Forest City Dog Training Club AKC Trial - Jul 30-31, 2005

02 Aug 2005Steve Schwarz

I signed Milo up for both days of the

Forest City Dog Training Club AKC trial this past weekend. It was held at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Belvidere, IL, the same location as the Car-Dun-Al trial last month. The weather was clear, sunny, in the mid 80s to low 90s with a nice breeze. You could definitely feel the heat in the sun but it was nothing compared to the 100+ degree temps of last weekend.

I volunteered to help with course building and the FCDTC folks were all very nice and made me feel right at home. They had really great worker “benefits” including a big worker raffle each day, plenty of good food and most importantly ice cold drinks. If only the Milo and I ran the courses as well as I ate :^) But there were some very good moments on course and it felt like we were progressing.

Saturday Excellent Standard

The Standard courses were judged by Mark Ouska. The Excellent course was a pretty nice course that gave most handlers more than one way to handle each challenge. The only sequence I had concerns about was the chute, double, triple to a 90 degree turn to the dog walk. All the obstacles were at the minimum distance and a double-triple combo can be challenging for many teams.

I got Milo warmed up nicely (maybe too much?) but he wasn’t himself as we left the line. I took a four foot Lead Out on the first jump to weave entrance. Milo took down the first bar but took the weave entry just fine. But strangely enough he got “hung up” on every pole; it was like he couldn’t get into his usual rhythm. Since we’d already NQ’d I pulled him out of the weaves and restarted and he wasn’t much better the second time through. They were a set of heavily staked channel Weave-A-Matic style weaves and he’s trained on those forever. Don’t know what happened - heard the judge was unhappy about the weaves though (Milo was fine weaving on them the second day).

Got a good Rear Cross Learning the Rear CrossRear Cross to the A Frame (I often don’t wait long enough when executing my Rear Crosses). Got a reasonable 2o2o contact. Avoided the off courses through a two jump 180, but then this time I waited too long to get my Rear Cross and almost wrapped Milo around the jump stanchion! Got through the chute-double-triple-dog-walk sequence without problems. But Milo self released on the Dog Walk contact. Got the teeter down contact with the “all the way” additional command… but he stayed until released. Got a nice layering across the table to get the tire-jump into the tunnel. But my layering got me to the tunnel exit way ahead of Milo and I got him nicely over the next jump but with a trajectory to miss the last jump (Anthony warned me about just that problem before my run too).

So Milo showed some improvement on his contacts and I had some real lapses in my execution.

Saturday Open Jumpers With Weaves

The Jumpers courses were judged by John Senger, I believe he is from the Washington DC area. The Open course was one of the nicest AKC JWW courses I can remember running. It wasn’t one of those insanely twisting courses; it had nice flow and the challenges were completely reasonable and almost subtle. The jumps were primarily laid out as though for a Pin Wheel drill. I contacted John and he was kind enough to send me his CRCD file for the course. I’ve posted the course with some alternate handling approaches here.

The opening was one jump into a 180 degree three jump Pin Wheel where the third jump of the Pin Wheel was the start of another 180 degree three jump Pin Wheel going the other way; making an “S” shaped path through the jumps. So you could handle the sequence by running the length of the two Pin Wheels from either side using either Front or Rear Crosses. The jump sequence ended in a “C” shaped tunnel with the near side of the tunnel as the correct entrance.

I chose to use Rear Crosses on this sequence as I felt getting into position to use Front Crosses Learning the Front Cross - VideoFront Cross would have caused me to push Milo into two possible off courses. All was well until after the last jump when instead of calling “Milo” (tugging on the Verbal Leash) to get his attention to turn toward me and the correct side of the tunnel I said “tunnel” right when Milo was looking at the wrong end of the tunnel. Like a good dog he went right into the wrong side. So he got a big “Good Dog!” as he did it. It was one of those dumb handler moments where Milo did just what I asked him to do.

After resending into the correct end of the tunnel I was too far behind Milo so when I called weave he was looking back at me and didn’t see weaves at all. So he ran past the entry. After the weaves it was a double jump and a long run into another three jump Pin Wheel. I was slow to Post Turn him through the jumps so he ran past the last jump. The rest of course was fine.

