Lil’s Excellent JWW run at AKC Trial, Albany Obedience Club, July 1, 2012

Unfortunately I didn’t get video tapes of Lil’s other 2 runs, but she ran beautifully all day long and it was very HOT (90+ degrees), HUMID, and SUNNY.  JWW wasn’t as fast as she normally runs, but I was pleased considering it was the last run of a long, hot day.

She came in 10 seconds under SCT  in EXC JWW and 28 seconds under SCT in EXC STD!

Great progress with extension jumping!

For the past four months, I’ve been focusing most of my attention on Jake and Lil’s  jumping.   I have seen very good progress in the backyard so I felt it was time for the ultimate test… a NADAC trial.   NADAC is a great venue for testing jumping skills because the courses are fast and the jumps are spaced at a whopping 21′ which is five full strides between every jump for my dogs.  It has been a long time since I have gone to a NADAC trial, so I had forgotten how much fun they are for dogs and people.  We all had such a great time, I’m going to another NADAC trial this coming weekend!

Jake has always dropped his head and shoulders before jumping, but his jumping at this trial looked comfortable for him and his striding between jumps looked nice and even.  BTW, my sweetie-pie Jake has come a long ways in terms of staying in the game.  I was very proud of him!   I didn’t get a video of his Open Tunnelers run but he Q-ed it and he can get very WHOO HOO running Tunnelers, especially first thing in the morning.

OK. This was NOT my best handing on either video! 🙂  NADAC courses are so different from USDAA courses, that it took me most of the day to get my timing down and to stop calling Lil into handler focus when I didn’t need to….most apparent in Tunnelers.

Lil and Jake both felt very confident when jumping!   The person video taping zoomed in a lot for their jumpers runs, but you can get the general idea of how fast they were running and how well they were jumping!   All in all, there were just a few earlier-than-ideal take offs throughout the day and no dramatic launches by either dog! Oh and Lil got 4 of 4 Qs and 4 blue ribbons,  Jake got 2 or 4 Qs and 2 red ribbons and I wasn’t really trying to Q.

A couple of days before the trial, it occurred to me that I should run my dogs over a few 21′ spaced jumps since that is much wider than what we usually practice. This video is just of Lil, but Jake managed the spacing very easily too.

Things are really starting to fall into place!

I couldn’t resist any longer and set up Silvia Trkman’s Lesson 5 sequence this morning. The video includes every repetition and a lot of mistakes, plus some late verbal cues (one was so late, I think Lil had already taking the jump when I said WRAP… big OOPS on my part) but I was SO happy with Lil’s energy and speed that I just kept going.

An extension jump after a tunnel is a difficult jumping scenario for Lil so the fact that she jumped #7 so beautifully once and pretty well some other times made my day!

I don’t think you can see how YAHOO Lil was in the video, which I think caused some early knocked bars, but she seemed to figure things out without losing her YAHOO-ness or speed. I feel like everything is starting to fall into place and that Lil’s confidence and jumping skills have improved enough that she can now jump while running super fast!!! I am not sure the angle of the camera accurately conveys her ground speed but she was really running! :)

Yet another reason to love Silvia Trkman….like anyone needs one!

My recent post for Silvia’s Agility Foundations class:  Here is a short video of Lil’s current serpentines plus a few reps jumping over angled jumps. We have not practiced serps for a long time due to focusing on straight jumping and cip&cap.

Lil will normally seek out and take serpentine jumps with very little support from me. I wonder if the reason she ran past some jumps was because I was not in my usual position (which is typically further ahead).  It felt good to feel rushed by Lil’s increased speed and drive over the jumps.  I definitely felt more comfortable when I took more of a head start and was a bit further ahead of Lil.  I’m not sure any of this is visible due to the camera angle though.

Lil’s speed has picked up considerably since starting this course and as a result I am having so much fun running with her….not that it wasn’t fun before! It’s just more fun now!

Now I just need to be disciplined enough to do very little jump training between now and next weekend since we have another trial. Jumping has become so much fun its like eating ice cream… hard to stop until the bowl is empty! But I want Lil’s “jumping bowl” to be over-flowing for the trial!

