Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A TON of Updates!

Oh dear, I'm afraid I've been very bad about posting here lately :(  We've been very busy, but I am going to try and get all caught up... I can't really figure out how to organize this, so I suppose I'll just post things in chronological order.  That should make sense ;)

Weave Work
Two of our biggest issues with weave poles are rear crosses into them, and also getting the entry at high speed.  So, we have been practicing those a little.  For the rear cross, I set up a jump next to the weave poles, send her over, and attempt to indicate the turn into the poles correctly.  For speed, I send her through a tunnel first.  Both could still use some work but are getting better.  For the rear crosses, I need to start helping her less by staying back more.

Anything's Pawsible Show N Go
At the beginning of May, we participated in a very fun Show N Go at Anything's Pawsible Agility Center in Kokomo.  We ran a Standard course and a USDAA-style Jumpers course.  I didn't get video of Jumpers but here's our first attempt at the Standard.  It went pretty well, basically I need to work on my handling, mainly better use of my arms and better timing of cues.  (This is also where we figured out that we need to work on weave entries after picking up speed, such as coming out of a tunnel!)

We are also very lucky to have some pictures taken by the amazing Jodie Hemersbach!  Check out the pictures from the Show N Go at her website,, along with the rest of her work.

The weekend following the Show N Go, Penny was entered in Beginner Novice Obedience again in Perry, Georgia and she QUALIFIED this time!!  Our heeling still needs work but the other exercises were such an improvement from last time, and I am so so proud of her for that.  The next step here is to start working on heeling and rewarding her after working, by not treating her from my hands but rather from a stash kept elsewhere.  We have been working on this at home already, and after that will start working in different places such as the park, pet store, etc to get in some practice in varied environments.  It's odd because she lost interest at the beginning of the Heel pattern, but reconnected with me after the About Turn.  I think the "whee!" factor of the About Turn is fun for her, and is what brought her back to me.  Unfortunately she disconnected for the Figure Eight, but we got through it and Q'ed, and now I know what we need to work on.  I also want to work on tightening up her heeling position, as well as her sit position when we Halt. 

I suppose the biggest reason for the lack of updates is the new addition to our family, a three-year-old Ibizan Hound named Jakona's Natural Selection, aka Darwin!  We met his breeder in Georgia at the show cluster in Perry, and he has been settling in wonderfully.  While we were there, I showed Darwin in the B Match where he got Hound Group 2!  Then Jeannie showed him in Open Dogs on Saturday where he got a second place!  He did so much better than his last show.  We hope that, while it may take some time, he can eventually be finished.  I am going to try to show him in Conformation a little bit this summer, then we will be going to the National in St. Louis in September.  I also plan on doing performance events with him, along with lure coursing.


Lure Coursing
Speaking of coursing, both dogs got to try it out in Perry and they had a blast.  Neither had ever seen or done it before and they LOVED it!  Unfortunately they were only doing practice runs and Coursing Ability Tests (for non-sighthounds), so Penny got one leg towards the CA title and Darwin got a couple of runs in for fun.


However, last weekend he was entered in his very first lure coursing trial and did fabulously!!  He passed his Qualified Courser test with ease on Saturday morning, then went on to take Best Of Breed on BOTH days for two 3-point majors!  We are so very proud of this athletic, willful boy and super excited for his future :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

First USDAA Trial

Only one Q, but Penny and I had a blast at our first USDAA trial this past weekend!

  • Gamblers: NQ/3rd/15 points.  Just barely missed the buzzer, argh!  Nice run though!  Wasn't able to get it on tape because my batteries died, oops.
  • Standard: NQ/3rd.  Lost my mind and let her back weave, but really nice run other than that.
  • Jumpers: Q/2nd.  This was an awesome run!!  We were behind the first place dog by just .05 seconds!

  • Snooker: NQ/2nd/25 points.  Due to a handling error, took two colors in a row at the end of our Opening sequence.  Nice otherwise!
  • Pairs: NQ/2nd.  Not my favorite run of the weekend.  Had some issues with the tire for some reason.  She would not take it in the correct direction, had no problem jumping through it the wrong way though!  She also would not leave me alone for that darn baton, silly dog
  • Standard: NQ/3rd.  Pretty nice run - contacts completely fallen apart by this point but she got all of the weaves on her first try!!

Pretty happy with most things, but I need to remember to stick to my criteria no matter what.  I am just still so afraid of her bolting from the ring, having zoomies, jumping on the judge or a ring crew member, or just completely losing focus/disconnecting from me that I have let other things fall apart.  After running her this weekend I don't think she would do any of those things now, so I need to try to stop worrying about that so much.  Penny's 2o2o's completely fell apart this weekend and I'm pretty sure I will be kicking myself for that soon.  Unfortunately this winter/spring we have not had a facility to train at on a regular basis that is large enough  for contacts, so we haven't had much practice with them.  I am planning on entering two trials in May (AKC and USDAA) so I will need to make sure I get in a couple of drop-ins at Pawsitive Partners before then to work on contacts, and we will definitely be working on the teeter 2o2o at home!  I wish I could afford an A-frame, I definitely have room for one in the backyard...

