Sunday, 27 January 2013

RVA Indoor Show

The snow has suddenly melted and left us with floods and puddles everywhere.  Throw in some rain and it's ideal weather to go to an agility show!  We were back at the RVA unaffiliated indoor show at Houghton Hall EC, Huntingdon.  I was running Shadow (small G6), Storm (large G3) and Winnie (medium anysize), whilst +Susi Cooper was running Doople (small G3) and for the first time Zazu (micro anysize).

Winnie was our first individual run of the day in anysize agility.  She had a good time running over jumps, contacts and tunnels.  Towards the end she got a little distracted which is down to lack of mental stamina.  When she gets tired she looks for excuses not to run usually by shaking or wandering.  Once back on track she finished nicely.  The jumping afterwards was again a little distracted but she managed to focus all the way round for a clear round, but no placings for Winnie this time out.

Storm had all of her runs fairly close together in the middle of the day.  We started with grade 1-3 jumping.  This was a tricky course for 1-3, but it gave us some good challenges to over come, including a six jump kinked slalom.  We almost managed the whole thing but I turned and stepped too soon and Storm followed.  It was a shame because the rest of the round was really nice.  I was especially pleased with the weaves as the entry was very offset from the jump (the video doesn't do the difficulty justice).  In the grade 1-3 agility Strom leapt the contacts.  It is becoming a habit that we need to try to break.  The grade 1-7 steeplechase was Storm's last run and it was good to end on a blast.  Storm was running very well but coming out of the tunnel towards the end was too tempted by the jump in front of her to follow me.  I should have been closer to the exit of the tunnel and stationary to turn her better.

We decided to run Zazu in the anysize jumping over micro heights.  This was Zazu's first ever run at a competition so we weren't sure what to expect.  He ran very well.  At training he still bunny hops jumps (see the last post on his training class) but at the show he ran forward a bit better.  He picked up the tunnels well and generally paid a lot of attention.  At this stage it was about as good as we could have hoped for.

Shadow had a good days running but only ended up with a clear in the team event, more on that later.  Shadow ran in the pairs with Doople and wasn't great.  The grade 6-7 jumping was a good course where Shadow ran really well.  Unfortunately I wasn't as sharp.  I didn't turn my shoulders or feet back during a pull through slalom so Shadow ran it as a normal slalom.  This is highlighted in the video.  The grade 6-7 agility was good, a little distracted going into the weaves but I could have straightened her more after the turn.  We had trouble going into the wrong end of the tunnel, although as I had the sun in my eyes I couldn't see what we were actually doing.  I know, excuses excuses!

In contrast to the others, Doople had a very good and successful day.  Doople ran clear in both the pairs and teams.  In the grade 1-3 jumping Doople ran very well.  She was really going for it.  The same goes for the grade 1-3 agility too.  The fruits of +Susi Cooper and Doople's labour was a 3rd in the agility and 2nd in the jumping, which is brilliant.

We also ran in pairs and team events.  Doople and Shadow ran in the pairs.  Doople went first and ran the jumping course with Shadow second round the agility course.  Doople ran a nice clear round but Shadow got a little distracted with Susi and Doople running back towards her.  I went to run at the start and Shdaw ran the opposite direction straight towards Susi.  I got her back and we ran, but we now know that Shadow runs best before Susi and Doople.

In the team event we had me and Shadow, Susi and Doople, Wendy and Mist and another (I've forgotten her name unfortunately!).  Although we were quite steady we all went clear, which is an achievement in it self with four dogs running.  As it turned out, we won!

That leaves Doople with a 3rd, 2nd and 1st at the show!  We can't ask for much more than that.  Shadow had a first in the team and the rest of the runs were left wanting.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Zazu's Thursday Evening Training

Just got back from Zazu's weekly class.  He did 2 runs with good contacts and a nice see saw, once he realised he was supposed to do it.  His jumping needs some work as he rather bunny hops at the moment.  It may be due to me not running fast enough, but hopefully as he/we get better his speed outside of agility will transfer to jumping and his jumps will start to be smoother (I hope).

