Friday, September 14, 2007

Fixing Boost's Weaves

SUMMARY: Getting the left-hand entrance.

It dawned on me at the ASCA trial a few weeks back that Boost was getting all of the weaves she entered with a turn to the right but not those that she entered turning left. Training since then has focused on that.

I continued to use my little wire fencing pieces to mark the entrance in most cases, or, if I didn't have those, any other object in the vicinity. As long as something was there, she usually (but not always) made that entry. Sometimes, however, she ran right through the wire fence and seemed to give it no second thought.

A couple of days ago, I noticed that, when doing "left" and "right" when sitting, she turned her head to the right but her whole body to the left. Made me start thinking that perhaps there's something structural or somewhat out of kilter. Yesterday I almost called the vet/chiro up in Lafayette--but I just hate the thought of the 90-minute drive, so I thought I'd wait until after class.

Before class, I set her up with the fence in position and tried several runs with her turning left. She got almost all of them. But, when class started, she just blasted through or around the wire time after time. Instructor N pointed out that she's more hyped up in class than beforehand. Said maybe it could be something physical, but if she can make the turn with the wire there, even though it's not much of a barrier, there's no real good reason why she can't make the turn without it there.

The three things we discussed:
  • If she doesn't make the entry, just stop, give the "uh-oh, too bad, bummer" talk and just walk her off and let her sit out while the next dog runs. We tried that several times, and on the 5th try, I believe, she made the entry (but now she's seen that same entry all those times). The next try, she didn't.
  • Put up a "maze"--basically bits of x-pen or more substantial gates than my little fencing--in places where she's NOT supposed to run, so that if she's blasting through full speed after making the wrong entry, she'll suddenly arrive at a place where she can't get through/over/around. N. said that this has worked for several dogs except one, who figured out that you could skip *two* poles at the beginning and still have it work. So we tried it several times with Boost, and she made a couple of correct entries, and then also skipped two poles. N. did mention that eventually they might figure out to look for the gates up and adjust accordingly. I hate clever dogs.
  • Just picking her up and telling her not to do that. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. After a zillion different strategies for trying to get Tika to quit grabbing my feet in the middle of a course, this is something that I came up with on my own, and that's the trick that finally gave me back the ability to run a full course with her. So today in the yard, I tried a couple of fast, drivey weave entries with the "uh-oh, bummer" strategy, and she missed 3 in a row. Then I picked her up, carried her around for about 10 seconds, saying that I was disappointed in her and she needs to get those weave entries. Set her down on the ground at the beginning of the weaves, and she did them. Then we did more fast drivey entries and she got them all. Hoo-ah. We'll see whether that sticks until tomorrow.

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