Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Not about training today but I've been to a recruitment agency this morning and was in there for 2 hours and had to do some tests on my data entry speed and excel experience. I, apparently, have a high level of speed and accuracy and I'm quite good at excel too and within an hour of leaving they phoned to say that they had arranged an interview for tomorrow. They like you to go to them for a pre interview interview which I think is more daunting than going straight to the booked one.

Training tonight so I will let you know what happens with both tomorrow.

Monday, 29 October 2007


Was able get Thomas on a training course on Saturday, with Nancy Hudson, for young dogs just starting to compete or starting in the near future and what a brilliant one it was too and I'm not just saying this as I know Nancy. I learnt loads, such as even though Thomas knows left and right he is actually more focused on my body language than I realised and that even though a good start line routine is essential you shouldn't always make your dog do it in training. Getting someone to hold your dog on the start and getting them really excited makes for a fast get away and teaches them how to power towards you for a recall start. We learnt which arm to use as our 'driving' arm and which to use as our 'stopper' one, it's not always the same one and depends which side your dog is, I did know this but I was pointing rather than using my whole hand.

I also learnt that Thomas can do snakes (or Flick Flacks) even though we haven't really done any so am wondering if he's been going somewhere for lessons without me!! He's still a bit unsure on the seesaw but when I left him alone to work out where the tip was he was very confident, me crossing behind his holds not fears for him and that I think I need to rethink my A frame strategy.

The course was 3 hours and he was focused for the whole time even though we were at a new place and the sand school was very tempting to dig holes in. I went home shattered but he was still up and about playing with Dudley until he suddenly fell asleep at 10 o'clock.

Was just re-reading what I've written and wanted to say that I'm not unhappy with what my instructors are teaching me as in fact they use very similar techniques it's just that it's great to go somewhere different and train with someone new as you sometimes see things from a different point of view when someone else tells you it.

I'm off to do some homework on running contacts and wish I weren't in the office today as I want to put what I learnt into practice.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

It's so nice to have a photogenic dog, I find it very hard to get a good shot of Dudley but Thomas just seems to pose beautifully.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Flight of fancy

I was looking at the diary for next year and noticed that Wallingford have split their show to have small/mediums one day and large the other. This year it was all mixed and if it hadn't been I wonder if I would have Thomas as I wouldn't have seen Leah until the Monday and would probably have talked myself out of it by then!!! I wouldn't have sat down with some certain large dog handlers and been persuaded what a gorgeous little dog he was (as if I needed that really) and he wouldn't have come home 'just overnight so he doesn't have to sleep at a show with stitches' (as if he would have worried about that)
Also Nancy would have one more wine glass as Dudley managed to break one!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Had some unsettling news on Friday, I'm being made redundant for the second time in 2 years. Apparently my job isn't really a full time one and the boss wants to make it only 15 hours a week which is a huge cut from 37.5 so as I'm unable to afford to carry on I'm on the move again.

The last two years have been really s****y as I lost my Mum at Christmas 2005 too. Let's hope things improve in 2008.

On the training front Tom had a whale of a time on Friday and made me feel much better. He was sniffing much less again and was even jumping wide if me which made my life much easier.

We went to WAG yesterday and the boys had a great time running around on the beach as only Suzi was competeing. She got a 5th in G1-5 agility against the big dogs but apparently 'look you bitch' isn't really an appropriate contact command!!!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Much more positive

Last night's session was much more positive with little sniffing and easily distracted when he did. I was going to try something suggested by Nancy which was to tie him up away from me so he was more focused on me when he was working but due to the way the course was set out and where we had to stand I couldn't do it last night but will definatly try this on Friday night.

He was really starting to look for the next obstacle last night and I've either got to get a wriggle on to beat him to things or really work and rely on distance control!!!

We were talking last night about how hard it is to train a completely beginner dog if you are a complete beginner yourself and I thought what a great idea a handling course would be with dogs that already do agility so you can get the basics under your belt before starting with your own dog. Everyone looked at me as if I was mad but I'm sure there would be some benefits to this, the only thing would be finding dogs that would work for other people and handlers prepared to let their dogs be handled by complete beginners.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Poor Thomas

After 7 months Dudley has decided, this week, that he wants to be top dog and take no nonsense from a young whipasnapper like Tom. The way he's doing this is that every time Tom is let out of his crate, either in the morning or after he's eaten, he has a go at him. Luckily it's all noise with Duds but Thomas has not been backing down and it's been turning into a major slanging match with me shouting 'OI' at both of them. I have been trying different ways of not letting the situation arise but Dudley has been adamant that Tom needs shouting at and will wait for several minutes after Tom has been let out to go in for the kill. I'm sure it will all settle down again but it's a bit stressful waiting for it to happen. Things were a bit better this morning as Thomas came out of the crate, not looking at Dudley and wandered off without any reaction for Duds at all. Can't quite believe that after 6 years Dudley is trying to be the big He man as I'm used to him being the Julian Clary member of the household!!!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Camber sands

First of all he ran and ran.....

