found out with the Aframe training that I do not have to control everything, really precise marking a good behavior and controlling consequences can be powerful and have its place but lately I am also learning that sometimes the dog can figure it all out-there is so much in the aframe training that I can not really go out there and show her to jump like this right here, and it happens too fast to say click the exact right thing. Our training is really feeling more and more like a partnership and I am really seeing that my little girl can really figure things out-she really amazes me the amount of thinking she must be doing.

I am seeing some of that now with the weave training. I think Cricket has a solid foundation with the weaves and really basically understands them, and now she just needs a little help to really figure out the harder entries. With just a little help she really does a good job getting it all worked out. I tend to want to break it way down, help her a lot and sometimes that is good, but sometimes just backing away and letting her have some time for it all to gel is the best way to go. WHO KNEW?


CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO WITH SELINA AND TWISTER-they did an AWESOME job! Check out her blog while you are there! I am so glad Selina and Twister are working along with us. ;-).


we had to train this one, I got out the 2x2, so I am thinking I will really need to work with the next jump position-I think we have found our holes ;-).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How about those Handstands?

I am weaning off the props getting more wide open things where the dogs HAVE to pick their feet up and not climb...I think Breeze has the idea, I just wish I had not taught it with me in front so I could have her use my legs for balance. The rest of the dogs get tired fairly quickly working these, but Breeze just keeps going and going. Not the best video but I just wanted to let ya all see where it is going!

Yea we have got a bunch of videos and it is cool to see everyone doing so well with their weaves! I hope everyone saw the link yesterday for Dare and Marie, they look like they were doing awesome, I had added the link late so I hope it does not get missed.

Last night I got a treat when I saw Jive has done his first video, and he looks great! Jive is one of Cricket's littermates.

For anyone wanting to join the challenge and work on getting really solid, independent weaves the original description is at

Basically the place most people are at is for the first week we will put a jump approximately 16 feet in front of the weaves. We then send the dogs to the weaves without leading out or going with them, from the left and right, then run with the dog trying to blast ahead of them once on the left and once with them on our right, then we rear cross the weaves from the left to the right, and then the right to the left. Last we stand facing the weaves about eight feet past the poles and call the dog so they are recalling through the weaves. Seven trials for the first jump position, so the dog is doing some weaving with handler movement, some where they just need to understand how to find the entrance without help, etc...

Week 2 we move the jump a little to the right as you look at the weaves and repeat all seven ways to do the weaves.

Week 3 we will move the jump a little to the left so offside of where the original jump on week 1 was. I drew a little picture on the first day if I am not explaining it well.

Personally we are working on position three and I am having to do a little work with 2-2x2's because all of a sudden Cricket is having a hard time when I am blasting past the poles,she wants to go with me and has a hard time understanding to tap her breaks and get in the weaves no matter what my movement is doing ;-), so guess it is good we are doing the challenge!

An Unplanned Day at the Beach!

Yesterday I was supposed to do some agility with friends. Last week I went all the way out there and left my lights on in the car, so everyone had to wait around while I waited for a tow truck to find us in the middle of an orange grove.

This week I trekked all the way out there but my directions I had printed out from map quest missed one CRITICAL turn, so I found myself almost in Sacramento. I got stuck going up the grape vine where there is apparently no way to turn around, no offramps for long periods of time and I have never been in that area. Ughghghg, my friends have to think I am such a nim rod. I was so far away that I could never make it to the field before there were other people scheduled to use it, I felt like I had been driving for days, and it is stressful not having any clue where you I figured it was a good time to remember when live hands you lemons you gotta try to make lemonade.

Luckily it was close to the Contact Point Ranch, so I asked Karen if she would mind if I stopped by to work on shaping Cricket to get measured nicely with a wicket and if I could use her aframe. When we got to the ranch the sheep were being sheared, so I watched them, visited with Karen, got to say Hi to Cherry, my buddy that lived with us for quite awhile Then we went and played at the agility yard. BY THE BY......Near as I can tell even with the wicket Cricket is just right on the line of being 18 inches, sometimes I got 17 3/4, sometimes right below 18 and sometimes just scotch over 18. I think she could jump 20 nicely but it sure would be nice to have the option ;-).

When we got done at the ranch Breeze/Cricket/Liz and I headed to the beach. Is there anything that ales a person that the beach can not make better? It was hot everywhere else, but gorgeous at the beach. I did not see another person the entire time I was there, it was about as perfect as it gets.

