Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor Snow will keep us from agility, oooh wait is that how it is supposed to go?

SEVEN MONTHS NOW andwhat a cutie.
I measured her with a wicket and she is right at 18 inches, ughghghg, she is going to be at the bottom of the 20 inch jump height for AKC I bet.
She is about 31 lbs.
She is just getting more full of it by the day. We are working on some tricks, but mostly stuff that takes a bit to teach, but we will have video coming. We have "left" and "right" almost to the point where it is only on a verbal and she spins the right way with no hints from me, almost there....left still needs a tiny little point, so it will be ready pretty soon. We have used back chaining and almost got "put away your toys", that was a blast to train with the shaping and starting off with just having the toy in a bucket and having her look at it. She is also getting the pivoting with her front feet on something and then pivoting her back legs walking slowly so she is moving her feet deliberately in a circle. So nothing finished yet, just tons of projects in the works!

As far as ears...some days they like to do this....

this was just a few minutes later, somtimes they like to do this- her ears are just waving "hi!"LOL

SNOW in CA in Mid April, what??? and during our agility class? how is that possible?

Yesterday was Liz's regular class at 3 pm and then there was finally a spot Breeze could drop in for the 5 pm class. At the end of Liz's class there was some light sprinkling. Each class has us out there for over 2 hours and there was some wicked wind, so I was pretty cold and wind whipped by the end of Liz's class and there was that sprinkling. I thought about cancelling out on Breeze's class...but my training buddy is in that class and I had been trying to drop in for a long time. Well, let me tell started pouring, not just a little rain..but pouring, and then there were little tiny snow flakes. Mother nature can be quite a she gave us a huge dousing before she decided to start the wind machine, if she had done it in the other order it might have been a little better, LOL. I can not believe how sopping wet we all got. One of the girls in class had to run holding up her pants because they were so wet. There were two small dogs that were not going to get onto the table, no way, no how with the water. Breeze apparently has not had proofing on her stay in the rain, she was not going to stay with rain pelting her in the face, LOL. I finally did get her to stay and it was funny because the wet tunnels, the wet table and running in the mud did not seem to bother her, just that stay. I would not have run if the course had any other contact obstacles besides the table, but it seemed safe for the dogs the ground was not more slippery. Of course Deanna said we will thank her one day....maybe far in the future because tunnels and tables often get wet if the sprinklers get left on, or from morning dew on the grass, and our dogs will have experience, LOL. Guess it will take a few days of warming up before I am thanking her, LOL.

Tables and Start Lines
I love Deanna my instructor because she just breaks down everything into little pieces. When I was new to agility I think a lot of that would go right over my head, but having had enough dogs and doing agility long enough that I feel like I have a hefty list of things that have gone wrong for now I love that because when I have problems pop up now a lot of times what we have learned just pops back into my head and I do feel like it is really helping avoid some things by the foundation I am trying to do with the Crickster. SO I like to put this stuff down so it cements for me and so I remember as I look sorry to make everything so long, but it is my way ;-). The subject for the day was tables and start lines. There is a lot to those and I think it just seems like such a no brainer that a lot of people take them for granted, if their dog stays at the start or jumps on the table it seems all systems are go and no need to worry. The amount of dogs that really have trouble with these two areas seems to tell a different story ;-). There also is a big correlation between the two since they both require a lot of the same skills, a dog that gets into a position fast and happily, a dog that holds the position until released, and a dog that blasts out from that position-quickly, eagerly and happily. You want the dog on the table or the start line to hold their position but just be waiting eagerly to get out of there, not ready to stay for the duration, LOL.

What we mostly looked at last night was the three main areas on both of these things and how we reward or make each of those things rewarding for the dog. So I came up with what I have been doing with my dogs, I play games to do a quick sit and a quick down. At the start line I reward when they go to the line and quickly sit or down, and I have taught my guys to go right in front of me, I keep my back to the first jump and that way I do not have to touch them to play them, which would be a huge punishment for my dogs if I had to touch and move them. So then Deanna suggested I get them in position once in awhile and then immediately release and then treat for getting into position quickly. Some of the dogs in class she would let go over the first jump as soon as they sat to reward that quick getting into position.

