SUMMARY: A little work with both dogs and myself.One of my concessions to entering a squillion more agility trials this year was that I needed to work on the things that have been problems or are frustrating me.
As yet, I have no written, quantified plan. At this point, after months of not feeling like doing anything at all, it is enough for me to feel like training with the dogs, and to actually do it at least for a few minutes a few times a week.
Hence, I've been:
- Practicing deceleration moves with both dogs (that seems to be the move du jour for some reason), after observing that in some cases neither one seems to notice that I've stopped moving.
- For Tika, down on the table, lots of food rewards.
- For Boost, practicing just running and going going going over jumps (and tunnels) without hesitation or looking back at me, over and over and over.
- For Boost, trying to build as much value in doing jumps as in doing tunnels. (We seldom get refusals on tunnels; we also play in tunnels a lot at home.) So, for example, sending her over a jump to get her toy rather than only running through tunnels or on the flat.
- For Boost, trying to put more name recognition value on "Hup!" She's pretty good at "weave", "climb" (Aframe and dogwalk), "teeter", and "through" (tunnels), but just "hup" isn't one that I ever practiced very much.
- For both dogs, some "out" work (for gambles).
- For both dogs, "touch" to a nose touch at the end of contact obstacles (Tika with emphasis on the dogwalk, because that's what she's most likely to do oddball things on, and not at all on the teeter; Boost with emphasis on the teeter because that's where she's been coming off the side.)
- For me, just trying to get a better grip on getting to where I need to be. I have been reviewing online videos of other people's timing, watching so carefully the people in class who are really good at that with their really fast dogs--which (after all these years) I'm finally remembering has more to do with how quickly you can leave the dog on the previous obstacle than with rushing to get to the next one. Boost has made this more challenging for me with her propensity for pulling off of obstacles, but some things we've been analyzing in class lately, on really learning where your dog is taking off for, say, a jump, is helping me refocus on this. I'm not really fast, myself, but watching the people who are really good at being there--90% of the time they're calmly almost loping into position.
- For me, running. Just lifting my feet and moving. Trying to do at least a little jogging around the yard or a little jogging and a sprint or two when we go to the park.
In class, she alternates between doing even complicated courses with her usual not-super-fast experience ease, and then completely messing up things that I thought were simple for us to do as a team, and that often involve verbal cues.
This is an evolving question. I am working on emphasizing COME and her name value with treats, with the assumption that if she's not losing hearing, it will help, and if she is, it won't hurt.
Boost seems to be doing better with the run-run-run strategy, even though I'm only doing it in small loops in my back yard. At least, better in class. Last couple of classes, no refusals at all. .. oh, except that she still still STILL doesn't get the serpentine cue. Should work on this again; so far haven't been.
Of course--like this last Thursday night--it's all about the bars. At least one bar in every run, but she was fast, kept going even when I did rear crosses, got her weave entries and stayed in, got her contacts, and did nose touches.
So, yeah, need bar-knocking drills again, too, I suppose. I haven't been adding them in because right now the Take Obstacles In Front Of You seems much more critical. And I have mixed feelings about stopping dogs and taking them off the course for knocking bars. The experts seem to differ on whether that's effective or causes more problems. When I do drills, I've decided that I much prefer rewarding for not knocking them and not punishing for knocking. I'm not consistent in this.
That's it for now; another note to myself that I'm actually working on things again. Not sure where that little dribble of renewed enthusiasm for training is coming from, but i'm glad it's here.