Agility Daisy Dylan Rio Training

Rolling On

Everything has started again for 2014; we’ve been back to agility training and done two flyball sessions now. Dylan and I also went on a Maintaining the Canine Athlete workshop with Veterinary Physiotherapist Hannah Michael, which was excellent. Would highly recommend! I learned loads and I’m trying to make changes now, which isn’t as easy as I had hoped (in terms of exercise). My dogs do a lot of free running but not much structured exercise, but I need to change some of that to get them as fitter.

As we did the muscle and joint checks, it was clear that Dylan was sore in his “usual” places; shoulders and lumbar. It doesn’t confirm my decision to retire him – that was comfortably made – but it makes me feel happier about it. He really enjoyed the stretches we did on the workshop too, he got very relaxed and comfortable about it all.

Dylan’s retirement day is this weekend at Wilmslow. I’ll still run him despite the soreness, which sounds terrible. It probably is, but I feel ok with it. It’s the kind of minor tension which doesn’t merit pain for a dog, just means they won’t run at 100%, and I don’t want him to do that anyway. He’s not quite 8yrs old but I am absolutely sure retirement is the right decision for him. Just as I was with Kim! I’m finding it very hard to explain why this is, but I feel very content with the decision. It makes me feel that our relationship is a good one, that I can see the very small things in my dogs which tell me that they are reaching the end of being able to physically give what is required.

He will carry on doing flyball. We trained on Sunday and he looked great, smoother and more confident than he’s looked for ages. I hope he has a team to run with over the summer but it’s not looking promising right now. We don’t have enough height dogs as we pulled Daisy from training.

Speaking of Daisy … she is learning to control herself around the other dogs again, and we’re going through her socialisation all over again. It’s frustrating at times, especially when some family members make small errors which set us back, but we’re on the right road. Right now it all seems worse because she’s in the dramatic teenage phase as well, which amplifies all the other issues. She is learning to trust us again, and we work on changing her stress responses. She is turning on the box now, without a ball, and she’s learning her agility foundation. She’s got her first class this week, although it’s just a environment introduction. She’s a dog who needs a job, and hopefully my Intro to Agility class will work for her. Rio is her biggest problem right now, because she can’t handle Rio’s energy levels.

Which nicely leads on to Ri! I love this dog, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that. Her joy is infectious. She’s triggering the box with the ball comfortably now, and did her first session of jumps to the box last week. No problems, although toward the end she started clowning around. She has a sense of humour, that’s for sure.

This week we started her Robbins Recalls, which didn’t go quite so well. Lots of ball spitting! Nothing we didn’t expect and we are making progress. Her striding and turn held up well, and she’s collecting the ball from the box at least. I think this will be the hard bit for her, she likes RUNNING and ACTION and that means glossing over the small details. We’re back on to using a toy instead of food though, and her focus and enthusiasm and drive is fantastic.

We still need to do some more work at agility, I’m starting to find the best handling options for her now. We need to do a bit of work on her jumping again, she’s a little bit hit/miss with take off points. Similar to above, Rio likes to GO, and thoughtful gets thrown out of the window. Instead of thinking, shortening, putting in an extra stride to find the appropriate take off, she just launches. K called it “bambi jumping” and that’s pretty much it. She’s like a deer, springing over things. We should probably do some of the extension exercises which would encourage her to skim the pole but most of them involve pole-knocking, and I fear it would be all too easy to have Rio think pole-knocking is the aim of the game.

Dogwalk and seesaw are still the mission. She does not like the seesaw, even with the RunAway game. I need to build her confidence on the dogwalk. It would be nice to run some agility classes before her 3rd birthday!

Agility Dylan Rio

December Flurries

I wrote my last post in haiku, and I make no apologies. Dyl and I had a good time at Wyre, we always do. I said Wyre would be the last one, but I’m going to enter Wilmslow as well. That really will be the last one. He enjoys Myerscough, for reasons I can’t explain.

