Thursday, 26 July 2012

Brodie's girls day out!

Last weekend we had a brilliant days training at the field (ours and other peoples dogs) on the Saturday and on the Sunday Brodie and I went to the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. We went with two of my 'horsey' friends and it was a great day out - lovely weather, great shopping and loads to watch! Brodie found the whole day exhausting - so many dogs to socialise with! It was funny watching people's reactions to Brodie wearing his swamp cooler coat which keeps him cool. At an agility show in the summer at least half the dogs will be sporting some sort of cool coat. At the horse show it was amazing how many people had their dogs out in the sun all day. 

Brodie could have gone in the shade but wanted to watch the show jumping!

He also got to travel on the back seat in the car - thought he was very important but couldn't stay awake for long...

Brookes weave homework is going well - we have managed at 8 different venues and she is getting much more reliable with distractions around. Entries and distance don't seem to be too much of an issue for her. Our next job is to start getting her to weave from different obstacles - its so much fun tackling all the different challenges that baby dogs need to give them a good all round education. The girls decided to curl up on the sofa together after training :)

As promised here is a Dolly update! She is working well on her dog walk and A frame and her jump sequences are coming on really well. She is still a bit hesitant on the seesaw (weaves and seesaw were not initially trained by me but by someone with slightly older fashioned techniques!) so we are playing lots of the 'bang' game and getting her to run to the end. Her weaves are becoming more independent and she can do 12 almost upright without checking where I am - yay!! I am hoping that she will join Brooke next month doing a steeplechase run and a nursery agility :)

Here is a video of her training. Really I shouldn't be running around in wellies but it was all I had with me that day - oops! She was good at the wing wraps and is more confident each time we work together. She is so cute!!

Here is a video of Dolly dog doing 12 weaves. They are still splayed but at least I can move now without putting her off :) I don't want to close them up too quickly as she would slow down and lose confidence.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

4th Jump Height??

I posted a photo a week ago of my three dogs and a little collie who was staying with me. It occurred to me that it perfectly showed either end of the small and medium range in dogs! The two sables in the photo are both KC measured as small, my little tri boy is just medium and Bailey collie would be medium or possibly large but is very borderline. I am under no illusion that there is always going to be dogs that are small for their height category - Brodie and Brax are both examples of this.

If Bailey was to compete in agility and measure medium he would be do very well and probably still be competing as a veteran. If he measured large there would be a massive issue in that he can't do full height jumps! We haven't pushed the issue as he isn't going to compete but he struggled over bigger jumps and happily trains at standard height (gives his owner time to get places on a course!). I can't see why a 4th height would be a massive problem for the Kennel Club to introduce - I know initially it would be a lot of work but it would be worth it for the dogs welfare. It would split the massive large classes at shows and allow many dogs to remain happily competing for longer. The most obvious reason is that there is a HUGE GAP between medium and large on jump wings!!

The last time this was proposed it was shunned because 'dogs not able to manage the current jump heights shouldn't be doing agility' What a load of cr*p!! My first dog and I started doing agility when I was 14 and although she could do the smaller jumps at training she couldn't do the 30" required for competitions so we didn't do any. I know they have lowered the large jump height since then but she couldn't do one jump at 26" let alone a course. My Bramble was a sheltie who was almost 18" at her withers. These are pics of Bramble (probably about 11 years old ) with my Dads Springer who is about 20" at her shoulder.

Shelties, working cockers and min poodles are three breeds which can end up in any height category for agility (there are probably more but I can't think of any!) If you own one of these breeds and it ends up in the large category then you would have to think twice about doing KC shows. I know a couple of shelties who do measure large and they only do independent shows at medium height or standard at UKA. I really think that UKA have got it right. Their small and mediums are measured the same heights as KC but the jumps are lower which is better for the micro dogs like our little Brax. 5cm lower is quite a lot when you are only 29cm tall!! I know my Brodie jumps better over midi jumps (400mm) than medium (450mm). There are so many dogs I know that would be better competing at standard, not because of being more competitive but simply for making it less strenuous on them and allowing them to compete for longer. We are relieved that Brooke has measured small for that reason, after having two dogs that are little for their height category! Hopefully the KC will think it through this time rather than dismiss it straight away. The other organisation that I think has it right is the World Agility Open as they also have four jump heights and four dog heights which accommodates the smaller dogs as well. Anyway, I'm going to stop rambling now and cook dinner!! :) 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Taking the weaves on the road!

First of all, had some great news today - Brooke's hip score came back as 3:3 so very pleased with that!!

