26 March 2012

Peer Pressure

I finally caved in and got my guys new harnesses.

Kiba's says "Kiba D" and "Smidget" on it, as those are her main nicknames. Strafe has "Cool Dane" and "Smarty Pants". I also got a couple others to interchange, wouldn't want to get bored!



Strafe already has a black/white/red tug leash, but it is out in the car so he doesn't get to model it. He's not good at modeling anyway, I had to hold his head since he wants to stare at me all the time... Kiba models but looks sad...

Reno, coming up. Busytime commences.

well tomorrow evening I head up into NJ, staying overnight at a friend's house and then flying early Wed morning. I'm going straight from Newark to San Francisco, then driving across the mountains to Reno (should be about a 3-4hour drive). I didn't want to connect flights with 2 dogs along for the ride, just too much time and risk involved. So I'm landing, renting a minivan, and driving across. I'm constantly checking the weather for the drive over, because guess what? The major highway across those mountains goes through the infamous Donner Pass (yeah, that one!). So I may be taking a slightly longer route that should be a little lower elevation/less snow, without adding too much time onto my drive.

When I get to Reno, I will check into the hotel, then run over to the Reno airport to pick up a friend who's flying straight in. Thursday is an easy day, just setting up our stuff at the site, picking up groceries for the weekend, and maybe taking the dogs for a calm, relaxing walk to decompress after our hectic travel day on Wed.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday is the competition, and we fly home on Monday. I won't be bringing my laptop, as half my suitcase is already taken up with dog beds, and my laptop is too bulky to carry on comfortably. So don't expect any blog updates. i will be on facebook mostly. I felt that the Twitter updates were pretty useless last year, since most people read them when they mirrored to Facebook anyway.

I am very excited to run Kiba in her current mental and physical state. I feel that we're better prepared and in tune than we've ever been, due to our run at preparing for WAO and my hard work all winter to keep her fit and lean. (she's only 25.5lbs right now!) She's running fast, she's jumping well, she's handling sharply, and she's even staying on her contacts since we've drilled that in a few different places. I'm sure I'll lose those over the weekend as I push her a little, but I will try hard to hold her in NAC Standard since she's fast enough that I don't have to push there. . .

After I get back, I have a couple days at home, followed by a seminar that I'm teaching in NC the following weekend, a road trip to OH and back from NC, a one-day trial in NC, then driving home. Then I have another short couple of days at home before WAO practice and the PA USDAA Regional. After that I have 1 full weekend off, then I'm off to AKC World Team Tryouts with Trig (and probably a +1 passenger dog). 1 more full weekend home then I'm off to Belgium for WAO!

So basically, crazy-busy-time is about to commence! Today I'm going to double check my bag that I packed, go through my check list one more time, and finish my Mass Effect 3 game ;) Tomorrow we have a short swim session in the morning, health certificates in the afternoon, then we're off to NJ!

I hope my other dogs behave while I'm away. They are SO well behaved when I am home, and a couple of them are not so good when I'm not home. And even though I'm not there, it still irks me that my little angels could misbehave just because I'm not there to supervise... naughty beasts!

Speaking of staying home, this is my first big event without Drifter since 2003. He's been my main dog that whole time, and now he's staying home to sleep on the couch, my bed, and raid my mother's dog toy box. i don't think he really cares either way, but I know he'd be happy to know he doesn't have to ride on another plane.

How Drifter will spend the next week while I'm traveling...

20 March 2012

Hi. My name is Ryze...

And I have very long legs!


No, I haven't done anything to his ears. They are coming up on their own. And yes, he's still about 0.5" "oversize" on the sheltie growth charts. More on the stricter ones. . . 

18 March 2012

Paws in Motion USDAA Recap

I ran a lot of dogs at this trial so i will recap per dog, it's easier for my brain to keep it organized that way!

