Nothing like some good running dogwalk OCD to distract you from the horrors of the world. It feels worse this time around because I know what I'm in for and what to watch for and how many ways it can all go so wrong.
For months I've been ambivalent about dog training, my brain and body focused on Xterra Nat's. and then Worlds and Ruby being such a Good Girl and not needing tons of training or Something To Do. Now suddenly I find myself entrenched in it, madly reviewing all my videos for all the things. Why does agility have to have so many things? And why do so many of those things have to be so big and expensive and they don't fit in my yard?
And the Running Dogwalk. Such a simple thing and yet so complimacated. Right now we've had exactly two sessions of running on a piece of astro-turf, so simple. Two sessions I used a treat gizmo, the other a Lotus Ball. Silvia's method uses a thrown toy but I never liked that idea for Strummer because of terrible worry over torn ACLs in crazy dogs chasing toys and slamming on the brakes and forever trashing knees. So for most of his training I used a remote control treat dispenser gizmo. At some points throughout his training I would use thrown toys but at the start it was all about the treat gizmo. But Silvia advises that you use a thrown toy and one that is still moving when they catch up to it because a stationary toy will encourage pouncing which will encourage leaping. Ruby is not Strummer and I'm not too worried about her slamming on the brakes but she does have bionic rear knees from knee surgery so I'm keeping a close eye on her with the toys and running and slamming on brakes.
I shot video of all 3 sessions and so far I'm much happier with the treat gizmo. This is partly because I suck at throwing and the Lotus Ball isn't like a real ball so it stops before she gets to it anyway. I tried a couple reps of waiting to throw it until she started running but those throws were some of the worst in terms of my aim and I sent her right off the mat. I've been working on her tunnel skills so hopefully I can set up a tunnel after the mat soon so she has something to drive to before her reward. But we need some more work before the tunnel is rewarding enough. For the first time today she went through the tunnel without being cued and she seems to enjoy it so I think we're well on the way.
First Session (3 days ago) (treat gizmo placed too close to the mat so she never got a lot of speed up)
Second Session (yesterday)
Third Session (today)
Perhaps I've been looking at the videos for far too long but it looks to me like she's leaping on the second and third sessions, more so on the third session with the ball and perhaps it's to do with my throwing and timing. In most reps. the ball is stationary by the time she gets to it. It seems impossible that such a little dog built as she is could be leaping. Will have to take another look at the Silvia Running Contact DVD. Or maybe I'm overthinking all of this. You think?
I've also been working on the tunnel and running through the channel weaves to the treat gizmo. She's happily running through the channel now as long as she's facing the entry straight on. As soon as I try to angle her entry she goes straight for the treat gizmo and ignores the weave poles. Going to try some 2x2 training for entries or at least to teach her to look for the poles. Wish my weave poles opened wider than a foot but oh well.
Still working on Cik/Cap and jump training. She's finally offering to jump and mostly has decent control of her rear/doesn't swing too wide. Well maybe on a rep or two but mostly she's pretty good. Time to move onto the next step.
Haven't done anything about the teeter yet. I'm borrowing a teeter training video by Jen Pinder from my agility club library, should get it next week. In the meantime I've been shaping Ruby to walk along a plank, play on it, 2 on 2 off, etc. so she's comfortable on a plank in general. She seems fine with it so far. I had a handmade wobble board for Lola but turned it into a table and now I doubt it'll wobble due to the table edges. Guess I could make another one but I'm feeling lazy and I never felt like it helped Lola all that much in terms of the teeter. We'll see what the video suggests.
I've got Ruby entered in a seminar in February. One is Contact Foundations and I'm sure she'll be fine for that but the other sounds like there will be sequences even though it's a Foundations class so we'll see how that goes. We can always sit out the stuff that's over her head and at least I'll have some ideas of stuff to work on in the future. But sheesh, nothing like the pressure of a seminar to get your training butt in gear. Think I'll even try to get her out to the training field in the next few days to see how she does outside the backyard. Yep, nothing like silly hobbies to distract you from the woes of the world, at least for a few moments.