the sheltiechick blog

Natural Jumping Method – Week 6

In week 6, you add another oxer. The pattern is jump, jump, oxer, jump, oxer. Since I had the pattern as jump, jump, oxer, jump, jump during week 5, I simple added my second oxer to the end of the chute. Hopefully that means my pattern during week 5 was correct!

Hey, check it out! My new fencing is up!
Let me explain exactly what is occurring during day one – the jumps are secondary to the other lesson that is going on here. Earlier that day, I learned some bad news and ended up having an anxiety attack (in the middle of work, to boot!) I came home that evening practically in pieces, stressed out, not sure how to deal with the situation I’d been handed.
I didn’t think about this when we went out to do our jumps.
Auggie completely and totally picked up on me being an emotional mess, and did not want to disconnect and go jump out away from me. I had to make a change in my emotional state to get him to go ahead (it helped that it was pretty funny that he pulled off the jumps like that to come back to me…) Clothier has you do two sets of three jumps with a fifteen minute break in the middle, so after the first three jumps and out break, I basically had to pull myself together and knock it off, or it was going to affect my dog and his performance.
This video really shows something about the relationship we have with our dogs, and how they can pick up on things and it changes their demeanor, their performance. Imagine if this were at an agility trial and we were working on a full course instead of just through a jump chute… he would NOT have been a happy Auggie if I were trying to put any kind of distance between us!

I ran out of SD card space on day 3 again so another clip is missing. During day 2 and 3, we have what looks like a serious setback here, because Auggie’s back to stutterstepping – a LOT. But at this point in my working relationship with Auggie, I know what’s going on here: the rules have changed so he has to figure it out again, and when the rules change, Auggie decides it’s better to resort to stutterstepping. That’s how we got to this problem in the first place.
I’m running with him or constantly moving in just about all of these runs because I’m watching his footing really closely. If you watch the day 2 video, you can see how his jumping changes even within the one video, within six runs. It’s kind of impressive, but again, I’m really hoping this is just a part of the learning process rather than being something where he’s not going to actually have confidence when it actually comes to an agility course where all you have is one shot to get it right. This is only week 6, we still have lots to learn, so no sense worrying about it yet.

(Oh yeah, and check out all my newly striped jumps in the day 3 video! I spent all Saturday afternoon with several rolls of multi-coloured tape, striping my standards and jump bars.)

Week 7 is three oxers. Ai yi!

Naturally Jumping Method – Week 5

Week 5 is the first week with oxers. An oxer is as wide as it is tall – in Auggie’s case, since we are still using 10 inch jump heights, this means I have two 10 inch jumps that span 10 inches. The book doesn’t tell you where to put the first oxer, so I guessed and put it as the third jump. All of the jumps are still spaced 90 inches apart; in this instance, jump 2 is 90 inches to the first bar for jump 3, there’s the 10 inch spacing between jump 3’s bars, and then from the second bar of jump 3 to jump 4 it’s another 90 inches. For the oxer stage of the program, that 90 inch spacing will stay constant.

It’s a bit hard for him to nagivate that oxer at first. I started putting our broad jump/spread jump word to it (“big jump”) after the first crash into it and he did better after that. This might be cheating because it requires me to be there cueing him to adjust for a larger jump, so he’s not really learning to look at the jump and just adjust on his own. But it makes sense for agility to me – competitors I know all use a word like “big jump” or “go big” for spread jumps, doubles, and triples to cue the dog “There’s a longer than usual jump coming up – adjust!”
During the second day, he crashes into the oxer the first time, but on jumps 2-6 he doesn’t make the same mistake again.

I don’t have day 3 videos because I screwed up with the camera. As the video says, the day went pretty much the same as the other two videos here, though.

Target Training Update

I’ve been pretty busy with the Naturally Jumping program, but we have been playing with target training still! Auggie got the concept very quickly, and I started playing around with throwing the frisbee (his target) across the room or down the stairs and making him “go touch” away from me. Last week, we were able to put the target on a piece of contact equipment for the first time… the teeter, which (luckily) is Auggie’s best piece of contact equipment anyway! As long as he can slow down (which usually requires me to be paying attention and tell him “EASY” if he gets to excited) he does just fine. It went really well, except for a lot of hilarity involving him looking across the room at the target and trying to go touch it before he was told. *facepalm* At one point he was in a sit, looked over at the teeter, licked his lips, and took off through the sequence – leaving me standing at the start, because if he breaks his stay and goes ahead of me I just stand there until he comes back to me – until he got to the teeter. Which resulted in me standing at the start, and him standing on the teeter doing his touch, looking rather expectantly at me.

It will probably be a little while until I’m able to put the target on the a-frame, which is fine by me. I want to have plenty of time to get the touch behaviour reinforced before I have to put it on the one piece of equipment that gives us trouble. If the weather does a solid warm-up and stays that way, I can get the mini a-frame out in the backyard and start with that before we go out to his breeder’s house for practice on the real a-frame out there. I’m anxious, and yet not… I don’t want to rush it, but I want to get on with solving this problem at the same time.
We’ll see. So far, so good – that’s all I can say!

Naturally Jumping Method – Week 4

Week 4 went pretty good! Moving the jump heights up to 10 inches didn’t seem to throw Auggie off much at all, so I’m glad. All of the jumps are still set at 90 inches apart.

During day 1, I ran with him on all of the jumps. Every now and then he does knock a bar… but Clothier says not to worry about dropped bars. She says it is a natural part of the process of re-learning how to jump and that every time they knock a bar it helps them think stuff over. I’m not sure why I don’t have all 6 jumps recorded – I must have had another issue with my memory card.
Day 2 was REALLY windy – apologies for my camera wrist strap blowing into the shot during one jump! I was worried the wind might throw Auggie off a little, but he did fine.
For day three… there is a reason I only have five jumps shown here and it’s not a memory card problem. But I’ll talk about the video itself first! My mom was operating the camera and she made a few observations. Auggie still stutter-steps up to the very first jump before he gets into the rhythm of the last four jumps. The first jump is the bar he usually knocks, as well – probably because of the inefficient jumping.

