Saturday, January 16, 2010

To Jersey and Back

We had our practice session this morning in New Jersey. Unlike other times when we've gone to new places, Marge was actually quite confident when she got out of the car. (She did growl as a herd of Shelties came her way, but that's not too bad.) We met up with our friend from the club, which made Marge feel even better.


The place was really nice - indoors and spacious. The man running it was really nice and gave Marge some cookies. She took to him immediately. There turned out to be only three other handlers there - a very small group - which meant lots of time for practice.

This was the course (obviously property of whoever created it):


And, as usual, some notes (I'll keep it brief!):

We really had no problems running this course. Though it was an excellent level course, it was wide open and flowy.

  • A-Frame, A-Frame, A-Frame. I've been practicing the down on the flat very often. She got it maybe 30% of the time. A couple of times she offered a 2o2o. I guess I'll just keep plugging at it... I'm REALLY hoping, though, that she's not going to get confused stopping on the dog walk and running to the bottom of the A-Frame. I don't want to mess up her contact criteria altogether!
  • Hit her weaves perfectly. Pretty good because the entry was tough (required some distance from the handler) and it was the first time on this set of weaves. The set makes a difference.
  • Oh.. the teeter. Marge went on it, banged it down, and then got terribly freaked by the squeaky noise it made as it popped back into position. She recovered, though, and was able to finish the course. I skipped the teeter in subsequent runs.. it was NOT worth her getting scared over.
  • Table was a bit better. She jumped off once or twice, and all the other times plopped immediately into a down.
  • Dog walk contact was pretty good. She kind of sputtered her way down the ramp a couple of times, but I'm really not looking to change it from a 2o2o especially since she's actually starting to get it.
Behaviorally, Marge was superb. Aside from one woof as one dog (our agility classmate) went bonkers on course, she was fine. That's a pretty big deal, considering she watched the runs of three totally strange dogs and was in the building with totally strange people.

My only complaint of the day came at the very end of our session.. the guy running it was demonstrating a contact training device to one of the other handlers, and it made a series of loud beeps. To me, it sounded like my smoke alarm, and I'm sure Marge felt the same way. She seemed to recover 100% though, as I took her through the tire and tunnel a couple more times just to make sure we ended on a good note.

On the way home, my dad (who so nicely drove me there) and I stopped for lunch. Marge waited in the car for a couple of minutes by herself. She was fine.. I gave her a cheese-stuffed Kong and she worked at that while we got our food. Then, she actually was calm enough to get out of the car and potty behind the building. It might sound funny, but all of that combined was probably the best part of the day. Even just a few months ago, that probably would have sent her into a frenzy.

Overall, we had a lot of fun and I wouldn't hesitate to go there again. I actually might go next month.

-------------------


I figure I should use this post to bring up some other events that we'll hopefully be at this year.

I'm already thinking ahead to our first trials of the year. We're got two trials potentially set up for April.. one, an AKC (gasp) agility trial, the other, an APDT rally trial at our training building.

I'm still iffy on AKC, just because they're usually pretty big trials, but at the same time I think it's looking like a go.. it's at the same site as our fall NADAC trial, mixes now run in the same classes as purebreds and can get the same titles (statement here), and she's allowed to wear a collar (security blanket for me). Also, since it's very early in April, there's a chance it'll be a small(er) trial since the cold might scare some people away. I do have some concerns about the teeter, but we'll see what happens.. I'd be fine running her in only JWW and possibly FAST, if anything.

I'm REALLY excited for APDT rally. Since it's at our club, I really don't have too much concern about stress or anything like that. She's taken the rally course by storm lately. We're going to do some practice with friends from the club pretty soon. The last trial my club had was run SO smoothly and a lot of qualifying scores were given out. With some luck, I think we can finish our RL1 title this year. How cool would that be?

After that, we've potentially got a stretch of about 4 CPE trials and 3 NADAC trials. Those numbers sound really big considering the fact that we only did one trial last year, but, we'll take it by ear and see what happens.

I probably won't post tomorrow or Monday, so I hope all of you have a lovely weekend, and stay tuned for this Tuesday's training update after our agility class.

