Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Cinnabar - Agility
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Cinnabar - Agility
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Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute

April 4, 2006 - First Agility Class
4 in that class Deuce (Portugese Water Dog), a Border Collie and a little terrier. 

We started right off with basics, Here (making sure they follow you), Wait (short stay) and quick Downs.  Then right to the tunnel.  Jen thought that Cinnabar would do great and I said no, he'll need some time and he did.  With the tunnel fully collapsed to about 18" long, he was afraid to go through.  Took a few minutes with me at one end dangling a hot dog, Jen at the other end encouraging him but he made it.  Less fright the next time and then it was never an issue.  Pulled the tunnel out to full length (15 feet) and he went right through.  Curved the tunnel in the middle and then no big deal.  Put him in a Sit/Wait called tunnel and he went right through it.

(The reason Cinnabar had tunnel issues is that when I work with them at home, Sebastian always takes over the tunnel or crowds him out.  Hmm, you'd think he thinks it's his!)

Then we started with the hurdle, just jumping over with the dogs calling jump as we did it.  Then a Sit/Wait while we went to the other side and called them to jump.  With the except of the terrier, the rest of us did the hurdle with the bar on the first rung (no rungs for the terrier, she's too small). Everybody did well.

Then we combined the tunnel and hurdle together and everyone did well.  Cinnabar never refused the tunnel, and I have to crowd him (just like his brother) so that he does the hurdle after the tunnel and doesn't run to me looking for the hot dog.

He had a blast, and it's good for him to have this activity without big brother around.

We've also been walking in the mornings - all 3 of us.  The first 10th of a mile is unpleasant with pulling and jumping from the excitement.  They settle a bit after that, and the rest of the way is tolerable with improvement every day.  We're doing a mile right now and should bump it to 2 miles next week.  At some point it's going to be a pleasant experience in total, but I am pleased with their response to commands on the walks.

April 11, 2006 - 2nd Agility Class
Cinnabar's 2nd agility class had a total of 3, Deuce (Portugese Water Dog), Tinker (Chocolate Lab) and Cinnabar.  All love to play and get along famously, with Tinker's raw energy leading the way.

We started reviewing hurdles and tunnel, all doing well and having fun.

Then we got them started with the tire jump, set at the lowest level.  Cinnabar had a slight hesitation and then decided it wasn't scary at all and went right through.  Then Jen raised the level to about a 12" jump for them.  All did well.

Then we combined the tire jump, tunnel and hurdle together and everyone did well.  I was messing up Cinnabar because I was using the hotdogs for him like I do for Sebastian.  But with him, he concentrates too much on the treat and not on the task.  So when I stick the hotdog in my pocket and just lead the way using hand motions for him, and crowding him at each obstacle, he does well and gets the treat at the end (which he ALWAYS looks for).

We did the combination several times and then in reverse order.

Then we learned the ladder.  The ladder is flat on the ground and we need to walk them slowly through it so they coordinate hind legs and front legs separately.  We go slowly through it.  This gets them ready for the dogwalk.  Cinnabar did well as long as I went slowly enough with him and kept my hand low in front of his nose.  Deuce did well right off the bat with this, and Tinker did well when focused.

Then we combined the ladder with the tire jump, tunnel, hurdle.  They all did well, with Deuce giving his mom some fits by refusing the tire if it was the final obstacle.  By the end of class, he gave that up and always went through.

Then we added one more hurdle after the ladder and we all went through the course from both directions - tire jump, tunnel, hurdle, ladder, hurdle and vice versa.

As the class wore on, Cinnabar put in good effort to make the hurdles without his hind legs knocking off the rung.  I was impressed with how well they all did.  The size of the class is wonderful.

We had a couple breaks during class for water and play.  Tinker really winds them up with her racing all over the course and the other two giving chase.  Cinnabar was really doing his best to catch her, but with Malamutes not known for speed didn't have a prayer, but didn't give up.  They also enjoyed rolling around on the ground together.

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute

April 18, 2006 - 3rd Agility Class
Cinnabar's 3rd agility class had a total of 4, Deuce (Portugese Water Dog), Tinker (Chocolate Lab), Abbey (some type of tiny terrier) and Cinnabar.

We started with the pause box. They use an orange metal grate for the pause box. The texture of it takes getting used to for them. Cinnabar initially had trouble staying on it, but I was able to get him to sit and then a 5 second down on it, which is required. We all did this several times.

Next up, the dog walk. This is a board 12" wide (regulation width). Still looks narrow to me, but it is bigger than the 8" one from last year. We started with the board flat on the ground, with them walking slowly across it. For Cinnabar, we crowded him - Jen on one side, me on the other, taking him slowly across. Tinker is good at this and Deuce proved the same. Little Abbey had some issues, but did well.

Then we raised the middle of it, so that it ramps up and then down. We made it across without jumpoffs on our 2nd try, but it's tough for big dogs. The trick was to go slowly, with my hand in front of his nose each time.

