Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Cinnabar - Agility - Next Level
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Cinnabar - Agility - Next Level
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Cinnabar - Alaskan Malamute
photo by Ray Baycar - MeadowQuest Flat-Coats

2008 - Agility Classes
January 14, 2008
Our first regular class in 6 weeks. It's good to be back. Trig, Maggie, Kayla and Sally are back, joined by what appears to be a basset hound.

We eased into things, starting off getting them to run over poles lined up (similar to the ladder exercise) and over a couple zig-zagged gates laid flat to get them to think about their footing.

Then tunnel, run over the gate and hurdle. We expanded on that with another hurdle to the left with a tunnel after that. Easy stuff designed to get us back into the swing of things. Easy, except that Cinnabar took the opportunity of a detour from the first tunnel to race over to where his brother was crated. God forbid the two of them be parted :) He was very good however about his unbreakable stays prior to an obstacle command, just took the opportunity for a detour early on.

Then we did some hurdle, teeter work. Our first course was the blue numbers, starting with a tight turn after the first hurdle to the teeter, looking for a target at the end of the teeter and the 3rd hurdle. We did this a few times.

Our final course was in the red, with the hurdles setup for serpentine and tight turn to the teeter. This was covered in our final course in December with Mary Ellen Barry - lateral movement. We did great on the serpentine, I was very proud of him (and me for making sure my shoulders were facing the correct way, which is the key once the serpentine begins). Below is the graph from our course with Mary Ellen, with the X being the handler and showing the lateral movement.

January 21, 2008
We started with chute to table, working on the down on the table. I'd worked with both Cinnabar & Sebastian on quick downs throughout the week. They both did great on the ground at home, didn't translate to the table for Cinnabar. We've still got to do a sit then a down or he's confused about what I want.

Then we expanded the course with the tunnel and hurdles. We did the red course first, working on our unbreakable sit/stays prior to the first obstacle and our positioning for the obstacles. At one point we switched the table for the hurdle. We had to front cross the hurdle to be in position to get them to the tunnel. Several of us (myself included) stayed too close to the chute instead of being further ahead at the hurdle. Positioning details, they really do make all the difference, just getting them into my head.

Running the shortest course was also stressed, at 6 and 7 on the red course, the dogs should not be jumping the middle of the hurdle but closer to the edges. Calling out the next obstacle quicker was also stressed.

On the blue course, positioning became a challenge between 6 and 7. We don't want to run all the way to 7 with the dog, because we want to be closer to the tunnel. We can do that, but our shoulders must still be facing toward 7. If they're not, if we're anticipating the tunnel, the dog misses the hurdle and runs to the tunnel. This was really a good night working on the positioning.

We ended with the teeter and working on the target. Unbelievably to me, Cinnabar was used as the example for Kingsley (the basset hound) who hasn't worked with target on the teeter. The reason being is that the method I use is that I'm at the end of the teeter placing a treat down, which stops Cinnabar from proceeding. The dogs won't run past you, so if you're there you're going to stop the dog. I feel great about that progress for us, as the target has certainly been a challenge for us. Bev tied in the work we did in the summer with a hoop at the end of the teeter for the dogs to go under after finishing the teeter, this keeps their heads down. All but Cinnabar did that, he'd have been carrying it on his shoulders if he'd done it :)

Darryl (the trainer for Sebastian's class) worked with us along with Bev. Bev said that Darryl commented that we were all very good for a Novice level class. That was a very nice note on which to end the class.

January 28, 2008
We started practicing lateral movement. The dog sits on our left in front of a winged jump, we left arm motion them over, keeping our shoulders square to the jump, side stepping to the right, rewarding them when they come around the jump to us. After we did well with that, then we did it the same, except that we side stepped to the left as soon as they began their jump, rewarding them when they came around the left side of the jump to us.

We have to think about where our shoulders are facing because we pull the dog to us based on that - it's how they read our body language, are we pulling them toward us or with us.

On our course, we led out (dog in a sit/stay - we're ahead of the hurdle midway toward the tunnel) from #1 with the dog on our left, keeping our shoulders open to the dog, when they jumped we turned our shoulders toward the tunnel. Our shoulders were open to the dog emerging from the tunnel and then turned to face #3. Our motion and shoulders were parallel to the dog for #4 & #5. At #5, after motioning them over the jump, we used our lateral motion (shoulders square to the jumps) to move in front of #6 and turning our shoulders as they jumped toward #7 (front cross - dog ends up on our right heading into the #7 hurdle.).

If someone turned their shoulders too soon between #5 & #6, the dog was pulled right to them and didn't do the jump.

This was a very good class to reinforce that the dogs are always doing what we ask of them via our body language. If our body language is wrong, they go wrong, but it's our fault.

February 4, 2008
We had Cinnabar, Maggie, Trig, Kingsley (basset hound) and Lucy (beagle) in class.

We reintroduced the A Frame & weaves into the mix, as we haven't done them in awhile.

Our first course was the blue course - hurdle / A Frame / broad jump. The dog was on our left as we started. We had to do a front cross at the end of the A Frame so that the dog was on our right heading to the broad jump. We went first and got through it fine, although I did a blind cross (turned my back to the dog) at the end of the A Frame. To do this front cross correctly and not turn my back on him, I have to face him as he's coming down the frame and pivot to my left. Had to ponder that to get it into my brain so that I got it right our next times through the run.

Our second course was the green course - hurdle / hurdle / tunnel / weaves. The dog was on our right as we started, once we sent them toward the tunnel we back crossed and met them after the tunnel with them on our left heading into the weaves. Although not shown on graphic, there were channel weaves setup next to the standard weaves for Lucy who is a puppy. We warmed up very nicely on the standard weaves before class. We were supposed to go through the channel weaves. Moving back and forth between the two is confusing for me, especially as Cinnabar is doing decently on the standard weaves, and my brain doesn't truly get how the channels help them. Consequently, I was not as helpful to Cinnabar going through the channels. If I say weave, he tries to weave them instead of a straight shot through. If I say nothing, he runs past them. If I point he does get it started and runs through, but Bev says my hand is in the way. You see my confusion :)

Our third course was the red course - hurdle / hurdle / hurdle / teeter. We were setup between 2 and 3 to begin and had to make sure our shoulders were open to the dog after 2 to pull them toward us and then pivot right to send them over 3 and head to the teeter. This we did fine. A nice end to class.

February 11, 2008
Cinnabar's classmates were Maggie, Trig, Sally and Lucy.

Our first course in blue (hurdle / tunnel / hurdle / teeter / tire / A Frame), had the most challenging first. The angle of the hurdle with the tunnel was the challenge. We positioned our dog to the far right of the hurdle, and led out so that we were in front of the hurdle and then as they were jumping turned our shoulders to the tunnel. Although the A Frame wasn't specifically in this course, Cinnabar and Trig added it as #6 to their course after the tire. What a long way Cinnabar has come from his initial fear of the A Frame, just plain doing it for fun.

Our second course in red (tire / A Frame / hurdle / table / tunnel / hurdle), had us start with the dog on our right. At #3 hurdle, we didn't run all the way to the hurdle, but slowed down. As they jumped the hurdle and naturally turned to their left to come to us, we turned our shoulders to the table. As they entered the tunnel after the table, we don't meet them at the end of the tunnel (because they're coming out no matter what), we wait for them near the hurdle. On the A Frame, I use bait at the bottom for his target to keep his back feet on.

Then we did the same exercise with the dog on our left. Again at #3, we must watch that we slow our forward motion and don't run close to (and definitely not past) the hurdle or they're out way too far. Once they jump the hurdle, they naturally turn to us and we face our shoulders to the table. It was a good exercise to see how much our motion propels them.

Our third course in green (table / tunnel / hurdle / hurdle / tunnel / dogwalk / tunnel / hurdle) was geared for our positioning and to remind us that we don't need to wait for them at the end of the tunnel, but to lead out from that - specifically the #7 tunnel. This was a fun course because they like the dog walk, and 3 tunnels! Doggie heaven. Just 6 months ago, Cinnabar had trepidation on the tall dog walk, and now he just loves it. His target at the end of the dog walk is again bait, and we're getting better in keeping his back feet on it.

Cinnabar's sit/stays prior to obstacles continues to improve. We ran through each of our courses multiple times and only twice did he anticipate my "ok" to break it. I sent him right back and his butt stayed glued to the turf until he heard the "ok".

February 26, 2008
Cinnabar's classmates were Sally and Lucy.

Our first course in black was a simple hurdle / channel weave / hurdle. We did just ok going in the 1-2-3 direction and terrible doing the 3-2-1 direction. The problem being the channel weaves. I had to change my command to "through" instead of weave and we did better. We did the channel weaves because of Lucy the beagle puppy. Fortunately for the next run, Sally and Cinnabar were able to switch to the real weaves where Sally excels and Cinnabar is doing ok.

