May/June

June: June was an amazing month for Kim. We’ve never been got a top-3 placing before and then suddenly she went and got 6! Her total haul of trophies and rosettes was fantastic, and eventually totalled 1x1st, 1x2nd, 4x3rd, and all her other clear runs got her a top-10 placing. (We did a total of 12 runs (one a Lucky Dip Pair) and came away with a rosette in 11 of those runs).

May: Wow, what a weekend! Sometimes I don’t appreciate how much of a truly multi-talented dog Kim is, but she certainly reminded me! We were at EMDAC on Saturday where she came 7th in Power and Speed, and 11th in Jumping (both at Introductory level) in very competitive classes – and she hasn’t been training for three weeks! On Sunday we were at Sutton Fields flyballing, where our team came home with a 2nd place and Kim and Poppy won the ABC Pairs! We also collected our FDA (Flyball Dog Advanced) award, finally, and Kim gained plenty of points towards the next one!

P.S. Thank you to the people at all the EMDAC’s who either commented on my website (I had no idea so many people visited!) or commented on how much Kim looked to be enjoying herself. It’s so nice to hear!

June Update

I just wanted to mention what an absolute star Kim was last weekend at the Yorkshire Bouncers show. We had four classes and I was hoping for a couple of top-10 placings to bump us up the League Tables, but Kim just really enjoyed the courses and ended up with a 7th, 2×3rd and a 2nd. One of her 3rds was in Intro Agility, where she was 0.6 seconds off the winners time (the top 4 dogs were all 28.–, whereas everyone else had a 31.21+ time); frustratingly for me, I misjudged her dogwalk contact command and she stopped before walking on to it, losing around a second on her time — I know this is our weak point, and I’m going to have to work on timing. We have 6 classes this weekend, plus Lucky Dip Pairs, so I’ll have to see what we can do.

I also took Mollie to agility training on Monday, what an embarrassment that was! When she works, she’s amazing, completely fearless and very fast, but her attention span is like a gnat. Unless I can get her completely focussed on me, she just bombs off to look for a ball. (It didn’t really help that Bryn was there, since Bryn is the one dog that really does send her loopy). I only worked her for about 30mins and then she did a perfect 12-weaves for me, so I left it at that. I wish I had my own equipment to train on, and the patience to stick at it with her, since I know she’s got the potential to be good enough to do really well. On the other hand, she ran like a lunatic at flyball last night against MurphyWhippet, matching him stride for stride to the box where he gets her every time. And we all know she’s a flyball dog at heart!

There have been some interesting discussions on http://ruffdogs.co.uk/ and on the Agility Forum about contact training, and training different methods for different obstacles. I know there are some agility people reading this blog, so feel free to share your thoughts – I’d love to know why you chose to use 2o2o/4off/running/4on/whatever, whether you’d do the same again, and if it works! (If you don’t want to post a comment, feel free to email me at kayanem@gmail.com)

Dylan's Blog – May

Puppy has been having a busy few weeks! He spent the first weekend in May in kennels with Mollie, due to a whole crop of unforseen circumstances. Kim and I were competing (badly!) at Shrewsbury and the rest of the family were in Blackpool or Doncaster, and in the end, we decided it was better to leave the dogs in kennels than leave them locked up at home for 8hours+ a day. Neither of them seemed at all bothered by the experience!

Dylan had an agility session all on his own last night, without Kim or Mol. It’s the first chance I’ve had to work him somewhere whilst the girls have been at home, and he loved it! He loves been the center of attention and he had me and Mum all to himself. We did some more jumping exercises over mixed-height jumps (medium & small height), and he’s working really well. He broke his wait once or twice and that’s something I definitely don’t want him to do, so we’re going to go back to basics and reinforce it. He also knocked a couple of poles off but that was entirely my fault – I set up a box as I normally would, and completely forgot to consider the stride difference between Dylan and Kim! The jumps were spaced loosely for Kim, but they were a bit tight for Dylan’s lanky self, which meant he didn’t get chance to get his paws up in time. He did start thinking about it and adjusting himself after a while though, which is great. He’s also jumping huge at the moment, far higher than he needs to!

