I had a pretty good week of agility training with all 3 dogs. Today I went to an agility trial in Cincinnati with just Noodle and Dolphin. 2 months ago when I entered, it seemed like a good idea to get them in a new place even though there was a trial only 3 miles from my house. Today when my alarm went off at 4:00 am I was really re-thinking that idea.
The morning started off with a bang - Noodle and Dolphin both had perfect runs in Master FAST (my plan for both was executed perfectly!) and they both got Q's and finished 1st and 2nd place (Noodle was the winner)!
Noodle had a great run in standard, but got a little lazy and careless on the last line of jumps and knocked a bar. There was a big storm rolling in, and it was thundering outside...Noodle is NOT a fan of storms. Regardless, she did really well other than that knocked bar. Dolphin laid down a perfect master standard run for a solid Q and 3rd place!
Jumpers was a very confusing, twisty course. Noodle nailed it for a nice master Jumpers Q. Dolphin was nailing the course and we are clean and FAST until the second to last jump, and for some reason he jumped up at my arm and missed the jump. He does that sometimes...agility is still such a fun game for him that sometimes he is a little too playful. I am so GOOD with that! Let him be happy and playful, that is #1 the most important thing! They will get tomorrow off and we will go back to the trial on Sunday, see if we can improve on today.
When I got home, I took Pizza for some training with a friend of mine. Since she was away from me all day, she was SO incredibly motivated to work and run, it made the evening a blast! Man this girl is fast. She is definitely my fastest, most athletic dog. When her brain is on, she is on fire! I know she will get it together some day and we will rock the course.
Back to Top
Noodle, Dolphin, and I headed back to Cincinnati for the agility trial, after a relaxing day at home yesterday. The morning started off with Jumpers. I am ashamed to say I made the mistake with both dogs, causing both of them to knock the same bar, resulting in an NQ. I am so mad at myself, I threw in a rear cross (when I had walked a front and a blind over and over again), and I was too far ahead. My sudden deceleration caused the bar to come down, and after it happened with Noodle you would think I would have been smarter with Dolphin. Hope...I actually did it even worse! Ugh.
Standard was marginally better. Once again I didn't think on the fly very well. I did a blind cross with Noodle that I had planned, but she was farther ahead than I had planned and I got in her path and she missed the jump. 100% my fault. I don't know what was wrong with me today but I just couldn't get my act together.
Dolphin's run went a LOT better. He hit the first jump - a tire jomp - really really hard but thankfully it didn't come apart, so no call on that one. He was a lot faster than I had anticipated, and for once I actually made a good split second decision and changed two of my front crosses to rear crosses. They were sloppy, but they got the job done and we ended with a nice Q and 19 MACH points! That is the most MACH points I have ever received with one of my dogs.
We have two weeks until our next trial. Hopefully MY focus will improve by then!
Back to Top
Today was 90 degrees and high humidity...perfect day to take the dogs to do some swimming! My friend made arrangements for us to use her friend's pond for a little dog swimming. All three of my beasts had a great time! Noodle, of course, jumped right in and we did a few double retrieves for practice. I let Dolphin and Pizza swim together, which meant that Dolphin was the only one who got to retrieve a bumper because he refused to let Pizza near them...even when I threw two in the water (his big ol' mouth could carry two!). It was a fun diversion for a hot day.
Back to Top
Consistently inconsistent - that seems to be my training flow lately. I am applying this mainly to Dolphin. Wednesday he was super motivated, fast, and accurate in our agility training group. Thursday he was a complete slug. What changed? A mere 24 hours later, and he was a different dog. Oh don't get me wrong, he did everything pretty accurately, just nothing like it was the day before.
Pizza and Noodle did pretty good in their classes. Typical Noodle - she ran the first 2-3 sequences really fast, then by the end she reverted back to slow and steady training mode. This is just how she is, and I accept that. Pizza was pretty consistent throughout her whole class. Kind of ironic that my least consistent dog at trials is my most consistent dog in training. Go figure.
Back to Top
It was the most beautiful day, and I got a chance to go field training with a friend of mine near Dayton. I just took the girls, as Dolphin isn't ready to "play". Both Noodle and Pizza were tested pretty well - running birds, random flushing birds, birds flung over their head, and they handled it all perfectly.
