Heading out for the 2017 AKC Nationals


I’m getting ready to head out for my 11th AKC Nationals, and it’s time to think about my goals for the event.  It’s a little bittersweet, because this will be Trip’s last one.  She has attended 10 times, which is just unbelievable to me.  I know I am so lucky to still be competing with a dog who will be 12 in a couple of weeks.  My goals for Trip are simple.  Enjoy every moment.  Stay connected, and don’t take anything for granted.  In the last few months her hearing has started to get worse, so I need to make sure I pick her up out of tunnels and stay in her line of sight.


Trek is still a baby, and this will already be her second AKC Nationals.  Last year she ran 3 clean and squeaked into the Finals, which I never EVER expected.  This year, I’m fighting those expectations.  If Trip taught me anything, it’s sometimes 3 clean isn’t enough.  Sometimes the last bar comes down in Hybrid to cost you a Finals spot.  Sometimes, your dog eats multiple bags of treats in the hotel room and gets horribly sick.  I can only focus on what *I* can do.  So, I will focus on one run at a time.  I will make the best handling choices for Trek, to shave every split second off that I can.  I will not be frantic.  I will work each obstacle.  And then we shall see.


Good luck and safe travels to everyone!  And don’t forget, if you’re not going, you can get the Livestream at home from 4 Legged Flix!

Posted in Agility Trialing by agilityvet. 2 Comments

Small Practice Sequences

I have recently been focused on getting Trek ready for World Team Tryouts, as well as the AKC National Championship.  I was contemplating the skills I wanted to work on, and this setup came to mind as a good small sequence for some of the skills I wanted to practice.


Specifically, I wanted to work on hard bypasses around the tunnel, variable tunnel exits, and sending to the tunnel and immediately taking off and trusting that commitment.  In looking at courses from AWC Judge Mirja Lapanja, I feel like these are skills that will serve us well.

I ended up using a 15′ tunnel instead of a 20′ tunnel seen in the diagram.  I think the tunnel length changes the challenges slightly — the 20′ obviously requires more running and sending, but I felt like the 15′ made me LEAVE faster.  Regardless, these are some interesting sequences you can set up in a fairly small space to work on some advanced skills.  You could also substitute the weave poles for the tunnel to create a different set of challenges.  I suspect I will revisit some variations of this setup over the next 6 weeks.

Some tips:

If your bypass cue is not as strong and you are struggling, move the obstacle you’re attempting to bypass further away to make it easier, and reward your dog for the bypass.  Then gradually move it closer.

Try handling the sequences multiple ways, even if you know one way is the fastest option.  For example, in the first set of exercises demonstrated, it is faster to approach the #3 jump from the outside.  However, handling with a wrap on the inside wing, while slower, requires your dog to do a difficult bypass of the tunnel, which was my ultimate goal.

Remember to use deceleration at the tunnel entrance when you are asking for a sharp turn out of the tunnel.  The dog must see this cue BEFORE they go in the tunnel for it to work.

And here is Trek running some of those sequences, as well as working through a couple of errors.

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Westminster JWW Sequences

At the 4th Westminster Agility Championship, I had the pleasure of running a wonderfully tricky and fun JWW course from UK Judge Paul Moore.  The opening sequence had several challenges, and allowed for multiple handling options.

The first challenge was the weave pole entry, and deciding which side of the weaves to handle from.  Having dog on right was clearly the best option, because of the location of the #3 wingless jump.  The most common way to do this was a front cross between 1 and 2 at the entrance of the weave poles.  The timing and position of this cross becomes critical — too late and your dog may enter at the incorrect pole.  Too early, and you may push your dog to the incorrect side of the poles.  And if you are in the wrong position, you may not give your dog room to enter the poles correctly, and force them to the wrong side.  The last is what happened when I ran Trek on this course in competition.

Alternatively, you could try crossing the end of the poles instead of the beginning.  I find this tricker, because of challenge #2 on this sequence, the off course tunnel immediately after the weaves.  If you are already handling the weaves with dog on left, then you ideally want to start to pull away or hang back from the end of the poles, so as not to drive them into the tunnel.  It is much more difficult to not accidentally indicate the off course tunnel with your body or motion if you are crossing the end of the poles.  If you choose to handle this way, you must start your cross when your dog still has 4-5 poles to go, and simply trust that your dog understand his weave training and will stay in the poles as you pull away.

To avoid the off course tunnel trap with Trek, I used a bypass cue (tapping my thigh), combined with my motion driving towards the correct obstacle, the #3 wingless jump.  This is a valuable tool that allows you to continue to move in the direction you want to go, while simultaneously telling your dog to avoid any obstacles they may see on the way.

Finally, you must avoid the off course jump between 3-4.  For dogs that do a lot of AKC, this looked very much like the typical pinwheel we see within courses.  You can indicate to your dog to not take this jump with deceleration on the takeoff side of #3, +/- another bypass cue between 3 and 4.  I elected to front cross on the landing side of 4 to drive my dog into the correct end of the #5 tunnel, but a threadle into the correct tunnel entrance is also possible there if you have difficulty making the front.

Here is Trek demoing some of these options

The other thing I really liked about this sequence is all the renumbering possibilities.  Here some other options to work on once you have this setup.


And here is Trek running some of those variations:


Posted in Agility Trialing by agilityvet. No Comments