Training update 6/21/09

Lots has been going on here, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to update.   So here’s the last week or so in summary 🙂

Miles:

Still pretty much on an agility break aside from weekly classes and some brief training here and there.  We have a trial coming up in 2 weeks at the same site as where the AKC Nationals were held this year.  Although the Nationals were run on dirt, we will be running on astro turf.  Neither of us has ever run on turf before….do I need special shoes?  Guess I’ll find out!  The cool thing is that I’m picking up my new dog walk at this show, yay!

My major goals right now with him are:

1.  Increasing overall speed – he’s getting much more comfortable and is automatically running faster but I still see him adding extra strides often and I need to continue to work on my handling so that he’s confident where we’re going all the time.  I also need to trust him more so I can get further down the line to better show him where to go.

2.  Increasing weave pole speed – we lose a lot of time here.  Miles has never single-stepped despite several different training methods.  I am restarting Joe Canova’s program using channel weaves with him this summer and then I may experiment with a Weave-a-Matic.  I have the little arm things to make a WAM, but never used them.  I’ve also shortened the poles to wither height in an attempt to get his head lower.  I videoed our first session this morning starting at about 6″.  He’s such a goof 🙂

3.  Table – lately he’s been stressing here at trials.  In reality, he’s really only just started having to do a table in trials as we’ve just been entering Standard classes since April.  It started at the trial in W-S in the beginning of May when he had to “down” on the table and was very stressed due to other things that led up to the table.  Since then he’s even been having problems with a “sit”.  My instructor suggested that I start having him do a couple of tricks on the table that he can do without me touching him (ie. spin, wave, speak, etc.).  I will start trying this in practice to see if we can add fun and more value to this obstacle.  I may also start feeding him his dinner for doing different positions on the table.

Rue:

I think the little miss is going through some adolescent times right now, hehe.  I’m seeing some issues arise that haven’t been problems for a while now…leaving me in class, sniffing and eating grass, running away from me in the middle of a session at home, etc.  Guess I need to batton down the hatches a bit for her again and be a little more structured with her everyday life.  Wendy Pape gave me a really great handout when she was up here  on “Building a Working Relationship” which is not unlike Susan Garrett’s Ruff Love program, but maybe not as strict.  The handout really is great, unfortunately I cannot post it here, but it has some good ideas in it on how to create a relationship with your dog that’s built of respect and fun.  It’s a 6 month program and I have to decide if I am ready/willing to do it as it’s “all or nothing”. 

In Rue’s defense, there has been a lot of weird wildlife stuff going on in our neighborhood and backyard.  It all started with our run-in with a pack of coyotes a few weeks ago at our regular hiking spot.  However, lately we’ve had everything from a fox that killed a neighborhood cat behind our house, to a week-long battle between hawks and crows in our backyard.  Rue also got to chase a bunny in our front yard when she got out of her collar last week and the folks in a couple of houses down just got 4 Guinea Hens that are roaming into everyone’s property.  So to say that she’s been distracted may have something to do with all of this!

Anyway, here’s what we’re working on as well as our goals:

1.  Board/running contacts – we took the week off since I was trying to figure out the best way to raise it up again.  I decided to just add longer pieces of pvc to the stand and hope that it was still sturdy enough.  So yesterday I cut some longer pieces and ended up raising the board 8″ so we’re now at 32″ yeah!!  It still needs to go up another 16″ before it’s regulation which hopefully I can used this stand to get it up another 8″ and then transition to my new dog walk.  The other option once she’s comfortable at this height is to force myself, despite all of my triathlon training, to get out to PBH several times and use a lowered dog walk, like 40″, for several sessions and then transition to my full-height dog walk.  We used the new height this morning for the first time.  She’s been working for her breakfast for the past month and often her dinner as well.  As is typical, she is slow and calculating the first few reps at a new height and then gets her rhythm and starts rippin’ 🙂

2.  Weaves – we’ve gone through all the steps of Mary Ellen Barry’s twist on 2×2’s and she is now able to do 6 straight poles at any entry angle.  I videoed her last session where we got the 6 poles and worked on adding handler movement.  Her footwork is not good and she seems to be watching me when I’m walking next to her despite me throwing her reward.  So I’ve decided that this is a good time for her to start Joe Canova’s program as well.  We started at 6″ with her this morning as well.  Please excuse my butt being right in the camera for the first few reps!  It’s a great video because you can see her figure it out.  At first she was trying to do the poles like they were 2×2’s and was thrown off.  I had to start by straddling the poles really close to her, but quickly progressed to doing the full recall plus some work on the sides.  Miles had done this program before and he’s just more seasoned in general, so her progress is going to be much slower than his if you watch them back to back.  The first video is her last session of 2×2’s followed by her first session with channel weaves.

3.  Teeter – she’s now doing it unassisted as of Thursday!  I’ve been decreasing the amount of time I was holding the board until I was pretty much not holding it at all, but just waiting until I felt her weight on the board so I knew it was time.  I would like to see her driving more to the end, but that may come with more experience.  She’s certainly not bothered by it at all!  I will continue to work on this in different sequences.

4.  Handling – doing great, but really need to work on speed and driving ahead of me.  Melanie thinks that she thinks she’s not supposed to go past me which very well may be the case.  I think it’s probably a combination of that plus lack of confidence in her job.  I don’t think she’s totally sure what she’s supposed to be doing with the jumps yet…and maybe that’s because I’ve never been totally sure what I’m doing starting with the cones many moons ago.  One thing’s for sure, she *loves* to turn and to wrap those standards really tightly!  That’s definitely a product of her foundation work with the cones.  What I think I need to do is to start rewarding her for going straight and driving ahead.  I stopped using a toy in practice with her because it seemed I was losing her more often that way.  She was drivier with a toy, but more thoughful with food.  I think I need to reintroduce toys into our handling training.  My plan is to start setting up some jump grids and work on getting her to extend more and go straight ahead to either a food container or a thrown toy.  I’m also going to incorporate some of the exercises I did in a “speed ’em up” class that I did with Miles last summer.  The great news is, I’m assisting that class next session so I’ll be able to have first hand knowledge of what to do, yay!  Also, Rue has “graduated” out of her foundation class, “Focus and Motivation Stations” and will be taking a handling course with just jumps and tunnels next session.  She’s going to be 1yr old on Monday, wow!

That’s it for now……

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