LoLaBu’s avatarLoLaBu

That sure was fast! Great job! She is really flying, so… – who cares about a couple of missed jumps :) You do want to be ahead for a serpentine yes and you can help some with the arm too, you just don’t want to do any extreme turning as you want to keep running.

Lil’s jumping is getting better and better!

I finally got to practice the Week 4 sequence for the first time yesterday, but when I got to the training facility, it was raining so I had to set it up indoors with limited video positions but I think it was good enough to get the general idea of things. I threw in some extra straight jumping, since that is what we’ve been mostly working on, and I also rewarded mostly after straight jumps (vs. wraps) for the same reason.

I thought Lil jumped the back sides of jumps better when I said AROUND vs. WRAP. ps–AROUND is the word I’ve been using since Lil was a puppy so I think I’ll continue to use that word for the back-side of jumps.

It stopped raining so we moved outdoors and finished the session with some extension jumping. Lil’s speed and confidence over straight jumps feels so much better than when we started Silvia’s on-line class.

I started with 8′, one-stride spacing then tried 16′ spacing and I thought Lil managed it pretty well. She still tends to launch a bit over the first jump but I think that is slowly improving too (and she didn’t even do it every time today).

This was the first full session of jumping we’ve done in a while and I don’t intend to do more than one session like this per week but Lil seemed totally fine throughout the session and is currently racing around the house, so I don’t think I overdid it.

I am hoping the improvement I wrote about is visible on the video vs. only existing in my mind due to wishful thinking.

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LoLaBu’s avatar

LoLaBu on May 3, 2012 at 12:24

Yes, her jumping sure looks great now! Really fast and smooth, with no real launches!

And really nice wraps too! I don’t think she wraps better with around though, I just think your body language was better than as you were moving towards 7 sooner. First time, you’re not telling her at all where you are going next and then do that sudden front cross when she is in the air what of course makes her knock the bar. Compare my position and direction of the feet when Le is going to 6 – that’s my secret of being fast :) If I wait until the dog is in the air to start circling my feet, all bars come down because of lack of information on where to go next – and I end way behind…

Anyway, we’ll get to “around” in the next lesson, but around doesn’t necessarily mean collection, so you certainly still need a collection word on 6. In some situations, I’ll say both, around + cik/cap, but I wouldn’t say around at all at 6 because the dog is already on the right side of the jump, so they need collection info much more as “push out and jump toward me” info.

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!

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.

Lil’s progress with LOOP and WRAP and independent weave poles

Yesterday I shoveled out an area of snow in our backyard. It  is actually a layer of  ice on top of very dense, slushy snow.  The grassy area around the jump is slightly larger than 4 feet in diameter and the “runway” is about 3 feet wide.  The bar was set to 4 inches and I reversed the wing jump so the supports are not so close to the bar. I also varied the angle of the jump so Lil’s approach was easier at the beginning of the session.  After watching the video, I think my saying YES, when Lil was jumping, was distracting for her at times.  But I think it would be great for her to be able to stay focused on her job while I’m being my overly enthusiastic self.  I’ll be keeping my eye on it to see how it is working out….

Silvia’s Response: Looks good! Great distance already! I don’t think it was your yes that was making her knock, I saw it before your yes if she will clear it or not. She clears it nicely when she goes all the way to the base and wraps it, but sometimes takes off too early and just crashes into a jump, like at 0:52. Try to recognize this style in time to not say yes to those tries and not reward them. Also, try to find a pattern in when this happens – easier to fix it if you know why it happens…

My follow-up post: Silvia’s feedback is great news to me because I can see how training “Loop and Wrap” will give Lil many opportunities to develop an efficient and consistent pattern for approaching jumps. Plus it will give me many opportunities to see if I can pin point the specific scenarios that cause Lil to take off early.

My first thought is that early take offs happen when Lil is rushing and fails to take a set-up step before the jump. When she does set herself up well, she jumps the bar straight (vs. slicing it away from the turn) which makes it possible for her to continue with a tight wrap after landing. I’m not sure a long-backed dog like an Australian Terrier will be able to bend as tightly around a jump like a lot of Border Collies do, but as long as Lil takes a nice set up step and jumps the bar straight vs. slicing away from the turn, I think she will be able to clear the bar and power out of the turn.

