a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: But Speaking of Agility (Were We?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

But Speaking of Agility (Were We?)

Agility season is really starting up, although I'm trying so hard to cut back from last year's 20 weekends because (a) I need time for a regular life, (b) I need time to do billable work to pay for my regular life AND for agility, and (c) uh--maybe there's no c.

I was going to be all ready to go after the month of December and most of January off (except for that one CPE trial at the beginning of the month), but have I worked on anything significant? Noooo...


We're doing a one-day Masters-only USDAA trial this Saturday, and I'm claiming that this is the last trial I'll enter him jumping 16". He just works too hard at it. This means no more USDAA for him. I can't begin to express how many minds I have mixed about this. But at 14 he's the oldest dog in the area competing, and that lower back (hmmm, on a dog, is it *lower*? His backer back?) is just not what it used to be.

I stopped doing regular agility classes with him this month, for good, I guess. It's going to be very weird not having regular practices with him and still doing CPE trials (1 or 2 runs a day at 12"--he could probably do more but I just don't want to push it). I vowed that that meant I would just tie up Tika and Boost for at least 15 minutes at least twice a week to work with Jake in the yard, but I've done that only once or twice all month.

Of course I've known forever how badly his dogwalk contacts were trained; they've been a bugaboo since I got him 8 years ago (really that long?! Wow...). But with Tika's weave poles being so excellent (yes, I trained them myself, thank yew), I see how awful his weave entries are, and he misses more and more of them because I'm starting to *expect* him to do as well as Tika does, but he doesn't, and really with a mostly deaf, 14-year old dog, do I want to work on entries at all except just guided as always?


We need gambling work. Do I practice even my outs with one or 2 obstacles? No. What a lazy mom. We need Susan Salo jump work. Do I lay out the exercises and do them? Almost never. Maybe a couple of times a month. Jeez, why do I think I'm justified in pouting when she knocks bars? OK, I do continue to work on stunning weave pole entries (because it's easy to do) and drive on the teeter and sometimes even on the dogwalk (because they're easy to do), but not a lot on challenging handling things that I know we need to do a zillion times so they're like habits.

The scary thing is she's going to be five in a couple of weeks! This should be the prime of her agility career, and I'm letting it slide! And she's SUCH a good dog, so fast, so driven, really enjoys doing it. Makes me wonder what I'm really going to do with...

My Expensive Dog Boost

If one is going to spend money that one doesn't have on a pricey dog with proven parents, one ought to work hard on that dog's training. Argh. I am just LAZY, really, let's face it. I work on the sit-stay in front of a line of jumps, trying to remember that at least half the time I do *not* release her over the jumps but instead release her behind or to the side or return to her and release to play. But it's so hard when I really want to practice Salo jump chutes!

She is SO fast. She just sails over those jumps and through those tunnels. With a Salo-type setup, she bounce jumps up to about 12 feet (at 8" and 12") but I don't do it often enough to start stretching those distances. And in fact it's been so long since we'd last done them that, this week when I set it up, we had to go back to backchaining and/or forward chaining so that she'd remember to go over the whole line of 5 jumps instead of going around. I tried raising the last bar (at 12( ?) feet) to 16", and it really threw her off her stride, slowed her momentum by about half and put in an extra hop. So I need to figure out how to adjust things to allow her some better success. She got at 16" jump in the middle, at about 9(?) feet, ok.

And we're supposed to be working on target nose touches, which I taught Rem and Tika so easily (Jake wasn't easy, but nothing ever was with him, poor little one-brain-cell dog.), and I'm just not quite getting it with boost. She touches nice and firmly until it's down on the ground, then starts swiping. I'm trying so hard to get my click and treats in the right times & locations. We'll never get to doing contacts at this rate, and she'll be a year old on Tuesday!

I haven't progressed in the 2-by-2 weaves beyond just 2, but that's OK for now, and she's getting better at it--and I'm tryin to always toss the toy so that she has to turn around the pole instead of just going through, and she's doing it more and more.

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