Friday, November 27, 2015

Eleven Months

Month eleven was a touch crazier than normal with the big W day thrown in for some extra excitement!  After a bit of stress leading up as is the way with these events, we enjoyed an amazing day with our friends and family.  Life post wedding has everything pretty much back to normal now.  We decided that a honeymoon can wait till next year when I have long service leave due to make it a big one.

Wedding day - photo by Mike Kelly
Veto and I are still merrily working our way through H360 and the base handling maneuvers from Blueprint.  For the most part when I introduce a new skill I use a jump bump rather than a jump bar so we can focus on handling but I'm finding that I can use a jump bar on 300 now and it is not causing him any particular issues and he is rarely knocking it.  I've been trying to vary things a bit to keep it interesting so we'll do a few days on something a bit more complex as in back sides, threadles etc but then we'll do some straight forward extension and collection work so he can blast around a bit.  While he can be a typical young adolescent male and be a bit of a buffoon, he's not actually a silly dog if that makes any sense.  He approaches his training with thoughtfulness and picks up things very quickly which is making teaching him handling a really fun experience.  I never find that he struggles to learn anything and I've had no feelings of frustration with lack of progress due to him just not listening or being a dickhead. 

Handsome boy
His running dog walk is continuing to be a really interesting experience...he has done some amazing work, but then we can have days where our success rate is barely 50%.  So at the moment we are bouncing between more challenging work and bringing it back to make sure he has at least an 80% success rate.  He isn't a dog who does well with lots of failure so to keep him up and confident it is really important that he is chalking up plenty of success.  So as soon as I think he has had too many failures I will just make it easier.  There is plenty of time in front of us before he'll be trialing so we'll keep pottering away and see what happens.  The dog walk is still only a few feet off the ground so I might start raising it over the next month provided his success rate stays high enough and see where that takes us.

His focus can still be all over the place.  Keeping him with me when I train at the Dogs West grounds is a challenge and I have to manage his environment if there is any hope of doing off leash work.  I probably spend more time working on rewards for him making good choices than anything else.  As I have all the equipment at home it's not really that big a deal if he can't do any "agility" so focus work is always my biggest goal when I'm out.  And of course plenty of recallers games get thrown in.  When we do manage to get on a little sequence way up the back away from everything he is great.  His drive is everything I hoped for and he is clearly enjoying it.  So even though its slow going there is plenty to look forward to as he does mature which I'm assuming will happen eventually, if I'm lucky...

Cassie's progress is going surprisingly well.  So far she has happily run at every trial we have done (although has only been a few) and last trial I did the full course in both classes albeit still as not for competition.  I have contemplated entering her normally but our handling is so out of sync, and well pretty crap basically, that I don't want to ruin it by overwhelming her on a complex course she's not ready for.  So I'm sticking to my plan of NFC in the lower classes for the rest of the year and then putting her back in masters next year.  As Veto goes through H360 I'm doing the same exercises with Cassie which will hopefully put her back on track for the New Year.  We both also need a lot of fitness work to get us back in shape as well so that will definitely be on the agenda for next year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ten Months

Veto has hit double digits and is turning into a really stunning looking young dog.  He has even grown into those ginormous ears...  He is getting more powerful and driven as he gains confidence.  He has been elevated to almost grown up status which means he can have free time in the house now with the other dogs.  He loses his shit on occasion when his brain explodes with excitement and we need to have a chat about chilling out but overall he's way better at putting his sensible boy shoes on.

Training is continuing to be lots of fun.  He used to get bored doing wraps but now he loves them and fights me to drive round the traffic cones.  I love his understanding of wraps and I'm working hard on maintaining that lovely flexibility.  I'm mixing things up by doing some H360 work interchanged with grid work.  I wanted to spend some time focusing on grids to teach him to think about his striding and figuring out how many strides to put between jump bumps, an important skill to have.  Dog walk work is continuing along nicely.  We have good and bad sessions but overall I'm still happy with how he is progressing.  The dog walk is nice and low, probably only a foot off the ground so no danger if he does come off and it will stay about that height until he is 12 months old.  So far I love his turns.  I only hope I can keep them... shortly will be time to start proofing the performance before the dog walk goes up.

I'm trying not to only focus on agility stuff even though sometimes its hard not to, so with the addition of a FitBone and more FitPaws bits and pieces we are working on building strength as well as working through the Recallers program.  So plenty to do over the next couple of months before he reaches his first birthday.

Cassie's progress is still moving in the right direction.  We did another NFC run a couple of weeks ago and in both runs I did 7 - 8 obstacles with her with no problems what so ever.  She still manages to freak me out on the start line with an expression on her face that leaves me totally guessing as to what may unfold.  But for both her runs once she took off she was flying and did everything I asked.  So we will continue forward on this path and stay optimistic about our chances to make the Nationals next year.  We have I think three trials left this year so some more opportunities for NFC before it gets a bit more serious next year.  Lots of work to do over summer!