Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
- Leadouts at the beginning of the course. Lots of solid stays and people worked them and meant it when they said "Stay!"
- Some absolutely wonderful rear crosses at the #9 jump as folks sent their dogs to the #10 weave poles. This is a skill EVERY handler should have, but you have to work to get it!
- Incredible contacts. Regardless if they were 2 on 2 off, running contacts or 4 on the floor, the contacts at this trial were amazing.
- A salute to sit-stays - most folks were able to leave their dogs at the table and move out past the #13 jump.
- It was so much fun to watch the triple, tire, teeter sequence - handlers gave their dogs a nice path and it really flowed quite well.
- Hooray to EVERYONE who diligently connected with their dogs at the end of the run, put their leash on and left the ring together. I was very impressed by the conscious effort this group made to follow this newer rule.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
After judging at a spectacular trial in the area, my-in-laws came over to drive me back. The plan was to hit a few wineries on our return trip and make an afternoon out of it. Well, we hadn't planned on the 40-60+ mph winds that flew in a few hours prior and so the adventure began.
Monday, March 16, 2009
- We're going to focus on body language as the main means of communication between the dog & handler in this exercise.
- Next, since we're using body language, we're going to concentrate mainly on our shoulders. This will include our arms & hands since they are attached and can arguably be called an extension of our shoulders
- Speaking of shoulder placement - if both you and the dog are parallel & facing straight ahead, I call that Open Shoulders which cues RUNNING or a straight line. If I turn into my dog to face them, this cues collection and the dog should come in to me (think of the beginnings of a front cross, you turn into the dog and they should collect their stride and come in toward you). For this exercise, we're going to work on a shoulder position which is in the middle of these two examples.
- Physical Movement, or a lack of our physical movement plays a significant part in communicating with our dog on an Agility course. To go further, the direction of our movement can be just as important. Motion can be as sensitive as shifting your weight to one leg or the other (think about that detail - it can be a very powerful statement to the dog).
- Start - The dog and handler start out parallel, with the dog in front of the chute. Handlers need to be aware of their position and work the 1st obstacle - don't take it for granted.
- First Handler Straight Line & Movement - The plan is that the handler's line will be from the chute up in a slight diagonal toward the middle area between the chute exit & the #2 jump (for smaller dogs, the handler may need to go a bit closer toward the front area of the #2 jump). Depending on your dog's speed will determine where the handler starts & when the handler begins movement. Ultimately, the goal is to be pushing your dog to the top of the handler line as it exits the chute. Handlers will need to time it so that they are moving with the dog to this point.
- Handler Shoulders - As the dog is exiting the chute & the handler is moving on their line, the handler's shoulders should be squarely facing the middle of jump #2 (indicating the next obstacle the dog should take), AND the hand and foot closest to the dog (in this case on the right) are also extended to support the jump as well.
- Handler Shifting of Weight - I keep my feet spread while pushing to the top obstacle and keep my weight on my front foot (in this case the right foot). In preparation for the next step, my back leg (in this case the left leg) is ready and pointing down in the direction I want to go to next.
- Executing the Pull - To begin the second straight line or the "pull", my physical movement begins when I simply shift my weight to my back leg (in this case the left leg), while keeping my shoulders & hand out and continue to point to the top of the line where I just came from...in other words, your shoulder & arm placement doesn't change (fight the urge to swing your shoulder & arm around in the direction you'll now be moving). In summary, you're only incorporating movement of your lower body, which cues the dog as to the direction you're now going.
- Practice the Send & Pull - To practice this step, send your dog to the #2 jump, be sure your supporting with your right leg & arm and shift your weight forward to the right leg. Either before or as the dog takes the jump, keep your shoulders and arm the same and shift your weight to the back leg - your dog should pull into you.
- Second Handler Straight Line Movement - By keeping your shoulders & arm stationary, it allows you to stay ahead of your dog, look back over your right shoulder and "pull" your dog on the path of the second straight line. Again, resist the urge to turn your shoulders forward in the direction of your movement. Think of yourself as being in the start of a front cross except your outside arm (in this case your left arm) isn't coming around to pick up the dog.
- Break the sequence down into small, manageable parts so that both you and your dog can be successful.
- Small parts will also help you pinpoint where things might be going astray.
- Remember to focus on 1 obstacle at a time.
- After pushing to the #2 jump, if you find your dog heading toward the dog walk or the #11 jump, I'd guess that you're turning your shoulders & opening them up to indicate a Run motion. Remember, your hand should be pointing to where you came from and your shoulders should be facing the dog's path - it's a semi-collection cue.
- Another possibility is that you're inadvertently moving more like the handling path found on the green line and pushing toward the dog walk or #11 with your physical movement. Remember, it's a straight line up and a straight line down - no rounding, but more of a whip effect.