First off, the biggest news for me - Seri ran in 3 classes and DIDN'T BREAK HERSELF!!! In fact, on Friday she ran pretty darned well, qualified in Advanced Standard in the first run to finally finish up that AAD title that's been hanging in limbo for the last several years. I was so excited that I actually picked up my title ribbon, which I never do! I feel like I totally earned this one! 5 years of training, and many months of rehab and strengthening, lots of PT, and we finally got into Masters!


She also ran well in the first round of Steeplechase, but a missed contact on the aframe plus one knocked bar kept her out of Finals - she did have the fastest time of all dogs by a full second though! I knew aframes would be rough since I don't practice them much, out of concern for her shoulder and wrist issues. And when we do them in training, I often don't let her take them at high speed.
Sunday we ran Grand Prix, and her brain exploded out of her ears in spectacular fashion and I walked off.... oh well. Good old Seri, she definitely LOVES the sport, gotta give her that! I have no good videos of her from the weekend, unfortunately.

Drifter - also no video. He was only entered in 2 classes on Friday, and one dropped bar kept us from Q'ing in Masters Jumpers, and our partner had a miscue that led to an NQ in Pairs. Drifter ran well though.

Kiba - She Q'ed in PGP and PSJ (2nd in both) so she is now fully qualified for Nationals in Denver if we decide to go. I spent the entire weekend holding contacts, rather than pushing for the win, which seemed to do some good since she became pretty reliable by the end of the day Sunday. Her back was a bit tight so I got her worked on a couple times.

Here is her PGP run:



And here is her P3 Standard run from Sunday, again holding contacts:



Trig - she qualified in Team, Grand Prix, Steeplechase, and got a Snooker Q and Super Q to finish her ADCH. So definitely a good girl, and running well heading into Reno. We had a couple naughty runs in Team (Relay and Snooker...), but some other really nice runs too. "get in her face" is my mantra with her....



and of course Strafe! He was a very good dog, in sum he got a Starters Standard Q, 2 Jumpers Q's, and a Steeplechase Q. He was 1 bar away from getting a very tough Grand Prix, and also 1 bar away from his 2nd Standard Q and a Gamble Q as well. I feel that he and I are starting to get a little smoother together though, we are having fewer miscommunications than we used to have at trials. The video, of course, shows our biggest miscue of the weekend - Steeplechase Round 1 where he comes out of a tunnel and just stops and kind of says "wait, what?" and I had to stop him and go tell him where to go. We still managed to come in with a Q though, and then he got 3rd in the Final round with a really nice clean run!





Oh, and on Sunday Ryze came to the trial too. He was sassy and confident this time, yapping away at people and dogs, and tugging with random strangers like a champ!

No trials now till AKC Nationals. I am somewhat excited about it, but as with all trials which involve air travel, the excitement won't really kick in till we land and rent the car, and my dogs and I are all safe and sound!

15 March 2012

Leaked Insider Videos!

This year for the WAO eBook several of us contributors decided to add video links to demonstrate what we were trying to describe in a visual form that would be easier for people to understand. The problem with this is that it's not easy to add videos to an Acrobat (.pdf) document, so we went with the easy route and have hosted them on YouTube as "unlisted" videos. What that means is that only people who have the direct link to the video can view it. It does not make it private though. This morning, one of the videos from the eBook began making the rounds on Facebook. We'll probably never know who thought it was amusing to share an eBook video with all their friends for free, but the Team has decided to go with it and use it as advertising.



Without further ado, i present to you:


Our cover has been blown!


If you enjoy that video and the time and attention to detail that Mike put into it, please support Mike and all the other team members by buying the WAO eBook!

13 March 2012

Extra Posty this week

Which is ok since I'll be no-posty all weekend with a long USDAA trial starting Friday...

