Thursday, November 19, 2009

A glimmer of progress ???

We had run throughs in our utility class tonight instead of the usual training since several of us are entered in trials this weekend. It was interesting - in that I can see improvement in some areas, and am thinking maybe some things we've been doing lately in practice are paying off. Run throughs are good opportunities to train since I tend to get some of the same behaviors in these as I do at trials - things I don't normally see in practice.

I was pleasantly surprised that his heeling was improved over what I usually get in trials. There was very little lagging and he stayed close. I've been keeping a light string on his collar lately in practice because as soon as I take the lead off, he's not as attentive and I get the occasional lagging. With the string, I can remind him to pay attention and keep up. I'm thinking that may be what has helped his heeling. Signals were good. He trotted in and gave me a good front, but his finishes left something to be desired. The 'around .... and run' game that we've been doing to speed up his finishes evidently hasn't kicked in yet. We've only done it a few times in practice so I'm still hopeful it will help his finishes eventually.

The article exercise went very well. No circling at all : ) He worked the pile fairly quickly and picked up the correct articles. I sure hope we're over that circling hurdle. He's still slow out and back - and slow with the finishes too.

The directed retrieve (gloves) exercise was good. And, he trotted back in with the glove (usually walks when in a trial) with a nice front. The moving stand was good, as usual, although slow on the come to heel.

Then there was the last exercise - the directed jumping. Go outs were good - straight and brisk all the way out. However, the slooooow sits showed up again. Hmmmmm... I wish I knew what he was thinking when he's out there and I give him the sit command. He stands there looking at me like he's just not sure what I want him to do, but then he always ends up sitting even if it takes him forever to get his butt on the floor. After the sits, he consistently takes the correct jumps and his speed coming over and to front from the jumps is getting much better. I just need to figure out what to do about those slow sits.

So, overall, I was happy with his performance tonight, and really hopful that it's an indication that some things we've been doing in practice are sinking in -- and that those things will stay with him in the trial Sunday : ) If not, at least we'll still have a benchmark as to where we are with training and what we need to really work on this winter.


doberkim said...

Do you always make him take jumps or do you ever just go out and reward the sit and end the exercise there?

Kathie R said...

Thanks for the comment Kim. I do separate the exercise sometimes in practice and just work on go outs and sits. They're pretty good when I'm closer in - and I do reward for sits - but, when I'm back further he doesn't seem to make the connection. Any training ideas?

doberkim said...

What if you sent him from a distance, but quietly run in and tell him sit from a distance?

Are his normal sits fast, or are they all slow? (this is something I'm battling with Rah - he hates to sit, period!)

I'm not sure what method you used for go outs to start with, but what if you incorporated a target for him to sit on or in - either a PVC box, or a mat - and starting from a short distance, you send him and have him sit in it, proof him by pulling him (on leash) out of the box/off the mat and force him to hold that sit as hard as he can.

When he does sit, can you throw toys or food out to him in the sit? I toss Rah's go out toy TO him in the sit.

Sometimes even if I am further out, if he does a nice turn and sit, I walk in slowly telling him what a nice and smart boy he is and just love him up in the sit - verbal and physical praise, feed him, then play in the sit.

doberkim said...

err, the first one should be - send him from a distance, but run in and sit him from up close. so he doesn't know if you're going to follow him in.

also - if he sits slow, is there a correction for it? does he ever not sit, or its just always a slow sit?

rah's slow sits are also correlated to if he has a toy in his mouth. so he gets corrected for a slow sit if he's ignoring me for a toy.

Jennifer H. said...

Hi Kathie and Jackson!! Glad to hear that you've been getting some of the progress you've been looking for. :) We love reading your updates!!

Kathie R said...

Kim, thanks for the comments and suggestions. I've tried several different things to get the fast sits - maybe I need to select one and stick with it for longer. He initially learned go outs using a target(dowel). I've also used food for a target and a pvc box. Now that I think about it, seems his sits were faster with the box. Maybe that's because he knows he's in the right place. Sometimes I think his hesitancy to sit might be because he's not sure he's in the right place and he's waiting for me to give him more direction. (I have had problems sometimes with him not going far enough.)

He's never had a border-collie-fast sit, but some of his sits are significantly faster than others. If I follow him out, he will sit faster. I've tried giving a correction for a slow/no sit - the correction being, to go out and physically sit him. But, all I have to do is take a couple steps - he knows he's in trouble - and he sits before I get to him, so I'm not sure that's been effective.

I'm thinking maybe I should go back to square one and break the exercise down and work on the go outs, sits, and jumping parts separately before I put them together again. If I can get good go outs and sits at a shorter distance, I'll try sticking with that for a while and gradually increase the distance. And, really reward the good sits.

Hey, thanks again. This is helping me think things through :)

doberkim said...

I use a variety of different methods for the go outs - not just my own idea, but my trainers as well (i default to them when in doubt - i just trust them). all their dogs, including the OTCHs, tend to have used a variety of methods to understand the concept of go outs. something they do a lot but we dont do for rah is having guides down on the ground to ensure a straight shot out to the stanchion as well as guides out there to ensure they dont veer off and sit far away or turn really wide. rah becomes too dependent on the guides and stops looking at the stanchion - he's very prop dependent.

id definitely work on fast sits as an aside to the go out issue - and if the pvc box helped him be sure, id bring it back and gradually wean it away (down to clear guides). and the minute he gets nice turn and sit, praise the heck out of him from across the ring and praise him the entire time you walk in on him and give him the best rewards.

if i go to give a correction and the dog "fixes" themselves, i will still give a mild correction - the idea of what we do is not that you do what you want and the minute i come back into the picture you miraculously remember what i wanted you to do :) if you know your job, you will get a correction for not doing it the first time - it may be as simply as a verbal correction and a pat on the chest or the bum, a pull of the collar.

good luck!!!!!! ive still got to work with rah's marking his go out spot... so much to do!!!!!