Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Weekend

Yup, more agility :-P

I went out both Saturday and Sunday, like usual, to Mary's for class and open practice. We worked on the Excellent JWW course from our last local trial. It flowed nicely but was challenging, with several pinwheels and some tight turns with lots of "wrong" choices. Overall, Cedar and I did pretty well.

Contrary to what this pic shows, her weaves are still pretty much broken :( But I just ordered some 24" poles so that should help her gain more confidence. We only have 20"ers at home. I guess I should stop saying that she's "broken" when she probably never fully understood the obstacle in the first place. So... it's a work in progress.

She really is doing well on her "turn" command and will confidently switch directions and turn away from me to take another obstacle :)

Thanks to my new exercise regimen, I have been able to run a lot faster with Cedar recently. That, combined with better timing, is starting to make things a little easier for us. I think my handling is getting a bit smoother, and some things are starting to make more sense. It's really neat to see AND feel us getting better as a team. Cedar is more responsive (in general) and listens very well. She's lightning fast and never drops bars. She cues off my body language so well, sometimes it's like she reads my mind. I know that we are just beginning, but in my newbie opinion, I think we could really go places someday. That is a great feeling.

You guys are probably getting sick of hearing it, but I love this dog :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just A Reminder

For everyone to check out my new blog, Cedes of Change.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Question

Agility people: what are your criteria for deciding if your dog is ready to start trialing?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our First Whole Course... Well, Almost :)

Today was our group class. The course we worked was a former World Team tryout jumpers course. I'm not sure what year or round, but it was tough! There were lots of places that required front crosses--not my strong point :) Since Cedar's weaves are currently still broken, we didn't even attempt them. But that is the only part we didn't do :) Luckily, the weaves were at a logical "break" in the middle of the course, so I decided to just split the course in half and treat it as two different "sections." My idea ended up working out well and Cedar really impressed me :). We managed to cross in the right places and Cedar was listening very well most of the time. A few times she blew me off and went off course, but I probably was telling her to go that direction somehow :). And I didn't fall over doing any of my crosses!

Tomorrow, we're going to work the same course again, so maybe we can get some more finesse. We're starting to figure it out :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

3-2-1 Contacts!

I know it seems like I've only been blogging about agility lately, but, well, we've been doing a lot of it :)

We went out to Mary's last night for a private lesson, and worked on a whole bunch of stuff. We started out on the teeter and A-frame, because we haven't worked contact equipment *that* much, and she still wasn't fully confident... or so I thought! WOW! She did so well! We worked each contact obstacle at full height, and she showed no hesitation and fantastic contacts! I was particularly proud of her on the teeter. I think maybe she's really understanding now that she has control over the motion. Her 2 on/2 offs were great on every obstacle. What a good girl she is. She is so much fun in agility because she is so smart, enthusiastic, and naturally uses her body well.

Next, we worked on a jump grid. I think it was out of a Clean Run exercise book... but I'm not sure :) The first three obstacles were a jump, tunnel, and weave poles... in a straight line! It was a challenge figuring out where I needed to be in order to get her to make the weave entry. We did pretty well :) After the weaves, we had to make a sharp left turn to make a jump, then do a big serpentine for two more sets of jumps. It was an interesting challenge trying to negotiate a smooth rear cross in the middle :-P But we figured it out, and did quite well, I thought. Cedar, as always, thought it was AWESOME. She had the biggest grin on her face the whole time.

After that, we took a break and did some more jumping, working on one end of the grid in a kind of square pattern. I worked a lot on using my body position (not just my arms, haha!) to set her up for success in making really tight turns. We did some pretty challenging stuff :)

Cedar's weaves are still broken :( We had to go back to basic 2x2 foundation work to get some success. Frustrating.

We worked on the dog walk a little bit at the end, and she did very well with it, too. Great contacts, and she attacked the obstacle with confidence that is really nice to see. I love this dog.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Here's a short video of Cedar and I at our agility lesson today:

I scheduled another private with Mary to work on some things: mainly, Cedar's confidence issues with the A-frame and weaves. We lowered the criteria on both to give her a better chance of success. She did great, as usual. I just love working her in agility.

First, we worked on a lowered A-frame on strengthening her contacts and getting her to realize that she can control her momentum on the down side. I think she figured it out... after a few tries, she was using her body very well and hit her 2 on/2 off contacts like a champ, even if I ran past her. You'll see that in the video :)

Next, we worked a little on weaves. She's been popping out on the last pole, and I couldn't figure out why. After watching her, Mary noticed that Cedar's footwork was getting messed up at around the sixth pole. So, at home, we may go back to doing two sets of six poles to build up her confidence a bit, and gradually move them together like we did before when I first started training her to do twelve poles.

Anyways, after a few failures, we left the weaves and did some jump sequences, which amped her up and gave her some confidence. On returning to the weaves, we were able to get her to do the twelve poles once each direction, which was awesome! The second time, we managed to complete the weaves mid-course, with a pretty difficult entry :).

I was very pleased with how well Cedar listened to my body language today. Perhaps I'm just getting better, but we seemed a lot more in sync than usual. Progress!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Plans for the future

I figured while I still have some time to devote to this, I should make some plans for training Cedar to get ready for obedience, rally, and agility trials. There are a bunch coming up this fall that I'd like to go to, and Cedar is getting pretty dang close to being ready :) There are also a few arena herding trials this fall that I'd like to do with her, depending on how much time on stock we can get in. I'm not sure if we're quite ready for the distance required in ASCA Open. Even though it's not much, I want to be really, really confident before taking that step :). Maybe I'm being too cautious?

Anyway, here's some short "plans" for how I plan to get us ready for action in the fall:


What we know: Basic heelwork, sit, down, stay, etc.

What we need to learn/practice: Serpentines around cones, more reliability and confidence, solid knowledge of heel position, finish right.

Proofing: Work just as well under distractions, get used to signs, get used to having a judge walk beside us.


What we know: Basic obedience commands

What we need to learn: More solid heelwork (her basics are good, I just want more commitment, style, and reliability), solid stays, stand for exam under distraction, practice figure 8's. Straight sits, both at front and in heel position.

Proofing: Work everything extensively under distraction, get her used to strange dogs in the stays lineup, teach her to find heel position from a variety of places. Polish dumbell retrieve. My goal is to have her trained and solidly proofed through Open before entering a trial... or at least Graduate Novice :) I want to have at least an 8-10 minute long sit and down, under distraction. I just can't stress about that anymore! It's the only exercise I have failed, and I think I have a complex about it, as I can't seem to actually finish a CD title on any of my dogs!


What we know: Jumps, front/rear crosses, tunnels, chute, tire. Table basics (needs work), Weaves (solid on 6 poles, working up to it on 12). Contact basics (still needs confidence)

What we need to learn: Solid weaves (12 poles from almost any entry), Confident contacts with 2 on/2 off position no matter where I happen to be on the course. And, she needs to learn how to collect herself! We'll be okay on more open courses, and at a distance, but in the tight World Team Tryout courses we've been doing in class, she tends to go too fast and not think about her body. The ability to collect will also help her with table and contact work. So, we'll be focusing really hard on teaching that skill this summer and fall.

Proofing: Practice on different contact equipment. Work under trial-level distractions.