Today I spent some time studying courses from 2 of the judges for the WAO (I'm familiar enough with what the american one puts out - which is tough, but generally american-style courses). i need to start setting up the harder ones that I can make fit in my ring. The weather here is just gorgeous and WARM lately...
If you're interested, courses are HERE and HERE

I am so happy that Strafe has figured out that the puppy will play with him even though the puppy is small. Right now Strafe is upside down quietly wrestling with him. Strafe just has the nicest temperament ever. An 18-month old adolescent intact male, upside down on my floor wrestling with an almost-12 week old puppy. And I should say that Ryze is NOT as polite as Strafe was as a puppy. Ryze is not "rude" as far as puppies go, but he has been known to jump on a dog's head now and then. Today on a walk in the field, he latched onto Strafe's mane, and I had to shoo him away because Strafe refused to do so, and just walked around with a sheltie for a necklace...

Wondering how his dogwalk looks? Here ya go

He shows a bit of confusion once in a while in the new place but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I expect some confusion this weekend - regardless of how smart he is, he's had 6 weekends of trialing with a running behavior, so I'll have to remind him strongly that he stops now when we are in the ring.

Need some STUFF?

like training set-ups? want better wraps, want to learn how to do a blind wrap (Ketschker turn) consistently? want some information about keeping your dog fit and sound? Or some basics on deceleration work?

Then buy our 2012 WAO Team USA eBook! It's flippin' HUGE and contains a TON of great stuff! Lots of articles, training set-ups, and miscellaneous useful information that you won't find anywhere else!

It's 133 pages of information, 156 in total with bio's and information included. There are video links in some of the articles (mine included!). This is worth way more than the $35 basic asking price!



12 March 2012

DIY



One of the things I value most about agility trainers is their ability to problem solve. Actually I value that in my dogs too, but of course they are not people and so the problems they are asked to solve are a bit different. And one of the things I've always enjoyed and prided myself in are my own ability to increase my skills without needing to ask for help. I do attend seminars occasionally, but I don't really go to "get better" in a general sense. I'm open to tips, of course, and I like a certain style of teaching. I try hard, when i teach, to get students to understand the "why" and not just repeat "the rules" meaninglessly. Since basically the early 1990's I've been self-taught. I would definitely say certain people and systems have influenced my handling and training, but I don't mimic anyone completely.

I am a horrible audio learner. Tell me a set of directions, and if I'm not able to quickly map it out visually in my head, I will completely forget. If I write it down, I'll remember. Or I can look at it on a map and remember, or if I go there myself once, I will remember. Talk to my about agility courses though, and I will quickly get lost. Use your hands or silverware and you've got me! I do enjoy talking about the technical aspects of agility - if you get me going I can really talk too, despite my natural quiet nature. And I believe a large part of my ability to talk in-depth is that I've worked through things myself. Kinetically learned them, visualized them, trained them.

Anyway, the point of this post is supposed to be that I have always enjoyed learning "on my own". That definitely includes watching great handlers closely to see what their dogs are responding to. It also includes a lot of YouTube analysis, with gratuitous pausing to create slow motion effects. I like to see why the dog is responding to things a certain way before I will mindlessly mimic something. Just because it works today, doesn't mean that tomorrow it won't erode the cues for something else in your system. And yeah, I do think every person has a "system" - a toolbox, whatever you want to call it. If you aren't consistent within your own system, your dog will be confused. That's why I'm slow to dive into fads, but when I decide to do something, I DO IT - I train it, I implicate it, and then it's just a regular part of what I do. If I don't work through it myself first, I am unlikely to try something new just because "so and so" said it was awesome.

I think every handler should take time to consider their own system of handling, where it may resemble a famous person's system, and where it may differ. If it differs significantly from an established system, then is it consistent to itself as well? If not, where and why? How can you fix it?

Don't be upset if you, too, like to do things yourself. I have a lot of respect for those who think things through for themselves. I always try to get my dogs to problem solve because I strongly believe that when someone works through a problem by using their own brain, they will always remember the solution faster than if they are told the answer over and over. Dogs included!


Proofing

I hate proofing. It always feels unfair to the dogs. Setting them up to fail, so I can correct them (gently) and then asking them to try again. But I do it because i need to be able to rely on my dogs to do as they're trained despite high trial excitement.

