Here’s another update on Wilco’s running contacts. Yesterday, we worked on turning to me and running straight to the tunnel in the same session:
I’m so excited about his progress with the dogwalk. I’m also very happy about his weaving. I need to control myself and train some handling tonight instead. And I started shaping a 2o2o for the seesaw today. Just shaping him to step down from a sofa cushion and face forward to get a reward. I will then transition it to a box outdoors and add some speed and handler motion. From there, I’ll transfer it to the end of the seesaw.
Wilco turned 17 months old today. We’re having a lot of fun with learning running contacts, weaves and handling. His progression on the running contacts last week was amazing. We went from 30 cm to 120 cm in just two days of training. Then we took a break for four days while I was away with the older dogs. Today, I decided to try some soft turns off the dogwalk. Mostly because I was too lazy to set up the tunnel for straight exits. And because I was excited to know what he would do with the turning. I used a pole at the end of the dogwalk so that he wouldn’t come off the side. I used “jajaja” as a cue for soft turns/attention (follow me), and I rewarded from my hand if he met criteria. He wasn’t always perfect, but had some really nice hits!
We’re also working on weaves. I started teaching him to find the entry on a set of two poles. Then I borrowed this channel weave set from a friend, because I felt like I wanted to go to 12 poles much earlier than I’ve done with the older dogs (taught by the 2×2 method). This is pretty much like the 2×2 method, just with six sets of two from much earlier on in training. Tonight was the first session where I rewarded from my hand (instead of throwing ahead) and where I tried to teach him to stay in the poles even when I move in front. He learns so quickly!
I’m sure some of you are thinking – What about Wilco? I’ve written a lot about Bud lately, but Wilco is actually the dog getting most of the training right now. He’s still very childish, but things are starting to come together. I’ve been waiting for him to mature before starting on contacts and weaves. He’s 16 months old now and I wanted to try to start teaching him weaving and running contacts. I’m so glad that I waited! Even though he still is far from grown up, he seems to be ready to learn and most importantly – he’s ready to fail. All the foundation we’ve worked on is paying off. I started him on two weave poles 3 weeks ago. He quickly understood to find the entry, and I decided to go with channel weaves from there on. I borrowed a set of channel weaves from a friend. (This kind – it’s not really the way I’d want it, but it was accessible, and I like it more now that I’ve tried it). I still have it open to a point where he can almost run straight, but definitely need to collect to go through when sent from an angle. We’re working all kinds of entries with jumps and tunnels before.
Two weeks ago, I decided to at least try some running contact training. I was not very optimistic, as Wilco is still very bouncy and childish in his movements. It went much better than expected, and the foundation that I’ve done seems to really help! Today, we went from the lowest dogwalk (35 cm) to 80 cm, because the lower heights only got us front feet hits (or three stride misses). He’s running to a tunnel, and I’m throwing a toy after the tunnel if I like the performance enough to click. I really, really love how he keeps driving forward even when I don’t reward a few tries. He has much more forward drive than I thought he did, and he seems to also learn and adjust from failures. Running contacts heaven is a nice place to visit! Here are some repetitions from his first two sessions on 80 cm.
We’re also working on handling on jumps and tunnels, and he is doing great. He hasn’t found the fastest gear yet, but he has a big and efficient stride, tight turns and a will to understand. I’m very excited to see what he will become in a year or so.
After nine months of rest, puppies and rehab, Squid ran her first full agility course on Saturday. We have been doing a little agility during the past months, but mostly just worked on rehab and strength. She’s far from her top condition, but I’m so glad to have her back! This was her first run of the year. She was 4th out of 91 (29 clean runs) large dogs. I’m very happy with that considering that we’re both out of shape.
Epic also competed on Saturday. He feels much stronger than Squid and had a lot of speed, but dropped some bars in every run. I think he needs some time to work his jumping out after so much time off from agility.
Already on Saturday, I started to feel pain in my achilles tendon, and on Sunday I couldn’t really run. I had two runs with Squid, but wasn’t able to handle well because I was so much slower than usual. It feels better now that I have rested, and I was able to run some sequences with Epic yesterday without pain. I really hope that this won’t persist now that my dogs are finally able to start running again!
Squid has to rest from training for a while. She was lame last week and although she looks fine now, after more than a week of rest, I will not let her do any training until I’ve got her checked up thoroughly. My local vet took a long look at her earlier this week and we took x-rays of back and toes, but we didn’t find much. Next step is a visit to a physiotherapeut on Monday.
In the mean time, I’m glad that Thomas has got so many nice dogs that I can train. I do some agility with his cockers, but right now I really feel like I want a third border collie to run, so I’ve started some foundation training with Epic’s sister Win. She’s a very nice dog and easy to train. Works with enthusiasm, but relaxes well when I run Epic. Here’s a video of our session today. We had five sessions for a total of 12 minutes, and I have compressed into a three minute video:
I wanted to make a video of some foundation exercises for my online classes, and had so much fun with my dogs. I was surprised how much they know and remember, considering that I’m not very good at doing a lot of ground work with the dogs at the moment. Obviously, they don’t think doing real agility or doing ground work is a big difference. I had lots of fun and was inspired to do some more of it in the future.
2013 started well for me. We went to Stockholm for an agility trial this weekend and I’m very pleased with the results. Squid won J3 both days, and was close to winning A3 as well (if she hadn’t bounced off my leg at the end of the course). She became Swedish Jumping Champion on Saturday. Shejpa ran 3 out of 4 clean runs and qualified for the Swedish National Championships in June. She placed 2nd and 3rd in standard, which was surprising to me as she often struggles on the carpet and hasn’t been trained at all this winter. Squid ran really well on the carpet. She’s never been on a slippery carpet like that before and we usually train in really soft and heavy dirt, so I didn’t know what to expect. I think she handled it well because she always knows where she’s going and jumps well so that she lands in the direction she’s going next most of the time. Dogs that don’t bend well over the bars and have to turn on the ground (like Shejpa) struggle much more. Squid needs to work on turning better out of tunnels, that’s where she had her wide turns and slipping on the carpet.
Jessica Martin, FCI world champion 2010, held two seminars here the week after European Open. We had a great time and got very inspired, so I decided to ask Jess to do an online agility class for us here at fannygott.com
I’m happy that she wanted to do it, and I’m very excited to work in this class with my dogs. We will focus on handling with a dog training/jumping perspective. Join the fun here!
It feels weird to say, but I’m glad that fall is here. We’ve had a very intense summer, and it’s nice to go back to a bit more normal life. It might not seem like it happens much in the blog (but I’ll try to change that, now that we have some more time at home), but we’re having a lot of fun with the online obedience class that we’re running. Awesome people and great dogs working on some advanced obedience skills.
I went to a local agility trial this weekend and was very happy with both the arrangement and some of my runs. Shejpa won the agility class on Sunday by almost a second, Squid got a certificate in jumpers on Saturday, and Epic won class 1 jumpers on Saturday and class 2 jumpers on Sunday. He turned two a month ago and it feels like we’re getting more and more consistent. I used to call him my intern at agility trials, but now that he is two years old and is running in class two, it’s time to take his intern badge off 🙂 He still has a lot to learn though, and I’m working to improve his jumping skills, his turns off the dogwalk and his weaving. I hope that he will make it to class 3 during the fall, but I’m not in a hurry. Here is Epics winning class 2-run from Sunday: