August 28, 2010

Letterboxing event and dock diving

Dazzle and I squeezed a lot into our day today. 

We started at a Letterbox gathering in Felicity OH.  This was needed to get his letterboxing 3 badge and was the last item needed for the badge!  So he has earned another badge today :-)  I'll be sending in the paperwork on Monday. 

It was a BEAUTIFUL day to sit with friends at a park shelter along the river.  Dazzle enjoyed watching the boats go by and visiting with anyone who got within petting distance. :-)

I had to laugh and get a photo when his tail came through the picnic table (really funny because he was wagging it and it looked like some odd wild critter!)

After our visiting, we went to Cross Creek Farm to practice Dock Diving on a regulation dock.  I got video of a few of the many jumps he did, but I'm having IE8 issues with uploads and freeze-ups.  I tried to get it uploaded, but Internet Explorer froze and upload aborted just a few minutes before it was done. GRRRR  I don't have the time or inclination to sit and wait for an upload again tonight, so I'll get it uploaded in the near future.  I was up till 2am this morning trying to get a tech to give me answers, but no luck. :-(

Air Dazzle!

OK, got the video uploaded:
VIDEO: Dock Diving at Cross Creek

August 24, 2010

Dock jumping practice

Today I roped my husband into coming to the lake and doing some video for me!  I took the rig I created for holding the toy up and out over the water.  I had planned to do all the jumps with this, but after the 4th jump, it broke and part of it sank like a rock!

Oh well, I changed the plans and worked on my throwing/timing skills.  I was trying to get him to jump UP for the toy and also get him to catch the toy (to make him try harder to get it).

Over all, we had a great time and had the boat launch almost to ourselves.  One guy drove up in a truck after my husband left and he and his dog watched Dazzle jump several times before driving off.

Video: Dock diving

I do want to vent a bit about YouTube. Trying to upload videos in the better quality takes FOREVER!  The video, just under one and a half minutes long took 3.5 HOURS!  This wouldn't be bad if I could just get it going and walk away like with most uploads.  But NO, if my computer goes to stand-by (after 10 minutes of inactivity) it causes an upload error.  So I'm stuck at the computer for the entire upload time.  Today it had uploaded for about 2 hours and then Internet Explorer got buggered up and closed- yup- lost the connection and had to start all over!  So while I like the better quality, babysitting it is a pain in the ARSE!  I couldn't find a way to keep the computer from going to stand-by. If anyone knows a way, it might save my sanity. No way I can upload a longer video till I get this figured out (or I create it in lower quality).

August 23, 2010

Cavaletti to bar jump

I've only practiced with the cavaletti once since last week because of the heat.  What I learned from our last session (last week) is that I should be on the landing side of the jump because he was twisting back toward me before he finished the jump looking for the ball.  I also think the cavaletti may have come to the end of their usefulness.  They did teach him how to regulate his stride, but now I need to work on his take-off point, which I tried to do with the cavaletti by putting a jump bump in front of the first jump.  The purpose of which is to get him to get closer to the jump for his take off point.  Here is video of the cavaletti session last week:

VIDEO: Cavaletti with jump bump

Yesterday I switched to a bar jump and raised it to 16" (then 20).  He did MUCH better with the bar jump than he was doing with the lower cavaletti.  He did knock the bar once, but his form and take-off point are better.  I'm still using the jump bump, and will for awhile because I need him to get comfortable with the closer take-off point.

VIDEO: bar jump with jump bump


August 21, 2010

catching up

On Wednesday, we had our first open shaping class.  The students get to pick what they want to work on. I'm mostly taking the class to work on getting response to cues at a distance without him creeping toward me, paying attention to me as other dogs retrieve dumbells, polish his heeling and work on his retrieve.  It's also good to practice at the club with 4 other classes going on! Lots of distractions.  I think it will be a fun and productive class.

On Thursday, Dazzle and I went to a new place for Agility practice- Agility Unleashed.  It was a fun and relaxed atmosphere and they had two courses set up (one for novice dogs and one for more advanced dogs). These were "nested" so the equipment was all the same, but how you moved from one obstacle to the next was different. They also played a soundtrack of dog show noises during the runs, so it sounded like a trial. We ran the novice course twice (bar dropping still his biggest issue) and then I had another handler run him. 