Lately, Kiba has been failing on her aframe at trials. Well, not just lately. She's always been inconsistent. She was originally trained for a running aframe, could never figure it out (still can't). So we went to 4 on the floor, which is not my favorite behavior for the frame but works OK for Kiba. She understands it. at home. At trials, she reverts to running, which is a problem, since her "running" frame has always been right around 50% hit and miss. She doesn't "leap" but she doesn't hit yellow either... So we went to run-through's yesterday and sure enough Kiba ran off her frame, and I picked her up and walked her off and ran the course again and she stopped like a little angel. Second run? same thing! Ran off the first one. Got walked off. So it was good training, even if it did feel silly to pay for a run-through match with my 7 year old world team dog!

Strafe had a couple confused "wait, run or stop??" moments on his dogwalk, but I was pretty pleased with him overall. He evened out after a few tries and got it right several times in a row (I made up a course with 4 dogwalks in it!)

Tomorrow we'll go one other place to get on contacts, then take 2 days off from agility before the 3-day weekend at USDAA. Kiba also needs to start working on 16" jumps starting this weekend so we're at least somewhat in tune for them in Reno. I won't spend much time on them because I need her to be able to bounce right back up to 20"/22" when we get home. And she didn't hit a single bar or go off course at all in Louisville, and again we hadn't practiced 16" more than a week or so before going, so I'm not too concerned about that.

Strafe's USDAA debut is this weekend, along with Seri's "coming back out" debut. Seri is doing really well in training, we are sequencing all obstacles including dogwalk and aframe and she is holding up really well so far. I have a PT appointment at the trial after her last run so I will know right away if she threw anything out.

Drifter is only running in 2 classes on Friday, chipping away at those final LAA legs he needs.

Ryze is doing great, he's super quiet in his crate, super playful when he's out. Already pretty good about house training although I am pretty proactive about taking him out before he goes in the house. He's still on the "big" side. According to the more generous growth chart, he's about .25" to .5" too tall for his age. If he maintains that much above 16" and ends up at 16.25" or 16.5" I will be OK with that. I just really don't want him to be over 17"!

And a picture. Every post needs one.


10 March 2012

Homework

Not the school kind, to which I was morally opposed.

Spent several hours today working on the schedule for my PT's at AKC Nationals. Can't believe it's only 3 weeks away!

Tomorrow I'm going to run-through's at a local trainer's house. I want to work on Strafe's new dogwalk behavior in a new place, and I want to proof Kiba's aframe. The naughty little dog. She's pretty solid here at home with her 4otf behavior, but go to a trial and it reverts back to a sketchy running behavior. Her dogwalk has been pretty good - she is stopping in the yellow instead of on the ground, but I'll accept that over leaping off any day. The aframe she just hits and goes, which has not been an allowable behavior for a long time, but I've let it go in certain events and so she keeps on trying... I'd like to get a little independence, at least!

Short post today. Here's a picture for you. It's in Copenhagen.


09 March 2012

The easy road

I just took it....

After a few days of intense video analysis of Strafe's dogwalk behavior, I decided to start teaching an alternate. Admittedly, he was hitting over 90% of his dogwalks during that period, but I could tell from his striding that he wasn't balancing well coming down the ramp, which means that in the excitement of a trial atmosphere, he will continue to be inconsistent. He's a dog who powers from his front end, and I think at this young age he can't figure out how to do that an run the down ramp properly all at once.

My goals with this dog are to qualify for Nationals and Tryouts. In order to do that, we need to QQ fairly quickly. My long term goals with this dog are to make the AKC/FCI World Team. More than once. Ambitious, sure, but these goals require consistency, which I will openly admit has been my biggest issue in the past. Not off courses or eliminations - I always had those "one small mistake" dogs; with Drifter it was "one bar" for a long time. With Kiba it is either "one bar" or "one aframe contact". My previous dogs have been similar. I have always been good at achieving handling consistency to the point where my dog and i can smoothly navigate almost any course and stay on it, but the little things have always gotten me. This has historically been due to the types of dogs I had - pushy, rushing, or in Freeze's case, ETS. Now I have a dog who is smart, sound, careful, and willing to be a team player. Right away. I don't want to waste time working on a single obstacle. The dogwalk is only 1 obstacle out of 20 on a standard, only 1 out of 40 in a double-Q, only 3 out of 100 at Tryouts....

