Monday, October 19, 2015

Zoom Room practice

I've been hunting for drop ins and matches to work on proofing Chimera's teeter and weave pole performance, but it's been hard to find anything that works for my schedule. On Wednesday I rented the Zoom Room in Walnut Creek with Sherry and Jacques. They have mini-obstacles, but it was worth it considering how long our break from agility class has become.

Cai popped out of the poles here and there (and especially at the 10th pole, ugh), but he fell into the groove better than I expected considering that their PVC poles have a big PVC base in the middle.

I did a quick review of the training method we'd finally settled on to teach him happy teeter behavior. I held the top of the teeter from underneath the first couple of times he ran up and fed right at the end. Then I let it drop a little bit before I caught it, then more and more. At the end he was running nearly to the end of the board before I stopped it just above the ground. He still slowed down when he felt the tip, but then scooted to the end to get his treat. I'm satisfied with that. I never let the teeter actually hit the floor because it was an exceptionally noisy one and their floor is a thin layer of rubber mats over concrete - yikes!

The trainers at this place were very discouraging of having a tiny dog run to the end of the teeter, both during this visit and when we'd gone in for an assessment (before being allowed to rent the equipment). They're worried about a tiny dog getting bounced when it lands, which is a valid safety concern (especially on their horrid teeter and flooring). However both of them had this weird spiel where they asked me if I had agility experience and had watched "real agility," stating that "real agility competitors" (as a whole, apparently) NEVER train tiny dogs to run to the end of the teeter, but instead to stop at the tipping point and continue down after the movement stops. Um, what?

I explained that I was "over-training" the teeter, meaning that in practice I was encouraging him to come to the very end, knowing that in competition he'd be less comfortable and therefore probably slow down at the tipping point anyway. She was skeptical. Sherry and I finally got them to leave us alone by saying that we trained under an experienced agility competitor/trainer and this was what she wanted us to do.

I might rent the Zoom Room one more time to be able to set up proofing exercises like having toys and treats next to the weaves, but otherwise the value of its mini-obstacles is short lived, and I don't want to spend my training time arguing with them.

Can NOT wait until Sherry has her agility field all set up with equipment!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Apple core

Chimera surprised us by nibbling on an apple core my dad offered him.

We were in Monterey last weekend and he got to run on the beach off leash. I had the last of the rabbit jerky I'd made a few months ago and his recall was almost perfect! I took a lot of pictures with my fancy new camera but haven't had time to go through them yet.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rally-FrEe practice

We rented the training pavilion at ARF and set up a rally-free course. My goal was to 1) work on engagement first, and only do the full course if Cai was showing me that he could do it with enthusiasm, 2) if he was able to do it, use as few treats as possible, in preparation for the next time we trial (end of October), 3) crate him and walk away between training, to help him get used to quietly resting (a big problem if we're in a new place).

Well Cai blew me away! We only needed to do one round of sniffing around the edges of the ring before he was fully ready to work. Then I had his full attention for the entire run. It certainly helped that I had rabbit jerky on hand! We did two runs, and each time I only stopped to reward once, but I gave multiple treats and lots of praise when it was time. Here's the video of our second run:

As long as he's confident in the skills that are needed for our next Intermediate course, we should do very well!

In the crate, he whined and scratched at the door the first time I put him away. I just waited him out, and returned with treats during moments of quiet. The second time he was quiet, and by the third time he was relaxing with his hips rolled to the side and his head on the floor.