Thursday, December 12, 2013

Just when you're done digging your "hole",

Agility class last night was horrific. I think my pups were hungry (class is an hour past dinner time) and thus they were going crazy. Especially my Lab, who blew me off and ran over to another handler and sat at her feet for a treat. Oy.

With Baer's poor striding yesterday, I was ready to dive back into striding work. Today, I switched the third agility jump (my "stride regulator") with a flyball jump, and she was perfectly fine. She looked great. I'm glad she picked it back up so quickly, and we're going to repeating this and many different variations of this in the next few months.

Then we did a new exercise I'm calling "Over and Backs", basically it's the training of a box turn with a "hup" jump. I'm at the point where I'm using just the hup for Flash but with Baer I do the over and back without the box and with the box. The point of this is to train a good landing coming off the box- their heads need to be down when they come back, or I do not reward.

At the tournament Baer was having trouble getting her feet up. Using the "hup", she HAS to get her back feet up (the muscle memory is important). And with Flash, I don't want any foreseeable problems. 

I'm discovering, slowly, that the wall work has not been beneficial for my dog. It has not created a reliable turn for my Labrador. And my Whippet has not seemed to benefit from it much. 

Since my Labrador has been using the wall board, she has a wide turn on a box with no props. She doesn't get her back feet up. It's not a method I want to keep repeating religiously like I have been. Her head is so high when she comes off the box now that she's turning in the direction of her head- which had been adding the third stride, because she was so far from the box. So I'm excited to see how the over & backs will affect her future performance :) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sometimes it's best to stop while you're ahead.

Our tournament went pretty well this weekend.

Baer's times were consistent, and in a decent amount of runs, she got the 3 strides. At first, I was excited, then I realized a lot of it stemmed from whether her box turn was wide or not. I didn't think much of it, until we went to do our usual 3 striding work. We haven't done it since before Thanksgiving, and Baer acted as if we had never done it before in her life. 

Not only was she stutter-stepping and skipping jumps today, she did not get a single good stride in, in 15 minutes of trying. I finally had her do one good stride over two jumps, praised her wildly, and stopped there. As baffled as I am, she's unique and I can't expect her to act the way I want her to. She had a lot of practice this tournament getting 3 strides in; then again, she had a lot of practice NOT getting 3 strides in. My fault, bad owner. Honestly, I saw it coming. 

I could feel, during our session today, my patience running thin. I've been going through some emotional shit out of my dog world, and it's been depleting my patience already. I was taking Baer's inability to do the stride work today personally, as if I had failed her. It took a lot of self control to stop, after taking a baby step back and only going over two strides. 

It's hard, when your dog regresses in training, to not feel like you've failed and your dog will never get it right. Yet, starting back at step one is much better than quitting altogether. I have learned a hard lesson - finish your retraining, then enter the dog in a race. Duh, Para.

My dog has reverted to her old leaping behavior and I can tell it's going to take work to get her back to the point we were at. I'm sure it won't take her a long time, like it did before, but you can bet we'll be practicing daily.

What did I learn?


2) Celebrate every victory. Let your dog know you're celebrating. They're trying so hard to get it right, make it clear to them when they do! 

3) Don't push it. They'll learn in their own time. Make sure you have plenty of patience.

Back to the drawing board, but it's alright since our team isn't going to any tournaments for a while (4-5 months). Even if they choose to, I'm not going until Baer's proven she has gained the skills necessary to succeed. 

Dog training can be frustrating fun shit.