So first run was some agility:

And second some jumping:

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Dog Grooming

Due to the snow the Bit'z' and Bob'z' show was cancelled today so instead of getting to go and play at agility the poor puppy has to be very patient and had a hair cut!

Zazu doesn't like his face or feet being clipped so he's a bit stripy but he's getting better.  The three girls are all very good but overall it still took over 4 hours to get them all back to looking like poodles (who can actually see)!  And after such a long afternoon they deserve a rest.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Relaxing in the Snow

What better way to unwind after long hard day at the agility office?  We only took three of the dogs to the Dog Vegas show in Grantham today due to the cold, so the rest were quite excited when we got home and went for a walk.  We were home from the show by 3:00 so plenty of time for a run around before dark.

When we got home they were all covered in snow, especially the poodles as the snow clumps on their legs.  Is was quite funny to watch Jazz trying to clean Winnie's legs while she was eating!  And when it's all done, there's sleep.

Dog Vegas Show at Grantham

Our first Kennel Club (KC) show of the year was held at the UK Arena in Grantham and run by Dog Vegas.  The show was close to being cancelled due to the snow, but once out onto the main roads going was good.  I was running Shadow (small G6) and Storm (large G3) whilst +Susi Cooper was running Doople (small G3).  Due to the cold weather we decided to leave the rest of them at home so they could stay warm indoors.

Being an open KC show it was shaping up to be a large show, especially by winter standards.  In each of Storms classes there were over 130 dogs.  The start was delayed until 9:00 to allow competitors more time to safely get to the venue.  It was a very busy start to the day for me as I had four course to walk when we got there: two for Shadow and two for Storm.  And once everything kicked off it only got busier with us rushing around, changing dogs and trying not to miss any runs!  As it turned out there weren't very many people at the show, so all our best laid plans for which dog to run when went out the window and I had four runs in four rings in very quick succession.

Storm was first up.  We started with a clear round in the grade 1-3 jumping despite a hesitation towards the end. She was responding well and jumping the very tight jumps so pleased altogether.  Next for Storm, after having run Shadow a couple of times, was grade 3-5 agility.  In this Storm decided to jump off the see-saw ... not really sure why!  I crossed behind Storm into weaves and she completed it all so I'm dead chuffed.  Still more work to do on tight turns through gaps but she managed it second time around.  We'll just ignore the flying contacts!  The next grade 3-5 agility was, to put it bluntly, a disaster!  I learnt a lesson though: don't rush to get your dog and get to ring while they're calling your name and run Storm, it doesn't work!  Storm was still in a bit of a dazed rush so wasn't paying 100% attention.  We did cope with a tunnel under the dog walk entrance nicely.  Here are the nice videos of Storm running.

Shadow had a very up and down day.  We got a clear round in the first grade 6-7 jumping.  It was a bit messy but we got round.  In the grade 6-7 agility Shadow missed the A-frame, and by missed I mean ran straight past without ascending.  How you can miss a 3 foot wide blue and yellow board is beyond me!  The rest was OK and she listened well.  Which is more than can be said for the second grade 6-7 jumping.  In a similar vain to the previous Barking Mad show, we only made one jump before being eliminated!  After the first jump she took one look at me and decided she knew better so ran in a different direction!  We had the combined grade 6-7 agility round straight after, so my hopes weren't very high.  But once again Shadow surprised me, we went clear and finished 2nd.  Really pleased as we've only had a handful of shows at this grade.  Here are Shadow's best bits.

Doople had another fun show.  She runs much better in the winter in the cooler weather, this being one of coolest we've been to!  Doople's first run was grade 3-5 jumping and was her only clear round of the day.  No placings but she ran nicely.  The next grade 3-5 agility and, like Shadow with the A-frame, Doople ran straight past the see-saw.  The second grade 3-5 agility was was a good round apart from a back jump, Susi needed to turn Doople before the in.  In the last grade 1-3 jumping Doople took another leaf out of Shadow's book at the start: jump, jump, tunnel.  The tunnel wasn't supposed to be until later but Doople obviously knew better.  Here is Doople's jumping.