Rio came as well, and was her usual social self. She mugged a few people, and cast longing glances at all the puppies and Vizsla’s she met. She loves puppies, and the Viz affection is all Diva’s fault. She’s going to Dig It in February and March, and then she’ll probably run at Hare’n’Hounds in April. Need to really nail the dogwalk and seesaw, and do some jump work for Large height. And get her to 12 weaves (that’s this week’s mission).

Daisy stayed at home and worked on being quiet, and calm, and channeling her adrenaline into positive and socially acceptable behaviours. That’s what Daisy works on every day, at the moment.



Agility Dylan

Wyre 2013

Dull motorway rain

I’m worried about the tyres

Car pulls to the right


Small arena

Combined 5-7 Jumping

I suppose it’s ok


A pull-through start

Nine weaves into nowhere

I got lost


Looking forward

Graded 6-7 Agility

Dogwalk approach sucks


I like your courses

But not this one. I have

made my own


Endless waiting

Combined 5-6 Agility

I like this a lot


Clear round

We find 39.65

No placing


One more to go

Graded 6-7 Jumping

I love this course


I remember when

We would have eaten these spaces

Now we are slow


Weave entry popped

Five faults but you tried

This was still good


You are happy here

This is so easy for us

One more show

Agility Personal Rio

Shiny Rio

I don’t post very often about me; my blog is about the dogs, and I try to keep the non-dog stuff away. However, sometimes it falls together. Last week was very tough for me. Lots of things have been piling up for a while, but I ended up in a depression kicked off by Daisy essentially having a massive reactive panic attack. That incident is a blog post of itself, and one I don’t have the motivation to write. I did want to blog in some small way to say I haven’t been anti-social because of anything anyone else has done. I haven’t been on Facebook or Twitter for over a week, and I’ve very briefly spoken to a few friends. Being social is hard right now, not just the big social things like partying or big groups, but small social things like talking to a single close friend or family member for more than 5 minutes about nothing important, or tweeting something nonsensical.

The training sessions I didn’t feel I could miss were exhausting and I actually can’t constructively remember what happened. I wrote my notes about training immediately after arriving home on Tuesday, and that will be my basis for planning December training. If anything asked for something that I didn’t write down, I haven’t got it.

I felt a little better Saturday (thank you, Claire), and a lot better Sunday (thank you, Katie and Matt and Sue and the other Dig It folks). I feel a lot better today, but I’m still maintaining a social media blackout. Anyway, why am I talking about all of this? Because Rio. And because, when I come back and re-read this in a month or a year, I need to know what kind of mental state I was in going to this show.

Rio had a tiny little show at Dig It, to see where she’s at in terms of competitions. I’m very happy to say where she’s at is pretty awesome.

I elected to run her NFC in agility. I had a plan, I stuck to it, Rio was great. We did an Aframe and a long line of jumps to a tunnel, and she nailed it. She stayed 90% calm and focused, and that was the only thing I wanted. In her second run, we did a few more Aframes, and were a little less focused but still working.

Her jumping course was super, really easy. NFC x2 again. First run went to plan; we rolled right round for a “clear”. I intended to stop and train where necessary, but I also didn’t want to stop her if she was going well, as that often just serves as a distraction rather than a reward. Ri likes agility, it’s fun of itself. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t come in for the line at the end, it was a tight turn after a very extended run, and I was right. She skipped two jumps in trying to adjust herself, but it was a super run. Focused and fast all the way around. Second run, we did some proper training. Rewarded her wait, rewarded her drive to the tunnel, and when she didn’t get the turn again, I brought her back. Changed my cue a little, and then rewarded her for getting it right.

Steeplechase was last, and was probably the hardest course as it was Open (still lovely and easy). I didn’t go NFC as I didn’t think there was anything worth training Rio for. I need training in competitive Rio and non-competitive Rio being the same dog, so the last run was for me. We got E’d, but it was a good run, we just missed a few obstacles and then added a few more in. She did the final line really well, fast and drivey but also responsive to the turns and angles.

I am going to skip January’s show and enter February, and see where we’re at then. Maybe some dogwalks too, who knows. I need to get the balance right between food in the queue and toy in the ring, and keeping her engaged but not wild. She also does better with longer breaks between runs to calm down and re-engage, so I’ll probably just enter her for one run at each course next time.