Then we added the touch command using a plastic lid as their target. This is placed at the end of the dog walk, and you want them to touch the target with their nose. This helps them learn to not leap off the dog walk, but go completely across it and touch their nose at the end. We were 50% on the touch at the end of the dog walk. Cinnabar likes to twist his backend off when he's near the end. This will take lots of practice.

Then we added the dogwalk & pause box to the other obstacles. Our course was - tunnel, hurdle, hurdle, dogwalk, pause box & tire, and then in reverse order so they accept obstacles in any order. After they did well with that, a final hurdle was added after the tire, where we had to turn left 180 degrees to reach it

I left Cinnabar's leash on so that when we got to the dog walk I could grab it and make sure we went slowly enough, we can work on speed later, I just want him to get used to being successful on as many passes as possible. He did great on each run, except the last, where we repeated the dogwalk because he jumped off halfway, and he flew by the tire so we had to go back and thru before the final hurdle.

Tinker is a riot, gaining speed after the second hurdle she looks like she's going to lauch herself as a cannon ball on the dog walk. Her mom & dad work hard with her (they take turns) to slow her down as she needs to for the dog walk. Evidently, chocolate labs are just muscle and limitless energy.

Deuce did really well, but started clowning a bit for the final run (to be expected as they lose focus). His mom uses the "halt" command, which I really like. After the hurdles and he's heading toward the dog walk, she calls "halt" which stops him and then they go slowly over the dogwalk. He's going to be 2 in July and it shows how much she's worked with him. He's a very tactile dog, likes to use his paws and she's put it to work with the "high five" command, which she uses after they finish their runs. It's great.

Abbey did well, too, except on one run where she went diva on her dad, refusing the tunnel for quite a while, but eventually went through. Other than that, she was a champ going through the course.

Next week, the see-saw and chute get added!

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
click photo to see mpg video of Cinnabar hurdles - May 2, 2006

April 25, 2006 - 4th Agility Class
Agility on Saturday was rained out for Sebastian.

Cinnabar's 4th agility class had a total of 4, Deuce (Portugese Water Dog), Tinker (Chocolate Lab), Abbey (some type of tiny terrier) and Cinnabar.

Deuce was wired and he and Cinnabar did alot of playing before class started. Then Tinker showed up and they let her off leash to play. She showed us what wired really is :) Cinnabar ran the dogwalk on his own a couple times during play. He also did his best to outthink Tinker, since he can't keep up with her, he figured out her route and tried cutting her off :)

We started with the chute. This is a 3' long tunnel with a closed chute about 15' long at the end of it. To start them out, Jen held up the end of the chute so they could see daylight. Cinnabar was up first and while tentative, went through almost to the end. A gust of wind blew making the chute billow which scared him. He backed the whole way out towards me. Usually when scared, dogs turn around, but he backed the whole way out which was pretty funny. Jen and I switched ends. I held the chute open for him with a hot dog dangling and he came through fine. Tinker is a champ at this, Deuce did well and Abbey had issues but made it through several times. The command is "chute" for this obstacle.

Next, we learned the teeter-totter. The scarey part for them is when the motion changes on the way down and the noise it makes when it bangs the ground. On our first few passes, Jen held the end of it to ease the transition. She was building up her arm muscles on Cinnabar, commenting she could feel the weight difference from the other dogs :) Cinnabar was eager for this obstacle and I had to hold him back from running up it until Deuce was done. The banging noise it makes when it switches position didn't bother him in the least. Deuce and Tinker both did well on this also. Abbey had issues but did make it successfully. Being so low to the ground, it's got to be scarier for her being so high up when the motion changes. The command for this is "teeter".

Then we learned the cross-behind. This is for the humans so that we're in a better position to run the course. We need to cross behind them while they're on an obstacle so that we're on the interior of the course and not the exterior.

Then we each had a turn at the course which was setup as Tire / Tunnel / Teeter-Totter / Hurdle / Dog Walk / Pause Box / Tire / Hurdle / Chute

Cinnabar was up first and slipped his gentle leader off. Amazing how his hearing goes when that's off. He did just ok on his first pass. The others got their turns and when Cinnabar had his other 3 turns, he was close to perfect each time - gentle leader on, leash off. He improved on each run. The chute is still scarey for them so Jen holds up the end for each (except Tinker). Cinnabar did make it through the chute once without it being held up.

Both Deuce and Tinker did well when they focused. Maybe it was the wind before the storm, but they were really wired. Abbey did well with the exception of being a diva at the tunnel and especially at the chute. She was actually clowning and playing to the crowd. She'd look over at us for approval when she was flipping off her dad at the chute. We all turned our backs.

Next week the weave poles and we'll start timing our runs.

Cinnabar really impressed me with the teeter-totter. His confidence in himself improves with each class, as evidenced by running the dogwalk on his own at the beginning of class. We'll see if he does that with the chute next week.