Bev emphasized using our release word to break the sit/stay - not their name, not the obstacle command. We must be consistant, otherwise they'll tune us out.

Our next course in blue was hurdle / teeter / hurdle / weaves, with the focus on not pointing at the target at the end of the teeter. We've got to toss our bait as soon as they start down on the teeter and keep them there for a couple seconds, releasing them on the ok command. Cinnabar did ok on the 12 weave poles, with the exception of missing one in the middle each time.

Our next course in red added the chute and another hurdle to our blue course. Again, we focused on target at the end of the teeter. No pointing! Remember to use the release word before going to the next obstacle.

Our final course in green was hurdle / AFrame / hurdle / hurdle / hurdle / tunnel. We had to watch our positioning between the hurdle and A Frame. You can't move your body forward beyond the hurdle or the dog tries to go behind you to the A Frame. We had to front cross at the end of the AFrame to get them to the next hurdle. The other hurdles were not difficult except we were traveling quite a distance.

While we were doing this run, another trainer brought a GSD onto the course and was watching from the back wall near the A Frame.. During our first run at the final course, Cinnabar blew me off at the hurdle after the A Frame to go make friends with the GSD. He did respond to voice command and came back to the course. When we got to the tunnel he went in the wrong end. I asked Bev what I did wrong, she said nothing he's distracted by the GSD. I asked if I could write that down, she laughed and said yes. Very rare that it's not my fault. While the others were doing their runs, I took Cinnabar back to the GSD which the trainer was happy for. She's socializing the 9 month old, who has had inappropriate responses to other dogs. She got alot of good girls for looking away instead of lip curling while being sniffed by Cinnabar. Then Cinnabar got some cuddles from her.

This ends this 6 week session and the next one starts up again next week.

March 3, 2008
Cinnabar's classmates were Trig and Lucy. Trig had gotten into a scuffle and had stitches on his neck, so his participation was limited to our first exercise only

Our first exercise was sit/stays with us having our right foot ahead of our left, breaking the sit with "ok" and pulling our foot back as they came to us. The motion of our foot pulls them to the side of us we want. We practiced it with the left as well.

Our next exercise was the same, but with a jump in between us, with us close to the jump so that they would have to gather themselves and think about their hind legs to get over the jump.

Our next exercise was a variation. Our right foot extended perpendicular to the dog, our left headed out the way we are going to turn after they reach us. We pull them to us with our right foot and they get there, then turn our foot and shoulders to the way we want them to turn. We can't anticipate or they anticipate.

Then we put this into practice with two jumps initially, with a third added.

We had to stay outside of the wings, and once we gave the "ok", we had to turn so our shoulders were parallel with the jump to which we were headed. Our path was the red in the graphic. I had to work to not drift in towards the jump. I had an epiphany when I realized that I was drifting because I didn't trust my dog. So, I gave in and trusted my dog and it was an incredible thing. As simple as it sounds, he's just following my movement. However, I had to learn to trust in the signals that trigger his responses. No need to point to the jump or even say anything, he just follows my movement and does the jumps. We did it from both the right and left sides, with the third jump added, and coming back the opposite way in 3/2/1 order.

Trig's mom was following along, practicing the movements without Trig. I offered for her to use Cinnabar. She did and they were both perfect - up and back and from both sides. I think he's a joy for her because his sit is pretty solid and he doesn't have Trig's border collie speed, so she was able to concentrate on her movements. I was proud because he did what was asked of him and then came bounding back to mom, but listened again when she called him to line him up for his sit.

These all sound like simple exercises and they were, but I learned to trust that my proper shoulder positioning and motion will trigger what they are supposed to with Cinnabar.

March 10, 2008
Got to class early and got a few shots of Cinnabar

Sit/stay before the Aframe



Dog Walk


Cinnabar had Maggie, Kayla, Trig and Lucy in class.

We need to work more on their jumping skills, so both Cinnabar and Trig worked at 22" this week. While others had their turn on the first half of the course, we each took a hurdle and stood at the side of it with treats and had them jump back and forth, getting into the habit of gathering themselves and actually lifting up their rear end. We threw the treats just far enough for them to have enough room to not bang the bar. This was good for us, because alot of the practice has been at 16".

We started with 1 - 5 on the course. Each time they knocked down a bar or messed up an obstacle, we went right back to it. For the first hurdle, my left arm was the problem. When I said ok, I dropped my arm. Bev said he was following my motion and not getting himself high enough. No arm used and he cleared the hurdle no problem. Dogwalk, no problem, through a treat at the end for target and released him on ok heading to the next hurdle. Weaves, it's took us 2 tries each time to get it, even though he was perfect in practice.

Then we did 5 - 10. No problem at all on the double jump. I turned my shoulder too hard into the turn into 6 and he brought down the bar. I got better positioning, left my shoulders a little more open into a soft turn and he cleared the jump and headed right to the AFrame. Treat at the end for target. Ok to release and then tunnel. He decided he'd totally forgotten the teeter and it took us a couple times before he got it right on the first run, but was fine on the 2nd run. Treat at the end for target, release on ok and sailed over the final hurdle.

Then we put it all together. Weaves better than before. Number 6 got me again with the shoulders so we redid it starting from 5. He did great on our 2nd run through.

This was a good class because we were able to put alot of our "little exercises" on positioning into practice and have lots of fun for me and for Cinnabar.

March 17, 2008
Sally, Kayla, Maggy & Lucy joined Cinnabar in class.

We started with 1 through 4. Cinnabar & Sally worked at 22" hurdles - the others at 16" and 12". We started with the dog on our left with a leadout between the two jumps. After they cleared 3, we pivot so the dog is on our right and head to the tunnel, avoiding the AFrame trap. I've got to work on not getting too close to the jump at 3 so that he's able to clear it. When I trust him and don't get too close, he clears it. We did fine avoiding the trap and heading into the tunnel.

Then we did 5 through 11. We practiced weaves prior to class, and Cinnabar did them perfectly every time through the run. He cleared all hurdles except 9, which was my fault because I didn't call it soon enough and also ran too close to it. When I did it better, he cleared it and of course had no problem with the broadjump at 10 and the tunnel at 11.

Then we worked on another change of direction with a trap. After they cleared 2, we called their name and when they looked at us, called walk so that they did the dogwalk and not the tunnel. Also, no pointing allowed at the dogwalk. Well, the tunnel initially sucked them all in :) When I trusted Cinnabar and didn't run too close to 2, he cleared that jump. He did the dogwalk and not the tunnel on every run after the first one. The good news for me is that my shoulder positioning has been decent, now I've got to work on not running too close to the obstacles.

March 24, 2008
Kayla, Maggie, Sally, Lucy and Xena joined Cinnabar for class. Xena was substituting for Trig, working with Trig's mom.

Working on jumps and positioning this week. Cinnabar, Xena & Sally worked at 24", Kayla at 16" and Maggie & Lucy at 10".

Our first course in blue was to get us started. We started on the dog's left with a small lead out. As they were mid-air on 3, we turned our shoulders to 4, so that they turned toward us, bringing us to be on the dog's right and heading right for 4.

Our first time through we did it about 5 times. This is our first time at 24" and everytime he knocked a bar off we started again. As usual, it is my positioning and timing of calling out the next hurdle which determines his success. He is more than capable of clearing 24" as he demonstrated when I got it right.

Our second course in red, we lead out in front of the first hurdle with our right foot pointing toward the tunnel (2). As they cleared the first hurdle, we pivoted our left foot and shoulders toward the tunnel. While they were in the tunnel we lead out in front of 3 with our body perpendicular to the hurdle, as they cleared it we pivoted so that our shoulders were square with 4 (we are now on the dog's left), quick timing for motion & callout for hurdle 5, as they're clearing it call & motion for tunnel, while they're in the tunnel, position at the A frame. There was lots of ground to cover for this one, and the tunnel was an issue, because they're faster than we are so we have to keep moving toward the tunnel to cement what we want.

On our first run through, we did the first 3 a couple times to get my positioning correct and not too close or too far from 3. When my positioning was correct, he cleared the hurdles. Our second & third run through was completely clean which felt great.

March 31, 2008
Kayla, Chance, Maggie, Lucy and Xena joined Cinnabar for class.

Our first run was 1, 2, 3 - practicing our setup position on the dog's left, leadout between 1 & 2, in open position calling the dog with our arm and right foot pointed to the dog, as they were clearing the first jump, swinging our shoulders and right foot parallel to 2 and with motion running past 3 so that they jumped it. My timing was off with my arms on our first run, messing up Cinnabar on clearing the jumps. He went where he was supposed to, but didn't clear them. He, Xena & Chance were jumping at 24". When I got myself together he cleared the jumps.

Next we added 4. Running past the jump at 3 and swinging toward 4 (now on the dog's right) in a front cross was what we needed to do there. Again, I have to work on staying further away from the hurdles and let him do the work.

