Rio Dig It Feb

No video, because I’ve misplaced my video camera. Really do need to find it for next time!

There is an option to run both the Agility and Jumping twice, but the format didn’t work for me last time. All the dogs at the jump height ran, and then ran immediately again before the height changed. Rio was just fine with this, but I wasn’t. I wanted time to think over the previous run and make appropriate adjustments in the next run to get the most from the training. I can’t do that when I come out of the ring and immediately start queuing again, when I need to focus on what’s happening in the queue and managing Rio’s space etc.

So I only entered one run in each class this time. My agility criteria was basic: dogwalks! Rio has only trained on the dogwalk 5-6 times in training now, but I need to start getting her on to new equipment. I’ve removed the stop criteria, all I want is for her to run over the equipment (she can jump the contact if she wants) and build her confidence. We ran 3 dogwalks in the agility class, and Rio increased in confidence each time. The last one was approaching speedy, and I’m pleased with her progress. I’m sure I looked very weird to anyone watching, as I rewarded my dog for launching off the dogwalk, but so far I’m much happier with this plan, and I’ll bring back the stop later.

Jumping was a nice course but without anywhere to really stop and reward. I decided to just run it and see what happened. What happened is that my timing is terrible, and Rio is a bit late in responding to front cross cues. She also has a tendency to drift as she gets faster, and this is something we need to work on as it came up in the Steeplechase as well. She can turn tightly or she can drive down a line of jumps, but sweeping pinwheels are tough. This is what I need to re-do and reward next time. She needs to work harder to jump,even when she isn’t getting the line quite right. I also need to think about her drive off the start; she isn’t slow out of her wait, but she isn’t really starting to motor until 3-4 obstacles in.

She’s definitely gone up a gear or two though, and her confidence and focus are improving dramatically. As we got on to the line in Steeplechase, there was a hold-up as the judge needed to speak to the previous competitor. Rio has never had to deal with that before, and I wasn’t sure if she could hold her focus. I broke her wait and we played some games until we got the OK, and then went back into a wait. Rio did great! She stayed focused and maintained her wait regardless.  Her waits were great all day and I felt … confident about it? It’s very weird to be able to turn my back and walk out on to a course and know she will be where I left her. Nice, though!

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.

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.

UKA Dig It July 2013 – Rio's debut!

Baby dog is all grown up!

Actually, she’s very much not, which is why I’m taking things so slowly. Rio is an absolute puppy still! I am very happy with how she did in her classes. She held her wait, she jumped well, she picked up obstacles and had lots of drive down the lines. She had a few problems focusing; the photographer was a big distraction on her second run, I think because she moved position as Rio was approaching, and Ri just lost her concentration. Rio also got a little distracted at the end of her runs, (meet and greet time!) but with the Dig It set up, the courses always finish into a crowd of people (behind ring barriers, but still).

I made some really stupid mistakes with her runs as well. I stopped too often to play, which sounds contrary but she does enjoy agility, so getting to keep moving is rewarding of itself for her. I should have been willing to just keep running and let her roll when it was going well. I also didn’t play tug in an effective way for Rio, which also sounds odd but Rio likes to grab on and tug eye-to-eye, she doesn’t like having the tug snatched away from her. That was just me being nervous.

I’ve nabbed the V’s to bring home again and we have been doing some homework. She’s nearly ready to go on to uprights, but we’re taking it easy; there’s no way her weaves would be competition ready for Empingham, so we’ll skip them in courses. She only has 2 jumping runs per day, but she needs the ring experience now and so do I! It’s been a while since I’ve run any Grade 3 courses. Rio is also pretty weak on what I would call the baby stuff, related to angled jumps and stride adjustment. A wide open line of jumps into a tight turn is hard, for example, because she doesn’t sort herself out early enough to make the turn. Likewise, if she doesn’t get her stride right to an angled jump, she’ll duck out or under. I’ve gone back and done a bit of S-bend work with her this week to try and help her with the turns at speed, but it’s really just going to come down to experience!

Dyl picked up a 1st in Senior Jumping and a 2nd in Champ Steeplechase, but he was slow. I’m not sure what’s going on with him at the moment, he’s incredibly happy and relaxed around the rings, confident and keen, but just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere!

UKA Dig It May 2013

Really went to this show for Dylan to practise running on rubber surfaced contacts. Dig It have Contactacoat sprinkles on their equipment and it is actually looking wrecked right now. Dig It either need to re-cover or buy some new equipment, I don’t think they can keep calling it rubber surfaced if it’s got bald patches and glue patches all over it.

Anyway, Dylan was fine, no issues with any contacts. I feel confident saying that the aluminium, as suspected, is the real issue. He won the Senior Jumping comfortably, fastest time all heights. Spotty 1st rosette! I trained his agility and then ran his Power and Speed and got knocked out on the Power section. With hindsight, I should have trained the P&S since I knew we were going to have the last part of the spread down. Every single Novice and Senior Maxi dog did; it was on a slight angle heading toward the scribe tent, and since the dogs were pushing off the Aframe, they all misjudged their stride position. Dylan just clipped it and the pole rolled off, but a few dogs really crashed it.

No weave issues and no other problems all day though, Dyl was fat and happy. He really is a fatty at the moment, diet begins today and he’s not thrilled.

