Greg Derrett seminar

We’re back from more than three days with Greg Derrett in Malmö, Sweden. It’s so much fun and the fact that I probably won’t be able to work with Greg until next December is pretty depressing. We’ll try to get some other intructors to come before that. Monday night was a lecture on the system. It’s always great to hear it again and to hear the new stuff that is going on in the system. And to be able to ask all the theoretical questions we’re always coming up with…

Tuesday started with some ground work. I ran Missy, to show that her circle work actually is pretty perfect even though it doesn’t always look like that on equipment… It was really good. We then did some two jump drills and my dogs were really showing off their worst sides. Missy was crazy and bar-dropping. Shejpa was sniffing and shutting down after a few runs. Some of it was probably my fault, it’s just like Shejpa’s first trial. I love running agility under pressure so much that I get too excited. I want to run fast, get to positional cue as fast as I can and I’m not patient enough on my rear crosses. I alternated wich dog I ran. On Wednesday, we did sequences with jumps and a tunnel. I ran Missy some in the beginning, and it was really better when I tried to think about being calm and just flowing instead of rushing. I have no problem getting where I need to be even if I’m not running away from my dogs. She was still dropping quite a lot of bars. Some of it is handler error, some of it is that Missy can’t handle my acceleration. Greg told me to do a lot of speed circles with 90 degree turns with her. Shejpa was a lot better and I ran her all afternoon. Greg concluded that: “She does have her moments of brilliance”.

We finished yesterday with a test on contacts and weaves. I was a bit nervous to try our running contacts on new equipment and under pressure, but Shejpa was just perfect. The proofing test we did on the dogwalk was stopping half way and she hit her contact below the last slat. A-frame is never a problem, so I didn’t worry about that. Seesaw is definatly a problem at times, but with just that one obstacle, she was alright and Greg was pleased. Weaves were good, Shejpa was the only dog that passed all the tests on weaves, and her time was much better than I thought it would be. We get a lot of nice comments on our weaves, but I’m not entirely pleased with them, so the plan is to retrain her with 2×2 (but I’ve said that for a long time…). 2×2 is a brilliant method and Thomas dog Pavlov has the best weaves with almost no training and he’s the only dog that has been taught with the 2x2s.

Today was about running courses, and I ran Shejpa all day (we only got through three courses). She was even better today and when she is focused and running, she really is brilliant. I think she could still get a lot more speed, but I do struggle to keep up with her sometimes, so I think she’s pretty ok. She had better turns than I thought she’d have and she is very responsive to my handling. First course was the individual small standard course from world cup (as it is on paper, not the actual course that you can watch on YouTube, they differ a lot). Shejpa was great and I manages to get us around the course fine (rewarding her seesaw). I got into position for front cross after the dogwalk and was even able to decel and be stationary and front cross as she met criteria. Contact was perfect. Next course was a pretty tricky jumpers course that was fine, apart from some footwork on my part. And the last course (wich, surprisingly enought also was a USDAA masters course!) was really easy and all about running.

Here’s a video with Shejpa running all three courses with Greg’s comments in the background.

About my handling then… I seem to have good footwork, good timing and I can run pretty fast. Most of my mistakes comes from not having enough patience. I need to work a lot more on handling with both dogs, really getting to the point of “meditation in motion” that Greg was talking about. Where you just flow around the course and also really know your dog. Missy needs a lot of work on speed circles and double box. Both dogs need to drive better to a jump before a rear cross. Shejpa needs more drive on lead out pivots, I feel that she is slowing down, especially on the harder ones.

Shejpa’s running dogwalk

I started to work on Missy and Shejpa’s running dogwalks again this week, focusing on turning. I did that once before, but felt that the whole behavior was breaking down. Most dogs with running dogwalks does not seem to be that good at turning and I felt that maybe I should just run them and then turn them tighter and tighter as they got more experienced. But I didn’t really like that solution, I like to really teach my dogs things. So I tried again this week and it seems like I’ve had more success. I have focused on criteria and with Missy, I have used a target briefly (that didn’t alter her striding, but made her more aware of my criteria) and with Shejpa I used a stick in the ground for her to run around (also very briefly, for just a session). It only took Shejpa two sessions before I almost couldn’t make her fail. I could send her from behind the dogwalk and stand still, I could run laterally away and serp, I could turn her 180 degrees to a tunnel or a jump. She does slow down when I hang back, but I guess she’ll pick up speed when she gets more confident.

