November 30, 2005

Sk8er Pup

Handler Movements

Handling Techniques in Agility by Solveig Trippestad, an encyclopedic resource describing in great detail a wide array of handling movements.

Agility Moves and Situations is Guy Blanke’s video clips of terms that describe situations handlers find in agility training and competition.

Handling Techniques from a list of FAQs compiled from Agility email lists.

Crazymaesy Agility Handling Notes by Jo Fraser and Iain Fraser, two leading British trainers and competitors.

Perfect Timing abridged from a Bud Houston article in Clean Run  

November 28, 2005

Dusty - Duck Dog

Ochre checks in...

at the Uralla Herding Trial.

Thommo & Dusty ...

... share Ange's chocolate paddle pop.

November 23, 2005

Challenge Certificate

Bulahdelah Show Society - 19/11/2005 - Mrs J Fynmore (NSW)
Challenge & Best of Breed - Ikenheel Diamonds N Dust

Handling Maneuvers

Handling Sequences

For any break in the course flow, a number of handling approaches will work. Mah suggests that the handling maneuver you choose will depend on:
  • The speed of the dog and the handler.
  • The efficiency or competitive edge that each option provides.
  • The recoverability factor - if the option chosen should go pear-shaped, how easy is it to get back on track.

Breaks in the Course

Course Sequences

In Course Analysis for Agility Handlers Stuart Mah suggests dividing a course into sequences using natural 'breaks' where the flow is disrupted. He says that these points in the course occur at:
  • Changes of direction greater than 30 degrees.
  • Obstacle discrimination challenges.
  • Sharp turns towards handler.
  • Places where the handler needs to change sides.

Running the course as a series of sequences enables the handler to leave negotiating individual obstacles to the dog, and to get into position to help the dog with the 'breaks' in the flow.

November 19, 2005

Virtual Agility

When it comes to accessing good agility training I'm geographically challenged, however I've taken advantage of some of the online opportunities that are available.

Course Analysis

Reading Steve's Blog post about Turning Dogs Out of Straight Tunnels I was reminded that I had Stuart Mah's Course Analysis for Agility Handlers waiting to be read.

This second book in a series by Stuart Mah looks at agility courses from the handler's perspective, helping the handler to make the correct handling choices for their dogs. It explains agility terms, course elements and patterns, and describes the handling maneuvers that agility handlers need to understand to analyze a course and their handling options. The book gives handlers a specific plan they can follow to analyze courses and includes chapters that present obstacle sequences and courses so that handlers can practice their analysis skills.

Quibble number one: there is not a lot of information in the book. Between the large amount of white space and the repetition of information I was left feeling that it could have been a much smaller (and cheaper) book.

Quibble number two: Stuart regularly uses and advocates the use of the blind cross. I've adopted Greg Derrett's philosophy that my dog should never think it is ok to zip around behind me but will always be in front of the plane of my shoulders.

Even with these reservations, however, it is a well structured lesson in how to objectively plan handling techniques rather than make those decisions on the fly.

November 18, 2005

Skate Park

We use the local skate park for pre-agility games, up and down ramps, along beams and through pipes.

November 15, 2005

Nested Jumpers Courses

Having completed my judges' training for Agility Australia, I had my test assignment on the weekend. It was the day after the Titles and everyone was in a relaxed mood and out to enjoy the perfect weather and pleasant grounds at Berrima - which worked to my advantage.

The courses seemed to run well, particularly the Novice course which had room to play it safely, or to practice some more advanced handling techniques.

Agility Australia courses are planned to test participants at the appropriate level of competition, and to engender enjoyment and safety with the flowing layout of the obstacles and well-designed challenges.

November 06, 2005

Pet astrology

Star signs.

  • "ARIES need to be first! If you are looking for a pet that will become a champion, choose an Aries."
  • "CAPRICORN These hard working little guys are very stubborn. They want something and they don't give up."

Don't know your dog's birthdate?

  • Dusty - 17/04/2005
  • Thommo 07/01/1999

Owner/Pet compatibility

  • Dusty & I
    You both will certainly create a lot of fireworks. Leo and Aries are fire signs. They have healthy egos and when they clash, all innocent bystanders should take cover. This relationship can last!
  • Thommo & I
    Capricorns are too much of a dreamer to enjoy the present. Eventually Leo will find this relationship exasperating, but don't give up. There is much to share.

Thommo's Horoscope

Capricorn: Overindulging in the wrong foods puts your tummy in a tumble, even too much of a good food can cause problems. Remember the old saying, ’sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach’! Once you’ve experienced such physical distress you learn to be more careful with your eating habits. Digestion is a natural process and you can help it along by not going to any extremes after eating. That means don’t lie down right away and don’t go for too vigorous a run either!

Dusty's Horoscope

Aries: It’s fun to see new things and explore new places and you’ll be tickled to get the chance to do just that when your human friends take you along on a whirlwind trip. But there is a downside to this otherwise interesting week; it’s about deciding who’s in charge! As much as your companions think they rule the roost, you hold to the idea that the world revolves around you. Be careful that you don’t land in the doghouse over your quest for power!