No photos, it was cloudy last night, so I wasn't able to get any shots.

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
click photo to see mpg video of Cinnabar tire jump & tunnel - May 2, 2006

May 2, 2006 - 5th Agility Class

Cinnabar's 5th agility class had a total of 3, Tinker (Chocolate Lab), Abbey (tiny terrier) and Cinnabar. Took some short video clips of Cinnabar before class. The brat really had me working to get some of him on the teeter-totter because I wasn't running next to him, but had him in a sit/wait and went to the other end. Finally got one.

On warmups, he did the chute without issue. No longer scary.

New this week for Cinnabar was the weave poles. They were setup so that he could run a path down the middle, and then moved to about 9" apart so that he still had to run down the middle, but was starting to get the weave motion. Repetition will help with this, he's not quite sure what it's all about, but is doing ok.

While we did that, Abbey was working on the chute. They rolled it up so it was short for her and not scary. She went through, they kept slowly unrolling as she continued to go through. Finally, she's going through with it fully extended.

Then we each had turns running the course. Long course this time.

Hurdle / Weave Poles / Tire / Tunnel / Teeter-Totter / Pause Box / Dog Walk / Hurdle / Hurdle / 180 degree turn to Hurdle / Chute

We got timed on these runs. Total of 5 runs each. Cinnabar's first time was 1:37, then 1:25, 1:32, 1:35 and 1:55.

His last runs kept getting slower because he was losing steam. On his final run I pulled out a full hotdog and was able to use that to get him to step through the course. No issues with the Down/Stay at the pause box, just to get him up and running from there to the dog walk. We did it at his pace, but he was good with all the obstacles except the weave poles, which always needed doing at least twice because he'd miss one.

I'm really happy with his progress!

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
click photo to see mpg video of Cinnabar on teeter-totter - May 2, 2006

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
click photo to see mpg video of Cinnabar hurdling - May 9, 2006

May 9, 2006 - 6th Agility Class
Cinnabar's 6th agility class last night had a total of 4, Deuce (Portugese Water Dog), Tinker (Chocolate Lab), Abbey (tiny terrier) and Cinnabar.

Switched from the gentle leader to the Martingale collar last Friday.

Took some short video clips of Cinnabar before class. He was a love doing the chute, tire and hurdle for me.

We did the dogwalk & teeter on warmups as well as weave poles. Some issues on the weaves, but great on the other two.

Cinnabar & Tinker really raced during warmups. Well, for a little while, then he decided to cut her off, rather than chase her. At one point, he was starting the chute, Tinker came out of no where and blew in beside him. He backed out. Then Abbey got there, and finally Deuce. The 3 had a blast. Abbey prefers people, but is sometimes considered a low "hurdle" for the other 3 dogs. They were really gentle around her.

Then we each had turns running the course. Long course this time.

Hurdle / Weave Poles / Tire / Tunnel / Teeter-Totter / Hurdle / Pause Box / Dog Walk / Hurdle / Hurdle / 180 degree turn to Hurdle / Chute - in any order we chose.

Cinnabar was up first, and refused everything. Kept laying down on me. At one point, he lay on his back looking for a belly rub. Our time for the first course was 4:30. (Longer than Sebastian's when he flipped me off last year). I kept hearing from the sidelines - "what's wrong with Cinnabar" :) For his other 3 runs, I leashed him because he decided, evidently, that he didn't have to listen without his gentle leader on. That's the first time he's ever flipped me off. Guess at 14 months, it was due. So sweet of him to make it public :) His other runs were 1:55, 1:15 and 1:12.

He was evidently "traumatized" when Tink went in the chute with him, as we needed to hold up the end for him a couple times. Then he didn't need that, but on his final run he got tangled up in it at the end and backed all the way out. Traumatized again, we lifted up the end and he went through :) This happened to Deuce as well. Tink doesn't care if she gets tangled up, she just bulls through.

Both Tinker and Deuce were wound up on their runs, and in some cases did multiple obstacles twice. They were a riot. They used a remote collar on Tink (vibrating) to get her attention, and she really did well with the weave poles when they used it. Deuce did great for this being his first time with the weaves.

Someone mentioned full moon approaching and maybe that was the reason for some of the behavior.

Abbey was the star, because this is the first time she's run the course off leash and she really did well. She didn't go diva on her dad at all.

This was Cinnabar's final class for this session. Certificate in the mail in a few weeks. We'll do refreshers later on for him. Mostly we'll be concentrating on getting his ears to work with the Martingale collar :)

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
click photo to see mpg video of Cinnabar tire jumping - May 9, 2006

Click here for mpg video of Cinnabar going thru the chute

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
Cinnabar hurdles
photo by Jen

Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
Cinnabar dog walk
photo by Jen

3 1/2 month old Cinnabar - down/stay
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