Thursday, June 21, 2012


I have always struggled with achieving balance in all facets of my life.  I eat the same food(s) for weeks on end -- who needs variety?  I can't ever seem to come up with a way to balance work, downtime (what's that?) and friends.  All I do lately is work.  And now in my agility life I have been fixating on the "fun" technical handling moves and completely neglecting all of the speed & motivation exercises that are so important for dogs like Secret -- Dogs who don't necessarily find a whole lot of motivation from the game of agility itself.

I've noticed a decrease in Secret's speed lately.  I was doing my best to blame it on the fact that she desperately needed a chiropractic adjustment (which she did), but I know that I really need to go back to making the game of RUNNING more fun for her again.  Her super intense thinking brain has been getting much too focused on the technical aspect of agility and she is starting to get too careful again -- because you never know when a threadle or backside of a jump will be asked for and one must always be prepared you know.  Well yes, but you also need to know how to let your hair down and RUN, girl.

This NADAC Jumpers course was posted on the Going the Distance blog a couple of weeks ago and it appealed to me for the nice sweepy lines and the opportunity to get back to bonus line work with Luke.  After the changes in Secret's speed of late, I also figured it wouldn't hurt to throw her on this course and work on building up the "fun & run" aspect of agility for her again.

I set the first six obstacles with hoops (don't have enough jumps), figuring it would give the dogs a good opportunity to really dig in and go.  Admittedly, while running Secret through this course I really didn't feel like she was moving -- but as is so common with her for whatever reason, when I watched the video back I was pretty happy with what I saw.  She was slower through the middle section with jumps and turns, but I like how she ran the hoops.  That stride of hers is deceptively long, even if she doesn't get down super low like the really fast border collies.

I had Secret jump her NADAC (Skilled) height of 16" for further motivational assistance.  I brought her out a final time when the jumps were still down at 8" and she had fun, which was nice to see.  Basically what this evening tells me is that I need to do a better job at balancing out the technical work with the speed work.  Just because I'm currently obsessed with USDAA doesn't mean I should throw all of the NADAC foundation work out the window (especially considering we are still trying to finish up those darn NATCHes).  I need to be better about setting up fun speed circles and other short exercises that encourage speed without thinking.  Secret thinks enough, she needs to just let it go!

On the way to shutting off the camera I decided to do a bit of tunnel work with Secret.  I need to throw different stuff at her, so we worked on the back side of the tunnel.  After the tunnel meltdown she was having at the last trial, I really wanted to focus on her having fun in the tunnel again and I'm happy to report that she seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.  One of these days I'll have to throw a wonky S-shaped tunnel at her since that's what caused the original shutdown.

The boys were SO HAPPY to return to their NADAC roots.  Kaiser got to run 8" tonight and he just had a ball.  He was glowing as he ran through the course.  I swear you can just hear him go, "Wheeeee!" as he sails through the line of hoops.  lol

Luke and I realized very quickly that when you stop working on bonus line skills they tend to disappear.  That was kind of sad.  I can't really blame him, though, since I've been attempting to cram him through the technical courses lately, too.  He's very confused!  We just played and had a good time and I made a mental note to either start working on this stuff again or to NOT try any bonus lines at the next trial.  Luke will definitely appreciate it if I continue to try to find *balance* in our agility training.  He says he'll just take off on the technical nights, though.   ;o)


  1. My dogs have never had a chiropractic adjustment. I wonder if it's something that's needed, or just something people do and then justify? I really dont know - lots of people swear by it, and lots, like me, have never done it. Maybe I will give it a try at one of our trials, as we always have "Dr. Andi" there.

    Nice sequences with the pups - looks like a fun challenging jumpers course with some good speed opportunities!

    1. I don't think that all dogs need chiropractic adjustments (Kaiser, for example, has had pretty much nothing out of whack the three times he's been seen for maintenance purposes) -- But it's a godsend for dogs who don't have the ideal build for agility or the things we ask them to do (frisbee, flyball, etc.).

      Luke had been playing in agility for about a year when problems started to crop up. He began missing weave entries or popping early and he would occasionally go around jumps. In addition, he had started yelping when leaping up to catch the frisbee.

      He was such a horrible mess that we started out going twice a week for almost a month! Each time he held the adjustment a little better and then he started on a schedule of going before every trial and then monthly. Once I stopped pushing him in Weavers I was able to back off a lot and now he is done as needed.

      Secret, because she is built so stinking long & tall, is turning out to be quite the mess herself. I'm sure that frisbee is largely to blame (since we rarely weave at home these days), but she's always out in her mid/upper back and her ribs.

      I would recommend that your dog's first treatment NOT be at a trial. Our routine adjustments are always scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday to give the dogs a day or two to recover from it. I can see having a minor adjustment done at a trial if the dogs are used to it, but not for the first time.

      You can find veterinarians certified in spinal manipulation at this website:

      For what it's worth, I've never had a chiropractic adjustment for myself -- or even a massage for that matter. :o)

  2. Thanks for the link - of course, none of those are closer than an hour away from me. We do have a good dog massage guy that my wife has used for her dogs before, and he's pointed out issues for further treatment by other means. Her dog Ice went through laser and acupuncture for an injury, but not chiropractic. I have never had a chiropractic adjustment myself either, and my wife had one once, and said she would never do it again, so maybe that's where my hesitation comes from.
    I think you have a good point about a first adjustment not being at a trial though - maybe at the end of a trial would be OK.

  3. My dogs (nor I) have never had any chiropractic work done either. I actually don't do anything special with them-they are just dogs for the most part that do agility a few times a week (on average-sometimes more, sometimes less). I don't know if I'm just lucky or the small amount of actual training we do protects them. Seems like everyone I know has a dog with a significant injury these days.

    1. I don't think that agility is what messes up my dogs. Like you, we really only train a couple times per week on average (sometimes I go crazy and do more, but rarely!). I'm quite certain that it's the frisbee play we do that screws them up more. I admit to not being the best/most consistent frisbee chucker in the world and they both make some pretty spectacular leaps on a regular basis. I think this is what throws their backs out of alignment. I've always assumed that weaving is what screws up the ribs and this is part of why I've all but stopped doing weaves at home, but my big dogs always seem to have issues there as well.

      Kaiser is a sturdy little guy. I've had him seen because I expect all of the body slamming and rolling that Secret does to him would screw him up pretty good, but he's never had much of anything wrong!