A single barrel can be more fun than a barrel of monkeys

barrel_7_2-14This morning I set up the following sequence starting with dogs on the porch:

1) Run down the DW ramp

2) Run through the correct hoop

3) Run around the barrel

4) Run through the other hoop back up the DW ramp to the Manner’s Minder

Other variations were dogs taking a sharp left off DW ramp through a hoop, then taking a right turn over two jumps, then OUT around the barrel, through the far hoop, and back up the DW ramp.  We also did this loop in the other direction.

I triggered the MM remote so the beep occurred when dogs were committed to running around the barrel since my main goal with this set up was to build a better understanding of barrel performance with me in various positions, including standing well beyond the barrel… way out in the woods.

The reason I wanted to practice with me standing so far beyond the barrel was because that scenario bit me in the butt at our last trial when Lil and I ran an Elite Regular course from a Bonus Box.   Granted, my timing was too early and I called her off the barrel, but when I tried the same set up in practice, she did not seem to understand what I wanted when I was 20′ beyond the barrel.  This brings up my next rather obvious point:

One great reason to trial, beyond how much fun trials are, is to see which skills (both dog’s and human’s) need to be trained or brushed up on.   So the issue Lil and I had with that distant barrel at our last trial made me think back to other courses we’ve run that had a  barrel and I realized I should be including a barrel regularly when we practice so it is not an oddity when we encounter one on a course.  Incidentally, in NADAC a judge can use a barrels in place of C-shaped tunnels and barrels can also be part of official courses so its important for me to practice handling and for my dogs to practice running around barrels so I can be less-than-perfect with my handling and timing yet my dogs will still seek out a barrel like they do other obstacle.

An added benefit for Jake was the last time he ran a Barrelers Course (which is kind of like barrel racing for horses), his line was perfect… it just didn’t include any barrels.  🙂  It was like we were practicing shadow handling.

On a side note,  Jake’s contacts were stellar today, regardless of my position.  The last time I tried standing 20′ away, he BOINGED.  But today, every rep was perfect, even when I was standing WAY out in the woods beyond the barrel.   Lil’s DW performance was also spectacular today and she had no trouble at all with me directing her through the correct hoop from every possible position in the yard.   Had either dog not been able to meet criteria on the DW ramp, I would have had to change the set up.  I’m so happy I didn’t need to because being able to leave the MM on the porch offered an added incentive for tight turns around the barrel and keeps the sessions moving quickly.

Jake and Lil are definitely more fun than a barrel of monkeys.



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