We also ended up running all three dogs in the team event to help out some friends who were short on dogs due to people not going to the show.  A team comprises of four dogs and handlers running in a timed relay event.  A batten is passed between team members once a dog has finished running the course and is always held by those not running their dog.  Once one dog finishes, the batten is passed to the first handler and the second dog may run.  The total time for the team is taken from the moment the first dog starts to when the last dog finishes.

Storm ran with Marie, Neil and another lady whose name escapes (sorry!).  Shadow ran with Wendy, Donna and Sharon whilst Doople ran with Wendy, Sharon and Val.  Storm ran very nicely but the team got eliminated.  Shadow ran well too but they ended with 5 faults which left them in 3rd place.  Doople also ran clear and so did the whole team, although they were 1 second slower than Shadow's team they finished 2nd to a team of collies who were also clear.  That means that they qualify for the final at another Dog Vegas show later in the year.  Here are the videos.

It was a good show with more clear rounds than last time, although that wasn't exactly hard!  The snow made it more interesting.  It ended up being a short day and we were off the show ground by 1:30.  And well done to Doople et al for qualifying for the team final.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Dogs

What happens when you let 6 dogs loose on a garden full of fresh, untouched snow?

We got home from work a little early today to try and avoid the worst of the snow driving home.  So we took the dogs out in the snow.  It's always fun watching them bounce around.  Doople already has a snow covered face as she tends to nose dive.

Out on the walk we made snow balls to throw for the dogs.  I managed to hit them on the back once or twice!  They don't mind really.  It is funny watching them chase the snow ball only for it to magically disappear on landing.

One of our more fun evening walks.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Barking Mad Show January

Our first show of 2013 and it's time once again for our club show held at The College Equestrian Centre in Keysoe, Bedfordshire.  I was running Shadow (small G6) and Storm (large G3) while +Susi Cooper was running Doople (small G3).

As it's our club show we are often very busy helping out as well as running dogs.  The show is excellently run by Den and Niki Keeler.  It starts on Friday night when we turn up to set everything up.  The rings need to be marked out, agility equipment set up, rosettes and trophies organised among many other things.  We just help with the simple tasks!

On to the agility.  Now if I said "we enjoyed ourselves" it may be a give away that we didn't do so well, so I wont say it.  Storm started the day off with grade 1-7 agility.  It wasn't the best of starts to the day as she missed the first jump.  After that she was OK apart from missing the A-frame contact.  If you read my post about our  training day on New Years Day this wont be a surprise.  But to give Storm credit, we followed it with an 8th place in grade 3-5 agility which was quite a tricky course for us.  So I was was pleased with that.  The two jumping courses we had afterwards highlighted a few areas where both myself and Storm need to improve.  Storm needs to work in close proximity better and also learn not just to jump what ever is in front of her.  This comes from having run at grade 1 for a while where the course are normally straight forward.  Also we both need to practice slaloms.  So, 3 E's and 1 clear, we've had better days.

Shadow was in one of those moods where she was very vocal with me.  We started the day off slightly better than with Storm by getting eliminated on jump #2 by jumping jump #3 backwards instead.  The latter part of Shadows run was much better, apart from staring at the camera lady half way round.  The next agility round started nicely but we had a difference in opinion after the A-frame which again got us eliminated.  Shadow wanted to do the jump ahead and I wanted to go into the weaves the opposite direction.  The grade 5-7 jumping round was nice but it was a relatively simple course.  The last grade 1-7 agility was OK apart from the flying contacts.  So in a similar vain to Storm, 3 E's and 1 clear.