The next time we practice “Loop and Wrap,” I plan to position the video camera perpendicular to the jump so I can see the angle of Lil’s set-up step and the direction her feet are facing when she lands so that I can mark and reward “better than average” performances.

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LoLaBu’s avatar

LoLaBu on March 6, 2012 at 18:38

Exactly. Not every dog can wrap the jump as BCs or Kelpies can, BUT they can all learn a lot on appropriate take off and can find a different way to meet the criteria. La is also not nearly as flexible as my BCs, but she can turn really tight by adding an extra stride to get a good approach and then throws her hips in one direction to land on the right line.

Moving along…

Today was the first day Lil practiced Loop and Wrap with 2 widely spaced jumps (25-30′), with one additional straight jump between them.  Lil seemed to have more obstacle focus after I added the straight jump in the middle.  I think the vast distance between the two jumps was too much for her to grasp.  I will try it again in 5-7 days and see how she does with it.

I was very pleased with her energy and speed since she has never been 100% confident in this particular facility.  Not sure if it is the dirt or a scent but she has a great work ethic so even if she is not 100% confident, she gives it her all.

I added a soundtrack of “Jovial Jasper” performed by a friend’s percussion band, Nexus.   There was too much ambient noise….happy dogs eager for their turns plus my high-pitched GO GO GO when Lil was weaving.  I really should do something about that (my voice… not the happy dogs!)

Silvia’s Response: What a great commitment! But yes, maybe try a normal figure 8 first and then add the middle jump. Nice weaves too, just make those entries and challenges more&more extreme gradually.

Silvia Trkman’s long-distance Agility Foundations class begins

Agility Foundations began February 27, 2012 and will run for 15 weeks with new lessons added every 2-3 weeks.  The way it works is that Silvia posts a lesson and participants upload videos in order to get feedback.   In some ways it is better than being in a traditional workshop because we can work on things over time and get feedback as we progress.  Silvia has been responding to videos and questions within a few hours and I’ve already picked up some great training tips by watching other participants’ videos and reading Silvia’s comments about them.

The purpose of uploading videos is to present an accurate representation of whats going on so I am not editing out “failed attempts.”  Below is my first video upload with a description:

Lil’s first session doing cik & cap over a 4″ bar. Until now, we’ve been using a 2″ stride regulator.  I noticed on the video that I was sometimes setting up Lil so she had to jump over the wing support AND the bar when wrapping to the right. That didn’t work so well.. and caused her to hit a few bars. Next time I will start a little more forward so she doesn’t have to also hop over the support on the ground… unless this is something you think she needs to learn how to do?

RE: Weave poles:  My changing directions was way too distracting for Lil when weaving..as you will see on the video. I am thinking that I should start by just slightly turning my shoulders while standing stationary at various locations along the poles for our next session, and gradually add more turning, and later adding movement????

Silvia’s response: Cool, getting there! Slowly add more distance to cik&cap and try leaving earlier&earlier. And yes, use an angle that doesn’t make her jump the jump support! The weaves are going well, but yes, slowly add more&more extreme entries and more&more extreme distractions. I think a “soft” distraction you did at 2:16 was a very good start, so I would continue like that and only make it more extreme through several sessions. Running hard and turning around was too much for now, but you could try sudden stops, gentle turns and similar to slowly prepare her for everything.

More evidence that forward momentum is a key component in Lil’s ability to jump efficiently

I videotaped Lil’s first session wrapping around a cone and striding over 3 bars spaced at 48″.  I had not anticipated how differently she would stride over the bars when she was chasing a thrown ball vs. focusing on me.

The following one minute video is in slo-mo to make it easier to see the different ways Lil strided over the three bars:

I just realized how and why inefficient jumping can lead to MORE AND MORE inefficient jumping. When Lil’s speed increased recently, she wasn’t able to adjust her strides well when approaching jumps, and so she started jumping inefficiently. This caused her to knock an occasional bar which caused her to lose confidence… which caused her to slow down when approaching jumps, which made it HARDER AND HARDER to jump well, which caused her to lose more confidence…