This is a bit late in posting, so I have to think back… my goal for this class was 1) curved tunnels and 2 weave poles, with entries on an angle from both the right and left side. This is a simple loop that can make endless opportunities for practicing directing your dog, changing sides, weave pole entries, and weave poles in general.
I had everyone start with just the loop, no poles. I think the dogs had a lot of fun doing the speed circle! It was fun to see them pick up speed and just run. Sometimes, agility courses have so many tricky side changes, fancy moves, harsh turns and awkward entries that it becomes less and less fun. Maybe that is just me projecting MY feelings about super technical courses! But I feel that when we have to really think (which hand should I use? Should I do a front cross? Cross behind my dog? Or cross in front of my dog w/ my back to him?) it slows the dog down… we have a moment (or more) of hesitation while we think, and dogs are so fast, that pause by us can really throw them off. Anyway, I think it’s always a good idea to bring back simple, straight-forward things to build motivation and drive.
Of course, I can never leave well enough alone, and always have to add some sort of challenge! Cue the weave poles. The weave pole entry from the tunnel has a few complexities to it. The dogs are running out of a tunnel blind – it takes them a stride or two to key in to where the handler is, since they can’t see the handler from inside the tunnel. Then they have to adjust their stride, and make the entrance to the poles. Once in the poles, they have to pace themselves so they can STAY in the poles (like coming into a corner too fast on a bike, it’s easy to skid out of the curve and run off trail). And we are expecting independent weave pole performance, where we don’t have to be there to babysit them thru. Phew – that’s a lot to ask!
I think your dogs did a great job, I like watching them move out independently to the tunnel, allowing you time to get ahead of them… and it was fun to watch them try to catch up with you when they came out! Here is what the course looks like on a course map:
And the video:
Here is a quote from a famous agility instructor from Canada that I like (I think I’ve said something similar in the past) Susan Garrett has a lot of videos – free and available as on line courses with registration – and is a great instructor. She does a lot with building drive, motivation, but also balances it with impulse control. Well worth watching a few clips, look for her on Facebook and YouTube.
Last week, I did not video unfortunately, but here is the course we ran:
I set up a starting “gate” for you (lined up 2 cones you had to start your dog between) that allowed them to see all 3 jumps. You all ran it with the dog on your left – so the dog would start on the left side of the first jump, and you would be on the landing-side of the jump. The dog would do the middle jump moving away from you, then come towards you, as you were near the right side of the tunnel. Once the dogs got in the tunnel (puppy-cannon!) they came out pretty quickly. They needed to do the middle jump to the table (the green square in the photo). Diana got “stuck” on the right side up the line of jumps, but it worked out perfectly – Rocky came shooting out, saw Diana and ran towards her… she moved forward, and he was perfectly lined up to hop on the table. In effect, Diana did a layer – had an obstacle between her and Rocky. A very professional move! As Carol said, It’s a GOOD thing! We started with a more zig-zagged line of jumps, then I straightened them every run. I’m sorry I didn’t have Carol and Jenny B demo doing them straight (so the posts are all in a straight line, and the dog almost weaves the jumps)… she tried it at the end of class, and did it flawlessly. Jenny still remembers how to do a threadle, that muscle memory is strong!
I’ve really liked the distance we’ve been building the last couple weeks in classes. It’s so fun to see the dogs going where you are directing them without being baby-sat every step of the way. And of course, since I have to up the challenge, we’ll do the seesaw next week, where we might not see the independence on the board, but hopefully we keep the confidence and independence up everywhere else.
Oh, and check out Rudy the bulldog from Westminsters Agility competition – I love seeing a non-border collie do well!