Saturday, March 19, 2011

7's second agility trial

Better late than never, here is some video from 7's second agility trial. He Q'd in 5 out of 7 runs. 2 Advanced Standards, 1 Advanced Gamblers, 1 Starters Jumpers (moving him up to Advanced) and 1 Starters Snooker.
He now needs one more Starters Snooker Q to get his Starters Games Dog of Canada (SGDC) and one more Advanced Standard Q to get his Advanced Agility Dog of Canada (AADC) and move up to Masters!
I couldn't be more proud of my Big Red Dog and am very excited about Regionals. Now that I know he can focus in a trial environment with his buddies around, I feel (mostly) confident about Regionals in May.
Here's the video...

In other news, I'm going to be going to Cancun at the end of April to participate in a free spay/neuter clinic with "Cats and Dogs International" (CANDI)! I am more than a little excited about this trip, although it will be hard to leave my own poochies for a whole week! 7 will be going to stay with his favourite aunty Erin and the Littles will stay behind in the capable hands of my mom.
CANDI pays for everything on these trips; flights, accomodations (we'll be staying at an all-inclusive resort!), meals etc! All I have to bring is some money for tips. It's feeling like a trip of a lifetime and I'm getting very impatient realizing I have to wait a whole month :D

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Training Project

I've decided I'd like to take on an ambitious training project for the spring. I'm going to teach 7 a running contact. For the (agility) uninitiated readers this means that instead of having 7 come to a full stop at the end of contact equipment (dog-walk, A-frame) excluding the teeter for obvious reasons :D I will have him continue running flat out.

There is a painted "zone" (often yellow) at the bottome of these pieces of equipment that the dogs feet must touch. This is a very difficult thing to train simply because it's ambiguous. Dogs HATE ambiguity. Running to the bottom of a long board and stopping when your front feet touch dirt is black and white. It's an easy concept to understand and there are definete criteria that you can teach
seperately before putting it all together. The running contact is basically taught- (through my preferred method) Continue striding accross the board and make sure your feet hit somewhere in the bottom third of the down ramp. Simple, right? Not so much. It combines a LOT of muscle memory as well as some seriously whip-fast timing with the clicker or marker word when the dog makes their last stride and it hits inside the yellow zone and roughly where you'd like to see it. For example, you might not reward the dog for getting a paw in the yellow zone that is too high up and thus dangerously close to not hitting at all. Conversely, you don't want the dog too careful and adjusting his stride awkwardly to make the very bottom of the plank.

I'm planning to just teach the dog-walk first as it's the more difficult piece and if that goes well, we'll see if his skills transfer to the A-frame.

You may be wondering why I would even bother teaching this new concept to 7. I mean, he already has super reliable contacts that have (so far) held up in a trial situation, so why try something else. There are several reasons...foremost; all the coolest agility people are doing it...and I'm nothing if not a sheeple. But, it also intrigues me as a challenge and I don't think that, even if we end up failing miserably, it will mess up our current contacts. If anything, it should make them faster. I will be sure to name it differently and continue cueing "touch!" when I want a stopped contact.

I've decided I'd like to try Silvia Trkman's method as I've been able to find a lot of (free!) information on it and most of it's directly from the source. Here is a video of several dogs trained using this method...

Here is another trainer I love who has trained the Trkman running contact as well as a stopped 2 on 2 off contact (with nose touch)