a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Tika Laundry List

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tika Laundry List

The training never ends, either. How come, once you get something right, you can't just stop working on it and assume that it'll be correct forever? That's just not right? Here are some things that are proving to be issues that I need to work on:
  • Dogwalk down contact: On virtually every dogwalk this weekend, Tika stopped completely or slowed to a crawl 2/3 of the way down the down-ramp. Why? We never trained like that? A few months ago she was one of the few dogs in class that you could send from behind and who would still press on quickly to the bottom of the ramp without me running beside her. Where did this come from? I haven't had my dogwalk set up in my back yard since a week or two before The Wedding, so it's been 2 months, but, jeez, lots of people don't have dogwalks in their back yards and get practice only in weekly classes. What have I done that's weird?
  • Dropped bars: Actually this was a very good weekend. She dropped no bars for 8 runs in a row, and then on the final Jumpers course, she dropped 2 (hardly any dogs went clean on this course, but our path through the course was actually smooth and fast until I went offcourse somehow right near the end). But bars have been a constant bugaboo, and we just need to keep working on them.
  • Up contacts, particularly dogwalk but also teeter: We had a problem with these early on, then it seemed to slack off, now it has become an almost constant problem. That was our only fault in the Grand Prix on Saturday, for example.
  • Table approach: In the only two occurrences of a table on course this weekend, they were both after a contact obstacle (one Aframe, one Dogwalk) and in both cases she spun back to me right before the table, wuffed, and spun back to get onto the table. On Saturday, that was our only fault in our Standard run, on an extremely difficult course where most dogs were going off course. We got through all of the difficult parts, AND kept all of our bars up, AND didn't get called on any up contacts. Of all the stupid things to lose a Q for! She has done this once before sometime earlier this year--I don't remember which trial. But it's now officially a problem.
  • Getting out ahead of her on contacts: We've had trouble with this in class, where I need to leave her on the contact and take a couple of long strides ahead of her to avoid a very tempting off-course. I keep thinking I'm doing it, and our instructor keeps pointing out that I'm still practically on top of the contact when I release her. In other words, my timing and my awareness of my body's position is just not good in this situation. I was very conscious of this in Sunday's Snooker course, yet once again I thought I was out ahead of her but she managed to pull around in front of me to take the offcourse. Back to the drawing board...
  • Start-line stays: Eternal vigilance required. In at least one class this weekend, when I did a very long, almost 3-obstacle, lead-out, she took off when I raised my arm instead of waiting for my verbal release, and I let her run. But I worked hard on all other runs to be sure that I worked her (extra good girls, moving deliberately with verbal reinforcement--hard to explain, but she was good).
  • Popping out of weaves: I've worked SO hard at her weave entrances and also (thought) I'd worked hard at her staying in them until they were completed, but at 2 of the last 3 trials, she's popped out early when I barely twitched in an unusual manner. Some of it could be that we've been practicing with only 6 poles in the yard, rather than 12, most of the time this summer; part could be that I never did work a lot on distraction training (so what if I suddenly turn my shoulders when she's almost at the end--she shouldn't pop out!). We just started doing a lot more of that over the last couple of weeks, and I set up the 12 poles again, but clearly we need to do more.

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