This morning, I set up an 80′ long loop of obstacles: 5 hoops, a short tunnel (because I only have 5 hoops) and a barrel at each end with a Manner’s Minder behind each barrel. I drew a red line around the far barrel so it is visible in the photo).
I had 3 goals in mind. The first was to create massive acceleration away from me (and back towards me) without the use of a visible lure. The second was to build more value for seeking out and running around barrels. The third was to have a massive amount of fun. This set up worked splendidly for all three goals!
With Jake, I focused on him running a super fast line along a curved path vs. skipping obstacles and running straight towards the MM hidden behind each barrel (something he will do sometimes). It was also great to practice Jake’s start line stays with him being totally amped up due to using a MM and him knowing the path ahead. I also did some big sends and recalls with Jake and he aced them.
With Lil, after a few rounds of full-out running around the loop, I started mixing in WAITs, redirects, and 90 degree turns off the path with me in various positions. She was also very amped up yet aced every challenge I presented her with.
The thing I like best about this set-up is even after I removed one Manner’s Minder early on (because it stopped working), both dogs continued to drive full speed ahead towards that barrel and continued driving hard back towards me… and this was after only a rep or two with a MM behind both barrels.
I am definitely going to use barrels and MMs like this in other types of sequences in the future. What Fun!
The following video is from a few different sessions. Lately Jake and Lil have been racing around the backyard chasing a woodchuck and other wild life. As a result, Jake is not looking quite right, nothing major but his running motion looks a little off, so I am not doing much training with him. I think I’ll try to limit Jake’s running for a few days and see how he looks. Of course that means not chasing the woodchuck…which means leash walks vs. just letting him out in the yard but I think it will be good for him.
My main focus in recent sessions has been to present different “pictures” of a very new and unusual looking obstacle, a NADAC Gate. I don’t have a real gate, but my lattice wing jumps look very similar when set up side-by-side so I think they will do the trick.
The deal with gates is they look VERY different depending on their orientation. I have heard some dogs will try to weave a gate if all they see is a side view, which looks like weave poles (if poles are set up completely straight). Gates can also look like panel jumps to some dogs, including Jake who tried to jump a gate the first time he approached one head-on. The gate tipped over and Jake was totally unaffected. He proceeded to run around the gate without incident but I felt terrible about it and decided I needed to show my dogs a gate in as many different scenarios so there would be no confusion about “what to do” when this obstacle shows up on an agility course.
My other recent focus has been on Forward Sends because both of my dogs are not as confident about running ahead of me as they are with lateral distance. Our biggest challenge seems to be forward sends from a straight tunnel. If I am not visible (out in front of the tunnel) when they emerge, both dogs tend to either slow down or head-check vs. continuing to drive forward even when I’ve clearly indicated the path continues forward (to the best of my abilities).
This might be something they will never feel 100% confident doing and I’m fine with that but its good to practice so I know what is reasonable to ask of them. I think I pushed Lil almost past her limit the last 3 reps so the next time I will not attempt to send her forward 40 feet out beyond a gate to wrap around a barrel, both of which are newish obstacles to her. She has a great work ethic but I could tell she was not confident running that far ahead of me towards those particular obstacles.
I’m having so much fun incorporating these new ground obstacles and love the speed both dogs are generating on their own, even when I’m just walking. And even with Jake having a minor Ouchie, I thought he ran very well.. just a little slower compared to when he is feeling 100%, which I think he will be back to after taking a few days off from chasing that woodchuck!