Next we did 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - beginning on the dog's right. We could either front cross between 6 and 7 to end up on their left, or back cross between 7 and 8 to end up on their left. This was a challenge for me, as 5 and 6 are close together how do I not get too close to the hurdles and mess him, but at the same time not stay too far away with him then passing the hurdle all together. Well, using the front cross between 6 and 7, the motion did it for me. We still had to do the run several times. At the beginning of our first run I was rushing and not good at my setup at 4. When I stopped and got myself setup correctly and just arm motioned with "ok" Cinnabar cleared the hurdle. He's teaching me, trust your dog, slow down your brain and think :)

Bev setup a series of 8 consecutive jumps alternating at 18 and 20" for the big dogs (less for little dogs) to work on while each of us had a turn at the course. This was initially for Xena who was being lazy after a first jump and clipping all jumps with her back feet, but we all need this. The consecutive jumps are setup so that they land and must jump again right away. It makes them think about adjusting their height and gathering themselves. We can do this at home with just a few jumps, although until the swamp leaves our back yard it isn't immediately in the cards :)

While this was being set up I ran Cinnabar through 1 - 8, we did ok. She gave Cinnabar lots of kudos, and said my positioning was better.

Then we did 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. The teeter was in the back corner which is not as well lit and my normally steady Cinnabar didn't want to do it, he wanted to bale at the middle, but we got him through. I used motion totally with shoulder position for 10 - 12 and he was perfect.

This was a very good working class, much learned and I felt good about my progress. Cinnabar did great and was laying down for belly rubs when others were up. During Sebastian's class right after this, while waiting turns for our runs, I watched the advanced class run the same course (of course they had about 10 more obstacles after 12) and felt good about how our whole class was doing.

April 7, 2008
Kayla, Lucy, a new GSD and Cinnabar in class last night. Cinnabar's jumps are at 24", all others at 12"

We started with the red course and began just with 1 thru 5. We had to front cross the tunnel to head them into 5. Then we added 6. We had to pull ouselves out in between the jumps to head them to 6. I was the designated bad example last night :) My brain was just not coordinating, and I wasn't getting it. So Bev asked if Cinnabar would work with her and I handed her the keys, er, the hot dogs, and she showed us (with Cinnabar working with her perfectly) how to handle that move Once I saw it, I got it and we added the tunnel at 7.

Then we did the green course which just substituted the weaves at 6 and finished with the tunnel at 7.

Then the blue course, which was essentially the course in reverse. The real trick was 4. For me to get it, I was Bev's dog at the tunnel and she guided me with her body and arm motion to the hurdle at 5. Aha, light bulb. Then I got it, but still had to do it several times to cement it.

Then we did the teal course. I had practiced the teeter with Cinnabar prior to class, he was still twitchy about it from last week (of course had no problem going over the frame in practice). Our first time through he was still twitchy, but shook all that off and did the teeter just fine. I realized that we were using the metal teeter and not the wooden one, which he prefers. Between 5 and 6 we've got to pull them to us so they jump, come to us in between the hurdles and then over 6 and onto the table.

Cinnabar did great last night. I'm improving on my shoulders and motion, but have a problem giving him mixed signals with my arms, and I'm still too close to the obstacles. I think I've got it in my head, but there's room for vast improvement. We learn by doing and I'm learning :)

April 14, 2008
We're at the beginning of another 6 week semester. We've lost some classmates temporarily and some rescheduled for daytime. For now, it's Lucy and Cinnabar in class.

Before class started we worked out on all the contact obstacles. The wooden teeter was back and he was in heaven. His problem the last few weeks is the metal teeter.

We started out doing weaves practice, Cinnabar worked on the standard set and Lucy on channels. I worked him on my left where he's pretty good with me motioning through each, and I then worked him on my right. We need lots more work on that because he still has to enter the same way, but he did pretty well. We did this for about 20 minutes, taking a break with the AFrame or a tunnel just so he wouldn't get bored.

Then we did the course 1 through 10. I needed help at 4 and 5, because you're bringing the dog over both jumps in the same direction, and I couldn't get my positioning right. Bev worked with Cinnabar to show me. As he's coming out of the tunnel, my shoulders face the hurdle and I tell him jump, have my right arm up - as he's jumping smoothly pivot to my right, shoulders toward #5, left arm up, tell him jump and move slightly to #5. I was sort of getting this, but not completely and she worked with him again to show me. He wasn't sure at first if he wanted to work with her or come sit with me, so he laid down at her feet and gave her the belly. Then he worked with her. I practiced this several times. Better, but needs lots more work. I did feel some relief when she told me that this kind of move is more difficult for the large dogs because we're working in a tight space and have to give them some room but not too much. That may be why I'm having trouble getting it in my head.

Then we did 10 through 15. It's a front cross while they're in the tunnel so that they are on our left at #13. He knocked down 14 because I was too close to him, we did it again and he was perfect. A good way to end class.

April 21, 2008
Cinnabar, Lucy and Xena in class

Our first course in red we did 1 through 6 to begin. As they enter the tunnel we lead out to between 4 and 5, calling them to position as they exit the tunnel. We did fine on this.

We got our brain synapses firing when we added 7 to 15 to the course. Lucy the beagle did great, but it is easier to front and back cross in tight spaces with a little dog. For Xena and Cinnabar we did a front cross after 5 to get them to 6 and then head to the tunnel. Then a front cross at 8 so they were on our left, a back cross at 10 so they were on our right for 11. Lucy finished that course but the rest of us didn't. Lucy's mom is in the advanced class after us with another dog, but for the rest of us it was too advanced.

We switched up and did the blue course, 1 through 10 and Cinnabar did it perfectly, which means I was in position :) Lucy's mom noted that Cinnabar clears more 24" hurdles at speed than at slower pace. Hurdle 5 was our consistent nemesis, which was at slower pace.

Then we finished with the teal course 1 through 6. We had to restart the weaves on our first run through, but got it on our second run.

May 5, 2008
Cinnabar and Lucy in class

Our first course was purple and we started with 1 thru 11. My challenges were at 4 & 5 (getting him over the hurdle and back for the tunnel) and 8 & 9 (needed to front cross him at 8 so that he following my motion over the hurdle and then a here to get him in position for the A Frame).

Then we did 10 thru 20. Believe it or not we were perfect thru 17 using outs/heres, I was really pleased. My next challenge was 19 and 20. My motion needs to carry him over 19 so I've got to front cross and bring him back for 20. I was still struggling with this on our 2nd pass and asked Bev what I was doing wrong because he was knocking down the bars. She said nothing, he's getting lazy. I asked Trig's mom who was auditing to write that down, doesn't happen often that it's not my fault.

While trying different things to get 19 and 20 I didn't throw a treat down and say target at the end of the dogwalk, but headed right to the hurdle. Well, Cinnabar did target on his own!!!!!!!!!!!!

We started out with 22" for Cinnabar, he was doing well, but after our second pass of 10 thru 20 he started dragging. We put the whole course together, 1 thru 20 and lowered the height to 16". We had very close to a clean run, but the important thing was that we both got it, I was in position where I needed to be and absolutely no struggle at the lower heights for 19 & 20.

Then we did the blue course 1 thru 10. We did ok at this, with only 2 in class our butts were dragging. The change in temperature was telling on Cinnabar, there is no chill in the air and I made sure he had water after every run. I was very pleased with him for the night.

May 12, 2008
Cinnabar and Lucy in class

The course was very similar to last week's. Our first course was in red. Again, 3 and 4 are a challenge because I must run past 3 so that he follows my motion and clears the jump, then I must bring him around for 4. We did ok after we worked at it several times. The rest of the course wasn't a problem. We ran this course twice.

Then the blue course. First we ran 1 thru 10. I had to front cross him after the teeter at 5, run past the hurdle at 6 and bring him back to the AFrame at 7.

It was rainy and chilly outside so the heat was on inside. Cinnabar started dragging at the end of this, knocking off the 22" hurdles. We set the hurdles at 16" and did the entire course 1 thru 20. My positioning leading out at 13 was a challenge. We worked it out that I need to be beyond the hurdle so that he sees me coming out of the tunnel and then I can pivot and get him on my right heading into 14. The next challenge was the unusual serpentine at 18 (tunnel) / 19 (hurdle) / 20 (tire). We've got to send them into the tunnel and be waiting for them beyond 19. As soon as their head appears from the tunnel, call them so they know where we are. It was different and Bev made a comment about Cinnabar's happy face as soon as he realized where I was and came bounding over to the hurdle. We each did this several times

It was a good class, but tiring with only 2 in the class and running this many obstacles using the entire ring. I asked Bev about my progress, am I improving - and she said yes that it's starting to come together and that she's very pleased with Cinnabar's progress.

May 19, 2008
Cinnabar and Lucy in class

We started class warming up on jumping exercises. 7 hurdles of alternating height for Lucy, we removed every other one for Cinnabar because they were too close together, and of course increased the heights. They had to remain in sit/stay until we were at the other end and called them. It was interesting on our second run I evidently stepped back after Cinnabar began and he knocked off the remaining hurdles. It was my fault, my stepping back made him accelerate. I remained stationary on the final two runs and no bars knocked off.