We are now at full height and sequencing after the aframe. What Rachel Sanders says is that you sequence after the aframe first with some front crosses and pushes because when you start sequencing TOO the aframe you will have some off balance tries as the dog works to figure out how to handle their body. Well, I have seen a few of those hits where instead of landing with the first hit, getting all four feet down then pushing into the second hit of the aframe, ....Cricket sort of flies over the aframe a little too hard, ends up trying to save it and just puts her front feet down then passes her back feet past the front and sort of falls into the box. I have only seen one of two of those so I figure she is just trying to work it all out now that we are adding in more factors.
The other funny thing is the last 3 new aframes we have tried, Cricket has rushed right past the aframe like she does not see it. It is the same set up each time, and I do it in the same manner and seriously most aframes look pretty similar and are hard to miss. OOOH Cricket.
Overall I am very happy and it is going FANTASTICALLY!

A couple more people are up for the challenge, anyone can join anytime of course. Dare and Marie are going to take up the challenge i and got their first jump position done and they look FANTASTIC, check out their send and Jive and Geraldine, Jive is Crickets fantastic brother who is an amazing dog-Cricket loves her brother!
Also Amber gave me critique and on the recalls she says they do them from about eight feet in front of the poles and face the poles, so ....I will have to do it that way the next time we work on them! ;-).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cricket and her Pretty Pink Ball, it was fun for awhile...

Cricket and her pink ball...just because she is so cute. I am having troule with the videos playing on the web site now, so I put the links in case they wont play from here. All of a sudden I am feeling so computer challenged-nothing feels like it is working, ;-)

Anyone can jump in anytime if they want to work on their weaves, and this is a training challenge only so there should be no pressure to hurry or rush through anything, it is designed to help us see any holes in our training and give us a chance to have really independant weaves, ;-).

Pam and Twix got right to work and here is a link to their video for week 1-she even added in some distraction with her squeeker ball:
they got right to work and posted week 2:

Ricky and his mom got right to work and did FANTASTIC here is a link to their blog where you can see their video:
Nat and her dogs will be joining us and Selina and her dogs-so it should be fun.

I started a week earlier so we just did the second jump position=the jump is a little to the right of the first jump. I was pretty suprised because the last test we had no problem with the recall through the weaves, but we did today. I left that in our video. We had to work through that so I will stay at this level a few more tries until I feel like we are really solid.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I have to admit I stole this idea, and the instructions from Amber Abbott who is from Arizona and is a FANTASTIC trainer who has great training ideas-her students are very lucky ;-). You can email me and I can hook you up with her if you want to sign up to do the challenge with her. Otherwise seems like we could informally do a challenge amongst ourselves with anyone who is interested. I am signing up with her ;-), so that makes me feel a little better about stealing the idea. The training is based on an article by Rachel Sanders from Clean Run.

I would like to do the challenge with some others, so anyone who wants to join it, just let me know. I would love if people your videos to inspire everyone else. If you don't want to post on your own blog, or don't have a blog send a link of your video to me and I can post it to my blog so everyone can take part. If you can not take video or can't video, have no friends who can video or what ever.. then just email me when you pass a level so you can get credit, see how easy it is? Everyone can play! My email is if anyone needs to ask questions, would like any help or needs to send me something. Knowing how everyone else is doing will help the rest of us keep going and make it easier for all of us to keep going. Perhaps anyone who wants to do the challenge can even post a little gift they promise themselves or their dogs if they complete the entire challenge by the end of September. If no one else wants to do it, then that is OK too, LOL, Cricket and I will be working on our awesome weaves, LOL.

I think this is something that people should work at their own pace, I like having structure so that is why a challenge is good for me to make sure I finish all the weave pole training I would like to do, it is so easy to get the weaves "good enough" and then stop, always with good intentions of coming back and finishing up the training, ya all know how that goes! So seems like a good guideline to suggest you try to do a challenge a week. That is seven handling maneuvers from a jump to the weaves with the jump staying into one place, then when your dog has got that position down, you move to the next jump position.

The Goal:
the goal is to teach our dog how to enter and finish the weaves, TOTALLY in dependant of you.

How many Weaves to use:
because you are having your dog attempt the poles many times you want to limit the poles to six poles. When your dog really understands this training then you can try the long set of poles. Also I would not do the weaves more then six times each session.

