Category Archives: Agility

Ribbon Round-up

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Turns out we had a busy spring and summer with some nice rewards to go along with it; CB has some new titles, 3 of them as a matter of fact.

In July at the Evelynn Kenny show he got his 3rd Rally Excellent leg for his Rally Excellent (RE) title. I entered CB on a whim since I was going to be there showing a friends pom but then didn’t really have a lot of time to practice. I do practice the stations here and there but didn’t dedicate time to it. Seems that that is they way I need to work him. A little bit here and there to make sure he knows everything but then just leave it alone. He rocked for me – was peppy and bright and had fun. Our score was just enough for a Q and we got cheers from friends and hugs as soon as our score went up on the board. It was a great moment.

CB has also been doing much better in agility. I’ve figured out how to get him to run a little faster and he got his Agility Dog of Canada (ADC) title this past weekend. This one has been a long time coming and he got the Standard Q he needed to get the title. I didn’t think it was going to happen as I rolled my ankle during our Jumpers run and the delay from me slowing down not only cost us a Q but the days outlook for me being able to run didn’t look good. Fortunately my husband was able to come and finish off the trial and got 2 standard Q’s with CB. I’m so proud of them – CB ran really fast for him on the first standard run and it was so fun to watch.

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The third title CB received this summer was from the Teacup Dog Agility Association (TDAA). We were traveling down in the US and I had learned about a TDAA trial that was happening while we’d be south. I’ve been kind of curious about the smaller equipment and tighter courses so we went to check it out and entered. Unlike AAC or CKC trials where CB has often been the only dog entered in his class, there were many dogs entered in his jump height category and when CB Q’d we didn’t necessarily place first. It was nice to see so many little dogs competing.

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How about that – little dogs, little equipment and ironically a little handler.

This was a lot of fun and the all the people there were so nice and friendly. CB got his three qualifying beginner standard runs at that trial and we can now add TBAD (Teacup Beginner Agility Dog) to his name. There are definitely some added challenges to a tighter course but the two pieces of equipment where the smaller size made a difference in time for us (as in faster!) were the weaves and the chute. For some reason the smaller barrel sped CB up and with the tighter weave spacing he could “bob” between the weaves instead of having to run around them. It was a great time and the folks were all really welcoming if not confused that we had come from Canada.

The last set of ribbons is actually from earlier in the summer. Because AAC nationals was in Leduc, Alberta this year I had a good number of friends going to Regionals this past June at Rivierre Qui Barre in hopes of qualify for Nationals. I ended up being talked into entering so CB and I went.

I had no goals other than to see what Regionals was about, to have fun with CB and cheer on my friends. CB’s class (6 inch specials) was small at 5 dogs and he was the only one in that class that is not competing at Masters level. In the end we left the weekend with a score of 279.82 points. Not enough to qualify for Nationals as you need 350 points to do that, but pretty respectable in my humble opinion for a first time handler and first agility dog.

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It also turns out we do better at Master’s Jumpers courses than we do at Starters. Who would have thought. Perhaps the tighter courses are more fun for him and me? It’s a curiosity.

Our first day was a little bit chaotic we had an OK Jumpers 1 with CB stopping to attack a spider in a tunnel but our Standard 1 was pretty good even if we spent too much time in the weaves. The second day was better, we had more speed and almost made standard course time for Jumpers 2; off by four seconds but good enough to get us a Fourth place finish out of 5 dogs and we also got a fourth place finish in Standard 2. If we could gamble we may have broken 300.

What thrills me most was to see the trial photos. CB is now extending over jumps. We’ve worked a lot on this and it’s just awesome to see the results. It’s definitely helped to improve our course times. Doesn’t he look like he’s having a ball in these pics from our Jumpers 2 run. He used to just hop over jumps; He is now in flight.

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CryBabyIn the end I’m so glad I went. I had a great time with CB and learned a few things too.

Catching up….

I just don’t know what happened to March. It flew by and was very busy. I attended an out of town show, have been training CB in agility and doing a lot of Pilates among other things things. Even though I’ve been busy CB and Kona have still been getting their walks in and we’ve finally had some nicer weather.
Here are some things that have kept us busy of the last couple of weeks in no specific order….

