Tunnels

Tunnel

Icy’s first introduction to a tunnel was way back in August 2014, it was a very short one (6 feet?) at Dog’s World.  Ice ran through the thing as if it wasn’t there.

The next time he came across tunnels was during his Foundation Flatwork training in our back yard.  The tunnel is now 15 feet long and because its February rain water has accumulated in the bottom of the tunnel.  Ice decides that he really doesn’t care for tunnels as he doesn’t want to get his feet soaking wet.  He still goes through them but it’s far from full speed.  I try and dry the tunnel out as best I can but Ice still doesn’t care for them.

I decided that June was going to be “tunnel month” – I really wanted Ice to enjoy running through the tunnel and I wanted him running them at full speed. So over the last month I’ve tried to include a tunnel into as many training sessions as possible and made sure Ice always gets a reward of some kind for completing them.  We did make some progress but he still wasn’t that keen to run them.

Last night in class Ice came across an almost straight tunnel – I handled the tunnel just I would have done with Sky, expecting to be well ahead of Ice as he emerged from the exit in order to complete a blind cross.  Well I beat him to the exit, but only just.  Ice is now running the tunnels quicker than Sky can and I’m going to have to find a new strategy to handle them as I won’t be able to win the foot race every time anymore.

The one down side to this focus on Tunnels is that Icy is now seeking them out on the course – later on he took a jump and instead of wrapping back to me he found the straight tunnel again even though it was some distance from the jump!

Jumping Grid

This morning I setup a jump grid for Ice.  The goal was to try to get him running and jumping at maximum speed.  The jumps were spaced 20’ apart.  There were 5 jumps in a straight line ending in a U shaped tunnel.

Here is a video of his second run (which was marginally faster than the first).


Things I liked about the run.

  1. He remained sitting on the start line whilst I led out.
  2. When I released him he exploded away from his sitting position showing lots of drive.
  3. After the first jump he’s only putting in a single stride between jumps. As the interval between jumps is too much for him to bounce jump he must be going pretty close to his maximum possible speed.

Things I’m not sure about.

  1. To my eyes he might be over jumping the jumps, that is jumping too high.
  2. His rear end seems to invert a little on descent, this might be caused by over jumping.

Other things he did that I liked (but weren’t related to jumping) was his focus on me throughout the training session.  He didn’t go wondering off sniffing like he has sometimes in the past.  Also, he brought the thrown toy back to me, I didn’t need to chase after him to get it.

As I was walking back to start line he wanted to play tug with the toy.  This is another sign that he is feeling happy and enjoying things.

Overall I’m very pleased with this morning’s session – I’m pretty sure Ice was giving me close to maximum effort and I can’t ask for any more than that.

Training Plan for the Week beginning June 28, 2015

I plan to work 3 things this week.  These being:

  1. Weave pole training.  Ice is now consistently finding the entries from some challenging approach angles.  I want to increase the pole angle getting it close to inline, move over to using a thrown toy for reward rather than the MM as I think this will increase his drive.  The goal for the week is to get Ice weaving 4 poles with a good weaving action.
  2. Tunnel value – the tunnel is not one of Ice’s favorite obstacles and I want to change that.
  3. DW and AF – we have not practiced these in ages and I want to remind Ice what the correct criteria is for both.

Reflections on Summer Camp

Ice at the Hotel

The hotel is in a great location next to the Willamette River and the Clackamette Park.  Ice really enjoyed his early morning and evening walks down by the river.  In the park we came across a Skunk, which fortunately Ice decided to leave alone.  From the hotel it’s an easy drive to Daisy’s place.

We had an interrupted first night at the hotel.  Ice was very sensitive to unfamiliar noises and decided his response should be to woof and alert me.  This must have happened 5 or 6 times throughout the night – I lost count and as a result I was pretty tired on the first day of camp.  The second night was much better, maybe only 2 interruptions and on the third night I think he went all the way through without any woofs which was a relief.

