a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Trying to be motivated: weaves

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Trying to be motivated: weaves

SUMMARY: After class, after New Year’s, after who knows what, but something clicked…

Zorro's agility class worked on weaves again today. We have been practicing in class off and on for however long I’ve been taking classes, since last July? So… That’s once a week, maximum, with a lot of outages on my part for one reason or another. And Z is doing fairly well today... got the spread poles all the way in (so they're no longer spread), but with 2 guides still on. We struggled a bit with that, but looking pretty darned good! But not so good for having started maybe 5 months ago! Because--

--today, while the other dog kids were weaving, I kept thinking: I taught Tika the weaves in 3 weeks. I taught Boost the weaves in two weeks. Doing it in my own backyard, because I have actual weave poles. But I have not done that with Zorro. And why not? I don't know.

Also, in class, I use treats with Zorro, because he won’t play with a toy there. This has been a problem in every class we’ve been to: He won’t even play with his Jolly Ball or his Flat Ball or his Squeaky Snake, and those are his favorites. So today I thought, I think I know how to get a dog to start playing with toys in places other than at home, such as at agility class. He sure loves playing with toys here. He seems to enjoy class, but I'm sure would enjoy it more if there were more play. So, why haven't I worked on it? I don't know.

That has been my question for the last four years: Why am I not interested in doing anything with these dogs? I mean, they’re good boys. They’re smart. They are eager. Chip worries some and Zorro gets over-eager, but they’re perfectly willing to do things with me if I actually try to do things. Oddly, for some reason, today, I thought: well, it’s a beautiful day, the weaves are right there outside the back door, let’s go home and practice some. So I went out in the yard…

...last week I dug out the old rope toys, which I've never played with with these dogs, because… For whatever reason. Today in the yard I played tug and fetch with Zorro with the rope for a bit to get him excited about it. He tried switching to his flat ball a couple of times, because it was there in the middle of the yard, but I got him back onto the rope, and then we played with that for a while. So, that’s step one on the toy parade.

I tried that with Chip, and he turned and ran away. "I don’t know what you want from me, mom, I’m stressed." So I just played with him a little bit, no toys or treats, and left it at that. (He doesn't play with toys much, even with his favorites.)

Then I started working on backchaining weave poles. I have used that in the past for training the weaves, using the hand in the collar method with a toy or treats. Which I’m not going to try to explain.

Anyway: I started backchaining at the end of the weaves with Zorro with treats for now. He didn’t quite get it at first, but he is now driving forward from the next-to-the-last pole through the last pole, which is what I want! Personally I think this is a better method for teaching them, so we'll see whether I can get all the way to the beginning of 6 weaves before class next  week.

Tried some of the same with Chip, with whom I have never done any weave poles, because… For whatever reason. With him, I also have to work on training that it’s OK for me to pull him around by his collar, nothing terrible is going to happen, whether I pull back or forward, he just needs to go along for the ride, and get treats constantly as I’m doing it. I have worked on that off and on the whole time I’ve had him. I need a lot more on and a lot less off.

And then I managed to get a very few attempts at back chaining the last two poles. He seemed a smidgen more relaxed each time.

Then I was tired all over, and it wasn’t even that much work. Reminds me of several things:

  • When I taught Tika, I was 19 years younger. With Boost, maybe 15. And they were 2 years old and about 1 year, respectively, and I had been doing pretty much daily training of all kinds with both from the day they came home, with toys. Meanwhile, Zorro is 5 and a half, and Chip is 8 and a half.  
  • It feels good to work confidently on something and seeing achievement quickly. That was something that appealed to me about agility originally.
  • It feels good to  be tired--not exhausted or in a lot of pain--all over my body. I'm really out of shape, I'm aware of that, but I was able to do these things today. That also was something that appealed to me about agility originally.

Sometimes I think, so many years of opportunities wasted for having more fun with them and building more of a relationship with them.  And then sometimes I think, OK, for whatever reason--depression or grief or pain or training fatigue or maybe all of those, dunno, I've had lots of excuses--for whatever reason, I've needed a break. 

Not sure whether the break is over, but today was good.


    1. Ah, I can relate in some ways... The only dog sports training I've done -- or, attempted -- in the last two years was a one-hour agility field rental, where my mouse- (/rabbit-) obsessed shiba inu mix wasted no time in teaching me that mice are incredibly plentiful in the taller grass along the ring fence. I was pretty dismayed had zero interest in attempting to compete with mice for my dog's attention -- so, that was that! Both dogs are now pure "pets" and my wallet is much happier for it, though I do miss the connection I had with Walter back in the day.

      It's wonderful that Zorro has that playful spark with you at home, and that even away from home he's all in and has a grand time training with you. And, it sounds like, you with him too :-) Progress is such a self-reinforcing thing. You have inspired me... maybe I'll pull out my weaves too, just for fun :-)

      1. That connection from learning and working together (e.g., agility or any of the other sports you did), YES YES YES. That's what I feel that I'm missing. And yet, as you say, I just don't want to work hard for it.
        I wish that I were still blogging here--it was my diary of sorts, talking about training and all that. But Facebook has superseded it--and then I think, well, I'll just copy my relevant posts to here each day. And then I think: It is so bloody much easier to post in FB than here: Type, click the button. Here, I need a title at least, and any photos take just a bit longer to upload and then select the format (left/right? big/little? caption?...), which I'm actually glad is available, just, well, I am feeling SOOOO lazy.

        But, yeah, the 3 or 4 days of maybe 5 minutes of weave practice here at home definitely showed up in class this past Sunday. Small progress, but definitely progress. And now I'll be out of it for at least 4 weeks with knee surgery. Ah, well. We'll get there probably. So I'm dying to know whether you pulled out your weaves!!!

    2. Alas.... I am sorry to say I have not yet pulled out my weaves! They're buried amidst a bunch of clutter, so it's going to be a hassle digging them out, and, well, motivation being what it is these days, .... eventually it will happen :-)

      Knee surgery -- oh my, best wishes! My new (as of the last few years) non-dog-sports life involves competing (recreationally) in orienteering; one of the older folks in the sport locally had knee replacement and is now back on course, bushwacking through kilometres and kilometres of forest -- pretty amazing what modern science can do.

      I haven't been on my facebook feed in almost three years but I still use FB for certain things and will be dropping over to visit you there :-)

      p.s. Any results for Chip yet? I am so curious to see what they will show...

      1. Yes, just posted. Had posted in FB a week or so ago and you reminded me here that I needed to add to my blog. So: Done!

    3. Well, it wasn't weaves, but -- I *did* pull out my clicker and some treats today for a quick living room "training" session! (just practiced a few old trick-type things... you know, fancy stuff like "shake a paw") First time in... over a year! It was fun-ish, might do it again sometime :-)

      1. That's so cool! Since my knee surgery (almost 3 weeks ago) I've done nothing new with the dogs, or much o anything at all. We do have a routine--first thing in the morning when I'm seated on the porcelain throne, I give them treats to run thru the very basic things that they arleady know (shake, shake left, high five, [turn] left and right, and sometimes working on backing up. You might imagine that that venue gives me limited options for movement. ;-)

    4. Now that is efficient time management! And puts a new spin on "toilet training" :D I love it!

      1. (Oops -- btw that was me, Muttsandaklutz which you probably knew anyway but I thought I would mention it just in case you were wondering. Not sure how I ended up logged out.)