March has had mostly miserable weather but it finally has started to warm up and we’ve been able to get out for some of our longer walks. We also explored a couple new parks; Bowmont and Baker.

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As well as hitting our favorite place for walks – Edworthy Park. The ice formations are pretty awesome right now and make for some interesting photo ops.

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A couple weeks ago I went to a show in Camrose and we drove out from Calgary during treacherous road conditions. I went to help a friend show some poms and her friends chihuahua’s and also entered Kona in 1 Pre-Novice trial and 2 Rally Advanced runs to try and finish his Rally Advanced Title. I didn’t do so great in the conformation ring with the Chi but did better with my friends pom (Remmie) even though I didn’t get any points on him.

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This is my friend’s pom puppy Remmie. Pretty cute little guy.

Kona did well and got his first Q in Pre-Novice and got his 3rd leg in Rally Advanced for that Title and is now Firesprite’s Dark N Bold RA.  Woohoo! It was a little too close for comfort running between the rings and on the Saturday I ran from the Rally ring to the conformation ring with about 5 minutes to spare. Missed getting Kona’s Q ribbon from the judge (and third in class ribbon) as I left when right as we finished our run but I was able to pick it up after we were all done.

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I didn’t get a picture of Kona in the Rally ring but here he is on the grooming table getting a little touch up before his title photo with the judge.

Last weekend it was really nice and I found a Canine Good Neighbor test to take Kona too – he pass it easily. It was a lot less stressful for me doing the test with Kona than it was with CB last year, I guess my confidence has also improved over the last year.

CB and I have been spending our training time together focusing on agility. I’ve done 3 agility training seminars this month and one of them was with Kathy Keats. It was interesting to do her seminar with a faster dog this year. One of the skills she helped me with was pulling CB through threadles. His speed has picked up but we slow down when the handling is a little more complicated such as where I need to wrap him or bring him through a threadle.

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Kathy has such great insight and the time I got to spend with her was even more amazing than it was last year. I have a better idea of where I need to be to pull CB through a threadle quickly. It was so worth the time and Kathy and a couple other participants remarked how much quicker we were than last year.

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This weekend is going to be a little busy. My agility club is hosting a two day trial and it’s also the weekend of the Red Deer show. I love the Red Deer show, CB has usually done well there but the agility trial is my priority. He only needs one Rally Excellent Q for his title so I entered him in the Friday in Red Deer and then we’re in my club’s agility trial Saturday and Sunday. And I’m also helping in conformation and showing Remmie again. Fortunately the show schedule is working out much better than it did in Camrose as I’m in one ring in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

This weekend is probably going to be too much for CB though with how long we’ll be in Red Deer. I think it might be too much for me…. The weather is supposed to be crap too so the drive to Red Deer might not be that great. Oh and did I mention that I’ve been focusing on agility? When we’ve been practicing our Q ratio has been about 50% with Rally at this level. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes and I hope he (and me!) won’t be too tired on Saturday when we are in the barn.

Agility Demo Day

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The agility club I recently joined participated in the Okotoks Agricultural Society Winterfest and put on an agility demo for the society. It was a nice little event with some great demonstrations. The cutting horse demo was with a Bison. I’ve seen demonstrations with cattle before but for some reason I think the Bison was quicker than the cows I’ve seen.

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The local fire department was there as well and who doesn’t love meeting a fireman? Doesn’t CB look like he’s ready to drive the firetruck?

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The trick riding demonstration was incredible. This young girl is only 10 years old but she was awesome on her horse and did some pretty cool tricks. I have to say she was the star of the show, what a brave girl. The lighting was poor so it was hard to get a good picture without using flash and I didn’t want to spook her horse. I do kind of like the blurry picture because you can tell she’s riding fast.

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There were goats, bunnies and toy pigs for big and little kids to meet as well as pony rides. I found the toy pig really fascinating never having seen one before. The one pictured below is nearly full grown and weighs about 20 pounds even though he’s CB’s size. They can get quite a bit bigger at 60 pounds but this guy is going to stay little. CB wasn’t so sure what to think of the pig though.

