Weaves, weaves, weaves

Weaves! I hate starting weave training because it’s such a hassle, getting weaves and taking them round everywhere. However, I do like weave training and I like my method, it’s nothing revolutionary but it works, and it’s been adapted through a whole host of dogs so I feel reasonably confident about it now. Requires only V-weaves, reward placement, and timing. Easy.

So, Daisy started weave training this week! So far so good, she actually has a much better grasp of what is required than I had expected for this stage. She struggles to sometimes even see the weaves, sometimes it’s just Daisy running, but when she gets her head down and concentrates, she’s super. Fast, low bounce action. Efficient, I like it. So far, we’ve also done weave training in three different places, and she’s looking nice and consistent.

Hopefully will continue like this, and we’ll be weaving six uprights in a few weeks. Optimism!

We Can/We Can't

Rio did her first set of 12 weaves last week. I can confidentally say that even if I can’t train anything else, I can train awesome weaves. All my dogs have great weaves, and Rio is no exception. Her drive and action through the weaves is fantastic, she loves weaving, and she’s weaving in sequences with no issues. We’re getting distance and independence, entries are looking great, really just smooth sailing.

I really do love the 2 sets of 6 > 12 option, that’s by far the best thing I got out of the 2×2 method. Rio did a few sets of 6 and then had absolutely no problem with 12, perfect. She’s also decided that weaving on my right is something she remembers doing before, which is nice! We didn’t try 12 weaves on the right. We literally did one run through on the left, and partied.

Speaking of things I can’t train … contacts. Rio has a nice Aframe, and her dogwalk is ok, but it’s not really what I wanted. With hindsight, I wish I hadn’t clicker trained Rio’s contact position. She is just being very thoughtful and precise, much as she was with the weaves. I need to figure out how to stop her being quite so … thoughtful about contacts.

She had her second session on the seesaw last week as well, it’s going to be a slow process. She just isn’t a fan.

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.

Rio

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!

Rio

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.

Daisy

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.

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.

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.

Forwards and backwards all at once

Not even sure that’s possible, but it feels like what’s happening!

Ri is definitely back to her super-sassy self. She got some extra training today as well as her usual session.

She’s working really well, her forward drive is great, she’s picking up obstacles really nicely, we need to do a bit of homework on wraps with height but it’s generally looking good. However, with the re-added spice, she’s reverted back into the faster-faster mindset. So rather than thinking about what she’s doing, she just launches and if the jump is still 10ft away, eh, so what?! This meant we had quite a lot of bulldozed jumps this morning.

I’ve also decided to put her on V-weaves. She can and will weave on verticals but she’s finding it really difficult, especially as she’s adding in more speed and drive. I don’t think I really gave the 2×2 method a fair try, but the limitations on both space and with Rio’s hormonal swings during our weave-borrowing period just meant it hasn’t worked out for us. I may well go back and use some of the training methods again to reinforce entries and help her with the uprights, but she was getting increasingly frustrated with the process (and frustrated Rio is LOUD Rio, which also hinders the process).

We tried the V’s in the Tuesday class and she’s working beautifully at about 2-3″ set, so we’ll stick with those for a while.

So, we need to work on doing some set-point exercises, some wraps, weaves, as well as at some point thinking about getting some contact work done. I sometimes do get a bit anxious about how much work we still have left to do before I can possibly enter her first show, but she’s so much fun to work and run, I don’t really care. We’ll get there eventually.

Things to Do at Christmas

Rio did her first half-course this week and I was very happy. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t clean, but it was awesome. I love it when things start to come together. It was also her first time out in the big-dog classes, and she was very very excited to be there. We lost a bit of self-control in watching, but she was focused and ready to roll as soon as we set up to start working, and it shows how much she has matured. Even 3months ago she wouldn’t have been able to focus her excitement into agility and not into visiting the other dogs, so she is growing up and we are making progress!

I need to work on sending her down lines some more, but that might involve some other remedial work since she won’t send to dead toys (BORING) or to other people holding toys (BORING), she will only chase toys I throw or toys I’m holding since that = tugging with me, which is apparently the only good thing. I sort of appreciate her mummy’s girl attitude, but I do wish she’d engage with some other people too. Anyone want to volunteer to teach the puppy to tug with them?

In the meantime, our mission over the holiday is to learn to weave. Rio doesn’t know that yet, but it starts tomorrow! My plan was always to use the channel weaves again; I’ve always been happy with Dylan’s weaves, he has great entries and independence, is fast and rarely pops. Unfortunately our old channels are a bit too old and battered now to be upgraded to the new spacing, so I’m left with the V-Weaves instead. Kim learnt to weave on V’s and all things considered she always had fairly solid weaves, not hugely independent but it wasn’t something I ever proofed with her (ignorance was bliss!), her entries were always reasonable and for her size and build, she was reasonably nippy through.

Rio won’t actually be learning on V-Weaves, my intention is currently to do something like a combination of methods, starting off with some 2×2 entries and see how we go. I’m also going to try and video all her sessions, as a learning process for me as much as anything!

Same Training

I am determined to keep a record of how Rio does each week at training until she’s 12months at least, but I can’t honestly think of much to say about this week. She was very well behaved, very very tuggy focused, and generally a superstar. We did some tunnel sends and some kips at 8″. She understands the wing wrap concept, so I think I need to add some more distance and probably start increasing the height a little bit now.

Most of the class worked on the V-Weaves but I elected not to with Ri. I think wide-open channel weaves are fine for her at this age, but V-Weaves require a more immediate action. After the epic task that was teaching Kim to weave, I feel like I can train weaves now, so if we don’t start until she’s 14 months that’s fine! I’ll take the same approach I did with Dylan as I love Dyl’s weaves, but a little more spaced out. Dylan ended up learning over the space of a month – 6 weeks, after doing little bits beforehand, and then a few more months building up complexity.

Speaking of, Dyl and I did some productive weave work this week! I tried some fairly drastic rear crosses which he did beautifully, and we layered in the seesaw a few times. I don’t get the same level of confidence from him at competitions, but that is less to do with the weaves and more to do with Dylan being Dyl.

Wigton at the weekend, I’m looking forward to this competition. I would really like Dylan to qualify for the First Contact Final, and I really want Kim’s last G7 win. We’ll need a little bit of luck for both of those, but the dogs are capable and if I’m in the right frame of mind, I am too.

Weaves

We had fun with weaves at training this week. He did so well on the Wicked Weaves course at the weekend, but there were no really difficult entries and I was able to stay with him the whole time, but it reminded me that we did need to work a bit more on our weaves!

Offside entries are still weaker than nearside, he can hit nearside entries from any angle (including distance 180s, whoo!).

I still have to work on running on ahead as this does cause him to pop sometimes in competitions, but it’s a hard thing to train as he feels confident at training about being left behind. It’s actually really tough trying to make him pop in training!

The word “no” is banned at training but I use other verbal NRMs. (It’s usually “what a cheat!” although I use “that’s not a wait!” quite a lot these days as well). I had a discussion with one of our other handlers on verbal markers and it made me really listen to what I was doing! Of course, Dyl gets 2 chances at something and if we get it wrong the second time, we make it easier, so it’s not like he hears a lot of NRMs anyway. Especially compared to the amount of RMs!