a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: C-ATCH 48 Hours, C-ATE 2 Weeks

Monday, March 19, 2012

C-ATCH 48 Hours, C-ATE 2 Weeks

SUMMARY: My Little Agility Champion! And My Good Ol' Agility Multichampion!

Boost was freaked out by the whole post-C-ATCH run process. Normal process: get leash, tug on leash, go pick up riot tug that we left outside the ring, tug on that back to the crate, get some treats and loving, get collar back on, go into crate.

Instead, it was tug on leash, someone else comes into the ring and hands Human Mom stuff to distract her, leash goes back on the ground, mom sends dog around some obstacles without even a sit-stay, then leash tug, then riot tug, then take those away and go sit in the driveway while strange people make funny noises at you.

She was a little uncertain about it all.

Tika's hearing, plus some good runs from both Merle Girls
Tika and I had a rough weekend. As I noted in Saturday's post, there was far too much ambient noise for whatever state her hearing is currently in, and if she's having vision issues, too (still not entirely clear about that, no pun intended), then the darkness in the ring and the light around the outside probably didn't help.  You can see how hesitant she is about things in these videos--I'm not the greatest handler, but hesitation and uncertainty have never been her traits before-- she's taking more strides between obstacles, looking at me a lot-- Watching her gait in the videos, it looks kind of old and stilted, but on the ground with her, it just felt hesitant to me.

Tika, Saturday Standard:

Her Sunday Jumpers course was pretty nice, parts felt like good old Tika, but still Chaps' time was more than a second faster, and given that we probably beat them more than half the time until recently, I can tell that she's slowing down.

In Tika's Full House on Saturday, that point-accrual game where, historically, we've aimed to be (and usually were) the highest scoring dog at the whole trial--but here, Tika hesitates and then runs past the Aframe, checking in with me constantly--and we run out of time long before I expected that we would.

In comparison, here's Boost's Full House, in which we collected way more points than anyone else, even though my handling after the tire wasn't the best:

Boost also had a really nice gamblers run on Saturday; kept all her bars up, had some really nice turns (and some wide ones that were my fault) and our timing on heading to the gamble was impeccable. The only thing that went wrong was that she didn't stick the Aframe in the gamble, so I was wayyy out of position when she came over the next to the last jump.

The Race!
Sunday's Colors was a really fast little course, so I placed bets (verbal only) with my fellow score-tabler on how fast my dogs would do it. Because what's an agility dawithout some gambling? We had seen a couple of fast runs in the 14-15 second range, and one really fast one at 13.28. So I bet 10.5 seconds for Boost and 13.56 for Tika.

Here's Tika's--I got her as riled up as I could figure out how before the run, basically ran off the line with her, tried to get her as excited as possible during the run and to be right in front of her most of the run to keep her confidence up; she ended with 14.61, so my guess was off by a second, and that made her merely the 7th fastest dog of the 60 who ran that course. Naturally, three of those dogs were in her exact class of 7 dogs, sheesh.

Here's Boost's run--she didn't need any revving up, never does at this age. She's still taking extra strides and hesitating to look at me at the beginning, then again at the very end, when she's ahead of me, taking an extra step and starting to turn her head and ears towards me at each jump, but I'm just close enough to keep her from actually pulling off a jump. Still, those slowed us down enough that her actual time was 12.72, so I was TWO seconds off for her--and, dang, she knocked a bar. But that was THE fastest time of all 60 dogs.

Next fastest was our friend & arch-nemesis Chaps. He doesn't always look that fast, but his time was 12.79, so we barely beat him. They're so efficient and he's just a big dog with a long stride. Hard to compare directly, though, because in Colors you pick your course and they did the other option-- also, the camera people seemed to have had it in for Chaps. I tried to get their Jumpers run for comparison, but the video was cut off halfway through. So I got the colors run instead--and now I see that *that's* cut off halfway through, too. Weird.

The worst of it...

