I am just home from the European Open Agility competition which was held this past weekend in Arnhem, The Netherlands. It was at the Olympic site called Papendal which is not far from Amsterdam. The competition was incredible and Ace and I earned the bronze medal, yahoo! My team with Elicia Calhoun, Susan Cochran and Ann Zarr finished in 6th place out of 84 teams. There were 358 large dogs in the competition. Some of the best handlers in the world were there. Greg Derrett, Silas Boogk (last years Champion) Sylvia Trkman, Dave Munnings from England and the list goes on and on. Ace was only ¾ of a second off of the spectacular winning run. We ran in the middle of the pack and our time held for the rest of the class until the last couple dogs. Silas ran second to last and missed an a-frame, or he would have beat us. Still his time was only a quarter second faster. I am thrilled with Ace and can’t wait to go back next year to the Czech Republic where it will be held to see if we can do it all over again! Ace does not have as much ground speed as a lot of the big dogs we competed against, but he is well trained and has incredibly tight turns. My time on the finals course was fast in great part because of those turns.
Jim took good care of Scoop and he did not go feral in my absence. He didn’t seem to forget any of his training after a week of fun and games without me. His left and right turns are still spot on, and all the other skills we have trained over the last two months are just as strong as ever.
While I was traveling I thought a lot about what I wanted to train when I got home. Being at an international competition is exciting and inspiring. I look forward to the day that Scoop and I get to run agility and I hope we will be good enough to be compete internationally. There were a lot of missed contacts that I saw over the course of the EO competition. Some of the best teams in the world were kept from the finals and from the podium because of missed dog walks, frames and teeter flyoffs. I am committed to training a running frame with Scoop, but not a running DW. I have seen too much inconsistency in running DW performances to make me want to have one. And, I am not getting any younger! The thought of needing to beat Scoop to the bottom of each DW leaves me breathless.
Today I started working on one of the skills which I want in place to train a running frame. I got out my treat’n’train and placed it on the ground. I walked forward with Scoop at my side towards the tnt and activated the remote as he looked forward towards the machine. The machine emits a beep like a clicker. I want Scoop to move towards the machine straight without looking at me. He already is familiar with the tnt so this part of moving to the machine without looking at me was easy. Then I took the machine to the field to do it again. I put two short boards (36 by 12 inches) together side by side flat on the ground, as I don’t have a flat 36 inch square board to work on yet. I placed the tnt about 6 feet forward from the end of the boards. I moved forward with Scoop at my side and as he walked on the boards I used the remote to mark him walking over the boards and looking forward not at me. As I clicked the remote he moved towards the machine to eat the couple pieces of kibble which fall into the bowl. We are just walking not running and I haven’t decided how quickly I want to progress through the next flat work steps. For now I will be teaching him that moving over the boards smoothly and looking forward will earn him clicks and cookies. I won’t click if he jumps, and I don’t want him to look at me, and I do want him to move through the middle of the board. For now that is the only criteria. Using a tnt as part of A-frame training was suggested by Olga Chaiko who has a pretty spectacular running frame on Scoop’s dad Yankee. (Who won the team jumpers class at EO by the way!)
Scoop, and Ace and I are headed out on a road trip tomorrow to Southern California to teach for a few days. I am looking forward to being in a new location with Scoop so that I can spend time training away from home as he has not been off the property now for 10 days. I hope that you have as much fun training your pup this week as I know I am going to have with mine.