Baby Weaves

February 2001 Dear friends,

News bulletin for the agility addicted and their long-suffering mentors: Yesterday in our back yard, Ms Cayenne Pepper graduated to twelve in-line weave poles, moving up from a six one-inch staggered and six in-line channel weave setting. She shoots through in-line accurately with speed. Her entrances need work—she can run by the entrance and then not know how to get in. We'll work on that, using some of the ideas Kirstin Cole gave me. But yesterday afternoon, she did the twelve poles perfectly about eight times, four from each end. Then she was able to take a jump at a forty-five-degree angle after the weave pole exit and keep driving without any problem. Treats all around!

Cayenne weaving at a Bay Team agility trial in 2003. Courtesy of Tien Tran Photography.

I also had her jump (sixteen-inch practice height), turn forty-five degrees and enter correctly into the right side of the poles, weave twelve poles, turn ninety degrees to a box-and-inclined-plywood sheet that I used for target/touch practice, stop correctly (two feet on, two feet off), and then get treated. She did it!

We have the elementary right and left commands now, and I am looking forward to seeing if they are functional on some serpentines outside our backyard. Her swing and around commands are working well, and she will do sequenced obstacles when I am up to about ten to twelve feet away from her, driving her from behind. (She, of course, is hardly being driven; but the notion feeds my sense of having something to do out there! She's racing!) Sometimes she will do the weave poles as a send-away (one-inch offset in channel weave setup), and she's gotten reliable at send-aways into the tunnel (until she ate the child play tunnel last week) or over one or two jumps (not three unless I bait a touch plate at the end of the sequence). We haven't done any real obstacle discrimination work.

Her very mouthy "herding" pestering of other dogs at the dog park is a sight to see. Folks at the park regard her as a kind of playground director. Trouble is, she's getting too committed to this project! We need to get her to obey call-offs better when she gets too pesky and in-the-face of other dogs, especially retrievers trying to do their job. She provoked another young Aussie into a fight yesterday that we had to break up. We'll start putting her on leash and going to another area of the park if she disobeys settle-down commands and keeps bothering other dogs. Sound right? Other ideas for controlling this nuisance behavior? There's a fine line here between play that all the dogs like and Ms Cayenne fomenting a riot.

Roland is interesting to watch in relation to Cayenne's park behavior. He monitors the goings-on from some distance, not letting the youngsters interfere with his collecting more human members for his growing park fan club, who might be prevailed upon for a tasty treat or due adulation. But when the goings-on among the chasing and playing dogs get rowdy, he switches from his people-focused "aren't I the softest dog you've ever seen?" friend-and-treat scavenging mode into an all "alpha dog who was a wolf only yesterday" (coat hair partially lofted, hacked-off tail raised as high as he can get it, head up, eyes bright, muscles shining through, and a fast, prancing gait), whose only concern is other canines. Looking about six inches taller than he is, he runs between the rowdy dogs, not infrequently hip-bumping the dog Cayenne is playing with out of the way. He can stop rowdy behavior cold and split dogs off from each other like a champion shedding sheep. (He can also join in and become part of the bumptious scene, but not in the same way as Cayenne, because he doesn't have the utterly hard-wired, in-your-face need to bark, chase, head off, turn, and nip until the other dog morphs into the tough cow Cayenne [aka daughter of Slash V] always knew s/he was underneath the dog-park disguise.)

Weaving in line, Donna

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