Here is a video from todays practice

Welcome Squid!

She’s finally home and she’s an absolutely wonderful puppy! I picked her up this weekend. She is very cuddly and pretty calm. She tugs like crazy and loves food. I’ve never had a puppy that acts so much like a puppy, she is not as mature as the puppies that I have had in the past. I think that’s a good thing. I get time to bond with her before she starts to stalk other dogs, chase cars and act like a teenager. On the other hand, she is not the fastest learner when it comes to shaping, because of her immaturity. She tends to fall asleep in my lap instead of trying harder 😀 I’m sure she’ll be excellent before long.

We’ve done a lot of socialising since I got her. We’ve met a lot of people, quite a few dogs and a lot of children. We’ve been to the vet, to the mall, to the pet store, watched traffic, ridden an elevator, walked in the woods, watched herding, been in three homes… All in four days. I can’t wait to get some more training done with her! She is such a lovely puppy.

Playing with children
Greeting another dog in the pet store
Trying out toys at the pet store
Training at the vets
First day!

And finally: A video from our first day:

Home, Sweet Home

I’m finally back to som kind of normal life at home. I spent 39 days away from home (and most of the time, also away from my dogs) during August and September. It’s a lot of fun to travel and do exciting things, but it feels so good to be at home again. World Championships were great. It was definatly more exciting this year than Hamar last year. There are lots of videos from worlds in my YouTube channel. It’s also very inspiring to see agility at the highest level and I have to control myself and not train my dogs too much now. When I got home from worlds on Sunday, I decided to not give Shejpa any more treats in training. No treats until she is tugging like crazy and can work for just toys. I thought it would be a frustrating and slow process, but it worked right away! She was of course very keen on training when I got back, she hadn’t done any agility for three weeks. What’s even better is that she seems to get more and more intense and crazy about tugging for every session we do. And what’s even more surprising, is that she is much better at bringing the toy back to me now. I would have thought that that would be one of the hardest things to accomplish without food rewards. This is really cool and I just hope that she will keep this crazy, fast and focused attitude.

Missy is just crazy. We havn’t done a lot of training lately and you can really tell. She won’t drop the toy when I tell her and she tries to bite my pants when we do circle work… I really need to work her a lot more. Both dogs did a distance grid this week and Missy has made enormous progress with her jumping. I could get her really high and then run my fastest right beside her, and she was still perfect! Here nose touches are coming along and I hope to get her on the seesaw pretty soon. We also need to to a lot of work on getting that check stride for turning tight (with both dogs…) and more double box.

I havn’t been working Pi that much lately, but she was with me when we did a seminar in Sweden two weeks ago and she got to show a lot of things and learned a lt of new stuff. I started teaching her the movements for distant control in obedience. I want her to down and stand without moving any feet. We’ve hade some sessions at home, and this is what our training looked like yesterday:

Video from world cup practice

I’ve spent the whole day watching all the teams practice one last time before world championships start tomorrow. I have three favourites, one in each height. The best small dog I’ve seen today is the Russian sheltie called Adrenalina. I always get so happy watching that dog, it’s so amazingly fast. It might be turning a bit wide, but I really hope they do well this weekend. My favourite medium dog is a blue merle border collie from England. A really nice, fast, tight turning dog that has a good chance of winning if all goes well. In the big dog division, Susan Garrett and Encore were just outstanding. A great combination of speed, tight turns and amazing skills. A lot of big dogs look fast and great, but Encore was just in a class of her own, I think.

The Norwegian team looked really good in practice. They have speed and pretty good consistency. I think some of them could do well. I’ve made a video with short clips from todays training, mostly Sweden, England, USA, Switzerland and Canada. I ran out of batteries after the Canadian team, so unfortunatly no Norway or Russia.

Missy’s dogwalk

Before I went to Helsinki yesterday, I made a video of Missy’s running dogwalk. We havn’t been training dogwalks for a month, but when I get back home, I’ll start the “real” training. I also timed it and it’s pretty consistent at 1.25s when she’s going straight.

