Focus on Obstacle Discrimination and Weave Poles

As Mary Jane and I evaluated my performance at the last trial we decided to spend the time between trials focusing on obstacle discrimination (like a tunnel under an A-frame, where I have to tell Ruby which one to choose) and her weave pole entries and speed. Our trainer, Becky Saltwick, helped us out during class and private sessions and Ruby has responded in a big way. Watch the videos and tell me if you see Ruby really watching me and even looking for me while she’s in flight over a jump.


We spent Saturday in College Station at a NADAC trial. We ran 5 events and took home 4 qualifying runs including Ruby’s first Open Jumpers class Q. (1 First Place and 3 Second Place finishes!) We decided to add Weavers to the mix because of our focus on the event. All I can say of Ruby’s performance is WOW. Mary Jane captured all the runs, here are the best four. But first, a little more background on the sport.

Agility Organizations and Classes

When you first start competing in agility there is a staggering amount of information to understand. There are a number of sanctioned agility organizations and each group has it’s own set of rules. So far Ruby and I have been focused on NADAC and AKC, but there are many others popular in other parts of the US.

In general dogs are grouped by ability (Novice, Open, Excellent or Elite) and then by size (height class). Once your dog is officially measured that determines how high the jumps are. (Ruby jumps 20".) You start in Novice and after you “run clean” (no missed obstacles or dropped bars) and you are “under time” (each course has a Standard Course Time that you must beat) you are awarded a Qualifying Run (or “Q”). You can get a Q regardless of how you finish compared to the other dogs in your height class. This separates the Qualifying run (beat the course) from the place finish (beat the other dogs).

Generally, after you have 3 qualifying runs at one level, you move to the next. At our last trial Ruby received her 3rd Q for Novice Jumpers, so now we compete in Open Jumpers. After 3 Qs in Open Jumpers we’ll move up to Elite (yikes!)

Open Jumpers

This was a dream run. This is the first time Ruby and I have run in Open. Ruby followed my lead and looks beautiful. I finished feeling like we had “danced” beautifully!

Novice Tunnelers

This was our first run of the day. I used to consider this my “throw away” run. Ruby doesn’t!

Novice Weavers

Like I said, we have been working on Weaves. Mary Jane and I set up weave poles in the backyard and have both been rewarding Ruby for good fast weaves. We have found that Ruby is motivated by broccoli and cauliflower! Forget the salmon, Ruby weaves for broccoli! You’ll see her miss the entry for the last set of weaves, this was TOTALLY my fault. I crowded her and Ruby paid for it.

Novice Regular

This was our last run of the day. I was so worried about the first discrimination that I nearly flew in front of her, if you watch you’ll see her commit to the tunnel very early. What was I worried about? My next error happens at the weaves (again). I crowd Ruby and when I step to the right I pull her with me (she did what my body told her to do…).

What a DAY!

I am so proud of how well Ruby demonstrated what we’ve been working on. The next month will be reinforcing the current work and adding more distance so we can get better at events like Chances!

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