Never forget the importance of foundations

This morning I went to a young dog / puppies flatwork agility session with Jen Lewis. I was a little apprehensive as I haven’t taken Zebby to a class for a few months so I wasn’t sure how he was … Continue reading

Can You Dig It Club Competition

Each month, alongside the big Winter Series Shows at Alsager Equestrian Centre, Dig It holds little competitions in the agility arena. Places are limited to 50 to keep the show really small and everyone runs the same course, but results … Continue reading

A weekend full of cows, dogs and my favourite people

Do you ever wake up on Monday morning feeling like you need a day off to recover from your weekend?! I love being busy. Weekends are my time to cram a load of stuff in that I want to do! … Continue reading

Puppy passes & high fives

It’s day 3 of December and I have just been giving out certificates and rosettes to all in my puppy class! Tonight was Week 8 and the final week of puppy course for my class. All of the puppies have … Continue reading

Socialisation… one of the most misconceived words in the dog training world

For a few months now I’ve been working on producing a fact sheet for Dig It Dog Training Club, with some help from fellow instructors, all about socialisation. I think it’s one of the most misunderstood words in dog training, … Continue reading

Laughs, cheers & a bunch of lovely people!

Today we went along to the Dig It Dogs Club Competition. Entries limited to 50 keeping the show nice and small and especially designed for beginners. I’m Show Manager for next month so I thought I best go along. Well before … Continue reading

Back in business

I decided to take the next step forward with Guinness’ training and booked onto a weave and contact workshop with Kathryn Stickney. Afterall weaves and contacts are one of the issues we have in the ring. I haven’t been able … Continue reading

Agility without the Agility

Yesterday I rocked up to the Dig It UKA Camping Show. I hadn’t entered and wasn’t camping as I have so much going on, but I’d got a free day so went along to help, take some photographs and perhaps … Continue reading

Nausea, Eliminations & Achievements

On Sunday 17th May, still recovering from a very dodgy tummy the day before, and being fuelled by only a few mouthfuls of cornflakes, I rocked up to my first show of the year! Not just the year, but our … Continue reading

Dog Vegas

Our last show in Grade 1, off to new territory of Osmaston Polo Ground to pop my Dog Vegas cherry.

Hurrah, not the first class of the day, I gave myself half an hour lie-in. A nice quiet show with only 54 max in G1-3 classes, compared to 130 at Oswestry.

DCIM100GOPRO

The ground was soft and we’d had some rain so studs were on (I did take my agility trainers too this time) and we set off for G1-3 Agility first up. A hesitant wait and I must apologise to the person doing leads, I rudely appear to ignore him and chuck my lead at his feet when he had his arm outstretched, I am so busy concentrating and worrying on Guinness’ wait that I often don’t look at what I’m doing with the lead.

We got a wait nonetheless and took down the first pole (I left Guinness too close to the jump). It was a good run with some pleasing handling, he ran out of the weaves around 9 (due to me rushing I think) but nailed 12 weaves second attempt. Contacts were shocking – he self release all of them, didn’t even think about stopping, and is a little hesitant down to the bottom.

I don’t know what to do with contacts in a show. I agree that bouncing them back onto the bottom doesn’t really help, but if he misses one I would quite like to do something about them rather than just running on. Onto the next G1-3 Agility and this time we were going to concentrate on contacts, we have got that win into G2 and now it’s time to use the show experience wisely.

I went for a stronger wait and Guinness bogged off before I had even taken a step away. He wouldn’t come back, just stood barking at me. Messily I got him into a down and then we went and he blasted past 6 weaves. We ignored it and ran on, taking a quick course up and down the contacts. I made sure he stopped on the Aframe, he released off the seesaw and then release off the dogwalk, but I paused and he reversed back onto it. Argh.

