Dog Agility: December Trial

by Melissa R. on December 31, 2009

Mocca going through the tunnel

Mocca going through the tunnel

Another weekend of agility has come & gone and here’s what I learned this time around:

1. SLOW DOWN! Mocca knows this command well, but only if I actually use it at the right time! We had a great start on our first course, and were running FAST and smooth….until she came tearing out of a tunnel at full force (dogs loooooooooovvvee tunnels!) and we were supposed to then hit a set of weave poles. Well, she blasted right past those weaves and I had to bring her back twice to get her started properly. Had I gotten out a SLOW command at the right time I think we would have done fine.

2. Front crosses really ARE important! A front cross is this fancy move where you spin in front of your dog while they are running – essentially crossing “in front” of them. By doing so you stop them from going to a potential trap jump, and can then direct them where you really want them to go. It is also helpful when you need to get to the opposite side of your dog you are on. I am eternally daunted by front crosses as I am not very coordinated, or fast enough to get in front of Mocca most of the time. There were several key front crosses we hit well, and several we didn’t. The ones I forced in made our course much better, but the misses messed us up badly!

3. I really need to find a way to get some of Mocca’s energy burnt off before our first run. She’s so wound up when we get in the ring the first time that she throws me off and I get flustered. She winds up doing a lot of spinning & barking at me to “get it right!” LOL…She has a good time anyway, but if I could get some of that energy burnt off I think we’d be in better shape. She always listens to me better on our second run.

4. Just have fun! The courses this time seemed especially difficult, and instead of stressing out over them, I  just looked at them as a good challenge! I even threw caution to the wind and started out with long lead-outs and took some other chances where I could. I figure the only way we’ll get faster and better is if I really push us and that’s the only way how. If it doesn’t work this time, oh well…maybe next time!

In the end, we didn’t Qualify in either of our classes. That’s OK though. The courses, though hard, were really fun to run and watch everybody else run. I think it’s going to take us awhile to really get our legs in the Excellent level so I am just taking it easy and having a good time with my dog.

Thanks to the Irish Setter Club of Wisconsin & Camp Bandy for putting on a great show!

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About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

brittany January 7, 2010 at 8:13 am

Maybe you could try UKI for steam-blowing runs?

I remember when I was trialing with my dog that no matter how much I walked her, ran her, or crated her before her run, she was still crazy and it all just seemed to amp her up more! (It was probably me, wasn’t it?)

Melissa January 7, 2010 at 11:04 am

What is UKI?

You’re probably right – it’s probably just me(and you!) LOL…the nerves. I am always more calmed down on our 2nd run…as is Mocca. 1 + 1 = 2!!!

brittany January 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

It’s a new organization from England- it REALLY looks like a lot of fun!!! (oops, I guess it’s UKAI)

*sigh* I knew it was me. *SIIIGH* but what to do with a big newfy-mutt who wants to PLAY! play? play, play, PLAY!!!

…oh, the looks we got. lol

brittany January 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Unless you’re Susan Garret. Then you START with two…

Melissa January 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Thanks Brittany! What do you know, I saw something about UKI yesterday (or whatever!) after I read your post and asked. There is a trial here in WI but it is when I am already competing AKC otherwise I’d go. I hope more come around, we dont have a lot of options in our area. It does look like fun!

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