Second component is that holding the stay, and I feel I mostly reward that with a a release which is a release of the pressure of having to hold the stay and my dog finds getting to run so rewarding. Now when Breeze was being a butt and not staying on the start line in the rain I rewarded with a ball being thrown back to her, something she did not expect.

The third component was blasting off the start line as soon as the release word is given. I did do some work on getting to my lead out position, releasing Breeze and then when she got going I threw her ball to reward that quick leaving the line, with Liz I got out my tug toy and she got to grab it and tug when she got to me.

The biggest thing that struck out to me was being unpredictable, the dog not getting too set in any one thing happening and rewards may pop up at any time and making each of the parts of start lines and tables which can be sad for some dogs....more happy.

The table is pretty much the same thing. My dogs were having trouble blasting on to the table and not skidding off the side, brakes can be a good thing, LOL, so I kept bringing them back and reapproaching and the second they held onto the table they got released to a fun game or to the next obstacle, I did not feel like I wanted to work on the stay last night, they are doing well with that and hanging onto the table is our big thing now. It all gave me a lot to think about and I am definitely doing a lot of games on the flat with Cricket already in preparation for her future career.

Maybe I could be more fun?
Liz ran the first course....OK, but she was yelling at me and kept cutting in front of me and trying to stare at me and I could tell she was REALLY thinking about wandering off. I had already been thinking maybe I have been getting greedy now that Liz runs better and not realizing that she still needs more frequent rewards. I has wanted to try out a new strategy and I am soooo pleased with how it turned out.
I gave a toy to Deanna and loaded myself up with Liz favorite toys, one in my sleeve, one down the back of my waist band, one in my front pocket and I asked Deanna to throw the toy the second Liz was really obstacle focused and really driving ahead. I told her to do that even if I did not know she was going to, because I wanted to really get it clear for Liz that running and driving ahead is ok. Deanna thew a bunch of toys and I threw things and stopped every couple of obstacles and OMG, I had a totally different dog, so into things and just so happy to work, so I guess I need to remember to be a little more fun and think more of what I want her to learn instead of what I am trying to do.


Diana said...

Very interesting about the table and the start line. yea we have both those problems. Ugh!! Makes so much sense. Diana

Morganne said...

I love reading about different approaches to agility training. With Summit, I worked on so much impulse control when he was a puppy (and he loved the game), that he offers the stay so that he can earn the release.

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

whoops, I need to check my spelling before I post, LOL. Yep, it was funny at class because we played those games, like when the BC were just a few months old we played ball where they had to wait for a release to go and get it, and if you sit as soon as your butt hits the ground the ball gets thrown or as soon as you hit a down I release to a game, so they have always done good with impulse control, but I had not specificially thought about there being different areas of the start or the table that could be reinforced seperately.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

You really had class in pouring rain and then snow in S. CA. in April? Crazy! Sounds like you got a lot out of the classes though so getting soaking wet was worth it!

Sam said...

I can't get over how much Cricket has grown up! (I'm not looking forward to the bottomless pit that is the 20" jump height, either! We're going to cherish our time in Novice and Open!)

It sounds like you had a really great class for both of them. iI love my classes, but I do wish we did a little bit more of those "components" you talk about.. sometimes I feel like we run so many courses without really breaking it down and working on the little things that make it count. Though today during my private lesson we did some start line work.

Sara said...

I went to a seminar just on start line stays once. It was facinating stuff.

Love Cricket's ears. Oreo's did the same thing. Both went up for a while, but in the end, one is up, one down.

AC said...

Weather has been cold lately. I'll take it though (although we don't have snow!).

You seem to have some great classes. Always enjoy hearing about your agility training.

And those ears! Kona's did that also. I remember being very surprised the first day one of them stood up. I had no idea what kind of dog she was (still don't) and for some reason thought she would always have floppy ears. I was quite surprised the day she looked up at me, had her ears flop back, then when she put her head back down, one of her ears stayed up!