1. use toys or a target so you can reward your dog in front of you and to keep your dogs focus forward, esp on the send exercises. It is always good to run to the toy when your dog gets it and tug and play.
2. Weaves can be tough on dogs physically. Don't do too many reps and do not do this work everyday.
3. End on a positive note, in your next session repeat the last thing you ended on. You do not need to do all seven positions in one session.
4. Do not go move the jump into a next position until the dog has mastered the one they are at!


For the first week place one jump about 16 feet in front of your set of weaves
these are the maneuvers you will do:
1 RECALL-stand behind the poles, and call your dog over the jump. If your dog has trouble doing all six poles, just stand between the 3rd and 4rth pole and try again, rewarding when they get to you. Set the dog up again and go one pole further back, repeat until they can do all the poles.

2. RUN PAST, DOG ON LEFT-your goal is to keep a brisk pace and be ahead of your dog. You want to start with your dog at the jump then race past them while they are performing the poles.

3. RUN PAST DOG ON RIGHT-done the same as #2 just with the dog on your right.

-without leading out, send your dog forward to the poles, move behind him from one side to the other with a rear cross before the weaves. KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS FACING FORWARD AS YOU MOVE.

-same as #4 just cross in the opposite way.


WITHOUT LEADING OUT OR MOVING FORWARD send the dog to the poles. Throw your toy as a reward, timing it so that it reaches your dog as they complete the poles, then run and play with them. If your dog is having problems, lead out to the poles (or further if needed) and release him to the poles, stand still as he passes you to complete the rest. Reward, then try again,without leading out as far.

Just the same as #6, you just start with the dog on your other side.

After your dog can EASILY do all seven maneuvers with a jump straight onto the poles you can move to jump position #2 with all seven maneuvers. Continue like the picture shows.

click on the picture to make it bigger or to print


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Broken cars...broken blogger, BUT A GOOD AFRAME!

Yikes! I went to train agility yesterday with a really good friend that I have not seen in a long time, it was a red letter day, agility, Cricket and a couple of good friends ;-) how fun is that? Unfortunately, I had to drive almost 3 hours to a field in the middle of NOWHERE! The field was in the middle of an orange grove and sort of a hidden garden type of thing. Very pretty but very private.

YEP, I chose this place to forget to turn off my lights on the car while we were working (I had to drive through a couple of those day light headlight required areas on the drive there). Three hours from home, probably 20 min from a tiny town, way far away from any big towns, and have you ever tried to direct a tow truck to a location in the middle of an orange grove-there were a couple little turns to the agility yard.

I was really sweating it because my friends had jumper cables but we had not been able to jump my car with our cars, I was really worried the tow truck was not going to be able to jump the car, I was having trouble coming up with a Plan B if the car would not start this far from home and with the dogs in the car on a hot summer day-but it was all good in the end.

My car used to have the little warning "bing" if I left the lights on, but that is not working now ;-(, and no one tells you if your lights are on anymore because so many cars automatically turn the lights off. I unfortunately don't have one of those, LOL!

BLOGGER gripe of the day-
The real irritant in my life right now is blogger! First off I do not know what the deal is, but blogger started not letting me sign in to leave comments in a lot of peoples blogs, ughghghggh. How irritating is that? What happens is that it tells me I need to sign in, then it brings me back to the blog, then it tells me I need to sign in and it is a never ending cycle. Sometimes I can use my lifejournal account to sign in and sometimes not, just to keep it interesting. Sometimes I can sign in under an open ID and sometimes not. The really irritating moment was when I wanted to sign in and make a comment in my own blog and I can not do that, LOL. So there are a lot of posts I have been dying to make comments on, but just can not get signed in, so if I have been reading and enjoying, it is just a challenge to comment sometimes ;-).

If I could have commented on my own blog, I would have commented about Cynthia's comment and say that what she said hit the nail on the head, a good running contact does take a long time to train, and I it has held us up from being able to trial doing standard courses. Rachel Sanders (whose method we are using) says that if you are REtraining you can go ahead and compete while you are retraining, just try to not do too many aframes in competition on any day while you are retraining. I am not sure that applies to a new train, and I would not do it... A 2020 would have been a lot quicker train, but I could have started a lot earlier training this then I did. I was wishy washy for awhile trying to make a final decision on what I was going to do with my contacts. So length of training is definitely a consideration but I knew that when I started and that was ok with me ;-). Now I have been promised that once you get it, is pretty easy to maintain so....hopefully that is so.

