Disco's Blog

Disco plays on mats 2-20-09 

The drive up to New York was very long. Disco and I arrived at the trial site at 6 pm. The site is awesome, you can find information about it at "high goal farm" I was surprised at how few people were there for the run throughs. They had two courses set up, one that was an advance course and another that was much easier. I decided that neither course was appropriate for Disco so I will make up my own course.
Disco was very pumped after the long drive up. He was also very excited to see a whole new bunch of new dogs and people. He is also hungry as we are a couple of hours past his dinner time. These will also be his first runs on mats.

The opening presents a very fast line to the weaves. Because we lack any lead out skills I also had to do a rear cross at the jump prior to the weaves. The tunnel after the weaves adds to the challenge in the weaves and gets the dog back to speed for the dogwalk. The loop back to the weaves just continues to propel the dog at warp speed back to the second weave entry.
We ran twice but had to cut the first run short when disco showed signs of needing a potty trip. He did have some weave problems on the first run but I think they had more to do with the need to poop than lack of skills.

His second run went much better he even did a fairly nice teeter without his hoop or mouse pad. Once all the other dogs had ran I took Disco out and just worked some short sequences with the weaves to teach Disco to settle down and focus on his job. He caught on quickly and started really working well.

Every time I take Disco to class, a trial, or a new site I am learning about him and where our training and bonding time need to be focused. In this case he showed that he can focus pretty well while running in a new place, but we need to work on pre-run issues. We need to figure out our “on the road potty game” to make sure he relieves himself before our runs as he was just too excited to get inside tonight. He needs to learn to quietly watch other dogs running without lunging at the ring and passing dogs. He needs to respect the space of other dogs and people. All of these things simply come from a lack of experience and a lack of any foundation stuff as a puppy. He also needs to gain a lot more control at the start line so I can successful set him up, get him focused on work and get into proper position to start the course. Getting long lead outs at this point is not our first priority but a long term goal. So I guess it is back to some crate games, loose leash walking and some other focus and control exercises.

Now "Go Weave"

Disco weekend Adventure Begins 2-20-09 

Well I am off to upstate New York to judge this weekend. We took yesterday off from training as both Disco and I needed a day away from any formal work. I spent the day designing courses as Disco spent the day being a dog. Today we are packing and heading for the trial. I am taking Disco along so he can do some runs tonight on a different surface and at a different place and more importantly he can hang out in the hotel room with me. As you can see Disco is really looking forward to this:

I am not sure if I will have a computer wireless up there this weekend but promise to update the blog with our weekend adventure as soon as I can. I am hoping to get someone to video our runs tonight so I can also post those. I will have access to email and Facebook with my I-phone just in case anyone needs to contact me. I hope everyone has a great weekend.
Now “Go Weave”

Disco gets to play on the carpet grass! 2-18-09 

For the past several weeks I have not been allowing Disco to run courses on the carpet during our Wednesday day classes, but have been having him focus on doing his tricks and some foundation skill work on the mats during class. Today I decided to let him try running the real course on the grass. Here was our course.

I insisted that Disco at least settle down and sit at the start and give me a couple of steps lead out giving him a Click and treat for doing so. I was not sure if he would do the tire as the first obstacle or at an angle, but he handled it just fine. It was a long way from #2 to the weaves and he charged ahead of me finding the entry then plowing through the weaves. We did a tight at jump #4 turning him back toward the weave side of that jump. Turning this direction he had no problems with the discrimination at the frame. I had the hoop and mouse pad set up at the teeter and he did a nice job with that. I completed a front cross while he was down but discovered that he thought that meant turn at #8 so the second time we ran I did a rear cross on the landing side of #8 and again on the landing side of #11 and this worked very well. For 14-16 most teams were more successful doing a call to hand on the landing side of 15 and then a rear cross on the take off of #16, this set up a really nice line to the weaves. Disco is not ready for that kind of move so I forced a front cross in between 14 and 15 and sent him out to the weave entry. I did a front cross at the end of the weaves. We only got to run this course twice but I was happy with Disco’s work on those runs. He stayed with me and did a pretty good job with some crosses. He did pop out of the weaves once but fixed it without issues.
I know this is not to detailed but at least it will give you an idea of what we worked on.
Now “Go Weave”

