Home > Agility, Agility foundation training > Getting ready for Sunday’s agility workshop

Getting ready for Sunday’s agility workshop

Next Sunday we will go again to Mallorytown to take part in a masters level agility workshop. I can’t wait! Janet is the instructor and she is amazing. A great dog trainer and a superb instructor. I have tried to get ready for this workshop by working on the skills she showed us at last month’s advanced level workshop, but this heat and Krypto’s delicate pads held us back a bit. We did practice, but we are not 100% were I would like us to be, yet.

Tight turns versus 180

One very useful exercise that Janet showed us is meant to help the dog understand when you will want him to tightly wrap around a jump, or when you want him to do a 180, when you have two jumps side by side. To make things tougher, when jumping the dog will have in its line a U shaped tunnel, each entry facing one of the two jumps. There are also four other jumps, two preceding each of the jumps facing the tunnel. Not sure I described this properly…oh well!

So, the first part of the exercise is simply to send the dog over the jumps to the tunnel and then come back over the jumps: Ja1-Ja2-Ja3-T-Jb3-Jb2-Jb1. No big deal really. But this is just to make sure he knows there is a tunnel over there. Then, you have to do Ja1-Ja2-Ja3-(180)-Jb3-Jb2-Jb1. Now, this is more complicated for us since Krypto LOVES his tunnels. And, then you have to do Ja1-Ja2-Ja3-wrap-Ja2-Ja1.

Not only that. You have to teach the dog a cue that will let him know ahead of time, thus before engaging Ja3, which type of turn do you want, so as to prepare for it and be more accurate, cleaner and faster. For the 180 I chose the cue “eight”. For the wrap around “check”.

Starting with only Ja3 and Jb3, we worked on the 180 and wrap around without any tunnel and any other jumps so that Krypto would learn the cues. I also used body language, but eventually I want to get rid of it to gain more independence at a distance. I must say that “eight” has been no big deal, and Krypto does not need much of my body supporting him, while “check” still requires it.

Then I added Ja2 and Jb2 and here the tough part begins. Krypto has to understand that he has to drive to Ja3 and Jb3 even if I say “eight” or “check” as he is landing Ja2 or Jb2. This is where we managed to get in a could of weeks, training very little since the heat is killing both of us…

I am thrilled with this routine. This is going to be such a help in running a course. And I am determined to get it to work. It is just a matter of my nailing the perfect timing to give Krypto his cue.

“Sharp” rear crosses

At the July workshop, Krypto and I failed all the rear crosses that did not look like the typical one, where you have two jumps one in front of the other and you can draw a perfect diagonal from, e.g., the right pole of the first jump to the left pole of the second jump.

So we have been working at rear crosses where I would need to use a sharper diagonal line. At the July workshop this would pull Krypto off the second jump of the sequence. Partly was due to my shoulder that was not pointing to the second jump.

As practice makes you perfect, we still need to work on this one, but I am quite happy with our results so far.

“Collection-Extension-collection” grid

This grid is based on the letter J from Nancy Gyes “Alphabet Drills”. It starts with three jumps, J1 to J2 is 6 feet, and J2 to J3 is 8 feet. The three jumps span a horizontal space of about 20 feet, so they are on a diagonal. Then J4 is right in front of J3, at a distance of 16 feet, and J5 is again in front of J4, and at 16 feet again. J5 is also the first jump of a pin-weel of four jumps. The pin-weel spans 30 feet horizontally, and the inner poles (in the pin-weel)  of the four jumps are all at a distance of 2.5 feet. All the jumps are at 10 inches. When built, the grid looks like a J. All these distances have been perfected for Krypto.

Krypto has a very powerful extension, but he has some issues in collecting. I think this is typical of Border Collies and I need to keep this in mind when planning my training session. This is a great grid because if involves first collection, then extension, and then collection and bend work.

One very important tip that we got from Janet is that, to help the dog, it is important to place him correctly at the start line of this grid. So, since the grid starts with “collection”, the dog has to be placed close to the first jump. If it had started with extension, the dog would have had to be placed far from the first jump. This holds true for every situation, not just for this grid.

So far, I have been very bad and I haven’t practiced this grid one single time. I hope to work on it this week, weather permitting.


Are we ready for the workshop? I think so! Or we will be! Now I am crossing my fingers for cooler weather and no rain!

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