Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Sebastian - Agility
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Sebastian - Agility - Next Level
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Spring 2006
Sebastian hurdles
Sebastian hurdling

April 1, 2006 - 1st agility refresher
Agility started for Sebastian on Saturday, mostly a refresher of some basics, which is good for him. We started outside, but then it poured and we finished inside working with the tunnel and the hurdle. The fun part is there's 4 in the class and the other 3 don't even top 15 pounds. The really fun part (free entertainment) is that some of their owners are comparing their dogs' pulling power with Sebastian's. I didn't tell them that he comes from a line of champion weight pull dogs that pull just shy of 2 tons - I'll let that come out later :)

Sebastian tunnel
Sebastian scrunching thru the tunnel

April 15, 2006 - 2nd agility refresher
Agility on Saturday continues to be free entertainment for me and an exercise in patience for Sebastian. The two terriers, Molly and Winston, have been thru Agility before, but are firmly in charge of their moms. So, their goings on are quite fun to watch. The little shitzu (I think), Trouble, and his mom are working hard on this their first time thru. We worked on the ladder, tire jump, hurdles, tunnel. Sebastian did exceptionally well, especially slowing himself down for the ladder. As Jen said, his jumps are impressive because his form is excellent.

Sebastian tire jump
Sebastian thru the tire jump

April 29, 2006 - 3rd agility refresher & new stuff
Agility rained out again last week.

Just Molly (terrier) and Sebastian for this class, with Sharon standing in for Jen.

I got there early to take photos, moved the tire jump up to the highest setting and one of the hurdles to 24". Got the usual before and after shots with the tire jump, then worked hard and got decent shots of him thru the tire, and a great one of him with the hurdle and a terrific down/stay happy face shot. Unfortunately, I evidently checked the photos too soon after taking them (while the camera was still writing to disk) and my computer decided it couldn't read the disk, and the cd scan disk repaired it and I've got none of the good photos, only the before and after tire jump photos from the beginning. Oh well, more photo taking next week.

First up, the dog walk. Major issues for Sebastian because it's so narrow at 12" to him. Major progress getting him up to the middle of it before he jumped off. Little Molly just went right over the sucker without issue on every attempt.

Then the weave poles set about a foot apart so there was a path down the middle. We walked them thru using the "weave" command. Then Sharon set the poles about 9" apart and the same. Then she had me leave Sebastian with her at one end, go to the other and call him through the poles with "weave". We did that several times. Then I had to put him in a Sit/Wait at the weave poles and call him thru without Sharon there. No issues. Molly ran around them a couple times, but basically had no issues.

Next the teeter-totter. I was able to get Sebastian to the middle of it and then he jumped off. We worked many times with him, but he was getting stressed, so no more for him. We'll work on this after he feels comfortable with the dog walk. Molly did well, even though it was scarey for her at first.

Then we did some runs thru the course. Hurdle / Tire / Tunnel / Hurdle / Dog Walk / Weave Poles / Hurdle. We set the middle hurdle at 24" for Sebastian, the others at 20" and the Tire on the highest setting which appears to be 20". He was sharp on the run with everything but the dog walk, but took Sharon's breath away with his clearance on the 24" hurdle.

On the next run, she changed that hurdle to a double jump to see if he'd clear it (20" on the first hurdle, 16" on the second - set about 6" apart), and we put the final hurdle to 24". The double hurdle is no big deal to him. He cleared it just fine. Great 2nd run with the exception of the dog walk (which we did several times with improvement getting to the middle of it).

Same thing on the 3rd run where I finally realized I should do a cross-behind after the hurdle going to the dog walk because he does better with me on his left.

Earlier in our 3rd run, he ran around the tire and when I was bringing him back to do it, he jumped thru it the opposite way. I set him up to go through it headed toward the tunnel and he brought the whole contraption down (I'm not quite sure if he didn't raise his back legs enough, or hit the side of the tire with his shoulder, it happened so fast). I set it up again, and had him "get back in the saddle" so he wouldn't be scared of it, and it was never an issue going through.

On our 4th run I did the cross-behind after he cleared the double hurdles and he ran right up to the middle of the dogwalk without urging before he jumped off. We tried it a couple more times, but I should've left it at the successful improvement of the first one. He was losing focus. Great thru the weave poles and a spectacular final hurdle at 24", finishing with a sit and a down.

It's about 8 months since Sharon's seen us work together, as we've been in Jen's classes. She's super impressed with Sebastian's improved focus on me and the task at hand. She was there at his PuppyK and both Obedience classes so she knows the hard work that's gone into that with him. She just couldn't get over the difference. She, like Jen, loves his jumping and the way he attacks the obstacles.

We talked about the differences in learning for Sebastian and Cinnabar. She likes the sharp voice I use for Sebastian, and praised me because it was consistent for all the commands. She knows that I use happy voice for Cinnabar and that he responds to that. Sharp voice for Cinnabar and his feelings are hurt because he thinks he did something wrong.

I asked her after class about how to correct some behavior with him. When someone is petting him and he's had enough he reaches around quickly with his mouth open toward their hand. He would never hurt someone, but he's being intimidating and it's up to me, not him, when enough is enough. Molly's mom said, but they all do that. Sharon agreed with me that it's intimidating behavior and that it has to stop. (It should stop for small dogs too, but with a dog his size it MUST stop). She said the most vulnerable position for him is a down. When it happens immediately put him in a down/stay for a couple minutes. Next time it happens increase the time etc (up to 10 minutes if necessary). He'll never get Canine Good Citizenship if we can't stop it. Sharon agreed and then broke the news to me that they allow regular collars, choke collars and prong collars for CGC but NOT the gentle leader. I said I'd go prong before choke because at least you can set it to stay at the right place on the neck. She said she'd been working with a Martingale collar (which is allowed with CGC) with Stella (her lab), and that the Martingale sits at the right place on the neck. She's going to show me the collar on Tuesday so I can understand what it is and how to use it.

Like last time, I crated Cinnabar in Sebastian's crate because it's roomier for him. And like last time he was out of the crate when I got home. I'm not sure how he's opening it from the inside because there is no mechanism on the inside, but Houdini is doing it. It was also obvious he was on the couch when I wasn't there, the brat!

Sebastian tire jump
Click image for mpg video of Sebastian doing tire jump & tunnel May 6, 2006

May 6, 2006 - 4th agility refresher & new stuff
Sebastian along with Winston (terrier) and Trouble for this class.

Scorcher of a spring day, at least 80 degress and a touch humid.

Got a couple nice videos of Sebastian while we warmed up.

Used the Martingale collar for Sebastian this week. It'll take some getting used to for us both. He pulls more with it and the correction is different than with the gentle leader, but it's working out better than I expected. He wasn't listening as well (he knows the gentle leader means business) initially, but I put him in down/stays when he didn't listen and that behavior stopped. Winston's mom wanted to know if I could train her dog. Told her I'm just putting into practice what both Jen and Sharon have taught. Then she told me Winston's breeder said that terrier's aren't known for obedience, so "oh well". Told her that Malamutes aren't either, but we're ignoring that and going for the obedience. I could see Jen smiling at that. They just kept saying how good Sebastian behaves, and I kept telling them, it's daily work with him that makes him that way. Jen knows how far he's come, she's been there for all his classes.

We started with the dog walk. I told Jen we'd need lots of help on this. We couldn't get him up to the middle of it. I told her we never worked with it flat the week before, so she said we'd just work with it flat with him and forget the teeter-totter until he had this down. After about 10 times (with us crowding him on each side), he made it across and was "getting it". Both Winston and Trouble did just fine with the dogwalk. The other two moved to the teeter-totter and we continued to work on the dog walk. Sebastian continued to do fine and was really getting comfortable with it. On one pass, though, his concentration was broken by a white butterfly winging by his nose that needed to be chased. When I told that to Jen, she said, "but you know how important white butterflies are, don't you?".

The we practiced the weaves. The poles were moved in so that for the dog to go down the middle of them they were about 6" apart. Sebastian is doing really well with this. I'm able to put him in a sit, then call weave and just motion with my hand down the middle of the poles, leading him only slightly. Winston did ok with this, and Trouble is doing fine for his first time through. His mom uses hot dog pieces (Sebastian made her a believer), and her only issue was getting low enough to the ground with the treats, and coordinating using one in each hand to get him through. Then Jen moved the poles in so that the space down the middle of them was about 4" apart and we did it again. Sebastian is again doing very well with this method and starting to get the weave motion going with that little bit of space.

Winston's mom announced that it was too hot for him (and we hadn't begun our runs yet), and Jen said, well look at Sebastian, he's made for freezing temperatures, we'll take it slow, but they'll be ok.

Then we began our runs, with Sebastian up first. Our course was Hurdle / Weave Poles / Tire Jump / Tunnel / Hurdle / Pause Box / Dog Walk (flat for Sebastian) / Hurdle / Hurdle / 180 degree turn Hurdle / Chute

We alternated the hurdles for Sebastian for 20" and 24" and the tire jump is set at the highest. The challenge for him is slowing himself down from the first hurdle to not run past the weave poles. I had to bring him back to get not miss the first weaves. His jumping was great and so was his focus.

