I met with Melanie for private lessons last Sunday to review things that I learned from Wendy and to also set goals for the next few months for both dogs.
Of immediate concern for Miles was that he refused the teeter at our trial last weekend. I still really don’t think it’s a teeter problem, but more of a confidence issue which is something that we’ve been dealing with for a very long time. He still appears to have no issues with the teeter in practice/run-throughs even when they are new teeters to him. Melanie asked me to make a list of things at trials that I know cause Miles some concern. So here it is:
1. Automatic “Go” and “Ready” buttons
2. Speaker/sound systems
3. Proximity of timer/scribe to the field and especially to the start line
4. Snooker flags
5. Large crowds of dogs and people
6. Tents and other flappy things like flags, sheets, tarps, etc.
7. Judge’s proximity to any contact obstacle that he is performing
8. Judge shouting points for Gamblers, Snooker, and FAST classes
9. Placement of the cameraman
10. Any loud sudden noises
Keeping this in mind, we worked on a course that she had set up. I was to walk it and then get him out of the car and go though our pre-run routine for trials before stepping to the line without any rewards on me. We didn’t have a “go” machine, but she said “go when ready” and then acted very judgely by running with us and coming very close to the contacts. Miles was definitely not his normal drivey dog that he is in practice. He was a little nervous on the a-frame and had a tiny hesitation at the teeter and the table. He also blew off his 2o/2o on the dogwalk and messed up his poles. As expected, his jump and tunnel performances were just fine. Wow, amazing that we were able to recreate some of his trial issues so easily!! So now the plan becomes trying to make him more comfortable to “things that happen at trials”. For sure I need to proof him against the cameraman as this has caused issues more than once in the past 😦
In keeping with this theory as well as his teeter refusal last weekend, I decided to sign him up last minute for a Standard CPE run up at Teamworks this Friday. I need to know whether his problem last weekend was trial stress plus new teeter or just one of the other. He’s been to Teamworks many times and really likes the trial site. We’ve also practiced on all of their teeters before without a hitch, so we’ll see. I decided to go up there last night for their Course of the Week (COW) just to be sure that I had a good baseline for successful teetering there. He of course did fabulously and barely even blinked at the teeter. I tried to make it as trial-like as possible by not bringhing anything in the ring with me and going through our pre-run routine. I wished I had someone to act judgely, but I didn’t know anyone and felt a little strange asking. We’ll see how he does tomorrow!
With Rue I was hoping to get some new ideas for things to work on now that she’s nearly 1yr old…holy smokes! Here’s what we’ve been doing:
1. Board (running contact training) – We’re up to three 2×4’s under her board and will continue to progress until I get her on a normal dogwalk. After that she should be able to learn the a-frame performance quickly. I did show her a full-height frame last week just for the height experience, but won’t do anything else until she has her dogwalk.
2. Teeter – She’s now flying up the teeter and letting me drop it from about parallel to the ground and is having a blast. We also continue to play the bang game on both ends to proof her for movement and noise.
3. Handling/Jumping – Her handling is going well around standards and I’ve done some low height one jump LM style activities with her. She’s showing nice form at 16″ so far. We also continue to work our “Recall to Heel” stuff as well as sending through tires, tunnels and chutes.
4. Table – She’s driving nicely on and off of a very low table, but I need to work on a fast drop into a down. She has nearly mastered “down while moving” meaning that she will lay down on command without me breaking my striding (both walking and jogging) which will help with independent table performances and possibly the teeter as well.
5. Weaves – I plan to start her 2×2 weave training in another month or so.
We have an appointment for her prelim OFA hip and elbow films tomorrow and so I will be able to tell if her growth plates are closed. She hasn’t grown in height in at least the last 5 months and is still measuring between 19 3/4 and 20 1/4 inches!
In our private, we discussed different games to play with her one jump as well as walk handling with the jumps at 16″. I will not do either of these more than twice per week. Certainly I will want to see what her growth plates are doing as well. Melanie also restrained her for a few reps on a different teeter.
Here are a few videos that I took on Tuesday evening showing walk handling with both dogs as well as a board session that shows the whole behavior not just the end of the board.