Monday, August 27, 2012

Yet Another Training Conundrum

I've been working on weave pole entries with Strummer this summer.  Just 3 poles in the back yard.  I was good about it for a while with multiple session each day.  The main thing we were working on was entries on the soft side since that's a big weakness for him.  He always wants to enter between poles 2 and 3.  It took him weeks but finally he was having nice, consistent, successful sessions, nailing the entry from all manner of extreme angles.

Then a few weeks went by where we didn't practice at all.  I decided to remedy that today and took Strum out for a short session this afternoon.  He had a few early successes then started going around the poles to enter with the first pole to the right of his right shoulder.  I can't recall him ever doing that before.  And he kept doing it and doing it and doing it and I don't care what Susan Garrett says I couldn't let him keep doing it and  hope he figured it out for himself because he was stuck in a loop and not trying anything different and in my experience with this dog it's best to set up for a few successful reps then end the session when this happens.  So I sent him in at a couple easy angles and called it a session.

I went back out later tonight and same thing.  This time I shot some video.  I started out with the easier angles but as soon as the angle is such that my shoulders are rotated towards him, he's going around to the wrong side.  When doing these exercises I position myself towards the weave poles such that my shoulders are facing the space between poles 1 and 2.

Yes, I know, my clicks are late and I'm throwing the ball too late so he's turning and looking to me but I've got a bigger issue here and I'm not sure where it came from or how to solve it.  Plus I'm in dire need of a hair cut.  Holy split ends.  My hair has taken a beating this summer with all the training and hair washing, sometimes twice a day.  I'll make an appointment tomorrow, I promise.

If any one has run into this and has a solution I'm all ears because this is a new one on me and I don't want to continue to have him practicing this.


  1. Hahahahahahahaha!

    I shouldn't laugh, but it's so funny that something that happens to me all the time with weaves is happening to someone else.

    I dunno, with Boost, we have a couple of strategies when her entries go rouge:

    * try over and over again and every time it gets slightly hard, she starts doing it wrong, over and over, and I keept restarting from easy over and over, and then suddenly for no apparent reason in competition everything's fine for 2 or 3 months
    *don't do any weave poles for a couple of three weeks and then suddenly for no apparent reason in competition everything's fine for 2 or 3 months

    repeat broken entries + choice of process over & over for 7 years.


    Maybe I'm really crying because it makes me NUTS.

    If he has a couple of fails in a row, move to the other end and try from there. Or rotate the weaves 90 degrees and try from a different position in the yard. Usually something like that at least gives some success. And if not, do what you did, stop and let it go for a couple of days.

    Early this year, Tika in practice started doing it wrong every time, after 9 years of gorgeous weave poles. Finally I stopped and two days later everything was better.

    Dog brains.

  2. Oh, the other thing I'll do when I can't get the right results is put some sort of barrier in place to keep her from going to the wrong spot. Just a couple of times of doing that also usually gets results quickly so I can fade it (instantanously, i.e., remove it completely with no steps between), get a quick success without it, and stop for the day.

    I'll use anything handy--chair, bucket, piece of firewood, green garden fencing, sometimes even another weave pole laid on the ground works.

    If I had an answer for why Tika got the weaves fairly quickly and almost never ever had any problems with them, and why Boost got the weaves really really fast and has never been convinced that she always has to do them the same way, I'd be a very happy handler.

  3. We would do like Elf said and add a jump wing, or some kind of barrier to keep them from going around the wrong pole.
    Katrina has these little gates attached to two weave poles that we will sometimes swap in as needed on the first and second poles, to keep them guided to where they need to go.
    Also you could take away the third pole and reinforce going through the two poles, just like the start of 2x2 weave training.
    Nice how they forget how to do something they have done fine all along!

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. Strum was much better today, only did it once and of course went back to entering between poles 2 and 3 but only did that a couple of times. Most reps. were good with a challenging entry.

    I'll try tomorrow and if he starts doing the wrong side again I'll try the barrier.

  5. I think he thinks he's performing the same behavior--it's just that he's choosing the wrong pole. Because of the late toss (no, I'm not criticizing you), he's curling around the pole back toward you even when it's the "correct" entry. I'm guessing that he gets confused when the angle of entry gets harder, and he's simply choosing the wrong pole to curl around-pole 1 instead of pole 2, which happens to also mean that he's entering with pole 1 on his right shoulder. I don't think he 'sees' it that way, though. That's my guess when I watch the video and analyze what he's doing.

    I personally would go back to 2 poles (a single gate) and establish 1) the reward line and 2) entries around the clock on both sides from about 5 feet away. When/if he continues to have trouble with soft-sided entries, move the single gate in front of the full set of weaves, then gradually closer. BTW, I prefer Mary Ellen Barry's version of 2x2 WP pole training over SG's.

  6. I prefer Mary Ellen's method as well. She hadn't had any articles out yet when Strum first learned but when she came here a few years ago I took her weave seminar and there was some good stuff. Though even she was flummoxed by Strummer's weird weave pole issues. We did some re-training with her method and it was so much easier and made so much more sense to me.

    An interesting thought about his entries. I've been being more careful about rewarding him. I think I'm going to dust off the treat gizmo, I don't like him chasing toys anyway.

    Had a perfect session this morning though, only 5-6 reps or so but some very challenging entries and he got them all. Go figures.

  7. Even with a solid foundation of MEB's 2x2 training, both my dogs will sometimes miss soft-sided entries from high on the clock face, so I have to maintain those (even though I never see them in trials...hmm...why do I bother?). I do like the method because it seems to "explain" the idea of weaving to the dogs better than anything else I've tried. I love MEB. She rocks.

  8. I like MEB too, and Jen Crank. When they come here I always end up with a years worth of stuff to practice. Unfortunately they're not coming this year, at least not through the club I belong to which is how I was able to afford it.

    Good reminder about maintenance. I guess it's important for all behaviors.

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