Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Private agility lesson

We had a private lesson today with Sandy Rogers, owner of Ace Dog Sports, and recent winner of Grand Prix at the USDAA Nationals.

We talked for a bit, and then focused most of the lesson on contact obstacles. It was good timing in that Cai has mostly gotten over his teeter/dog walk phobia (though she warned that it may come back, and sometimes it is just part of the learning process). She had me switch from manually catching and lowering the teeter (which is subject to human error) to placing a stool underneath. Cai made phenomenal progress -- within a handful of reps, he was confidently running up and riding the teeter down, with about a foot drop. Woohoo!

The other change I should make is to his target. Currently I've been putting a piece of duct tape at the end, which is essentially a nose target. That won't give him a clear stopping place for his feet once it's faded. So instead I should encourage him to bring his feet all the way to the end of the board, which I can do by creating some sort of nose target that sticks out from the teeter a little bit. I'll have to figure that out.

Then we moved on to the dog walk. I had taught Cai to lie down on a mat on the floor just beyond the down ramps of the dog walk and a-frame. He was very reliable on lying down right on the mat. Recently I started removing the mat and telling Cai to lie down when he was approaching the bottom, using his regular down cue. Sandy noticed that Cai was dropping promptly when I cued the down, but he wasn't really doing it as part of his contact behavior. It wasn't built in to his performance. He was responding as if we were doing an obedience drop. So I need to reteach his contact behavior so that, when cued/reminded, he drives to the bottom and lies down on his own, just as a dog doing 2o2o should do when he gets a "touch!" reminder at the top of the ramp. On the bright side, I clearly have a well-trained obedience drop!

Another important tip Sandy gave me not to relax and let my adrenaline drop after my dog has successfully hit his contact. In a trial, your body will still be tense, and your dog needs to be used to that.

Aside from all this contact work, we did a figure eight exercise with two jumps and a front cross at each jump, to work on tight turns. Cai did beautiful tight turns when I cued nice and early (you know, as I'm supposed to). And I'd complained that he had trouble with that -- oops!

It was great to have one-on-one attention and I felt that Sandy really helped me out. I'll definitely schedule more private lessons with her.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Over and over

Dog stands by door and looks at me. I let him outside. He finds a toy and brings it indoors.
Dog stands by door and looks at me. I let him outside. He pees and comes indoors.
Dog stands by door and looks at me. I let him outside. He finds another toy and brings it inside.
Dog stands by door and looks at me. I let him outside. He poops and comes indoors.

This is one of the reasons I had such a hard time potty training him. I'd give up after the second time he got a toy, and then find a poop indoors. Now I trust that there really is an important reason he wants to go outside again.