SUMMARY: Broke Tika! Boost perfect!Because Boost had a couple of weave pole problems the last couple of weeks--ok, really major major issues--I decided to work on weave poles this week.
I also had in mind that in grand prix on one of the recent weekends, Tika--my supposed weave pole expert--popped out as I angled away. And always in the back of my mind is the grand prix quarterfinals at Scottsdale the one year where the weaves aimed straight into the wall at the side of the ring but my perfect weave pole dog should be ok so I angled away and, of course, she popped out. Ruining an otherwise perfect run. (Funny the things we NEVER FORGOT THAT WILL HAUNT US FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES.)
First I set up the weaves and just practiced weave entries from different angles, sending the dog from my side. Discovered that aiming at the first pole on the entry side at a 90-degree angle (in other words, straight at the poles) made both dogs go into the 2nd pole. So we worked on that until it was better.
Then I set up the weaves crosswise in my yard so that they're almost running into the shrubbery on either side, with jumps on both sides of both ends, to practice sharp angled entries and staying in until the bitter end. And, of course, I can practice distractions like dancing, dropping or throwing toys, reversing my direction, veering away--like that.
So: I sent Tika over the jump in the lower right corner of the photo (heading towards us) and into the weaves. Perfect entry, but then without me doing anything tricky, she popped out on the left side before #10 (whereas the correct exit would be on the left side before #12). I said "oopsies" or the usual thing and did it again. Same result. So I just put her back in where she popped out--which proved to be challenging when she greatly resisted wanting to do that--rewarded lavishly when I got her in and she did the one more pole to the end, then back to the beginning. Same result. So I tried a small barrier where she popped out. She jumped over it. I tried a larger barrier. She jumped over it. I tried a larger and wider one. She popped out and went around it.
So I pulled out all but 6 poles. Same result. Now she's just coming out and stopping right there.
I went back to hand-in-the-collar to guide her through the 6 poles, just like when we started training, rewarded lavishly. Repeated 2 more times to be sure she got it. Back to the beginning with 12 poles--same result. Turned her around and weaved in the opposite direction (coming towards us): Perfect. Repeated 2 more times with ample reward. Back to the original plan--same result.
I knocked down all but the 4 poles closest to the far side, sent her in, and Lo! she did it! Rewarded lavishly and quit THAT for the day.
I tell you this just to point out how insane agility training can be. This is my good weaving dog. My dog of many years of experience. My top ten in all 4 categories dog. Who apparently doesn't want to weave into anything so close to the end of the poles. And, voila, I have a challenge that I'd never imagined, and now I can train to that until she can weave into the tightest of spaces and do it correctly.
It will challenge me to figure out how to set it up with enough successes to make it work.
And as for my problem dog, Boost? Perfect every time. Oh--wait--I did once get her to pop out when I threw the toy in the middle, but the next few times she didn't fall for it.
Then in class last night we had some challenging weave-entry exercises. Both dogs did perfectly every time. I particularly liked this one:
With the dog on my right, I released from the Aframe and pushed forward but let the dogs find their own entries into the weaves (rather than, say, running beyond the weaves and wrapping the dog around me). Perfect!
So the next time we're in the weaves in the grand prix quarterfinals at nationals, we will all be prepared. No excuses.