Miles’ training update for 4/14/09

Boy I’ve been slack.  So much has been going on that I just haven’t been able to put it all down in one place.  Lately Miles and I have been working on teeter generalization, improving overall confidence in trials and other similarly chaotic environments, and crating in public places. 

It has come to my attention that the latter is of upmost importance in the short-term as we have several trials coming up and the weather is not getting any cooler here in NC!  Miles was crate trained as a puppy, but around 10-12 months of age he started showing a great degree of anxiety in the crate even at home.   It was at that point that we felt he was old enough to sleep on a dog bed instead of the crate and that he was reliable enough at home to no longer require his crate.  Little did I know that I was doing his future a great disservice as I had no clue that I’d one day be competing with this (or any) dog.   So over the past few months I’ve gotten him more comfortable crating at home while I work Rue with his crate both indoors and out.  I also have crated him at PBH when I’ve gone out there alone to work the dogs and he’s done pretty well, but I never went farther than this and certainly haven’t tried crating him at a trial. 

The other compounding factor is that he is VERY stressed at indoor venues.  This became evident at Christmas time when I took him to an indoor run-through up in NY while visiting my family.  I posted about it back then with a video that showed him being very shut down, not unlike how he used to be at outdoor trials.  I worked on this by taking him to a different indoor facility in NY for some solo practice time and later for run-throughs and he was much more comfortable.  Later in January we had our first local indoor trial which went pretty well, but he was definitely stressed and not running at his top speed at all.  So I need to continue to acclimate him to indoor facilities and add to that crating him in indoor facilities…wish me luck!  Tonight I’m going down to a local indoor site for a drop in class with my friend and instructor, Melanie.  It should be fun and a good learning experience for us.  It will also be very interesting to see what he thinks of the teeter here.  Will update on that tomorrow.

Here’s my crate training/indoor venue acclimation plan:

– Get to indoor facilities for drop ins at least twice before the first indoor trial to reacclimate him to agility indoors
– Use a crate and/or xpen in class on Thursdays…maybe start slowly with this by bringing it out after class and putting him in it while I sit and watch part of the 8pm class and slowly get him used to me leaving him in it for short periods of time.  Although he has crated for me out at PBH during privates, so I may not have to go this slow with the crate there.
– Consider crating him/xpenning him during Rue’s class once he’s more comfortable with crating during his class (since he won’t get out of his crate during her class that won’t be a good starting point) 
– Use crate/xpen in other situations, not just agility related.  ie. outside in our backyard while we play badminton, etc., outside at our co-op while we eat dinner, outside of a dog park while I play with Rue, maybe even beside the lake before and after swimming, etc. (any other ideas here would be appreciated).
– Play crate games at home and at class

So far, I’ve crated him during his agility class last Thursday with great success.  He was happy to go in and happy to come out.  I also played Melanie’s version of crate games and got him driving hard in and out of his crate and laying down in it while I threw him treats.  We worked on recalls to heel from the crate too…he thought this was awesome fun!  He also stayed in his crate while I ran Melanie’s dog, Regan, twice.  He was a little agitated when he heard me playing with her and scratched at the crate some, but settled fairly quickly.  I will continue to use his crate in class from here on out.

Last Wednesday evening I headed up to Teamworks (a local trial site) with Melanie for their course of the week (like a run-through).  He’s been to this site before and loves it because of the doggie swim pond.  However, he’s never been on the teeters there and one of them is notoriously scary.  I was determined to have him be successful on that teeter as well as the other two at the site.  The course they had set up in the sand ring was a Masters Standard course, but honestly it was pretty easy.  Miles was freaking on FIRE.  Neither Melanie nor I have ever seen him moving so fast and well before.  It was so cool to run him this way.  He had zero issue with the teeter in that ring (not the scary one) and was hitting all kind of weave entries and allowing me to pull off the poles…so fun!  I took Miles for a swim in between runs and I also got to run Regan, Melanie’s older BC.  How fun was that!  I then took Miles over to the other ring where they allow independent obstacle practice.  He had no issue with the teeter there and it was definitely scarier than the first one, but still not *the* scary teeter.  Finally I found the other teeter off to the side of the sand ring and asked if I could use it.  He was so brave and didn’t miss a beat even when I could see the teeter vibrating under him as it slammed to the ground and it was SO LOUD.  Yay Miles!!  Unfortunately, there are dangers to running so fast in the sand after swimming and poor Miles ended up burning some of his pads up.  He’s finally back to normal after a week! 

Oh and here’s a little video of Miles doing the teeter with a Snooker flag in various positions.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my tripod and the chair I was resting the camera on was not tall enough, so the top of the flag is cut off on the video.  He’s so silly…a little tentative at first, but then just ripping over the thing 🙂


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