Sunday, August 03, 2008

In Which Perfection Is Reversed

SUMMARY: Tika does contacts; Boost does weaves.

Tika, the consummate leaper-offer-of-contacts dog, ran her contact drills in class Thursday night as if the thought had never occurred to her. Every contact was very fast and ended in a crisp, eagerly poised 2-on-2-off position. Contacts of beauty! Grace! Poetry! The kind of contacts everyone wants to have (except those who want running contacts) but not everyone gets! The kind that *I* want to have but don't always get!

Boost, whose contacts are breathtakingly lovely, was the one whom I was able to easily entice to leave the contact early (not waiting for the release command). I have seen indications of this in competition lately, so we need to proof them more at home. So I've been doing them in the yard, just making her stick the end and going back to waiting for a nose touch. She's getting faster at offering that again; I'd let it slide because "she didn't seem to need it." Well! That'll learn me.

We do need work on left turns into the weaves again, though--confirmed in class and at home.

But Tika, the perfect weaving dog, was easy to make pop out of the weaves or go into the wrong entrance. And at home, where I've been doing distraction drills, she seems to be popping out MORE rather than less! Argh! But at the same time, she's getting faster on distractions when she DOESn'T pop out--like she's learning to not slow down to think about them.


This dog did not do 12 weaves in competition.
On the other hand, Boost--the dog who can't do more than 10 in competition--went all the way to the end in every danged set of weaves in class, and we were doing weave drills with 2 sets of poles and front and rear crosses and lag-behinds and run-aheads and all that. A joy to watch! World Team Coach had suggested that I always toss a toy for her right at the end, before her head turns to me. That was what Mo Strenfel also suggested in our weave pole seminar a year ago, and I've been doing it religiously ever since. Well, not every time. Sometimes we go on to the next obstacle.

The difference is that I used to throw the toy in a straight line forward of the weaves so that it rolled or bounced ahead, and Mo said that, to fix my popping out problem (yes! it has reappeared often!), that I should make the toy land right on the ground at the end of the last pole to keep her from thinking of running ahead. Now WTC suggests that I use something that rolls or bounces instead of just lying there to get her to learn to complete the weaves while thinking about running ahead.

WTC also said to never let the dog know that they popped out early in competition because then they'll start to think about it more and start looking at you when they get to that point and pop out more. My experience says that, with Boost, if I ignore it, it keeps happening, but if I make her lie down and then put her back in where she popped out, she stops popping out. So am I setting up for long-term failure? Or fixing my problem?

That's what I love about agility, the clear, consistent guidelines for improving obstacle skills given a specific problem.

Anyway, we're mostly working on contacts and weaves at home this week, plus rear crosses on straight tunnels, and I'm trying to pay more attention to my own body language differences for rear crosses versus pulls or straight-aheads. My timing is still so bad. Ah, well, give me another 13 years of practice and I might nail it.

This dog did not pick up its feet when going over the first jump.

Both dogs really need to do bar-knocking drills, too, but not now. Maybe next week.

(Photos borrowed from Pets and Their People Photography; there are a bunch of photos of both my dogs, some of which I'm buying, but these probably I won't and will just borrow low-rez bad copies of for this page.)

2 comments:

  1. It's always something. And the solutions are often so confusing and contradicting. And then you get it 'fixed' and then it's something else.

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  2. It's very much like owning a home. Sigh.

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