Monday, December 29, 2014

Taking Stock

Almost the end of another year, and a perfect time to take stock of how Willie's training is going.

1.  His distance skills are excellent.
2.  Jumpers courses are our forte.
3.  Great start line stay.
4.  Fast and willing agility teammate.

Needs Work:
1.  When I stop Willie to rework something we messed up, he can get into quite a state.  This should sort itself out as long as I remember to never let it slide in my desire to run a particular course or sequence.  Self-control is imperative for such a fast dog.

2.  Contact/tunnel discriminations, and especially DW/tunnel discriminations need to get more work.  Additionally, I really should invest some time and effort into training an independent DW contact.  Right now, it is very much dependent upon me stopping.  I don't have to be close to the DW, by I do have to stop.

3.  Given Willie's AF performances this weekend, I think we should take a break from any running AF training and just stick to a 2o2o performance.  Once Willie has an independent 2o2o AF (which he does not at this point), we can try to sneak in the back door to a running AF by working on a fast release and then an early release.

Without a natural stride that carries a dog into the yellow, it requires a lot of reps to get a dependable running AF.  We've worked at this for more than 10 months, and I think it is time to put it aside both for Willie's physical well-being and so that what is expected at trial is what he is accustomed to doing in practice.

4.  Timing.  This one is mine to work on.  Relax and go with the flow.  Just remember the flow is pretty darn fast with this particular dog :-)

Here with all of its warts is footage from our last trial of 2014.  The second day of this trial went better, but there is no video.

A New Skill to Train

Today's Regular courses featured a barrel tunnel trap that I have not seen before.  Here's the Elite course map.  To me it seemed like the tunnel was pushed to the right as I indicate and the barrel a little bit to the left.  In any event wrapping the barrel to the #4 hoop was not an easy feat.  On the Novice version of this course, Willie was to the mouth of the tunnel in both Round 1 and Round 2.  Novice Rd 2 did had the dog coming straight toward the barrel from a couple of jumps.  The judge kindly removed the tunnel under the AF, but then replaced the #13 tunnel with a barrel.

Needless to say, I will be setting up my barrel with an attractive off-course obstacle behind it as soon as it gets nice enough to play outdoors again.

Here's one set of exercises I dreamed up.

Course Challenges

Although I've been working with Willie on some NADAC courses, I really wasn't planning to do a whole lot of NADAC trialing. However, we went to a NADAC trial this weekend, and I was very surprised to see some pretty challenging courses.

For example, here is the Elite Chances course from today. The tunnel/AF discrimination took its usual toll, but the really tricky part of this course is directing your dog from 7 to 8. While running the 4-7 loop, the dog is on his right lead.  If the handler goes beyond the plane of 7 in order to support 5 and 6, then her return path will cause her dog to switch leads at 7 and turn toward the #4 hoop.

Two or three teams were successful with this path in Elite and Open, but with one exception, it wasn't pretty.

A smoother, less stressful way to get your dog from 7 to 8 is to take a deep breath and not rush toward the line.  Pace yourself so that you keep moving toward 5 without coming up against the line.  Then support your dog's line to 6 from the "x" or from not more than a couple of feet to the east of it.  This will either leave you in a perfect position to pressure your dog's line from 7 to 8 or allow you the chance to step back to "x" without cuing a lead change.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Difficult Rear Cross

On Monday, Willie and I ran a MC Standard course in class that featured this opening:

We haven't worked all that much on rear crossing the weaves, and this particular RC is going against the direction that Willie is traveling in the weaves.  Since getting this right is a training issue and not a handling issue, I opted to start at #4 on our next turn.  Then I went home and created a plan to work on this skill.

RC Weave Pole Entry

We'll start this exercise with 6 poles and I'll decide whether to work with 12 poles as we get each step or work through all four exercises before starting over with 12.

The first stage will involve moving the position of the jump from the black position to the red.  Then I'll return the jump to its starting position and work on increasing the angle of the weaves away from the tunnel.  Once Willie can handle the RC with the weaves angling away from the tunnel, I'll start moving the jump toward the red position.

The final exercise will be as shown at the bottom right, where I've added a second jump to approximate the challenge we faced this morning.

Here are the videos of our work on this sequence: