Friday, June 28, 2013

Training Stout's Contacts

Like I mentioned yesterday, Stout missed almost every contact at the NADAC trial. I wasn't surprised  :)

I hate to admit it, but I have failed to teach Stout any contact behavior. Yes, I teach agility to other people and yet I have neglected to teach my own dog to hit the contact zone on the frame or dogwalk.

It's not due to laziness, at least not totally  :)  It's mostly due to my indecisiveness.

I know I want running contacts. Watching the finalists at the AKC Nationals convinced me of that.

Porter has pseudo-running contacts - not due to training, but because I failed to train anything else & he naturally hits the yellow.

I tried that a little with Stout. Not gonna happen. Actually, that's pretty much what I've been relying on. He's just too leggy & driven - his natural stride doesn't carry him into the yellow & his speed & desire says jumping it is much faster anyway  :)

I've toyed around with Silvia Trkman's method. I have friends that have used her method & it works great! I hve watched the dvd and even submitted a couple videos of Stout running the plank to our Foundations class with her.

But without a dogwalk of our own, it looks much more difficult. And I'm not crazy about the number of repetitions needed to train it.

Early this year I attended a seminar with Dawn Weaver. Her dogs all have running (& stopped) contacts. I looked into her online class & was intrigued. I could find very little information, seems she secret to her method is well kept.

So I consulted with a fellow blogger who has done both methods & she recommended Dawn's  :)  So I signed up. I have been happy with our progress so far!

Unfortunately, I can't share any info with you  :)  Come to find out, the reason you don't find much info is because she asks you not to release it. I can't blame her, after all, that is how she makes her money. But it does suck not to be able to share our videos. So you'll have to wait & see the results when I'm done  :)

So here is our latest video our online Foundations class with Silvia:

We finally have an in-line serpentine!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NADAC Trial Report: Stout Edition

Oh Stout...  :)

Actually, we did have some good moments. He did qualify once:

See Porter in the back?
But things didn't start that well on Saturday. His first run, Tunnelers, wasn't bad. He was fast & happy, taking 1 off-course tunnel, but that wasn't unexpected. There was only one person on course that he could visit, the photographer, and so he did  :)
His next class, the first round of Regular, was really not good. He ran off to visit all the ring crew. One by one he went down the line. I waited, thinking maybe he would get it out of his system and then we'd see how the next run went. Once he was done, we took the last couple jumps & left the ring.
I can't remember the next round of Regular  :(  But I do know that he wasn't as friendly. I believe he ran to one person, but he came back while I was on my way to get him  :)  So I marked it with a "good choice" and we continued the course. Although not perfect, it was better than the previous run!
By the last run on Saturday, he was obviously too tired to go visit  :) He would look at the ring crew, but stuck with me. I praised him like crazy!! And we finished with a big celebration. If he hadn't missed a jump while thinking about running off, we would have qualified. I was pretty proud of the little guy.
Our first run Sunday morning was Jumpers - he did great! No running off, although he thought about it  :)  I praised him like crazy every time he chose me over them:

His next class, Regular round 1, he actually qualified! While he did visit a student of mine that was setting bars, he chose to come back to me before I could go get him. We were still able to finish the course cleanly & under time.
Regular round 2 wasn't too bad, either. He visited both ring crew, and jumped both his contacts. Ok, maybe it wasn't good. But it wasn't awful either:

So I didn't exactly stick with my plan that I made going into the trial... Why? Well, taking him off the course requires that I catch him first. Yeah, he's a fast, slippery little guy  :)  I didn't really think that through. Either he was already gone & on to the next person, or I couldn't grab him because he was too wiggly (they don't wear collars in NADAC).
He also fooled me because he was progressively getting better throughout the day. I really wanted to give him the chance to be right... But I realize now that it may have been less "getting better" and more "getting too tired to run all the way over to the people."

Porter butt!
I do want to take a moment to document some other things beside the visiting  :)
The good things:
  • He nailed his weave poles the first time every time!
  • We had nice little "baby" start line stays!
  • He got the discriminations!
  • He read my rear crosses (even though I think a couple times that they were the reason he turned wide right into the ring crew...)
  • We did a nice blind cross.
  • He played before & after his runs (a little)
The bad things:
  • His contacts were atrocious! But I knew that going in. We'll talk more about that tomorrow...
Hmmm... so I guess the good outweighed the bad!

I also have some new ideas & some help to work through this friendliness problem! My students that were at the trial offered to stay after class Monday night & pretend to be ring crew so I could run him. I took him out to potty beforehand, came back in, & they were seated on the course with paper targets on their chests! I about died! It was hilarious, and I can't thank them enough for helping me  :)

We are going to do this for the next few weeks. I've also gotten some input from readers (thank you!) and our online class. I will start implementing these and let you all know how it goes!

There could be worse things than an overly friendly corgi  :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NADAC Trial Report - Porter Edition

Porter had a pretty darn good weekend at the NADAC trial!

I drastically cut back the number of classes he was running (they offer 6 classes a day). The decision was partly financial (had to pay for Stout's runs too...) and partly because I wanted him to run well in the classes that count for his NATCH  :)

A NATCH is the NADAC equivalent of a MACH or PACH. Porter already has all the Regular Q's he needs, but we still need Jumpers & Chances Q's.

They almost always run Jumpers as the last class on Saturday. Porter is always exhausted by then & either drops a bar or doesn't make time. So I planned on only running him in 2 classes prior to that, instead of the usual 5.

Well, I guess just being at the trial all day is enough to tire him out now!  :)  Poor little guy is starting to show his age... But they also run Jumpers as the first class on Sunday, where he pulled out a Q!

Porter had 2 beautiful Chances runs. He nailed all the hard stuff on Saturday, but then missed the tunnel / A-Frame discrimination...  But on Sunday, we nailed it!

Chances is a numbered course with a distance line.
The majority of this course was on the other side of the line.
On Sunday, Porter got a massage from Letha & he was awful hot up in his chest & shoulder. I scratched him from Touch N Go after that, didn't figure he needed to do an unnecessary A-Frame. So he ran the first class (Jumpers) and the last class (Chances). Let's just say that he was pissed off when he came to the line in Chances  :)  Porter does not like his brother getting to run so much more than him!

Porter's NATCH Countdown:
Still need 6 Elite Chances Q's
Still need 3 Elite Jumpers Q's

I will give Stout's update on Thursday. Here's a teaser: he's still the world's friendliest corgi in agility...

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Weekend for Training

Stout will be making his NADAC agility debut this weekend. And of course, the NADAC veteran Porter will be running too  :)

The classes Porter is running have been drastically cut. In NADAC, you can run 6 classes per day, which is what Porter has always done.
But I've noticed that he is really pooping out now since he's gotten older. So half his classes will be run by Stout, which works well from a financial standpoint too  :)

So Porter will only be running Jumpers & Chances, which he needs for his NATCH, and then Touch N Go, because it is his favorite.

This is going to be somewhat of a training weekend for the Snouter  :)  He will be running more classes in a day than he ever has before, but I don't plan on finishing too many of them.
Why? Well, NADAC is awesome in that it allows "training" in the ring. So we are going to try to dampen his excitement in seeing the ring crew  :)
My plan involves running him as I do when we practice (aka trusting that he knows what he's doing!). If he runs off to see someone, I'll call him, but then I'm going to go get him. I'll probably do our little game where I tease him (push, ruffle, fluff, "the claw", etc.) then we'll run for the finish.
NADAC will allow me to touch him then finish, all under "training in the ring." In AKC, if I touched him, I'd have to leave the course. So I have all kinds of scenarios I'm playing with in my head...
If enticing a chase doesn't work, then I'll simply pick him up & carry him to the last jump, let him jump, and celebrate. Or I could run 3 jumps (nowhere near the bar setters) and finish.

I don't want to ruin his enthusiasm, I'd just rather him be enthused to play with me, not random ring crew  :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Few Photos From The Trial

Have I mentioned what a sucker I am for photos?  :)
The same photographer who took the first agility photos of Stout, was at the herding trial. I think Jim Poor does an outstanding job & I was excited to see him there!
It is so much harder to decide on which herding photos to purchase though... The best photos aren't necessarily the best part of your run  :)  Good herding shouldn't be all that exciting.
So I had to compromise between good photos & photos that showed good herding  ;)

While I was yelling at Porter here, at least the sheep were in the correct position  :)

Even though the sheep are pushed past me, at least Porter is going out to cover.
And I don't look panic-stricken  :)

I think this was our first time to have a successful runway panel at a trial. Generally they are more of a "run-away panel" type of thing.
But look at how calm we are! And how far away Porter is!
Never mind that he is heading them off to stop movement, instead of calmly driving them down the fenceline...

Here is a link to the photo that sums up our herding, but I just couldn't justify purchasing it  :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Video Proof :)

Here it is, video proof that Porter earned his HSAs!

