Agility #1 – Here we go again

Tonight was class one of our next session. It’s hard to believe another set is over, but I always take the time to read the first entry from the previous to remind myself of how far we’ve come.

Tonight after warm up we started with a three jump pin wheel first with dog on right (DOR) and then immediately with dog on left (DOL). Ranger still works better DOL, but he is becoming stronger on his (and my) weak side. We added another jump and a tire to the end and Ranger followed my lead. We worked on a couple different lines (one with a tunnel) and another of chute-jump-tunnel. No one needed to hold the chute, and I welcomed the added time it takes him to worm his way out. I need to work on delivering his cues earlier as the little dogs’ strides give them more time to gather themselves.

Our shining moment in the class was the 6-pole weave which is still set up with the gates. Not only did he enter relaxed in DOR and DOL, but he didn’t try to jump over them to escape and he watched where he was going each time. Granted he’s not moving faster than a walk, but Less Haste; More Speed is going to be our mantra.

The work on the teeter was probably our best yet too. He did need to be reminded that he couldn’t approach on his hind legs pressing against the collar, but when he did hit the teeter and it started to move Ranger showed the first glimpse of self preservation ever in agility class and stopped to balance himself for its descent.

Had some issues with him geeking out about halfway through class (bouncing, fake spooking, and acting spazzy) which makes me wonder if the higher level of brain work at scent class the night before is frying him. When classes were a day apart he seemed better (although last week he got spazzy and had the day in between…but the scent work class was harder than normal. Will have to see how he handles them so close, and hope he can handle it.

Tomorrow is the first trial of the season and I’ll be heading over to help out and hopefully learn a bit about it all.

Agility #8

Last night’s agility was probably his worst, but also our best if that’s possible. When we were warming up he was bouncy and distracted trying to zoom off on the end of his leash a few times before settling in. We started with them going over a cavaletti set which Ranger took in bounding leaps (instead of trotting over nicely) and when we moved to the weaves he had literally no idea what was being asked (handlers walking on one side while the instructor loosely held the lead and just prevented them from making mistakes. He didn’t get it at all.

Then they put up the gates to have the dogs go through on their own and we took it very slowly with me on one side to guide him and the instructor on the other. The other dogs got it pretty quick and even did a little flying changes to add speed, but we worked on walking through v.e.r.y slowly and not trying to catapult over them (which he did once jumping the WHOLE setup from right to left. We did end on an easy slow walk through with him going where he was supposed to. Not sure if that’s the right setup for him to learn weaves so I might look at teaching him a different way.

Next we did the A-frame with click on contact and feed in box at bottom. The dogs are supposed to be free a few strides beforehand, but that involved Ranger pretty much soaring over the top, missing the contact entirely and landing in the box. We managed a good turn by gently holding him until his feet were on the bottom of the frame and then letting go while calmly walking it.

We then built up to a jump – spread – jump – tire – tunnel. The jumps were high enough that he couldn’t just blast through the whole thing and he’d have to use his brain. He tried once and didn’t shorten his stride enough for the spread and ducked out; before doing a little zoom followed by a fake spook at equipment followed by sniffing some grass and then spooking again. It reminded me of the horses when we’d train and they’d get frustrated at not being able to figure out what they needed to do.

When I tried to put him back into place he didn’t want to sit and gummed my hands so I asked for a sit, treated, and took a minute to pat him. When he was settled we worked through the sequence very slowly and he got it! He even ran ahead of me to dive into the tunnel!

Final exercise was the dog walk with one of the instructors at the bottom with target and treats. I feel like I need to buy her a bottle of wine because watching Ranger gallop up and over to slide down the end into a stop must be pretty intimidating (the look on her face was one of apprehension lol). Most of the dogs were freely started a few strides away, but Ranger was walked to the bottom and held until there was no pressure from him on the collar and then calmly released…this slowed him down so he was only twice as fast as every other dog, and to give him credit he stopped at the bottom each time.

After class I asked for some exercises we could do at home to work on “Ranger being, well, Ranger”. This week we’re working on a jump with his food bowl on the other side. When he looks forward he is to be released from him wait. As this gets better I’m to start being in different positions (farther away/in front/in back/etc) as he tends to not look where he’s going and give the jr instructor a heart attack.

Agility #7

Ranger had a great lesson at agility.