Disco gets to Train Outside 

For a February day it was very nice out again today. Enough of the ice has melted so that I can actually move some stuff around outside. I went outside without any dogs with plans to just reset Disco’s weave exercise to one of the more advance set ups so I can get back to training him on those before the March trial. I ended up spending several hours also cleaning up the main agility training area and setting up several other training sequences. It took a while to do but should be worth it as it set me up to be able to train on more things as long as the weather holds.
After getting things set up I decided to go ahead and work the wild child. The first exercise we did was a modified version of one of the advance 2 X 2 weave exercises. Here is the set up and the basic sequences we did.

As you can see the dark blue squares and red circle numbers are working on some really tough weave entries at speed. These exercises continue to teach the dog to collect as they approach the weave entry and then go fast once in the poles. The dog also needs a very clear understanding of the entrance of the poles. On the red the dog must move out to wrap around that first pole. On the blue course the dog must find the correct opening. For Disco they are also both great jumping exercises as he gets use to doing a short jump chute with different spacing. Disco was great on both of these exercises and is even starting to bring his toy back to me most of the time. I just have to remember to take some breaks with him to play in between attempts.
The orange and the light blue exercise are two that I set up to continue to work on some jumping skills and front crosses at the entry to the weaves. I did a front cross in between #4 and #5 at the second weave pole entrance. The jumping challenge was getting a nice tight line at #3 to #4 and #6 to #7. I could have done a front cross between #6 and #7 but wanted to let Disco figure out how to turn tight between those jumps and come back to me. The first time he was a little wide but improved as we continued working. Overall I was very pleased with his work on these exercises. He was a little distracted with some of the sticks on the ground but continued to work through this very nicely.
Our second training area we worked on the “out”, “here”, “Back” and “tight” commands using three gates set up in a pinwheel. I like to teach these basic directional commands away from the real agility equipment. Disco is doing very well with the “out”, “tight” and “back” but does not totally understand the ”here” command yet.
After working with the gates for a few minutes we move over and did some flat work with the Zoner Honer and mouse pad. Disco really enjoys racing to his pad and doing a quick down. After a couple of tries I moved the honer and pad over to a flat (on the ground) dog walk board and had him race over the board to the down on the pad. Disco had no problem staying on the board and offering the correct behaviors at the honer and pad. So it was time for time to move on to the teeter. We have already done this down at Barto once or twice and Disco had no problems doing his teeter to the mouse pad. This is much faster than the way I had him doing the teeter before. He use to go over slowing down and waiting for the command to sit, now he races over the teeter and under the hoop at speed before bouncing into a down on the mouse pad. I am really impressed with how quickly he has picked this up. It will be interesting to see how the performance holds as I fad the hoop and pad. It was then on to the full size dogwalk with the Zoner Honer and Mouse pad. Disco had a blast playing this game and seemed to really enjoy making his daddy sprint to the other side of the walk to reward him on his mouse pad. By the time we finished a few attempts on the dog walk he was really settling down and focusing on his work.
The last set that we worked on was some double box exercises.

I have several goals while working in this section. I want to start trying to get Disco to give me a little more control at the beginning of sequences, to settle, sit and give me a short lead out. I also want to start to get a better idea of his commitment point on jumps so I can move into position for both front and rear crosses. I need to get him to understand that at times it is ok to focus on the equipment and not my movement. At all three of his trials I have had a major problem with him coming to and jumping on me rather than focusing ahead on the equipment. I started with the course marked with the blue squares. I started off by making him sit and working on having him stay while I moved toward the first jump, clicking and rewarding him for not moving. He caught on pretty quickly today and allowed me to build up to a lead out about half way between the #1 and #2 jumps. I than ran him doing a front cross on the landing side of #4. This is a very tough sequence for Disco as it requires him to go out to #3 and stay out on the correct side of #4 while I move in front of his path. As he jumps #4 he is rewarded for coming to my hand, helping to teach him a tight turn, before continuing the sequence. I also send him out to #7 and I do another landing side front cross at #8 again rewarding him for coming to my hand.
On the red course we work on a rear cross into a tight turn at #3 and then a send out and landing side front cross at # 5. The orange course adds a lead out and some of the same move off the other side. The green course we started doing an angled lead out again with a couple of landing side front crosses. At his point I am pretty beat and Disco I play a short game of Frisbee before calling it a day.
Now “Go Weave”

