Since I started trialing Rue, it was suggested that I not do too much agility training during the week in order to keep it fresh for her. On one hand I definitely agree that she needs to be mentally rested, however on the other hand Rue (and Miles) LOVE their agility training time with me. Literally every time I walk by the back door, Rue comes flying over, ears perked, tail wagging, eyes widened, just waiting for me to say the magic words…..”you wanna go do it?”.
In any case, before her first two trials I did very little agility training and spent more time working on a new trick – jump up and put your front paws on my extended arm and drop your head under my arm between your paws….I think I’ll call it “monkey”. However this week I felt I needed to do a little more of actual agility training. She had been starting to hesitate a bit on the teeter in training (stopping at the pivot and letting it tip versus driving more to the end) and in class leading up to last weekend’s trial where she actually refused it…twice in the same run. I really don’t think she has any fear of the teeter at all, I believe she was avoiding it because of conflict and decreased confidence with the criteria. Rue is not a soft dog, but she wants so badly to be right that she will avoid things including me if she’s unsure. And for certain if she thinks she made a mistake??? Forget it, I have lost her.
So my focus this week has been to build back her confidence regarding the teeter and her job. She has gotten LOTS of cookies for the teeter this week and has been jackpotted for the times that she drives farther to the end. I will probably need to go back to the bang game at some point, but I’ve had limited time to do everything.
On the other hand, I’ve done only a few reps on the dogwalk and they’ve all been brilliant performances including at home, at PBH, and in class so I’m not going to do any more of that. I think her lack of speed and crummy striding this past weekend again was due to conflict and decreased confidence, but since I’m not able to reproduce the issue at home (as opposed to what had been happening with the teeter) I’m leaving it alone and am assuming that it will resolve itself with more trial exposure. It’s interesting that her first trial dogwalk was really speedy, but these last two on a familiar dogwalk weren’t so hot. Further, she missed her contact at the DKC trial (got a toenail in it that the judge saw I guess), but had great hits this past weekend. I’m wondering if she could have possibly realized that she didn’t meet criteria at DKC and wanted to be extra sure that she was correct this time? Hmmm…interesting idea, however doubtful. Only time will tell.
Lastly, I set up a jump grid this morning to work on extending her stride. I have no idea if this will make a hill of beans difference in how she’ll run this weekend, but it was worth a shot. I did a lot of work with grids over the Summer and at that time she was really giving me nice striding around the course and appropriately choosing to bounce jump frequently. Since I stopped working grids and have been doing more challenging sequences she’s been adding more strides. Again this could all be confidence related, but if there is any correlation to the grids then I wanted to at least expose them to her again.
Her performance in class last night was really impressive. She was perfect and confident on all of her contacts and the table. She had decent weaves, but those may need some remediation work as well with a slightly open channel to build back speed and better striding. All in all, though she did great. We had three stations with 2-3 dogs at each all working simultaneously. She did not once look at what another dog was doing and she happily tugged her leash with me in between exercises 🙂
I’m looking forward to this weekend! She’s only entered one day, but I moved her up to Open Standard and she’ll also try FAST for the first time. More data collection for me, yeah!