When I watch the video, I see sooooo many things that I could have done differently (I'm still learning the "strategy" aspect of getting around the course). I see mistakes Porter made, I see mistakes I made, I see times when I should have gotten after him...

But overall, I see so many more good things than I ever have before  :)  We didn't lose the sheep down field on Sunday! Our runway panel was finally good! I didn't argue with him on the initial fetch!

On Saturday the judge told me that I needed to trust him more. So that's why Sunday looks a little wild  :)  I chose to just trust him to do his job and I just moved. I did less arguing & let him cover. Granted, that's why I was running more...

I still wish "practice Porter" would show up instead of "trial Porter," but I'm seeing more & more of that good dog all the time  :)

Porter herding at the CSSC Trial at Hado Bar Farms. from Wooftastic Videos on Vimeo.

Thank you to Mags at Wooftastic Video!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Corgi Cart

 It's camping season, so that means it's time to get out the corgi cart again!
Porter is definitely beginning to enjoy the cart.
"You had your turn, Stout. Back off!"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Introducing Porter HSAs!

We finally freaking did it!!!
Porter earned his Started Sheep title this weekend!
That little green ribbon is a huge-ass gold trophy in my mind  :)

I have worked harder on this than anything else, ever. I wanted to give up so many times. Through so many lessons, tears, falls, failures, "almosts," more tears... we finally have something to show for it.

Our herding journey began with a simple instinct test at the Cardigan specialty way back in 2006:

After watching him do that, and knowing that both his parents had herding titles (Vivian gave me an article about his mom herding when I brought him home), I knew that I wanted to give it a shot.
It took me a long time to get started: we were beginning in agility, I had to find a trainer, etc. But once all those things fell into place, I was kind of hooked  :)

We earned our PT back in April of 2010 at the Cardigan specialty (which also took a lot of work...):

3 years later, on our 13th attempt at Started Sheep, we finally earned the title  :)

I have attended & attempted Started Sheep at this very trial for the last 3 years. Our only previous legs were earned at this location at the CWCCA specialty in 2012.

I'm sure more experienced herders would laugh at those kind of statistics  :)  Others would have given up long before this. But I am stubborn, and I was not going to quit.

So I would like to thank the people who let me cry on their shoulders (there were a lot of tears!) and I'd like to apologize for the bragging now.

But we freaking did it!  :)

There was a videographer & photographer at the trial, so there will be forthcoming evidence as I receive it  :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Herding Trial Weekend...

As you are reading this, Porter & I will be doing this:


Or I may be throwing up.

If we haven't made it into the arena yet, than you will definitely find me throwing up behind the car... 

Herding makes me nervous!  :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Community Dog Walk

On Sunday night, John, the dogs, & I all participated in a fun community dog walk organized by the Bluegrass Barkery.
They do them every Sunday, switching up the location every week. This week was at the Arboretum.

There's not a theme, or a cause, or any fees... Just a leisurely walk with new friends. My favorite kind!  :)

I haven't walked in the Arboretum in years, so it was a nice change of pace from our usual paths.
And there were some new photo opportunities!  :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Weave Poles!

Is there anything better than finally owning your very own new, aluminum weave poles?

Aren't they pretty?
And you got them at a discount rate because you know someone that can weld aluminum??
Ok, the only thing that makes them better is using sheep tape on the poles  :)

I tried to make them more "Porter friendly..."
And no, the corgis do not agree with me!  :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Improvements Needed in Agility Organizations

"People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy" - Oliver Goldsmith

It's that time again, another Dog Agility Blog Action Day! To read all the blogs on today's subject, Improving Dog Agility Organizations,  click here.

As my quote above suggests, it's hard to change when you have no other ideas but your own as examples. So I'm here to throw out a few ideas.

I run both AKC & NADAC agility. Although both are considered "dog agility," the venues could not be farther apart in terms of ideas & philosophy. But I do think there are things that each do better than the other, and maybe they could use each other as examples of things to change?  (see, I'm coming back around to that quote again!)