It’s been a hectic month and I have hardly been at home at all. We went away for two weeks after the trial, hunting and teaching, and a friend of mine stayed at our place and took care of my dogs. They were fine, but I think Shejpa really missed me. Missy just ran out the door to say hi to Thomas when I opened it to say hi to her when we got home. I look forward to having more time at home in october (even though I have three weekends of teaching away from home) and I look forward to visiting the puppies again.

One day left…

This weekend will be Shejpa’s debut in agility. She’s entered in three classes (jumpers, standard and open jumpers (unofficial)) on Saturday and jumpers + standard on Sunday. Both Missy and Pavlov (Thomas’ border collie) are entered in jumpers both days. Shejpa did her last training session today, I think she needs to rest in order to be at her best on Saturday. Missy, on the other hand, needs a lot of training to keep cool and I will do some more double box with her tomorrow.

We focused on discriminating between dogwalk and seesaw in todays session with Shejpa. She is very inexperienced and did her first full seesaw just yesterday. I will definatly need to help her by using my decel to get her to weight shift on the seesaw, but we will try it and then go back and perfect her performance for the rest of this fall. No more trials until January, since I work a lot. Shejpas dogwalks look great, she is turning nicely, but she might turn into me instead of going straight if I get to far behind. She is also sometimes not as good on a new dogwalk the first time, so we need some element of luck on Saturday. I really look forward to the trial, I havn’t ran any of my dogs in a trial for almost 1,5 years.

Here is a video from today

And here is a video from yesterday showing some of her first seesaws. She was a lot better in the session before, then I went to get the camera and she was a bit tired for this session. Looks ok for the first time, I guess:

Some agility videos

My friend Karine came over today for some agility training. I wanted to make a video of our seesaw training, but Shejpa did not have a good day. I made a video, but it’s nothing exciting about it really. We should be doing more advanced things really, and we did yesterday. Anyway. Here’s the video:

We also set up a course because I wanted to run weave poles, dogwalk and a-frame in a course with Shejpa. It was the first time I turned her after the dogwalk when running it i a sequence and she was good even though I turned her twice the same way. Her a-frame looks consistant. It’s not as deep anymore and I’m happy with that as long as she consistantly hits the yellow. It’s not a very good video, but perhaps the music will make up for that 😀

Missy got mostly rest today because she has burned a pad om her front paw (maybe from to many dogwalks, maybe from going on a bike ride with Thomas last week). I did some agility with her, mostly proofing weaves (Yes, we need to do that more often, she has problems with me running hard when she enters the poles). I also tried the a-frame with her for the first time. She was really good when I started her from the top and ran her down (full a-frame). Then she did a really good full dogwalk. I tried once more and she just leapt from the top of the dogwalk and landed on the ground. I tried it again, thinking that she wouldn’t make that misstake twice. She did. It looked really bad. Fortunatly, our physioterapeut/vet and friend Laxmi came by later and checked Missy thoroughly and found nothing wrong. I was very happy that I had warmed Missy up well before we did agility today…

Missy in the finals!

Missy and I qualified for the finals in the Norwegian national obedience championship today. We ended up in 10th place and the 15 best (out of 45 in the qualifying round) get to compete in the finals tomorrow. I wasn’t really prepared to get into the finals since we havn’t been training obedience a lot this summer. Missy is not very confident when there’re a lot of other dogs around and I’m not sure if she’ll be able to perform at her best in the big ring tomorrow, but we’ll try to have fun and not fail any exercises. Here is a video from todays trial:

Missy is running her contacts as well!

Justine Davenport has been here for four days teaching and we’ve had a great time with lot’s of training for the dogs. Justine did four days of handling (one day flatwork, one day double box, one day rear crosses and one day of running courses). It was really good and I think everybody was extremly happy. I’m to tired to write a lot right now, I have to come back to some of the things that I learned and did. Shejpa has worked a lot on her running contacts in the evening. She’s good when she can run straight after the dogwalk, but we still have to work through different angles coming off the dogwalk. I guess it’s just something we have to work on, like how you gradually raise the plank and add handler motion. She is making progress.

Missy started her runnig contacts training on monday night. We started with a plank on the ground. Yesterday, we added height and raised the plank a bit. And tonight, Missy was running a full height dogwalk. Missy is easier to train than Shejpa in many ways, and I’ve learned a lot from teaching Shejpa. But I never thought we would come this far in two days! We obviously still have a lot of work to do, but I’m very pleased with us both so far 🙂 Here’s a video of our first session on a full dogwalk: