Thursday, June 18, 2009

Utility Class - Week 2

A new utility class session started last week and tonight was our second week of the session. I was pleased with the improvement I saw during the last session, so am hopeful that we will continue along those lines in this session.

Tonight's class went well. We started out with the signal exercise. Half the class was on one side of the ring and the other half on the opposite side. We heeled past each other then turned and stood our dogs, left them and went to the opposite side of the ring. With the first set, we all gave the signals at the same time. The second set was more difficult because everyone was giving their dog the signals at different times. This really requires that the dog pays attention to their handler - not to the dog next to them or other handlers' signals. Fortunately, Jackson had been practicing this with his training partner, Melody, and passed with flying colors :)

After the signal exercise, we paired up and helped each other do the articles, gloves and directed jumping exercises. On the articles exercise, Jackson walked around the pile once, then went to work sniffing the articles until he found the correct article. To see the progress on this, I have to look back to one of the classes early in the first session where I watched him circle the pile more than a dozen times - without ever going to work!

The glove exercise is coming along nicely. His pivots are much improved. I'd like to see some more speed coming back, but I'm not stressing about it at this point. I'm hoping that will come with more confidence.

The go outs for the directed jumping exercise were good. Sits are still slow, but at least he's sitting. I just haven't figured out a way to speed up those sits. If I move in closer to him to give the command, he'll sit faster, but the further back from him I am, the slower the sit. The directed jumping on both jumps was good. He has been coming in from the jump really slow, but I've started throwing a treat between my legs and he has speeded up some.

Overall, I'm pleased enough with his performance in practice that I've entered a trial the weekend of June 27-28. I know we're still not where I'd like to be, but I think we need to get back in a trial and start practicing some success in some of the exercises. Maybe it will give us both more confidence :)

Training Notes: I have seven days to practice before the trial, so I think I'll focus on -
1) practicing articles and signals in a new location each day.
2) losing the formality with the returns from the article pile, gloves, and jumps to get more speed on the returns.
3) trying to get him revved up!

2 comments:

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh yes, I think losing the formality definitely helps! I find that with Honey too - if I'm too "serious" about things, she tends to slow down and lose all the energy and enthusiasm...whereas if I make it more like a game, then she seems to be much more into it! Obviously, I know you can't act like it's a game at the trials but I actually think that it doesn't hurt to do a lot of training sessions like a game just to keep that attitude there - and then just occasionally doing it more formally - that way, the dog will transfer the excitement it usually feels during training sessions into the more formal trials - hopefully!! :-)

As for revving up...you know my opinions about that!! :-) You're right - I've heard from a lot of trainers that teaching your dog to play tug is a very useful exercise...it certainly revs them up!! If Jackson is not very interested - have you tried trailing the tug rope on the ground and running around with it snaking along behind you? Honey LOVES that - it really triggers her prey instinct and gets her going. So maybe Jackson will respond to that more that if the tug toy was just put in his face...coz sometimes I think dogs don't really know what we want them to do with it! :-) BUt chasing a moving thing that moves erratically (coupled with a bit of squealing from you...!) is always easy to understand, I think, for a dog! :-)

Hsin-Yi

Kathie R said...

Hsin-Yi, Thanks to some of your suggestions, I'm really working on the revving up thing. Surprisingly, I've been able to get him interested in tugging in the house - if he's in the mood :) It hasn't carried over to anywhere outside the house, but I'll try running with it to see if I can get him interested.

I've also started using 'ready, ready,... GO!' and then racing him. That works well in the training building and outside, so maybe when I say 'ready, ready' in the trial, he'll perk up. Anyway, if nothing else, I'm getting a lot more exercise :)