Agility Daisy Rio

A Plan Comes Together

I love teaching weaves. There’s always a part where I hate it, right around the bit where it seems like we’ve been working on them forever and nothing is happening. But then it all comes together and I remember why I love it.


As you may have guessed, Rio’s weaves have clicked. She has beautiful weaves. I’m so happy I switched her back on to the Vs, her footwork is lovely and she’s getting her head down to drive through in the way I love. She’s going to be much, much, faster through the weaves than Dylan, and Dylan doesn’t have shabby weave speed, so that’s nice!


In the interest of fairness, I have to admit she has suddenly developed a block about me being on the right. We did a quick walk through with someone shadowing on the left and she was perfect, so I think it’s just a case of more training required. Independence looks good, she’s picking up easy entries off obstacles, and she’s done her first run of 6 to 6 weaves with lots of enthusiasm. Too much enthusiasm, actually, she does get very excited about multiple run throughs and starts going too fast for her own feet. I like the 6 > 6 method of taking them to 12 weaves, that’s my favourite part of the 2×2 method. Such an easy breakdown!

We haven’t done a lot of work on entries yet. I sometimes feel I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t train entries from day one, but I just don’t see the point. I trained progressively more difficult entries with Kim and Dylan was we went along, and only once they’d learned how to weave. It’s not like we’ll find hard weave entries in Grade 3 anyway.


As one ends, another begins. Daisy has started learning her weaves as well. I’m hesitantly giving the 2×2 method another go, mainly because Daisy will drive to a dead toy and I think that’s sort of quite important for training this method. (Rio thinks dead toys are borrring.) If it’s not working out, we’ll switch to Vs and go from there. It’s all a bit experimental with Daisy, since I don’t know what her learning curve is like for complex skills.

Agility Dylan

Wilmslow Nov 2013: Unexpected Results

I always forget how much Dylan really loves running at Myerscough. It certainly helped that we were running on Adams equipment, so no aluminium contacts for him to worry about (just heavy seesaws, but the tipping point is standardised in the new year so I’m not worried about that).

C6-7 Agility was pretty straightforward, but we missed the dogwalk contact. 5f and a respectable time, even though my handling was pretty shocking.

Wilmslow Large G6-7 Agility (Nov 2013 Judge: Carrie Ellwood)G6-7 Agility was a course I liked, bit more of a challenge and something to think about! Stupid course time of 38s, which I knew we wouldn’t get. It was a fun course to run though, Dylan ran a lovely clean round with beautiful weave entries, just stuttered into the double and then the final jump. We finished in 38.500s – 0.500 faults then – but 4th place because apparently everyone else found this course really hard? We could maybe have shaved off 0.500 somewhere, but I doubt it.

I’m trying not to moan about course times too much, but the winner of the G6 was 34s (3rd was 37s). Dylan was the slowest “clean” run, but outside course time, everyone else had 5faults (but there were a LOT of dogs over course time in addition to their 5f). Winner of the G7 was 29s, but it was Petnat By Jingo, the rest of the G7’s were around 34s.

Final run was G6-7 Jumping, same judge as the G6-7 Agility. I was really disappointed in this course, didn’t think it was anywhere near as nice as the Agility. There was a horrible long jump followed by a tight pull through, which I heard a few people muttering about. I hate this trend as it doesn’t test anything except the physical ability of the dog – there’s no training or handling involved. You can’t pre-cue a turn on the long jump, the dog has to jump extended. It’s also one of the most painful obstacles for a dog to hit.

Oddly enough, that wasn’t my biggest concern in the end. This class was in the little arena, and with it being at the end of the day, when I walked in with Dylan, it was dark. Only the central strip of lights were on, and the edges of the arena were in heavy shadows. Dylan ran clear, but set off very strongly and then started getting more and more cautious. I mentioned that I think his eyesight is deteriorating, and with hindsight, I shouldn’t have run him in that low-light situation. Kicking myself because he ran so well earlier in the day.