Friday, March 23, 2012

First Obedience Trial

I finally got around to uploading video from Penny's first Obedience trial which was last Saturday at the Louisville cluster, so I figured I should make a blog post about it!  We were going to the show regardless to see a breeder's dogs, watch some conformation, and enjoy the shopping so I figured why not enter something while were down there all day anyway?  They were not accepting mixed breed entries in the Agility trial, so I figured we could try Obedience for fun and to see what would happen.  We have not taken any Obedience classes yet but Penny has her Rally Novice title, and we have worked on heeling, stays, and recall at home: so we have pretty much everything needed to try Beginner Novice and I was curious to see how it would all come together in a trial setting.  Here's video from our run (Heel on Leash, Figure Eight, Sit For Exam, and Sit Stay on the first video; Recall on the second):

I just want to briefly run through each exercise and write down my thoughts :)

  • Heel on Leash.  I was a bit disappointed because Penny was heeling SO nicely while we were warming up.  Staying close to my side and really focused on me.  She was still focused on me when we got to the start line but as soon as the judge said "Forward" I pretty much lost her.  I guess it wasn't too terrible but definitely not something I'm proud of.  Had a tight leash a lot of the time, had to call her back into heel position once, had a very sloppy left turn, etc etc.  I think it's clear that we need to practice heeling in different settings and around more distractions!  You would think that with having her RN, this part would be very easy but Penny never really did get super excited about Rally lol, and it has also been quite a few months since we did any Rally.
  • Figure Eight.  Pretty much the same as the Heeling.  Distracted, needed lots of verbal encouragement (which is not good for Obed), tight leash, sniffed one of the ring stewards, not really paying attention to me even to the point of getting in my way and nearly getting stepped on (note in the video when she does her little hop and I have to call her back into Heel position).  Not as distracted by the girls as I thought she might be, since she does tend to get more excited about kids than adults, so that's good.
  • Sit For Exam.  As soon as I stepped back I had a feeling she was going to get up.  For a split second I considered giving her a second "Stay" command, which would have just been a deduction, but I didn't act quickly enough and she stood up as the judge got to her.  After I told her to sit again, though, she did very well with the "exam"!  I'm also proud of her for not jumping on or mauling the judge, I don't think she even thought about it so that is good :)
  • Sit Stay.  We practice this at home a lot but I think the extra stress of the trial environment is what made her break her stay.  She got up as soon as I started to get behind her, when she can't see me and starts to get a little insecure.  We'll have to work on this in bigger places and places that have more things going on... perhaps at Agility class and/or at the dog park.  I'm really glad she came to me, though, when she got up instead of bolting out of the ring like she has done in Agility!
  • Recall.  This is probably Penny's favorite exercise so of course it was great :)  The judge gave us a very nice compliment about it which was really nice to hear.  We got one thing right at least, yay!
Overall I am very happy with the experience: we got through it without any major hiccups, it was a lot of fun (pretty sure I have a smile on my face the entire time), and I do think that Penny also enjoyed it.  It was good ring experience for both of us and I think that this is a venue that Penny has the ability to do well in with more practice!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rear Cross Work

Rear crosses are something that both Penny and I have needed to work on for awhile now and with our recent first two trials it has become especially apparent that we need to practice!  In class on Sunday we tried to RC a few times on course and failed miserably 90% of the time.  Turns out that both of us are at fault: I'm not doing it quite right and Penny just doesn't understand.  Here's a clip from class to demonstrate a failed attempt:

Note that she is also jumping a bit high: 26" in preparation for upcoming USDAA trial (in which it's likely she'll measure into 26"), but I am still quite late with the RC cues.  I should have raised my outside arm MUCH sooner before the tire.

And here is some video of some work we did at home on Monday.  I cut out a lot of incorrect turns but I do think we are getting better:

Noted that my timing is better left to right than right to left, and she seems to turn easier that way.  My outside arm should ideally come up before the jump vs after, and I want to show motion toward her vs straight (angled toward the relevant jump standard).  Will be back again hopefully soon with improvements, have not been able to do much else yet this week as Penny has had an upset tummy since Monday night :(

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First Q!!!

Penny and I had a great time at the Greater Lafayette Kennel Club trial this past weekend!  On Saturday we got our first ever Qualifying Score (95) in agility, also First Place and High Score in Novice A Standard!  I am so, so happy that things are starting to piece together.  No other Q's for the weekend, had some knocked bars in JWW and lost focus in our other Standard run but hey, I am happy with one as it is definitely an improvement from our first trial (also didn't run out of the ring at all!  She did however try to make new best friends with a poor unsuspecting ring crew member)   It will just keep getting better <3

Our next trial is probably going to be USDAA at Pawsitive Partners on April 7-8.
Things to work on until then:
  • Less flailing of the arms!
  • Rear crosses
  • Automatic "down" on the pause table
  • Weave pole entries/12 weave poles
  • Continue reinforcing "wait" by ring gates/doorways
  • Must be cued or released before going into crate/getting on mat
  • "Whiplash turn"/Recall in general
  • Remember: DON'T cross the plane of the first obstacle before the "Go" sounds!  :x