Last weekend, Juno, Oliver, and I travelled to Innisfil for what will likely be our last agility trial of the summer due to our upcoming move from Ontario to British Columbia. It was also our first outdoor trial and in a new location so I had lowered expectations. I knew better than to enter Oliver in a trial on grass. He gets the zooms about 50% of the time at indoor venues. I’d expect 100% for outdoors. Juno earned a Q in advanced jumpers so she has very quickly moved up to the masters level. I wouldn’t be surprised if she achieves her Masters Jumpers title before her Advanced Games or even Advanced Agility Dog titles. She has great focus when running a course where she can just go go go. I learned some valuable lessons for outdoor trials and, generally, what we need to work on before we get back into competition in the fall.
I also got some great photos!
Additional Items to Bring to an Outdoor Trial
- Reflective blankets/tarps to keep the crates cool. A really generous person at the trial let me borrow her extra blanket. Even with the extreme heat and direct sun, the dogs’ water stayed cool until the end of the day while under one of these blankets. Some people even tarp their car with them and can crate in their cars (always use caution, however, and keep an eye on the heat – the temperature inside a vehicle can skyrocket within minutes).
- More water! I always bring a couple bottles of water to a trial even though most venues have running water. With the heat, you don’t want to risk it. You might also need some to dump on the dogs to help cool them down.
- Cooling blankets or beds for the dogs. Juno and Oliver are pretty good at keeping cool, even after an agility run, but many dogs seem very hot and tuckered out. I haven’t used any specific brands of cooling blankets or beds, but you might want to consider one (I’ll make sure to post about it when I get a good one).
Primary Training Goals for the Summer
- Juno’s focus and confidence (she gets distracted out of nervousness) is an ongoing work in progress. I think we just need to keep practicing in different environments and with different equipment.
- Left and right directionals and contact obstacles with me at a distance. These are different skills but they are becoming increasingly important for us to proceed through higher levels. I have been hesitant to do distance work on contacts with Juno because of her leg (broken three years ago – now she’s my bionic dog with a plate and seven screws in her front left leg). I didn’t want to risk her jumping off an obstacle from too much of a height. I think we are at a point where I will have to start giving her more space.
Do you bring anything else to an outdoor trial that I didn’t discuss? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to also provide any tips for training contacts at a distance!