Indoor Games

Indoor games are great for those days when I just can't get out for a walk, or the dogs won't settle of an evening, or for just reinforcing behaviours I want to encourage.

Hide and seek.
Have your dog stay, or get someone to hold him, or distract him with a thrown treat, the slip around the corner or crouch behind the sofa.

Which hand?
Hold a small treat or ball in one closed fist and keep the other fist empty. Extend both arms out and ask your dog, "Which hand?" Let it sniff both. When it noses the fist with the toy or food, open your hand, show it, and praise. Repeat, randomly moving the toy or food into your left or right hand.

Find the keys.
Toss the keys to get her attention, then reward any move towards them. Work up to her bringing the keys to you. Stash the keys in plain view, then work up to hiding them behind a cushion. I've found this useful on three occasions over the years when I've been able to send Thommo through the dog door to get the keys when I've locked myself out.

Bring me ...
Dogs like having a job. Teach him to bring the remote, and the tv guide, and a beer and a packet of chips, to the sofa where you are lying.

El Matador
Wave a towel or blanket provocatively while shouting "Toro, Toro!" in your best Spanish accent. As your little bull charges whip the towel away at the last minute.

Luke, I am your father
Talk to your dog through the cardboard cylinder of a paper-towel roll.

Patty Cake
When your dog is lying down put your hand on top of one paw, he'll probably pull it away. Put your hand on top of the other paw and so on.

Activities from 97 Ways To Make Your Dog Smile by Jenny Langbehn - worth buying for Pat Doyle's wonderful dog portraits alone.

November 05, 2005

Squeaky Deaky ...

... and other top tunes

Songs to Make Dogs Happy! is the first research backed musical CD for dogs, based upon 200 canine participants’ decisions as to what they would like to hear in songs.It was created by the Laurel Canyon Animal Company, which has utilized the services of psychic animal communicator Dr. Kim Ogden-Avrutik, and spent over a year developing and testing the songs. Canine focus groups selected from dogs nationwide were assembled and questioned as to their preferences in music and content.

What dogs didn’t want:
Some kinds of percussion
The word “no”

What dogs did want:
93% wanted to hear that their “human companion loves me”
93% want to hear a song about having a dog bed
92% want to “tell my human I love them”
87% wanted to hear a song about a toy
87% wanted to hear a song about eating food
75% wanted to hear a song about being outside

Topics were chosen based on these findings, songs written, reviewed by Dr Kim, recorded, tested with more canine focus groups and adjusted in the light of the comments.

“Songs to Make Dogs Happy helps ease separation anxiety. It is very effective when played in the car while traveling with your dog. It reinforces the bond between humans and their dogs and helps relax both in stressful situations when used according to the instructions provided” says Skip Haynes, the creator of the album. Listen to sample tracks.

Hey!! If it makes the dogs happy ….

November 02, 2005

Dusty Meets the Sheep

This was Dusty's first encounter with sheep - I've only just got around to uploading the video. I was a little concerned that she'd leave the yard, or stop to eat sheep poo, during the test last weekend. But she 'stayed on task'.

I've sent my entry away for another Robert and Jenny Cox seminar at Uralla in January. I loved the way that Jenny brought Dusty along, with encouragement and praise.

November 01, 2005

Reliable Recall

Condition a reliable recall by building a reinforcement history:

  • When calling crouch slightly and turn away from the dog, and use three short syllables to call – ‘pup, pup, pup’.
  • If your dog is coming to you of his own accord, call him.
  • Carry treats and reward checking in with you when off leash.
  • Call, reward and release to continue playing – the recall does not stop the fun.
  • With your dog on leash, call him away from distractions such as a thrown treat, and heavily reward coming.
  • If you think your dog might not come to you don’t call him, just go get him.
  • Don’t call him for anything he might not like to do.
  • Don’t use his name to chastise him.

Canine Trivia

The herding weekend was fully catered and it was marvellous being able to camp, but not to have to deal with an esky full of food - we sat down with tablecloths and napkins and someone brought our meals to us and took the plates away.

On the Saturday night we had a canine trivia quiz over dinner, which got everyone talking. One table ran out to the car for a book, another phoned a friend. Robert Cox wandered around the tables with friendly queries about how people found the trial, which everyone thought was a lovely touch until we realised that he was none-too-subtly reading our answers.

How many teeth does a dog have?
Dogs are born with no teeth at all, but grow them in the first two or three weeks after birth. At around eight weeks of age, a puppy should have a full set of twenty-eight teeth (some breeds may have a slight variation), consisting of pre-molars (not full molars), incisors, and canines.
An adult set has forty-two teeth: twenty-two on the lower jaw (mandible) and twenty on the upper jaw (maxilla): twelve incisors, four canines, sixteen pre-molars, and four molars on the upper jaw, and six more on the lower jaw.

What is the name of the dog in Frasier, and the actor that plays him?
Moose, a Jack Russell Terrier, portrays Eddie.

What is another name for the Russian Wolfhound?
The Russian Wolfhound is also known as the Borzoi or the Psowaya Barsaya.

Name six retrievers.
  • Labrador retriever
  • Golden retriever
  • Flat-coated retriever
  • Curly-coated retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling retriever
Our table won. I knew watching tv wasn't a total waste of time.