We had some success today

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by Beanie, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    I took Auggie to his second fun run today. The first time through was a bit of a bust - he got the zoomies because there were three jumps in a row all lined up, and got away from me as he took off through 'em all... and there was no real recovery after that. It was exactly what happened last time... he just decided to make up his own course and quit listening to me.

    A girl that is in our agility class was there, along with Auggie's breeders oldest son, and we thought maybe I could try to slow down... but the problem is more that I need to keep up with Auggie, not him keeping up with me! But it was worth a shot... so I tried to take it easy the second time through, but as soon as we hit #5, the a-frame, I had to speed up to catch up to him. =P
    Regardless, we did everything fine, and before he took the second jump in the series of three I called him, got his attention back, and put him over the next two jumps... straight into the tunnel successfully! We missed the teeter on the first approach, but this place is indoors and it's really too small... they don't have the room to space everything to regulation so the equipment is really a bit too close together. No big deal, I called him back and got him on it, and then over the final jump. Success!

    I forgot my stopwatch so I don't know what the time was, but I'm going to guess it wasn't fantastic. Regardless, I think we'd only have had that one refusal on the teeter, so I think it would have been a qualifying run. I think at this point I really need to do my best to slow Auggie down and keep his focus tight on me, and we may do just fine! Regardless, I think we're going to skip the trial here in April and wait until the one in June or July before we officially trial. I just don't think we're ready yet!

    There is video of both our runs but I don't have it - Auggie's breeders oldest son was there with the camera and it might be a few weeks before I can get a CD with the runs on it. But I was soooo proud of my little boy... he did great.
    We don't have a Petco in town but there is one in the town the fun run is located at, so I wanted to go... and Mom told Auggie if he didn't settle down and pay attention on his second run he couldn't go to Petco. So we were joking he decided to shape up because he really wanted to go to Petco, LOL.
     
  2. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Congrats!! glad your happy.
     
  3. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Congratulations! I can't wait to see the videos.

    It sounds from your post that you already sort of see the double-edged sword of slowing him down. Sure, it makes things easier now, but I promise there will come a time when you will want that "run out ahead and focus on the obstacles" attitude back! I started out with Meg so incredibly focused on me (her natural way of being) that she would check in with me before every obstacle - I would send her ahead, she would take the obstacle, and then come and run right at my side, looking up at me until I sent her off again. It made for lot of really successful runs at the lower levels. Now I've spent the last year trying to build up her drive and obstacle focus. Sure, we occasionally run into issues like taking the wrong jump (or our whole leaping over the contacts problem), but I still prefer that to the old Meg;).
     
  4. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    BB, I agree, I don't like to slow a dog down. Although I know this isn't the same as your case, training a fast, high drive dog takes far longer because both the dog and handler need far more skills than someone with a slower dog.
    Speed and high drives come with a price, but for those willing to wait and train longer to achive those skills the rewards can be HUGE. Plus it is so much fun with a fast dog imo :yikes:
     
  5. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I'm a bit scared to think about getting a second dog who has that kind of drive;). Meg has been so kind to me and makes it really easy to learn the handling skills; she "gives" me a lot of things that many dogs wouldn't. But even the bits of high-drive Meg that occasionally come out have convinced me that is the direction I want to go in!
     
  6. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    BB,
    The one thing that I experienced with a fast dog as a first dog, is that you spend a while just trying to keep up lol. You don't have time to think, you have to rely on muscle memory from your training and walk throughs because you just don't have time to think while trying to breath and run, let alone remember the course, where you want the dog to go and your path lol. But then all those lateral skills, distance skills and learning when to wait etc start to take over. And instead of trying to keep up with your dog, you are now truely handling your dog and that is a very cool feeling and with that you can breath better and the mind is more clear and the runs are smooth. And the great thing about is, with training you don't have to give up all that speed, if anything the dogs gets faster.
    lol BB you ve had a taste of it, before long Meg will be flying around those courses as she becomes a more seasoned agility dog and you will FLY.
     
  7. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    :yikes: You breathe when you run??? Crap, time to work on that ;).
     
  8. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    I hear what you're saying and I understand what you mean 100%... but I don't know what else to do. =<
    I'm afraid if I DON'T make him slow down he'll end up hurting himself by taking off on the dogwalk or something and then falling off it before I can catch up to him. It's not worth a speedy time if Auggie hurts himself, and that is always my first concern... I didn't care that he wasn't hitting his contacts on the a-frame because of the fault, I care because he was jumping off too soon and could end up really hurt.