Disco General training Update 

Ok so I have not been very good at keeping the blogs updated for the last few weeks. I have, however, continued training the dogs. It is only my computer time that has been compromised as that time has been spent working on courses for upcoming assignments, updating the web site, and creating my Face Book and My Space sites as well as uploading several videos. I have also cleaned out our rather messy basement so I have a place to do a little training if the weather turns really bad again.
When we last left you Disco was on his ninth day of weave training and had not gotten to do most of the advance work because of the conditions outside. We did get one more day of training outside before his January trial. Again we could only work on basic stuff as the yard was just too icy. As for the trial, I really was proud of the boy. He did a fairly good job over all getting several qualifying runs over the weekend and finishing his Beginner Standard and Intern Trigility titles. My proudest moment would be qualifying in the North America Challenge making him eligible to compete at the DOCNA championship’s this year. On that course there was a set of 12 weaves followed by a 90 degree turn to the right to a set of 6 poles. He completed both sets on his way to a very nice run.
I am not going to sit here and tell you there were not issue or that he did all of his weaves perfect all weekend. He did show a clear understanding of the weaves but also showed some very green dog issues dealing with the excitement of a trial. He has a tendency to forget about working and either race me or jump at me. I really think by the third day his mind was pretty fried. He still managed to get a couple of nice runs in even in that state.
We are not going to be able to complete his weave training and proofing until we can get back outside to train and the trial gave us several other things to work on until then. Issues that came up include, getting control at both the start and finish line and teaching a clear understanding of basic commands (out, here, left, right, and back). He did a really nice job on all of his contacts. I think he missed one dog walk but otherwise did a nice job. I am not going to mess with his frame at all right now. I would like to teach him to do a faster teeter and get him to stop sitting at the end. I have decided to do a modified “Four on the Floor” to get this done. I have not decided what I want to do for his dog walk but figure I can transfer the new teeter behavior there if I decide to.
My plan for the teeter which I am now pretty far into, was to free shape Disco to offer me a down on a mouse pad. I also free shaped him into going under the Zoner Honer Hoop. I then taught him to combine those two behaviors on the flat from his crate. This week I combined that with the actual teeter and got a very nice fast teeter. We will continue to train each part on its own and with the teeter until we have what we want. I will than fade the hoop and the pad.
Most of the other issues including control at the start and finish are just from his overall lack of training. I have already done several things to fix these. Disco has started working Crate Games to help him learn to behave at home, gain some self control and learn to settle and wait to be released to work. He really likes playing crate games. I am also taking him to class early on Monday nights and getting some basic control work done while Bev’s classes are working. It is really great for him to learn to focus on me with all that action going on. It is during Bev’s class that we put the teeter with the pad and hoop. I also enrolled him in a free shaping class that is held on Tuesday nights. This class has been awesome for Disco and us as a team. He really enjoys free shaping and offers me all sorts of stuff. Since starting that class he has, of course, learned to down on his mouse pad and do the hoop. He has also learned or is learning a bunch of silly things like riding a skate board, backing up in front of me, licking his chops, covering his eyes, sitting, doing a down, crawling backwards and forwards. He has learned to lay with a box or anything for that matter. We have homework every week to work toward some of our long term goals. Last week Disco’s homework was to learn to walk on a loose leash. We still have a long way to go he really improved and pulls much less since we started working on this last week. We are continuing to work on “loose leash” walking this week. During our daily walks he is also starting to learn to sit when I stop and to stay and let me step directly in front of him. This is only a six week class but I am hoping to continue working on trick stuff using free shaping well beyond that.
On Wednesdays Disco goes with me to our morning session in Barto. Most weeks now he spends his class time on the mats and not the turf. We have been working with the gates some to teach him out, here, tight and back. In the next couple of weeks we will go back out and start working on these new skills with the equipment.
We also go downstairs and work on all our tricks and behaviors almost daily now. Disco really likes to work and will let me know if I get lazy and don’t take him to work somewhere every day.
Well, that gives you an idea of what we have been up to in our training. I will try to do a better job at keeping at least Disco’s blog up to date but that is going to be hard for a while as I am really far behind on designing courses for upcoming assignments and classes. Disco’s next trial is about six weeks away so hopefully we will see a lot of improvement with him at the next trial. I really hope the yard stays clear for a while so I can get back to working on those weaves and maybe set up some box work for him to learn some crosses and verbal cues.
Now “Go Weave”

Disco 2X2 Weaves Day 9 1-12-09 

Day nine of weave training for Disco brings us to a Monday. During the day I take the other dogs tracking and then Monday evenings Disco and I go down to Barto for me to teach or evening classes there. Disco loves to come along anywhere I go, even if he does not really get to play. There are several of the tracking group students that are getting ready to learn the 2 X 2 weaves so I decided to take Disco along to do a quick demo of just how far he has come. I only took the three 2X2 bases that I have to use for the quick demo. This was not really a training session but it was some extra weave work in a totally new place. Disco ROCKED! He did a great job in this new place weaving off both sides and with pretty good distance. He also allowed me to show the others some of the proofing I have been doing by spinning while he was in the poles.
My “drop in” classes tonight are supposed to start at 7 pm and there are no other classes scheduled for tonight. I decide to head down early to give me enough time to set up for class and work Disco on a more challenging weave exercise. I also bring Daphine with me in hopes of starting her on some 2 X 2’s to demonstrate the plan to some of the novice handlers. However when I arrive at 540 Pm the building is freezing and the ring is full of equipment. There are nine tunnels and a bunch of winged jumps. So I end up spending most of the time before class either moving equipment out of the ring, setting up a new course, or standing under the heater to thaw out. I had set up several sets of 2 X 2’s and jumps outside the ring but around 6 Pm a bunch of people started to show up for a make-up obedience class. As it ends up this class goes on until very late so I never do get to use those weaves or jumps so Daphine and the novice people do not really get any real good weave work in. I do get Disco out and work him as my students start showing up. This is really good for him as he has the added distract not only of weaving in a different place, surface and with a different base but he also has a bunch of dogs he does not know coming in and out.

As you can see, this set up also allowed me to include the weaves in several different sequences and not just from a jump. This increases the challenge by presenting the weaves at several different angles and speeds. There is also the added temptation for the dog to pull out of the weaves when headed toward that tunnel. Here are a few of the approaches I gave him:



In addition to these sequences I also worked some distance with him both using and out and a back from outside of jumps 4 and 7. For any of you that do agility will see all these are not routine entries that you would expect of a novice dog, let alone a dog that had been only doing weaves for a little over a week. I continue to be totally amazed by this system and cannot give a higher recommendation to purchase Susan Garrett’s DVD. It is really a great resource for anyone that is looking for a way to teach weaves or trouble shooting your competition dogs weaves. Even if you are not planning on teaching using the 2 X 2 it is a great resource to help you design challenging sequences and provide added proofing of your dog’s weaves. We are now moving on to more advance work and advance proofing of his commitment and understanding of the weaves. At his point Disco is a weaving dog. It will be interesting to see how he does them at the DOCNA trial this weekend, but he has a clear understanding of his job and loves to do it. I am hoping to apply the things I learned and all the training ideas I gotten to each additional piece of equipment and training challenge. Again, his training of weaves is not done but I can no longer say he does not know weaves. He does not have a weave command as I yet to give this whole thing a name yet.  Guess that should start soon!