Camp setup

This year the back 30 feet of the agility arena were reserved for crating and this meant I didn’t need to erect my shade tent.  Ice was pretty good in his crate, I could easily leave him for a couple of hours without him thinking he’d been abandoned.

Camp logistics, the facilities, instructors, lunch, evening seminars were all excellent.  Last year camp was held in August and it was too hot for Sky.  This year camp was in late June and ordinarily this would have been perfect agility weather for the Poodles, but not this year.  Thanks to an El Niño it was even hotter this year than last year and as a result I did not attempt to work Ice in the afternoon on the two days we were outside.

What did we learn

Ice’s performance is affected by changes in environment – but not as much as I had thought or expected.

Ice came across some distractions that he had not seen before, for example, Chickens adjacent to the agility field was definitely something new.  Also, although Ice is familiar with Cats he had no idea how to react to a Cat which did not run away from him.  He tried barking but that didn’t make the Cat run so eventually he moved on.

I think the most valuable take away I got came on the third day from Daisy.  Basically, Ice lacks confidence and he needs constant reward markers that what he is doing is the correct thing.  Once I started praising every correctly performed obstacle Ice’s confidence and consequently speed and focus increased significantly.

We were in the Novice/Starters group and as a result spent a lot of time working foundation skills.  Thanks to Foundation Flatwork online class and the Fun and Focus series of classes at Dogs World it became clear that Ice has some solid foundation skills.  Ice is aware of his body and knows how to maneuver it, collecting and bending when necessary.  It will be interesting to see how well Ice retains these skill once he has more confidence and is moving a yard/second quicker.  Compared to Sky, Ice is like a gymnast.  Sky on the other hand is a sprinter – quick in a straight line but reluctant to hit the brakes and collect.

Goal’s for Daisy Peel’s Summer Camp

Tomorrow is a big day for Ice, he’s going to Daisy’s summer camp.  Ice has travelled and stayed overnight before but this will be his first trip without Penny and Sky.

Last year Sky and I went to Daisy’s summer camp.  It was very hot and come late morning Sky was not keen on running and I can’t say I blame him.  Camp was in August last year, this year its in late June, it should be cooler.  Either way I’m probably only going to work Ice in the morning sessions (9:30 to 12:30).  There are two reasons for this.

  1. It will be a lot cooler than the afternoon session.
  2. At Tori Self’s seminar Ice started out strong in the morning and faded badly in the afternoon session.

Ice is still very much a puppy, he’s not used to working all day and he’s certainly not used to working in bright sunshine when the temperature in the sun is 90+F.

Back to goals – the obvious goal is to improve Ice’s jumping skills, this is a jumping camp after all!  But I have some other important goals I want to achieve that reflect Ice’s current level of training, these are:

  1. Focus – Ice is getting better at focusing on me but he is still easily distracted, particularly as this will be a new environment for him.
  2. Drive/Speed – Ice is capable of running almost as quickly as Sky in a straight line and he can easily out turn Sky, but right now he’s not extending his stride between the jumps like Sky does, neither does he run the tunnels anywhere near as quickly as he is capable of.
  3. Recalls – again Ice does not come back to me 100% of the time like Sky does.
  4. Fun/Exciting – last on the list but perhaps most important, I want Ice to have a lot of fun, I want him to think Agility is the most exciting thing he can do.  Sky thinks this and I want Ice to do so too.

Reflections on class at IADW 18th June, 2015

We re-worked the opening jump sequence from previous class session.  Ice did really well on this, he loves the A-Frame and the draw of it propelled him quickly over the the first 3 jumps.  I did some drills with the tunnel trying to build up the value of taking the tunnel, made a little game out of the tunnel and Ice increased his drive to the tunnel quite a lot as a result.

We had multiple Dog Walk runs, these were mostly good.  We did have 2 jumps, but I withheld the reward and Ice fixed himself for the next run.  Ice accelerates up and down the DW but he’s not travelling on the horizontal section as quickly as he can yet.

IceCourse18-6-15

Next we ran the sequence #7 through #10 from the above course.  Ice had no problem running the sequence but I would have liked a little more speed from him.

