Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Backyard Agility!

The snow is finally off the ground, which means that Molly and I can play agility out in the yard again!  One of my favorite things about taking Molly to trials is that they highlight our weak areas and help me compile and ever growing list of Things To Work On.

This first video is our attempt at a "Jaakko Turn".  We were taught this in Monday evening's agility class and quite broke my brain.  My hands were flailing every which way and I kept backing my body into the wrong area of the jump.  This inability to pick up a handling manuever confirms to me that I am "not a natural handler" and will never ever have that smooth instinctual agility thang going on.  Regardless I liked how the turn worked with my dog (it slowed her down and allowed me to collect her rather than allowing her to turn wide as she normally does.).  I spent the whole ride home thinking and thinking and wanting to try it again.  Yesterday was our chance!

I knocked the bar off of the jump a few times.  I messed up my hands a few times.  I drove Molly to distraction!  But we eventually pulled it off, and when we practiced it today we were moving pretty smoothly.  This video clip was taken yesterday.  The idea is to pull Molly to me with my right hand and send her over the jump with the left.  I am not to turn my body (and I do, in this video.  Too much.) because that can cause the dog to wrap around the jump wide.  It was amazing to me that Molly could do this.  I feel like fancy moves like this are for BorderCollieBrains and that it could not possibly translate to my crazy girl.  But dogs are dogs and when I moved my body correctly, Molly responded!

Another thing on my list is Molly being sucked into so many tunnel traps this past weekend, and in the past.  If it is a straight line of two or more jumps headed to a tunnel, and she needs to turn into a jump to her right or left instead of that tunnel, she's taking the tunnel.  Evidence: This Snooker NQ and this Jumpers NQ and this Standard NQ and....I don't have to keep going?  Good, 'cause that's depressing!

So, I know better than this.  And I see the same mistake.  I may be decelerating or stopping my forward motion but I am not turning my body in the direction that I want Molly to go.  I'm not particularly banging my head against the wall and expecting a different result with the same mistake, though.  I am NOT TRUSTING HER.  I have been thinking a lot and that is the root of it.  I am concerned that she will pull off of the last required jump in her line and come with me instead.  And the result?  I support her line until just about when she lands, and by then it is too late.  I panic and clap and call her name but it makes no difference.  My very actions have told her that I want the tunnel next and that is what she does!  Add in a little trial noise and Molly mania and there is no way that she will be pulling off that line.

So, today's exercise was more a practice for me than for Molly.  I made sure to spin my body in a near 180 direction away from the first line.  I set up a tunnel trap right in the direction she is running.  Sure enough, when I handle her in the proper way, she pulls away from the tunnel and comes with me.  Now, let's hope I can actually make my body function this way at the next tunnel trap opportunity at a trial!
This video doesn't show all of Molly's line, and you can see that I still turn my body too late - but I turned it soon enough to "talk" to Molly.  This is one I will need to practice more, probably without my dog!

Another thing on our list is obstacle layering for distance work.  On the Friday night of last weekend's trial there was apparently a "Gamble" where the dog had to be sent to two jumps on the opposite side of the weave poles.  Oof!  And Molly and I are just beginning to be able to send to stand alone obstacles!
So, I set up the weaves with two jumps on the other side.  This time it was Molly's brain that exploded.  She kept taking the weaves over and over!  (I have the channel weaves opened up for our continued weave foundation work.)  I got her closer to the jumps and did little mini sends.  I am going to replace the weave poles with some non-agility objects (probably some chairs) so that Molly can understand running past an object and getting rewarded for doing a farther away obstacle.  Right now it is too hard for her to run past an always-rewarding obstacle in order to do another one.  That would be twice the work and that would be silly!  No video, work in progress.  And what fun we are having!

However, you may have one more video.  Just a poodle doin' some jumps.  This video is really cool because I used to not be able to pull Perri back over jumps this way.  I used to have to run past the jump with her, front cross and collect her and then take the other jump.  She is getting braver!  It seems like such a simple thing, but this is a huge leap ahead for my girl and I am so proud of her.  

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