Finally the heat has arrived. We have been very lucky this year that it has waited so long to descend however we may not feel so lucky if it means we are still getting 40 degree days in April...
Never one to let a little heat slow me down I have moved my summer training sessions to early morning so that Sonic and I don't have to miss getting a work out. Mind you this only happens because I'm on holidays. Once I go back to work next week I'll have to go back to my normal evening sessions. I am extremely lucky that a good friend of mine has a magnificent 8 acre property only 5 minutes from where I live. He has spent the last few years working really hard to get a beautiful lawned surface set up to train on as well as making all of his own equipment. Like me he follows Greg Derrett's handling system so we set up a different jumping grid at each session from Greg's DVD - "Great Dog, Great Handler" and help each other work through the sequences. My partner Colin has been an absolute gem and has been filming all of these training sessions so that I can watch them back and review what I'm doing. It is not always pleasant watching but in a matter of three or four sessions I feel that my handling has improved from doing this. In the past I'd had some agility competition runs videoed with my other dogs but I've found that it's not nearly as obvious as when you are watching yourself do the same grids over and over (and over...). The fact that your not moving out of position quick enough in a front cross or hesitating too long on your pull through is immediately obvious and then the next session you can work on improving. With my own handling seeming to improve I think that Sonic has also improved heaps. He was really powering out of his turns this morning and you can see that there are less questions for him in the way he is moving. His dog walk this morning was out of sight. I had timed him at 2.2 seconds previously but this morning I clocked him at 2 seconds flat which I am pretty happy about.
Colin gave me a video editing software package as a Christmas present so I've been merrily mucking around with it over the last couple of days. Too hot to do anything outside so it's easy to justify spending the time playing with it... It's pretty full on software and at first I was contemplating whether using Windows Movie Maker was just simpler. Now that I've worked my way through a fair few of the features I'm slowly starting to work it out and after finishing my latest video that I'm currently uploading to my You Tube channel I'm glad that I've perservered. It does some really cool stuff as you will see below!
In light of Sonic's quick progression through a lot of the sequences I've been training on of late, the question arises, at what age should you start to enter agility trials with your dog? A friend of mine recently told me that she wished that she had of held off starting her youngest dog as at the tender age of two her dog is already up to the Masters classes. Being that in another month Sonic will be old enough to enter his first trial it is something that I have been giving quite a lot of thought. I haven't finished training all the agility equipment yet so naturally he won't be entered in agility for a while but he could probably do a novice jumping course with his eyes shut. So, what would I be achieving by not entering him? The trial ring is quite a different world with all the excitment and bustle that accompanies an agility trial. It is something that any dog needs to get used to as part of his training. As long as when I enter that ring for the first time I know that my dog will have no questions as he is running, because I've trained him to understand everything that he may encounter, then what am I achieving by not entering him, irrespective if he's 18 months old or 2 years old?
On a final note, it occured to me the other day that I have used quite a lot of Sam Weaver's photo's that she has so kindly taken and then forwarded on, but in my excitment of receiving them and posting them in my blogs have never given her the credit for them that Sam deserves. I have now gone through all the old photo's and made sure that Sam's name is against all the ones that she has taken. So my apologies Sam and thank you once again for all the great shots that you have taken!