Of course, Pizza did a pretty pretty pretty honor on my friend's dog. Noodle, not at ALL. I had to actually grab her and place her back on her honor, as she saw the dog on point and just blew him off and kept running. Bad girl! On the flip side, Noodle did a fantastic job in picking up the scent and stopping on point a good distance away from the bird. Pizza consistently went on point right over top the bird. I am not sure if that is just her hunting style, or if she just isn't picking up the scent until she is that close. Thank goodness she is really steady, even with the bird fluttering right under her nose.
What a fun day it was! The sky couldn't have been any bluer, and I got some really nice pictures of Noodle on point with my phone (my good camera was sitting in my van the whole time...ugh!).
Back to Top
Today I was finally able to schedule some time to work with my regular field trainer. We spent some time discussing my three dogs and what the biggest issues are for each one and how we are going to go about training them. Here is a breakdown:
★ Noodle : Noodle's only real issue is her honoring, and how she at times tries to avoid it. Today we worked with a backing dummy (a cutout of a dog) and had her honor the dog and the handler from a distance. We even set a bird loose as if one was flushed by the backing dummy. When she does stop and honor, she gets a lot of praise and verbals to let her know she did GOOD! Even the times I had to whoa her into the honor, I then used a lot of praise so she understands that this is a good thing and worth doing because it makes me happy. Good plan!
★ Pizza : Pizza is getting way too close to the birds on her point. She is basically waiting until she gets a huge nose-full of scent before pointing. We put birds in launchers and when she got within 4-5 feet of the bird, we launched it, trying to teach her to stop much earlier on her point to keep the bird still. By her last point, she was stopping a good 4 feet away on point. This is a work in progress, but we will continue to do this in order to teach her that if she points earlier, the bird stays put.
★ Dolphin : Dolphin's issue is steadiness - he has NONE! We used the launchers again, and he was going on point nicely, but as soon as he moved an inch, we launched the bird. He is so darn soft, that just me yelling at him when he breaks causes him to slightly melt, so I have to be extra careful with this and try to get him to learn these lessons with minimal interference from me. Again, a work in progress.
I just love having a plan. I'm a big planner and thinker - when I encounter a problem I worry through it until I have a solid plan. It's not always a great plan, and my plans don't always work, but having a plan makes me feel so much better, and hopeful! And what's life if not just a bundle of hopes, dreams, plans, and redirections?
Back to Top
Here is today's recap of field training:
★ Noodle : Noodle was my MVP today. We worked her with another dog (Pizza's daddy Josh!) and she did THREE nice honors completely on her own...woot! I gave her buckets of praise and she ate it up. Hopefully she is learning that this is what I want, and she will do it for me even though she'd rather ignore and keep hunting.
Back to Top
★ Pizza : We upped the training a bit with Pizza, and put pigeons in the launcher and quail on the ground next to the launcher so she smelled the strong quail scent first. She was super super paranoid after our training session a few days ago, as she was expecting birds to pop up out of nowhere. I had a little trouble getting her to leave the old scent, as she was so paranoid she was stopping on really old scent in the grass. It was a good training exercise, because when she didn't stop far enough away, we launched the pigeon in the launcher, and when she stopped I made her hold steady while I flushed/released the second bird. Good reinforcement to make her stay on point even after the bird flushes. She did great on that.
★ Dolphin : Dolphin, oh Dolphin Dolphin Dolphin. He took some steps back in training as we got after him for inching up and breaking on the birds that were planted (no launchers). Of course, he overreacted and then turned away and wanted to go in the opposite direction. I am trying to keep his confidence up while also making him realize what he should not do...and it is such a fine line I am walking. This is where I mentally remind myself that we have no time limit on this...it will take as ;long as it needs to take. He's not Pizza, he learns differently and at a different rate. Pizza sure spoiled me for quick learners! We will get there...just need to be patient and keep on keepin' on.
Today was an agility trial at my usual local place that I train at. It was also a lesson in frustration. Not sure why I keep having this lesson, I think I got it by now!
In Jumpers, all 3 dogs NQ-ed. Noodle was lazy and knocked a bar just from the lack of trying, which is especially frustrating. The start of Jumpers was a jump, then a 180 wrap on the 2nd jump back to the first jump, then another 180 wrap to the weaves. Talk about de-motivating! Dolphin slowed way down after that, I think he thought he did something wrong and I was correcting him. I got too far ahead after the 2nd wrap, and he missed his weaves. After the weaves he perked up and ran well, but a badly timed blind cross by me caused him to knock a bar (my blind crosses are my NEMESIS!). Pizza did good at the beginning, got her weave entrance, and then pulled out of the weaves to go check the judge out (who was standing right along the wall near the weaves). She finished strong, so that was good.