He was having fun and a few times with me he created his own course (even starting without me once and doing the first three obstacles (in the correct order!)  Agility would certainly be easier if I could just show him the course map and he would run it! LOL  He did well with the other handler and only got off course and dropped a bar once each that I recall. 

On Friday, we went to the lake and did some dock diving practice.  I took the new "rig" I made to help him learn to do the different kind of jumping called "extreme vertical". For that, the toy is suspended off the end of the dock and is moved higher and higher for each jump until the dog misses. 

I tried it before, but going from a moving/thrown toy to going for a stationary one was too big of a leap in understanding.  So I have been practicing with him at home just grabbing the toy hanging from my homemade rig.  Then yesterday I had him get it while remaining on the dock.  Then I had him get it so that after he grabbed it, his momentum took him off the dock into the water.  It wasn't long before I was able to have it pretty high and out away from the end of the dock.  I'm looking forward to going back to the official dock and rig to see if he can do that now! I also plan to get some video of our practice the next time we go to the lake.  I'm kicking myself for not having the camera with me yesterday!

Today, I did a presentation for CART and Dazzle accompanied me.  He was very good and mostly just laid by my feet.  He has learned that if I stay in one place for awhile, he probably ought to just lay down because it's going to be boring :-)  He did really well with the long train that went rumbling by, blowing it's whistle and shaking things in the room, literally 15' from the glass doors of the meeting room! I'm really surprized that building the new structure was allowed to be that close to active tracks! But several of the older buildings are that close too.

Now he's bugging me to play, so we will likely go out in the yard so he can play fetch.  I am SO thankful to whomever created the "Chuck-it" and Ultraballs!! 

August 16, 2010

more cavaletti practice

Today we got a break from the humid heat wave we have been having.  It was only mid 80's and much less humid.  After I cleaned out the pool, and mowed the lawn, I set-up the cavaletti again.  Today I set them up in an angled pattern.  It was still a straight line of jumps, but they were not the same distance apart depending on where he jumped them.

I added some bars along the ground on the sides to visually make it clear it was still a jump chute.  But once I knew he understood, I removed those.  His extention and collection within the line of jumps is good and by the last jump in the row, he was usually jumping from a good spot.  But his entry into the jumps is still very inconsistent. 

I tried adding a bar on the ground to help him find the proper take-off spot, but it didn't work very well.  I think I might deviate from the training plan and work more on his take-off spot.  I think getting that more consistent will be the key to keeping the jump bars up. I need to review my notes from Susan Salo's jumping DVD. :-)

Here's the video if you want to see it.  

VIDEO: angled cavaletti

August 13, 2010

Diving for the ball- on video!

I tried again today to get Dazzle using his feet to locate the ball underwater and this time I got it!  I upgraded my video program and used a new format, so the video is much more crisp!  It's only a minute long, but took 70 minutes to upload to YouTube!  Thankfully it shouldn't take that long to open it to watch it :-)

Watch how long he has his nose underwater as he is looking at the ball.  Even though his head isn't under water, his nose is :-)

VIDEO: Diving in our pool

August 10, 2010

Hot Dog! - not his best look

Dazzle does his Chinese Dragon impression...
It doesn't take long in this heat for the "Belgian Smile" to appear :-)
The water in his pool was warm, so I had him play with the water hose for awhile.  :-)

Smart dog!

After throwing the ball several times for Dazzle this morning, as usual, he cooled off by jumping in the horse trough "pool" we have for the dogs.  It's about 21" deep and he's 24" at his shoulders.  He likes to chew on the rubber Ultra balls in the water and make them squish and squirt.  Since they all have tiny holes in them, I decided to squeeze the air out of one and let it fill with water so it would sink. 

Seeing the ball on the bottom really confused him! He looked at it for awhile as if thinking "how the heck did that get down there!?"

First he had to figure out how to blow bubbles so he could stick his head under.  But he didn't want to open his eyes.  Since looking through the top of the water distrorts where the ball is actually located, he stuck his head under several times without finding it.  A few times he had his head under for several seconds, moving his nose around trying to come in contact with the ball.  But that wasn't working. 

So, smart boy that he is, he figured out a solution... Find the ball with his foot and hold it under his paw so he knows where to stick his nose to find it!  I think this counts as using tools, doesn't it?  :-) 

I tried to get it on video, but the sloshing of the water made it hard to see what was going on under the water.  Then I think he realized he could open his eyes because he was diving right for it each time without using his foot.  But it was cool to see him problem solve!