We did some tire-sharp turn tunnel – straight jump; jump-tunnel-pinwheel (three jumps at west/north/east) and Aframe-jump. (building up to the full sequences). Ranger paid more attention to where he went (as opposed to looking at my hands) and did really well on the weird angle from one of the jumps to the tunnel. He’s still a great deal faster than me, but he actually collected back onto the correct side after the tunnel to move forward to the jump with me  Super proud mum.

The schnauzer was there today and he still has it in for Ranger. He didn’t bolt over to us at all, but I kept Ranger farther away from him and at one point in a settle on one side of a tunnel so he couldn’t see him at all.

We also had them walked through the weave poles today (prior to this all we’d done was have them walk through a very open set of six). It was way over Ranger’s head and he wasn’t sure at all what we were after, but he went through them and was happy on the other side. I’ve always felt that the weaves will be tricky for him (since he seems to be two dogs – a front half and a back half) but I’ll just keep working on his leg awareness stuff at home and hope it comes together.

Also let my instructor know that I would like to volunteer for their trials for whatever they need. Said they’re always looking for people and it would be good for me too.

Agility #5

One day I will get some pictures from agility to go with these posts. This was supposed to be the class, but with game 7 on that night (go habs go, sorry for your loss bruins *evil laugh*) I decided to drag my photographer out next week instead.

We worked on our one jump warm up with me facing the jump with Ranger at my side in a sit, then asking him to jump. The point of the exercise was having him jump over and away from me, circling back round the standards to come back for his reward. He picked it up well and did it half a dozen times before he got bored. Trying to keep his attention on things and stopping before he gets bored is something I will always need to work on with him.

We worked on the chute again and as long as I keep my hands down by my side we have more of a chance that he will look where he is going. He’ll now go through with the chute fully on the ground.

We also worked up to a jump-jump-tunnel-jump-jump and a single really curved tunnel. Ranger gets a little fumbled as he gets excited so we did a lot of my walking with him instead of trying to add even a slow jog. He loves jumping though and he’s moved up to 16″ which means he pays a lot more attention going over.

The schnauzer had it in for him this class for some reason and actually zoomed off from his handler a couple of times to try to go after Ranger…lots of grumbling and circling with some sniffing, but I pulled the old “shove your dogs face in your crotch” trick so there was never a face to face meeting. Ranger was super good about it though and didn’t seem put off by any of it. Anything to get more treats lol.

This was the first agility class that Ranger got spacey towards the end. I’m not sure if nosework on Mondays with a day off in between means that his brain is more tired, or if adding the sequences is using his brain power more, but he crashed HARD when he got home so his brain definitely got a workout too.

dog and person wearing habs clothing

Ranger and I after agility waiting for the game!

Also found out this week that Will has been approved for transfer from navy to air force meaning we’ll be packing up and heading to Borden, ON within the year. Over the next four weeks things will be planned a little more and we’ll have more of an idea when we’re actually going.

I’ve been scouring the internet to make sure there are doggy sport centres close by so we will be able to continue our training.

Agility #4

Tonight’s agility reconfirmed that Ranger needs to LOOK where he is going instead of trying to make eye contact/look at my hands. We did some work building up to jump – chute – tunnel – jump and we had some issues with him looking at me right before he is supposed to be entering the tunnel/chute. Luckily he didn’t smash his noggin off the entry, but if we don’t get focused off me I think it’s a matter of when, not if.

I’m running (well, hobbling) now with my arms straight by my side to see if that helps, and it kind of does; at least he didn’t smash himself off anything. He did have some problems going through the chute (he did fine with it last summer, but that’s the last time he saw one) but we think it’s related to him not looking forward but at me.

We also did our very first cross over tonight…how do you not trip over yourself/the jumps/the dog…I’m thinking of putting pvc pipes on the ground at home so that I can work on my footwork without Ranger. We managed it in class all right and I didn’t trip over myself!

Our final section was jump – jump – tunnel – crossover to jump…you know, no big deal (hand over face). I was nervous, but it was probably Ranger’s best moment in the class. We went slow (to prevent his over enthusiasm), but he took each piece of equipment well and listened to me when he needed to slow down after barrelling out of the tunnel before the crossover/last jump.

