Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ticket's Ultimatum

Last week I gave Ticket an ultimatum … she has until the end of the year to start showing some contact behavior control IN the trial ring, otherwise she will be withdrawn from all agility classes next year, and only run jumping classes. Over the past few weeks we have worked very hard on our contact training, ensuring that I clearly reinforced the exact contact behavior that I wanted from her, adding unusual distractions and not allowing any “grey-areas” on either side of that criterion. With Ticket, the slightest slip up on my part, in not being absolutely precise, creates an opportunity that she will most certainly take advantage of!

Last Sunday we trialled at the Agility Club of WA’s Agility, Jumping & Games trial (Ticket pictured above) … we had four runs that included contact obstacles, two of them being Games where I could, if I wanted to, legally do the contacts numerous times in the ring. Our first run was Open Agility and we managed to fault on the weave poles, only the third obstacle, so the run became a “training run” and Ticket did the most awesome contacts, holding both A-Frame and Dog Walk contacts until I released her! We pretty much destroyed the rest of the course and I’m sure the judge thought I was crazy as I jackpotted Ticket at the end of the run! Wow, finally a light at the other end of the tunnel …

Our next run was Snooker … she did a lovely dog walk contact but jumped off the A-Frame. I stopped instantly, picked her up and carted her off the car for a quite minute so she could think about what she had just done.

Novice Agility was her third run and, oh boy, what a ride!!! She nailed both contacts (above) and blitzed the course time, Qualifying and claiming first place easily! Although as a handler, I was a little naughty, I did release her off the contacts very quickly, not holding her there for a millisecond each time in order to reinforce her control … we had one more run in Novice Gamblers to resurrect this.

As you set your own course in Gamblers I picked a circuit where we could do all the contacts twice. At one point I actually took her back and asked her to get back on the A-Frame contact in order to reinforce the “wait” at the bottom … and we still managed to Qualify and take 4th Place!

All in all we ended up with 1st Place in Novice Agility and 4th Place in Novice Gamblers … and time will tell if we can keep this mission on track.

Credit: above photo's by Tim Abidin (

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