August 08, 2010

Good show

Today was about the same as yesterday, but Dazzle GOT his weaves back!  Unfortunately he dropped bars :-(  I guess I can't get weaves and jumps on the same runs :-)

The first run in Level 2, he just couldn't seem to get the very last weave pole and NQ'd on that.  In talking with others it was pointed out that UKC uses 9 weaves (an odd number and we usually practice 6 or 12).  So I went to the practice sets in the back, combined them to make 9 poles and ran him through a few times.  At first, he was not doing the final pole, but slowing him down at the end helped him get it.  Once he got it twice, he had them figured out and didn't have problems with them!

The second run in level 2, he dropped a jump bar early.  I shouted out "watch, now he'll get his weaves" and of course he did!!  I was glad he did the weaves, but a bit frustrated by the dropped bar resulting in the NQ.  So 4 level 2 runs and 4 NQ's.

Our first level 1 run was awesome!  Not only did he Q, but he got a perfect score and first place!  It was a nice flowing course and he ran it really well.

Our second level 1 run, he dropped the bar on the second jump.  ARGGG!  But I can't get too mad because it was my handling error that caused it (my turning too early).  So even though we didn't get the title, I was ok with that since I was the one that caused the NQ.

But he did get two pretty blue rosettes and two blue Q ribbons to go with them.  There is another show in December, so hopefully we will do better now that I have an idea of what needs the most work. Of course he might come up with other things he has issues with by then! LOL

I had given my video camera to someone to get our Level 1 run (the perfect score run) but she stepped backwards onto a dog's tail just as I started and then didn't hit record.  So that run didn't make it onto video. So thinking that when the video didn't work, we Q'd, I didn't bother getting video for the second level 1 run. Blew THAT theory to hell :-)  I do have video of our level 2 NQ's from today, but don't think I'll bother posting it.

I might need to reconsider scheduling 4 runs per day (unless someone else can run him for me).  I am SO sore!  I did remember my brace today, but it didn't help much. What I needed was braces on both knees and my back :-) 

But all in all a good weekend.  We had lots of fun, met new people, got a few Q's and blues and learned what needs work.

August 07, 2010

Today's UKC Agility Show

Photos are from the video, so not the best quality

Well, it's good news and bad :-)  Good news is we have a nice blue 1st place ribbon (and a level 1 Q)!  Yea!  Bad news is the other 3 runs were all NQ :-( 

For some reason, he forgot how to weave, one of his favorite obstacles!  With some dogs, they will go out of their way to find tunnels or contacts on the course, but usually Dazzle is drawn to the weaves.  Not today!  He acted like he hadn't seen them before. 

Of course, when I took him to the practice weaves in the back, he did fine with those.  Just not the set in the ring.  OY!  He also dropped two jump bars, one of which cost us another level 1 Q.

The weaves were what got us for level 2 (plus the dropped bar).  So I'm dissapointed about that because weaves should not have been a problem for him!  I know the jump bars can be an issue, that's why I'm working on the cavaletti with him.

There were technically 2 trials today (and 2 tomorrow).  3 Q's are needed in each level to get a title.  I signed up for a total of 4 runs in each level this weekend, giving us some leeway.  Since he already NQ'd twice in level 2, we only have 2 more chances for legs at that level this weekend (can't get 3 Q's).  He has only NQ'd once at level 1.  So if he Q's both level 1 runs tomorrow, we'll get that title.  Who knows though! :-)

In case the above paragragh was too confusing, maybe this will help:

Level   Run 1  Run 2  Run 3  Run 4
One        Q         NQ
Two        NQ      NQ

I need 3 Q's in each level to get a title.

Dazzle's new favorite obstacle he just saw for the first time 2 weeks ago... The crawl tunnel

Here's the video of three of the runs today. Of course the 1st place run was the one that didn't get on video!

VIDEO: 3 NQ runs

Now I need to go put my feet up because 4 agility runs is really more than I should have done!  And getting up at 6:30 is about 4 hours earlier than usual, so it's been a long day. 

August 06, 2010

More variable distance cavaletti

I was able to get Mike to help today, so I could move the camera much closer and have him pan to get all the jumps. I also added more info about what I'm looking for and how Dazzle is doing on this video.

