Aframe Turns

Now that I don't have to worry about adding any more height to Zumi's aframe (thanks USDAA!), I need to really start focusing on teaching her turns off the aframe.  Well not so much turning tightly as you don't really need tight turns off the aframe, but being able to handle my different positions and not powering straight forward.  With Vito this was never an issue but clearly Zumi needs to be actually trained on this.  Training, how rare!

I've done a few reps with this at home this last week and thankfully had the great idea to use her pole from the running dogwalk turn training and plop it at the end of the aframe.  I wouldn't have initially thought it would be as helpful since she doesn't really need to go as low on the aframe as I want on the dogwalk, but clearly it caused her little lightbulb to turn on!  We've had some great success!

This was our first session this week both without the pole at the start for 2 awful reps, then with the pole.


USDAA #2- Discovering People!

Zumi and I woke up well before any human should be awake to travel north for a USDAA trial.  Thanks to needing to be measured, we had to make sure we were there bright and early!

Another measurement for the win though!  And a win for me being brave and asking the judge nicely to measure her again ;)  It's hard to get a young dog to actually relax when they have been in the car for hours, arrive bright and early in a new place, and are SO excited by all the things!  But Zumi re-measured down that 1/4in to be 17.5in and eligible for that 18in jump height!

Then we had 4 runs.
Gamblers she was fast and focus.  Had 2 beautiful dogwalks, weaves, and a teeter.  And kinda messed up a very easy gamble.  But such a good dog!

Then her next run she suddenly discovered the existence of people.  Or maybe it was the further realization I set her toy down combined with the existence of people. Unlike Vito's concerns over an audience, Zumi thought the crowd was there just to see her.
It didn't help that we had to enter the ring late to help out the lovely team before us who could be a bit reactive.  Zumi was excited to enter and immediately tried to jump on a kid bar setter right behind the first obstacle.  And then had several more moments where she briefly left our course to go wave at her fans.  She did come back, but not without several "Ducky!" calls.  One such wide sight seeing adventure caused her to run by the aframe but I continued on.  Overall not a bad run, but I was caught off guard by her sudden interest in an audience when she hasn't shown any signs of caring in agility before.

Before her 3rd run I warmed up with heeling by people and rewarding her when she focused on me.  A little difficult at first, but then she remembered the game.  We still had a hard time focusing before entering the ring.  And then she started fixating on something and I couldn't tell if it was a bar setter or not.  I was able to get her jump up and do some tricks in the ring, but it wasn't smooth and easy.  On the release she bolted straight towards the cone by the weaves.  Luckily just a quick disappointed sniff.  No real sight seeing in this run, but did have some quick winks at the audience in a few moments.  I waited about a second longer on the table to release her as I wanted her to actually look at ME and not her fans, and she did.  Teeter a bit slow this time, and then I purposefully ran her to far forward with her dogwalk and aframe to ensure she hit better.  Manged to qualify though in starters standard!

Her 4th and last run was snooker. This time I warmed up with leaving her ball on the table and going away to do some tricks and heeling before putting her in a sit and going to get her ball reward.  We still had a difficult time focusing entering the ring but had even less winky moments.  My handling was not so great.  Snooker is always hard for me to handle with a purpose!  But we qualify!

Overall I'm still thrilled with where she's at.  The people issue I expect in obedience with her which is why we're not quite ready, but it threw me off guard in agility.  It was pretty minor overall and based on the improvement from just run 2 to run 3 I think it will go away quickly with more experience and some work on it.  Her next agility trial is just over a month away!


Excellent Obedience Foundations

In less than a month a brand new online obedience titling organization is going to be up and running. I know, some of you have mixed feelings on online titling and I guarantee I had the same thoughts.
But the way this program has come together is completely different than any other obedience organization out there.  Regardless of whether you want new titles or not, you need to check out Fenzi TEAM Titles just to get an extremely thorough progression of training that will take you through novice, open, utility, and well beyond.

Unlike all other obedience organizations that I know of, the TEAM program is about extremely solid foundations.  It mimics excellent training.  Instead of people just training to get through traditional novice (heeling, heeling, and more heeling), the start of retrieves, scent articles, jumping, and even backing up is in the very first level.  Actually you won't see anything resembling traditional heeling until you get to level 4!  The TEAM levels encourage people to have all the little bits and pieces before they move on.  That means teaching the dog how to move their rear end around a disc in heel position.  Teaching true side steps and backing up.  Little doodles that test if the dog truly understand heel position all before you go forward more than 2 feet at a time.

By the time you get to level 3 of the current 6 (eventually 9!) levels, you should have over half of the foundational pieces for traditional open and utility started.  By level 6 you have mastered utility.  Honestly, I've been working my dogs through the levels and none of my dogs can consistently pass level 3 each time I try.  So close, but not quite there every time.  TEAM is not a gimme.  Indeed you will see that the early emphasis on precision (often with props in the early levels!) and the distraction training built in from level 1 will really push your training to be better, no matter what level you're at.  The testing for Zumi has been especially great as it's getting her used to the feeling of formality and flow between exercises all while being at home and without the pressure of other people.

Here is Zumi working on level 3.  Almost!

And I think this emphasis on foundation, fun, and early success (level 1 should be doable with just a few months of excellent training) can help suck a lot of people back into obedience.  People that may have been wandering away to other dog sports.  Or people who just didn't know how to train past novice.  The levels setup will give anyone interested a very serious guide on how to get their training from step 1 all the way up with distractions, discriminations, and precision.

If you're interested in really good training, regardless of whether or not you want shiny titles, check out the TEAM website.  And if you need help in training any of the exercises, I will be teaching an online foundations class starting August 1st going over all of the exercises in levels 1 and 2.


Off Restrictions

Knocking on wood right now, but I think the Toller if fully back from his shoulder issue.  I've been slowly letting him play with toys again and do low jumps in agility for the last 2 weeks and I haven't seen any hints of problems.

I took Vito to his first agility class in 2.5 months this past week.  Oh my.  The Toller lost his mind.  So much screaming.  Could not even sit at the startline.  I know I allow Vito to break his start in a trial, but only because Vito is a good boy!  The very few times he breaks his startline in a practice I just tease him and he wouldn't even think of doing it again.  But at class this week Vito was fully incapable of doing anything.  Class was an epic disaster of the funniest type.  I told our instructor we should have came to the Foundations class instead of International Handling.
And wow he is faster at 16in compared to 20 or 22, especially when he's just doing his own thing.

Vito's not really in an official class right now.  My plan was to alternate tollers each week in agility but since Vito has been out since mid April that didn't really happen.  We will see if I'm brave enough to try the crazy one again next week or not!

I hope everyone has a great 4th!  Hopefully the tollers will get to go swimming again.


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