10502135_10154355631530578_7782175114506158035_n

After spending a lot of time sat in the car reading the first Grade 1-3 Jumping was set up and we sneaked in to run before the lunch break. The first jump was a nice distance into the ring and we were able to get in and get tugging while the previous dog was finishing. I felt confident, Guinness was tugging nicely. I popped him through my legs and into a down, unclipped the lead, and off he went on his own. AHH. I couldn’t get him back again! Barely bringing him around near to me before setting off. The rest of the run was okay, missing a jump on a tricky off set row towards the end, but I’d had enough.

I was so annoyed!! I’ve never felt frustrated with Guinness at an agility show before, ever. Until now! I didn’t show or tell him (although it was probably ebbing out of me) and I rewarded him the same, but mentally I wanted to scream and yell at him. Of course it isn’t Guinness’ fault, it is my training fault.

I could have cried. My mood flowed out at Ash and we bickered. Then I sulked.

Good job it was lunch time. An hour in the car reading, eating sandwiches and a lot of cuddling later and I had sorted my head out. Time to get the last run done and then get home and do some serious thinking and training!

It was a while still until my run and we went to get coffee and donuts and sit ringside. They were presenting some results out and suddenly I recognised my own name! I had got 2nd place in Agility!!! I was sooo surprised. With 10 faults! I wasn’t expecting that.

10374099_10154355631005578_5408077110105052468_n

Final jumping class came and Guinness was tugging on the start line! I unclipped his lead and carried on tugging. Into a down, release the toy, we were feeling good. He jumped up and ran off ! He didn’t go far and quickly came back around in between my legs. He ran off again and circled the first jump, 5R. I had almost given up but called him back and he came into position in a down back at my feet. A more confident wait this time and off I went and released! A FANTASTIC RUN! I was so pleased with my handling choices. We were fast. I ran! I got a front cross in a place I wasn’t sure that I could get to.

AMAZING.

Jenny was scoring and shouted “Great run Ruth. Fast. You’re 2nd!”. As the next person finished “3rd now!”. Ack. If only we hadn’t had that refusal! But overall our start line had been so much better! Tugging is definitely for us and tugging off lead and then into a down is our key formula I think, we just need to get it 100% now.

DCIM100GOPRO

That was it! I decided to wait until the presentations at the end of the day. I knew we were unlikely to be placed but I couldn’t go home and miss the chance of a rosette.

We settled down in the sunshine reading again, I finished off Agility Voice and Ash made good progress through his book. Then the results came and only 2nd and 1st were announced in Grade 1.

Never mind! A late finish. A mental day with tears, cheers and learning curves. Overall another great show and some value ring experience.

DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO

 

Can You Dig It June 2014

This weekend I sacrificed a day at Sutton Weaves UKA to work on my APDT assignments, a good decision as it needs to be done soon, plus I had Dig It’s Club Competition on Friday night and Can You Dig It today.

10411788_10154223827945578_6941125187474406351_n

I offered to Judge as they were struggling to find people and got off lightly, only needing to do Intermediate and Advanced Agility, which ran the same course.

I was judging in the afternoon so we started the morning straight away with Intermediate Jumping. I had plenty of time to get Guinness warmed up and we were the first to the ring, Guinness tugging nicely. It turned out there were only three of us entered in Large Intermediate so I had no worries with queuing.  Into the ring with some great tugging and I unclipped his lead and he kept tugging.

We’re struggling with letting go of the toy once he is tugging at the moment, which makes a change! I love Guinness, when we “solve” one “problem” he always throws something else at me. Never a dull moment!

He went into a down and release the toy and then I moved into the start position I wanted and called him to in between my feet. My perfect start line! (Although a quicker drop of the toy would be better). It was a nice simple Jumping course with only 8 jumps and some tight handling as well as blasty sections. The first 3 jumps to the tunnel were a tricky spacing and angle and Guinness bombed over number 3 and knocked the wing and jump flying. Unfortunately we had to go back over that jump twice more so I just aimed Guinness at the pole and he found his way in between the wings. What I should have done is popped Guinness in a down, stood the jump back up and then carried on quickly towards the finish, rather than aiming him at a skew-whiff wing and pole just for the sake of continuing the course. Onto the weaves and Guinness missed him entry a few times and then popped out at number 11. He is turning and looking towards me at 11 and not finding the final gap! Ahh, more training needed on 14+ poles! We had some nice distance pivot work and a tight front cross on a 180 though. And let’s not forget about our fabulous wait!