Then he put Dudley in his place.........

Then he went for a paddle, thought he was being sucked under by quicksand and had to be rescued by me (who only had walking boots on so spent the rest of the walk squelching)

Then did some more running.....

before playing King of the Castle with Dudley on the dunes.

Took Tom and Suzi to Leah's fun show on Saturday, Tom went for the ring experience really and I just tried to use the whole thing as training. On the whole it wasn't a huge success but there were some really good bits. He did the dog walk fantasically and did some brillient waits but weaves were something a bit alien and sniffing the ground was much more interesting than me.

Here he is doing a lovely wait.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

On a real high last night after training. Wendy set up a small course of 9 obstacles including 2 tunnels and the weaves. The weaves were V'd and we did a straight line entry into them and one turning left into them over a jump. It wasn't a hard entry or anything and nothing more than all the dogs had done before but I was so pleased as he was ahead of me and I said 'left, go weave' and in he popped, shot through and over the finish jump. Wendy had left the start and finish open and closed the middle bit up nearly upright and he didn't even look as if he was going to pop out.

What a relief after Dudley and Suzi to get a dog that seems to love the weaves.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Not a lot to add today just thought you might like to see this picture of Thomas I took earlier in the summer, not very good but shows his whole body and you can see the cheeky look in his eye.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Took Dudley and Thomas out, for possibly the last after work walk in the woods until next Spring, and discovered that neither are particularly brave when it's getting dark! Thomas wouldn't leave my side and when Duds got left behind he came charging down the track, tail well under him looking over his shoulder panic written all over his face. Didn't know whether to laugh or run. I've always thought that Dudley was quite brave but between him and Thomas I think I'll have to get used to looking after myself.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Blimey he was full of it on Friday night and I noticed him starting to jump off the A frame so am having a rethink on how to train this as I think he's having trouble with the 2 on 2 off contact, he is fine on the dog walk so it may be he just can't stop comfortably on the steeper incline.

He's a sniffy dog too and there were some lovely smells in the school on Friday which kept distracting him, can see this becoming a problem, so kept losing him in places and then pulling him past jumps. I have to admit to getting frustrated with his sniffing and told him off which he couldn't have cared less about and I'm sure I saw him stick his fingers up at me as I was turning away.

We went to Stour Valley showground on Saturday to help set up and while they were sorting out the rosettes and trophies he sneaked in and stole one of the trophies luckily he didn't get far and there were no teeth marks in it but at least it shows he's keen to get some trophies!!

Talking of Stour Valley, what a great venue provided by Rob and Rita and the exercise area was enormous. Wendy and I competed in the pairs with Suzi and her collie Gem and we came 4th, I like pairs as it's normally fun and my partners don't mind if I cock up.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Woke up on Monday feeling really rough so have had a few days off and as I haven't got the internet at home (how old fashioned I hear you say) I haven't been able to update Thomas' blog this week but a lot has happened with his training and I've managed to drag myself off my sick bed to make sure he hasn't missed out.

Last Friday we were at ANJU and worked on contacts and going on over jumps which mainly he is very good at but is also very good at nipping behind me to do the stuff he likes and to avoid stuff he doesn't quite understand. Leah recommended a DVD to watch so I'm off later to Google and see if I can get a copy.

Wednesday night was Sevenoaks night and we did some more taregting over jumps and contacts, in my view you can't do enough of this as along with a good solid wait you really need for them to work ahead confidently and not keep looking back at you.

Yesterday I went for a private lesson with Yvonne Croxford at PACE (I'm not made of money honest I just enjoy my training) The instructors I have are brilliant and encourage me to go to different people so I can see what works for my dogs. Yvonne uses weave guides with upright weaves and I really think this method seems to be the best for Thomas as he was whizzing through faster than Dudley and nearly as fast as Suzi and the guides meant I could encourage him without the risk of him popping out if I was too enthusiastic.

Yvonne works to targets too so we have been just building on what we do at ANJU and SDDTS but one to one which I have really enjoyed even though I'm knackered at the end of the hour. One to one also gives me chance to work on our directional commands without thinking I'm taking up other peoples training time when I get it wrong, which is fairly frequently. To be honest I think Tom may work to my body language rather than what I'm actually saying at the moment but he does know left and right as it's something we do at home all the time.

We also did front crosses and snakes using left and right which he picked up very quickly too but I've found that when he get's tired he gets easily distracted and goes off to have a sniff, working outside at Yvonne's will hopefully help with this too as there is nothing worse than having a dog run with his nose constantly on the ground. Dudley does this sometimes but I think he uses it as avoidence rather than that he's found an interesting sniff.
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