And since I do give seminars and workshops regarding contacts, I do know the advantages and disadvantages of both behaviors. The stopped dogwalk will be slower in almost every situation, but it is also easier to handle. And there is slowly starting to be a bit of a trend of more difficult dogwalk entries and exits - more so in europe right now, but I've seen some difficult AKC exits as well. Just last weekend Drifter faceplanted trying to turn off the DW. The course flow wasn't hard, but the turn was. I have never had a dog with a well-trained, fully independent stopped dogwalk, so perhaps that actually does appeal to me. I never really prefer to go slower on purpose, but I do like the idea of being able to say "go walk it!" and peeling off to the side and knowing the dog will hit the contact and wait for me to direct him.

So all of this is to say; I have taught Strafe a stopped target behavior on his dogwalk. We started working on the target yesterday morning with a clicker for a couple sessions, and I independently did one session of teaching him to put his rear end on the dogwalk plank. And by the 2nd session today he is sequencing the entire behavior on the dogwalk. Caveat: he is a really, really smart dog who lives to please! Not all dogs can do this in 2 days of short, intense sessions! I wanted to get the conceptual understanding in place quickly because in one week we have another trial - our first USDAA trial - and I'd love to try to get a Grand Prix Q, which, you probably already know, requires hitting the dogwalk contact. And usually also some fairly technical handling. So we will test out our behavior there. (I will also try to find another one to practice on before we go).

I am not a patient trainer, you may have realized. I am not willing to spend 6 months training ANY single behavior. If it doesn't work, change it! Listen to your dog. In fact, for pushy dogs I don't use a target at all, I train a lie down on the end of the plank, with a lot of emphasis on the dog shifting its weight back and stopping. With Strafe I knew I needed to drive him forward, rather than set him back, because he is a more cautious, softer dog. So I chose a target method.

Off we go on a slightly altered agility journey.. .   with my newly nicknamed Smarty-Pants dog...


07 March 2012

PT Report

My PT was here and all my dogs were looked at. Drifter, predictably after his faceplant after the dogwalk, was a little out of whack but she fixed him right up. Seri is looking good and still has the green light for our re-re-re-debut in 10 days. Strafe wasn't bad, just a minor spot in the upper back which most dogs get from running on the hard dirt at the site. Kiba, though, was kind of a mess. I feel a little relief, actually, since I was wondering why she hit more bars than usual and her jumping wasn't as nice as it had been last weekend. She was having trouble decelerating into turns. Now, I do believe she has a very mild "perception issue" that is like a very basic, mild version of ETS - she almost always takes off a little early and she does a bit of a "gauge" thing before taking off. But she's been doing really well over 20" jumps for the last 6 months. This past weekend she hit a bar in 4 out of 6 runs, which really isn't the sort of frequency I was expecting (I expected maybe 1 or 2 for the whole weekend). But her entire back was tight. Upper, lower, a bit of her quads, her neck was messy. Basically she was a tight mess. This is what her back used to do all the time a couple years ago, and is one of the reasons I dropped her to 16" in the first place. Over the past year, though, she's been doing really well with only minor tight spots. So I'm going on the assumption that she did something that caused this, and that after a couple days of swimming and walks, she should be good to go. I will also be taking her back for a recheck before we leave for Reno to make sure it was just a one-time issue. Anyway, whew, good to know the bars were more of a soreness thing than a training or conditioning thing. Regardless, we will continue on a tough strengthening schedule, only letting up a few days before we leave for Reno, and resuming 48 hours after we return. I want her to be an aerobically fit, muscled beast for Belgium!

