Friday, August 21, 2009

Weave Experiments

SUMMARY: Timing 20" vs 24" and Boost is GREAT!

In class tonight, we timed our dogs going through 20-inch-spaced weaves and 24-inch-spaced weaves. Our trainers have both sets of weaves always set up, so all the dogs have experience using the different spacing. I don't recall that my dogs ever noticed the difference in the spacing; I didn't at first, either, except that I noticed that Boost seemed to be moving faster (because I had to move faster to keep up with her) and figured out why.

Spacing and expectations

Consider that a 12-pole set of 24-inch spacing will be nearly 4 feet longer--about 25% longer--than a 20-inch set! One way to measure the dog's performance is by the time it takes to do the poles; another way is to calculate yards per second to get their actual ground speed.

I had expected Boost to come in closer to 2-second weaves. I had expected Tika to be faster in the 24" spaced poles because it would be easier on her sometimes-sore neck and back. Well--let's say that surprises sometimes happen. Not big surprises, though.

Timing results

Each dog ran each set 4 times.
BoostTika
20"2.443.27
2.493.28
2.453.31
2.473.26
---------------
24"2.513.45
2.563.30
2.543.32
2.483.21


Variations in times

My clever dogs are amazingly consistent. I used extra revving up before each pass, trying to get more speed. Nope--apparently they're both going as fast as they go. More consistent in the 20" poles--both dogs' runs clustered within .05 of a second.

In the 24" poles, Boost's variation became .08 of a second, but that's not surprising for an additional 4 feet of movement. Tika's spread, however, went to .24, a full quarter of a second variance. As those of you who pay attention to winning times know, a quarter of a second these days can be the difference between, say, 1st and 4th places. Or more, if you're competing at the Regional or National level.

Times overlap between short and long

Boost's fastest time on the wider spacing was faster than her slowest narrow-spaced time, which means she's covering the 4 extra feet in almost the same amount of time, barely marginally slower (about .1 second).

Tika's fastest 24" time was faster than ALL of her narrow-spaced times including the extra 4 feet, which was what I was expecting, but the others were all slightly slower. I have no idea what that means. She did seem to get faster in each set of wide-spaced poles.

General timing observations

In yards per second, Boost sped up from 2.48 yps to 2.89 yps. So, sure, takes about the same amount of time to do the weaves, but is covering the ground much faster. No wonder I noticed that she was speeding up!

Intriguingly, this means that poles that are 4 feet longer than current ones won't have any appreciable effect on total course time (at least, not based on my dogs)--they're 25% longer, but Boost, for example, executed only .0004% slower!

Compare all this [if you want to] with Kathy Keat's comments about excellent weave pole speed and my timing for each dog based on videos in this previous post, where Kathy says that weave speeds of less than 2.5 seconds are excellent. This is presumably using USDAA's 20-21" weave spacing.

Boost's excellent speed

I guess I should be happy that (a) instructor JB predicted ahead of time that Boost could be one of the fastest weavers of all the students--and he was right, and (b) the only dog with faster times than Boost was the fabulous Ace Gyes, and he was apparently less than a tenth of a second faster in his fastest time. I feel pretty good about that.

And that's the end of the obsessive timing stuff--for the moment. Time for bed.

Boost is Great!

Update: Same day, 3 hours later:
DRAT! My summary "boost is great" was NOT about the weave poles--it was that she ran in class like a real agility dog--all evening, every run! Almost no bars down! No runouts or refusals! Blasting straight ahead to next obstacle instead of always waiting for me! We almost did the World Team Championship Jumpers course from a couple years back PERFECTLY if only I hadn't forgotten where I was going 2 obstacles from the end! Woot!

She turns four and a half and suddenly she can do agility?! Hope it holds up through next weekend's SMART USDAA and Labor Day weekend's Southwest Regionals. I am JAZZED!

Conditioning

P.S. Did NO hiking or walking today at all, just class in the evening. I feel wimpier already...

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I haven't timed Mika in 24" weaves yet, but she appears to go at around the same speed, or a tad bit slower. But she's only 12.75" high, so she probably needs more time to get used to 24" spacing.

    ~Nat

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  2. It would be interesting to know what she does the first time she does a 24" weave and then going back and forth. I've seen at least one post somewhere on the web where someone with small dogs said it made it harder for them. One of our club members videotaped a bunch of us doing the different weaves, all sizes of dogs, and none of them that I saw really noticed--I think there might have been a few steps where they weren't quite getting their stride, and then after that every time it didn't matter which poles they used. Dogs are so adaptable!

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