Our second run went in a similar fashion, same weave issue.

At this point the sun was really beating down and I was very pleased that I had recently bought a second hand cool coat,  it was a life safer today.

10370422_10154223828055578_1742031246972608302_n

We jumped into Beginners Agility for a couple of NFC runs. The queue was fairly small again and Guinness was happily tugging once we were inside the ring and then I unclipped his lead and he continued tugging. For one run I held his collar, revved him up and then asked for a down as I let go. Nailed it! This is our back up for when he wont tug or choose to come around my legs to a down.

He had a fast run, avoiding contacts with some wing wraps and straight line blasts.
(I’ve stepped away from contacts completely while we work more on our foundation behaviours at home such as nose touch and back foot target).

Time for brunch and to get ready for judging.

1510658_10152165912262513_7976015872262031575_n

I loved my course on paper and it set out in real life quite nicely, taking a little bit of small tweaking before I was finally happy. We got cracking and quickly moved through the heights. With low entries there were only a handful of clears, the biggest problem being 17-18, avoiding the dog walk. However I received some nice comments and I think the course was suitable for the level.

I was due to follow on with Steeplechase for Medium-Small dogs, and I was looking forward to laying out a fun steeplechase course, however as we were heading for an early finish and a lot of people had gone home we decided to do all heights in Ring 2. Hurrah I was finished!

I grabbed Guinness and ran him around my agility course (very naughty as we did the contacts) and met the same issue at the weaves. We managed all 12 on a third attempt and the course ran smoothly. We struggled a little with the flick flack and I hung back at 14, sending him from behind and over the wing and then the rest ran well.

10336805_10152165896782513_6908741640058723969_n

Into Steeplechase and Guinness wasn’t quite right, I think he was hot and still feeling a little rushed. I should have taken him for a walk and a real warm up before running him around my agility course. He ran off at the start line and I eventually got him back. I don’t think the Judge marked a refusal and I left him for a nice long wait. We set off fast around a speedy steeplechase course, knocked a pole or two and then were caught out, Guinness went off over a jump to the side instead of heading to the tunnel. A bit of deja vu from Anglesey again, this time Guinness peeling off to the side away from me rather than coming across me to turn.

Eliminations galore! Oh well, what a fun show. What great waits!! Argh. Why can’t we have that confidence and attitude at other shows. I feel like we are taking a step in the right direction however. I’ve been doing lot of  games with Guinness from Absolute Dogs training and it is helping, plus the work we’ve been doing with collar grabs is also making the whole start line experience much better.

Next show is Oswestry in a few weeks! Eek!

UKA Dig It

The first of the Dig It Summer Shows is finally here! Time to start earning some points!

As it turned out this was one of those shows where we had so much fun the results did not matter at all, although it was still a slightly disappointing day.

Bright and early Ash and I rocked up just past 8am. Straight away we got set to work helping, pegging weaves and putting up the shelter, and before I knew it I’d walked the course and they were calling for the first dogs. I was straight in and with only 10 dogs in the class I gave Guinness a quick warm up and we rushed into the ring. Into a down, lead off and he broke his wait. I put him back and we set off for a messy run. One of those typical first runs of the day. Never mind.

Off into the exercise field across the lane and he had a poo. I knew it, I’d rushed him in. Scooping the poop, I looked up and he had gone. Vanished! Sh*t! (Quite literally). It was a huge field but I couldn’t see him anywhere, calling and whistling, I rushed back to the Dig It field, looking up and down the lane, and breathed a huge sigh of relief to see Ash putting him into the car. Phew. What a numpty. Luckily the little lane is quiet and he’d just run straight off to find Ash.

Time to chill out and have some breakfast.