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It turned out to be so much fun and the crowd loved watching the dogs. Some of our members have very experienced dogs that just wowed everyone with their speed and skill in the weave poles. But the crowd cheered the loudest for our more novice agility dogs like CB and hooped and hollered as he went along the course we set up.

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I was too busy to get many pictures of the demo but here’s a few of our dogs. We all had a great time and CB was really tired by the end of the day. Thanks so much to the Okotoks Agricultural Society for inviting us to participate. It was a blast.

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WOW!

FEB CAA 4

This past weekend CB and I attended the Calgary Agility Associations February Trial and this was our most successful trial to date and our first one of 2013. I entered CB in 7 events and we received Qualifying scores in 4 events; 2 Jumpers, 1 Gamblers and 1 Standard. What a difference a couple months of training makes.

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The Calgary Agility Association holds their indoor trials at the Al Azhar Shriners Fez Dome and I just love this location. The surface is hard packed sand which is much easier for CB to run fast on than the mixed shavings/dirt of other local arena’s. It’s also bright, the club is fabulous and runs a really fun trial.

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I went into the weekend with the goal of Qualifying in one round of something. CB has been running faster in practice but I didn’t expect how fast he’d be with courses that were a little more open. He was crazy fast. His last Jumpers run was just jumps and tunnels and he was more than 20 seconds under standard course time. I calculated his speed at 4.8 yards per second which is incredible for a toy dog, especially considering that his speed was just under 2 yards per second last year on a similar Jumpers course that was only jumps and tunnels. Shocking.

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How about that, CB faster than the GSD, almost as fast as the sheltie.

Places where we can still improve our times are the teeter, the chute and weaves. CB spends between 5 and 10 seconds in the chute and it’s our biggest time suck but with how he was running this weekend we were able to make up the time on the jumps and tunnels and managed to Q in Standard. I’m just so thrilled with how CB is doing and the best thing is that he is having a great time. There was also no sniffing at this trial and we were even tracking last weekend.

The most exciting thing that happened this weekend was not the Q’s. The Calgary Agility Association gives out a trophy to the Starters Team showing Oustanding Potential at their annual spring trial and the recipient was selected by the judge, Brenda Juskow and not the Club. The award is in honor of Rumba who was owned by Graham and Lahni Thompson. I’m just stunned to say that CB and I were selected as the recipient. I think being selected for this is the biggest indication of how much we have improved as a team.

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Our next trial is in two weeks. We’re heading up to Morinville Alberta for a CKC trial. It’s a three hour drive to get there and it’s with another great club – the Fort Saskatchewan Agility Association. The Sturgeon Agriplex has a similar sand surface to the Fez dome and our last trial there went quite well. It seems CB and I are just hitting our stride so I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Fort Saskatchewan Agility Trial

This past weekend we went up to Cardiff Alberta for the Fort Saskatchewan and Area Canine Association CKC Agility Trial. There is only one CKC agility trial in Calgary each year that to trial in CKC we have to travel. I like CKC agility trials and they’ve been a good venue for us since they are generally smaller trials and the Novice runs have been great for confidence building.

This trial was really well organized and my husband and I had a lot of fun. I had CB entered in a total of 4 Novice Standard runs and 3 Novice Jumpers with Weaves. On Saturday we did 2 jumpers with weaves in the morning and 2 standard in the afternoon. CB ran really well overall but he still has a little bit of FWPA – foreign weave pole aversion. We had a few bobbles here and there but otherwise he ran the quickest he has in a trial to date. We also got our third Q in Novice Standard, a clean run at 11 seconds over time, but a Q nonetheless. And CB has a new title – Agility Novice (AGN)- Yay CB!

Sunday we moved up to Intermediate Standard for two runs and did one Novice Jumpers run. My husband ran CB in his first Intermediate run of the day and there was some good speed but a refusal at the weaves. From there we went downhill. We had a lot of trouble with the weaves over the weekend and in Intermediate a fault on the weaves is an NQ. Both standard runs had 12 weaves and I’ve been seeing that a lot in trials lately, even at AAC starters level. We didn’t Q anything Sunday but it was still fun and I’m thrilled with not only how much improvement we’ve had but how much faster CB is running.