While the other two had their turns, we found shade on the other side of the yard and that really refreshed Sebastian. The other two could find shade under the picnic table outside the training yard, but needless to say he didn't fit under there :)

Winston was totally unfocused but did make it through the runs. Little Trouble, does just fine with the teeter-totter and completely loves the chute which was new to him this week. He was tiring out on his 3rd run, but is doing just fine for his first class.

We did one extra run after Winston and Trouble left after their 3rd runs. I could see he was dragging when he refused the tire. I put it down a level and he went through and did fine on the course at a loping pace.

I'm pleased that his fear of the dog walk is gone. We'll start timing the runs next week.

Sebastian hurdle
Click image for mpg video of Sebastian doing 24" hurdle May 6, 2006

Click here for mpg video of Sebastian chute May 6, 2006

May 13, 2006 - 5th Agility Refresher
Sebastian was a brat during warmups and no photos of him because he went around everything. Didn't get a chance to settle in, Winston arrived and surprised us by coming in while Sebastian was off leash, which they've never done. Always said, no we'll wait for the other little dogs. Leashed Sebastian until Deuce arrived (his makeup class) and the two of them had a blast off leash.

Asked Jen if we could put the dog walk on the ladder so that it was at least elevated and she thought it was a good idea. Got him over it a few times during warmups.

Sebastian blew me off on all his runs. Didn't feel like doing any jumping & was a brat about them. Did great on the tunnel and chute AND the weave poles and dog walk, but just didn't feel like jumps. Put them at 20" and he did them here and there but it was like pulling teeth. A re-run of Cinnabar's performance on Tuesday. Leashed him for his last 3 runs and still had issues on jumps.

Deuce and Sebastian had great off-leash time after class. Molly unexpectedly joined in, while I held my breath with Sebastian chasing her. Got a couple vids of them together after he stopped chasing. He was very gentle, but it's not my ideal matchup - 137lbs vs. 10lbs :)

Didn't like being flipped off, but it must be my fault. Had a frustrating week and it must be coming through to them if both of them on two different evenings flipped me off on stuff at which they're good. Could be a tinge of the full moon, but I'm thinking it's me.

Very pleased that he continues to lose his fear of the dog walk.

Deuce - Cinnabar & Sebastian friend
May 13, 2006

Sebastian - tire jump
Sebastian - tire jump
May 20, 2006

May 20, 2006 - 6th Agility Refresher
Glorious temperatures and a breeze!

Sebastian did well on warmups and I got a still photo that I've been trying to get for the last two months - him in mid-tire jump. Took a gamble with him on the dogwalk in warmups - he went to the middle, started down & jumped off. Took him back and tried again. On the third attempt he went all the way up, over, and down the sucker. Jen came out and he did it for her, she was amazed and pleased.

We had 4 runs each, with the 3 little dogs going first. Trouble (who is 9 years old by the way, and just learning this stuff) did ok for finishing up his first 6 classes of agility. He still does most things leashed, and had better focus last week, but still congrats. Winston who had a good week last week, started off unfocused, but his last two runs did very nicely. Molly, who also had a good week last week, started off with an ok run and finished with 3 good runs with improvement each time, especially completely the weaves unleashed on her final run. Very nice.

Sebastian was in happy goofy boy mode, which was great. The wind blew a huge gust while he was in mid chute and he had a moving target for the end of it, but got through it. Jen had us by-pass the chute after that, but on his second run, he did it anyway, got really tangled with the wind and fought his way out the entrance. She put the chute away so no one would be tempted, because they all like the chute.

He improved with every run. Issues were keeping him slowed at the weaves. If his pace is too quick, he misses a pole and we'd redo. However, his improvement in the weaves is great. At home, ours are all in a straight line and he's doing them nicely. On his second run he headed to the dogwalk as soon as I said walk and did it himself (I didn't hold my hand with the hotdog in front of his nose). On his third run, he added the dogwalk a second time to his obstacles, all on his own. "Old hat, now, mom" he seemed to be saying. Jen kept saying, "I wouldn't care if he took 6 minutes on the course, because he's doing the dog walk". We could see his fear gone after the warmups. He still had trepidation of it on the first run, but then we could see that fly away after that run. Just before our third run while we were adjusting the hurdles & tire for him, he ran partway up the teeter-totter on his own and off. After his third run was done, just for fun I pointed to the dog walk and said "walk" and started that way, he loped over to it, ran up it over it and down it. Woo-hoo!

He was also attacking the obstacles this week. He was sharp and back to himself, and quite pleased with himself as he kept that goofy smile on his face the whole time.

Wow, the dog walk is now "old hat" for him. We worked hard for that. Except for our little backyard course, no agility until fall and then we get to the teeter-totter. I'm really pleased with him and for him.

Sebastian - tire jump
Sebastian - tire jump
May 20, 2006

10 month old Sebastian - down/stay with hand signals only
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