We did five or ten minutes contact training, which he quite enjoyed, although I don’t think he’s quite got the concept yet. I really need to build up his confidence on the contact equipment. I wasn’t planning on doing any weaves with him for a while yet, mainly because I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle them and I didn’t want him to do them until I was confident. But I read the fantastic articles that Bernadette Olssen-Bay wrote for the Agility Voice last year (you can find them here if you don’t subscribe, and she also had a wonderful blog over at http://obayshelties.blogspot.com/. I think she’s got me hooked on Shelties!) and she commented on some training techniques for the weaves that I hadn’t heard of before, and when we arrived the V-weaves were set up anyway so I thought I might give it a go.

I left the V’s really wide, since we hadn’t used them before, but Dylan took to it like a house on fire, I was really surprised. I did five minutes mid-session with him, only three or four run-throughs on the lead towards a toy, which I planned to leave it at. But then after we had put the equipment away he was still wanting to work (doing his target training by himself!) so I thought I’d let him run-through again, on the lead. Well, something must have clicked, maybe he’s not as stupid as he looks! He was working the weaves himself, and the lead was really just holding him back. Chuffed to bits! I then recalled him through three/four/five of the poles, and then did one six-pole recall with him, just to see if he could. No problems! Obviously the poles weren’t tight but he still had to think about it and his left/right foot pattern was lovely.

Lolly

Dylan also has some new best friends, particularly Lolly (right), Stripe and Ben. He still loves his Jet the best, although her little brother Chip the Lurcher is great for leaping around like a lunatic with! Dylan loves coming to flyball training and watching the other dogs run, although I am going to hold off until later this year to get him started. Jet and Stripe have just done their first real tournament and they both did fantastically! I’m sure it won’t be long until Lolly does hers either; she’s had some issues in the past but has really come on these past few months and had a bright flyballing future ahead. Hopefully this time next year Dylan will be joining her!

Dylan's Blog – April

Dylan had an introduction to some proper agility equipment this week when the opportunity came up to go training at a friend’s house. She has a full-sized dog walk, amongst other things, so I let Dylan walk over it a few times and he was a confident little thing! No problems at all, although I kept him on the lead the entire time. We did it a couple of times in between doing some basic jumping exercises, which he loved. Right at the end we did a few run-ons to a target from the down ramp, which he did perfectly, so I couldn’t be happier! He worked over the jump exercises nicely too.

So that was his first proper training session! We worked for about an hour with Dylan and Jet, and then I did 10 minutes or so with Kim to make sure we would be ok for this weekend. We decided in the end not to take Dylan to EMDAC with us, although we might take him next time. I bought him a new frisbee and a (horrible!) pigs ear for his birthday, both of which he loved. I can’t believe he’s all grown up!

Dylan's Blog – April

The weather has cooled down a bit so Dylan and I have been topping up on our training outdoors. We’ve cracked target training — he runs to the target and downs on it whilst touching it with his nose, which is exactly what I was looking for! After a long discussion with various people (part of which I alluded to way back in September, but never went into much detail over) I decided to go with the 4-off position for the dogwalk and A-Frame, as found at the Agility Addicts website. I’m going to start asking him to do it on staircases at home over the next month or so, and then I’ll see if I can find an A-Frame/dogwalk, somewhere!

I’ve also sacrificed some of my stick-in weaves to Dylan, and have bent them at the base so that they’re V-Weaves. Kim learnt to weave with v-weaves, and I’d like to do the same with Dylan, although I’m probably going to use the channel-weaves as well. At the moment the weaves are bent almost flat, and there are only four of them, and so far I’ve just let Dylan have a sniff and walked him through a few times. He’s certainly not going to have the same problems as Kim (whose legs are too short for the left-right pattern!) and he enjoyed himself.

It’s Dylan’s 1st Birthday this Saturday. I can’t believe he’s a year old now! I’m still in no particular rush to get him out on the circuit for his 18 month birthday. I think I’ll aim to have him running at the Northern Winter Series over the winter season, with his first show this time next year at the first EMDAC Summer Series show — April 19th/20th, so it’ll be the day before his 2nd birthday, but it’s all a bit provisional depending on how his training goes and how Kim is doing!

Crufts 2007

Returned from Crufts a week ago, and many changes since! We haven’t been happy at Springers for a long while now. We are now training with Leeds Owlers in flyball, and are currently seeking a new agility club.