Finally we did some work on the weaves and for the first time Ice recognized the poles as weaves and did 6 inline poles running to the Manners Minder.

We spent quite a lot of time running the Dog Walk and as a result did not have any time left in the class for the Teeter.

Goals for tonights class – 18th June 2015

  1. Run some Dog Walks making sure I withhold the reward (manners minder) if his feet don’t strictly meet criteria.  He needs to learn that he must always get two rear feet in the yellow regardless of what happens prior to the DW or immediately after the DW.
  2. Weaves – he was attempting the weaves last night in class but not quite doing them correctly.  I think we should be able to fix that tonight
  3. Tunnels – I want to build up more value for tunnels.  I don’t want him going nuts over them but I do want him running through them quicker than he currently is.
  4. Teeter – I will continue to raise the teeter closer to full height, we are one notch away at home.  I want him to learn that the Teeter and DW are different and his performance on these obstacles must be different too, ie. no launching off the end of the teeter 🙂

Reflections on class at IADW – June 17, 2015

Wednesday class

IceCourse6-17-15I lined Ice up so that he was inline with the jump sequence, I had Ice on my right hand side.  I placed Ice about 10 feet from the Tire and I lead out about 3 feet past the tire.  I released Ice and he took off like a rocket and caught me a little by surprise.  Ice took all the jumps and did a running A-Frame, I was in front of Ice when he descended the A-Frame and “pushed” Ice into the tunnel.  Whilst Ice was in the tunnel I did a cross so that when he came out he was on my left hand side and did a forward send into the second tunnel.  I rewarded Ice as he emerged from tunnel.

Ice ran this sequence fine but I was surprised by his sudden turn of speed. On reflection I now realize that it was the draw of the A-Frame which caused him to run quick.  The A-Frame is Ice’s favorite piece of equipment.

Our second sequence consisted of a jump followed by the DW followed by another jump.  Ice did OK on this sequence too, he had a nice performance on the down ramp contact but was a little slower than I was expecting.

Dog Walk

Ice ran the Dog Walk 3 times, the first and last runs were OK the middle run was a jump.  I will practice the Dog Walk more in class on Thursday this time using the Manners Minder to reward good runs.

A-Frame

Ice had two A-Frame runs, both were good.  Ice loves the A-Frame, I don’t think we will do anymore this week.

Weaves

The big news on the weaves is that Ice actually saw the weave poles as weaves and started weaving.  He did skip some poles so we sill have lots to work on.

Jumps

Ice took the opening 3 jumps very well – he was running the fastest I’ve ever seen on an agility course and I was not using his squeaky toy to jazz him up any!.  He did slow down a little towards the end of class, not sure whether he was tired or bored.

Weave Poles and the Teeter

Teeter

Our morning session was focused on the Teeter.  Its currently set 2 notches from full height and he’s running to the tipping point, leaning back until the board hits the ground and then running, not jumping like Sky, off the the end of the board.

The plan is raise the board 1 notch on Tuesday and repeat the exercise.

Weaves

Penny continues to work Ice on the weaves – last night he was doing 6 inline poles nicely.  On Tuesday we will move the poles and see if he still remembers what to do.

Dog Walk and Jumping in Extension

This morning we practiced the Dog Walk and Jumping in Extension.

The course started at the table (in a down) then two jumps into a ‘U’ shaped tunnel followed by the Dog Walk to the Manners Minder.  I wanted to build up a much speed as possible approaching the Dog Walk.

We had 5 reps in total – the first 3 were not particularly good ones.  Ice made the contact but his feet were not meeting criteria and to make matters worse I rewarded all 3 of them.

The final 2 runs were much better – he had 2 back feet split apart and solidly in the middle of the contact zone, just what I’m looking for.

Ice is extending nicely over the jumps but I think he can still go a lot quicker.

Times for each rep were:

  1. 9.33s
  2. 7.25s
  3. 7.40s
  4. 7.20s
  5. 7.00s