Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Practice with Cheryl W. & Joy

I picked up Joy and Puddin' and we headed out to the field for 1:30 to hook up with Cheryl W and Grace.  It was in the 50's, overcast and looking like rain, but the weather held until we left around 4.

I got Joy settled in a chair, then we let Puddin' & Lucky run around for awhile.  I tested whether Puddin' would fetch, but he doesn't.  He doesn't tug either.  I introduced him to a wingless jump, a winged jump, the tire, and the down contact of the low dog walk.  Man, I forgot how far my dogs have come in their training!  His head snaps at rear cross flatwork were slow, but he's beginning to understand the concept of keeping his eyes on me.
I ran Maxie and Lucky several times, and both did very well. 
  • Lucky's bounced thru the weaves if I had her toy, and walked thru if I didn't.  She walked over the dog walk, but ran if I had her toy.  Cheryl pointed out I was a lot more animated if I was brandishing her toy, which could partially account for her increased enthusiasm.  She almost lost her footing once when one rear foot didn't make full contact with the board as she was running, and I think that shook her up a wee bit. She doesn't usually make spacial mistakes.  Her 2on-2off down contacts were mostly reliable.  She needs to tighten her pulls around jump stantions, which is only a matter of expectation because the girl can turn on a dime at full speed when she plays. We practiced several rear crosses behind the A-frame, and she improved from last time when she stopped forward motion at the top whenever I reared. 
  • Maxie ran both courses flawlessly, even when I changed up the sequences.  His serpentines and threadles are strong but there were a few mistakes, his diagonal jumps with full extension are improving.  I want to avoid knocked bars this year, and am practicing lots of steep diagonal jumps at varying speeds, and earier queing of each jump,  to improve his performance.  We would have Q'd several more times last year but for one knocked bar, and they were all due to his uncertainty of which jump to take.
I passed out my new Finger Clickers and everyone seemed to like them. I had no trouble with mine and used it throughout the training period. Very convenient. Lucky and Puddin' both respond well to the clicker. Grace seemed to catch on to it within minutes, too.

Cheryl ran Grace a few times, whose weaves are still weak, so we tried playing the "weave relay" game.  I used Maxie to demo how it works.  Cheryl at one end with treats.  Me at the other end, intending to send him to Cheryl for a treat, then call him back to me for a treat.  He blew us both away, never waiting to be sent or called but just racing thru the weaves to grab a treat from her, then turn around and race to the other end for another treat from me, then back to her, then back to me, about 8 times without stopping.  He ran very fast, and never missed a weave.

Cheryl allowed me to practice hand touches with Grace, then weave entries, then some flat work to improve her awareness of hand signals.  She is very food motivated, which makes the training easier. It was interesting to work with a totally different breed and temperament from the few dogs I am familiar with.  I needed this experience.  It drove home the point that there will be all kinds of dogs in my classes, and none of them alike.  Grace, for example, snarled if I patted her, while I tend to be a dog patting fool.  I have to learn to keep my hands off of other people's dogs until I know what they like.

Yesterday I ordered a TUGSY toy from that you stuff with food and it squishes out between the mesh as D tugs, because Susan Garrett says all dogs can be trained to tug, and tugging is an invaluable teaching aide.  It builds a strong bond between dog and handler.  I got it for Maxie, who doesn't tug much (but probably doesn't need it), and will try it on Puddin as well.  Tugging is something Joy can do with Puddin' while sitting in her chair.

Back at Joy's, I discovered she has 3 jumps, a tire and 12 weave poles under her carport.  That's great.  When I visit her, I can work with Puddin on these.  We'll see how long it takes for him to catch on, and I'll keep track. 

Sheryl M, my training partner, just got back from the Kiln trial.  She 2Q'd with Charlie on Saturday, but nothing on Sunday.  She surmises she screwed up the standard run by forgetting to run past the last jump.  Charlie slowed down, failed to extend, and knocked the tripple. She figures she had played with Charlie too much before the Jumpers run because Charlie wouldn't budge and had to be removed from the ring. He was tuckered out!  But as she said, it's "live and learn", and

Onward and upwards, in baby steps!

Lessons Learned:
With Lucky, try to be as animated without a toy as with one.
Don't assume every dog responds well to the same things.
Lucky needs speed on the dogwalk.

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