    I don't even know how to test his focus until we get out on a course (where he may end up hurting himself) because he's hardly the same dog in our classes, my backyard, and even his breeder's backyard as he is when he's out there on the course! The first time we went out there I was so stunned. My velcro dog vanished, and in his place was a little monster daredevil! At least this time I was prepared (emotionally, at least!) for him to go nuts, though I thought we might be doing a little better - I'd been practicing giving him a "here here here here" while taking him PAST obstacles to make sure he was really watching me and listening to my commands, and he was doing really good... but apparently not. =P

    That's the real problem... how will I know when we're ready? How will I know if his focus is good enough that he'll actually maintain it on a course..?
    Help please? =>
     
  9. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Beanie,
    We would love to help you. How long have you been training? Can you give a list of what your dog can do in training? i.e can he and you do Front Crosses? Rear Crosses? Lead outs? And what kind of distance can you get away from him in training? Lateral Distance (from the side)? Can you call him off (have him come to you instead of doing what is in front of him)? What contact behaviour have you taught him? Can you send him over the contact equipment with you staying behind? If so does focus on the contact equipment or is he looking for you?
    One thing we have to teach our dogs to do is equipment focus and handler focus and how to switch back and forth between the two.
    Don't worry, you can have it all, a dog that runs fast and SAFE.

    Lynn
     
  10. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    We've been in agility classes for over a year now, I would have to look and see exactly how long. I've been doing some work at home since he was about 3 months, as far as tiny jumps and tunnels/chutes go.

    We can do front crosses with no problems, rear crosses on most equipment (a rear cross on the tunnel can be trouble sometimes - if he sees my shadow move inside the tunnel when I cross behind him, he'll pop back out to check on me) and we do lead outs - usually only to the first obstacle. He is VERY good about holding a stay at the start line, from the 2o2o, and from the table - his focus on me in those situations is impeccable - probably because I proofed his stay by doing crazy dances and trying to make him break it. We think he generally watches my hands and my face for cues, not my feet so much.
    I don't really know what kind of distance I can get away from him... maybe 4-5 feet? I haven't really pushed it to see how far he will get out. I can't get too far behind on the weave poles, or he'll check on me and pop out.
    I taught him 2o2o for the a-frame and dog walk, and 4on for the teeter. He'll take the contact equipment without me being next to him (though I won't LET him take the a-frame without me being right there since his tendency is to fly off the end.) When he's on contact equipment he is looking down, though on the dog walk he seems to be looking forward at the ramp instead of down.

    Calling him off is hard, but it's entirely my fault and not because Auggie won't do it. I have a problem using the "urgent voice" to really get his attention. Because he is a sheltie and they can sometimes be soft, and also because I want everything to stay positive, I'm TOO nice, and my happy attention getter fails to get his attention when there's another obstacle right in front of him! When I finally stop being stupid and use the proper tone of voice he will come to me. He is NOT soft so I really don't need to worry about it, but I have to retrain myself to not be an idiot and be so nicey-nice. I'm working on it... trying to be mean, LOL.
     
  11. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I have nowhere near Lynn's experience, so if she contradicts me, listen to her ;).

    Meg is about the softest dog I've ever met. Heaven forbid I used an "angry" voice to call her off an obstacle; she'd never go near it again. She shuts down very fast and very hard if she is worried. But she has an awesome ability to call off obstacles, and I use probably my happiest voice of all for that. I use the command "here"; another person in my class uses "tight" - both mean 'come right to my side'. If there is a tricky area where I think Meg may go for the wrong obstacle, I'll use 'here' to get her close, and then send her to the correct one. I also use it in discriminations, if I want her to take the obstacle closest to me. Like almost everything else, I taught it away from equipment. If we are out walking (off-leash for us, but I think it would work on-leash), I'd get it originally by luring. Have the treat in whichever side hand I wanted her on, look over that shoulder (assuming she's behind me), and say "here" in a very chirpy voice. Then I'd treat when she was tight to my leg. Calling her off an obstacle is never an angry or bad thing; she gets to come running to me, so that is the greatest thing in the world. It's also a really handy trick if you are hiking off-leash and need to pass someone on the trail;).
     