Sunday Excellent Standard

John Senger’s standard course opened with two jumps and an off course possibility to the weaves and after a few jumps a tunnel/A-Frame discrimination. In order to combat my tendency to get stuck flat footed after a lead out, I decided to run with Milo and Front Cross to turn him away from the off course weaves. He still almost beat me to my spot and looked hard at the weaves before turning on.

I Post Turned through the jumps and set a good line for the A Frame. Milo rocketed right at the A Frame and for some reason I didn’t call “A Frame” so he pulled off and looked at me with a “what now?“. I called A Frame and he took the A Frame but had spun at the bottom so I earned a refusal. Just didn’t have my head in the game for a second there. He had a perfect 2o2o on the A Frame.

The tunnel exit faced an off course tire and the next obstacle was minimum distance and offset weave entrance that cried out for an RFP. I got Milo to turn toward me out of the tunnel but somehow didn’t actually do the RFP so Milo rocketed full steam directly across the weaves. After fixing the weave entry I got the single to broad jump combo and turn to the teeter. Perfect 2o2o at the teeter.

After the teeter was a tunnel under the dog walk that pointed at a lone jump on the other side of the dog walk followed by the table on the originating side of the dog walk. There was much discussion on whether or not to layer the dog walk. After watching a lot of dogs run the course we layered the dog walk and Milo took the jump perfectly. Took Milo about 4 seconds to go into the down on the table though…

From the table it was over the dog walk, a 180 to the chute and a 120 foot run over four jump obstacles to the finish. Walking the course it seemed that getting lateral distance from the dog walk contact, and using a Post Turn into the chute followed by Front Crossing at the exit of the chute was the best approach to get ahead of your dog for the long run. But after discussions with other handlers and watching other fast runs the best solution seemed to be a fading Front Cross between the dog walk and the chute entrance and then running down the jump sequence. Turned out this strategy worked like a charm.

Sunday Open Jumpers With Weaves

Mark Ouska’s Open JWW course was almost as symmetric as you could make a course. There were nine jumps in the center of the course arranged so seven jumps were in a double box with two more jumps to fill out a square of jumps all arrange at 90 degrees from one another.

Again to avoid being stopped on course I Lead Out between jumps 1 and 2 and just ran with Milo (he was past me well before jump 3; which was my plan so he’d check back and I could turn him 90 degrees over a jump and off to the triple. The jump-triple-weave sequence was the same as for the Excellent course and was the cause of many NQs for excellent dogs. The triple jump was at a ~135 degree angle to the weave poles and tended to put the dogs approaching on the right side of the weaves (so the dog didn’t wrap the first pole). So there were a lot of runbys on the first two poles. Well Milo was no exception, with our weave entry practicing I was surprised he didn’t get the entry.

From the weaves it was a good run to a “C” shaped tunnel and further away to the first jump in a jump chute (about 35 feet horizontally from the end of the weaves to the jump). To handle Milo appropriately I had to be on the landing side of that jump. He went right in the tunnel and I cut and ran hard for my spot. He spotted me as he came out of the tunnel at full speed; I called “Milo, Milo, Milo” to make sure he saw me and my lead hand as I front crossed. He read the cross perfectly, changed leads and took the next jump turning correctly into a four jump Pin Wheel. After the Pin Wheel was another four jump Pin Wheel going in the opposite direction. I made the transition between two Pin Wheels with another Front Cross on the landing side of the last jump without ever having to get “in the pocket” of the first Pin Wheel. Then is was just four jumps and out.

Apart from missing the weave entry, this run felt great. I was “in the moment”; got to my spots, cued Milo when he was in the right place (as opposed to when I was in position), I kept moving, and took advantage of Milo’s desire to work at some distance. We ended up with the fastest time and with our fault took 3rd place.

Practice Tasks

So some continued improvement on contacts; but more work on the dog walk contacts definitely needed.

So some of the same training issues to keep working on:

  • More contacts (especially dog walk) in high excitement environments.
  • Setup high speed weave entries with more offset angles - jump to weave also.
  • Work Rear Cross drills - be patient
  • Work on moving lead outs
  • Fast table downs

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