I am not part of the Agility Blog network or whatever, but I see everyone is doing "if I knew then what I know now" today. I'll contribute a small blurb to this thought. I've been in agility for 20 years, seen many things come and go regarding handling and training. Most of what I wish I knew was simple training methods, but what I think I really wish I had back then was the in-depth understanding of how dogs work, both mentally and physically, because honestly, most of what I do now is the result of me either sitting down with my computer and watching video of other people doing what I'm contemplating, or just thinking things through. I wish I'd known how important it was to be consistent in your handling and just in your interactions with your dogs in general. A always means A, B always means B.

I wish I'd known a lot back when I got Drifter - that collection is super important to teach early on. That conditioning is super important. That start line stays can disappear like *that*.... That eventually, Drifter and I would make it to the big show on another continent... That a "bang and go" see-saw is a HORRIBLE idea...



But generally, most of the stuff I wish I'd known then, no one knew then. So it's not a big deal. We all go through this process. Those of us that started in the early 90's just had a longer road to get here. We remember the days of just hoping your dog hit the contact. . .

Anyway. Speaking of thought and contemplation and consistency, I am still not sure what I'm doing with Strafe's dogwalk. I did 3 intensive training sessions over Mon/Tues, and each idea that showed promise eventually didn't pan out. I have 2 more ideas to try but Strafe seems really set on that oddball striding... which makes me sad. I was really really happy with his nice dogwalk for the first 5 trials. He was balanced, fast, and consistent. Then POP it left. Most of the time I tell people that once your dog "gets it", the behavior won't change much, but here is my very own dog showing me not to get cocky.

What I may need to decide, soon, is whether it is worth the time for me to keep trying or not. I want consistency with this dog, really badly. He's my first dog to come right out of the gate ready to go, ready to be my partner. He doesn't argue, he's fast, he's talented. Do I need the extra .4sec I get from the running dogwalk? Would I rather have the ease of a stopped contact that I can trust to be somewhat independent? His aframe and see-saw are pretty trustworthy already. His weaves are getting there. His accel/decel is lovely, his jumping is nice. Do I want to have to fuss about one obstacle for .4 of a second?



Anyway, those are the thoughts tumbling around my head right now, along with "what else can I do to make Kiba stronger?" and "what other international skills does Kiba need to be stronger in?"





05 March 2012

BOGO day

I did 2 brief dogwalk sessions today with Strafe. I should note that we do zero jumping so there's less impact, I just send him around jump standards and then take off running. In the first session this morning we played with some stride regulator placements, and in the 2nd session this afternoon I left it in the same place for 10 reps with varying results. It's not a place I've used a regulator much in the past, but Strafe really wants to use a 4-stride pattern across the dogwalk so I'm attempting to break up the 4th stride to keep him in a rotary gallop down the ramp instead of doing a one-hit downramp which usually results in a missed contact at the trial (not at home). I actually did start to see some different striding as he thought about it during the 2nd session, so I will definitely give this some time to see if it works out for us. I haven't had a dog be super successful with a 4-stride pattern long-term. Drifter has done 5 strides almost all the time. But Strafe is bigger and longer...

Also, I pulled off the EO team for this year. Makes me sad, but I just don't think I can afford it. I am still tentatively planning to attend USDAA in Denver in September but I'm not 100% on that either - it may depend on how quickly my dogs qualify. Because I want to make sure Strafe qualifies for AKC Nationals and Tryouts, I will need to devote most of my trial weekends to that venue rather than USDAA, so if he doesn't get the required USDAA Tournament Q's out of the way quickly, I may just scratch that too. Belgium should be fun and will be enough "big event" for me for the year, if necessary.

If USDAA was inside, I would definitely be more interested in devoting time to qualifying. But it's not. So I'm not. Frost, dew, sun glare, and possible precipitation, after a 28 hour drive (or all day flight/car rental) is not really making me salivate with anticipation...