Now “Go Weave”

2 X 2's Day 8 1-11-09 

Disco had been excited about going out to weave all day today. I finally gave in at around 330pm. We did get about 6 inches of snow yesterday and it is very chilly and windy outside but sometimes you got to do what you got to do! So I put on the boots and jacket and headed outside for today’s session. We do some tugging as we head toward the training area; it is not nearly as slippery as it was yesterday. I have Disco favorite tug toy, no stick today, and some great tuna brownies.
We start off by reviewing the exercises we did yesterday. Disco is on fire finding his entries and driving quickly through all the poles. He is holding his head low and focusing straight ahead on those poles. He is even getting a little better at returning with the toy instead of playing keep away. I have got to do some work teaching him to come to me with the toy when I toss it and after his runs in general. At his first trial it became a big issue for me to catch him after a run. He was a little bit better at the second trial with me giving him something to focus on while I caught him but we will need to come up with an end of run routine that allows me to get him back on leash with struggling. That will be a problem for another day. He is really doing a nice job weaving today hitting all the entries from yesterday session and getting some nice speed in the poles.
Today I am going to add in a tight command, wrapping the dog around the jumps for a very late and awkward approach to the poles. The tight command is one of the first things I teach my dogs when starting out in agility. It helps give me some control over the dog as we finish sequences. I am hoping I can get Disco doing a nice tight so I can use it to “catch” him at the trial next weekend.

Disco does a very good job doing a tight around the jumps which is not an easy task in the snow. He is very aggressive finding the entry and he continues exploding through those poles. He is almost 100 percent on both entries and completing the poles. It seems he is getting faster with each attempt. He still is still figuring out the footwork and I look forward to setting up some 2 X 2 down in Barto this week to work on his footwork. Next I am going to add a back command, basically doing a rear cross and then send Disco forward to the weaves while I stay behind the jump. This is great practice for gamblers classes and also presents some big challenges for the dog that must move forward without me to the weaves and then stay in the poles with me in his vision, ahead and pretty far away.

The first couple times I tried this from the off side Disco stopped short or pulled out of the poles. He stayed upbeat and continued to try. Once he figured it out he was right back to working that entry and driving the poles to the end. I was surprised the he did not have much trouble with this exercise with onside weaves. I really expected him to have more difficulty with the entry from this side. I figure he would pull up short and be tempted to enter at the third pole. But he seemed to have no problems understanding his job. We finished up by dong a couple of rear crosses with pretty straight on entries working on his understanding of the need to stay in the poles even when I do some crazy things. He did a couple spins the first two times I tried this but then he figured it out and just drove ahead doing his job.
I remain very amazed at not only how far he has come in a very short amount of training time but how much he improves from the end of one training session to the start of the next. All of our training sessions have been short. No more than 4 or 5 minutes and that includes the time we spend playing and getting the toy back between each attempt.

Now “Go Weave”

Disco Day 7 Straight up 12 Poles 1-10-09 

Ok so I am just a little bit nuts. Today it is snowing outside. There is still a nice ice base in the yard and we are suppose to get anywhere from 3 to 10” of new snow. But I am training the dogs; three in tracking and two with weaves. Again I am going to have to be a little creative to continue to challenge and to train him since I am unable to move the equipment to follow along with the system. I can move a little better outside with the snow covering the ice so my goal today is to get Disco moving a little faster through the poles and get a little distance away from him. I am also going to watch the DVD again this evening in hopes of coming up with a suitable game plan for the next few days. Even with the less than ideal conditions and less training session a day than I had hoped for I am really impressed with the improvement and understanding that Disco is showing. I am still hopeful that he will be able to handle the weaves without issue at our trial in just two weeks. I have gotten a second set of six poles out of the garage and added to Disco’s training area. Since he did rolling sixes at class on Wednesday I will try to do these as a full competition set.                                              
Disco is pretty silly playing in the snow we head down to start off. It is too slippery to play tug, but Disco has adopted a stick as his new favorite toy so we will use that as his reward toy. We start off much like we did in the last training session taking the jumps off both sides and then adding the front cross. As soon as we start working he really settles in and focuses on his job. He is moving a lot faster today forcing him to really work the entrances. He is also driving through the weaves much better. It is impressive to see the improvement from the end of one training day to the start of the next. I will only be showing one side in the blog for now on but in training we are of course working all exercises off both sides.


Now that he is warmed up and focused on his work I will add some difficulty to the sequences. I am going to start having him slice the jumps, turn and approach the weaves from a greater distance and with more speed. It will be good for Disco to learn to take jumps at different angles as one of the issues we had at the trial was his lack of commitment to the jumps, he had a tendacy to run past jumps. I am hoping all of the work we are now doiong with jumps in our weave training will help solve that problem. He has no problem with the jump or the weaves at the new angle. Because the sequence is giving him a longer approach it is adding even more speed to his approach and it is very kewl to see him work to get those tough entries. He is also gaining confidence keeping his head lower and pushing to the end of the poles.

I will add a rear cross on the entry side of the poles. When adding the rear cross with a set of 2 X 2’s I would have opened the second set of poles to help the dog stay in the poles. But in this case I decided I would just drop the rear cross if he struggled with the poles. If successful I will then start staying much closer to the line of the jump getting more distance between myself and the dog. It takes a couple of tries for hime to figure out that he needs to stay in the poles as I cross behind, but he does it after a few mistakes. It is nice to see him bouncing back from mistakes without and stress. This is an exercise I will work on next time I have the real 2 X 2 poles out just to make sure he learn to coleect and then drive forward while I am crossing.

The challenge for today is adding some distance to those weave poles. The long term goal is of course to have a dog that will weave regardless of where I am and how far away from the poles I am when I send my dog. I want him to be just as comfortable doing weaves far away from me as he is working very close. For today I am going to keep it simple staying just on the inside of the jump, putting the weaves no more than ten feet from me. I am also going to try to stay ahead of Disco so he can see me and will be tempted to come out of the poles and to me.

He is already very use to finding the entry on his own so that part does not give us any problems with the distance. He does pop out a couple of times on each side but I am not sure if it is due to temptation or just a matter of slipping in the snow. At any rate he again makes adjustments and learns to stay in with the new distance. This seems like a very good place to end for today. Disco and I go off to play in the snow for a bit before going in to watch the DVD and make plans for our next session. Hopefully the snow will go away and we will be able to train again real soon.

2 X 2 Weaves Day 6 1-9-09 

Well the ice has not melted in the yard yet. The last set up that we had while working here is still set up and frozen in place. I have decided to at least try to do a couple weave entries with Disco today, provided it is not too icy for him. I figure if he is able to run and use his feet I can work on some sends through the weaves without me and so send outs for him to find the entry and weave toward me. While it is not exactly the lesson plan we had planned it will be better than sitting around and not working weaves for yet another day. So here is the set up that is out there.

We start the session with some tugging and retrieving to give Disco a chance to adjust to the icy conditions. He does not seem to be having any problems except when he try’s an abrupt turn. I do not think he will have much problem with working in these conditions but as expected I cannot move very well, so I will not be able to run much. We start with some simply 90 degree angle entries from both sides of the six poles. After this I add the jumps, which are frozen in their current position. This gives Disco a very hard 180 degree entry from both sides. I am using treats for his reward as I do not want him jumping and sliding to get the toy. This entry gives him a little trouble when he is excited but after a couple attempts he figures it out.
Finding the entryAdding a front cross

After working with the jumps I move on to adding a front cross as the dog approached the weaves. This blocks the dog’s view of the weaves and forces them to make a quick decision to find the entry. Because of the ice we are not moving real fast, at least I am not, and Disco has no problem finding his weaves. Please note that we still are not using any commands for the weaves, the dog is offering them as I approach without any commands. Since he is getting this we will move on to the next step for today which will be sending him through the weaves ahead of me. 

This is a little more challenging for Disco as he wants to stop and look back at me. If I had the 2X2 poles outside instead of the frozen six I would have opened up the last two to help him see that he needed to continue forward. It takes a couple tries but once he figures out that he must finish all the poles for me to toss the treat the game is on. At this stage an early toss can cause problems as you will be rewarding the dog for leaving the poles and not finishing them. I really like that the dog has really learned that making a mistake is no big deal, just come back and try again. Considering the conditions outside this was a very successful training session.


Yuck Snow and Ice slow us down January 8th 2009 

Well the weather continues to be a problem. Our yard is covered in ice ans it is snowing so there will be no outside training today. I am going to spend the day catching up on some course design and planning some other training for my dogs. Hopefully things will improve outside soon or I can at least get enough space cleaned up to continue our training over the weekend.