We still loose too much time in the weaves and I need to spend more time training with 12 poles. He does great on our 6 and the weaves where we train but he tends to sniff new poles the first time he sees them. We are also still too slow on the teeter but we have picked up a couple seconds on the chute now. The good thing with trialing is that it gives me a chance to really see where our gaps are and what I need to work on more. Our next opportunity for a CKC trial is in March back up in Cardiff – until then we’ll be working on those 12 pole weaves and entering a few AAC trials in the new year.

Agility Trial Results – pre-Halloweener

This past weekend CB and I attended one day of the Training Troop’s pre-Hallowener Agility trial. CB was entered in one Gamblers, two Standard and one Jumpers run – all Starters level. We didn’t Q but I had a great time and came home just zapped. The only thing I forgot was CB’s costume for the costume parade – but it was fun to see what other people brought for their dogs. Too bad I didn’t think to take pictures, there were some pretty creative costumes including one inspired by Duck Dynasty.

The trial was at Wet Creek Stables and was on a shaved dirt/sawdust surface so lots of smells. Our first run was Gamblers and it was an overall mess. CB plodded along and we only got 12 points but no matter, I’d rather warm him up on a run like that and I was not alone in having a distracted dog in the ring first thing in the morning.

Our second run was Standard. It started off great with some good speed and we were looking pretty good when CB got on the table. And that was just where we lost  momentum. From the table the next obstacle was 12 weave poles and we just didn’t have the speed so the entry was pokey and we spent way to much time there. I think the fact that the bigger dogs channel the “dirt” away from the weave base either distracts or confuses him as he has to hop over the weave bases when he goes through. In any case it’s different and something else to work on.

Our third run was also Standard. CB started off okay and I had his attention going from the table to the weaves (6 poles) but we lost time in a tunnel. Tunnels usually get him moving but lately he’s been a little weird with tunnels. Once I got him moving we picked up some speed and even though we ran over time again we finished to cheers, because who doesn’t like to see a pom run agility.

Our last run of the day was the most fun. It was Jumpers. CB plodded on the first half of the course but was in a near zoomie dash on the back half. I’m surprised he actually stayed on course because he’s usually uncontrollable at zoomie speed. He can really move when he wants to. Even though we didn’t Q it was a rush running the back half of the course. He did great and got faster the louder the crowd cheered him on.

Some tunnel practice after agility class.

Fortunately we both get better every time we trial. I’m less nervous and CB is less interested in the turf. It took some practice in the summer and he lost interest in grass. It’s going to take some work now but I’m sure he’ll lose interest in “dirt” too. It was really obvious we need to practice going from the table to weaves and other obstacles that slow him down like the chute. And we also need practice in non-ideal conditions like channeled dirt around the weave pole bases. Best thing about the trial was that some other handlers that have seen me around have invited me to join them when they practice at the stables. That will give me a chance to work on some of the things that we lost time on this weekend and hopefully we’ll be that much faster at the next trial.

Black & White Sunday – 3

This weeks photo for Black & White Sunday was taken outside Wet Creek Stables after a mini Agility Trial last month. CB was entered in a Starters Jumpers run; the run was clean but we were 2 seconds over time. Jumpers seems to be the hardest for us to Q but we’re slowly but surely getting there.

To see who else has been busy or to join check out You Did What With Your Wiener, My Life In Blog Years and, Dachshund Nola.

Distance Foundation Workshop

Looking back to where I was just 6 or 7 months ago with CB I feel we’ve come a long way. Both with my own confidence and handling skills and CB’s interest and motivation to do the obstacles. I think we’re in a good place for both of us being Novice and that I have a good plan to continue building on the pieces that we’ve already put into place. The one thing we haven’t worked on much is distance and aside for a little bit of a directed Tunnel exercise I did at the Kathy Keats seminar in March we’ve done very little as I really didn’t know what to start on and with some things I figure it’s better to wait than to have to undo something that I did just wrong. CB and I did get a successful closing gamble at the PNE trial in mid-July but the reason that was the case is because the closing gamble was nearly a straight line and I was able to work beside him at not too far a distance.