Heights for Cinnabar were set at 24". We spent alot of time on #3 because he was not getting his back end up and kept knocking it off. We put it up to 26" and I stayed at one side of the hurdle, Bev at the other with him in a sit/wait. I called jump & threw a treat and then back over and again. At the beginning of this exercise Bev had her hand on the hurdle and would raise it if he wasn't lifting his back end so that it would knock his knees. At the end of it, he was really getting his back end up

Bev said, she has to do these exercises with a couple of her GSDs to make them think about their back ends.

Then we ran the course 1 thru 7 with a front cross at 5 so he'd be on my right heading into the chute and hurdle with a tight turn to head into the weaves. Then we put the whole course together.

We had two clean runs! He really was thinking about getting his back end up on all the jumps. When we ended our second run, he was moving the AFrame (it was rocking), but it didn't spook him, he just finished up looking for his target treat. We ended on that high note.

We're off the next two weeks, with the next semester beginning June 9th.

June 9, 2008
Cinnabar's former class moved to the later slot. We thought Cinnabar was moving to the Advanced class, but things changed :) He's in with former classmates and with Sebastian's former classmates, working with Darryl.

Cinnabar was joined by Maggie, Alex and a whippet last night. I believe Rocky and Lauren, the goldens, will also be joining us, but didn't brave the heat. While still hot, it cooled considerably since Sebastian's class started.

For our first run we set the hurdles at 16", Maggie ran at 12". For the second we all did the 12" hurdles because of the heat.

My issue was between 8 and 9. I knew I didn't run it correctly because I stayed in the same place and ended up on his left when I needed to be on his right, to make up for it I back crossed after 10 so that I was on his right headed toward the chute.

Darryl worked with us on this. At 8 send him out, at the same time front crossing 9. Cinnabar and I did it perfectly, and it felt good physically and in my head. All my classmates had a shot at it and agreed, especially Maggie's mom, it really clicked.

Then we did weave work. Between classes I had mentioned to Darryl that I need help with Cinnabar because he's depending on my hand signals going through. So, he had me try without using my hands to see what Cinnabar was looking for. Then, he took Cinnabar through. Had him in a sit/stay and he positioned himself facing him between the 2nd & 3rd weaves. He had treats in both hands to guide him into the first & 2nd. Then he did again, positioned further back. Then he took him through, facing him, but each time Cinnabar just looked at him, he waited for him to make the correct decision and when he did treated & praised him. Then he had me do it a couple times. After the others had their turns, we did it again. Darryl took him through with the clicker & praise, no treats. He said that I needed to let Cinnabar use his head to do his job because he will get it much more quickly. He encouraged me to use a clicker with him for the weaves. He loved working with Cinnabar and commented on the differences between Sebastian and him. He also encouraged me to get him into the DOCNA trials next month.

Although initially disappointed we weren't moving up like originally planned, I'm very happy with this because I'll be working with just one method for both boys and things click in my head quicker with Darryl's method.

June 16, 2008
Cinnabar was joined in class last night by Maggie, Rocky, Alex and Emma (whippet)

At first it was just Rocky and Cinnabar and so we warmed up on the course below 1 through 6.

Then we did weave work. Using the system from last week, I positioned myself between the 3rd and 4th poles and called weave. As he got to me I stepped out from them and let him make the decisions and he went all the way through without hand signals from me. He was looking good. Then we had to do it from the other side and had some issues, but he's still making decisions which is progress.

We did the blue course first, which is fairly straight forward.

Then the red course, with the change being which end of the tunnel they enter. Darryl let us each go through without instructions to see the decisions we made. As Cinnabar exited the tunnel I was waiting for him on the outside of #5. He made me look good by making the hurdle, but I told Darryl because of the way Cinnabar had to maneuver to make it that I knew I was positioned wrong.

The right way to do it, is to send them out at #3, front cross to send them into the right side of the tunnel, be waiting for them near their exit on the left side of the tunnel, so that we're on a straight line angle to the chute, send them out at #5 and run toward the chute (back crossing as they enter the chute). Oh yeah, that felt good and sure made it easier on the dogs.

The only issue I had with Cinnabar last night was his anticipation and breaking his sit/stays. To work on that, when I put him in his sit/stay I walked around him, away from him, back to him and he broke it less as the class wore on.

Oh, he thinks that Darryl is there for him. He's like velcro to Darryl and Darryl doesn't mind :) He was talking to him and telling him to have a chat with his brother about getting his attitude better :)

June 23, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Rocky, and our old friend Sally.

We walked the course and I immediately had questions on the approach to use for #3. Do you front cross it or do a switch (backcross) at #4? Well, the answer is neither :) We lead out and are positioned between 2 & 3, so that the dog already knows right from the beginning he's turning toward 3 and ignoring that tempting hurdle setup straight ahead of him.

We started just doing 1 thru 5, and that leadout really was the ticket. Cinnabar was again breaking his sit/stays and anticipating, but he got progressively better as the class went on.

Then we did 6 thru 13. My thoughts on handling 8 and 9 were a front cross between them so that I'd end up on his left. But, that would've left me out of position at the weaves, and he's got to enter the weaves correctly and I'm on the weak side. No, we send them out at 8, front cross in front of 9, call here and then we're in position for the weaves. We front cross at the end of the weaves so that we're on their right, send them out at 11, 12 and 13.

We were first up and during our run, we worked on my positioning sending him out at 8. Darryl worked with him to show me where I needed to be and in the middle Cinnabar laid on his back for a belly rub :). We did get this though, and working through all my positioning mistakes, we were a good example for the others so they wouldn't make the same ones.

Then we put it all together, 1 thru 15. In between runs, Cinnabar was on his back next to Darryl for bellyrubs, who can't believe he and Sebastian live in the same house because they're night and day. My other classmates who know Sebastian feel the same. They like Sebastian, but everyone is in love with Cinnabar.

Cinnabar is doing well on the weaves. I'm facing him while he goes through and when he just looks up at me, my hands are behind my back and I wait for him to make a decision, which he does and continues weaving. Woo hoo!

He had some good runs, but Darryl said he's being lazy on some of the jumps and it's not something I'm doing (for a change :) ). We'll have to practice at home. All in all, a good class, and Darryl's methods are clicking in my head - feels great!

June 30, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Rocky, and Sally.

At the start of class, Darryl told us about an agility trial he judged this weekend where there was a major incident of aggression. On the way to the ring, a border collie and handler decided to go under a tent for shade where there were alot of other dogs and their handlers, who were not known to them. The border collie started a fight. People were hurt breaking up the fight. One woman overnight in the hospital who will need surgery. A Belgian Tuveran who spooked and ran to the parking lot and into a car was hurt. He told us about this to impress the need to not only keep your dog under control, but use common sense around dogs unknown to us. This was an AKC event and the border collie will never compete again, can never be bred and can never be on the grounds of an AKC event.

Darryl setup a course for us that was a "front cross fest" :)

I was pleased in that as I walked the course I knew where to front cross in all instances except one (between 4 and 5). Major progress in my thinking!

With the exception of a couple anticipations at the start, Cinnabar was great.

We started out with 1 thru 8. When we got that down, then 1 through 13. Then the whole course. Darryl said that it's a difficult course, but it really got us thinking about our front crosses. Lots of light bulbs going off, and lots of smiles as things clicked in human brains. :)

In between our runs, Cinnabar would get as near Darryl if he could. As with his brother, he threw him treats to see if he could catch them. His eye/mouth coordination is not at the level of his brother's (he'd never make it as an outfielder), but he did ok :)

One thing that drove home how it's us and not the dogs, was that repeatedly when someone was having an issue, Darryl would take their dog and run them through the trouble spot perfectly. "Don't bend down", "watch where your feet are pointing", "you're out of position". It's so gratifying to see each of us starting to move more smoothly and making it look like a dance with the dogs instead of a contest of wills between us.

July 07, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Rocky

Cooled down a little from Sebastian's class, but still humid heat.

Cinnabar is doing better on his sit/stays. As to the rest, he continues to make me look good when I'm out of position by listening to me! Specifically on our first run, I didn't do the front cross between 9 and 10 and he was flying toward the AFrame, but he listened, stopped in his tracks, turned and came back to the dogwalk.

I was too far away from him when he came out of the tunnel to go to 12 and he was flying toward the dog walk, but again, stopped in his tracks and came to me to complete the serpentine.

I got my act together on the 2nd and 3rd runs, so that it was easier for him to follow my motion. Had my front crosses down and the one backcross at 14. The final run was flawless! He is so easy to work with, what a good boy!.

July 14, 2008
Cinnabar was in the advanced class this week with about 8 other dogs. Bev was on vacation so Darryl took her classes, combined with his own.