A red letter day for us!!! We started the next step of this aframe odyssey. I moved the aframe from 5'3"to 5'5" and added in some handling after the aframe. So I did one trial standing still in the front corner of the box, I did a push past from the left, a push past from the right, one poorly done front cross and one good front cross. We had a 100% success rate and all of a sudden this does not even feel like the same exercise, it is more fun with the movement and it just feels like something has clicked-VERY EXCITING for me!
As always do not feel anyone has to watch this, it is just exciting for me and I can not get enough! LOL, what a dork huh?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Aframe Obsessions.....

MY AFRAME OBSESSION LIVES!!! (but it is getting a little old!)
It is my theory that anyone who has TRAINED a running contact...(as opposed to if you have a dog that has always "naturally" ran through their contact because they naturally run through -the running contact is built in, or you know how to manage so they do it) goes through a little obsessive phase.

WHO KNEW there could be so much to think about even if you were looking for things to think about...lots of thinking about all the little components, dogs strides, how their back feet look as they run-together or split, watching other peoples videos, watching your own videos of your own practice, reading about other peoples journey with running contacts, etc...LOL, my poor family and friends and poor people who visit my blog ;-). All this obsession and I have not got to the part of how to train exits and how to go to the next obstacle, I am sure that will be a whole new area for us. I am getting really ready to move on to the next stage and get this Aframe all put together. We had a big set back a few weeks ago and had to go back to the start,but you know what they say it is always darkest before the light, and they were probably not talking about aframes, but...that saying works for those too! Now I just feel like things are clicking and it is time to shift from slow and careful to HYPERDRIVE. It is very exciting!

I moved the aframe up 7 inches in two practice sessions, we are FINALLY at 5 ft 3-almost at full height. I am soooo excited that we had a 89% success rate, so we can move the aframe up another few inches at our next practice, how cool is that? The one trial that was not successful in our last practice was when I did a different entrance to the aframe which I was not supposed to do. I think Cricket got off balance and on try three she set her foot down on top of the apex, so not her fault she just was not ready for that entrance challenge and it caught her off balance-but she almost made that one too.


Do not feel you have to watch this, this is part of my obsession and my feelings will not be hurt if you choose to pass on this ;-). If you do watch, check out trial 3...not successful. I had given Cricket a bad entry, which I am not supposed to do yet, she does not yet know how to balance herself with a harder entry, so on the top of the apex she sets her right front foot down-I never saw that even watching the slow motion-Brittney her breeder saw that-and it totally explains why she had to put her foot down before the box, what a miracle she is smart enough to figure it out and even being a little off balanced she was so close to that being a good hit.

This has totally been worth it to train a running aframe because I really am learning a lot, and I have a lot of thoughts on the good and bad of this method--I can not wait to see if my opinion changes as we head into the next phase, and as we get to start competing and see how this baby holds up! It is still aways away, but the end is getting in sight!

As tired as I am of training this, I am already thinking I know someone who I am pretty positive will let me borrow one of their dogs, hummm....and when I get Cricket trialing.., maybe I could borrow a dog to try to to see how I could do trying this another time with the benefit of knowing where I messed up the first time. ;-) Wouldn't that be fun to do with the benefit of some recent hindsight? LOL, see there is an obsessive quality to this least for me. Hummmm....something to think about.....hahahahahahaha

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Experiences and Some Thoughts on Contacts!

OUR AFRAME: I LOVE training challenges and trying to teach new things. I think that is one of the reasons why I wanted to train the 4 on the floor with Breeze for her contacts. I did not know anyone who had trained the 4 on the floor and I learned so much by teaching it, some of which has helped with the aframe we are doing now, some has helped with our 2020 we are teaching now, although we had a lot of detours with Breezes four on the floor contact.. I love Breezes contacts now. Learning by trial and error really does make the whole thing take longer. I will say that in the back of my mind up until now....I was worried that we would never get a decent running aframe, but all of a sudden I feel a new found confidence, and inside I no longer have doubts that we will get a good running aframe, now I can focus my worry on wondering if I will learn how to handle speedy Crickets running aframe ;-).

When it came time to teach Cricket some sort of contact behavior I could not resist the challenge of trying to teach a running contact on the aframe. I liked the idea of the challenge of learning to handle a course with a running aframe which I **HOPE** is doable, but it will be different from our stopped contacts of course. One instructor told me she would not recommend teaching a running aframe with a dog unless it had a "natural stride", she did not know how I would accomplish a running aframe with a border collie, either how to teach it or how to reward it or how to handle it, so of course I had to try it after that comment.

