Yes, I teach more than Nose Work, I just don’t write much about agility. And, I’ve never filmed a class before. This class has been such a great group of handlers and dogs, and we’ve had such perfect weather, I kept saying, We should be videoing this! So week 2 & 3 I pulled out the camera. I’m no professional videographer, as you’ll see (some runs I thought I was videoing, but ended up taking a photo, others I thought I hit record, but nothing happened and I missed a great run, my battery died right as Bowie was about to do her best run), but I hope you find what I got helpful. The best learning comes from making mistakes, figuring out what went wrong and why, and making adjustments. You don’t learn much from the perfect runs (although they are fun!) it’s the all the mistakes you make first, that lead to perfect runs.
Here is the link to the first week (well, Week 2 of class, the first I video’d):
A few things that stuck out to me watching these back. Note your hand and body position when you are directing your dogs to an obstacle, at both obstacles they perform perfectly, and obstacles “they” miss. Did you inadvertently direct them around or past an obstacle? Did you just simply not tell them what obstacle to do, either with your words or your body language? Are you late giving a verbal or physical signal to your dogs?
At this stage of training, your dogs still need a fair amount of communication from you, as to what obstacle is next. As the dogs gain experience, they will start making assumptions as they run. They’ll come down off the Aframe, see you turning towards a jump, and will head to the jump and take it, without needing you right there. They will see a tunnel and speed up to get into it, see a tire and 2 jumps in a row, and take them. This can certainly help the handler do a lot less sprinting and vocal commands, but can also lead to off courses, where the dog makes up his own course. So there is a balance of obstacle independence – being able to move out and do an obstacle on their own – and being in sync with the handler.
Week 3 of class
This was their longest course yet! 15 obstacles! We broke it down into segments, to help muscle memory for both dogs and handlers, and to work on the turns, Aframe and seesaw – the more challenging things in this course.
Here are the videos:
Watch your dogs focus at the start, and watch where YOU are focused. Are you watching your dog, in tune with them? Or are you looking up to where you want to go, trying to remember the course? You need to do some of BOTH – watching your dog to be sure they are with you mentally, and then turning to gaze at the path you want your dog to take. I like watching the different turns from the jump to the tunnel – some of you have nice tight turns, meaning, the dog is close to the jump post as they turn and line up for the tunnel. Others send their dogs out farther from the jump before turning to the tunnel. You can shave time and save steps by getting your dog to do a tight turn around the jump. Then, once the dog is committed to the tunnel, you can take off and meet them halfway between the tunnel exit and the Aframe.
The jump after the Aframe proved one of the biggest challenges! I think the handlers were already thinking ahead, and taking off before their dogs committed to the jump. Other times, the dogs looked committed, but doubled back to hunt for treats at the bottom of the Aframe. Notice that I had a wing on the left side of those 2 jumps after the Aframe. I could have done a wing on the right side of the jump, but thought it would be easier for you if there was just a regular jump post – you could be closer to your dogs and turn them nice and tight around it. Maybe the wing on the left side visually pushed them away, maybe the jump being near the fence pushed them away? Hard to say, but watch your hands, hips and head at that jump, in relation to where your dog is. Is the back of your head to your dog, meaning you are not connected? This can leave a dog figuring out what you want, and they may make an unexpected decision! On one of Riley’s runs, Paul is indicating the jump, then drops his hand before Riley commits to the jump. Riley follows the hand signal – and comes to Paul! This is one of those moments you are not always aware of, and think the dog is at fault. Really, he is a great dog, and did what you asked! Jeanine and Ziggy have a similar moment, where Jeanine loses her place on course (a common occurrence, trust me!) and her hand signal to the tunnel isn’t super sharp, and she’s turning to look at me to clarify that she’s on the right course. Note where Jeanine’s body is facing – towards me! and Ziggy responds by missing the entrance to the tunnel. Again, good dog, following what mom told him to do. A more experienced dog will take the tunnel from farther back, assuming that is the next obstacle. That will come with time – for now, I’m happy with how handler focused the dogs are! Abby is SO focused on Mike, that she’s almost heeling alongside him. This makes Mike have to work extra hard, and practically do the course with her. Next week, we’ll work on send outs – sending the dogs out to an obstacle while the handlers hang back – I think that will help a lot of you. Also, giving the dog the obstacle signal (verbal and physical) much earlier will help them move away from you. Note where everyone gives the verbal and physical cues for the obstacles – is the dogs several strides away from the obstacle, or right at it? The more time they have to process and adjust their steps/direction/footing, the better. Once they are committed from a ways back, you can get in a better position for the next obstacle, thereby doing less running yourself! Bryleigh does a nice tight turn after the first jump to send Summer into the tunnel. And, she does a great job staying connected with Summer – watch her face and hand – they are almost always directing Summer and keeping connected. And when Summer gets a case of the sillies, Bryleigh stays focused on her, gets her to sit to ground and focus her, and goes forward from there. Bowie’s last run is a good example to watch the body language of Lilian and how Bowie reacts. That jump after the Aframe, even though Lilian was pointing to it, her body was moving past it. I’m not sure what the dog’s challenge was on that jump, because there were definitely times where it was the dog, not the handler, who went off course! But I really like how Lilian handled the seesaw on that last run – the treat timing was perfect – kept Bowie focused and motivated to stay ON the board, even as it moved.
Overall, I think this class as a whole has done an awesome job! Hard to believe that when the videos were taken, everyone had only 12 and 13 weeks of experience… pretty impressive!
Here are 2 websites that may be of interest. Clean Run http://www.cleanrun.com has all sorts of dog stuff… toys (check out the Lotus Ball, great for agility!), car accessories (fans, shade cloths etc) books & videos, and more.
The site I got my dogs collars at, no longer makes the style I like 😦 Another website, Rush to Tug http://www.rushtotug.com, makes slip over the head martingale style fleece backed collars, that you can personalize. You can get a collar only, or a collar / leash combo. I ordered a beautiful one for Quattro, only to discover that he HATES having something pulled over his head. I can bring it out to show you and sample it on your dogs, if anyone is interested, just remind me.
See you on the field!