Jake and Lil’s First Agility Trial since January 1, 2012

The Mid-Hudson Kennel Association (MHKA) hosted an AKC trial 20 minutes away from my house last weekend.  I usually have to drive 2 hours for “local” trials so this was a real treat.

This was our first trial since January 1, 2012.  And after four months away from trialing, I noticed that my priorities have shifted.   While I still enjoy having clean runs, I realized that I don’t have big goals in terms of agility and I don’t care about titles, which puts me in perfect alignment with my dogs, who could care less about Qs, ribbons, or titles.  🙂 My only goal at this point is to have the fastest and funnest runs possible with each of my dogs and that is what we did this past weekend!

Everything I’ve been doing as part of Silvia Trkman’s on-line class appears to be paying off with Lil.  She was the fastest dog in her class (all size dogs) in Open JWW and took home 4 First Place Ribbons and earned her Open JWW Title.

I felt that Lil powered over jumps well and handled spread jumps with ease.   She had great obstacle focus all weekend and aced her two Open FAST runs, one of which included a tunnel to a WRAP at a distance, then back to the tunnel.  Her line and speed were unwavering (no video unfortunately).

Wind is like a giant tug toy to Jake in that it really revs him up and it was very windy most of the weekend.  In addition, it takes Jake a while to get used to being in a new environment with a lot of dogs around, especially when we have not been trialing for months.   On Day 1 we had some start line issues related to over stimulation and stress.  So on Day 2, I decided not to ask for a Sit Stay.  Instead I started Jake’s runs by restraining him, then releasing to the first obstacle.   I think this method is perfect for him at this point and time because it directs his high-on-life energy towards the course vs. me trying to suppress his excitement by asking for a Sit Stay.

This decision is in keeping with Silvia’s thoughts about honoring the dog/s we have vs. trying to make every dog fit into the same mold.  I am certain that her approach is the right one for my dogs and me.  There were a lot of people at the trial whom I have known for years and talking to them made me reflect on the journey I have taken with Jake and Lil so far.

Jake has always been high on life, ever since he joined our family at the age of 2.  It is who he is and my husband and I love him for it.  He is sweet, affectionate, funny, smart, and I believe he always brings forth his best effort.  Lil has always been a real worker bee and rather serious about her “job” and she does it well.  She has been this way since puppy hood and my husband and I love that about her.  I feel so fortunate to have such great dogs!

12 thoughts on “Jake and Lil’s First Agility Trial since January 1, 2012

  1. Hi Devorah
    Did you teach Lil the weaves with the channel method or 2×2 ? I love checking out your clips and blog. 🙂

    • I used the 2×2 method for Lil’s initial weave pole training but lately I have been practicing with channel weaves open a bit and it has not negatively affected her speed or accuracy in competition. ps–I think the reason she stays so tight to the poles vs. hopping back and forth the way a lot of small dogs weave is because I have Versa-Weaves which have a narrow based running down the middle, so she was able to sliver through them when learning. Eventually I added a wider base to my Versa-weaves to help her modify her style for typically wide weave pole bases.

      Of course the issue of a 1.5″ vs. 3″ wide base is only relevant for mini dogs. Lil does not like to step on the base, likely due to it sometimes being slippery when wet at trials. And I am fine with that since it keeps her from slipping.

      I think Channels and 2x method are both great for teaching weave poles. Which method do you prefer?

      • Hi Devorah
        I didn’t realize you had replied to me. 🙂 Somehow I thought I would get a notification via email.
        I have just started 2×2. I am a total beginner to dog training and have to do all of it with Youtube and through books, and I belong to Yahoo dog training list. We have no decent positive trainer in my area. I don’t think there is a company in Australia that produced weave poles. My partner made me a set of 2×2 poles and I have S. Garrett’s DVD. I find your clips really inspirational. Lil is very busy. How’s Jake?

  2. I thought you would have received an email too! Jake is doing great! I do all the exercises with both dogs but I have only been uploading Lil’s videos, because it takes a long time to edit and upload a video and I only have so much time to dedicate to the task of video editing…. I am very familiar with SG’s 2×2 training and I think the #1 mistake people make is in the direction in which they throw the reward. Not sure how far into the process you are, but as soon as your dog is driving through the first set of 2x2s well, you want to throw the reward forward (vs. to the side). You might already know this, but if not, watch that part again on the 2×2 video. That is super important. Are you video taping any sessions? If so, I’d be happy to give you feedback, since I trained Lil on 2x2s. Good luck and have lots of fun! 🙂

    • Hi Devorah
      No, I didn’t receive a notification about your reply and I am glad I checked your blog this time. I just watched your trial from the FDR Park in Yorktown, I have a lot of fun watching Jake and Lil. 🙂
      Most interesting in what you are saying about 2×2. We are still at the stage of the first set and I have been throwing the treats and then her toy straight, just as SG instructs in her video. However, just yesterday someone told me I should throw the treats sideways in the direction where the next set of poles will eventually stand.
      This really confused me, as SG clearly says to through the treats/toy straight.

