Tuesday, June 29

Outdoor Agility Trial!

Sunday, I entered both my agility dogs in an outdoor trial held at Flashpoint Agility in Marengo, Ohio. I'm always a bit wary of entering Popper in any outdoor event, because he is half beagle, and where the nose goes, the body follows! Luckily, this venue is fenced in, or I might have some more serious reservations. I actually don't know why more outdoor trials don't use fencing... you can buy super cheap reusable plastic fencing quite readily, and more handlers would 1) enter the trial and 2) be more comfortable at the trial.

I entered both dogs in the same levels and classes, the only difference being that Merlin the corgi is 8" and Popper and Beagle/Cattle Dog is 12". It really makes it fun, what with being in neighboring height classes, because sometimes I only have a couple dogs in-between runs, so it's a mad dash to the crates, and a mad dash back to the starting gate! We ran in Level 2 Jumpers, and two rounds of Colors.

I've been concerned for Merlin because he hasn't been trialing normally, ever since he was in a dog fight at his last agility training facility. He has JUST recently started running normally in class, which is basically an all-out crazy dog run that may or may not be where you want him to go. :) He was still sluggish this weekend, but whether it was because he's still not "over" it, or because it was insanely hot and humid (92 - eeep!), I do not know. I suspect he still harbors ill will, myself.

However, long story short - both dogs did beautifully. Both dogs back jumped one run each, and both dogs got distracted by little dumb things. Both dogs always came back to me, and both dogs managed to Q in all of their runs. I've never had so many Q's in one day before! 6!

So Popper has finished CPE Level 2 Jumpers and Colors, as well as his Fun Games title, and Merlin finished Level 2 Colors (he's not a huge fan of jumpers so he's more behind). We're slowly but steadily making our way towards a C-ATCH, but I honestly don't think we'll ever get there, because we just don't trial enough. Money is always an issue, as well as time, and the fact that Popper in particular just can't handle an entire weekend of agility, or even five runs in a day. I usually only do three with him, and four is really pushing it. So we'll continue our little bunny hops towards our goal, keeping in mind that the dogs really don't care if they get any titles or not - they do it simply for the joy of doing it. And that yummy cheeseburger on the way home.

Thursday, June 24

Agility Practice

Last night it was waaaaay to hot to go to Popper's agility class. We have a trial this weekend, so I really hated to do it, but it was still 91 degrees a half hour before his class, and it's in an unconditioned building. So I made up for it this morning in my backyard while it was still cool!

I searched all over for simple dog agility exercises, but everything I found was either extremely basic, or required a lot more equipment than I have. So I'm posting the "mini course" that I ran with Popper. There are many, many more fun combinations you can do, and we made up probably a dozen different "courses" with just these five obstacles. However, that course map would look quite confusing. So I've drawn it up with only two different paths, the purple is easier with front crosses, the green is harder and there are some rears in there too. :) Popper and I had a blast playing with this configuration. You can do the weave poles first to practice weave exits too. Our goal was to work on tight handling and weave pole entries.

I think my favorite part is the green, 3-4-5-6, because if you're not careful you'll get insanely dizzy. :)

Monday, June 21

Rally Class Today

Roofus has been going to Rally Obedience class, with a trial last month... which didn't go too well LOL. I only entered him in two runs, and the entire atmosphere was so different for him that I had almost zero attention from him in the ring. We NQ'd both runs because I pulled out the treats to get him back.

However, I've been trying to get away from using treats ALL the time. Today I finally managed to do an entire course in class, off-leash, and only treating according to APDT rules. I almost lost Roofus a couple of times, but I think only feeding him half his breakfast this morning made him a little more willing to pay attention to me. :D

Hopefully, at the next trial in October, we'll get one Q at the very least. :)

Friday, June 18

Blossom tries rally

Okay, it's been awhile... but I was planning a wedding, and then I got married, so there was the honeymoon, and then all the post-wedding wrap-up that goes on. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :D

Last night, I tried my 14 year-old, deaf, dalmatian-border collie mix in a Rally-o workshop. The thing about Blossom is that she's not particularly eager to please. If her goals and your goals happen to overlap, then all is well. The problem with that, is it doesn't happen very often. Add into that some fairly severe leash aggression, and you've got yourself an interesting night.

The hardest part with Blossom was getting and keeping her attention. She has never done a formal class with me, although she knows all the obedience commands. I can't verbally connect with her because she is deaf, which limits trying to get her attention to shoving food right in front of her face (and she's not a foody dog - look how skinny she is!) or leash tugs. I don't like shoving food in her face because it startles her, you can see her recoil whenever something suddenly appears in front of her.

After a few rounds of Blossom trying to wander off wherever she wanted, it dawned on me that we brought the Gentle Leader. Blossom spent a lot of her time on the Gentle Leader the first few years I had her, and that seemed like a great way to get her attention, (and keep her from barking at the other dogs) so I slipped it on. Ohhhh, we did so much better! She couldn't lunge as far in front of me, so it was a LOT easier to get her attention. She did pretty well on the last exercise, which was a little "mini" course, putting together the signs we had practiced. She still refused to "down," but I was pretty happy with her last performance.

I mean heck, not bad for an ADD, 14 year-old deaf dog that's not interested in pleasing you in the slightest!