_DSC0303I left Ash in charge of my camera which resulted in some rare (and extremely unattractive) photos of me! Doing what I do best and stuffing my face.

Quickly onto Jumping and it begun jump to 6 weaves. C’mon Guinness, we can do 6 poles easy, we have them set up in the garden. I ran start him to really drive him into the weaves “Go weave weave weave”…. he Go’d too much and entered at the 2nd gap. D’oh, come back, get in the weaves, lovely, off we go. It was quite a tight, tricky course with some knocked poles here and there but some pleasing rear crosses. Another Elimination picked up along the way.

While taking photos and watching the course later on I realised I had completely missed out a jump! I hadn’t even noticed it when I walked it. Oops! Not like me at all.

A bit of a break before steeplechase and Ash had long since abandoned me for Nick, pleased to finally have someone else at shows who was interested in something other than dogs!

Onto Steeplechase and me and Gaz set a good example of how to walk a course… stand on the edge of the ring with arms crossed. Everyone was starting to get a little silly and carrot cake for lunch was certainly boosting up my happiness scale.

_DSC0200A nice but tricky steeplechase course, I decided to test my wait and ran off three jumps ahead. Guinness jumped up and then stopped just short of the first jump but set the timer off with him nose. I released him and he ducked under. The rest of the course was so smooth and clear! Absolutely gutted!!

Power & Speed came next, my first ever games class. A great opportunity to test our contacts plus it started with a spread jump. I ran start again to help him over and he cleared it nicely. A-frame quickly to weaves was going to be tricky so I held his stop A-frame then sent him in. Yes! Nailed the entrance but popped out around pole 9. Second attempt, fail, time to get out of the ring and try to get 12 weaves out at training more often.

Second Steeplechase, another nice course with some different handling options but some tight turns. I was really pleased with my choices and Lydia and Audra both decided to handle the same way.  We hadn’t even passed each other while walking the course so I was mega chuffed with myself. Onto the course and 1 pole flew, followed by another, then 3 more, a terrible rear cross and over the line.

_DSC0359What a shamble. However he did manage to keep up three poles in a row of tricky spacing, with a bounce in the middle. If you listen closely he lets of a “huff” noise as he bounces which makes me chuckle (amongst all of the barking of course). As I came out Avril and Katie said they’d decided his downfall is that he can’t bark and jump.

5 out of 5 glorious eliminations! The end of the show was spent filming and scribing and generally larking around while we brought the Steeplechase ring to a close.

Still finding victories somewhere, I was so chuffed with how our waits have progressed and I’m starting to feel more confident, plus I’m a lot happier with taking him back to the start if he does break.

Most importantly this show was so fun it really didn’t matter how we did in the ring, the point was that Guinness was having fun and I was having fun!

This video really sums up the atmosphere of Dig It Shows and particularly the Dig It Instructors, some of my best friends.

A Day of Dog Training

Today I was at Dig It from 11am til 6pm, and it was fantastic!

This morning started with a coffee and a chat with a friend in the new seminar room above the agility arena.

1970586_10151998421322513_542784227_n

Then I moved outside into the sunshine to help with the Agility taster session. All dogs and owners that attend an Obedience course are invited to try out agility in a free taster session. Pups of all ages can come along as it is designed to be low impact with just a few jumps on the floor and the tunnel. I always enjoy seeing the owners reactions to their first go at agility and seeing how each different dog takes to it.

Lunchtime and I got Guinness out onto the field for a free run while I ate my butties and then we did a little box work and independent tunnel.  During my tunnel work I was holding Guinness’ collar saying “tunnel tunnel tunnel” and then releasing and throwing the reward onto his exit path.

It was only after I had moved away that I realised my tunnel command is “in”….  WTF Ruth?!

What a numpty!  I’ve always regretted having “in” as my command as it’s a little harsh and short and always more useful in other places. Well apparently I have done the first steps to change it.

1924962_10153894208395578_1660905140_n

A quick sit down to finish my lunch in glorious sunshine (although sitting on my coat as it is still chilly and damp) and I planned my next class.

