a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: When Will They Ever Learn?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

When Will They Ever Learn?

SUMMARY: #6 (and final--I think) of several posts about this weekend. Ellen never learns her lesson.

How many times--HOW MANY--do I have to remind myself: To pull a dog off an obstacle and to a closer one, it's a reverse-flow-pivot plus "Tika!", NOT a turn with the dog and "COME!"? How many timesssssssss? How many times do I have to post about it here in my blog?

BOTH of Tika's non-Qs this weekend were the same dagnabbed thing, and BOTH of them I walked the correct way, and BOTH of them I did wrong when I got on course and got moving.

Crud crud crud.

But at least she was fast.

Standard Level 4/5/C, Saturday evening

Here's the Standard course where I blew it with Tika. (Boost didn't stick her start line--for the first time in 11 runs--so we left the course.) I walked it repeatedly with an RFP and "Tika!", but she didn't stick her dogwalk, so I was way behind her, so I reverted to doing the wrong thing. I think that an RFP and "Tika" would still have worked from way behind her.

This course presented lots of handling challenges:
  • Opening #2-4. I have no idea why almost everyone handled it with the dog on their left. Almost no one got the dog into the #2 tunnel and still made it out to #3 to push them over the double. Some dogs were off-course to the Aframe because the handler moved too soon; many, many dogs came in past the double and had to be taken back around to get over it; some went past it into the #4 tunnel for an offcourse. A couple of people led out to the left of the #2 tunnel entrance, but not past the A-frame(!), so the dogs looked for them to their right as they came out of the tunnel. I led out on the left until I was past the plane of the Aframe. As Tika committed to the tunnel, I raced across the face of the Aframe, calling her name the instant she went into the tunnel, and front crossed between the tunnel and the double. It worked beautifully. You had to be able to hustle your buns, but much less than trying to go up the right side and push your dog over the double.
  • #5/6: Offcourses from #5 to #7, or they called the dog back to them as the dog came off the dogwalk so that they could catch up with them. I tried to drive forward with my shoulders and focus towards the #6 jump; Tika didn't stick her dogwalk and flew over the correct #6, and this is where I was barely at the end of the dogwalk, turned my shoulders to the left, and yelled "Come!" She blew straight into the right side of the tunnel without hesitation. I KNOW that an RFP and/or "Tika!" would have gotten her to the right place, dagnabbit.
  • #7/8/9: Dogs came out of the tunnel and back over #6 for an offcourse, or over #8 and straight up the dogwalk. People went through all kinds of gyrations to get through that space to the teeter. Because I was behind Tika and pissed off at myself, I ended up on the wrong side of #8 and we handled the path to the teeter by having her jump around my feet while I pushed her in front of me. Very professional-looking.
  • #12/13: I watched team after team either take an offcourse to #20 after #12 or pull the dog off #13 to the right and have to go back for it, or the ones who got it, really push their dog OUT after #12. I couldn't figure it out when I walked the course--it was a straight line for the dog from the weaves across those three jumps. I think what happened is that the handlers had to go in to the very end of the weaves, so to get around #11 and #12, they had to veer outwards, which pulled their dog past #13 on the right if they were behind the dog, or if they were ahead of the dog, they had to go out around #12 and turn suddenly in towards #13, thereby pushing the dog over #20. If you were laterally out from the dog about 5 feet at the end of the weaves, you could run in a straight line lateral to the dog and go straight over those 3 jumps, and it worked great for those of us who did it.
  • #13/14: Wide turns. To shave time off, it would've been nice to get a front cross in before #14. I couldn't get there with Tika. A couple of the fast handlers with fast dogs tried it and still got a wide turn, barely pulling their dogs in around them before getting into the weaves.


  1. Wow! Do you do this for every run? I can't imagine. Probably why I don't see the kind of improvement I hope for.

    But the truth is that I don't have the mental capacity for the retrospection and analysis.

    You deserve big kudos for doing all this work for every run.

    Whew! Tired just thinking about it.


  2. Not all this much detail for every run. But not every course presents this many obvious challenges--and I think the problems seem more pronounced because this is CPE and many of the handlers and dogs aren't of the same caliber that you'd see in USDAA Masters.

    I do a lot of this kind of thinking when I'm walking a course, not afterwards (e.g., from the end of the first weaves, look at the dog's path over the next 3 jumps, decide where I have to be to handle that, note whether there are offcourse opportunities or other possible issues getting through that seqence, note what to be aware of as a handler that would make the dog incorrectly take them as something other than a straight line, figure out where I have to be when the dog is exiting the poles, etc.) I'm sure you must do the same sorts of things.

    And I don't always note what other people are having issues with; it's just that this was the only class running, and it was dark & cold except in the arena so there was nothing else to do. So I watched a lot of it.

    I *do* try to note on every run what issues I had; otherwise I'd never see patterns in my behavior or in my dogs'.