Doople seemed a little bit off today and didn't seem to be running with the same confidence she normally has.  Needless to say she had the same number of clear rounds as I did with both Storm and Shadow put together! In the first agility round Doople missed and then back jumped but could have run forward better.  She was also hesitant on the see-saw.  The next jumping round again a bit hesitant but this time with the weaves.  The next jumping round was a clear round where Doople ran nicely and seem a lot more enthusiastic.  The final agility round was also clear but Doople was hesitant on the dog walk and said hello to the judge half way through, although still finished the weaves.  Doople weaves were quite good today as she picked them all up and only made a mistake in one round.

We also had a chance to run Winnie and Zazu in the training ring.  We ran Winnie of medium jumps and she enjoyed herself, even if she did seem a little distracted.  With Zazu we did some more training on the dog walk and A-frame to get him used to different environments.  He needed help getting on the dog walk first time but after that was picking it up nicely and was also stopping well.  We still need to work on the release as he doesn't drive away.  This wasn't helped by the improvised touch point we used: an empty treat bag.  He would run down, eat the treat then carry the treat bag over the next jump.  A neat trick but not quite what we were after!

After a muddy day we went back with a single rosette, Storm with 8th in the grade 3-5 agility.  We aren't at a show next weekend but will hopefully be training instead.

Storm Contact Training

We have started training storm on her contacts again from scratch.  I need to sort out a few videos so I'll update this post shortly but I wanted to keep the post in order!

New Year Training

On New Years Day we hired out some agility kit to do some private training.  We hired Little Revel End in Hertfordshire which is near where we live.  They have a full set of kit on astroturf so it's great for training in any weather.  It did help that it was sunny though.

We took all of the dogs along for training but we concentrated on the puppy, Zazu, and Storm, who generally needs more experience.


We started with Storm on the dog walk.  One of the issues with Storm is that she often flies her A-frame and dog walk contacts.  We wanted to continue working on this so we carried on with the method that she knows which is essentially treats on a touch point at the end of the contact.  As you will see from the video that this help her to an extent.  The problem is, that even with treats I don't think she really knows what she is supposed to be doing at the contact.

On the video you'll see her coming down and looking for the treat.  Sometimes she will come off sidewards, sometimes straight down, and on the A-frame sometimes leaping the contact and coming back for the treat.  The other point is that when she gets the treat she continues to hunt around more.  This helps to show that she doesn't necessarily know what she is getting the treat for and there may be more around if she looks hard enough.

Later on in the video there is evidence of a slight mistake on our part when training the A-frame.  The first time we did the A-frame we only went in one direction.  Later on we did it in the other direction but the first few times Storm stopped on the up contact briefly to search fr treats.  This goes to prove that contact equipment should always be trained in both directions and with the handler standing on both sides.

Another thing you can see with Storms contacts, particularly on the A-frame, the she doesn't drive away from the contact very well.  She can be quite slow in moving to the next obstacle which isn't ideal.  This is less of an issue when not training with treats on a contact but nether the less we want her to drive away.

We are going to have a think about other methods to use to re-teach Storm the contacts and see what works.  We have a contact trainer (basically a small A-frame) and a plank we can use train just the contact.


Zazu is still a puppy at only 12 months old.  He has been training for a few months now.  He can do all of the equipment and we are starting to put it all together gradually.  I will point out that he is only jumping over small jumps so as not to hurt his growing joints.  Recently at training he lost a bit of confidence with the dog walk and didn't seem to want to go on the dog walk when running at it.  So guess what today's training involved?

We started him off on a low height dog walk to gain his confidence.  He managed this a few times quite happily.  Unfortunately we didn't film it as it took both of us to train.  Later we moved on to the full height dog walk.  He was starting to pick this up much better.

His contacts are also coming along nicely.  We are stopping him slightly off the contact to eventually encourage a running contact.  We'll see in the long run how this turns out.

We did a little bit of jumping with a tunnel.  This shows how he isn't running on at the moment as he waits for Susi to catch up before running.