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International Course Challenge 2-3-2017

Here’s the setup, course map, and analysis for the course that we ran in class at Clear Mind Agility this week. Enjoy!

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International Course Challenge, 1-23-2017

Here’s the set up, course map, and analysis for the course that we ran in class at Clear Mind Agility this week. Enjoy!

Want to read the rest of this article? This content is free, but you’ll need to sign up to access it first! Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an email with your login credentials, and you can log in and return to this page to view! If you’re already a student and know your password you can log in immediately 🙂

International Course Challenge, 1-1-2017

Here’s the set up, course map, and analysis for the course that we ran in class at Clear Mind Agility last week. Enjoy!

Want to read the rest of this article? This content is free, but you’ll need to sign up to access it first! Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an email with your login credentials, and you can log in and return to this page to view! If you’re already a student and know your password you can log in immediately 🙂

Course challenge for the week of 12-27-2016 at Clear Mind Agility

Here’s the set up, course map, and analysis for the course that we ran in class at Clear Mind Agility last week of 2016. Enjoy!

Would you like to read the rest of this article? This content is free, but you’ll need to sign up to access it first! Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an email with your login credentials, and you can log in and return to this page to view! If you’re already a student and know your password you can log in immediately 🙂

International Course Challenge – December 15, 2016

Here’s the set up, course map, and analysis for the course that we ran in class at Clear Mind Agility the week of December 15, 2016. Enjoy!

Want to read the rest of this article? This content is free, but you’ll need to sign up to access it first! Once you’ve <a href=”https://classroom.daisypeel.com/sign-up/”>signed up</a>, you’ll receive an email with your login credentials, and you can log in and return to this page to view! If you’re already a student and know your password you can log in immediately 🙂

Course map with focus areas – click to enlarge

16

Vocabulary Reboot Part I: Threadles

I’ve been thinking a lot about threadles lately. It’s something that historically, I’ve handled my way out of, rather than training, for the most part. I love training. I went to ALL of the Bob Bailey Chicken Camps, and I loved all of them. But for some reason, I just never viewed threadles as a training challenge. Insert maniacal laughter here.

I’m also thinking a lot about running contacts right now. Way back in 2008, when I started training Solar’s running contacts, before the days of online classes, and when NObody had thought to use FOOD or a remote controlled treat dispenser to get going, I figured it out largely by myself, along with Silvia Trkman’s writeup of the process she followed on her website. Her writeup was largely conceptual, and frankly, I think that was better for me to have read than a step by step process.

The concept of the process to be followed, along with my mind spinning with ideas, fresh out of Chicken Camp, meant that I really tried hard not only to be a good trainer, but also, to fully understand the concept of what I was training, as well as the ramifications of any ripples that might affect other training I was doing (there are, and JUMP training ripples in to running contacts, but, more on that later).

So, with my puppy, I expect that when she is old enough to step in to the arena to tackle an FCI style course, she will need a thorough understanding of landing side approaches.

What is a landing side approach?

First off, I think we would be wise to discontinue use of the term ‘threadle’, and instead, adopt a term that more accurately describes the type of challenge a threadle represents. So, I’m no longer going to use that word (plus my autocorrect hates it). Instead, I’m going to use the term landing side approach.

Examples of landing side approaches

You’re already familiar with landing side approaches as a challenge. You probably already have alternate names for each challenge as an individual challenge. BUT, consider that each of the individual scenarios below has in common the challenge of a landing side approach.

Just a few examples of landing side approaches to obstacles

Just a few examples of landing side approaches to obstacles

Let’s look at each one of the above examples.

In the upper left example, the handler is in a location relative to the dog such that a pull to the takeoff side is required. Both the handler and the dog are moving directly toward the jump, but the dog needs information early on that she is moving toward the landing side of the obstacle.

