Weekend training update

We were traveling this weekend, but I managed to get in some good training time before we left on Saturday and then had a private lesson with both dogs when I returned yesterday so all was not lost.

On Saturday morning, I worked both pups on our channel weaves with a 1″ gap.  I cut my poles down to 20″ and decided to try leaving their food reward at the end of the poles instead of carrying it.  It seems both dogs’ heads were still too high, so this was an attempt to focus the head downward.  I also tried a quick session using a ball for Miles.  He seemed a little more frenetic when it came to the ball session and I think his head was even higher than normal…silly boy!  Both dogs looked better using the food reward “target”.  Rue was so cute when she realized she had messed up…she actually started to take herself back to the beginning before I even gestured for her to go back.  I was afraid she’d try to go eat the reward anyway, but she was very good about correcting herself 🙂

I also had time to raise her board to 38″ and do a quick session.  Once again, she was 100%!!  I can’t get her to mess up!  I need to start teaching her turns and/or fading the food target next…just need to pick which one to tackle first.  No video for this session because we were in a rush to pack up and leave town.

Last night I met Melanie for a 1.5 hour private with both dogs.  For Rue I wanted to talk about transitioning her to a real dogwalk as well as what to work on next with her board (turns vs fading the lure).  I also wanted help on rear crosses and ways to increase speed/drive in our handling.  With Miles, my goals were to try different ideas for his weaves (ie. food target vs rolling ball with the channels as well as possibly restraining him by the collar to build drive and using his rear to push through the poles).  I also wanted to brainstorm ideas about his table stress and help with discriminations.  Much to my delight we got to each and every topic!

I’m proud to announce that Rue did her first real dog walk at full height and absolutely smoked it!  There were a lot of things that were different for her….slats, height, distance running on the board, a flat board on top instead of just my little “skinny aframe” contraption…but she was a trooper.  We started with Melanie restraining her half way down the downramp and me running with her to the target and then back chained her to the top of the down ramp and then did the whole thing.  Each rep was faster with better striding and lower hits.  I think we did about 4 or 5 full reps and called it a night.  Both of us were in complete shock that she handled it with such grace and ease.  I’m going out to PBH to practice with a friend on Tuesday, so I’ll be able to get it on video then!

We then worked on Miles’ weaves with different methods.  It’s at 1″ that he starts to want to hop instead of single step so that’s where I’ll stay for a while.  We had him chase his ball with and without handler movement and it seemed that he was able to single step for 2/3 of 12 poles if I ran alongside of him with the ball in my hand on the ground and then rolled it when he was at about pole 9 or 10.  We also used the ball as a stationary lure after 6 poles at 1″ and had him pull me through them while I held his collar.  He didn’t want to pull too hard because I think he thought he was being naughty.  I plan to use a harness for this at home, but had forgotten to bring it to the lesson.  I think he’ll feel better about pulling in his harness than he does in his collar.  Either way, we got some good forward drive with that experiment!  I’m psyched!

Next for Rue, we set up a big figure 8 and worked on rear crosses.  She was great with rears to the right, but didn’t read them well to the left which could be either a weak side for her or for me.  We will work twice more turns to the left than to the right, but I was excited to see her catching on to the idea.  We then worked on the “race ya to the toy” game that Wendy Pape uses.  The point is to show the dog that he/she has “permission” to drive ahead and that it pays well to drive ahead.  So we’ll play this at home and hopefully that will help with her moving out ahead in our handling.

We finished the night working on tunnel/a-frame and tunnel/tunnel discriminations.  Basically, Miles tunes out my motion when it comes to discriminations and tends to go for the contact obstacle regardless.  So I came home with some new ideas on how to handle these and also to reward the tunnel with higher value rewards than the contact obstacle for a while.  We also talked about his table issues at trials and she gave me a couple thoughts that I will try out at the trial this weekend and see what happens before we make any major decisions.

Yay for a great night!

Off to Concord for 3 days of AKC on Wednesday 😀

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