I've been horribly cranky for the past week because of the impeding loss of my mobility so I've been avoiding this place. Do you really want to hear me bitching and whining and getting all 'woe is me'? No? Good me neither (or is it 'either'? stupid grammar, I hated English class). Why won't someone kick me in the ass, tell me to step away from the chocolate and stop being such a whiny idiot? Just because I didn't have enough to worry about my just turned 89 (or maybe 90, I'm not sure, I'm not sure if anyone in the family is sure) grandmother got really sick last week and nobody told me. I called her on Sunday and she sounded awful, could barely talk, but worse she sounded scared and I don't think I've ever heard her sound scared. So for a couple of days I was in a panic over her health and also wondering if I would be able to go through with surgery next Monday because I'm pretty sure air travel to Chicago is not on my list of encouraged post op activities. Thankfully though she now seems stable enough that I'm going to go ahead with it. Heck, if my aunt the nurse who has a good grasp of what is going on medically is going through with her trip to Hawaii I'm guessing that my grandmother is in decent enough shape and going to be o.k.
I took all the dogs out to the agility field on Sunday but had to do it in shifts because Strummer gets a million times more wound up about agility when the other dogs are there and yeah that's way too wound up and no good for anybody. Luckily it's only an 11-12 minute drive. I started the day with Strummer then took Cody & Lola. I like to work those 2 together, they get wound up in a good way and are begging and pleading for their turn.
I set up a little Snooker type exercise with weaves, teeter, jumps & A-frame from Clean Run's Exercise Book for Cody & Lola. It was called the 'Ugly Exercise' but I didn't think it was too bad. It was cold & cloudy so the dogs were going nuts. Cody was so excited he was doing 4 legged jumps in the air and 'dancing' on the way to the start line. He's such a goofus. Both dogs did well, hitting contacts & weave entrances about 90% of the time. We had more problems with refusals as I cued the turns & wraps too early. Will I never get my timing right with these poor dogs? I tried the exercise different ways to see what worked best. Wish we could have some practice runs like that at a trial then you get your real run where you show off how clever you are.
I didn't put them through too many reps. because those particular obstacles are the most strenuous for them so they had plenty of beans left at the end of the session. I decided to let them play a bit to burn off some steam and Cody went completely off his head, tearing around the field with his ears pinned back in complete yahoo mode. I decided to wind him up some more by chasing him & teasing him with 'I'm gonna getcha!!!'. He loves that game and went flying around the field, taking obstacles here & there. I've been puzzling over how to emulate the trial atmosphere in practice so we can work on proofing those contacts and though it's not what I had in mind this turned out to be a happy accident. He went through a tunnel then tearing over the dogwalk and yup blew right through the contact. Tried it again, went right through again. So I calmed both of us down a bit then did it again and finally he stopped. So I guess I can practice this at the field. I'll have to start him out with being a little wild then work him up to crazy wild over however many sessions it takes. There are some other good suggestions for this kind of proofing in the comments section on the 'More DOCNA' post below.
As for Strum I've started working him on the teeter and it turns out he loves it. One of the first times he saw a full height teeter Mr. Superfreak jumped up onto the high side of the teeter and ran down it backwards as it started to descend then landed with a huge thud. He laid there for a minute looking like he was trying to decide if he should freak out or not so I clapped my hands and squealed gleefully, 'Oh what fun, was that big fun or what?' and he got up wagging his tail ready for another go. It all happened so fast I could barely process what had happened. After that I kept him well away from the full height teeter or put the teeter onto it's side.
For now we're working on an adjustable teeter and I've got it up to above my knee in just a few sessions. I want him to tip the board then run to the bottom and stop all four feet on. Yes, I know, it's not the superfast sexy way that most people teach these days where the dog runs full speed to the end and rides it down but nope sir I just don't like that method for my big dogs. If I had a wee dog that would be another story. Cody & Lola both have fast enough teeters that I'm pleased with and we have very few problems with flyoffs or missed contacts. My method is almost idiot proof, put teeter down to lowest height, put treats on end of board, release dog to treats. Repeat until dog is running with speed & confidence. Move teeter up one chain link and repeat ad nauseum. Note I said 'almost' idiot proof. I need to get some spray cheese in a can or even better some spray liver that the Kong people make. Using pieces of treats isn't so great once the teeter gets even a little bit high because they go flying everywhere and the dog gets rewarded all out of position. I put a curved tunnel at the end of the teeter so I had somewhere to release him to and so he had a fun exciting way to get back to the start. He'd probably do a full height teeter straight away but I want him doing it fast & confidently so we'll take our time and work our way up one link at a time. The other contact obstacles are going to take way longer to train anyway.
I worked him a bit on the lowered dogwalk, just working on his lay down at the end behavior. I'm not sure I'm happy with this and I think I'm going to transition him to a more standy up position. I was shooting for the crouchy, lying down position to save his shoulders but I think it may be too hard for him to do that on the A-frame and it seems excessive and time wasting to make him lay all the way down on the dogwalk. I tried him a bit on a lowered A-frame and it seemed so much easier for him to stay a little more upright. I'll start working that on an angled board at home. His weaves were o.k. but not great. The thundering herd of stampeding horses in the field next door wasn't helping his concentration. I need to work him with the channels opened a bit in this new setting since most of his weave training has been done in my backyard (yeah, duh, I know). He's doing great on the 6 weaves at home. I think I'll try a full set of 12 this weekend. I'll start with the channels at 4" wide and see how that goes.
Training a baby dog is so much fun. I'm hoping I'll be able to keep up with his training somewhat while I'm rehabbing. Baby dog stuff doesn't require so much running around. I've got one person who's agreed to run my dogs out at the practice field while I'm injured and I'm sure I can find a few more. It'll be hard for me to get out there for the first month or so so Cody & Lola might be getting yet another extended break. O.k., I know, I promised no more whining so I'll stop for now.