25 comments:

Martha and Bailey January 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM  

Marge is just so settled now! We couldn't leave M & B in the car to go for a meal!
It seems all Marge's concentrated efforts in agility have given her a focus for her energy and she seems increasingly to be more confident in all areas.
You must be so pleased with her.
Have a great weekend.
xxxx

Bijou January 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM  

Hi Marge & Sam,

We are very happy, but not surprised, to hear your session went so well. Keep up the good work!

Waggles,
Bijou

Sara January 16, 2010 at 5:16 PM  

I laughed when you posted you were most proud of Marge's pee break outside the restaurant. I never post about Oreo's pee breaks (I always think people won't get it or will think I'm nuts!), but I TOTALLY understand. It took Oreo 8 months to get comfortable enough to pee outside of our agility school. So, whenever he pees in a new place (which he does much more often now), I think it is amazing and dole out the treats.


Sounds like you had a really great class, especially considering all the new things she was coping with. Keep up the great work!

Frankie Furter January 16, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

You two are getting more confidence all the time.

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom January 16, 2010 at 6:29 PM  

What pawesome news to read!

I'm glad all of woo had such a rewarding day!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra

Gus, Louie and Callie January 16, 2010 at 6:35 PM  

We are so proud of you Marge. You are becoming a real pro...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Benny and Lily January 16, 2010 at 7:01 PM  

Good job Marge. You sure are a smarty pants. momma is from NJ
Benny & Lily

LauraK January 16, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

I'm so glad that you had a successful time at the training place! It's always fun to have little achievements when you work with a reactive dog :)

I'm debating whether or not to do the AKC mixed breed program with my girl. The trials in our area are really close, but they are SO crowded- so we'll see. Not to mention that the entry fees are a lot more expensive! So many venues to choose from :)

Muttsandaklutz January 16, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

Woo hoo! Marge is doing so amazing with her behaviour issues thanks to all the hard work you're putting in. I'm really happy for you :)

Deborah January 16, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

Yeah Marge, your the best! It must be so hard for her to remember everything and she is so pawesome!

houndstooth January 16, 2010 at 10:58 PM  

Congratulations on a great run and overall wonderful day! Way to go!

houndstooth January 16, 2010 at 10:58 PM  

Congratulations on a great run and overall wonderful day! Way to go!

houndstooth January 16, 2010 at 10:58 PM  

Congratulations on a great run and overall wonderful day! Way to go!

Lorenza January 17, 2010 at 12:57 AM  

Sure Marge does it better and better!
Glad you had a great time there!
I am sure you two will enjoy those events!
Kisses and hugs
Lorenza

Cinnamon January 17, 2010 at 4:49 AM  

So grad to hear that you had a wonderful (and fruitful) day!!

Diana January 17, 2010 at 7:10 AM  

Im glad it went well. The opening of the course looked tough to me.

If the beep was from a yellow square contact trainer, that beeping is very loud. I have one and cover the box with a towel to muffle it. Diana

Mango January 17, 2010 at 7:38 AM  

What a wonderful adventure. Marge is such a good girl thanks to all your hard work. That beeping sounds awful, though. Like a smoke alarm. Ouch!

Mango Momma

KB January 17, 2010 at 9:38 AM  

You must be super pleased. Not only did Marge ace the agility course (which looked hard to me) but she didn't get scared easily. A trainer once told me that the real test of a dog's temperament is how fast she bounces back after being scared. He said that every dog will get scared at some time in their lives, and the real question is how they deal with it. It sounds like Marge dealt with it well!

Life With Dogs January 17, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

Now she's doing well on the road - something that looked impossible such a short while ago. Amazing to watch this.

That pic of her is one of my faves to date. Stunning.

