a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Proofing Weaves

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Proofing Weaves

SUMMARY: In which our heroines try not to pop out of the weaves in the disastrous back yard.

Here's the thing. I've got this project at work That Would Not Die. Any day now I'll be done with it. I've been thinking that for three months now. So I'm busy. I'm stressed. I'm not in the mood to go work on piddly agility details like actual skills that would help us earn Qs and not throw our money away on entry fees where we'll NQ for the same problems we made at the last trial. I'd rather not think about it and then go NQ at the next trial and then complain about how I can't believe we did the same stupid thing again to everyone who'll listen (which is pretty much no one, because everyone in agility knows about us whiners who will shut up eventually if you don't encourage them and then we can get back to gossiping about dogs).

So I have two USDAA weekends coming up. Boost STILL needs one Standard and one Jumpers for her MAD (Master Agility Dog) title, which is what *I* need to feel like I have an actual masters-level dog and not a puppy who somehow stumbled into masters by some freak accident. And why did we not have those Qs last weekend, for example? Knocked bars. Plus, in other runs, total havoc. AND neither dog has a Steeplechase Q this year, not one, and Tika needs a mere one for her Gold Tournament Master and both need TWO to qualify for Nationals. And Tika, who has a lifetime accumulation of 21 Grand Prix legs, hasn't managed *one* this year, not a single one, and she needs TWO GPs to qualify in that for Nationals.

So I guess I should probably practice SOMETHING. For some reason I don't mind practicing weaves as much as other stuff. For one thing, there are no bars to set every time you mess up. And you don't have to give rewards right at the base of the contact--you throw the reward from wherever you're standing. So, being basically lazy, weave poles are good for me--not as good as tunnels, but actually my dogs are pretty good at tunnels (run through it fast. Hard concept.) so I don't have to practice much, although I do, ALL the TIME when playing fetch (you have to run really fast through a tunnel to get your toy. So someday I will probably pay for this on course when they decide to run really fast through a tunnel instead of doing a contact or a jump).

As usual, I digress. I was going to digress more about how I need to practice running Boost to and from weaves with 40 feet and a jump between her and the next obstacle and how my yard allows about 5 feet--otherwise I'll run them into a diseased apply tree or over a smooth, slippery concrete patio--so it's not the best practice, but instead I will go right into how I also need to practice sticky weaves--dogs who will stick in the weaves no matter what I do. Since BOTH dogs, yes even TIKA THE WEAVING MARVEL, have popped out of weaves more than once in recent trials.

And here's some of what I do, using my creative genius (also called "borrowing everyone else's ideas") to come up with every distraction I can think of. Cross behind when sending to the weaves. Cross behind and stop suddenly. Cross behind and change my mind. Cross behind just before they get to the last pole. Send at a 90-degree angle from 10 feet away and then rear cross perpendicular to 10 feet on the other side. Run alongside and stop suddenly early. Or middle. Or right before the end. Run ahead and front cross suddenly. Front cross early. Front cross late. Start to front cross and stop. Run alongside and turn and run back where I came from. Run alongside and slooooowwww dowwwwn and SPEED UP and stop suddenly. Run alongside and spin in circles. Run alongside. Stop. Start. Stop. Run alongside and veer suddenly away. Run alongside and suddenly yell something stupid--"begonia!" is my favorite. Or sing. Stop and wave my arms. Run and wave my arms. Drop a toy subtly at my feet while I'm running. Throw the toy while they're still in the weaves. Toss a toy in the air while I'm running. Kick the toy on the ground while they're in the weaves. Stop and play with the toy on the ground. Throw the toy off to the side. Throw the toy right exactly next to them in the weaves (this is an advanced distraction that you really need to work up to; give the poor pups a break!). Run alongside, veering in and out and waving my arms. Send the dog straight into the weaves ahead of me and stand there while they do all 12. Do five back-to-back weaves as fast as I can get them to turn and redo them and try to get them to pop out right at the end of each set (this is especially good practice if you ever have a chance to do a 60-weave-pole challenge). Do all the same things at 20 feet away if I can figure out how in my yard so that it'll apply equally well in a gamble.

You know, these dogs should have no excuse at all for ever popping out of the weaves. Ever. But you also know, I have to keep redoing these sorts of things, because if I stop practicing, then they start popping. Why can't things just stay fixed?


  1. Another good one is the tunnel right next to the weaves so it's like the dog is weaving next to a wall. We saw that in a trial and it threw a lot of experienced masters dogs. Also good discrimination practice (this was right at the start line with maybe a jump or 2 before it). Try sending to the weaves and layering the tunnel, I dare you.

  2. Good one, which reminds me--practice weaving directly into a wall, fence, or shrub. That's what cost Tika a semifinal round at nationals in GP last november--popped out at the last pole going towards the back "wall" in ring 1.