Friday, August 21, 2009
Tightening up those rear crosses
I had a really great lesson with Alicia this week. Alicia is such a great handler and I am always amazed at how many little things can make a difference, the things you would probably not be able to get in a book.
We worked on tightening up those rear crosses, and making the rear cross clearer for the dog. When you cross behind the dog-a rear cross-what the dog sees once they learn to rear your body language is you cutting in behind them, putting your body pressure on the line they are traveling. Easy enough concept, if you have your dog in a sit and you cross behind him/her, then most likely the dog will turn their head to look at you where you have crossed behind them, this is basically how rear crosses work. Just a way to turn the dog and get you on the other side of him.
So what we worked on was where I have always thought for example in the exercise we were doing I would put the dog behind jump 1, run down the line so the dog went over 2 and 3 and I would be heading as close to 4 and get a rear cross there, because I am still always thinking about always getting ahead. Well, in a rear cross by definition you have to be behind the dog, so not so good to get too far ahead....and because how the dog knows we are going to turn having a few more steps to show that I am pushing on their line and that I am going behind only helps the dog read and understand where we are going.
So in this example I stay way closer to jump 3 and only let the dog have say half of the jump,decelerate slightly then I can turn and have more steps to show the rear cross between 3 and 4. Similarly after I get the 270 turn, the one from 4-5 and am getting ready for a really tight rear cross I need to hang back a tad, a tad of deceleration and stick closer to the stanchion of jump 5 so that I have more room to push on the dogs line before that really tight rear cross. One or two steps can make a huge difference in what the dog is able to see and understand, which makes a lot more flowy run and a dog that is able to move faster and more comfortably, less off courses and everyone understanding where we are going. I am really understanding more and more what Alicia has been trying to beat into my head, that in agility we almost never should be running straight lines because that takes away a lot of information for the dog.
I LOVE my lessons and the things that I am picking up that I probably would never have been able to figure out myself!
The bummer for the lesson was that Liz is still on activity restriction and then when we got to the field Breeze was really limping on her front foot. CRAP!!! I kept trying to ignore it, but then she started bunny hopping with her back legs and doing some weird hopping all over the place. Well, turned out Breeze had this huge bumps all up and around her pads, and one had popped and she had a HUGE rip in her pad, her belly was all red and raw looking where it had touched the grass. This time of year last year Breeze had a horrible allergic reaction in the same field. I swear they are using some nasty fertilizer or something to kill weeds or ???. Anyway, we could only work a very short time with Breeze after Alicia got a boot to put on Breeze. The minute Breeze got the boot on she snapped to a normal gait. Breeze got a bath to get what ever is bothering her off her and I am going to put boots on her next time we are at the field, and bring a mat for her to do her stays on or to rest on so she is not on the grass. I worked out a pattern to make some booties, and they turned out so well I will post the instructions for making them. Boots are going on my list of things to always have available in my first aid kit, they were a life saver for my lesson for sure.