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So I jumped at the chance to do a distance foundation class when the opportunity arouse last week. I’ve done nearly all of my agility training with Shannen at Dignified Dogs and this was another really good seminar.

Shannen set up exercises to work on the foundations of an “Around” command, side switches, and send-outs using “Go”. We worked on these skills using a combination of pressure and rewards. Where I really need to pay attention is with rewards. I generally reward from my hand because CB tends to start sniffing looking for food if I reward him on the floor – and I think he associates rewards on the ground with tracking right now. But to get him to work away from me I need to reward away from me, which means rewarding him on the floor, if my timing is at all off he starts tracking and then is looking for food instead of paying attention to me. Shannen suggested that I needed to introduce a “Take it” command for distance rewards so he’s not wandering the floor looking for that treat and I can differentiate it from the rewards we use in tracking with our “Find It” command at the scent pad.

For the “Around” command we worked on doing circles around different obstacles starting with one obstacle (e.g. a pylon) and moving up to three different obstacles. CB did quite well at this and I was able to get a bit of distance from him as the exercise progressed. Body pressure worked effectively with this one.

What was harder was the “Switch” command — instead of changing direction CB initially wanted to do an “Around”. We did manage to get a couple of good switches in but I can see this will take a bit more work to get some distance with. I also need to work on my positioning so I’m sending him the right signals.

The last thing we worked on was a send-out over a series of jumps (I think there were 5) using “Go”. This was also pretty good although I had to run up beside him the first couple of times and then didn’t have to go as far the last run through. I do see that I will need to be really consistent in my positioning and especially with my rewards as I don’t want to confuse him or end up with him tracking the course looking for treats. All in all a great seminar and I’ve got a few more things I can work on at home to keep things interesting for both of us.

Week in Review – trials and seminars and classes

Looking back at the the past few weeks is quite a blur. Between my own personal stuff and dog stuff there has been little time for blogging. I’ve jammed in two trials, a seminar and I started competition obedience classes with Kona among other things. I also volunteered for the Southern Alberta Toy Dog Fanciers getting prizes for the specialty show that happened as part of the AKC summer show this past weekend as well as getting the performance specialty ribbons organized.

Just a sampling of the available prizes the Toy dog specialty

Two weekends ago CB and I were at the Paws N Effect Agility (PNE) trial – it was a good time and a good trial and but I was exhausted by being out in the heat and sun for two days. CB was hot too, as it showed in his times. There were some good runs even though they were slower than usual and he managed to get a closing gamble (that had a chute!) even though we haven’t done much for distance work and we didn’t have enough points to Q.

CB at the PNE trial – one pooched pup.

This weekend was the AKC summer show at Spuce Meadows. CB was entered in Agility both yesterday and today. My husband and I both ran him and dear hubby managed to get two Q’s with CB! Hurray!! Our second Q in Novice standard and our first Q in Novice jumpers with weaves. CB also won the Toy Dog Specialty ribbon for high score in Trial 1 (Regular class) yesterday. I didn’t expect we’d get this as there were toy dogs competing in higher classes and the ribbon was to go to Excellent first and then down the chain until it could be awarded. As it turns out CB was the only toy dog to Q so the ribbon is his. And it’s pretty.

CB and his pretty specialty ribbon. He is also modeling his brand new slip lead            no tinky dogs here!

A couple of things that have made a bit of a difference is that we dedicated a bit of time nearly every day the last two weeks to training outside in our yard, mostly weaves and jumps and it made a difference. I also ordered a bunch of new tug toys and and it was good to have new stuff with us as new things are always exciting and we’ve really worked at building up his drive over the last two weeks. I attended a jumps seminar just after the PNE trial and that made a difference, for me as well as I learned some things we probably should have been doing at the start.

The seminar was run by Shannen Jorgensen. This was great for us and it showed me how to get CB to extend more and we’ve also added more value to jumping. CB readily collects over jumps when I should want him to extend and that slows us down. We did a few exercises to increase “jump” value but what was the most useful exercise was the jump grid. I was first off surprised at his stride length and then at how he flew over the jumps. The grid is a series of five jumps set at his max stride length so he has to bound (extend) over each jump with no steps in between.

