A bump in the “Loop and Wrap” road

Below are recent posts and videos I uploaded to ST’s Agility Foundation on-line classroom about some issues Lil had this past week with the progression of  “Loop and Wrap.”   Silvia’s response is at the bottom.

I condensed the following video as much as possible but I wanted to show how high the failure rate has been. It was even a bit higher but I edited out some reps that were the same as others.

Lil tends to be very specific re: shaped skills so I’m wondering if she is confused about the criteria re: Loop and Wrap due to weeks spent with bars on the ground. I wonder if she thinks Loop & Wrap do not involve jumping?

The first session on the video below is Lil’s first Week 2 style multi-wrap session. I think it did not go well partially due to my holding a toy and Lil focusing on me vs. the bar. But I don’t think that was the only issue. Lil lacked her usual “pizazz.” The failure rate was so high, I went back to single loops and wraps.

Then I experimented with different set-ups to see how they would affect Lil’s performance. The thing I liked most about the last session on the video is that Lil looked like her usual happy self. As you will notice, Lil often takes off further away from the jump than the “ideal.” I question whether this is a training issue or just the way she jumps due to her structure. My other AT also jumps early. I am open to the possibility it is a training issue since they are both my dogs :) .

ps–I didn’t mention the obvious.. that Lil is having a much harder time wrapping right vs. looping left.

Below is a 1:56 minute video showing a comparison between my two Australian Terriers jumping. I started training Loop & Wrap with both dogs in mid February. Jake, my 6-year-old, tends to turn much wider than Lil when he runs courses.

I thought doing a few modified Loop & Wrap sessions over a higher bar might help Lil focus more on the bar when I lower it again.

Below is 1:36 minute video of another experiment….. using foot targeting to encourage Lil to land further away from the jump with her feet facing the correct direction. I was hoping that it would encourage her to take nicer set-up steps.

Lil’s first session doing the Week 2 sequence. ODDLY, I thought Lil’s wraps looked better than her loops due to nicer set-up steps overall. GO FIGURE! :) Strange coincidence? or did one of the experiments actually have an effect?

LoLaBu’s avatarLoLaBu

It was a good idea to try different things – try to review it in slow motion then, see what gives you best take off and then just go with that. Normally, the problem goes away with more height – but I would pay extra attention to it with Lil as it’s true that this type of dogs have tendency to jump too early. You can also try to use a wing-jump as a wing makes an approach a bit easier. You can also try it with higher bars and see what you get there. A target and screen could help too yes.

Silvia’s Response to Lil’s first sequence session: Cool, looks good! In time with your verbal and arm cues, nice speed and yes, very nice wraps, but not so good loops, so time to spend some time on those!  And yes, try lower hands. High arms are good for sending, but when using a pre-cue hand for a tight turn, it’s better to keep it low and close – especially with small dogs!

I will be focusing my attention on the following elements when my dogs practice “Loop and Wrap” in the coming weeks and months:

1) the set-up step– how close it is to the bar and if the set up step is perpendicular to the jump vs. setting-up the dog to slice away from the turn.

2) the direction of the dog’s head when taking off for the jump.

3) the direction of the front feet upon landing after the jump, which should be facing the direction of the turn.

4) how far from the jump the dog lands.

Obviously the first performance affects the next performance and so on. If the set-up is perpendicular to the jump, then the dog can turn its head when taking off. Since the body follows the head, the dog should land with front feet facing into the turn. And if the set-up step is reasonably close to the bar (vs. early take-off) the dog should land a nice distance from the bar.

Taking Silvia’s advice, I will see what it looks like over higher bars.  I’ll also switch to only using wing jumps for now and I’ll add the screen barrier on the landing side of the jump sometimes as a reminder to land a bit further from the bar. I will also be watching videos in slo-mo to confirm my “real time” observations.

Powering out of tight turns, running fast and jumping in extension

We are now a few days into Silvia Trkman’s Cik & Cap method for training tight turns and powering out of turns.  But since Lil has been having trouble jumping well when running fast on straight aways, I wanted to add that element early on, thinking it will be good for her to practice running fast over a bar on the ground before gradually raising all the bars back to full height. The other element I am adding early on is me running with Lil, since my movement can be distracting and cause her to jump inefficiently.

So yesterday I set up a pair of wings and a pair of cones (since that is all I have at my house right now), with a Manners Minder about 15 feet beyond the 2nd jump.  My focus was on Lil powering out of 180 degree turns, running fast and jumping in extension over the second bar.  Adding that 2nd jump on the straight-away created the exact jumping scenario Lil has been having trouble with lately.

After watching the first few reps (unfortunately I didn’t have my video camera out yet), it became clear that Lil was bouncing over the bars vs. driving or just striding over them.

The first video clip shows how Lil often takes an extra step before jumps on straight aways, which diminishes her speed.  But you can also see at the November trial that she sometimes over-jumps, which can diminish speed by transferring forward momentum to upward momentum, not that I felt her slowing down at that trial.  But I could definitely feel something wasn’t quite right at the December trial.  I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.  The final video clip is of a CPE trial from one year ago.  You can see that Lil’s striding is not even on straight jumps and that she often takes off a bit early.  I wouldn’t go so far to call it ETS (early jumping syndrome) but it is not the most efficient way to jump.  ps–I am open to the possibility that Lil (and Jake) will always have a tendency to take-off a bit early when jumping.  And I am OK with that as long as it doesn’t involve dramatic studder stepping or crouching before jumping.

I can think of two reasons I don’t want Lil to over jump.  The first is because it slows her down and it is much more fun to run agility at maximum speed.  The second, and more important reason, is that what goes up must come down.  Bouncing vs. driving makes for harder landings. The other thing that causes a dog to land hard is when the dog doesn’t know a tight turn is coming well before it approaches a jump.   I believe this is the most important aspect of training Cik & Cap.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about how I have been using the verbal cues Left and Right in a general way, adding specificity to them through movement, body language or following the words Left or Right with “Lil, Lil, Lil” which means wrap tight and come back towards me.  But I am now thinking it would be better to have different words for wrapping left and right so that my dogs know well in advance how tight a turn they will need to take.  My practice partner came up with two good verbal cues: Loop and Wrap, which I just might be able to remember since Loop starts with an L and Wrap phonetically starts with an R.

Today I am looking forward to doing a short session focusing on speed, tight turns and powering out of 360 degrees and multiple turns around cones and wings with the bar at 2″ using a ball vs. the Manner’s Minder.

These sessions are so much fun!