Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brushing up on distance skills

So. We kind of sort of have a NADAC trial this weekend. I say "kind of sort of" because we aren't doing much --- We are doing a few games classes on Friday night, but on Saturday the only class I entered everyone in was Chances. The USDAA trial at the end of the month is blowing my trial budget and technically I shouldn't have entered the NADAC trial at all. It's hard to finish big titles like the NATCH if you don't run, though, so I just entered everyone in Chances since that's all we need. It should be fun to run that as everyone's "first class of the day" and have them be nice and crazy. Of course, luck of the draw always comes into play with regard to course design. Let's just hope, for Kaiser's sake, that we luck out and don't have a dog walk!!

If you've been following this blog, you are likely well aware that we haven't worked on any NADAC-related skills for, well, a very long time. Honestly, I don't know if I've specifically focused on NADAC stuff since training for Champs last fall!! Ever since the weather turned nice and we've been able to play outside again, I've pretty much focused entirely on skills that are completely anti-NADAC and not at all conducive to distance skills.

Whoops. That is not really going to help me when it comes to running Chances as my only run of the day!

So with that in mind, last night I created a course that would help us to work on some of these skills. For fun, though, I threw a chute and a broad jump into my course design. :o)

Because I still haven't brought my contacts out of the garage, my course was limited to jumps, hoops, tunnels & weaves. I set up several traps and I'm actually quite happy with the end result. With two performances of the weave poles, it's not something you'd see in an actual Chances course, but otherwise I figure the challenges are pretty on par.

My course drawing skills apparently have improved marginally since all of the drawings I made during Champs training. I did this one on the first try. :o) Note, when I originally set the course, obstacles 5 & 6 (in the circled numbers) were hoops. We REALLY struggled with the switch out of the weaves up to number five, so I ended up making #5 a jump and #3/8 a hoop to see if it would help Secret to find the obstacle a little better. Not so much, but we'll get there in a bit. The obstacle straight out of the weaves was also a hoop, they just look really stupid when I draw them so I made everything look like jumps. Ha!!

The circled numbers are the main course I used. The square numbered course was used to switch things up a bit on them so they didn't get totally pattern trained.

This course made one thing glaringly obvious. Turning out of the weaves is HARD. Very, very hard for Secret. I have not seen this level of frustration from her in a long time. I'm happy to report that she didn't shut down on me as she did when I started working discrimination at a distance with her -- Instead she just stood there and barked at me. I, in turn, had a truly "bad trainer" moment and stood there and "barked back" at her and repeatedly said, "out." Yeah.... That so doesn't work!!! Okay, it works with Luke sometimes, which is probably why I'm dumb enough to keep trying it.

Aside from the mega-frustrations involved with getting that turn out of the weaves, I'm otherwise very pleased with how well Secret did. She really drove forward nicely out of the start. Often times she disconnects on tunnel starts and turns back to me, but she drove very nicely out to the second jump with no assistance from me. She nailed her weave entries at speed and, until she got super frustrated with me, had great speed through the weaves as well.

You can't see it on video, but she also totally attacked the broad jump and chute at the end. The baby dog needs to be careful, though..... She was leaping with gusto into the chute and catching her head and/or back on the entrance. That's all well and good with my nylon collapsible model, but that is going to hurt if she does that on a solid chute!

With the hoop set as number five, I never actually did get a turn out of the weaves without crossing behind Secret to the top of the poles. Since that would be a required part of the challenge if this were actually an Elite course, there's no way she would have been able to Q, no matter how hard we tried to get it!! When I switched it out to a jump I was finally able to successfully get her up to that obstacle without passing the line of the poles, but I was well over the line I created for myself.

Now, I don't know that this is a skill Secret has ever really had, so I can't really say that it's something that has degraded with our lack of distance training of late. Both of the boys struggled with the turn on their first try, but after that nailed it time and time again. So if they can do it, I suppose maybe I ought to spend some time working Secret on it. I think it would help greatly if I placed the jump closer to begin with. I used true wide open NADAC spacing on this course and that obstacle was just waaaaaaay out there. Baby steps get you further in these cases, I'm sure.

I really debated making a video at all because everything is so far away -- but you can still see good moments and bad moments. :o)


  1. On the flip side we practice mostly NADAC skills these day (well Legend does anyway). Need those Chances Qs!

  2. Hi, Karissa:

    Years ago I attended a Stuart and Patti Mah seminar. One of the things Patti emphasized was that if your dog is unable to do something on the second attempt, then simply the exercise so that he can be successful.

    In addition to your idea of moving the jump or hoop closer to the weaves, you could have tried placing it parallel to the weaves (and possibly a little beyond the weave pole exit) so that Secret could see it more easily. If she still had a problem turning away to the jump or hoop, I would not have been above either using a target or tossing the ball toward the jump as she exits the weaves to lure the turn away once or twice.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Rose! This is great advice. I have no idea why I went into stupid mode with her last night, but the next time we tackle this issue I'll be sure to remember your suggestions!