He was excited and raring to go. Sit/stay was a real problem on his first run. One of the times he broke and ran to Darryl because he hadn't said "hello" yet. Ugh, we finally got it. The bars were set at 20" for him and he knocked down at least a third of them. The weaves were a regression. The method I was using, he's blowing past. I have my hands behind my back so he can't focus on my hands, but he was running behind me to see my hands. Darryl suggested I modify the method, take smaller steps with him and direct as needed with a hand. Of course he did it 3 times in a row perfectly for Darryl :) Then he did it for me. The first time through I front crossed between 17 and 18, which is wrong :) We should be backcrossing at 17 heading to 18. Same thing between 13 and 14. I was not the only one to do it that way on the first run. In each instance the front cross slows us down by bringing the dog to a halt. Because of the flow of the course, the backcross keeps us moving.

Our 2nd run we did at 16" with the rest of that group (we were the only 20"). Much better sit/stay at the start and we ran the course pretty well. Had to do the weaves 3 times, but that's ok. I was too far away at 17 for the backcross, he said I need to be very near the obstacle as he's setting down to direct the back cross. Makes sense, it flows better that way.

Our 3rd run, I had to direct him twice to each tunnel. From 15 on he was knocking down bars. We went back to redo from 15 so that I could get the back cross right. I was putting the bars back up he knocked down and Darryl asked him if he was going to knock down every bar. Well, as I was getting ready to put the top bar on 16, he walked over it and knocked off the bottom bar :) He'd had it for the night. But, we finished up. He couldn't knock down the tire and he didn't knock down the final double jump.

We ran the course alright. More work at home on the weaves! Got to get better jumps at home to work on as well and get my lazy jumper unlazy.

July 21, 2008
Cinnabar was joined in class by Maggie, Alex, Abe (large whippet) and our old friend Kayla (flat coat) back from maternity leave.

Our first pass was the blue numbered course. We all did one pass and then Darryl talked about the course with us. He said in a trial setting you should be leading out at the far end of the dog walk. (We're not there yet). The next part to watch was our positioning when they come out of the tunnel at 7, we should be positioned near where they entered the tunnel to direct them to 8 so the AFrame is not inviting. Then the 3 hurdles in a row (9/10/11). Only 9 and 10 should be an "out". 11 should be an "over" because if you use an "out" you're sending them out away from the chute. Also we all were going to far toward the chute and our motion was also sending them out away from the chute. We should front cross after 14 so that we're on the right side of the A Frame and our dog.

We put that into practice on our next run and it worked like a dream, especially the 9/10/11 sequence. Easy, perfect. Gosh it felt good.

On our 3rd pass, we switched ends of the tunnel on 4 and 7. That meant a front cross at the end of the dog walk to get them into the far end of the tunnel and wait for them at the near end to direct them to the table (so the dog walk wouldn't be inviting). The change at 7 was not significant as we waited for them in the same place coming out of the tunnel as we did on the previous passes. We all did this twice.

Then for those of us game, we did the teal course. The heat had cooled down from Sebastian's class, but it was still plenty hot and humid. Most decided against. Kayla's mom and I walked the course and decided on a course of action at 2/3/4 which was the trickiest part. I led out in front of 2 (essentially a front cross), directed him over 3 and did a front cross while he was heading over it so that I was on his right as we headed into 4. Perfect. Then next tricky part was 10 to 11. No crosses because then we'd be on the wrong side heading into the next obstacles. I over compensated for my angle and pulled him off the dog walk too soon. I think it's the only time all 4 of his feet haven't hit the contact zone. Other than that, we were perfect on that run.

A very satisfying class.

July 28, 2008
Cinnabar was in the advanced class this week with about 8 other dogs. Bev was on vacation so Darryl took her classes, combined with his own.

Initially walking this course got the synapses firing. I knew I didn't know the answer on 14/15/16 and I saw that 19/20 was interesting, but I didn't think difficult.

We all had our first run on the course. I needed to leadout between 2 and 3 and after about 4 misfires we got that. I redid the pinwheel at 5/6/7 twice because of my errors. Muddled my way between 14/15/16. Cinnabar did the weaves great. I faced him and just kept stepping back as he wove, he got everyone of the 12. I sent him over 19, called tight for him to swing to his left back to me and then over 20 and finished the course. He was in an unusual mood for him and with the exception of the weaves was not sharp.

After our first runs, we went out on the course with Darryl to talk about the problem areas. First, the pinwheel. If we lead out and are on our dog's right, we must front cross after the teeter sending them out to 5. Then a front cross between 7 and 8 so that we're sending them straight to 9. Then a front cross after 9 heading into 10. We need to pick them up coming out of the tunnel at 13 and be on their right heading into 14, send them to 15 while back crossing so they turn tighter heading to 16. There is no right or wrong at 19/20, but the optimum is to have them go around the far end of the 19 coming into 20 as it's a straighter line to the A Frame at 21.

For our 2nd and 3rd runs we ran only 1 to 17 and were timed. On our 2nd run again Cinnabar gave me issues with the 2 obstacle lead out, so I chose to start on his left and lead out only 1 obstacle which was not an issue. This eliminated the front cross after the teeter because I was already on his left. He missed the out at 6 and I started over. Darryl asked if I had the right dog because he was not his usual steady self in following commands. I had to call "here" often because he was meandering.

On our 3rd run, I did a little happy dance at the beginning of the course to get him excited and into it. Now, that's my boy, he was much sharper. I'm still blowing the backcross at 15, but we did get through it. Darryl commented that he was a different dog than the first two runs.

More practice on "switch" (back cross) and sit/stay for more than 1 obstacle leadouts with him.

August 4, 2008
Cinnabar was joined in class by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Sally, Rocky, Kayla and Cooper (black lab).

We had the same course layout as Sebastian's class, and we started with the blue course 1 through 18.

I swear these guys are flipping a coin to see who's going to be good and who's going to be bad. The last two weeks, Cinnabar hadn't been himself, but Sebastian had been good. Well, Cinnabar was back to normal and Sebastian gave me a run for my money in his class.

I'm able to lead out one obstacle with him at this point before he breaks his sit/stay. My concern was the backcross between 4 and 5, but we were fine. He entered the weaves properly and did them correctly with me backing up at each interval, then a front cross to 14. The rest of the course was fine.

Then we did the teal course, 1 through 20. We all walked it a few times because it has us in circles a couple times.

A front cross between 3 and 4 so we're on the proper side headed to the teeter at 5. A "here" at 8 so he doesn't head to 10. Again, decent on the weaves. I overshot at 15 and he missed the dogwalk, but that was purely my fault. Went back to 14 and did it right and finished the course. I got a high five from Darryl at the end of it. Super cool!

Then we learned the "wrap" command. This is only used for contact obstacle to tunnel or vice versa. We say "wrap" as they head into the tunnel (the unnumbered side in the diagram) and then point them to the dog walk (in this case) as they exit. We did this a couple times. Then we did the dogwalk, as they were heading to the down ramp, we say "wrap", block their path slightly at the end of it and point to the tunnel. With lots of practice this will be engrained for them so that when they hear "wrap" they'll be thinking and we won't need to be right with them but can lead out to the next obstacles. Very cool.

August 11, 2008
Cinnabar was in the advanced class this week with about 8 other dogs. Bev was on vacation so Darryl took her classes, combined with his own.

Our course was a real course used over the weekend for a Golden AKC trial. This is an AKC excellent level course.

When I walked the course I knew it was going to be tricky. If I had a solid sit/stay, I knew where I'd lead out between 2 and 3. Without that, I can lead out between 1 and 2. My choice was on the left side of the obstacles so I could block off the weaves and be in position for 4 and 5.

We were up first. Cinnabar was so excited and kept running to see Darryl. Finally got him settled down and off we went. He really worked well for me, especially on the weaves. We put our new wrap command from last week into play at 18. We didn't do too badly. He knocked down 4 hurdles, which were set at 20".

As the others went I observed that of those who didn't have a leadout, most chose the right side to start the run.

Then we walked and talked the course. Without a leadout, choosing the right side was the correct choice especially when considering 4 and 5. My first run I was on his left, had him go over 4, called tight and headed him into the tunnel. It really was tight especially for a big dog. Darryl said this was called a treadle and is an illegal course setup in AKC, but that in watching the judge set it up and measure it out, she was measuring taking the dog to the outside of 4, calling them back around and then heading into the tunnel at 5. Coming out of the pinwheel, a front cross at 8 had you on the left side of the weaves heading so that you were on their left side at 10 where you'd backcross while sending them to 11 (the handler going behind the double jump instead of running inside of it. Just the opposite of what I'd done. That was the trickiest part of the course. He also talked about leading out from the table, that at that level the courses are setup with the judges expecting you to be able to have a 3 obstacle leadout. He also spoke of the off course traps in the course.