I tried a few other things with these jumps, including sending him ahead (wasn’t sure if he’d do that, but he did!) and standing right at the end to call him through. Usually when I call him through I’m standing back several feet and sometimes even run backwards as he approaches to build up his drive, so that was a little different for him – but he’s pretty much unphased by it, which is great!
Another thing I’ve been noticing is that he hugs the standard pretty tight. Clothier wants the dogs to run and jump in the middle of the jump, but because Auggie has done agility training for so long he has learned how to hug the standards and try to make things a little more efficient when it comes to turning, crossing, and so on. When I run with him or am behind him, he always takes the last jump right over the middle because he’s in the process of turning to me – if I’m right ahead of him, he doesn’t make that change and stays to the side, hugging the standard. I’m not exactly sure if I should be concerned with this or not. My instinct is to not be worried about it…

NOW… why there are only five jumps shown in the third day. My mom was working the camera for me that day because it was raining – just a light drizzle, but still raining, so I asked her if she would come out and stand over the camera with an umbrella so my camera wouldn’t get wet.
Right before we did our sixth jump, it started POURING down rain. I’m standing there going “Oh holy crap – hurry Auggie, hurry, go through the jumps!” I’m flailing around with training treats in my hand, trying to get him back into the channel to run through the chute, and for a split second Auggie stands there, tries to blink the rain out of his eyes… gives me a Look, and proceeds to run back to the house – leaving me standing out in the pouring (did I mention it was COLD RAIN?!) rain, yelling “YOU GET BACK HERE YOU LITTLE BRAT AND DO THOSE JUMPS!!!”
Thus, there are only five jumps in the video… because Auggie was standing up on the deck wanting to go inside and refused to come out and jump one last time.

Here, have a picture of my dog, after I came in and toweled off my hair and had to change my clothes because I was soaked through.
soggy auggie
Look how proud he is of himself. Brat brat brat BRAT! He later asked to go outside, and when I opened the door and informed him it was still raining, he proceeded to go out in the still pouring rain and prance around going “La la la, I’m playing in the rain, la la la~” BRAAAAAAT!

Oh yeah – I bought a ton of PVC and spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon in the garage, listening to it thunderstorm outside and cutting pipes down. The two jumps at the beginning are my “Junior AKC” jumps from Toys R Us, and are now four feet wide, so they match the rest of my jumps (finally!) and I am now all set to add additional bar jumps to create an oxer for the coming weeks of the jumping series. I need to break out my coloured tape and start striping stuff again!
Sadly, it is quite cold again today. The beautiful spring weather has been replaced by… well, icky spring weather.

Blaze Comes To Play

How did I not post these? A few weeks ago, Blaze came over to play. Blaze belongs to Auggie’s breeder, and we “borrowed” him. It was FREEZING so we ran inside and outside over and over again – outside playplayplayplay inside so I can warm up outside playplayplayplay inside so I can warm up, repeat.

Blaze says “Oh hai. You’re the cookie lady. You have cookies in your pocket.”


Auggie’s favourite game of chase. These pictures are really hilarious, because Auggie was running at top speed, and Blaze was kind of just loping along behind, like “La la la I chaaaase yooooou~” and Auggie’s going “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG WHEEEEEEE!” the whole time.

Blaze is all SERIOUS BUSINESS and Auggie’s like “I LIEK TO PLAY BALL.”


Poking around the yard by himself. Auggie was off that way somewhere. *waves hand*

Blaze was gonna get the ball…

…but it tastes like Auggie-breath. Ewwww.

So Auggie has to carry the ball back to me.

Thinking about getting it again – BLEH TASTES LIKE THAT DOG.

Running with a ball or a toy in his mouth is rather Default Mode for Auggie anyway…

Having a blast.


More running around having a blast, Auggie still running around with the ball in his mouth because he’s a tennis-ball obsessed dork.

“Do you want the ball Blaze? You want the ball? YOU WANT THE BALL?” He says “OMG YES I WANT THE BALL *sproing sproing sproing*”

I GET THE BALL wait it still tastes like Auggie-breath.

Auggie is so darn happy to have another dog to play with it causes him to levitate.

They were both very interested in gobbling up snow.

Mmmm snows.


Naturally Jumping Method – Week 3

We’re into week 3 now, which leaves the jump heights the same, so we’re still at 8 inch jump heights.

He does VERY well the first day! Jump 5 is gorgeous! I’m starting to see real improvement. During day 2, I realized I forgot to put my memory card in, so I didn’t catch every jump we did. I also decided to try running with him to see what that did… I’m running funny because I’m in my snow boots and they aren’t exactly the best thing to run in, so it seemed to throw him off just slightly at the beginning. Then he kind of decided to ignore me and focus on the jump, and he did a lot better! During day 3, I started just running with him to watch his strides more than really running to run with him, so I’m getting a really good look at just how his strides are. Runs 5 and 6 are really great!

During Week 4, we will move the jump heights up. My jump cups for the two jumps I built (the final two you see in the chute) only go every two inches, so I’m going to have to move up to 10 inches instead of gradually moving to 9, then 10… I hope it’s not going to throw things off too much.
Next week is also the final week in our 8-week long agility classes, and I think I will stop for just a bit… give Auggie a few weeks to work on his jumping and nothing else. Once he starts to improve and the weather warms up, we’ll pick up again, probably going to private lessons back out at his breeder’s place! Gotta work on those contacts, too.