I took Rio to get measured and surprisingly she got 489mm, which puts her in Standard. Even the measurer was shocked! We got three measurements to make sure and nope, 489 every time. She’ll need to be measured again anyway as she’s under 2yrs, but for now I have to decide whether to run her at Standard or Maxi. Immediate short term is that Standard would be nice for her first show, a little easier and good entry point to competition. Slightly longer short term is that Maxi would be better, I’m not sure how well she’ll switch between heights and she’ll be training consistantly at Large/Maxi, not Standard, anyway. Very long term, in 5-6yrs, I might be wishing she could run Standard. Decisions!

I have entered her in her first two shows: UKA Dig It in July, 2x Steeplechase and 1xJumping, and then 2 Jumping runs a day at Empingham at the end of July. I have no idea if she’ll be ready but the ring experience will do her good if nothing else!

A Quiet May

May is usually my extremely busy flyball month, so of course this year I forgot to get my act in gear and actually enter any agility shows. I’m taking Dylan to UKA Dig It this weekend, mainly to support some of our newbie competitors from training, but also to get Ri measured.

Dylan is working really well in training with the dogwalk, so I’m hoping that will continue to this weekend (where we’ll be doing lots of NFC runs!). I’ve done every confidence-boosting training method I can think of, including component parts and restrained recalls. There’s a good chance it will all fall apart when faced with a strange dogwalk, but at least I’ll be able to see where we’re at.

Rio is back on walks now with the rest of the gang, although I’m deliberately walking in the woodland to try and reduce the amount of head-to-head racing she and Dylan usually do. They can’t resist the siren call of a beautifully trimmed golfing green! I’ve been working on her core strength as well, and she’s not yet allowed back on the road-walks that Dylan goes on.

Rio starts flyball training again on May 18th, although it’s just target work and recalls, but in a class setting which will be useful for her! Especially because she’s had two bad experiences in the past few weeks, both due to other people being totally irresponsible. In the first case, somebody left their dog in their garden whilst they went out, and the dog escaped into our garden. The dog made it’s own way out the first time, but the second time was rampaging around, so my dad opened our door to try and help it escape, at which time it ran into our house and attacked Rio. Unfortunately I wasn’t home at the time but Rio wasn’t injured and my parents were able to kick the dog out and then corral it and return it to it’s original garden (leaving a note for the owner, which they obviously haven’t responded to).

Second incident was when I took Ri and Dyl out to Digley for their first swim of the season. A huge Lab appeared from where multiple families were picnicking and attempted to flatten Rio – not maliciously, but just out of control. Rio hightailed it out of there, and eventually managed to circle back and hide between my legs, where I could bodyblock the Lab from getting to her. Eventually it got bored and bulldozed another dog in the distance. Again, nobody claimed responsibility for that dog either.

Thankfully Dylan at least wasn’t subjected to either dog – he was out with me for the first incident, and for the second, he did me proud by choosing to circle away to keep his distance. He was wary and clearly uncomfortable but chose to react by sniffing and moving away, not by defensive behaviour.

UKA Dig It September

I have to confess, I was not in the mood for this competition. It showed. Dylan and I lazed around all the courses, and won rosettes but only because the classes were tiny. I wasn’t really there to run my dog, I was there to support and coach some of our club newbies, who both had an amazing day. With hindsight, I should have trained all or most of my runs, but I wasn’t focused and didn’t really think it through.

I think part of the problem was that the courses simply weren’t that challenging. The only one which I actually got animated about was Senior Steeplechase II, which had an interesting opening sequence. Everything else was well within our capabilities, and so I didn’t have to particularly think or focus to run. Not good!

Senior Jumping was first thing. The weaves were on the old spacing, so Dylan popped out. Don’t blame him! We got E’d in that, on to Senior Agility … clear. Clear in Senior Steeplechase I & II, clear in Power and Speed, four wins.

I’m not sure if he Q’d in Power and Speed, no faults but possibly out of the course time (I have no idea what it was). We didn’t get a Q rosette, anyway, just a 1st. Definitely Q’d in Steeplechase, another 12pts so we’re just 8 off Champion now. Need quite a few more Performance points, Dylan has … 6, so far, in Jumping. Might have to enter those Derby shows, which would also be nice for Rio next Spring. We’ll see!

Dig It Dogs UKA

Well, we were supposed to be flyballing at Osmaston but with the rain came cancellation, and in time to make other plans. Emma and I had always been eyeing up the UKA show at Sandbach in Cheshire, but flyball got priority for the weekend. With the cancellation we all headed over to Dig It instead and paid on the day to enter. As it turned out, we all had a great day in gorgeous sunshine, the ground was perfect and I got chance to train Dylan on rubber contacts. Couldn’t have asked for more!

After failing in my mission to train Dylan as much as I wanted last year at UKA, I was absolutely determined this time to be good and do so. I trained his Senior Agility and Snakes & Ladders runs, despite the really lovely course for the agility! He was looking much more confident and driving nicely on the dogwalk so I’m feeling a little more optimistic about Dog Vegas now.

I missed walking his Jumping class and so promptly got E’d, the jumps weren’t quite where I thought they should be! The Jumping ring was a bit small for Dylan, and the sloping ground made him more cautious than usual. Still, he went clear in both Steeplechase runs, coming 1st in one and 2nd in the other, so that’s another 10 Q points for promotion.

Next UKA show is in September, and I’ve heard there are a few on at Derby too over the winter.