I’ve written a full Crufts Report with loads of photos and video links for those interested. Enjoy!

Growing Up

Dylan and Jet

Dylan and I had a lovely 20 minutes playing on the agility equipment last weekend – just a jump, a tyre and the single bottom part of the stretch. He’s so much more responsive than Kim is/was already, although he still gets a bit distracted! Especially since his gorgeous girlfriend Jet was there, supposedly practising her obedience for Crufts, but secretly just tempting my boy away.

We’ve had a really good week this week; Dylan seems to have grown again, and he suddenly doesn’t look so much like a puppy anymore. We’ve been working on all our usual commands, and we’ve also mastered “heel” (left side) and “side” (right side), and “through” (through my legs).

The poor lad won’t have much to do next week, since Kim and I are at Crufts. Dylan will be staying at home with my dad and sister, but he won’t be doing any special training.

Tunnels & Aframes

Finally managed to get Dylan up to the club! This was our first Sunday training session of the new year, and Kim worked nicely in the morning on her dogwalk contacts in particular. Dylan and I only worked for 10 minutes or so after Kim and finished, just playing around the equipment and through a few pipe tunnels. He really enjoyed himself, and so did I; he’s really responsive, but looks to me for direction a lot more frequently that Kim did. Hopefully his confidence will grow as he works more and more around the other dogs and on working a course by himself. He’s still a bit leggy so his speed can be a bit hit-and-miss, depending on where his legs are going!

The A-Frame was on a lower height as well today, so I took the opportunity to walk Dylan over it a few times. The first time was a bit scary for him (!) but after that he was trotting over it beautifully, completely unfazed. I left it at that; no jumps or weaves, although they were available, since I want to make sure his growth plates have settled before he begins anything overly strenuous. I think that will end up being at about 14-16 months, so we have a long time to perfect everything else first! He also had a great time making friends with Bailey, Tilly, and Farley, and trying to say hello to Woody who shares Kim’s general dislike of puppies, and tried to bite his nose.

First post 2007

Had an ok competition with Kim yesterday at EMDAC. We had one good run in the Jumping, but I pulled off the tunnel too soon and brought her with me, and we lost far too much time correcting it. The rest of our runs ranged from ok to appalling! The standard was amazing too, I couldn’t believe some of the dogs were Elementary/Intro level. They looked like good Novice + dogs to me! Anyway, we placed in the top 20 (ish!) in every class, but nothing special and I can’t say I was delighted with our performance, Kim wasn’t on top form and I don’t think I was either. Dropped down to second in the Intro Medium DOTY tables, and just out of the top 10 in the Intro Agility/Jumping League tables – will have to do better next time!

Well done to Katie for her excellent runs with Poppy and Jet – a fabtastic 9th with Pops in the Jumping and Jet was just brilliant – 1 clear and some if-only runs – especially considering it was her first comp. I hope Dylan’s in the same position next year!

Dylan's Blog

Tuggy-work is out of the window at the moment, because pup is getting his new teeth through. He tries to tug but just ends up splashing blood everywhere, so we’ve working with ice-cubes and treats right now. Poor lad!

Anyway, he is starting on his right turns now, and I’m hopeful that he’ll pick it up. Fingers crossed that those big teeth come through quickly!

Dylan is growing like a mad thing, and is officially past the big 6-months mark now. I’m really pleased with his progress at the moment, he’s responding well to all his commands and is eager to work. His “left” is brilliant, and his “right” is coming on nicely, which is great.

He had his first agility competition trip last week, to the indoor Lune Valley show at Myerscough College (Kim was competing!). He did himself proud, since he behaved perfectly, charmed everyone and wasn’t even the slightest bit phased about the noise, the hundreds of dogs, or the people. He had a great time watching the rings too! Seemed particularly interested in watching dogs weave, which bodes well!

Yesterday we had a trip out and visited K’s house. Dylan had a fabulous time playing with Jet, but we did a very quick 10 minutes with Dyl on tunnels and weaves (well, not exactly weaves – wide open channel weaves, so he only had to run in a straight line). Tunnels were no problem, he was bombing through those in no time. Weaves took a bit longer but we had some good speedy walk-throughs, so I was really pleased.