VIDEO: cavaletti 9-9-5-5

I set up the cavaletti so from left to right on the screen it's 9' to 9' then 5' to 5'.  We started from the short side and as I suspected, he did fine with more extension at the end. He hit almost all the take-off points correctly.

Then I moved to the other end and he did two 9' distances into two 5' distances. He had some trouble collecting for 2 short jumps after 2 long ones and occasionally cheated and jumps the last two jumps together. But he quickly figured out that didn't earn him the ball! In the next to last run, you can see him really squeeze in that last jump! 

The last run on the video was beautiful! I hope he remembers how that felt.

I think I'll try adding a "jump bump" (4" jump) before the first cavaletti to help him find a good take off point for the first jump. That seems to be his biggest problem right now.  If he gets a good first jump, the rest of the jumps work out much better.
I don't think he's ready yet to move on to the next step.  I'd like to see him be more consistent with that first jump take off into a long distance bounce.  I think he sees the long distance and thinks he has to take off early to stretch.  Which is the opposite of what he really needs to do.

August 05, 2010

Variable distance

Today I varied the distance between the cavaletti. At first I had him go from short to long (5', then 6', then 7' then 8') because extending his stride is what he does well. Then I sent him from the other end (long to short). He was having trouble finding the correct take off point for the first jump, which was affecting the rest of his jumps.

I didn't review the video in slo-mo to see how he did with it, but he wasn't knocking the jumps so I thought he was doing ok. That's why I made it harder by making the distance more variable (6' to 8' to 6' to 8') and then made the short distance a foot shorter and the long distance a foot longer (5' to 9' to 5' to 9').

He actually did better with the last two set-ups. I think he starting to think and figure this stuff out! I can hope :-) I'll do more variable distance tomorrow to be sure before I move on.
VIDEO: Variable distance cavaletti
NOTE: I don't expect most people to watch the videos.  I know they aren't very exciting.  I'm just posting them and this comentary as a reference for anyone that wants to use the same method :-)

August 04, 2010

Collection and extension

We did more cavaletti work this morning.  But it was already hot, so I only had him do a few runs. 

I think he likes it though!  Last night, I took him out for a last potty break before going to bed and when I told him to "get busy" he tore off to the cavaletti at the back of the yard and did the full set!  The yard has lights, but it was still pretty dark. 

Yesterday, we continued to work on "collection".  We got down to 5 feet between jumps and I could see him really working at shortening his stride.  He did "cheat" a few times and jumped 2 jumps at once :-)

VIDEO: Cavaletti 5' 9" to 5'

Today, we started with 7 feet between jumps and after four runs, I extended it to 7'8" between jumps.  After four runs at that distance, I extended it to 8' 2".  Stretching out his stride as he jumps is easy for him, so that's why I jumped it up so fast. 

VIDEO: Cavaletti 7' to 8' 2"

Next (either tonight or tomorrow) I'll start varying the distance between the cavaletti.

I did make some new jumps so I'm ready when we get to that step. 

I was dissapointed to find that the construction of PVC T's has changed and they can no longer be cut to make snap-on jump cups!  I had to figure out a new method of holding the jump cups. 

With the help of my brother-in-law (who works at Home Depot) we came up with the rubber caps that are meant to slip over chair legs to keep them from scratching a floor. I cut them into a cup shape, and drilled holes in the jump upright.  

Now Dazzle is laying on his cool bed by the A/C vent and I'm going to stay inside where it doesn't feel like an oven! 

August 02, 2010


I started working with Dazzle over Cavaletti Sunday.  I found that 7' spacing was most comfortable for him, so I have been gradually shortening the space between the jumps to teach him to "collect" (shorten) his stride at speed.  So far, we're down to 6' spacing.
I took video so I could slow it down to really see how he's doing.  I have found this to be a really good tool.  I just increased the quality of the video my camera takes, so hopefully future video will be less grainey.
VIDEO: Cavaletti at 6' 3" and at 6' spacing

The goal is to help him on the agility course. I don't think he has properly learned to collect and extend to get the correct take-off point.  Which means he's knocking down jump bars. 
I'm starting with the low cavaletti to teach him to collect and extend his stride.  Then I'll vary the distance within the line to really make him work.  Once he has that mastered, I'll start using jumps so I can raise the jump bar height and repeat the process.