FAST was yet again another tunnel-jump-tunnel send. Noodle nailed it, and qualified. Both Dolphin and Pizza got the first tunnel and jump, but neither were able (or willing) to wrap back in to the tunnel a second time, so NQ.
Standard was depressing. I will start by saying both Noodle and Dolphin qualified. However, they each got 4 and 3 MACH points respectively...they both were S L O W. Dolphin was especially slow, and I hate that. I'd rather him run fast and make mistakes. The building was super hot and I was in a full body sweat by the end of it, so I am sure that contributed to their lethargy. But still...ugh. Pizza was wonderful...was running super fast and CLEAN until the weaves toward the end, and once again she came out of the middle of them and I had to re-start. WHYYYYY? Ugh. She had been running so well, and so FAST too! I am beyond frustrated.
Not sure what to think other than Sunday will be a new day to try again (we are not entered tomorrow). All three dogs had fantastic classes this week, all 3 were fast and motivated during lessons so I am blaming the heat on today (gotta blame something, right?). I will be better prepared on Sunday with more fans to keep them cool, and we will see how it goes.
Back to Top
We were back at the agility trial today. I was better prepared with two fans, and a positive frame of mind.
The morning started off with Jumpers. Noodle had a nice jumpers go for a Q, and was only one of two 24" master dogs to qualify! Dolphin was a bit of a wreck. He was definitely more motivated today! He missed a jump coming out of the tunnel (I need to support those "blind" jumps MUCH better), and knocked two bars in his enthusiasm. On the plus side, he was enthusiastic, and he nailed his weaves (yay!). Pizza was a hot mess. After several visits to bar setters I had to collar her and walk her off.
Standard was a big fail for all three dogs. Noodle ran really really well (and pretty fast!) but knocked a bar - barely touched it with a back toenail. Ugh, disappointing! Dolphin had the most awesome run going, he was super fast and accurate, and on a line of jumps near the end he flew over the first two jumps, and then jumped up at my arm on the third jump and missed it. Other than that, he nailed his weaves and contacts (and his weaves were really fast!). I am seeing a little bit of a pattern here - when we have a line of jumps in a somewhat straight line, he gets a little over-excited and jumps up at my arm on the last jump. Not sure why, but I will have to think about how to train through that.
Pizza again was a hot mess in standard. I tried to keep her going, even when she missed a jump, but after several barsetter visits I finally had to pull the plug and walk her off. I am feeling like a big training failure with her.
FAST once again had a tunnel-jump-wrap back to tunnel send. This is what Dolphin and Pizza failed on just 2 days ago - neither would wrap back into the tunnel from a distance. I was feeling pretty negative, so my friend bet me a nickel that Dolphin would get it. Not only did Dolphin get it, but ALL of my dogs got the SEND and ALL Q-ed in Master/Excellent FAST! What a great way to end a rather disappointing weekend...it's always good for my frame of mind to end on a positive note and feel good about things when I go home.
Back to Top
Field training today went splendidly! Noodle had three very nice backs (OK, 2 super duper nice backs and one passable one...I'll take it!). Funny thing - we had a quail tied to a string in the heavy cover, and she went on point (it was meant for the other dog they were training, but she found it first). She went on point, I went to flush it, and since it was tied to a long string, it flew up, hit the end of the string, and came back down right on her back! It fluttered and fell off her back, and Noodle never moved a muscle (although she was really really quivery LOL!) What a great girl she is, every time I train her in the field I leave feeling so joyful. She is pure pleasure to watch work.
We tried to set up Pizza for some easy pointing so I could get a good photo for her upcoming magazine article she will be in, but my focus on my camera had been accidentally shifted, so the photos didn't come out well. Pizza was perfect in the field on point, so I can't complain!
The biggest improvement was DOLPHIN! We had pigeons in launchers, and he pointed all of them and held fast! The first one he creeped forward about an inch and we immediately launched the bird, and I whoa-ed him and had to put him back on point when he turned away...and we quickly released a second pigeon so he could learn that sometimes there might be two birds so it is best to stay still. Worked like a charm, as the next two birds he stayed put better, and by the third bird he didn't turn away when the bird flushed. I am thrilled that we have made a stride in the right direction. I was especially happy that after giving him some discipline last week when he was breaking on the birds, he decided to control his impulses better this week and keep a good attitude. That is 100% the most important goal in my eyes - I want to keep him happy, positive, and still wanting to work. It's a fine line, and we are both learning as we are going because this is a bit new for me. Sure wish I knew all of this back when i was training Preztel...poor guy. He could have gone so much farther if only I knew what the heck I was doing back then!
