Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twist on distance debate

So, I have been chatting with a friend about handling at a distance. She handled a certain part of the course in a way that had her easily 15 feet or more away from her dog. Someone commented “nice distance” which started the conversation. Since she does not do distance (as in the nasty ‘distance’ word)…

I asked her what she thought of as distance…

I think of distance as cueing direction/obstacles from a distance (meaning you cue the dog when he is far away, to take an obstacle or to turn). I cued my dog when he was very close to me, to take the jump that was right in front of him, in his path, and then turn back to me. Yes, he ended up a fair distance away from me, but the cueing happened in close (one jump away). I think of it as a boomerang.... that FS (forward send). In my mind, they are very different things. The FS is cued by forward cues (inside arm, verbal jump) in conjunction with deceleration. Very different cue combination than what I consider "distance" cues. I don't ever do distance with my dog, that is why we suck at Gamblers....

Makes sense right? So the next question was “what kind of distance do you consider distance? 10, 20 feet?”

at this point, I think of distance more in terms of how cues are delivered rather than absolute distance away from dog. Distance to me is when I can't

really set a line of motion for the dog but rather have to use verbal cues or shoulders/arms instead... so the verbal (right, left, get out) or the hands override the motion cue (which might be no motion at all)...

so standing at a gamble line "sending" the dog to the A frame.... distance

i think it is possible to set a line of motion for the dog from a distance.... but there is still the same "connection" to the dog. What I think of as "real" distance is when the cues change because that "connection" isn't possible.

I thought this conversation was worthy of a post. Very good content. We both agreed it is no longer the “distance” bebate, but rather needs a new title.

Running AFrame

I have decided to retrain Split's AFrame. Two reasons primarily: 1) since he is not as motivated as Tip he tends to slow down and make sure he does it right 2) his reluctance at approaching the 2o2o spot makes me think it is painful or at the very least uncomfortable on his shoulders/ankles to hit that spot. If we work the AFrame a lot I do see a slight limp--not good.

We started about 2 weeks ago with the "hit-it" game. I have an old pause box that I use. I ask him to run, put a foot in the box and keep running. After he gets a foot in the box I throw the frisbee. At first my distance was minimal from the box. Now I get to be about 20 feet away and send him to the box. I will alway run with him straight into the box or laterally send to the box.

In general I am happy with his understanding of the game. He is almost 100 percent on hitting the box. However, I would really like to see more amperage in the game. This is my first challenge.

Today, I filmed Split and Tip's AFrame. Tip's AFrame speed will be my goal for Split. She has a phanominal aframe with speed and accuracy. Not sure how I got that but glad that I have it.

Split-1.86, 2.15, 1.85 seconds (running start)
Tip - 1.19,1.18 (running start and running contact)

Next steps--lower the aframe and begin to race Split!

Day 2
Started out the day playing tug, which Split is reluctant to do on the agility field. I used a tunnel, got him charges and finally he would grab it and tug. Then we just did some 2o2o AFrames. He seemed faster, but I didn't time it.

Next and this is the first time I have put the box on the contact. We just hit the box, jumped off and tugged. Next we ran the Aframe, hit the box and tugged. After a couple of repetitions Split went back to stopping. Repetition is not his friend. Even though I was rewarding him, he tends to think that it wasn't right. After this I mixed it up with other games.

Times: 1.22, - these were quick release.

7/13 - Split is gaining more confidence to run through the contact. He actually looks happier and not as worried about performing the contact. New found confidence, new found problems. He has now upped his percentage of jumping from the yellow instead of striding through it. He does hit the yellow, but it is not the behavior that I want. Time to brain storm again...

7/14 - I lowered the AFrame more today. I need to get him running the entire obsticle. I think if I can do that he will catch on very quickly. He is a 'learning' dog. He know that when we train I am trying to communicate something to him. Reading to get some ideas on how to get the running performance.

Monday, June 21, 2010

USDAA Regionals with Split

Each of my dogs continue to teach me things always!! Split and I went to USDAA Regionals in Utah this past weekend. I only took Split for two reasons: 1) Tip was seeming a little soar when I signed up the dogs and I decided not to put the mileage on her when I wasn't going to Nationals. 2) I wanted to see if I could really figure out some of the secrets to running Split since he is so much different than Tip.

This was a three day trial, most of the team events were on Friday and then regular events the next two days.

Split is such a dog of routine. He loves his people, his home, his everything. Friday he seemed to have some trouble later in the day. His head just was not with me. I tried toys to bring his focus back to me, but 20/20 hind sight I don't think this was right. He was nervous and then when I amp the excitement level he just could come back to me and be a team.

On Saturday and Sunday I used food and circle work to get him more engaged with me. This worked much better. I think that calming effect of food is what he needed.

Our runs this weekend weren't horrible. We ended up with some Q's, but in general I would say that I didn't feel like I was as skilled as I wanted to be running him. This is something that I really need to work on.