Then we ran it again. I started on his right side with a one obstacle leadout. I sent him over 4 with a switch so he came around to my right and then we headed into the tunnel at 5. I did the front cross at 8 and headed into the weaves. He had some issues on that side so I started over on the other side and he worked them really well. I front crossed at the end of the weaves to be on his left to do the course as Darryl suggested, but we had some issues. He said that with him, I needed to stay on his right and stay with him, as a big dog it flowed better for him. Then we finished the course. I turned too sharply from 19 to 20 and caused him to knock it down. He knocked down 3 or 4 bars.

There was lots to think about in running the course. We're not ready to worry about what the judges are thinking at excellent level when they set up a course because we're so far from that level, but I've tucked it in the back of my mind. I'm working on getting my thinking right for the basic system of running him with what's best for him to be successful. The basic out, here, switch, right, left - that's where we are for now.

Interestingly, he said that only 20% qualified on this run at trial, so it's a really tough course. Very good to learn on!

August 18, 2008
Cinnabar was joined in class by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Sally, Rocky, Kayla, Abe and Cooper

We had the same course as Sebastian's class, but doing all 20 and not stopping at 12.

I ran him through the first part of the course the same way I did Sebastian, but the speed difference is incredible. I front crossed at 5 waiting for him on the other side of the hurdle while he came out of the tunnel. Called here, but his speed was such that he went around me. He came back and on we went. Front crossed at the end of the A Frame and out at the next hurdle. Again, a wide swing, but a here brought him back to the walk and not the tunnel. We had to restart the weaves, but he did all 12 great. I was on his right for 14 and tried to back cross him at 15. We got through stuff, but it wasn't pretty. I know I wasn't running it right.

After we all had our first run, we did a walk and talk of the course. I can't have the big lead at 5. I need to send him out before crossing the plane of 5, call here send him over 6 and then a here at 7. We shouldn't be frontcrossing at the end of the A Frame. An out sends them too far out on that next hurdle and into the tempting off course tunnel. We should backcross before or after the frame. I did do my positioning right for the weaves, as I was far enough out when he was hurdling to call here to have it easy for him to enter properly. I needed to be on his left at 14, backcross him at 15. We also need to backcross at 19. Whew, a backcross course and I don't have a backcross with this dog, with the other one yes, with this one no.

Our second run was fine until the 14/15/16 hurdles. We got through it with Darryl's help. I'm on his left, over 14, over 15 standing between that and 16 and direct him with my arm and "here". Took about 5 tries. I was discombobulated with the final 3 hurdles. I know I didn't do them right

On our third run we did fine until the final 3 hurdles. I was on his right and ran past 19 with him and then back crossed him over 20. Darryl gave me one of his salmon treats and told me to do it again, not go past 19 but toss the treat with my right arm while saying switch. Wow, that was perfect! Tossing the treat also gets my arm motion correct for switch because it's a quick motion toward the dog and they automatically turn their head in that direction. My previous motion wasn't that dramatic for the command and it needs to be. Ending on a light bulb moment for me, just great!

August 25, 2008
Cinnabar was joined in class by Maggie, Alex, Emma, Sally, Rocky, Kayla, Abe and Cooper

We did the blue course first. I led out on an angle so that I was ready to send him out to 3. I showed him a full hot dog in my hand and he was extremely focused on me and kept his butt glued to the turf. Woo hoo, we had a lead out!! We did the wrap command for 9 and 10. I was late on it, got to get it into my head to say it as he's entering the tunnel so that he knows to wrap around when he comes out. Actually had a natural backcross going to the chute, coolness to that. We had to restart the weaves as he was bounding around and I realized I still had the full hot dog in my hand. Put that sucker away and he did the weaves very nicely and got treated at the end and we finished the course.

I got to see Darryl's new tire in action when Maggie ran the course. She jumped low and the bottom of the styrofoam tire came apart as it's supposed to - no harm to the dog - and it went right back together when she was on to the next obstacle. Very nice.

We did the blue course twice and then we switched to the red course. I led out, but only as far as the top of the dog walk - too chicken to try it at the end of the dog walk. I still had a lead out, though - very cool and progress! He wrapped into the tunnel nicely. Only one restart on weaves this time. Had to re-do at 18 as he wanted to do the dogwalk, which was the order from the last two runs, but not this one. I needed to send him out after the chute.

Cinnabar did very well and had some great interaction going on the sidelines with all the dogs, from the whippets to the big dogs and especially Sally who's coming out of her shell. He was especially taken with the whippet, Emma. He was also doing the typical mal great sit/stay suckup for treats from everyone. He's happy to report that it worked :)

September 8, 2008
Beginning a new 6 week semester.
Cinnabar was joined by Maggie, Rocky, Emma, Alex & Sally

I was familiar with 1 thru 13 from Sebastian's class, and had to make myself familiar with the rest of it during our walk thru.

Our jump height was 20".

Because I don't have a great leadout with him, I did not position myself between 3 and 4, but ran with him from 1.

We did great on our first run as far as running the course, with me crossing where I needed to. Although he was so fast I didn't have time to front cross between 3 and 4, he just flew into the tunnel on his own (he did this on the second run as well). We had to restart the weaves. He knocked down a number of jumps. On our second run, again, we ran the course well, improved on the weaves, but he knocked down about 5 jumps. When he's knocking them down, it's with his front paws, evidently, not getting any lift.

I was very pleased on the last 3 hurdles where he's running faster than me and I just stick out my hand indicating an out for the final hurdle, he turns his head back toward the hurdle (from glancing at me) and completes it. He did this well on all our runs.

Because I was running the course well, I was evidently running it faster and he just wasn't caring if he knocked them down.

Because he knocked so many down, instead of being first up, we were last making it easier to change heights for the 16" dogs.

On our third run, he was off. I had time to front cross between 3 and 4. When we got to the serpentine at 11, he just shut down on me. I took him back to 10 to do it again. He shut down again and went running toward the class. I called him back, he came but wouldn't start it again. He ran back to the class and was swinging his butt and let out a poop. As he got to the class he did it again, flinging a poop at them. I cleaned it up, and tried to start him again at 10. Again he ran to the class and flung another poop. He had been pottied twice before class and had a very large poop at that time. I'm thinking this was a statement and we didn't finish our run.

On our 4th run, again he was off. We did finish it, but it wasn't pretty with all the bars knocked down. I was very pleased with his weaves with me on the weak side. He doesn't have trouble doing the 20" height, as the final run of the double-jump, tire & hurdle he accomplishes with ease without knocking off that final hurdle or a rung on the double jump. He just was not into giving an effort, and basically shut down on the last two runs, which is unusual for him. I was being exciting and encouraging with him, but he wasn't in to it. When others had their runs, he was very happy on the sideline sucking up to different people, getting attention and treats for doing a sit or down.

September 15, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Emma, Alex, Sally and a Burnese (can't remember her name because her mom has two of them).

We did the same course as Sebastian's class and while we walked the course Darryl had toys and tennis balls thrown all over the course. The message is that we have to be more exciting than the toys. I left Cinnabar off leash and as he ran to something thrown out there, just called him back with a sing song voice. He recalled every time. Our first few runs of the course, the toys stayed out there and balls were tossed while we were running.

I elected for 24" jump heights for Cinnabar to get him over his laziness on the 20" jumps. He attempted all of them except #5 which he always scrunched down & ran under, so I set that one at 20. He knocked down between 3 and 5 jumps on each run.

Cinnabar was not distracted by the toys laying around, but did run off course when tennis balls were thrown in his path. He recalled well, though and we continued.

Others in class were not as fortunate on the toys strewn around, especially Emma, the whippet. She really got the zoomies. The Burnese stayed with her mom the entire time, she's great. The others had toy motivated dogs and while they mostly left the toys alone, all got distracted with the balls thrown, just as Cinnabar did.

Our last run was toy and ball free. Next class in two weeks

September 29, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Emma, Alex, Sally, Maggie and Kiki (the Burnese).

I initially had the course to myself in between Sebastian's class and this one and ran Cinnabar through. The sun was down by this time and the temps were cool and he was raring to go. We did the blue course 1 - 14, and I was huffing and puffing by the end of it, he was on fire.

The others got there and walked the course and we settled into our runs of the blue course. We did ours at 24". On the first run, Cinnabar knocked down the first and last jump. By our third run, he ran a clean run!!!

Ideally at 5 we send them out to the chute at 6, so that the handler doesn't approach the chute, but crosses straight in front of 7. Cinnabar was perfect on this - yes!! We also front cross as they come out of the tunnel at 10 so they are on our left heading toward the tire at 11.

Cinnabar's weaves were perfect on his first run, on subsequent runs we had to restart them at least once. Once he was started correctly, he did indeed finish them correctly.

Darryl added some more hurdles creating the red course, so that we would now use the wrap command at the end of the dog walk and had the course change at the end with the pin wheel. We needed to front cross in between 15 and 16 and again between 17 and 18. On this run, my crosses at the end were too close to him and he knocked those bars down. When I'm sending him out on things, he's leaving the bars up. When I'm too close he's knocking them down. Ok, I've got work to do to help him.

