Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Agility Seminar with Tanya Lee - My Notes

Our club's beautiful agility field, on a cool November day, perfect for a seminar.
Our local dog club hosted its 2nd agility seminar of 2012 two weekends back, it so happens, on my birthday.  We brought in Tanya Lee from north Louisiana, who competes with her border collie, Boost, and serves as Trial Secretary for the Ouichita Valley Dog Training Club out of Monroe, LA.

She sent out requests for what we wanted to cover, I replied FOUNDATION WORK, and that's just what we got.  I was well pleased.  Below are my class notes and sketches.

Below, D stands for Dog, H stands for Handler.

I brought Pepper for the Friday Beginners class from 2-4:30.  Content as follows:

Impulse Control:
Should be 80% of training until dog is calm and in control, 20% agility.  Best way to teach this is Susan Garrett's Crate Games and Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed DVDs.  Everyone should have these. Your home life is the indicator of what will happen in agility.  Start training at home.

To perfect Impulse Control, and get your dog paying attention to YOU, she placed a dog on the table with handler in front, then looked for things like "front paws still, ears forward, mouth open, shoulders relaxed, and dog's eyes focused on handler".  CLICK/TREAT for one behavior, then another, then a combination of 2 or 3. When all are lined up, then JACKPOT.  She did this for about 10 minutes with the same dog, increasing the distractions little by little.

Obstacle Focus:
D and H at take off side of a jump, D sits in front, H off to the side.  Every time D looks at jump, CLICK/TREAT.  H moves in various places, including landing side of jump, and repeats.  Never release D to take an obstacle until D is looking at it.  Similarly, place D before tunnel entrance, handler to the side.  Every time D turns their head toward the tunnel entrance, CLICK TREAT.  Handler eventually increases distance from D, and when D looks at tunnel entrance, release and run the sequence.

Never release using D's name.  "Pepper, tunnel" is wrong.  When you call their name, they look at you instead of obstacle. Calling their name should mean "look at me, come to me".

SATURDAY 8-12/SUNDAY 7:30-11
I alternated Maxie and Lucky during both Saturday and Sunday classes, which was not the best idea as skills were built upon one another and neither dog got the full compliment.  But it worked out OK because Tanya's main focus was on training the handlers.  I got the usual advice:
  • I don't run, am slowing my dogs down, etc.  Get on the treadmill every day and sprint.
  • My arms are too high.  Hold them no higher than the dog's jump
  • Point to the path, not the obstacle.
  • Should not call name of obstacle if it is in D's path.  They should know to take what is in front of them unless you call them off.
  • I don't have the courses completely memorized ahead of time so I hesitate.  She recommends studying the course maps thoroughly before walking the course. It's imperative that by the time I run my dog, I need to be able to not "think", just "do".  Figuring things out as I go along just confuses the dog! 

  • Blind crosses should be done as far ahead of D as possible and while D is looking the other way.
  • Rears as far behind D as possible.
  • Fronts ON the dog's running line, not way past it and as far forward as possible. Timing is important.

We practiced blind crosses and ketchker maneuvers on each and every drill.  She explained when these maneuvers are the very best moves to make in certain situations.
1. Turning into D always signals collection.  Pull through, ketchker. Ketchker lets you signal collection while at the same time keeping D on same side. It is a reverse post turn. It says "stay tight to me".
2.  Turning away from D always signals extension.  Post turn. 
3. Collection become more important for larger, faster dogs than for small dogs.

Commitment Point: It's important to support the obstacle until D commits to it, then LEAVE.  D's commitment point should be long before D takes off.  Learn to recognize it, then get going to your next point.  Commitment Point is different for each dog.

Zone Of Information:  D should definitely know which obstacle they are going to next BEFORE they take the current obstacle. This tells them how to gauge themselves over the current obstacle (extension, collection, lead change). Do you know when you tell D what the next obstacle is going to be?  Is it too soon?  Too late?  When is the proper zone of information for your D?  Ideally, you should name the next obstacle as soon as they commit to the previous obstacle.

LEAVING:  Leaving is different from a send, because YOU are leaving.  Taught with target work.  Dog's job is to take the obstacle you indicate no matter what you are doing.  Train this by having them "drive to a target" over an obstacle, such as food, while you are going the opposite way.  Here's a diagram:

Obstacle Commitment:
D should take whatever is between you and them without instruction.  Here's an exercise to develop this skill.  Work both sides and using different equipment.

Jump Slices:
Teach D to take jumps from every angle.  As the slices get more and more angled, D gets closer and closer to the jump cups.  It's important the jump cups aren't sharp or jagged, which could result in injury.

  • Everyone should do lots of pinwheel work.
  • Dogs read your feet more than your upper body.  Be mindful where your feet are pointing.  Face the path, not the obstacle.
  • Hold your hand low, point to the bar not over it.
  • Use verbals when your body disagrees with what you want.
  • In training, use a clicker.
  • Noel got some ultra light tennies at Payless called Champion Light, on sale for $19
  • Tanya recommends New Balance Minimum shoes.  Helps you run lighter and on your toes.  She does not recommend heel to toe running, nor heavy soled shoes.
  • Tanya NEVER runs full courses, except at trials.  She works on foundation skills every day.  Foundation.  Foundation.  Foundation. Best way to kill your dog's enthusiasm for agility is to consistently make them run 20 obstacles before you pay them.
Well, that's all I can remember.  My job was to set up and keep the portable PA system working, which I did.  Sunday, I made a wonderful discovery.  Rather than stretch speaker wire out over the ground and move the equipment table to different areas of the field where we were working, I put the entire system in the wagon, including the speaker, and wheeled it around to wherever we wanted.  No more hauling stuff.  No more wires stretched out.  It made my job so much easier. So simple. Why didn't I think of that 2 years ago?

I sent Tanya a link to this page, and here's what she wrote back:

Wow....extremely comprehensive analysis of what was covered.  Great recap and I hope you share with others in your club.  Most excellent job!

I sent the link to Georgie, our seminar organizer, for distribution and she sent it out for Christmas.  Cool!

Upwards and onward!

No comments: