Sunday, June 14, 2009

Knock Off That Bar Knocking and Check Out That View

SUMMARY: Working on Boost's main issue (of --um-- 2 or 3 main issues).

Spent an hour yesterday with WTC ("world team coach", yeah surely one of these days I'll make an extra page for all of my associate's aliases used here) with Boost analyzing some of her bar-knocking issues and coming up with ways to address them.

WTC watched her jump several times and she jumped nicely. Jumping when I'm moving out ahead of her, though? She's taking off early. I'd already identified that one of her bar-knocking issues (and refusals & runouts) is that she spends too much time looking at me rather than figuring out the course. Several things I've done on my own are devoted to getting her to look at obstacles instead of me. So this reinforces that issue.

We also identified that, when rewarded promptly and "punished" promptly--very promptly--after hitting the bar, she starts doing better, so she's at least somewhat aware of what she's doing with her back legs. The punishment is to immediately make her down (but in a gentle but firm voice, not scolding) and turn my back on her for at least a few seconds. That means that the instant she hits the bar--certainly by the time she's landing--I have to be telling her "lie down" or it's too long after hitting the bar for her to get it.

We also worked on ways to get her to think about the jump and looking forward instead of looking at me for a reward. We experimented with the treat-n-train for dispensing a reward after she's done a jump correctly. It's not bad, but there is a bit of a delay in dispensing the treat after the beep. I'll have to reaccustom her to that delay.


Mainly I'm going to be focusing on tossing high-value treats on the ground in front of her when she does jumps successfully. I could be standing, or sitting in a chair as motionless as possible so she's not looking at me so much for the reward. Which also means I have to be quick with the toss so she doesn't have time to look at me, but not so quick that I accidentally reward a ticked bar. Timing is everything!

So we're going to work on one jump for now with me sitting and tossing treats, or with treat-n-train at one end and a low table or phone book or something at the other end for me to toss the treat to, anything so she's looking ahead instead of at me. And no sit-stay or anything, just telling her "hup" from where she's picked up the last goodie. She was doing very very well at not touching the bar by the end of yesterday's session.

And we'll also work on 2-jump bounce jumps, full height (actually 26"; her competition height is 22"), 7' apart. And gradually adding me standing in different places, them me moving a little bit, then both of us running at them, and so on.

So for her--and the issue may be different for other dogs--the idea is to teach her that the JUMP is the important thing, not me, and that looking FORWARD is the important thing, not looking at me. And we'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile--Just going up to Power Paws is a pleasure. I mean, the company's good, but the view is ever-changing and always beautiful.

In this photo, I believe that PP is the level area just above the stoplight on the left side. (So hard to pick it out from down below.)

The downside to living up there is that you're always looking for smoke, always hypersensitive to the scent of burning. This is a bad thing to see in the foothills below you as the fire season begins.
But--back to the upside--look slightly more to your left at sunset, and this is what you might see:

And this is what class on Thursday evening is like--looking still further to your left-- (those are neighbors' houses you see):
Gazing out over San Jose:

6 comments:

  1. Stunning views... I hate you for it, you know.

    Ok ok, trees are nice too. I guess.

    Glad to hear you found a new direction to help with Boost's bars.

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  2. OK, that does it! You must come to San Jose so we can trot around the area looking at views!

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  3. Sounds like a very helpful lesson from WTC. I really like the idea of taking the handler out of the picture. In fact that's how LM starts her dogs, with the handler in a completely neutral position.

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  4. In fact, that's how we started, too--four years ago! I felt like I was back in puppy class! Who knew--that I apparently never got the idea completely across at that time. Or I did, but have been reinforcing the wrong things since then.

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  5. Great post. My dog sometimes drops bars if Im to far ahead , then she takes off to early and drops the bar. Diana

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  6. I hope it works, will be anxious to hear (read!). Targeting is one of the things I finally got Gracie to do on the weaves, she was looking at me the entire time she went through them. Made a huge difference in her driving through. Good luck.

    Stunning views!!! Life is good, hey?

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