I got the Rachel Sanders Running Aframe DVD, I signed up for the Yahoo Running Contact list, and I trolled through youtubes to watch videos of other peoples training. I was suprised at all the things you had to think about, training the dog to handle turns because they will not be stopped to give you a chance to get there to handle that say if they need to turn back and go into a tunnel, it is really important where their focus is, I learned that if Cricket is paying too much attention to me she will leap off the side way too high because she is looking at me, I learned that if she sets one foot down too high she is likely to quickly to start to launch right over the contact. The other thing that is suprising is how fast it can all unravel if you do not really stick to all your criteria and evaluate what is going on.

The biggest thing I would recommend to someone thinking about running contacts is to video as much as you can, so you can really see what is happening. Recently I had a session that I thought we had a 100% success rate, I looked at the video and found that Cricket had CONSISTENTLY stuck her left front foot down on the aframe, it was happening because she had started not going far enough over the apex and so she was starting to lose her stride into the contact zone. Luckily I saw that quickly and Brittney (Cricket's breeder)helped me figure out what was going on so I could put a stride regulator (a pool noodle on pvc so I can attack it to the aframe).

We are back on track now and cooking (I think, LOL). It is all looking really good now and we have had several sessions where things are looking GREAT. For the most part I really like this method of Aframe training, although I would really like to try Sylvia Trkmans method of training a running contact,....maybe with my next dog????

I know it really seems like we are taking forever, Crickets brother did this method and has been competing for awhile, the just seemed to zip through it and has a gorgeous aframe, but guess Cricket and I do everything a little slower then some ;-) ... even if we are slow, TEAM CRICKET is going to get there and I am confident it will be beautiful so who cares if we are taking the scenic route to get there? I am doubting how much better it is for the dogs joints from a 2020, just because of the sheer number of repetitions I have had to do to teach it, ....way more then I thought,although Rachels method is supposed to limit the number of reps you need. Maybe the number of reps I have needed is related to the mistakes I made, maybe next time I would not have to do as many?

DOG WALK CONTACTS: We have been playing a lot of games with the dog walk contacts. I stuck a board on a stool in the hall and when we are rough housing I run down the hall, dodging the dogs and cats and Cricket jumps on the board and runs into position. I also moved my baby dog walk to the gate going out to the agility yard. Cricket LOVES going into the agility yard, it is one of her highest value treats, so a couple of times a day we run to the gate and play the touch game, she runs into position and then I release her into the yard to go do some training for a few minutes. I really want Cricket to understand the position and to think the position on the contact is a very fun thing ;-) .

contact board and aframe practice, and it is a red letter video, 150th posted video! Whooo hoooo!

I know watching other peoples aframe videos of the same thing over and over are not very exciting unless someone is doing the same training now...but if anyone wants to watch any of our other videos they are on my youtube channel

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cricket goes to school...

Cricket got to go to agility class last night. I was not sure where our skills would be...and I had planned to do at LEAST half the class with Breeze.

Cricket actually did really well, and except for one near death incident, when I thought I could get ahead and do a front cross...(in my dreams could I get ahead, LOL) so we did crash-I even caught that on tape! Luckily I managed to stay upright so it was all good. I imagine poor Crickets life was flashing before her eyes too, LOL. OOOH forgot the other bad moment when I was getting ahold of Cricket at the ed of a run and the next gal started running...Cricket got away and chased her dog on course, yep, Cricket is pretty stimulated by other dogs running. Luckily that ended well too.

The last run of the night I ran with Breeze, it was so weird running with a baby dog all night then bringing Breeze out who I now realize is a pretty experienced dog, she turns so tightly and reads me so well....what a dream girl! I have to admit after tonight I really think Cricket is a dream girl too. Not sure she thinks I am a dream handler after tonight, sorry Crick.

The classes at our local club are CRAZY though, we started at 7:30 and finished at 10:30-how is that possible? I did not get home until 11:10, it was a long night. One of the lights was out at the yard, and it was pitch black, even with the shadows and working at night which is a first for her, Cricket was not thrown by anything, what a good girlie!

THE COURSES:a lot of running, can click on the map and it will enlarge so you can read the numbers ;-) if you are interested.

THE VIDEO:not the best video, I did not get most of our work, but gosh a few sequences to give you and idea and for me to look back on in years ahead to remember how my baby girl is. It was pitch black, so the video was a bit hard to see so I adjusted the colors, so it has a weird look, sorry about that. The dog barking is not my dog for a change-I have been known to have the barking dog on more then one occasion.