Thursday, January 15, 2009

Running dogwalk, weaves and class

Been a while since I've posted on our dogwalk progress. I had a bit of a setback in my backyard practice when I moved the plank up to 4'. On the 3rd or 4th rep the plank came off the table and smashed to the ground, hitting an 8" CMU block that I was using to hold the table frame down. The plank split apart and it took me a week to get the materials and find time to mend it. That 4' table is not as stable as I'd like. I've been working on ways to brace it with stuff lying around the house but nothing is doing a great job so far. I put a sawhorse under the plank so that if it comes off the table it can't fall all the way to the ground.

We've had 2 attempts at the mended 4' plank-yesterday was 16/20 (80%) and today was 9/10 ((90%). I'm still using the treat gizmo for reward. Unfortunately it's starting to not work again. I've cleaned it out really well several times too. I click the remote over and over and the stupid thing won't dispense. It's still under warranty but I don't want to part with it because he's got his first trial in a month and I still need it. So I've been running up to it and putting kibble in from my pocket when it doesn't dispense.

We're still struggling a bit with the dogwalk out at the practice field. I'm still backchaining the full length 2' high dogwalk with success rates all over the place. Some days he's brilliant, other days I want to tear my hair out. Yesterday he was at 70% with a mixture of backchaining and running the full length of the walk. I've found that I have to put him either at the top of the down ramp or the top of the up ramp or somewhere on the up ramp to get the most success. If I put him anywhere else on the flat middle ramp he almost always misses. Ideally he should be able to adjust his stride to hit the bottom no matter his striding on the flat ramp but for now he can't seem to get his brain around it so I'm not pushing the point. We may go back to this later once he's more solid and do it as a proofing exercise.

I'm going to have a setback next week because I'll likely have to go to Chicago. My grandfather had a second heart attack in the space of a week and I doubt he's going to last much longer so as soon as I can get the dogs' bordatella vaccinations this weekend so I can board them I'll probably try to get a flight out there. My family is not planning a funeral or memorial service for him which makes my head want to explode and is a big huge ugly rant for another day but it means I have some flexibility in when I can go. I'll pull Strum from his standard runs if I feel he's not ready on trial day but for now I want to keep the entry. It's good motivation for me to get out there and train and be focused and think about what I'm doing.

His weaves are coming along nicely. After much debate I ponied up the money for Susan Garrett's 2x2 weave video (more on that another time) and I tried starting him out on Day 1 with just the 2 poles and he did great at first but then got horribly confused. He's to a point where he can confidently weave 12 poles and he's almost got the nearly straight on, on side entry down so I think we're going to continue on my original plan and revisit the 2x2's after the trial. He's easily got the skills to handle weaves in a novice DOCNA class. Whether he can do them under the stress of a trial remains to be seen.

He had class the other night for the first time in 3 weeks so he was a bit more wound up at the start than he was when he was going weekly but after half an hour or so he calmed down considerably. It helped a lot that the course run throughs in the adjacent ring were lightly attended.

I'm finding a regular class to be frustrating after taking privates/semi-privates all summer. I truly believe I get way more for my money that way. If the class runs small to tall I end up waiting half an hour or so for my first turn and I may get only 3 turns total, maybe 4. On the other hand it's excellent distraction training for Strummer. On the other hand it's a long time to try to keep his brain from jumping out of his head. We have only 2 more classes then the club can no longer use the fairgrounds so I'll be S.O.L. until Joy comes back to town and starts lessons again in late spring. And I'm assuming she's going to do lessons. I've been thinking lately that I need to spend more time practising anyway but I do like having a class to go to. Maybe something else will crop up in the meantime, you never know.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa.

    You and Strum will do great. He's coming along nicely.

    That's a shame the club can't use the fairgrounds anymore. It was a major schelp when we were taking classes up there, but it *is* a nice location.

  2. Now that I'm home again and have a decent internet connection, I can catch up on all the blog reading I missed for over a week. My sympathy on your grandfather and whatever dynamics aren't working in the family. And congratulations on your skiing progress.