Contact Sports Agility - Aug 9-10, 2008

08 Sep 2008Steve Schwarz

Meeker and I attended the Contact Sports Agility USDAA trial a month ago at the nice indoor Regional Sports Complex in Crystal Lake, IL. The judges were Greg Fontaine and Dave Hanson. Here are the results (extracted from Agility Record Book):

Contact Sports Agility - 2008-8-9

AdvGamblers43.79351QSelf release on DW, Teeter (but fast into 2o2o) A Frame - one sketchy, one very good. Ran out of obstacles, will be more prepared. Made Gamble without him even looking at the tunnel inline with the jump sequence.
AdvStandard37.69520NQWasn't watching me on start. Not enough turning cues, spectating, pushed him into weaves for off course. Little late on Blind Cross coming out of tunnel. Otherwise a fast run.
StartSnooker100NQLate on Blind Cross coming out of tunnel, Meeker was really moving and I pushed him over an off course jump.

Contact Sports Agility - 2008-8-10

AdvGamblers37.970QGood speed. High on AFrame down contact. Self release on contacts.
StartSnooker18.790NQMissed AFrame down contact in opening. I pushed him onto A Frame coming out of tunnel - keep you eye on your dog.
AdvJumpers20.95331QHeld his stay with some nagging.

Meeker's Runs - The Ska Music Fits

Saturday had some good and bad moments. Meeker was quite excited and I was able to get him to tug while in the warm up area. He was significantly faster in the ring than usual. It was good to see. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite ready for the faster Meeker and he beat me out of a tunnel in our Snooker run.

I was Blind Crossing the tunnel exit to get him on my right side to avoid an off course jump and my being late pushed him directly over that very jump. Had I Front Crossed Learning the Front Cross - VideoFront Cross I probably could have repaired the late cross and possibly saved the run (although he was moving pretty darn fast).

In his first Advanced Standard run Meeker was completely fixated on some Border Collies in the practice area and tugging around the ring. If you look at the video after I lined him up he wasn’t even watching me when I released him… bad handler. I should have insisted on his attention before releasing him. I’ve been working on this in practice when Border Collies are running in the other ring.

Ever since I changed him to a running A Frame Meeker has been very sketchy on his 2o2o contact behavior on the DW and teeter in trials. When I used 2o2o on all the contacts he was actually perfect. So this change in criteria or just the amount of excitement in a trial situation has uncovered this shortcoming in my training. So far I haven’t been able to get him “high” enough in a practice setting to reproduce this behavior. I’ve had it happen once or twice in class, so I could address it then.

Similarly he’ll Self Release on his start line stays. I’ve had more success reproducing this in a class setting. If I tug with him while other dogs are around that will get him pretty excited, leave him at the start line, lead out and start saying “Ready”, “Ready…”, “READY…” and use some forward motion I can sometimes get him to self release. Then I can give him the “oops” (notice the lower case to indicate I say it quietly) and reposition him. Then I repeat and if he hold his stay I go back to him and give him a Jackpot.

In trials if I start to put pressure on him with “Get it”, “Get it!” (his verbal 2o2o cue) he’ll start to slow to get into position. So it looks like that has become a cue for slow down as opposed to get into your position. When he is off the obstacle and I give him the cue he’ll hop onto the equipment and into position. So it looks like I need to break down this behavior into smaller chunks. For now I just use some additional physical cues and I mark when he self releases with “oops”. Another thing to work on.

So I wasn’t too happy with my performance on Saturday, 2 Qs for 4 attempts, we definitely should have Q’d the Std course. But the good part was how fast Meeker was moving and his ability to hold it together even better than last trial.

On Sunday our Gamblers run was better from my planning perspective, I was better prepared for the fast Meeker. The fast Meeker also self released on all his contacts though… Had I grabbed one more jump we’d have been in the placements (see how easy it is to get greedy).

Our Standard run was nice, not all of it ended up on the video, but I was taking it a little easy on the course and not pushing Meeker for more speed. Our effort earned us second place, the 1st place dog was 6 seconds faster. I would have liked to see that run, that must have been quite the speedy run.

I am still kicking myself for my handling in our Snooker run. I had the choice of layering a jump on the way to the closing or not. I chose to not layer and that pushed Meeker toward the off course A Frame, which we have drilled many times in course layouts just like that one. That’s fine, but I didn’t keep track of where Meeker was, he was headed for the A Frame and I was oblivious to it until it was too late. “Keep your eye on your dog”, I’ve said it many times. It is good to re-re-relearn important lessons.

Greg’s Jumpers course was interesting because it opened with a jump to two jumps next to each other with only a slight gap between them. The close spacing of two jumps left only a couple handling options. There was quite the clot of handlers there during the walk through.

Jumpers Opening

There were two main strategies for the opening, use deceleration and a Post Turn Learning the Post TurnPost Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot Turn to turn the dog while rotating in the gap between jumps 2 and 3. I chose to Lead Out to the landing of jump 2 and send Meeker Across The Feet over jump 3. My approach required Meeker to hold his start line stay, which he did with some nagging. Looking at the video I was kind of loafing on the end of course.

If I counted correctly he was 9 for 10 on hitting his A Frame contact (only missing it in Sunday’s Snooker opening). Only a couple were high in the contact zone. So that and Meeker’s new found speed were the best positives I could have hoped to take away from this trial.

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