Daisy Peel seminar

Last week I was at Jenny Damm’s training facility where Daisy Peel from USA was instructing a Running Contact and Handling seminar. I had signed Sookie up for the handling part and Vini for the running contact part. There were participants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France and Japan! How cool to meet other agility freaks from all around the world 🙂

Running Contact

Daisy uses a Manners Minder (MM) when teaching the dogs running contacts. I didn’t introduce Vini to the MM prior to the seminar as I thought it would be impossible to get Vini to find the MM attractive – Vini is not very interested in food wherefore I thought it would be very difficult to get the right level of value and drive for the MM.

I had instead used the Cannonball (a device that ejects a ball via a remote control) but lately Vini has become too excited when she hears the ball ejecting – so I’m not sure she even gets to think about her behaviour that instigate the ball to eject. I didn’t bring the Cannonball to this seminar for this reason and I didn’t want the other dogs to get too excited about the ejecting ball as well.

I was therefore using a toy. Vini knows the non-reward remark I use when she doesn’t meet the criteria and is to try again. So when she doesn’t meet the criteria I say the word but she may get her toy but then I don’t play with her. Daisy didn’t believe that this was a strong enough differentiator for meeting the criteria or not wherefore she recommended me to use the MM.

I borrowed a MM in the evening and I had one of my brilliant moments – yeah, it doesn’t happen that often 😉 I got the idea to use Sookie to get Vini interested in the MM – Vini is how every little sibling is; if Sookie has a toy, Vini wants it; if Sookie has a bone, Vini takes it; if Sookie is getting petted, Vini comes between 😉

I managed to get Vini interested in the MM by letting Sookie get the treat when Vini didn’t show interest in it. Now Vini was pulling to get to the MM before Sookie 😀

When doing the exercises Vini was running to the MM but if she didn’t meet the criteria (either not hitting the end of the carpet or plank or she was leaping) she didn’t get rewarded. She was looking at the MM waiting for the treat to come out. She clearly didn’t understand why she wasn’t rewarded so when sending her over the carpet/plank again she hesitated to run to the MM. And that’s when I had my other brilliant moment (can’t believe it happened twice within two days ;-)) – I brought Sookie along. Whenever Vini hesitated running to the MM I sent Sookie to it. Thereafter Vini was determined to run to the MM again 😀

I’m impressed so quickly Vini grasped the idea of what was expected from her. And change of scene did not cause any set back – she is really great at generalising behaviour!! I was honestly very surprised to see dogs not being able to recognise the exercise due to moving the carpet/plank and the handlers had to start all over again 😮

We started working on turns and that Vini also did great. She had at the end of the seminar learned a lot – she’s so amazing 😀

Prior to the seminar I would have said it was impossible to add so much value to the MM when you have a dog that is not interested in food. But with Sookie’s assistance I managed to add value for it 😉 Seeing how Vini started thinking about what the criteria was and trying harder to meet them when using a MM I will now start using a MM and when she knows the criteria better I will probably swap back to the toy again. And eventually the Cannonball 😉

It was educative to see how other dogs were learning and how you could shape them to improve. I got to learn much more about Running Contacts!

Vini training Running Dogwalk

Vini training Running Dogwalk


When watching videos from US equipages running agility you notice their courses are quite different from (North) European courses – for instance are threadles not allowed on a course. The courses are more open and it seems like the obstacles have a longer distance between them – therefore you will see very speedy dogs and often the handlers are handling their dogs from a greater distance.

I do not have a handling system but get inspired by almost all handlers’ way of handling their dogs. In a situation one way of handling would be better but if speed or angle is slightly different another way of handling would be more appropriate. That’s why I like to be acquainted with all possible ways of handling even though I have my preferences.

It was very obvious that Sookie is not used to run courses where there is a greater distance between the obstacles and it was like she was constantly probing the course and she kind of looked near-sighted 😉 It was like she was thinking “it must be this obstacle then” even though my handling didn’t support what she anticipated was the right obstacle. It was also more challenging for me as I couldn’t predict her speed or where she would be landing – and also, I had to run like crazy! Sookie is quite good at the “sending” and she commits to take the obstacle even though I’m moving in another direction.

The courses were fun and challenging. I was actually surprised how great Sookie was doing – not her fault she is stuck with me 😉

I realised there is a great difference from how we start our dogs up and how Daisy is doing it – Daisy has more focus on flatwork and learning the dog how to extend and collect when jumping. Although Sookie is not new to agility I got many new tips on how to improve her collection over the jumps. 

All in all a very instructive seminar 😀