Positives of the class: He held his wait before every turn, he didn’t bark at the other dogs at all, settled in between turns AND he spent 90% of the class off leash/not being held.

He wore his bootie again for his toe which seems to be healing nicely. It was such a deep cut that it’s taking forever, but the skin where it’s knitting is pink and healthy.

Agility #3

Before class we headed out to Planet Paws to pick up Ranger’s new food and a set of boots. He’s been switched to Acana Chicken and Burbank Potato as his main staple kibble and will still be getting his add ons. In fact, I am going to be making an effort to add something interesting to one meal a day. We’ll see what he likes/doesn’t like and go from there. The boots are to see if he can still work while his foot heals from his off leash unknown incident.

We also popped into the new Petsmart since we had a little time to kill. Picked up a toothbrush and paste for him so we can start his teeth health (better late than never, right?) Ranger’s first pet store trip; he was a star.

dog laying in store isle

Toothpaste? You’re going to brush my what?

I spoke with my instructor and took a look at Ranger’s toe and we decided to wrap, boot, and see how he was. He’s not lame on it at all and it seems to have handled the class.

Class was awesome. We did one jump warmup and now he is only getting rewarded when he actually LIFTS his legs over the jump. By the end he was popping over it more times than not. He is definitely better CCW as opposed to CW and that’s a whole load of my fault because I don’t work him nearly enough both ways…but we’re changing that.

This week was giving the dogs a lot more freedom (eep). We worked on A-frame with click on contact, treat is marked area at the bottom then release. Ranger handled it well and SLOW, which is what we’re working on. He’s gotta think where those big feet are going. Then we were divided with half the class working on the ramp (two feet off, three nose touches to the target with rewards in between) and the other half working on the teeter. Ranger tends to crash down the ramp and try to assault the target so we worked on slowing him down and not eating the target. On the teeter Ranger’s first attempt involved his whole front end making it 75% of the way across with his back feet never touching…he tipped off the side. On his second attempt he was more deliberate (and I slowed down too) and he made it perfectly.

Added a jump to the end of the teeter for after the release (jump was at about 3 o’clock to the teeter). My horse riding past got the best of me and I wanted to have him release into a nice loop and come straight on…dogs do not need hunter ring perfect approaches and after being told I was getting in his way our next attempts were much better as I cut directly to the standard.

Last exercises were jump-tunnel-jump in both directions. Ranger is fast and I need to move fast to be in the right position. We made it though and he only missed the second jump once.

There was one moment when the schnauzer bolted from his owner and came over to try to pick an argument with Ranger. Pulled the old shove your dog’s face into your crotch and wait for the other dog to get corralled. Ranger was good although he certainly didn’t like the growling salt and pepper snuffling him. Better Ranger than the reactive dog though.

Agility #2

We started with our warm up inside with some puppy pushups, listening skills, and ball work. Ranger saw the ball and immediately tried crawling onto it making him the demo dog. He doesn’t mind going forward on it, but trying to manage his hind legs moving backward in a straight line while his front end was up on the ball ended in more arcs than straight lines. We have a ball at home so I need to find a pump and fill it up.

Outdoor classes are still giving us the add bonus of additional distractions. We started with tunnel-jump and have found that all my movements need to be slow for now. No running or even jogging since the minute the black ball of Ranger catapults out of the end he forgots everything except Ooooo, Hooman is moving! and misses the following jump. A few times he blasted past, but eventually he slowed down enough for us to calmly manage the next piece.

He loves to teeter so far (which means I must have done something right in our original class last summer which started with him terrified of the movement and bang) and he’s now making his way over slightly more settled (but still strong, I’m glad I’m not holding him on that side) and waiting to be released.

The class divided and we worked on two different stations for the rest of the class. In one, we worked on the A-frame. Eventually we had them going over on their own, clicking for contact touch, feeding in a marked area at the bottom and then hopping over a little jump. Honestly I’m not sure if he saw the jump, but he always went over it.

The other station was working on a ramp and having the dog go down to the end, placing their front feet off (while maintaining hind foot contact) and nose targeting a disc. Ranger didn’t eat the disc (yay!) but he definitely punched it with his nose, flipped it around with paw targeting and generally was a clumsy boy haha.

Have to get into doing some training this weekend to get ready for next week, but for now I am hoping for some long walks in the (finally) nice weather.