Kathy January 17, 2010 at 11:19 PM  

Sounds like a great practice, and there was a herd of shelties, LOL, that just brings a funny mental image of someone herding a whole herd of shelties, probably all barking-my Chloe would be a part of that! The place you got to practice sounds terrific. This is just my opinion about the four on the floor, that was one of the hardest things I have ever trained-but I was really trying to get it independant and because of Breezes hip dysplasia I felt I had no choice but to try to get it right. I learned it when there was just the dvd out, and I followed that but the problems I had were probably the problems that Ann Croft found because when she retooled it she pretty much addressed the areas I had problems with. Sorry I did not have time to look up the month of the clean run article since I got home ;-), but it was in clean run, by Ann Croft, I think last summer?. She retooled how to teach it and the one thing I have really learned having taught three dogs a four on the floor is that I think it is really important to do all the steps, I think that is why Ann redid the whole process after her dvd. To make it really independant and keep things from happening like the leaping I think it is so important to do every step-with my dogs anyway-and because I can not always be right at the end of the Aframe to manage my contact they have to be independant. Maybe if you do not have the article I could send you a copy, I will look and try to find the month it was in the magazine. Also I have talked to Ann a lot about the method and even she says it is a behavior that you have to work on constantly. My dogs have it really well but if Breeze does 3 aframes in a trial in a weekend we have to retrain it during the week, by the third aframe it is falling apart-because of the excitement of the trial and because it is not as clear as say a 2020, but all contacts require some maintainace. The big problems we have had is leaping and still landing in the position, ann addresses that by using a hoop and I wish I had not skipped that, the dog laying sideways and turning to look at you at the bottom, that is addressed by using a mat to train the position and bumpers to keep them headed straight and doing enough background work that the dog understands to face forward independant of your body position-so you can have a truly independant contact-also I ws taught to always release to a jump or another piece of equipment in front helps with that, the mat which you fade out also helps because over time they try to run a little and then down and that ends up getting you called for refusals. Anyway, I think it is a great contact, but harder to maintain and if I train it with Cricket I will make sure to follow every step because I have had to battle all those things, something different with every dog...and because I did not start with hoops I really couldnt fix it enough for it to work with Liz....Anyway, check out that article or let me know if you cant get it and I could mail it to you??? The DVD is great but it has been tweaked a lot since that came out so I personally think the article is more helpful if I remember correctly.

Kathy January 17, 2010 at 11:22 PM  

PS forgot to say, that would be so cool to get RL1. That is a great goal, and how cool is that your club is having a trial. Sounds like some great trialing opportunities, sounds like Marge is looking forward to a great year. Good luck at your agility class!

tula January 18, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

Way to Go Marge! Lots of stressors with agility & you're pulling through... now, did you get some yummy foodies for lunch too? no cheeseburger? fries? ice cream float? just kidding. not in your training plan.. mine either.

toodles,
tula

Kathy January 19, 2010 at 3:21 AM  

LOL, sorry hope I was not too long winded but the four on the floor really has been a hard behavior for me and I had no idea when I started it all sounded so easy and I had no idea of all the things that have happened to us with it, LOL, so it works but not perfect and just not as clear so it does take more work in my opinion if you want to get it independant and to hold up over the long run....but if you deceide to try it, definitely let me know and I can copy the article for you-I looked to see if I could find it online but I couldnt, but I know I have it in my back issues of clean run. If I had started it with the steps that Ann has out now...I might have avoided a lot of the problems that I have gone through, because she does address those now and she did not when I first taught it. But the steps require a lot of props, so that is a pain too, while you are learning. I have messed up my contacts so much bouncing from one to another, so I know what you are going through trying to deceide and I still have no clue what I will do with Cricket. Anyway, you definitely can do it and I am sure you can teach it and Marge can learn it, just will take following the steps.

If you do want to work on the 2o2o a little longer I trained my dogs with the clicker to just rock back and they are coming down, to shift their weight off their front end and it sounds like that is what Marge was not quite understanding by slamming into position on her front legs, which always looks painful to me. Teaching them to rock their weight back is a very fast fix.

doberkim January 19, 2010 at 7:19 AM  

thanks for finding my blog (via layla) - i added you to my list!

where in NJ was this? where in NY are you training that will have the APDT trial? Yes, you did see me at the NADAC trial - that was our first trial ever. i was going to go to the USDAA trial this coming weekend but opted not to go for a variety of reasons, including trialing in 10000 venues is exhausting and hard on my pocketbook, and im not sure i understand gamblers and snooker yet :)

marge is adorable!!!

Sue January 19, 2010 at 3:50 PM  

Wow, lots of competitions, that's great. They'll be great practice and if she qualifies, that's icing on the cake. You two are working so well together, I'm sure she'll do well.

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