Last night I took some stack photos of Pizza outside to compare to last year's photos and see how she has changed. I think she has matured beautifully! I might be biased (NO WAY!) but I think she is the most beautiful Weim I have ever seen...she has such substance and strength.
Back to Top
Dolphin and I, along with our training partner and her dog, headed north to Cleveland for an agility trial. Dolphin had been training wonderfully all week, so I was ever so hopeful!
The morning started off with FAST, and the send was jump - A-frame - tunnel. I had some trouble getting Dolphin to send to the first jump, and spent a lot of time working through it. We did get the send bonus, but ran out of time so we didn't get enough points to qualify.
We had a beautiful master standard run, but he hit the very first jump which was a tire, and split it, along with knocking another bar on course. He nailed his weaves and everything else, so it wasn't a complete wreck. The tire jump has been becoming an issue for us lately. I think the problem is that Dolphin is so big, and the tire has a "ceiling" so he cannot just jump as high as he wants in order to clear it. He is trying to jump completely horizontal, and his chest is hitting the bottom of the tire, separating it. After this run I made the decision to go online and order a tire jump that splits so I can train it at home.
Jumpers was a bit of a mess. He knocked two bars, and because I got ahead of him he came out of the weaves after the first few poles. Ugh.
After the trial, my friend and I took our pups to Rocky River reservation for a nice walk, and they got to splash in the river. I think the best part about these agility trials we travel it is the opportunity to have these one-on-one walks in new places.
Back to Top
Day #2 started off much better! The morning began with a really nice Master FAST qualifying run. The send was a tunnel, back in to the same tunnel, then a jump. Dolphin did knock two bars in the class, but luckily neither were in the send or worth more than one point, so we had plenty of points to qualify
Master Standard was beautiful - fast and accurate! He had the nicest weaves - they were so fast he was crouching down and one-footing through them...so cool! I did hear him nick the tire jump, but it stayed together so we had a nice qualifying run!
Jumpers was a mess again - 2 bars knocked, 2 refusals where he ran past the jump, and I ended up doing a fix and go so i could work through one of the refusals. Ugh...work in progress, can't seem to get a master jumpers Q to save my life, but I'll be pretty happy with the two Q's we did get today!
Back to Top
Day #3 was unfortunately a carbon copy of Day #1. Dolphin slipped and fell after the jump right before the send in FAST (the send was jump-jump-tunnel), so that killed our momentum and we ran out of time. I'll give him a pass on that one (even though he knocked the bar on the final jump).
Standard was another beautiful>course...until the second to last jump where he knocked the bar...so darn disappointing. And jumpers? Well, let's not discuss that one other than it was nice and fast, and he knocked three bars. I had a lot to think about on the long drive home. The bars are a big issue. Total count for the weekend is 13...he knocked thirteen bars this weekend! This is not good! I analyzed my videos, and there doesn't seem to be a common denominator. He knocked some with a front leg, some with a hind leg, and some with his chest. Some he took off too early, some too late, some were because he turned hard and hit the upright. My conclusion is that he simply needs work on controlling his body over the jumps. I have a plan and am going to work on this at home the next few weeks. This has become priority #1 !
Back to Top
Here's my recap of a very good day: We started off with Dolphin in agility in the morning - he was awesome and we worked on a plan to get him jumping more accurately. I LOVE having a plan. Yay!
Pizza was wonderful in her agility class...but then she usually is. It's the trials that cause our train wrecks.
After agility, Noodle and I went to field train with my friend. Day-am she was awesome. Seriously awesome. We had one really good honor, one so-so honor, and one blown off honor (bad girl!). She was steady as a rock on her birds, and did the most magnificent blind retrieve into the brush that was way over our heads and a good distance away...I literally couldn't even see her until she finally busted out of the cover carrying the bird. I swear I could just play all day in the field with her, but it was getting hot and my Noodle doesn't know how to stop and regulate herself, so I had to call it quits for the day for both of us.
Dolphin had his scent work class in the evening. He is really doing well at this - he is drivey while searching, and is really showing he has a good nose...plus he loves it! I love watching him enjoy the search, it's so fun. Our next scent work trial is in 2 weeks.
Back to Top