Agility Mini Camp July 30th

June 9, 2010

I’ve added a mini camp to be held the Friday before my summer agility camp, on July 30th.

Presenters will be:

Trisha Stall and Melinda Schneider – agility handling
Tracy Sklenar – “Sniffaholics Anonymous”, agility trouble shooting and building drive/enthusiasm
Lisa Norris – Canine Water Sports, working with your dog around and swimming in water and the basics of this new sport/activity

Go to for more details and the registration form.


AgileDogs 2010 Camp

April 27, 2010
I wanted to give you a heads up that there are still a few openings in this year’s camp, to be held July 31-August 1 at Sugar Bush Farm, so if you plan on attending this year you should get your registration form in soon.
This year’s instructors are:
Ray Wheeler
Elise Paffrath
Tracy Sklenar
Dr. Lisa Wiggins, DVM
In addition, we’ll have some special presenters on topics such as chiropractic, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
For this year we’ll be adding a pre-camp day on Friday, July 30th.  We’re still working on this additional day’s schedule and presenters, but it’s an optional day, separate from camp, and will include agility and some other offerings (one thing we’re working on is a tricks/games workshop!).
Go to to read the bios for this year’s presenters and download the registration form.
Email me if you have any questions.

Power Your Paws Seminar!

June 11, 2009

Oh, wow…  I had a blast on Monday doing the “Power Your Paws” seminar for filming by Agility Vision in Sandgate, VT.  What a lovely facility!  I was nervous; thank goodness it wasn’t presented live, so that they can edit out my pauses to look at my notes, and the times people were walking the courses and sequences.

I’m not a public speaker by nature; the first time I taught an agility class 10 years ago I was so scared I could hardly talk.  But I got through it, and realized the students were getting a lot out of my classes and hardly noticed I was nervous.  Then, by the time I started presenting seminars and hosting agility trials (try talking to 100+ people at once!), I was more used to public speaking.

But, speaking before a camera for all posterity brings a whole new level of nervousness out, or at least it did in me.  It also did for the 7 people taking the seminar (we kept the size small for filming purposes), as witnessed by their first course run.  After that run, we all loosened up and got to business. 

It was 6 hours of fun, lots of motivation and getting every bit of speed and fun out of each team.  I just found out the video will be available for purchase in a week or so (they’re working fast!), and they’ve just completed the trailer.  You’ve gotta see it – here’s the link:

Let me know what you think after you’ve purchased and watched it, I’d love to hear your comments.


Small Dog Handling seminar

February 18, 2009

I wanted to put up the 2 layouts from last weekend’s small dog handling and motivation seminar in Stephentown.  This seminar went really well – my intent was to start wtih a “big dog” layout, and have everyone run a couple of short courses based on that layout, then do the same with a TDAA-sized layout.

We refined handling and worked on things using the big dog layout, because, as you’ll see  below, the TDAA layout had very similar elements of handling in it.  This way, once everyone figured out the  best way to handle the big dog challenges, they “just” had to adjust for the quicker reaction times needed for the same handling in tighter spacing.

                                                                                                                                                          On the circled sequence on the first course, for example, there’s a right turn after the first 3 jumps, with a tunnel staring at the dog if the handler isn’t careful.  So, we worked on timely turn signals for the dog on this sequence.  Look at the small dog version of this: on the circled numbers course, after #4 there’s a right turn with a tunnel in sight, this time not 17′ away but 10′ away.  In working through the timing of the first sequence, the second became much easier; a combination of pulling to the right (moving laterally away from the dog), plus slowing down and starting to turn to the right, the dogs turned nicely.
                                                                                                                                                       And, on the same course, the turn to the tunnel under the A-frame without taking either the first tunnel entrance or not turning at all and taking the next straight ahead jump again required lateral handling and deceleration.
                                                                                                                                                          On the squared numbered big dog course, there was a tricky serpentine section in the back which followed a pull to the right end of tunnel #6.  First, the pull to the right end of the tunnel was accomplished by laterally moving to the right while still running ahead confidently towards the correct tunnel entrance.  After that, the handler could either stay on the back end and handle using push-pull moves, or do a front cross after jump #7, giving the dog a tight line (almost a straight line) over the #8 and #9 jumps. 
                                                                                                                                                      Now, look at the small dog version of this section (boxed numbers) – very tricky indeed!  I ended up running Raini, a Boston Terrier; we worked on fast dog techniques in this section and I needed to demonstrate that a front cross after the #4 jump was not the only way to handle it.  This alternate handling choice was to pull laterally sharply to the right as soon as the dog was committed to jump #4, then send on to #5 and cross behind.  The tricky part here was, of course, the tight spacing, but what ended up being the biggest issue was the timing of the rear cross at #5.  Too late and the dog never was directed at jump #5; too early and the dog pulled off of the jump.  Look at my lovely color pictures of handler and dog.                      
At blue – very sharp lateral pull to the right, handler almost runs into jump #8 (teacup equipment is close together, sometimes almost a tripping hazard!).
At red – handler has hung back enough so she has room to push forward and to the left to signal a smooth rear cross, is giving a jump signal to dog in front of her body and almost is not moving at all, is preparing to cross behind.
At green – handler has just crossed behind, is running for the tunnel and is giving signal now with right hand.
It looks so simple on paper, but those that were there know that it was indeed a superior level TDAA challenge!
In conclusion – the seminar went great, I think everyone learned a lot and hopefully will use crisp handling both on big dog and small dog courses; even though we all know that small dog handlers can “get away” with sloppy handling on big dog courses, isn’t it better to give your dog the clearest handling possible?  In addition to turning in a faster course time, it’s more motivating for the dog to get timely commands from the handler.

February 14th – busy day!

February 15, 2009

Yes, my birthday was yesterday, February 14th.  And yes, I was doing dog agility all day.  First was the CDAFG (Capital District Agility Fun Group) in the morning, which I was the host for this week, at Sugar Bush Farm in Stephentown.  Then, I hosted a Small Dog Handling and Motivation seminar in the afternoon.

Thanks to Dottie for bringing the cake (and oh, you guys just had to sing, didn’t you???).  Thanks to everyone for making the day fun and memorable.

For those that don’t know what CDAFG is, it’s a local, informal group, 5 clubs participate and hold matches every few weeks at a different location.  It’s mainly for dogs to get used to  the trial atmosphere, to work in different places and on different equipment.    It’s also for people to get together and enjoy agility.  We do a standard run and game each time, and the game is always different.  Also, the courses are posted ahead of time so the people can think about the courses (gasp, even set them up and practice them if they want!) beforehand.

Here’s this past weekend’s 2 courses:



As you can see, the hearts game was really fun to run!  I did well on both courses with Jart – on Std, he went off course at #3 to the right end of the tunnel even though I hung back and turned to pull him left more quickly.  BTW, this was the most frequent off course on this course.  I wish I had just asked for the right end of this tunnel in retrospect, but oh well, it was good training for folks!  He also went off course while doing the serpentine, at #13.  I was getting him around that section fine (and yes, it was fun to watch handlers doing this part well!) but my timing on sending him to #13 was just a bit off and he went past the jump and into the left end of the tunnel.  But, no sniffies (he often does that at Sugar Bush, that dirt floor you know) and he was fast, i.e. not nervous.  In the game he aced it – I did the 5 point (A line) bonus and the left heart-half course first; I probably could’ve gotten the 10 point bonus if my momentum and excitement wouldn’t have carried me over the first line.  On the second heart-half course, the right one, I got the 10 point bonus for sending him from behind the B line.  Many people did really well on this, it was fun to watch.