CB in extension during a jump grid exercise.

We spent the last two weeks alternating the jump grids with rewarding him for choosing to take jumps.  For the “jump reward” I set up with either one or two jumps (with two I’m in between) and then reward him for taking the jump (or both jumps) without my asking. We also set up small courses in our yard incorporating the weaves and worked at making it more fun and exciting for him and alternating working him with Kona which built up a bit more desire for CB to work and vice versa.

You could tell the weekend and heat was really wearing on him as he wasn’t interested in the chute today and his last jumpers/weaves run the weaves were a struggle. This heat level is quite unusual for us (>30 degrees yesterday and today!!) and if we enter summer trials again we’ll only do the mornings but I think we’re better off indoors and for trials before mid-June and after into September.

Kona was also entered at the AKC show but in Rally. I entered him in two Advanced trials for just yesterday and he was looking good in practice as the trial was approaching. So good and so focused before his turn that I thought we should have Q’d both runs unless something happened. Well distraction happened once we got into the ring. He was not at all focused as he was at Evelyn Kenny last month and I think how busy this trial was overwhelmed him. The barn was busy with two trials, lots of spectators, many other dogs and handlers, the barn was HOT and he was distracted by the Judge and wanted to visit. I did have a cool coat on him before we entered the ring and he seemed peppy but his energy level dropped as soon as I took it off. I should have asked someone if he could have warn his cool coat in the ring – it’s allowed in Obedience but I didn’t think he could for Rally.

Kona feeling the heat

As it is we’ve had few opportunities to practice with that much distraction and even though we didn’t qualify it was good for me to see what we need to work on. He’s such an outgoing little dog that I just didn’t think that he would have been this distracted with how he did in July. I should have just brought him along when I came to help with the Specialty show on Friday and just hung out with him in the Obedience ring a while so he could get accustomed to just how busy it was.

Lethbridge Agility Trial

On Saturday we drove south to Lethbridge for their agility trial. CB was entered in one Novice standard run and two Novice jumpers with weaves runs. We had some close runs but in the end came home with no Q’s.

Our first run was Standard. By the time Novice standard started the heat coming off the grass was already a little oppressive and I was a bit concerned with it  being too hot for CB. We were the first dog up, which can be tricky because with CB if you take too long to start you loose him. You have to get him in the ring and just go. With being first we ended up being called up to the ring and then waiting for the okay to go to the start line. Since food and toys are not allowed with in 10 feet of the ring our momentum quickly went away and our run was slow. He still did pretty well, but I confused him on a jump which caused a refusal – and our first NQ of the day.

Our Novice jumpers with weaves run was clean but again slow and we didn’t make standard course time. We were first up to the line and because of the heat I didn’t want to tire him out with too much play before we started, so CB wasn’t as motivated as he usually was. That was our second NQ of the day.

For agility trials I usually use little pieces of cheeseburger for motivation. For the second jumpers run we tried some buffalo heart. It seemed to do the job as CB was rev’d up after seeing this stuff. My husband ran him this time to get some trial  practice in before the AKC show. Timing was still tricky but he was able to keep CB engaged while waiting to start. CB started off really fast (so I think I can let my heat concerns go to rest) but the timer wasn’t ready so they had to go back to the start line. That’s essentially like giving CB a correction and it’s hard to get him back after that. The run went okay until they got to the weaves and he was then slow after that.

With being new to trials we are learning so much every time. I’m also now realizing that CB is slow with me when it’s warmer out because I’m stressed about it and I make him slow. I see after watching his last jumpers run that he’s totally fine and I can engage him, motivate him and not worry. I have been jazzing him up only to then make him calm down before we even get to the start. I don’t do the same thing when it’s cooler. Fortunately I’ll have a few more trials to figure out how not to be his buzz kill.

The trial itself was really well organized and went very fast. We were done just after noon, which gave us plenty of time to take CB and Kona down to the Oldman River for a some play and to cool off a little in the water before heading home.