In the upper right example, the handler is again in a location relative to the dog such that a pull to the takeoff side is required. Both the handler and dog are moving directly toward the tunnel, but they are moving toward the “landing side”, or exit of the tunnel (I call them landing sides now too, so I can get the concept in my brain and in the brain of students). The dog needs information that despite the handler’s motion, they should bypass the landing side of the tunnel and head to the takeoff side. This example can be expanded on – in the diagram below, the tunnel at left is easier than the tunnel at right, because the takeoff side requires less distance to get to for the dog. In the diagram at right, the dog may stall out before getting to the takeoff side of the tunnel, and, lacking an obvious entrance to get to, revert back to the landing side entrance.

pulltoauvsjtunnel

Moving through the examples further above, the lower left is a push or send to the takeoff side, with a landing side approach. Although a send to the takeoff side may be a bit easier to handle, because the handler can use their body to control the dog’s approach and force them off of their path to the landing side of the obstacle, it’s not always possible to be close enough to the obstacle to accomplish this. And, the mechanical skill required on the part of the dog is essentially the same as a pull to the takeoff side, as I’ll get in to more as you read on.

Finally the lower right example…the weave poles. Yes, the weave poles as well can be thought of as having a “landing side” and a “takeoff side” (exit and entry). If you for any reason have to pull your dog to the takeoff side of the weave poles, you’ll see right away that this requires some solid training; the dog has multiple opportunities to slip in to the poles incorrectly, and must really know in advance that you are cuing one end or the other. A jump or a tunnel have only two options; front and back, entrance and exit, takeoff and landing side. But the weave poles have multiple spaces – one between each pair of poles!

More landing side approach examples

Below are a few more examples of a situation where the dog is approaching a jump from the landing side, and needs to be pulled to the takeoff side.

Landing side approaches – push or pull?

Until now, I’ve shown examples of landing side approaches that, for some reason, must be handled as a pull. Something previous in the course has forced the handler to be in a location where they cannot handle the landing side approach as a push. Typically, a push or send to the takeoff side is easier than a pull, because the handler can use their motion and body to more effectively push the dog off their path to the landing side of the obstacle. And so, here are the same examples from above, shown with the handler in a location where they can execute the landing side approach as a push or send.

We can also change up the weave pole scenario from above to be a push or send (click the image to enlarge):

Takeoff Side Pull and Push to Poles

 

 

Why should we care about the vocabulary?

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what you call these things. However, I do think that using better terminology to describe this particular category of challenges will help us in the following ways, to name a few:

  • Landing Side Approach is a term that will help you be more aware of what your dog’s natural vs intended path is. Not all threadles LOOK like the classic, two jumps side by side threadle. But, as a landing side approach, they meet the same criteria when considering how to handle your dog.
  • If you’re more able to recognize a type of challenge or puzzle for what it is, you’ll be more prepared to solve that challenge.
  • Landing Side Approaches involved a great deal of mechanical effort and skill on the part of your dog, as well as understanding of the effort and skill required. Whether handled as a pull or a push, it’s work for your dog, and should be respected as such.

 

The mechanical skill required for your dog to successfully navigate a landing side approach, whether it be to a jump, a tunnel, or a set of weave poles, is complicated. And, when a landing side approach presents itself, it’s sort of a make or break proposition – not having the skill has more dramatic ramifications than other, “tamer” situations, where there is more room for error. In order to smoothly and comfortably (and quickly!) navigate a landing side approach, training and conditioning are required on the part of both the human and canine part of the team.

Wow, it’s HOT! What now?

Written by guest blogger and student Diana Dickinson – you can visit her blog, which she posts on regularly, HERE.

effectiveness-clipart-thermometer-clip-art-172x300Every agility competitor I know worries about getting dehydrated when it’s hot. We spend all day at a trial, and it gets hot in the sun, or in the arena, and we drink lots of water and encourage our dogs to drink lots of water. Some of us look for salty foods to replace the salt as we sweat. After getting muscle cramps that woke me up during the night after a long weekend’s trialing a few year’s back, I decided I needed to better understand my body’s needs.

Like so many things about agility, it turns out it’s not that simple. Drinking water is good, but drinking too much water is bad, and drinking too little water is bad. Both problems can cause muscle cramps, too. Replacing electrolytes (salts) lost through sweat is good, but too much is bad and too little is bad. Balance turns out to be key. Based on everything I’ve read, drinking too much plain water without also consuming some electrolytes can lead to problems—just like drinking too little water.