      I will definitely take up your kind offer and make a clip. Please remember that I am a real beginner. 7 months ago I didn’t even know what I clicker is. Oh, I just remembered, that I have a clip up already. I have some other clips of Lucy and me up… all clips where I am learning to click and treat. I belong to a small Yahoo list and get help there but no one in this group does agility.

      I had trouble with Lucy staying away with her toy but in this clip she didn’t do.
      I must be throwing the toy late because sometimes she looks back at me. In this clip I have just come home from work and we took the clip quickly before it got dark and cold, we going into winter here. I work full time so my time is limited but Lucy is not alone at home, as my husband is at home.

      I really would like to teach her to weave. She is as bright as a button and I am the cause for our slow process. lol


      • Yes. You want to start throwing the reward in the direction of where the next set of poles. I think you just do a few reps throwing straight through at the very beginning. If you have been throwing straight through for many sessions, it might be good to gradually change the direction of your toss (within one session) so your dog continues to look forward (vs. at you). And maybe start the next few sessions with a 45 degree toss just to remind him that the reward is now going to “appear” at an angle.

      • What a great little dog Lucy is! I love her energy and enthusiasm in that clip. I liked that you kept the session nice short and that it ended withe Lucy wanting more!!! ps–when she “offered” that last run through the poles on her own at the end of the video, she didn’t get rewarded.. not that it is a huge deal… but early-on in training a new skill, I like to have big parties whenever my dogs offer the behavior. I can’t wait to see more videos of you and Lucy. You have a great relationship with her!

  3. When you say: ‘start throwing the reward in the direction of where the next set of poles’ you are referring to the next set of 2×2 poles, aren’t you? There will be a set of 2 poles behind the ones I am using now. We throw the treat or toy in the direction as a guide because in future the dog will run towards and through the next set of poles.
    I will take a clip on the weekend.

    When you trained Lil how many repetitions did you do in one session? Would you mind if we emailed through email? I always have to go to your blog to check if you have replied as there is no automatic notification. It just would make it easier for me. 🙂 my email address is flicka_faida@yahoo.com.au
    Bye for now.

    • I sent an email and posted it here too (as per your request). Assuming I’m not out of town, I reply to comments quickly, so you can check back within 24 hours if you still are not getting notifications.

      Pretend there is a whole line of weave poles and that you are throwing the reward so that Lucy would run though the poles and continue running straight out of the poles. NOTE: you will add the 2nd set of poles IN FRONT of the first set so that you are back-chaining. This will really help Lucy understand this “game” quickly. And when you add the second set of poles, you leave the new set open just a bit to make it easier for Lucy to be successful. I think SG’s DVD has all these details.

      When I was training Lil, I think I did 10 (or less) reps per session (with a single set of poles) and less reps once we added more poles BUT the reps were separated by playing so we were actually playing most of the time. This way running through the 2x2s became Lil’s way to initiate more play.

  4. Devorah
    I just read your nice words about Lucy. She is much loved and spoiled 🙂 One thing I really have to learn is to reward much more often. I was aware that I didn’t reward her then, I had run out of treats. lol
    Sometimes I leave the poles on the grass and when we walk around the house Lucy just runs through them for the joy of it.
    I am very excited about your help with this because you understand our little dog’s temperaments. The people on the Yahoo list have Golden Retrievers and they are very different to Aussies. 🙂
    Actually, it would be nicer to keep talking on your blog. From the beginning I had clicked the ‘Notify me of follow-up comments via email box’ but the notifications don’t arrive.

  5. ps– When my dogs do something GREAT and I don’t have treats on me (although I usually do), I start praising them VERY enthusiastically and energetically and immediately run inside the house to the Fridge and give them something very yummy.. all the while staying very YAHOO. I think they GET what they are being rewarded for because the party started the moment after they did the GREAT behavior and continued all the way to the fridge!

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