Friday, December 05, 2008

Training updates!

Over the past couple of weeks we've been doing some training in the backyard. Working on weaves, gambles, tighter turns, and the teeter.

On November 26th, we started with some 'getting the mouse pad' work on the flat. It's part of our running DW training. Since we don't have a DW, it's the best solution we've come up with. So we work on running the mouse pad with a paw touch on the flat, and take the mouse pad to practice once a week and put it on the DW. It's coming along, but still needs work. Recognizing the mouse pad on the DW when we're at practice isn't something we're quite used to yet.

Mum's been working on my weave speed, trying to get it up a notch. And she's been working with Gracie on her weaves. Getting her more confident, and finding the entrance herself. Gracie's been doing super well with weaves in the backyard. But is really struggling with doing the weaves at our weekly practice sessions. Mum thinks that 1) she doesn't want to stop and do the weaves at away practice; and 2) she sees different types of weaves and isn't confident with them. She's getting her weaves about 98% of the time in the backyard now. And only about 20% of the time in offsite practice. But they are working on it.

Tighter turn practice is paying off. Gracie was taught to turn tight on the jumps very early in her training, and she does well with that. I wasn't, so it's been a new thing for me. (Mum and I just didn't learn the importance, being the newbies that we were when I started.) Mum is working to pre-Q me on tighter turns. She can do it if she's at the jump, (as long as she holds her forward), but we're still working on our timing if I'm ahead of her with a combo of deceleration and pre-qing.

With our car insurance in tow, we went to practice this week indoors at the training center. Our first attempt at a tight turn failed miserably; but our second attempt was beautiful :) The big thing is me reading her new command with this, and her getting the timing down, and holding the position - just something I've never experienced before.

Here's a vid of that practice:

On November 29th it was another fairly nice day. So we headed out to the backyard again.

This time we started with the teeter. Mum wants me to feel more confident on it, and go to the end to ride it down. So we're using the mouse pad 'get it' for that as well. The work on that paid off at off site practice the other day. I zoomed my teeter. So she's super happy with the results. The teeter is my slowest obstacle by far (see below). Mum put a tunnel at the end of the teeter to encourage my speed, and she threw my treat bag as well.

You can tell in the vid, that I was really loving my mouse pad!

Then we worked on some distance. One of the hardest things we think for a dog to do is to turn out from a tunnel and go to the next obstacle at a distance. The dog just can't see what's coming next while they are in the tunnel. Mum didn't stay out and push me toward the weaves after the tunnel like she should have in the beginning, but after she 'got a clue' we were both in sync, and it worked great!

Gracie worked on her teeter too with the mouse pad. She's doing pretty well, although she still needs much more confidence on it. At off site practice Mum still right has to stay with her on the teeter, or she'll just stop mid way.

Then Mum worked on Gracie's weave entrances. Offside and onside, and rear crossing before. She did really great with all her entrances at this practice.

Here's a vid of November 29th practice:

Now the weather is super cold and we haven't been able to practice outside at all. 11 degrees this morning. But we have lined up indoor practice once a week at the training center, if Trainer's barn isn't available.

The other day, Mum got to thinking about our individual obstacle speed. Since I'm running probably nearly the best of my life right now, she decided she wanted to get a benchmark for times on my obstacles. She took vids from my September-October trials and timed the DW, AF, WP and TT. Here are the results for me and Gracie. WP's were timed with nose in and nose out - contacts were timed with one paw on, one paw off.

Doing a little searching on the Internet to find standardized ways to time obstacles, we came across a couple of great blog posts by our good friend, Ellen at Taj Mutthall.

She has a couple of posts. This one mentioned a Clean Run article from the October 2002 issue by Kathy Keats ("Tips for Timing Obstacle Performances"), and these times:

ObstacleAverageVery goodExcellent
Table down2.8<1.5<1.0

This post mentioned notes she had taken from Rachel Sander's class in Sept 2003 that says that the top-performing dogs have times in these ranges:

Dogwalk: 2.2 to 2.5 seconds
A-frame: 1.5 to 1.75
Teeter: 1.0
Weaves: 2.1 to 2.3

Then she timed "Team Agility, 6th place" from (I believe 2007) video, timing all the big obstacles twice and was within hundredths of a second both times. She got:

Aframe: 1.35/1.42
Dogwalk 1.87/1.90
Teeter 1.01/0.99
Weaves 2.82/2.85

There are other comments with additional info in this post, so be sure and visit. Thanks Ellen, for the great info!

So how do I compare? My TT has a lot to be desired, much work needs to be done. My WP, while a lot faster than they used to be, still need work. My DW on a good day isn't too bad, and it's improving lately. And Mum is loving my AF (I've really come in to it in the past few months, independent and completely running, reliably). My times: (avg., sample size, best, worst).

DW avg. 2.567 (4) 2.33-2.94
AF avg. 1.594 (5) 1.23-2
TT avg. 2.326 (5) 2.13-2.67
WP avg. 3.285 (4) 3.2-3.79.

Here's the vid:

And Mum decided to time Gracie to get a benchmark, as well, since she's just a baby dog. Her weaves are already where mine are. Mum thinks she has great potential on the DW and AF, but like me she's needs loads of work on her TT. Here are her times:

DW avg. 2.787 (4) 2.14-3.4
AF avg. 1.846 (3) 1.74-2
TT avg. 2.54 (1)
WP avg. 3.328 (9) 3.2-3.57

We have a trial this weekend, AKC in Lafayette. Can't wait!!!!


  1. We enjoyed all of these videos! Good luck with the trial this weekend!

  2. We enjoyed watching your practice. good luck this weekend!
    your pal, Morgan

  3. I really do need some training advice for my puppies:

    sent from:


Thanks for barking in!

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