In between runs where we changed hurdle height, Cinnabar stayed with Darryl while I and others went out and changed the hurdles & tire. Well, Cinnabar was Mr. Suckup and I wasn't sure I was getting my dog back :) It was good for both of us, because while we were changing the hurdles, Darryl was working with Cinnabar on quick jumps and gathering jumps on the first hurdle. He got some very nice one on one attention, not just for affection but for work. He's such a good boy!

October 6, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Emma, Alex, and Kiki

We were indoors, but it was still cool, as the sides of the building were rolled up. All the dogs were excited with the temps.

This course wasn't setup by Darryl, I'm not sure who set it up, but it was very difficult. Our first course was blue, we did ok until the tunnel at 13. I front crossed after the tire to send him into the tunnel. He kept going in and popping back out. He loves tunnels, what was up with that? Turns out, with the exception of Kiki, all the dogs did that. I asked Darryl what level course this was, Excellent? Nope, illegal! This would never be a course setup in competition. That made me feel better, but I still wanted to get him into that tunnel on the first try on our next run, which I did.

Our next challenge on the blue run was 18 & 19. We muddled through it on our first run (not pretty). The correct way to do it is a shallow front cross, with a tight command. Took me a couple times on our second run, but we got it and that felt good.

Cinnabar entered the weaves correctly every time on the blue run. He was so excited though that he was trying to fly through them and was missing some, so we restarted. I'm excited about the correct entry. He continues to improve on his weave work.

Of the 9 hurdles in the course, he was knocking down around 3. We were jumping at 24". Better.

Then we did the red course. While we were walking the red course, Darryl was working with Kiki. Cinnabar ran over and tried to get in on that action, but Darryl told him he had his turn last week :) He didn't want to leave him, but recalled nicely.

He entered the weaves correctly again, which is really great because I'm on the opposite side of him when he starts in this direction. He does them slower when I'm on that side, but he did them correctly. Nice improvement.

Darryl said we should front cross between 17 & 18. Kiki's mom did it without the front cross, she's the best of us though. I did that front cross and although it really pulls you out there, it was the right thing because it went very smoothly. That felt good, because on this course very little felt smooth.

Of the 13 hurdles in the red course, he knocked down 4. Better percentages, especially since the course felt really jerky in that it was very difficult to be in position to help him.

Although both courses were frustrating for me, as well as the other handlers, Cinnabar and the other dogs had a blast. Each of them was really having fun. Alot of that was the cooler temperatures, alot was the excitement of running, and they were all in a good mood from getting Darryl's treats :) He had a crowd around him at one point (all sitting looking at him intently), and was tossing a treat to each in turn. These are all great dogs in that they never went for each other's treats and all the dogs really like each other. Not a pretty course, but a good class.

October 13, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Emma, Alex, Maggie, Abe and Kiki

Our course was the blue course. While I walked the course I had Cinnabar off leash. The hurdles during that walk were set at 16". I was using my hands for outs and heres and walking my front crosses just to get everything into my head. Cinnabar was right with me and as I'd put a hand out for an Out (even though I wasn't saying it), he went out and did the hurdle. We walked the course perfectly several times with him following motion cues (hand and body).

Our runs were at 24".

On the first run, he took the tunnel instead of the dog walk at 3, but interestingly both hurdles were up. I had sent him "out" at 2, instead of just "jump" and didn't call "here", which is why he took the tunnel. We restarted, he went to the dog walk instead of the tunnel, but the 2nd hurdle was down. By our third run, I had it right. I called "here" as he was committed to the jump and didn't turn myself too soon to the dog walk. He left that hurdle up when I did it right

On 4, 5, 6 and 7, we need to front cross between 4 and 5, then again between 5 and 6, then send them out to the tunnel. Did that perfectly in our walk through. Did it crappy on our first two runs. I was over thinking because I had the hurdle height in my head and wanted to be perfect to help him. He knocked down 4 and 5 on our first two runs, because I was turning too soon, trying to go too fast to give him speed to help him. Wrong! Get that stuff out of my head and just run it without the extraneous stuff. Yup, he left those bars up when I didn't turn too soon and did my normal pace.

We want to be beyond the #8 hurdle when they come out of the tunnel so that we're in position for the weaves. On our first run, I wasn't far enough out, he beat me to the weaves (he was flying, but left that bar up) and entered 1 in too far, so we restarted the weaves. On our second run, I had my back to him while getting to the weaves. He entered the weaves correctly, but knocked the bar down because I was signaling speed by having my back to him. Got it right on the third and fourth runs. Although on those runs, we had to restart the weaves because of entry. Once he's entered correctly, he's doing well on the weaves.

For 10, 11, 12 on our first run he missed 11. I had my hand out for "out" but didn't say it. Hmm, in practice he was following motion cues, but in real runs, he needs both.

Then the real stinker of the course - 12, 13, 14, 15. Front cross between 12 and 13, send them out at 14 while front crossing between 14 and 15. Positioning correctly between 12 and 13 was tricky, but had it right by our fourth run. No problems getting him over 14. I was always jamming him up using the front cross that worked well for the smaller dogs. Darryl said we needed to go with a back cross there. Kiki the Bernese was backcrossing there and that worked great for her. That worked for us as well, not pretty because he and I are still working on it, and when I say "switch" I'm sharply tossing a treat over the hurdle at the same time. We did it in slow motion, but that's ok.

16, 17, 18 and 19 - send them out to 16, out to 17, here to 18 - front cross and over 19. Turned too quickly on our first run and pulled him away from 16. We did fine on subsequent runs.

From 19 to 20, I just used my hand for out for the broad jump and he flew over it well ahead of me.

Our fourth and final run we all did at 16" not only because the dogs were getting tired but to help get all this stuff into the human brains :)

Whew, what a class - but what a good class. Lots of learning going on for me, love it.

October 20, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Maggie, Abe and Kiki and Sally

Our course was blue, 1 through 20.

I ran the course with Cinnabar before class started. He fell off the dog walk in the middle of it. He wasn't hurt and I had him go right back up on it, from each direction. Then again, but he wouldn't do it. I took him away from it and finished the course. While others came and were walking the course I tried it again, but no go from one end. He did do it from the opposite end.

Darryl looked at the dogwalk and said it was about a foot higher at one end, which is probably why he fell. He was doing things normally and quickly and the height change messed him up. It was also very close to the back wall. We moved it in about 3 feet and Darryl adjusted it so the the middle plank was level.

Darryl worked with us and we did get him over it once, but he was bailing on the ramp or pulling a Sebastian and not putting his back feet on. We'll see how he does next week. Last year, he did go through a period of being afraid of the teeter, but got over it.

We started our runs and I actually got a leadout from Cinnabar between 2 and 3. He popped up once, but didn't do the jump on hearing voice correction. I messed up by not front crossing between 6 and 7, so we muddled our way to the tunnel. We also need to front cross between 12 and 13. Cinnabar had no issues on the teeter. The dog walk was an issue, we gave him 3 tries and then went on. He did the rest of the course great.

We did that course 3 times. Then we did the teal course.

We were up first, so we were the "bad example" for the rest of the class :) Everyone loves it when Kiki's mom goes first, but we don't have to think as much if we just mimic her, so Darryl asked her to go last.

I was too far away from the end of the tunnel and waiting for him at 3, he corrected when he heard me. I need to pick him up closer to the tunnel to minimize confusion.

I did a front cross between 5 and 6 and again between 7 and 8. This was wrong, it left me on the wrong side of the A Frame to get him into the chute at 9. No cross at all between 5 and 6. We should backcross between 6 and 7 so we are on the correct side of the A Frame. We can front cross at the end of the A Frame to get them to the chute.

Again, issues with the dogwalk, 3 tries and we went on.

We front cross at the end of the teeter heading into the hurdle at 15.

I front crossed between 18 and 19 and knew it was wrong instantly. It pulled him to far out. We went back and I picked him up out of the tunnel on his left. Over 18, 19 and backcrossed him at 20. That was ok, but I could've also just kept going and sent him out at 20.

We did ok for the run, and I guess the good thing was that I redid everything we did wrong :)

We'll see how he does on the dogwalk next week. He'll do it, just a step backward for now. The very good news is that he left all bars up, except one and we were doing 24" jumps!!

October 27, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Maggie, Abe, Kiki, Alex.

Before class started Cinnabar and Bee Gee got to do a little mutual sniffing. Those two really like each other. They both wanted to play together so badly, but they were there to work, and there were far too many dogs still there at that point.

We started out working on weaves. Darryl had some humongous rubber bands that he put at certain heights on the weave poles. The dogs needed to figure out they must put their heads down to get under it. The whole point of the exercise. Cinnabar did ok. When he had his head up and it caught him, he immediately adjusted and put his head down and completed them.

We did the blue course first. We did 24" hurdles.

