Yesterday was the last day of the official Beginners Series at Ace Dog Sports. Wow! But classes are continuing. The students mostly stick to their same time slot and continue to progress as a team, though I'm switching days. Besides continuing to finesse our handling, we still need lots of work on the teeter and dog walk and weaves, and we've barely practiced the chute, tire, or table.
I just skimmed back through our older agility posts. Gosh, Chimera has learned SO much! The older posts discussed problems with getting Cai to drive ahead, with lateral distance to jumps, and with rear crosses. We've mostly got those down now, though I'd still like more distance in our handling. Yesterday I was thinking of other areas we really need to work on:
He turns wide if he's approaching an obstacle (such as a jump) at speed and then needs to collect. We need cik/cap, in other words. I know just a bit about how Silvia Trkman teaches this. Today we did a session working on multi-wraps (circling around an object multiple times) with a flower pot. I can already send him to circle an object from a distance, but he hugs the first side then goes wide on the turn back to me. So I need to build more muscle memory for the tight turns before I go back to sends. When he can do it on the flat, we'll start practicing with jumps.
He sometimes blind crosses if I put on speed and look ahead. I need him to stick to the proper side when I gun it so that we can be competitive. Part of this is the wide turning problem.
As mentioned, more lateral distance, and more distance when sending ahead, especially to a tunnel (see below). I'm trying to arrange some private space rental time so that we can work on this, as I don't have anywhere else with the required distance.
Something amusing that happened in class: we were working on a tunnel/a-frame discrimination, setting a line to send to the tunnel. Cai sometimes has trouble with sends to a tunnel - he stops and looks at me, or goes into the tunnel but immediately turns and comes back out. I think it's because he doesn't want to lose "contact" with me; he particularly has trouble if he hears me moving away after he's gone in. In this case, because I was having to stop a bit early to not run into the a-frame, he would also stop and look at me. The instructor suggested, "Use your tunnel cue." I rarely use verbal cues, and I haven't made any effort to teach Cai the word "tunnel," though I've used it on course here and there. I said, "I don't think he knows it, but I'll try." I did the send again, this time saying, "tunnel!" And Cai went right in, like "why didn't you say so?" The other students laughed. Honestly I think that it's just because I said something, rather than actually associating the word "tunnel" with the obstacle, but we did the drill two more times and each time he moved ahead and went in when I called the cue!