Sunday, July 26, 2009

Masters agility here we come!

I am very please to announce that Sonic achieved his last leg of Excellent Agility at the GSDA Agility trial yesterday afternoon. We started the day with a run in Masters Jumping and I was thrilled with it. He powered around the course full of confidence and the only reason he didn't go clear was me! He's been running a bit wide of my shoulder lately so I pulled my shoulder round further than normal after a rear cross. He was being so responsive that all I managed to do was pull him too far and off the jump I needed him to take. I also managed to complete ALL my front crosses LATE! One in particular cost me quite a wide turn. I really have to keep on top of those and work very hard on getting my timing right to start my turn when he's taking off for the jump, NOT when he's landed.... BAD handler.

His Excellent Agility run was fantastic. His dog walk was the fastest he's done in a trial so far. I timed him from the video at 1.97secs which is right up with our best dogs. He couldn't even hold his two on two off on the end. He did stop however (just without his back legs touching the walk) and I was happy to let him go. The weaver entry was tough and he totally nailed it. It was a great run to finish off his title.

I am just so proud of him. At the tender age of 1 year and 23 months he has made it up to the big boys class. We have a long way to go but each week I see him improve a little bit more as his behaviours strengthen and grow. I can't wait for the day when I can let him run through his contacts and really see what he's got in the tank but the bigger picture is too important to me. I have no doubt that the wait will be worth it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rain rain go away

Another trip to Geraldton was had last weekend with some positive runs and interesting learning curves involved for both Sonic and I. We had two Victorian judges in Ray Ashman and Trevor Moore alternating the Agility and Jumping classes over the two days. I really enjoyed all the courses that were set. They were challenging but not unreasonable and once again it was great to compete under some different judges. It was also Sonic’s very first attempt at Masters Jumping.

I was on the road at 5.30am on the Saturday morning, and after collecting Kriszty and Terra, arrived in Geraldton at the agility trial grounds about 10.30am. We had a pretty good run on the road and we were all feeling ready to go after getting out of the car and stretching our legs. Sonic’s agility runs on Saturday were really focused and confident and saw us achieve our only clear round for the weekend in the Excellent Agility class. On Sunday Sonic was a little distracted and although his runs weren’t bad by any stretch, he just wasn’t quite as with it as he was on Saturday. It was a shame as the Open distance challenges were very reasonable for a change instead of the “Gamble” that we often see from some of our local judges.

Just to be different Sonic’s jumping runs were better on Sunday than they were on Saturday. His Masters runs were really fun and the mistakes purely due to inexperience. Now that there are so many more jumps, naturally there are many more choices. We need to work on our grids and I need to help Sonic to understand what my body is telling him to a much finer degree. Masters means team work with a capital “T” and it takes more than 5 months of competing to develop a team with your dog on an agility course!

The other achievement for the weekend was definite reduction in Sonic’s bum sliding. I think I only saw him have one start line fidget in eight classes. Fingers crossed we have managed to eliminate that little problem.

Training of late has been a scaled down affair. I don’t know whether everyone needs a break or it’s too wet and cold for the usual suspects to want to leave the comfort of their homes. Either way with not many bodies at training means that not a lot of equipment gets put up so it is a bit restrictive on what you can work on. I’m still getting as much grid work in as possible but I’d really like to continue working on improving our contact performances too. I am sooooo looking forward to moving in to our new 5 acre property and having my own equipment to knock myself out on at home whenever I want!

Things on my radar for the next couple of months are building on his motivation so I fully intend to spend quite a bit more time doing small grids with high level reinforcement with a toy. I think it’s a tool that I'm underutilising and seeing as I have such a toy driven dog, it is important that I incorporate it to a higher degree when I’m rewarding a performance. Especially with the contacts and weavers. Then I would hope to see some more drive off the ground over a period of time as the value of the toy is transferred to those pieces of equipment. Well that’s the plan anyway... Now I just have to hope it stops raining long enough for the training grounds to dry out and to get a decent night of training in!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Finding some motivation

Well I have to admit I was a bit of whimp again this week. Tuesday was wet and yuck so my motivation to head to training was nil to zero. So the lounge won yet again... Wednesday night was cold but it was seriously time to get off my lazy butt and I headed down to at least get some agility training done. I spent most of my time working on the see saw as well as some basic grid work. I wanted to do some dog walk training but everyone wanted to pack up early so I didn't quite have time to get to it. We also spent some valuable time reinforcing startlines!

Today I went to a trial hosted by Cloverdale Canine Companions. We had a beautiful day for it and as usual for Cloverdale, the trial was well run and finished in good time. Our last few trials have been double headers so the day felt like it was over very quickly, although we had the rare addition of a games event in Snooker. I only entered the Excellent classes plus his first ever Novice Snooker class. It was an interesting day. We didn't manage any clear rounds, but once again I was really pleased with his efforts. Sonic gave me some nice drive off the ground and he looked quite confident and comfortable on all the courses. The mistakes were only minor and really just part of us getting more familiar with each other on course. I think in the future I will start to enter the Open classes. Unfortunately most of our judges love to set up layering in Open and I refuse to layer, however even if I don't like the Open challenge and run over the line to complete it, it's still an extra run under his belt that I think will only benefit him.

Now for some extra special news. We have finally purchased our very own five acre property. It has a gorgeous house on it with a really nice backyard for the dogs. The only thing that we will have to do is clear some area for my training patch as the rest of the property is bush. It's very private, with not a neighbour in site. The dogs are going to LOVE it (as will we)!