Sunday, October 27, 2013

Agility obstacles update

I managed to switch classes to a better time (afternoon rather than 7:30 am), and we've attended the new time slot twice. All the new dogs meant that Cai spent a lot of time barking during the first class. I stayed close to his crate and gave lots of treats when the other dogs were in his field of vision. During the second class he was much better, but he's still quite reactive to the other small dogs, because he really wants to play with them.

Updates on obstacle training progress:

About a month ago he suddenly developed a fear of climbing up the contact obstacles. I have no idea what caused it. I switched to rewarding him for climbing up however high he felt comfortable, and then cuing him to go back down and do his contact (lie down on mat on floor). Last class, he finally was back to normal on the dog walk and a-frame. I was even able to take away the mat and cue the down verbally (and by turning toward him), and he confidently lay down. We didn't do the teeter that day, and we still have to finish up his basic training for it. I really wish that they let students rent the space for private practice.

Speaking of contact obstacles, I'd trained Cai to do a table at home but we hadn't used it in eight months of classes, until last week. No problem hopping onto it and lying down. I trained the down to be consistent with other obstacles, and make sure that he really stays on it during fast, exciting runs. I don't know yet which venues we'll be competing in.

Other obstacles that are new for us: last class Cai saw the chute for the second time ever. The first time, the instructor had held the end of the fabric open and lowered it with each pass. This time, she held it slightly open for one pass, then left it on the ground. Cai went in, backed out, and ran around. She showed him a high value treat on the ground right at the end of the fabric, and I picked him up and put him back at the entrance. This time he went all the way through, though he slowed down and was moving his head in confusion in the middle. I gave him a jackpot - a steady stream of high value treats with lots of praise. The third time he didn't slow down as much, got another jackpot, and then after that he was happily running through. Yay!

The tire is still new and we haven't had enough practice with it for me to properly "explain" to him not to go under the tire/chains. We got around this problem in class by lowering it all the way to the ground, and then he would consistently jump through the tire. However, once again I need extra time to practice on the obstacles on my own so that I can make sure he understands the criteria.

He's only seen the broad jump a handful of times and is still figuring out that it's a jump. Other jumps are almost never a problem. He's just under 12 inches tall and jumping 8 inches, so he soars over the bars. Doubles and triples are not a problem because of that.

His weave poles have gotten worse. For a while he was reliable on six poles if I didn't move too quickly, and I was working on proofing them. Lately he's been skipping the middle poles in class. It's not always the same poles, and I think that it's a problem with getting his stride and concentrating on his job. We're working on it at home as well as we can.

His focus is very good when we're running -- he enjoys the game! It's rare for him to stop running and sniff something or look around, unless there's a sudden big distraction. He does want to sniff and look around while I'm setting him up at the start line, though.

He is now quiet in his crate even if I walk out of sight, aside from the dog reactivity. That makes me very happy!

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