Retraining…

Continuing on from my last post, we’ve had a few hiccups.  We’re still in our “retrain” phase, but between Rue’s heat, Miles hurting his back, and then me hurting my back, it’s been interesting.  Miles’ injury was thankfully very short lived, but both dogs had to miss a USDAA trial at the end of October.  My back injury started not long after he got better and is still ongoing.  Through chiro, massage, yoga, and not running I’ve managed to get it a bit better but still not at all where I’d like to be.  Very depressing really.  Running has always been my “therapy”, so trying to exist without it has been difficult.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to still work with the dogs to some degree and Rue has been to 3 trials.  Miles has been to one.

Right now Rue thinks she’s pregnant….she has very pronounced false pregnancies and the hormones really affect her.  During these 63 days, keeping her attention and her interest in training/running with me is really put to the test.  This is the best she’s done with it so far, but she’s definitely not at her best.  We’ve been continuing to train our Silvia Trkman foundations and she can now do multi-wraps with the bar at 10″ pretty successfully.  We’ve also spent time going back to open weave pole channels and play chase the toy through.  The weaves are probably her least favorite obstacle and we lose a lot of time on course depending on when the weaves occur.  If they’re early on, she’s painfully slow.  If they’re at the end, I can count on a fairly fast performance.  So I’m trying to retrain these and make it all about powering through them to get to the toy.  We started with 12″ wide channels and are now at 9″.  Working on entries as well as driving ahead even if I’m not moving.  Miles and I are pretty much still concentrating on his up contacts.  We’ve had 11 sessions and I don’t think he’s getting it, so I have some new ideas to try.

Which brings us to the last two weekends.  Rue was entered one day at Teamworks for AKC on 11/13.  This is an outdoor venue and definitely NOT her favorite place to trial because there are so many distractions both visually and olfactory.  She actually ran pretty well though.  Had a bar in JWW, but ran great other than a bit of a trot out of a tunnel in Standard to get 4th place and 20pts.  Then Rue and I traveled to one of her favorite indoor venues in Concord, NC on 11/17. Again, due to her false preggo she’s not running even close to 100%.  She had a pretty speedy Standard run at 4.3yps but popped the last pole.  Her JWW started slow, but ended very very well for a Q and 9pts.  Geez if she could only run that speed all the way through…she’d be incredible!  On Saturday and Sunday (11/19-20) we were entered in a USDAA trial at the site where we used to train.  Rue ran fairly well and picked up a PSJ Q with a 2nd place in Rounds 1 and 2 to her brother.  She missed her DW contact in PGP because I failed to give her any information about a turn and she left the DW high.  She also ran Masters Pairs with a friend of mine and her BC.  Rue ran really well in her half, but we got an E when our partner found the poles a bit too soon 🙂  Her 3rd run on Sunday was Masters Snooker.  She gave me trotting off the line and for more than 3 obstacles, so we left the course without a party.  Yes it was 75 degrees out and yes, it was her 5th run of the weekend and yes she had trialed the previous Sunday and Thursday and yes she thinks she’s pregnant.  HOWEVER, she had just given me a LOT more in her other runs that day, so I had to make it clear to her that trotting does not end in any sort of party/food/play/etc.  I haven’t had to do this in nearly a year, but it’s been an effective reminder in the past so I used it.  She doesn’t show again until December 17th which will be indoor USDAA.  I pulled her from several classes that I had originally entered her in because I realize that this is a tough time for her.  Her “puppies” are due sometime between Christmas and New Years, so hopefully it will be all out of her system soon!!

Here’s her highlights from these last few shows:

And then there was Miles.  I did not enter him in either of the AKC shows that I brought Rue to.  He doesn’t need any AKC Qs for anything until the qualifying period for 2013 Nationals starts on December 1st.  And since we’re in our “retrain” period, I thought that wasting $$ on AKC would be silly.  We do need USDAA Tourney Q’s, however, so Miles also ran last weekend.  He was entered in 4 classes on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.  He picked up a PSJ leg with a 1st Place finish in both rounds.  He also took 1st in PIII Standard and 2nd in PIII Snooker.  He was an off course away from a PGP leg, a PIII Jumpers leg, and another PIII Std leg.  Oh and we missed the Gamble in PIII Gamblers.  Overall, I was super pleased with our weekend.  I had no focus on qualifying, but simply used these runs as “training”.  When there were handling options, I chose the ones that would be hardest for us.  We did a lot of rear crosses, haha.  It was also cool to see his dogwalks.  He only missed one up-contact all weekend, which was sweet!  I still think I need to figure out a better way of helping him to understand what the criteria is, but it was nice to see that he can hit it 😉

Miles is also off until our 3-days of USDAA in mid-December.  This trial was supposed to be the first in our 2nd phase of gearing up towards Nationals and to be used as a test of what we’ve trained.  However, due to above mentioned injuries and the Thanksgiving holiday we’ve not gotten to where I thought we’d be with his understanding of the up-contacts.  I’ll still use this trial as a “test” trial, but also realize that I cannot test his ups quite yet….

Deep Thoughts….

As some of you may know, Miles, Rue and I recently competed at Cynosport World Games last month in Louisville, KY.  This was Miles’ second trip and Rue’s first.  It was overall a great trip.  Rue blew me away with how well she handled the pressures of a REALLY big show.  She brought her a-game to each and every run and was rewarded with making it into PGP Semifinals.  She also had very solid team runs.  I couldn’t have been more proud of her!  Miles’ time at the games was a bit disappointing.  He missed his up-contact on the DW in PGP Quarters, had an off-course tunnel in PSJ Quarters and then he and his teammate both tanked in Snooker.  Don’t get me wrong we had some GREAT runs, but it made me rethink some things for him.  Of course, keeping it all in perspective as compared to last year he was super confident and VERY fast.  Can’t complain about that!!

Here are the videos:

Since we returned from the games, I and both dogs have been in a period of rest and recharge.  I figure there were 24 weeks between USDAA Nationals and AKC Nationals which makes for a very convenient  separation of three 8-week periods.  The first 8 weeks are planned for rest, reflection, rebuilding and retraining which is where we are right now.  The number one item on Miles’ list for retraining is to attempt to teach him to hit the up-contact.  That one thing alone has cost us more USDAA runs than any other issue.  I decided to try using a board on the ground and reward him for hitting the “up” similar to how I started training Rue’s running dogwalk with a plank on the ground.  We’ve had 5 sessions thus far:

Rue is on a slightly different path as I don’t plan to bring her to AKC Nationals this year.  Instead, her “goal trial” is the Mid-Atlantic USDAA Regional in Palmyra, PA three weeks after AKC Nationals.  Conveniently, that breaks down to three 9-week periods.  For Rue’s retrain, I’m concentrating mostly on revisiting our Silvia Trkman Foundations Class exercises.  This online class was a true turning point for Rue and I this past summer.  We both benefited from going back to the basics and we still have more to work on so even though we completed the class, we are going to go back and make sure those things are solid.  We will also continue with a lot of conditioning (both dogs) and working on speed, speed, speed!  My other desire for Rue is a startline stay.  We’ve avoided them because starting with her is more fun and less stressful for her and most times I’m fast enough to be able to do what I need to do with a running start.  However, because we start together she’s not always as fast as she could be because she’s not totally sure where we’re going next.  If I can get to the point where she will allow a little leadout, I think I could get her the information much sooner which will increase her confidence and speed off the line.  So here’s what we’ve been working on so far:

We will have a few trials during this retrain period, but I will not expect any of our new behaviours to be solid at all.  Here’s to happy training!