a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Class, weaves, running, proprioception or SOMETHING

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Class, weaves, running, proprioception or SOMETHING

SUMMARY: Class ups frustration level with myself.
Yesterday after Team Small Dog's post about weave and tunnel entries, I almost got motivated to work on some real agility drills for tunnel and weave entrances.

I said that I've done no agility practice for 2 months, but technically that's not true; since I have stuff set up in my yard, once in a while we do some tiny small thing. Tunnel entrances and sends we do all the time. (They're fast and fun and I don't have to work too hard at it.) Weaves we do a lot. (Same thing.)

Plus I feel like I know what I'm doing with those training drills.

SOOO I went out into the yard. Beautiful sunny day. But the jumps were all down; the weaves were tucked out of the way in random inaccessible places. So I reverted to just Fetch.

Class last night. Drills with Tika went very well, except when she was sniffing at the start line and abandoning it to go check out [fill in the blank].

With Boost. Well. OK, I know that we have problems with rear crosses. I have to decelerate early and then run full blast at the jump without slowing down until she's in the air. We had some tough ones (for us). And I'd walk it with the run full blast at the jump. And every time I'd deliberately and consciously run full blast at the jump, and she'd still stop and push off it. The only way I could get her over the jumps was by running past them, which is NOT a rear cross.

And the instructor would say, you have to decel and then run at it full blast without slowing down, and I'd say I *did*, and she'd say, not enough, or, you need to wait longer, or, just, no, you didn't, you stopped (and I'd say, that's because there was a jump wing a foot in front of me). So apparently I have no idea what I'm doing on the field. I'm not saying she's wrong, because of course she isn't. I'm saying I'm frustrated because I think I'm doing what I'm supposed to do but that's not what's actually happening outside my head.

And then there were the constant reminders to run straight through the end of the course, because Boost kept turning back towards me and knocking the last bar. And, so, like, the last run of the evening, we had problem after problem, and when we finally got to the end, I blasted full speed past the end of the course and I'm thinking to myself, "well, at least THIS time she can't say that I didn't run all the way through," but of course the first words out of her mouth were, "you can't be stopping before the end, you have to run all the way through."

How can I be so unaware of what I'm doing? I feel like when I'm trying to train boost, just training myself: How can I fix the problem when I don't even know what's really going on? It is completely discouraging.

Then for our last run of the evening, we practiced a gamble. Which had a jump-weave entry exactly like that snooker super-Q that we missed on Saturday because boost entered the wrong side of hte weaves. Predictable. She entered the wrong side of the weaves. Then the other instructor told me that my approach was wrong over the jump. I said it was a training issue. He said it was my angle and told me where to jump from. I think I have a clue how to do gambles and when I have a training issue.

I followed the instructions anyway. She entered the wrong side. He suggested yet another approach. She entered the wrong side.

She will be 6 years old in less than a week. We've done so so so so many weave entries. Why can she still not do correct entries? Why why why why why? I don't understand why she doesn't get it but tika got it so quickly. I've never understood that. More frustration. (BTW, Tika had no problem with that entry in the gamble.)

Then of course kicking myself for not actually going out yesterday and practicing weave entries.

Mood: Frustrated to tears and still not really wanting to practice.


  1. So many times what you write is exactly how I feel working with my own dogs. How can I be so unaware of what I'm doing on the field? I think I did what I walked and walked what I was taught but no....So thank you for your blog. I don't feel alone in being frustrated with my own skills.


  2. Some days are just like that. Just chuck it up to an off night and move on. Feel better!

  3. Wicca just turned 7 and just this past year finally learned to find an entrance consistently. I feel your frustration. She'd miss even the simplest entry at trials.

    I went back and worked on two poles- reving her up, and sending from all angles. C/T for correct entries. Once she was reliable I tried to push her into the wrong entry so she really had to work to get it right. I think this is what made the difference for her poles. We did it for a full month, and even now I will go back and refresh it. We've had great poles since though (knock on wood!)

    anyway, you may have already done that sort of thing, but I know when I was struggling with Wicca I appreciated any advice!

  4. Thanks. Good suggestion to go back to the real basics.

  5. I can feel your pain. No good if it isn't fun and you're frustrated. Dogs probably are too. Sometimes you have to just smile and accept the advice and do what is best for YOU. I learned that from Diana...and others.

  6. All dogs learn different. This is something I have to always remember with my dogs. I work 1000% harder with everything in agility with Gustavo than I do with Otterpop. He has to do stuff with 2 poles, all the time, a couple times every week, just cuz. Something Otterpop might learn in 5 minutes might take Gustavo 5 months. Something it took Otterpop 5 months to learn, might take Gustavo 5 years. If she needs to practice it 100 times, he might need to practice it 1,000,000.

    But Gustavo is way better than Otterpop at being sweet and sitting in old people's laps and riding around in strollers with kids. When the doorbell rings, he quietly goes and sits on a tuffet, Otterpop can barely hold it together. She has to work on that trick 1000% more than him.

    They just do things different.

  7. Of course you're right. I try to remember that. I certainly have plenty of experience with that. Just one example--Took me about 10 minutes to teach Amber, Remington, Tika, and Boost to shake. Jake--6 months. Sheba--13 years (well, I stopped trying for a few of those years in between).

  8. And conversely, Roll Over: Jake about 10 minutes, Remington about a month of working on it daily in such tiny increments you'd hardly believe it. So, yeah.

  9. Breathe. Try to have fun. Warm up yourself and your dog. Be prepared. Think the course through. Try it. If you miss, shake it off. Listen to advice. Try it again. If you miss again, look for a place to have success. Set up for success. Be successful! Pat yourself on the back. Pet your dog. Laugh.
    Try again, another day.
    (...that's what I try to tell myself....)

  10. Well, I also have felt the same frustration with Jaime and discovered after 8 years that it really wasn't me, it was him all along. Of course I made my share of mistakes and of course it matters how you handle, but in the long run, some dogs are just very difficult to train and handle in agility.

  11. I am reminded (after YES! actually doing some weave pole work yesterday) that Boost is now having exactly the same problem that I realized with a brilliant flash of insight maybe 4 years ago now was her weakness and worked on it and have since forgotten about it. Back to T minus 4.