Brooke had a go trying to weave at Dan's yesterday and did a few sets of 12 perfectly with Matt crossing behind, running past and alongside her and then it all fell apart - like totally fell apart!! What weaves?! To be honest I was so pleased that she had managed some in a different place. Weaves are such a 'fragile' behaviour, unlike everything else on an agility course, they don't mimic natural dog things to do (e.g. jump, climb, go under). 

Talking it through we realised we had changed two variables - new environment and new set of weaves. Dan set us homework of taking our weaves to 8 new places in the next couple of weeks. I love a challenge so we went straight to the field and spent a while working out how to fit them in the car! First new venue was this morning - I dragged the weaves out of the car and set them up in a local park much to the amusement of a couple of ladies walking their dogs!! Brooke was a superstar and managed 85% of the time despite the ladies throwing balls for their dogs while watching :) 

Brooke's lesson was great - she did some jump sequences which need a bit of tightening up as she tends to loop wide on 180 turns. We worked on her dog walk as I was worrying that she would struggle with that at a new venue having only ever done ours at full height. The first time she missed the contact having been a bit of a fairy on the top plank but typical of Brooke she was very indignant about not being rewarded and produced about 8 cracking dog walks in a row, nice and deep into her contact. I think it shocked her a bit missing the contact as since its been full height she has been 100% hence highly rewarding! At the risk of boring everyone here is a slo mo video of her doing a dog walk. Matthew is now moving with her more now and it isn't putting her off.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Have you ever seen a pig fly..?

Spot the flying pig!! This is Mitch having a mad moment in the field with his piggy! His lovely Mum and Dad bring him and the other three members of his canine family for a run around and play in the field and he is really getting into the swing of it now! He has amazing focus and toy drive considering what a sad time he had before Sarah and Simon took him on. All credit to them that he is such a playful happy boy now - it makes me grin from ear to ear watching him play :)

The shelties have had a house guest this week and I made Bailey join in with the posing pictures on a dry day at the field. He is such a lovely dog and again, very toy motivated - wow what a tug he has!! He has to be one of the smallest, cutest male Border Collies I've ever seen.

Go on, throw it again...

Brooke watching Bailey playing - not overly impressed!!

Her ladyship has managed 12 upright weaves and I on her third session I managed to get video of her doing it. It can still be a little bit hit and miss as she is getting her rhythm but as we have shaped lots of her behaviours, she works through failure well and keeps trying.

Some congratulations are in order! Jenni with Rommy and Caroline with Bobby both won their agility class at Wellingborough show which qualifies them for the Starters Challenge Finals next year - woohoo!! They both also move up at grade making Rommy grade 2 (at his second ever show!) and Bobby grade 3. Both dedicated owners, lovely dogs and very well deserved wins!! Also big well done to my friend Jane Emmett with Robbie the sheltie who has won into Grade 6 - he is a pocket rocket and probably won't be in Grade 6 for long!

Will do a Dolly update next time :)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Brooke Dog Walks

Brooke had her second session on full height/length dog walk this week. She is still trying to work out her striding but generally is doing it in 5 or 6 strides (about 1.9 seconds). She hit the contact 100% of the time but is deeper into it on 6 strides and quite high on 5 strides. I didn't give her much of a run up as I wanted to see what she did without too much momentum into it. Hopefully when she does a dog walk with a bit more 'oomph' she'll get lower into the contact.

According to Sylvia Trykman, a 5 stride running contact is most common. This is a video of Brooke doing 5 full strides on the dog walk - is she the only 'small' dog that can do this?!

This video shows Brooke putting an extra stride in on the top plank to do it in 6 strides. This looks better to me, but at the moment we are just rewarding drive and independence to build her confidence over the dog walk. Before she gets too used to running in straight lines we will start to introduce turns at the end - next job!

Her A Frame is a bit more hairy! Sometimes she jumps the apex does two strides on the descent (like Brodie does) and sometimes she jumps the apex and lands on the contact - crazy puppy but we love her!! :)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Weekend away

We were away in Edinburgh over the weekend for my step brothers wedding. The weather stayed nice and it was a lovely wedding. The dogs had come up with us and we met up with my sister Amy who took amazing photos of the gang - these are a selection!

Brooke at full stretch chasing her ball

Got it!!

My handsome boy :)

Brooke teasing Brax with her ball!

Sliding stop!

Gorgeous little diddle!

Tired now..!

This week I'll try and get some weaves and dog walk video of Brooke. She is now doing 6 uprights confidently and the whole dog walk but I'd like a video to see her striding over it - I think she is doing it in 5 strides but I'd like to check!