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I love to watch you play

I received this lovely, lovely email from a newsletter subscriber a little while ago, and am posting it here with her permission. I love hearing stories like this – and I’m so grateful that Cheryl allowed me to repost here.

 

“Hi Daisy!

How coincidental that you are asking for some inspiring content for your class.  I read this article just days prior to finishing our very first MACH with my boy Hogan:

While it is an article directed toward parents, I found it a completely fitting and parallel scenario with us and our dogs.  Many of us are “parents” with dog “children”.  A lot of what is written really hit home for me, especially those 6 words, “I love to watch you play”.

 

You see, my boy Hogan is an almost 11 year old Golden Retriever.  He’s my first dog ever, let alone agility dog. We’ve been struggling for the past 8-9 years in agility to become that consistent team required to achieve a championship.  Through those years I’ve struggled terribly with the mental game.  I’ve seen and had training partners climb the ranks onward and upward, achieving success with dog after dog. I was feeling left behind and left out. At that time, I viewed success simply as getting a Q.  It seemed that everyone else was Q-ing and running in Excellent classes, enjoying themselves and all gathering together with the camaraderie that I desperately wanted to be a part of.

Want to read the rest of this article? This content is free, but you’ll need to sign up to access it first! Once you’ve <a href=”https://classroom.daisypeel.com/sign-up/”>signed up</a>, you’ll receive an email with your login credentials, and you can log in and return to this page to view! If you’re already a student and know your password you can log in immediately 🙂

Football and the art of the Forward Motion Front Cross

I’m not interested in discussing the “why, what, where, when” of the forward motion front cross; your timing is something you’ll need to perfect with your dog. What I’m interested in discussing is the how of the forward motion front cross.  After all, if you can’t get your body to do the correct things at the correct time, it’s not going to matter one tiny bit how perfect your timing is; you might know exactly when to do something, but if you can’t do move your body in the required fashion, your knowledge is useless.

A forward motion front cross is one where your motion (think, from the hips down) is telling your dog to go forward, but your upper body (hips up) is telling the dog to turn.  In this fashion, you can balance cues so that you let the dog know there is a turn after a jump or chute or straight tunnel, even as you are moving forward to the completion side of the obstacle.

Consider this sequence:

 

Figure 1

Let’s say that you would like to be able to handle #4 from the take-off side, so that you can already be moving toward #5 to cue the turn required to get your dog to #6.  You’re going to need to get on the landing side of #3, and it’s likely that your dog is going to see you moving toward the landing side of #3. Your motion and your changing location (evermore toward the landing side of the plane of the jump) are going to tell the dog to go forward after the jump, to that tunnel that is looming just beyond.

All is not lost, though – you can balance out the cues your lower body is giving, and your changing location with some upper body cues that will let the dog know that despite your motion, you do want a turn after #3. The trick to this is that your dog has to see you initiate these cues as he’s getting ready to commit to #3. If you initiate your cues too early, your dog may discard the information as irrelevant to the #3 obstacle, because your location relative to it was too distant when you began your cue combination.  If you initiate your cues too late, your dog will almost certainly head toward and go in to the tunnel; after all, if you’re just running forward, and facing forward, and you’re moving to a landing side location, all cues say full steam ahead to the dog.

Many people get this, at least in theory.  In practice, it’s another matter.  I’m not interested in discussing the “why, what, where, when” of the forward motion front cross; your timing is something you’ll need to perfect with your dog. What I’m interested in discussing is the how of the forward motion front cross.  After all, if you can’t get your body to do the correct things at the correct time, it’s not going to matter one tiny bit how perfect your timing is; you might know exactly when to do something, but if you can’t do move your body in the required fashion, your knowledge is useless.