We’re at Wyre again in December, and I have my fingers crossed that all his classes are in the main arena. I did say Wyre would be his last show but Wilmslow are back at Myerscough again in January, with Adams equipment, and since he enjoyed himself so much this weekend I am considering entering him. We’ll see.

Agility Dylan Rio

Time Well Spent

Dylan came to training and did some training, for once. It was nice. He’s so easy to run, even if he can’t turn or jump nicely. Comfy pair of socks, well washed and groomed this week, with his paws trimmed and nails cut. Does exactly what I expect when I expect it.

His dogwalk(s) were lovely this week, as they always are at training. I live in hope that he will run the same way at Wilmslow, but don’t expect it to be so. His jumping is hit and miss, and I expect that will be worse at the weekend. It usually is. We’ll see.

Not agility related, but I think his eyesight may be deteriorating. Just little tiny things that he misses, and that he wouldn’t have missed a year ago. He worries me. He also makes me happy. Especially right now, he is very soft and plush with freshly bathed coat.

Rio also came to training, and did a little bit of training, but not very much. She didn’t want to take any breaks this week. She insisted on continuing to work. I ask her to take a break, she offers a down, which is her default “I wanna do stuff” position. Ok, Ri makes the rules.

I wanted to get her onto the dogwalk again; we haven’t done it in a while and she was still very hesitant then. This time, I took inspiration from her seesaw training, and applied liberal quantities of food. Magic! She did her first dogwalks in sequence. She powers up the upplank and jumps the apex, and then slows down. Not ideal. It’s not slow overall, but I would like to keep her running through. As her her confidence grows hopefully her speed will as well. It has everywhere else.

It is so nice to run a dog who can jump. She is always fluid, always extended, always bouncing on smaller distances. It’ll take some getting used to, the bouncing, and I need to adjust my handling to accomodate. Not something I had to worry about with Dylan. I don’t know that she’s faster than Dyl but she is smoother.

I need to work on her waits. She’s developing the vulture sit.

Agility Daisy Dylan Rio

A Long Wait

I don’t think I’ve ever gone a whole month without blogging before. Technically, I still haven’t, since I blog for The Phantoms and for North K9 as well, but I haven’t blogged here. My thoughts, my dogs, my blog.

I spent 12 days dog- and house-sitting in Cambridge for some flyballing friends whilst they were away in Canada. It was fun, I learned a lot, and I missed my dogs.

Dylan has Wilmslow this weekend and is appallingly unfit, I’m not sure I should even run him. He hasn’t trained anything beyond some single jump work, and 6 weaves, for 6 weeks. We’ll see. He has been tracking a few more times and he loves it. I do not love it, tracking is boring and it involves a lot of preparation work from me before Dylan can actually do anything. He is very good at tracking, he is methodical and accurate, and he can do corners and indicate articles. I never thought I’d get to the point of giving up whole days to stand in a field and shuffle around laying tracks just to make my dog happy, but apparently that’s where I am in my life now.

Rio continues to be wonderful in every way. Almost every way; she’s naughty about chasing squirrels, and she really HATES people visiting the house. We open the door to greet people and Rio goes INTRUDER ALERT ALARM BARK THESE ARE MY HACKLES INTRUDER BACK AWAY INTRUDER EVERYONE BACK AWAY IMMEDIATELY INTRUDER RARRRRRRR. I despair, and then she does something like her happy a-roooo and I forgive her. I could write essays about this dog and how much I love her. Every week she improves at agility, not just in focus but in skill. We need to work a little more on working at Large height, her take off points are a bit close. I remember Jet doing the same thing when she was younger, and Rio does the same things with her weaves that Jet did too (ie. hitting too hard, uncontrolled weave enthusiasm LOVE). If Rio ends up anywhere as good as Jet, I’ll be thrilled.