2pm I had two puppy classes to teach, covering for Katie. I really enjoy covering a class as it gives you a little bit of free rein to be naughty and have lots of fun (not that classes aren’t fun anyway). I covered this class at Week 3 and today at Week 7 so it was fantastic to revisit and see their progress.

I used some Rally exercises to improve the heelwork and we also worked on focusing when next to other dogs, recalls, leave it and stays.

1798594_10152004214447513_1437911677_n

Then with an hour to kill I got Guinness back out for a little bit of contact work inside and rear crosses. His seesaw is lovely and committed however the A frame was very creepy crawly. Guinness bounces onto the bottom lovely with drive but when performing the full A frame he didn’t stop so I put him in a stay down for a minute and then retried and it was very slow and crawly. I wonder if I have knocked Guinness’ confident by “punishing”. I left the A frame alone and instead worked on jumps and tunnel with some handling.

5pm and the cavalry arrived to load up for the show. An hour later we were finishing setting up at Alsager for the Can You Dig It Winter Series Show tomorrow. One of judges Lou has been rather poorly so I have stepped up to Judge the morning for her. This gives me and Guinness a different competition day, as he will be in the car all morning and then the classes we will be running in the afternoon are likely to be Beginners. Not For Competition as normal but this removes the opportunity of weaves. However it is start lines that I am struggling with more than anything and I can focus on that goal tomorrow.

1977071_10152004047307513_1884525178_n

6.30pm home time!

Fantastic day! What more would you want to be doing.  I am living the dream!

January & February Dig It Winter Series

The first show of 2014 started with Dig It Winter Series.

_DSC0172

January

Lydia was away so I helped to run the show with a few other Dig It guys. I had a lot of fun but I was very busy in between runs. Amanda Hampson judged the Advanced and Intermediate Jumping and it was a pleasure to see and try her courses! I am continuing with NFC runs and chose to do a 9 obstacle sequence from her course. There was a flick flack/serp that didn’t quite go to plan with a tunnel drawing them away from the third jump, I couldn’t get it even with two tries. However weaves we managed 12 poles once but 3/4 times popped out at pole 10.

Amanda Hampson - Intermediate Jumping (Course Section that I ran)

Amanda Hampson – Intermediate Jumping
(Numbers not correct to full course)

In Agility I made my own course but included a nice 3 jump sequence from the judges course. Again we popped out on 10 weaves so I didn’t attempt them again. The sequence didn’t go to plan either however our contacts were good.

Watching a friend run I saw them make a handling choice different to mine that worked much better! I watched and immediately thought  “of course, why didn’t I do that!”. It seemed like such an obvious option yet I’d missed it. The same with the Jumping!

I am failing to see all of the handling options. I look with blinkers on and see one or two options, make a decision and then go for it. It’s something that I need to work on and also an ability that I want to pass to my students, so I best get better at it myself! Perhaps more time walking the course?! Or at least concentrate more while walking and broaden my mind.

Steeplechase I blasted for a run but I’d got my Dublin boots on and I tried to lazy handle/push Guinness out and i left him too far. We didn’t train track! I went off the rails.

_DSC0318

February

This show was a lot of fun! I had a bit of a lazy start (I was there by 8.30am nonetheless!) and had a wait until first run so I got my camera out and did some photos and filming for Dig It. There were three rings with two clubs providing ring parties so everything was well run and the rings moved quickly. Agility first and a tricky handling section with lots of options got quite a few people pondering while walking it. I made my choice and was really pleased as it worked well, flowing smoothly into the tunnel! (Hurrah my course choices are getting better perhaps). I ran for training but stuck to the course as it allowed everything I wanted to work on.

I filmed the worst of my two training runs so be open-minded when watching this, it went much better the first time…

[There is a lot to analyse and take away from that video but I wont bore you with it in this post! Important thing is the fecking weaves! Epic Guinness!]

6 weaves and we nailed the entries plus Guinness powered through them so fast he got stuck! Really impressed! Contacts were good although he released on my movement more than he should, however he had stopped so promising for competition.