But, sadly, Boost and I had all the same kinds of troubles that we usually have. In Sunday's Standard, she didn't bother with the 2nd jump in a lead-out pivot, although I guarantee she's lined up to look right at it. Next, I needed her to take the jump after the Aframe, waited until she was looking at it to release her, and she came right in to me instead, forcing me to do a rear cross that I didn't want to do and sure enough she refuses the jump when I try it. Then she turns instantly out of the tunnel looking for me instead of for the next obstacle, resulting in some spinning before the following jump, then although she's got quite a lot of room to get into the weaves, she skips the entry (I think the only time this weekend, but still...), then at the last jump, although I'm running pretty hard (sure doesn't look like it, but as I said, I'm not a great athlete) right at it, and she just stops and turns to look at me and spins past it. SIgh.

My new dog and I have a lot of work to do.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
Still and all, it is like a weight has been lifted from my heart, to get both dogs through their major CPE titles, and so close together. Happiness is a C-ATCH puppy, and here we are right after that C-ATCH run. (Thanks, Chaps' Human Mom, for photos again.)


  1. Would your instructor be willing to look at that video of Boost's Sunday Standard run to help you determine where you have handling errors and where Boost is having the problem? From my point of view it looks like about 90% of the run is handling issues which is good news because those are easier to fix than freaky dog issues. Pretty much everything Boost did, Strummer would have done if you'd been handling him. But I don't know how your training/handling works so I could be wrong whereas your instructor knows you and could help.

    For what it's worth from what I see it looks like the run headed south after the A-frame and it was handling at the A-frame that caused the refusal at the jump. Maybe. Again depending on how Boost is trained. But looking at it from how most dogs see it you've got no motion, a landing side position very far from the jump, shoulders turned away and direct eye contact all cues for a turn. The only cues telling her to go forward and take the jump are your arm and presumably a verbal and both those cues are way weaker than the four other stronger cues telling her to turn into you. If you kept your shoulders square to the jump and took even a few quick steps towards the jump I'll bet she'd take it. I have to keep my shoulders SO square on a send like that, if I open up my shoulders even the tiniest bit Strummer will pull off. If you look at how you cued the tunnel before the dogwalk you can see the difference in the cues (all cues for forward motion) and how confidently she takes that tunnel even though you're well behind her. All the ensuing confusion is due to being out of position then you're way too far behind at the tunnel so of course she turns back to you. Strum would do the same as would most dogs unless you have a really awesome verbal and you've trained the dog to ignore your location. Then you're out of position again, driving towards the left upright of the next jump so Boost takes the jump left (her left) of centerline and thinks she's turning left. The extra time for her to switch leads allows you to get too far ahead at the weaves and now she's rushing to catch you rather than focusing on the entrance. This is a great proofing exercise actually. I tried it out at the field this morning and Strum did the exact same as Boost every time. Could be Boost is proofed for lots of weave scenarios but just not that particular one in the context of a trial.

    I'll bet if you can get video of your runs at class you can see better where the handling is causing the issues. I don't think the issues are all as daunting as they seem, maybe just need to realize what exactly she's cueing off of and make some minor adjustments. Believe me, I feel your pain, I've been struggling with all of this for years. Fast dogs are not at all forgiving and timing/cues have to be so precise.

  2. She has asked me to provide videos. I need to set up a time to go over them with her.

    Those are good comments and I mostly agree.

    We do practice weave entries with distractions, me ahead, me behind, odd angles, crosses, veers away, etc. IMHO if she can get in at the second pole, she should be able to get in at the first pole. But every week I come away with "must practice more more more." Tika never had problems with that, and we practiced a whole lot less. I know I shouldn't compare dogs, but in competition I'm so tired of having to babysit boost's weave entries. More more more.

    ...Oh, right, this is a NEW dog and I'm fixing the OLD handler's issues now with a cheery, upbeat attitude.

  3. Hey, nice back to back weaves in those Full House and Gamblers runs! Very efficient!

    1. We do back-to-backs much better than we do things in actual sequences.