Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zazzy - agility - work in progress!

I am so very pleased with Zazzy, we are both really enjoying our agility together. Because it makes me happy that she is happy, she gets more positive feedback, so she is more motivated, and this has sent our training into a positive upwards spiral. Let's see where that takes us! I have been very lucky lately. A couple of weeks ago Toni Dawkins visited, and together with Karen we had a lovely day which included a (very healthy!) picnic and some agility in the sunshine. Beep, Zazzy's old playmate, is looking really good in training, although Toni says she is still majorly shutting down at shows and has a plan to deal with that before competing with her again. We have plenty of discussions about what to do to help our girls! They are similar in so many ways. All the dogs had a play, lots of fun, and I got some really good ideas from Toni for my training (she always gives me at least one really good idea, but excelled herself this time!) She also videod a few things for me so I can see what Zazzy and I are doing, I have included a short bit although it is not one of my proudest moments! Zazzy is speeding up on the contacts, but also now coming off them sometimes. This clip shows her response to being asked to do the AF again, even though I play with her and try to keep it happy and light, on the second go she gives me accuracy but by doing a really really slow creep. Work in progress!!

This last weekend I had another very lucky break. Lincoln Agility Enthusiasts were looking for extra judges for their show as the entry was higher than expected. So I offered to judge and thus was able to take the opportunity to get up there to train with Lucy Osborne. This resulted in a fabulous long weekend! I was up before the birds Friday morning to make it up there early, to set up camp before a two hour group lesson with Lucy for grades 3 and 4. She worked us hard, long runs down a line of jumps to a tunnel and back up the dog walk for example, and really putting lots of effort into reward and praise. I was really pleased with Zazzy. The venue is really good, lots of space, large exercise areas, camping close to the rings, good facilities, good ground. Also four classes for every dog (all sizes, all grades) each day! Everyone was really nice and the atmosphere friendly. My course was more or less set up by the time I got to it, just tweaked it a bit. G1 + 2 agility course below. I really enjoyed the judging on the whole. What really saddened me were those few handlers who pointed their dogs at the wrong obstacle with poor handling, then shouted at the dogs for 'not listening' and then stomped out of the ring. Or handlers only using one command, 'No, NO, NO!!!!' Those poor dogs! It seems that well worn adage ' if it goes wrong either you handled it wrong, or trained it wrong', is not being quoted enough in some places! What was crystal clear to me at the end of the day was that the dogs in the higher grades were doing better and going faster because they were getting more praise and encouragement in the right places. One highlight for me was the allsorts class. I saw some familiar faces from Becky's age group getting some special time, and boy the delight on their faces was a joy to see as they raced round! Above all, whatever happened, whether they got the course right or wrong, there was praise and laughter for them at the end. Brilliant. My grade 4-5 jumping course was a bit more testing but lovely to watch, handled well the dogs had a lovely flow with places to open up. When I set it up I thought it looked a bit harder than I had planned, but I gave Zazzy a run round it and it felt really good, and was glad I left it as planned. (G4-5 Jumping course below)

Sunday Zazzy got to compete. We had one small thing go wrong in the first three classes but I was really pleased with the way she was going (getting eliminated for going on when I layered a jump then turned late for example, fantastic! She was pulling off fences at my slightest deceleration last year). Then, a clear!! Zazzy came third in a very fast G4 jumping (lovely trophies too!).

Monday, more training, a 1-2-1 for both Zazzy and Deece. We were all worked hard, and I was really happy with them both, they were brilliant. Deece has not done much, but he amazed me with how quickly he picked things up and moved on. Zazzy played through the entire lesson. Just fantastic, this time last year she lost interest in playing after a couple of minutes, and was completely flat after five. So I returned a tired but very very happy and proud mom. Fabulous dogs!!

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