What AKC could learn from NADAC:
  • Jump Heights... The bane of all corgi owners...
    • First of all, I don't expect AKC to ever actually change their jump height cut offs. I don't think a dog should jump over the height of their withers, but neither organization agrees with me there...
    • But I do think AKC could do some sort of "breed exemption" for heights like NADAC does. Basically any short legged, deep chested breed gets an exemption to jump 4" lower. This does create a slippery slope though... Just what breeds "deserve" exemptions? NADAC gives American Staffordshire Terriers an exemption...
    • They could incorporate NADAC's Veteran Dog / Veteran Handler / Junior Handler height exemptions. I am a huge fan of lower heights for older dogs!
  • Price breaks for Junior Handlers. If kids are the future of the dog sports, why not make it easier on them & their parents to get involved? AKC already asks for Junior Handler numbers if you are under 18, so why not pair that number with a separate price?
  • Take the slats off the contact equipment! I think NADAC has proved this over & over again, that as long as the equipment is rubberized, the slats provide nothing but a safety hazard! Stubbed toes, torn toenails, tripping...

What NADAC could learn from AKC:
  • Less changes... If you've done NADAC at all, you know that there are always new rules, new equipment, new procedures.... And it's not just a judge's different interpretation of said rules, but these things are coming from the top down. I just found out that your leash has to be resting on the ground before your dog can leave the start line. I can't even name all the changes that have happened since I started in NADAC about 6 years ago. There has been less than 5 in AKC in that time period.
  • Forget all the extra bobbles / plaques / certificates that you send out for awards. Why? Because you never actually receive them! (Did that sound a tad bitter? Yes, I'm still waiting for things I won 5 years ago...)  I understand these things are expensive, that's why no other organizations promise them! I like the programs & awards, but just don't promise a physical reward for earning them. Or let the clubs offer to print your certificate or give you a ribbon. Keep it simple.
  • I have quite a few more, but criticism is not necessarily accepted well in this organization... Hey, that could be another thing they could learn from AKC!  People bash AKC all the time & they just ignore it  :)

I do have one thing that I would like to see both organizations improve: the welcoming of new competitors. I would like to see some sort of mentoring program started for the truly novice.

 It could be as simple as experienced competitors volunteering to wear a badge or name tag at trials to identify themselves as willing to help answer questions & guide newbies in the right direction. Novices can look for the badges & be less nervous about asking for help. It only takes a second. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club does this at our Nationals. Love it!

I just hate to see novices wandering around, looking for a friendly face. At the least, give them a friendly smile, some words of encouragement, a tip, a compliment, SOMETHING! Chances are they have been watching you & admiring your handling, dog, shoes, etc. If they do approach you, BE NICE!  Oops, seems I got off on another tangent...  :)

Anyway, please visit some of the other blogs participating in the Action Day!  Here are just a few of my favorites so far:

The Global Warmers: ...and the Three Bears
Agility Addict: Making our sport better one organization at a time, two words at a time...
The Dogs Are Really In Charge: Improving Our Agility Organizations
Spring Forth Dog Blog: Improving Agility Organizations: Thoughts on Participation

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stout - He certainly likes little boys...

Wait, that doesn't sound right...  You'll know what I mean after you watch the video  :)

That poor kid...
Consider that the end of Stout's trialing for a little while  :(   Well, I already have him entered in his first NADAC trial in a couple weeks, but I think I will use it as a training opportunity.
But we are going to back-track a little & add more value for working with me. I should be more fun than anything else out there, except maybe the equipment itself. So until I can bring out the fun side of myself (and I'm really not that "fun" by nature), I'm not going to reinforce this behavior by continuing to let him practice it. So we both have some things to work on  :)
This was his first time running twice in a day and I don't think he's ready for that either. The second run was not the crazy Stout that I love. He was much more subdued & the personality was lacking. He didn't have any focus. He just "wasn't that into it." So once again, I need to redefine the "fun."
Don't worry, Stout will have this figured out in no time. He is brilliant. And hilarious. Even without visiting bar-setters, I'm pretty sure he will still incur laughter in the ring  :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Porter's Weekend: QQ #12!

The boys & I attended an agility trial on Saturday held by DCAA over in Buckner, KY.

We just did 1 day because I'm not crazy about the surface: it's basically green carpeting over concrete. They call it astroturf, but I'm not convinced  :) Seriously, there's no padding, it's really slick, and look at all those wrinkles! They are large enough to trip a corgi...

Anyway, our trip was worth it, as Porter earned his 12th QQ! Good boy, Porter! 

This was our first QQ since January. I was starting to get a little worried  :)

Oh, and perhaps even better news: Porter received his final challenge measurement and measured at 10.88"  !!  Now I can move him to 4" Preferred!  Finally  :)

We'll talk about Stout tomorrow...  :(  He was very bad (friendly) again.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Agility Trial Today!

The boys & I will be at an agility trial today. So look for our update on Monday  :)

Since we are only doing 1 day, Stout will be running in both classes... Twice the madness in half the time...  :)