  12. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Beanie, it sounds like you have an excellent start and you have done your homework etc. Kudo's.
    It just sounds like you need to tweak a few things, the great thing about your first trial or two, is it does show us where our weakness are and what our strengths are. So instead of worrying about and stressing we should welcome it, study it and form a plan. EVERYONE goes through this, there isn't a trial that I don't come home from and say to myself......need to work on that!! make notes of what happened at the trial and what my game plan is going to be.
    This is what I would do. For doing rear crosses on tunnels, that is very hard and it is very common for dogs to spin around and come out when they hear us switch sides. I try not to RC on tunnels or especially chutes. But on tunnels only you can put a target at the end and get your dog driving out in front of you, once he knows where he is going, start doing RC's. At anytime I have to switch sides on a tunnel, I always call my dogs name, just to tell them what side I am on. When you call is very important and it is something that we have to figure out for each dog. Often if we call to soon, the dogs will turn around and come out and if we are late the dog will come out of the tunnel heading the direction that they 'think' we are heading, which often results in spins etc. I usually try to call the name when they are about 4 ft from exiting the tunnel, that has worked best for me.
    I would teach my dog how to target and to focus on a target instead of me. Put a toy or a food target. Ask him to sit facing the target/toy, the second he looks at it instead of me release him to the toy/reward. Don't say anything to him if he keeps looking at you but make sure you don't make eye contact with him. Then play games of having him drive forward to a target/toy with his total focus on it instead of you. You should be able to progress to having that reward 20 or 30 ft out in front of him, make sure its a reward that he really wants!!
    Once he is focusing on that target, add a jump before it. You stay standing still and send him, of course shortening the distance so he is successful and working up to more distance. Then you can add more jumps in front of the first jump not after, backchain it. (If you don't understand this ask and I'll explain).
    When he understands that he is to go forward without you train the weaves the same way to the target.
    Lower the Frame, you can stand at the halfway point of the frame, recall him over it to his contact behaviour. As he and you become more comfortable, you move more towards the front of the frame, he should carry on over the frame. It helps to have someone else there at the contact zone to give him (NOT from their hand) huge rewards. When you can send him to the frame from any angle and from 15ft (at least) back and he holds his contact behaviour you can then start raising the frame again. (this typically doesn't take to long, especailly considering that he has a good contact behaviour).
    We give huge rewards either from us or by someone else waiting there for total obstacle focus.
    As for call offs, in my opinion we need the happiest, nicest voices possible. I don't want my dog to think he is wrong or in trouble. I just want him to turn towards me no matter what is in front of him. Even the most seasoned and successful handlers (including World Team Gold Medal winners lol), make a mistake, have one of those Oops moments and starts to send their dog to the wrong obstacle. So instead of leaving it to chance, train it and train it nicely with huge rewards. And never ever ever reward your dog for doing an obstacle if you didn't ask him to do it!! Even an awesome contact behaviour. You don't have to punish them, but you sure don't reward it, because there often be the question that the dog may have thought that is what we wanted, so punishment wouldn't be fair. If I have a dog that is blowing me off, I just put them away for a while without saying anything to them, then I bring them back out and work on focus work and only if I have total focus do I even attempt the equipment, then they get jackpots and rewards. There is more to agility training than the obstacles.
    Just a note, I would not train distance skills and obstacle focus at the same time that I am training Call Off's. I don't want to confuse my dog, wait until he is driving forward with distance and focus and he is solid on it, then train the call off's.
    Start to send him over a jump, but don't start real close to the jump (20 ft away), turn 90 degress (don't take your eyes off your dog!) and call him, the second he looks towards you produce the reward!! Change his name just a bit, shorten it, use B! (but in a happy voice). The changed name means come towards me and don't do what is infront of you!! As he starts understanding and responding faster, move closer to the jump. Also be prepared to give Jackpots especially when he is almost on top of that jump and he turns towards you, that is a party and a jackpot. You have to be very careful of your body language, if you continue to face the direction of the obstacle your dog should do the jump. Because dogs should follow our body language over a verbal any day. And your body is telling him to jump.
    Next post will show you how to test your body language and just what your dog is responding to!! lol.
    Lynn
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2008
  13. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Body language test Lynn's style lol.

    Set up a Pin Wheel, with the jumps about 15- 20 ft apart, nice big pinwheel.
    Put a tunnel in front of the first jump in a straight line and a tunnel (if possible) after the last jump of the pin wheel. Tunnels should be the same distance from the jumps.
    The goal is to start before the first tunnel and to gain as much speed as possible, after your dog goes over the first jump and is heading towards the jump furthest out, instead of supporting the jump and the lines that you want your dog to take, rotate (turn) your shoulders, head and feet towards the last jump, try not to get too close to the middle jump. Does your dog pull in (most dogs should) and miss the jump? Good dog if he does. If at anytime your dogs misses an obstacle, FREEZE on the spot. See where your body is facing including your head and eyes.

    Hope that makes sense!!

    Lynn
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    BB, thanks but I absolutey agree with you, pick a cue word and train it and make it the best thing the dog has every done the same as training any other thing in agility :)
     

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