Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tika's Teeters

And one more thing. (Busy day at the Taj Mutt Hall.) I've been trying to speed up Tika's contacts. She's fast going up, but slows noticeably on the way down. She's not super slow, just doesn't blast down to the end. For example, she does the first 2/3 of the dogwalk in about 2 seconds but may take as long as another 2 to get to the bottom. This is a severe handicap with the quality of competition out there these days.

Sometimes in competition she's somewhat faster, when she's very excited, but I'd like to have her running all the way to the end and skidding to a stop. Now, you think, what about the teeter, since if she runs to the end full speed, it'll still be in the air?

Darned tootin'! Just watch those fast dogs go--they'll be hanging ten (well, eight actually) over the front of the teeter before it has descended past the point where the board is level. You can usually tell when a dog has done a truly fast teeter because the board bounces up under their rear feet as they hit the ground and the skid their front feet off onto the turf.

Tika has always stopped at the point where her forward momentum starts the board moving down, a couple of feet from the end, and then she trots the last couple of steps when it hits the ground. This isn't nearly good enough.

I've been working on motivating it by getting her as revved as possible before the teeter with my hand in her collar, whacking the end of the teeter (in the air) with the toy and shrieking about how exiting that is and does she want it, then sending her into a tunnel before the teeter and running like crazy towards the teeter myself. When she hits the end, I slap the toy at her feet the instant that the end hits the ground and play enthusiastically. By this, I mean hollaring and bellowing and tugging and whacking her face and her butt (it's not so bad--we do this all the time to get her riled up) and halfway down on the ground wrestling with her. Then without pausing I release her from the teeter and continue wild and enthusiastic tug afterwards.

I'll tell ya, done right, this is exhausting. I can do 3, maybe 4 of these before I'm too out-of-breath and hot to do any more. But it seems to be paying off--today, she did three teeters in a row where she barely hesitated only about one step from the end, and the teeter slammed to the ground and bounced under her back feet as she rushed her front feet off to the ground. Wahooooooeeeeee! This is agility training at its most exciting.

Now if only we could fix those knocked bars...

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