Dogwalk and handling revisited 8/19/09

I think I’ve figured out at least part of the issues we were having in class last week.  Rue seems to be conflicted if there are dogs nearby or if someone is standing close or behind her while she’s working.  Since that class, I haven’t seen any issues with our handling and her speed except for a minor glimmer last night when our instructor was standing behind her at the startline.  She still performed really well, but there was a brief moment reminiscent of last week there. 

It’s also interesting that she is happy to tug and work with me for the tug at home in the grassy area of our yard, but if I bring her into the agility area tugging is too much pressure.  Weird, huh?  I can literally be tugging with her outside, then go into the area and lose her and then go back out and reingage her.  Guess I’m going to have to ping pong that and see if I can get her motivated to tug inside the agility area.  I think it’s quite helpful actually that I can reproduce her tugging stress at home as this can only help us elsewhere!  It also may not have anything to do with that area, but maybe more with what we’ve done in there in the past or what I’m about to do.  For example, perhaps I’ve inadvertantly put too much pressure on her in the ring by asking for things that she was unsure of whereas outside of the ring we’ve done more simple things (ie. jump grids, jump/tunnel sequences, board work, beginning channel weaves, etc.).  Inside the ring I’ve probably asked for either more sequencing, longer sequencing, or tougher training (ie. teeter, dogwalk, weave sequences, etc.).  Further, she *never* leaves me when working outside of that area, but inside she’ll frequently go off and eat weeds or do some other kind of displacement behavior.  My plan is to make easier training plans for use inside the ring and see if I can eventually work up to using toys.  In the meantime, I will try to make some more difficult exercise outside of the ring and see if she maintains her tug drive there.  It’s not that I *need* her to tug, but I do think it’s a really good guage on how confident she’s feeling and in the end, tugging really does excite her more than food 🙂

Here’s us working on a sequence over the weekend in the grassy area of our yard.  You can see how excited and drivey she is with the tug toy.

Alternatively, here we are working on weaves in a simple sequence using food inside the ring.  You can see her displace to weed eating in the beginning until she gained confidence.

Last night in class we did some sequences based off of one of this year’s EO Jumpers courses. 

I’m really digging the international style and both of my dogs really seem to like it too.  Good news is I get to run the actual course tonight in Miles’ Masters class 🙂  Anyway, Rue was amazing!  If I could have videoed it I’d say she looked like she did in the first video above.  Confident, fast, extended, and happy.  I did not have a chance to work on toy play during class last night as there were very few students so there wasn’t much down time.  I am hosting our club’s run-throughs this Friday so I will get a chance to play with her then and also run both dogs on the course.  Hopefully I can convince someone to tape us!

On the flip side, the running contacts stuff is frustrating me.  I went back to a food lure with a macaroni tunnel start and put tape at the 30″ mark.  She was PERFECT!  Nice and low hits every single time. 

So I tried the tunnel dogwalk tunnel game and it started to fall apart again.  Leaping from high in the contact or missing it all together.  Granted I did put a jump in between one of the tunnels and the dogwalk and it was at a slight angle…maybe 30 degrees.  Interestingly, her hits with the turn and jump were way better than the hits on the tunnel only end.  Even if I tried to really cue extension and tell her “go tunnel” while on the middle plank, she was leaping off of the down ramp 😦  I also tried taking the tunnel away and putting another turn in at that end, but that didn’t work either.  So back to the food lure I went and gradually her hits improved.  Sigh.  We have a private lesson on Friday before the run-throughs and it will be totally devoted to the dogwalk.  I think I really need a good systematic approach to this thing…what to change first, etc.  Thankfully, when I go back to the food lure, she’s able to easily get back to her nice hits so I know all the training didn’t just go away, but just gets muddied when I try to change something.

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