Daisy is being “managed” around the other dogs at the moment. She needs more consistent management and training from all family members to overcome her issues, but unfortunately that isn’t happening. I’m frustrated about that, because her issues are “fixable”, especially at her age and at this stage. She gets overexcited (over threshold, reactive, whatever word works to describe best) when the other dogs get overexcited, and she tries to shut them down/control the situation. Dylan and Rio ignore her, or get worried and offer lots of calming signals. Their reactions are appropriate (ie. socially acceptable) but I don’t like them to be put in a situation where they feel that way. Kim overreacts, but because of her age I think it’s easier to try and change Daisy than Kim. To be honest, part of this problem is due to the approach taken in her first 8months, which was just to stick a tennis ball in her mouth. It’s why her tennis ball obsession is so strong, as the tennis ball was a calming mechanism when she got over threshold, and has become (what I assume to be a) a rewarding behaviour on a chemical/hormone release level. A chew has the same kind of effect on her – give Angry Daisy a chew and it’s like flipping a switch to instantaneous nom-nom-nom relaxed Daisy.

She’s a case study. Maybe I should write her up for my KCAI. Worth mentioning that she is also cute and funny and fast, she has discovered the TV and takes it very seriously, and she loves playing with Dylan. He told her off for biting his ruff so now she asks him to play by hurling her whole body at his head and then bouncing off, accompanied by vocal persuasion. He always gives in.

Agility Rio

All the Way Up

Only quick blog notes again, for posterity. In short, Rio was great at training this week!

  • Second time on seesaw, confidence improving dramatically. Did 7-8 reps holding seesaw and lowering gently, feeding throughout, then running off and feeding again. Rio showing lots of enthusiasm and offering (relatively) calm, focused behaviour.
  • SUPER focused all session. Continued with work-reward-break schedule, breaks ending on Rio’s schedule. Breaks down to 10-20s initially, ended with her not wanting to take a break at all.
  • Need to do more sharp changes of direction AFTER obstacles. She’s responsive whilst jumping, but not on the flat. This is a specific skill that she doesn’t really need at G3, but something to work on!
  • Weaving 5 uprights no problem, 6 = hit/miss. Experiment with reward placement. Make sure to work left/right (left stronger right now) NOTE: Do not teach weaves like this in future, it’s taking ages.
  • Sharp change of direction rear cross over jumps … not good. Need to train this ‘scoop’ over obstacle, she does not get it, stop assuming it’s going to magically happen.

Been taking our training on the road a little bit, she’s gets more excited in new places = overload. But she comes back to Optimum Range and focuses faster, given appropriate work/reward/break schedule.

Agility Dylan Rio

A Mini Break

A mini break for Dylan, anyway.

Since he’s retiring in a few months — just two shows left! — Dylan isn’t really training any more. He has all the skills he needs, and none of his behaviours are going to dramatically change over the next six weeks in time for Wilmslow. Trijem Poppin Candy

It does give me chance to focus on Rio, although I am kind of throwing her in at the deep end. She’s gone from the Beginners group straight into the Competition group, and has missed our Pre-Comp class completely. The drawbacks of actually teaching agility, no time for your own dogs. She has done really well, her focus is improving dramatically and she is handling most of the challenges without much of an issue. The biggest problem is me, I have some lazy-ass habits from running easy boy Dylan. Baby dogs are hard work, with the supporting obstacles and the having to time your cues appropriately and stuff.

I could watch her move all day though, she is incredibly athletic. Being awed by your own dog is not conducive to the aforementioned handling skills. We are still a bit hit and miss on weaves, getting better but not quite there. Her dogwalk is bugging me, she’s still convinced she’s going to fall and die if she goes fast (melodrama!). Her confidence builds every time and therefore so does her speed. Still need to do some running on the board on the flat, I think. She also did her first seesaw tips last week, and as predicted, she’s not thrilled with it, but not nearly so WTF IS THAT THING when she’s on it rather than watching it. Melodrama, again. Pretty sure she’ll get over it soon enough.

I’ve entered her first solo show, in December (or will have when I find my chequebook). We’re going to crash down to Dig It’s unaffiliated show and she’s got 5 runs, 2x agility, 2x jumping, and a steeplechase. Probably train all the runs but she’s in Beginners so no weaves and no seesaw, it’s all about the confidence.

I don’t feel bad for Dylan. I think he misses agility – he really loves training – but he’s still going to do bits and peices. We run three times a week together, he loves his runs too.