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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

15

2016 Americas Y el Caribe Course analyses

Hear Daisy’s thoughts and analyses for all nine of the courses she ran in Medellin, Colombia, at the 2016 Americas Y El Caribe competition in April of 2016. This 45 minute video is free for you to watch, along with the course maps!

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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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Class Courses

I really enjoyed the set-up I designed for classes this week.  It offered a lot of opportunities for different challenges I used in all of my competition handling classes (from Beginning Comp to Extreme Agility).

Here is the basic set-up:

The first course I set for the Advanced Comp Class (the Beginning Comp class had the same course, but did straight from 6-8, not taking the #7 jump before the A-Frame).

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Handling Comparisons

I have had a great time with my Online Coursework Facebook group!  Every 2 weeks I post a set-up with 10 exercises, ranging in skill level so there is something for everybody, in addition to gambler and snooker challenges.  I usually share demo video focusing on a few sequences and handling options (not all of the options, I love having others comment that they tried something different and post their own video!), while subscribers share video for me to analyze and everybody discusses what worked for them, what was difficult and advice to help each other improve.  What a fun, sharing and learning environment!

This cycle, the video focused on the opening line of two exercises and different handling option I chose to try with C-ya. I also noted differences in times, mistakes we made and how I could have improved my own timing and execution (Hey, nobody is perfect!).  My hope is that it helps others learn to scrutinize their own training session more closely and be bold applying different cue combinations to optimize their performance.   We also tend to focus so much on the big picture that we lose sight of the details.  When we improve upon the details, the picture becomes much clearer. 🙂

Here are the video and maps:

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P-push it Real Good!

I really enjoyed all the “Fancy” classes this weekend presented by judge Leslie Bickel.  Casa de Canine offered both the MC Biathlon and individual classes over the last 3 days, so there were challenges a’plenty!  Today’s MC Standard course had a fun opening that led to multiple handling options:

push5

Opening to MC Standard Course Designed by Leslie Bickel

The initial decision the handler had to make was what path they wanted the dog to take from 1-4. As I stepped out both paths and looked at the natural line my dog would take  (she was jumping 26″, so make your own individual conclusions with your dogs and their natural tendencies),  I personally felt one was the best choice to have a very fast, efficient line from 1-3, but did not result in a great approach to the #4 A-frame.  The other choice did require a full 360-degree turn for the dog, but did allow the dog to land #2 and immediately transition into a straighter (safer), and faster approach to #4.   While I normally will always choose the more flowing path for my 26″ jumping dog, in this instance I felt it would be both faster and safer to go with the latter option.  Here are the paths I drew out in my mind and the differences in distance:

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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.

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