- Trust your dog! If you're at the Excellent level, chances are you've taught your dog some great points and the two of you have to figure out this new handling item. Give it time and go into it with a sense of humor. Allow you and your dog to make mistakes and if you have to, break it down even more than you had planned.
- Remember, this is a tool to have in your handlers' tool box. It's always nice to have additional skills. Another benefit of this skill is that it allows you to do less running and keeps you ahead of your dog.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
OK, the interests mentioned in my title maybe interesting to just me, but boy was it a day!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I'm big on my own education and attend at least 2-5 seminars each year, not to mention the countless videos, books, magazines, organizations and coaches I take advantage of. Today's seminar was for my own personal interest on Reiki - read on to find out more : )
Often times I feel a connection with my animals. I can't see it, I can't put scientific evidence to it, but I can FEEL it. When my dog is laying next to me, there's a certain comfort & connection that occurs when I make eye contact, smile at or place my hand on them. I can feel it and based on their positive reaction, I firmly believe that they can as well.
Sure, you can argue the pleasure of a simple touch is self-rewarding for some animals and maybe even for me...and some even say that animals love us only because we provide food for them. But I'm a dreamer - I want to believe that my animals love me because they have chosen to do so. Further, I want to believe that on some spiritual level, we're connected.
Reiki, which literally means spirit life force is one of the Eastern philosophies and is based on the belief that everything has an energy. I find this interesting since in science, all things living and non-living are made up of molecules & atoms. No molecules, no atoms, no object, no life force...
A little about Reiki:
A little about Reiki:
"Like their counterparts in traditional Chinese medicine who use acupuncture, as well as their counterparts in the West who use therapeutic touch (TT), the practitioners of reiki believe that health and disease are a matter of the life force being disrupted. Each believes that the universe is full of energy which cannot be detected by any scientific instruments but which can be felt and manipulated by special people who learn the tricks of the trade. Reiki healers differ from acupuncturists in that they do not try to unblock a person'ski, but to channel the ki of the universe so that the person heals. The channeling is done with the hands, and, like TT no physical massaging is necessary since ki flows through the body of the healer into the patient via the air. The reiki master claims to be able to draw upon the energy of the universe and increase his or her own energy while performing a healing."
Reiki is definitely one of those things where although it has a well-documented history, Reiki itself is not necessarily scientifically based. I'm the first to admit that even reading the description above makes me think of voodoo dolls and magic tricks. However, I have to refer back to molecules, atoms and all kinds of small things that make up the universe and everything in it - couldn't these things be considered a universal life force?
What did attracted me to Reiki is the following:
- Reiki is similar to meditation. It's about letting our thoughts go, being at peace & letting positive energy flow through us.
- Reiki is very grounding and relaxing for the giver and the receiver. In Reiki, the universal life force creates warm hands when it flows through the giver. The giver gently places their warm hands on the recipient - think heat pad, hot soup, holding a warm coffee cup, etc. - all very comforting.
- With Reiki, I get to take my warm hands, place them on my dog(s) and just be with them. Reiki requires no detailed & speciality knowledge by me and I don't have to try to "figure out" where or if there is a problem area on the recipient.
- With Reiki, there is no need for physical manipulation or other specialty training (such as with massage and physical therapists) and I don't have to be a doctor, chiropractor or acupuncturist - I can just be me and simply act as a conduit for the universal energy around us.
- Best part - I only have to focus on being in the moment and what is below my hands.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
- Leading out to the end of the chute, making eye contact with the dog and using their lead hand, to "draw" the path from the jump to the chute entrance.
- Picking up the dog on the right side after the chute and sending them to the #3 jump. Most handlers wanted to immediately start turning toward the #4 jump prior to the dog's commitmet and needed to be reminded to have their shoulders facing #3, to have their weight on their right leg and to be supporting the jump with their right arm.
- In the #3 to #4 serpentine, handlers need to be sure to call the dog over #4 by dropping their right hand to their BACK (in this case, right) leg. Be sure not to lean forward, which encourages the dog to by-pass #4 (not what you want).
- Send the dog up to the #7 jump and do a Front Cross closer to the a-frame vs. a F/C closer to the #7 jump which results in a bad angle to the a-frame for the dog (although an experienced dog should be able to compensate).
- Be sure to push up to and support the #9 jump. Check out the handler path I've posted in green - it's different from the real world where most handlers chose to follow their dog down to the end of the teeter. This is where independent contacts come in handy and I highly recommend you teach them to your dog (this also means you need a clear criteria of what the contact performance should be) so that you can stay out of the pocket after the teeter and put yourself in a better place to manage jump #11 & 12. By staying out of the pocket, handlers are able to get themselves to the landing side of the #11 jump, which provides a clear and smooth path for the sequences' to come.
- The next challenge was #18-20. There are several ways to work this sequence. Wed's classes worked it with front crosses & Thurs' classes worked it by using a post turn and then a f/c so they picked the dog up on their right and pulled them between the serpentine jumps.