Sunday, January 4, 2009

Training today at the club

We went to the club this morning to do some training. I've been doing a little training on all the utility exercises at each session, then some extra on one or two elements. Trying to get back to basics. Did extra work on heeling today. Started using the 'choose to heel' method a few months ago and it has really helped with his heeling position. He is highly motivated by food (when not stressed), but has a tendency to lag, especially when stressed in the ring. I'm hoping to build 'muscle memory' on the heel position, so it becomes natural for him, even under stress. I also don't allow him to lag in practice. If he does, the lead goes back on for a while. I'm also paying particular attention to moving between exercises - keeping him in heel position as we move to set up for the exercises. I have seen a lot of improvement in his heeling, but still not dependable in a ring/stressful situation.

I had an epiphany today regarding the slow/no sits on the go-outs. I realized that his slow/no sits on the go-outs didn't happen until I combined them with the directed jumping. Last time I was at the club, I didn't do the jumps because he was limping a little. His sits on those go-outs were good. Then today, when I added the jumps to the exercise, his good sits disappeared. Hmmm.... coincidence, or the reason for the slow/no sits? Maybe I will work on the go-outs and the jumps separately for awhile.

We were doing pretty good on the focus/attention aspects of things until some members showed up and started moving the agility equipment out at the other end of the building. He is very, very worried about agility equipment. I have tried to desensitize him to it on several occasions by walking him around the equipment when no one else was there and giving him treats for approaching the equipment - but, he still has a fear of it. (We just may need to avoid trials where agility is going on in the same building.) Anyway, we continued to work the articles and glove exercises, which he knows well, with the distraction. He was able to do them, but still very worried about what was going on in the building with the agility equipment. Hopefully, working through his fears will be another small step in building confidence.

Next time we go to the club, I think we'll do some extra work on attention for the signal exercise. He knows the signals, but sometimes will avoid looking at me and miss the signal. I've started standing in front of him and tossing treats to him - and, he's getting pretty good at catching Bil-Jac treats from 15 feet away! I'm wondering if this is going to result in more focus on me.


Dina said...

Hi Kathie,
Regarding your no sits on go outs- I wouldn't necessarily stop practicing go outs & jumping together- it sounds to me like he's anticipating ("if I don't sit I get to jump faster"), which is a normal part of the learning process. Instead, wait to send him over a jump until he sits all the way. Even if you have to stand there for several minutes and wait him out. If he takes off without your signal, say "oops", stop him before he gets to the jump, and just take him back to the go out spot and sit him. Then go back to your spot and send him. About every 3rd or 4th time he goes out walk in & feed him for the sit, then send him over a jump.
Also, I almost always practice heeling with a leash or string for just the same reason you mention- muscle memory. And I have noticed that the more I practice the signal for stand while heeling, the more my dogs pay attention- when they are watching my right hand for my signal they can't be lagging.
Dina with Guidon, Rosie, & Dare

Kathie R said...

Thanks for your comments and encouragement. That makes sense about the directed jumping. I do go out and reward him for fast sits, but then I've been bringing him back to the start without jumping to do another go-out. I'll try sending him over the jumps from the sit after the reward. And, I'm going to try using a light line more. I read somewhere that 90% of training should be on 'lead' if you have a dog that lags. I've been getting a little lazy about that.