Most of the time, it’s helpful to think of your upper and lower body as two different parts that can balance one another out.  In this case, the lower half of the body is giving forward cues, and the upper half of the body is balancing it out. If both the upper and lower half of your body are aligned, then the cues they give will be additive (ie forward + forward = FORWARD!), but you can easily change that balance by shifting either your upper body or your lower body to give fewer forward cues.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, take a look at this picture:

Figure 2

You can see that the wide receiver, who has the ball, has his lower half going forward, but his upper half is turned.  Imagine that the football player in the white uniform is  a dog; from his perspective the wide receiver’s outside arm can clearly be seen as well as the inside arm. The wide receiver is also looking over his shoulder making direct eye contact with the “dog” in the photo.

Of course, in this photo, you can anticipate that the next frame is either going to be the wide receiver rotating clockwise so he can run a bit faster, or getting sacked by the opponent.  But, in dog agility, seeing a handler moving like this has a pretty clear meaning to the dog; watch out, a turn is coming – the dog will anticipate that the wide receiver is going to continue rotating counterclockwise, particularly if the handler has developed a history of following through with such a rotation, say, in foundation work (think, recalls to heel).

I used to be in the marching band in high school and college, and to be honest, I’ve had my fill of football.  But, a couple of months ago, when I was on a plane and somebody had left a football special edition of Sports Illustrated in the seat back pocket, I was intrigued by all the photos like the one above. Each photo like this so clearly shows how to properly rotate your upper half independent of your lower half.  In football, the wide receiver is trying to turn back to find and catch a ball coming from above.  He’s also trying to avoid getting sacked.  He can’t just run forward, or he’ll never catch the ball.  And, he can’t run backward, or he’ll get sacked immediately as he’ll have no speed.  So the compromise is what you see above; lower half going forward as best it can, and upper half turned as best it can.

Figure 3

Even if you’re not built like a wide receiver (I’m certainly not!), you do have some ability to do this. Figure 3 shows an exaggerated version of what I’m talking about – this is what it might look like if you as the handler were fully extended and still trying to cue a turn for your dog. This is what rotating on the run looks like, and even if you’re not doing a forward motion front cross, learning how to rotate on the run is a very useful skill, because you can rotate your upper body in toward your dog (the football) and still cover ground quickly, cuing a turn while also staying ahead of your dog.

In the sequence above, you should be doing something like this before you pass the plane of #3. You don’t want to be so far ahead of your dog that you complete the rotation and end up standing still on the landing side of the jump; you only need to be as far ahead of your dog as the wide receiver is ahead of his opponent in Figure 2, provided that your dog has not already committed to the obstacle.  And, since you’ll be rotating your upper body but continuing to move forward with your lower body, your rotation might start before you cross the plane of #3, but it won’t end until a stride or two later (your strides), when you are on the landing side of the obstacle and can then work on cuing #4 properly.

We don’t have to worry about moving quite as quickly as the football players do, and most of us don’t have to worry about getting sacked by our dogs. Phew! Here are a couple of videos from Youtube – in each one, there are at least a couple of forward motion front crosses being performed.

Exercises You Can Try

For some reason, holding a jump bar or weave pole at shoulder height tends to help people get a feel for what it’s like to move the top and bottom halves of their bodies separately.  The video below shows you a couple of different exercises that you can do to help feel out moving your top and bottom halves independently of one another.

 

Examples

For a video that shows some nice examples of the lower body moving independently of the upper body, here you go:

If you liked this article, leave a comment!

Snooker Rules Explained!

Today was Chipper’s very first USDAA trial! As I listened to the very thoughtful and thorough briefing that the judge gave to the Starter’s Snooker competitors, I was surprised at the number of competitors that had no idea how the game was actually played! The judge was very patient explaining the rules – but oh, how I wanted to jump up and down and tell everybody, “hey, did you guys know that there is a CLASS you can take on this in my Online Classroom?!”.

Then, I realized that at the very least, I could make this 22 minute video, on the rules of snooker available to everybody! Lori Michaels put this video together as part of her Snooker 101 course. Judges, you can just play this video on your iPad during the briefing, and you’ll never have to explain snooker again! OK, you probably will, but COMPETITORS and INSTRUCTORS, share this video with your students to help demystify the game! And, you can learn even MORE about the game, and the skills you need to play it, in Lori’s SNOOKER 101 course!

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