I led out beyond 2 to begin. He was perfect, he went out at 3 and came around for the teeter. I stayed on his right and sent him over the hurdle at 5 to the tunnel at 6. However, that was wrong because I pulled him toward me and then had to push him toward the tunnel with at out. I needed to front cross at the end of the teeter, stay on his left.

He did great with wrap coming off the A Frame into the tunnel. I front crossed behind 9, but I was turning to 10 too soon, forcing him to adjust which had him knock down bars at 9. When I was patient and waited for him, those bars stayed up, and then send him out over 10 and those bars stayed up.

Because of his size, I need to front cross between 10 and 11 for him to leave the bars up at 11. When I didn't he was turning too tightly and knocking down 11.

Into the tunnel and on to the weaves. To do this properly, I need to be on the weak side, which for us is really weak. He's flying through the weaves when I'm on the strong side, but missing some when I'm on the weak side. I stayed on the strong side and front crossed at the end of them going out wide to get him over the hurdle at 14.

We backcrossed at 15, straight over 16 and an out at 17 to front cross before 18. However, it was tight, so what I needed to do was in between 17 and 18 was to give him a "go tight". If I gave it too late he turned to me quickly and knocked down bars. That worked.

The out at 18, front cross and over 19. Ideally calling him around to his left and then out at 20. If you call them around on their right, it's too tight.

We did that twice. Then the teal course.

Darryl had Cinnabar while we were walking the course, and worked with him on the dogwalk. He was getting fewer feet on than Sebastian did. He really got spooked last week. I'm hoping to be able to work with him on it, with gates on either side next week, so we get him up and over and over being spooked.

Again, we were jumping 24". I tried sending him out at 3 and going beyond 4 to wait for him, but he was going around too wide. So unlike with Sebastian, I needed to front cross between 3 and 4 for him, front cross again before 5.

He went out nicely at 6 and here nicely at 7, out nicely at 8 and over 9. However, I screwed him up at 9, because I was trying to get him to turn too tightly to head back to the teeter. I need to go out with him beyond the hurdle, then bring him back and over the teeter.

Sent him over 11, stayed on his right, sent him over 12 and "right" around towards me to the tunnel at 13. This was tricky. Another way to do it was to front cross between 11 and 12, bring them "left" around the closer side of the hurdle and into the tunnel. However, you risk them going into the wrong end of the tunnel with that.

The end of the course was easy, tunnel / hurdle / table.

I was tired (these late night World Series games are killing me), but was looking forward to making corrections in our second run of this course, but the power went out and we were in the dark until emergency lighting came on, so that was it for the night.

Both Darryl and Kiki's mom made good comments. Cinnabar watches my hands like a hawk. If I drop my hand too soon, he collapses on a jump and knocks it down. He's also very sensitive to my body movement, so I need to slow down and not rush to the next obstacle - good advise in any event, but especially because he's instantly adjusting. So, keep my hands up longer when signalling and slow it down and not anticipate. Great advice.

November 10, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Rocky, Abe, Kiki, Alex, Emma and a poodle who's name I think is Kira.

6 though 11 was our tricky part.

Turned out we tried it several ways. Lead out behind 6 while they're in the tunnel, send them out at 7 and front cross at 8, out over 9, out over 10, front cross at 11. That wasn't working for the big dogs. Both Kiki and Cinnabar gained speed and crowded us at our front cross at 8. We tried front crossing between 7 and 8, but still crowded. Because of the layout, Darryl recommended we do a blind cross so that we had our backs to them when they come out of the tunnel and with us even with 7 (on the left of 7), head straight up and then turn for a cross only once we were between 8 & 11 and then send them out over 8. It worked and felt smooth.

I evidently overcompensated for dropping my hand on direction and have my hand to high, causing Cinnabar to look up and when he does he's dropping a bar. Now, I've got to go for keeping my hand out and not dropping it, BUT, not raising it :)

The dogwalk is in the same position as it's been the last 4 weeks, since he fell off it and got spooked. Darryl's observation was that Cinnabar acted like he wanted to do it, but doesn't like the location. His suggestion, we turn on the outside lights and Cinnabar and I go outside and try that dogwalk. We did that (brrr). He was still spooked, but was willing to try. He was getting to the 2nd slat from the top before bailing. We did it about 20 times and he started getting bored, but I'm pleased that it's a heck of alot more progress than what's going on with the one indoors!

There was a celebration cake at class for Darryl and Dixie. She needed a double Q to get Mach over the weekend and she got it!!! He also had the bar they gave him and we all signed it. He described her runs and a couple of the 'almosts', but she kept it together. I believe he said she's the highest ranked Golden in the country. Woo-hoo!!!

November 17, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Abe, Kiki, Alex, Emma, Kira and Charlie (border collie).

Our first course was blue, 1 thru 20. I was able to get a leadout beyond 2 with him. Cinnabar did ok, but wouldn't do the dogwalk. His tail was wagging and he looked like he wanted to do it, but wouldn't. He was surprisingly unfocused on his weaves and we had to do them several times. Darryl had worked with him earlier and said his weaves were great and he was doing them quickly. I'm not sure if I was doing something wrong. Before we restarted them, I made sure I had no treats in my hands so that he wasn't looking at them, but he was missing several of them. We did start the weaves on the weak side for us, but usually once started he finishes nicely.

I also had trouble at 14, 15, 16. I was pulling him away, but I also didn't want to run too close to him. We got better, but it was still not very pretty and he'd knock down at least one of those bars. I know it's my fault.

We did this run 3 times. The foundation class had one side of the ring blocked off, and they finished up while we were doing our second run, so I took Cinnabar over to work on the 3 foot dogwalk as soon as they left. I was able to get him over it from one side, but not the other. Darryl recommended that I block it off with gates, which I did. He started going over fairly consistently. After our 3rd run on the blue course Darryl numbered the teal course, we walked it and then went back to the 3 foot dogwalk. He had a break through - over it with the gates blocking off escape and back over from the other side without gates. Again and again. Woo-hoo!!!

Then we did the teal course and right away he was confronted with the 4 foot dogwalk and he did it without hesitation - woo-hoo!!!!!!! Gosh that felt good. We did ok with our crosses and just ok on the weaves. We ran this twice, and again he did the dogwalk without hesitation. I know I could've run the course better than I did, but I'm taking the dogwalk as a major victory!

We're off next week, and then we've got two classes left until our winter one month break.

December 1, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Abe, Kiki, Alex, Rocky and Charlie.

I haven't been feeling up to par and was uncharactistcally out of energy after Sebastian's class, which was really not that taxing. So I only did 2 runs with Cinnabar.

On both runs we had to restart the weaves, but then he did them just fine.

Our first tricky part was 9/10/11. On the walk thru I looked at it several ways and decided on a back cross at 10. I saw Kiki's mom looking at the same thing, so I knew it was a good choice. Cinnabar and I are still working on his back crosses, but we did get it.

We had another back cross at 14, which went slightly better.

He did fine on "here" after 18 to bring him around to 19 and he was thrilled to finish off the course with the A Frame.

After his turns, I'm moving on to the next obstacle too quickly and caused him to knock a few bars off.

Our second run, he did better on his back crosses, but knocked a bunch of bars down. All my fault, I was out of energy.

Sebastian was crated on the side of the ring (so I don't have to go through the obedience class & foundation class to switch dogs). He was fine, but did feel the need to whine and talk while Cinnabar was running. It affected Cinnabar a little bit at the beginning of his first run, but he stayed focused. When we were in the far corner at 17, I could hear Sebastian and saw Cinnabar's ears flicker to the sound, but he stayed focused. He's such a good boy!

December 8, 2008
Cinnabar was joined by Alex, Kira and Charlie.

We started with the blue course. The tricky part is near the beginning - how do you get from 2 to 3? I chose to front cross in front of the tunnel send him out over 2, call here and then switch (back cross) at 3. It worked but wasn't pretty because our back cross isn't all it should be. For a fast dog like Charlie (Border Collie), they tried several different approaches, and ended with his mom just to the right of 2 and slightly ahead of it and sending him out over 3 heading to 4. That was the real doozie on this course.

Cinnabar ran the rest of the course well on his first run, including no issues with the dog walk. I was very happy with that because he had to go up it in the far darker corner.

Also on his first run, he entered the weaves properly and finished them with no re-start!! Woo-hoo!!

On his second run, he had trouble going out at 5, just kept bypassing it. I adjusted and ran closer to it and he did it. Starting at the dogwalk he had second thoughts, then did it and we did have to restart the weaves. We did just ok, certainly not as nice as our first run.

The good news on both those runs, was that he left the bars up with one exception which was my fault and we're doing 24" hurdles.

Then we ran the teal course. We had to restart the weaves several times, and surprisingly he didn't want to do the dogwalk at the better lit end of it. But, he ended up doing it, the good boy.

We're off until the beginning of January, but have the DOCNA trial this weekend

3 1/2 month old Cinnabar - down/stay
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