Jumping was a nice up and down blasty run with 6 weaves from the tunnel. Again amazing weaves and only missed 1 out of 5.

I pushed our waits aiming to leave Guinness closer to the edge of the ring. As you can see from the video he doesn’t even think about it in the agility, as soon as the lead is off he goes. However our other runs were better with some nicer waits. I’m struggling to see how we will bridge the training-competition gap! At the moment it looks like a huge, bottomless valley.

_DSC0422

Steeplechase was a fun course from Becky Sargent with two tunnels next to each other. Although some say this tests nothing, as it is not obstacle discrimination, I had a lot of fun! I didn’t guide Guinness enough nor judge how long his jump is (partly due to not walking it) and and we got Eliminated when he took the furthest tunnel rather than the one closest to me. Never mind still a fun run with some good distance work and rear crosses.

Only two more shows to go and competition season is creeping closer and closer! I am hopeful that our waits outdoors will be better as Guinness was always happier on grass last year. The Dig It Club Comps start in March so I’ll be out there as soon as possible, pushing and testing our waits!

_DSC0212

Dig It Christmas Show

Today was the Dig it Christmas Show and a lovely finish to 2013.

_DSC0266

I’m not really sure what our aim was. Just to have fun and have a run.

We ran one for competition and one for training.  Guinness went up first in Jumping. He tugged really nicely on the start line and waited, although I did back away from him steadily, not march off with confidence. We had an around the back of the jump which we got nice and then missed the weave entry first but did 6 weaves lovely second attempt and came through them a second time too.

Agility we were tugging lovely in the queue and on the start line, although he broke he his wait but I got him back into place. He self released one contact but had the rest nicely and again missed the weaves first time but nailed it second attempt.

The Agility course had a few wing wraps and a pull in. Nice things to train in the ring. My wing wraps need work. I was watching Lauren Langman’s session on Friday and she talks about having a command for absolutely everything. This isn’t the first time I’ve told myself I need a command for Guinness to shorten his stride but I seem to forget to say stuff when running. Definitely need to practise “Dig”!

_DSC0268

Our training run went much better although no tugging in the queue. Finally Steeplechase. Guinness went into a wait position nicely but I still stood him up and run start as it wasn’t a long lead out. My course choices went well however I wasn’t really competing properly and hadn’t decided if I was front crossing or not at a section. I got there in plenty of time so decided to cross, but didn’t cross enough and ended up in a jump myself! The pole was down and I was in between the wings before I’d barely had time to realise what we’d done! What a funny run.

The weather stayed nice and clear and I mixed around between Ring Managing and helping.

Low entries meant that we went home with a 3rd and a 4th! Although the bottom of the placings due to high faults.

A lovely finish to 2013 and nice to have a fun run without thinking too much. It was so relaxed and it’s nice to run in my training arena.

_DSC0305

Dig It Dogs Open Day

Wow today was amazing! I’d organised an Open Day at Dig It Dog Training Club, completely done by me, my ideas, my planning, my mess! We had no idea how it would go or how popular it would be, but … Continue reading

Back With A Bang

After barely being home from a week away in Cornwall today I trundled off to Dig It for their final Summer Can You Dig It Show. It was going to be a relaxing day focusing on Guinness (didn’t I say … Continue reading

Cheshire Game & Angling Fair

A few weekends ago it was the Cheshire Game and Angling Fair at Peover. This fair has a special place in my heart as it was at this event last year, while helping with Dig It Display Team, that I … Continue reading

A Weekend at Dig It

This weekend was the UKA Show at Dig It on Saturday and their Can You Dig It? Unaffiliated Show on Sunday. It was so so hot! I was a little concerned about Guinness as he has got a thick coat … Continue reading

The Second Agility Show

September saw us back at Dig It Dog Training Club for our second UKA Show and Dig It Unaffiliated competition. Now with 8 months of training under our belt, I loaded my pockets with treats and headed off for another … Continue reading