Today the dogs are mostly resting, Kiba and Strafe in their Back on Track coats. However, we did start our "Operation Better Jumping Kiba" conditioning program. She spent 3 minutes on the peanut, another 2 minutes on the large disc, and then we spent a bit of time doing some calm LM-style "static jumping" as I call it. (I sat on the couch and asked her to calmly lift back and forth over a leash strung up to form a chest-high jump). I want to work on those lift muscles and her ability to bend while doing it, as that should help us some with the bar knocking on front crosses and certain lateral sends. Tomorrow we are back to swimming in the morning, and I may start leaving Drifter home again in order to swim them a little longer - I am always afraid to go too long with him as it's very difficult to monitor his heart rate when he's swimming. Also, Drifter inhales half the pool and then pees for 6 hours afterwards....
I want to build them up to a full 20min swim, probably 10min, a 2min break, then 5min, break, 5min. The breaks help keep them from inhaling too much water at once and give them a chance to catch their breath. It's not really possible to pant while swimming, and the water is usually around 80F for therapeutic reasons.

Time to go walk the puppy!


MACH on a borrowed dog, dogwalks, and little? sheltie

First off, I went into this 3-day akc trial needing 2 QQ's for Trig's MACH, and she got them Friday and Saturday. Video:




Drifter also QQ'ed on Friday and Sunday - the only 2 days I ran him. I let him have the day off on Saturday so he wouldn't end up with sore feet. He actually did a faceplant after the dogwalk on Sunday so I'm glad we took it easy. He now only needs 3 more QQ for MACH2 and retirement from AKC.

The only run of Drifter's I got on video:



Kiba had a few really good runs but only managed one Q. It's starting to get into crunch time in preparing for AKC Nationals followed by WAO in Belgium. Mostly we are just having some issues working out how to leave the bars up on hard front crosses at 20-22". She has a lot more trouble at 20 than at 16" and I am determined to figure it out, both by putting her on a very tough jump grid and conditioning schedule over the next 3 weeks, and by working on some alternate handling strategies that allow her to focus more on the jumps instead of me sometimes.




Strafe was a pretty good boy. He got 8 points in Time 2 Beat on Friday, got an Excellent A JWW leg on Saturday and an Exc A Standard leg on Sunday, so he has one of each now. He hit a few random bars, but overall handled really well.




Which brings me round to dogwalks. He did 3 dogwalks, only one was really perfect. Friday he missed again (barely), and while he managed to hit this one on Sunday, it wasn't a great hit and his striding was funny. So I'm devoting the next 2 weeks before the USDAA trial to intense dogwalk training to see what I can do with it. I'm using video, some back-chaining, some stride regulators, and a frisbee. I won't be posting all the video though, too tedious.

If we can't hit most of our dogwalks by the next trial I will seriously consider putting a stop on it. He was perfect from October to February, however, I think his increased drive and speed at trials has him overextending over the top ramp and landing in an odd spot. I would like to try to fix this seriously before giving up, however I am not one to spend months and months on one obstacle when my dog is otherwise perfectly ready to go. A nice fast independent stopped dogwalk contact is perfectly competitive in most situations, and my goals with this dog require consistency along with speed so I am seeking to get both fairly quickly. Only time will tell if my plan for dogwalk striding rehab will pan out or not. I would prefer to have a running dogwalk but at least he has a 100% aframe that is already quite independent.

Oh, and my sheltie puppy is not so little. A few people at the trial mentioned that he looked big, so I looked up the sheltie growth charts (sheltie breeders are obsessive about size!) and sure enough, my puppy is big. I will chart his growth for a few weeks to see if it is due to a spurt or not - he also comes from a small litter (only 2) and so I generally expect the puppies to be a little larger from such a litter. I really just want him to stay under the FCI cutoff of 16 and 7/8", and the vast majority of his relatives are under 16", including several close relatives under 14", so I don't expect him to be that big despite his current size.