Friday, November 26, 2010

Never overrate foundation

Every once in a while I gain a deeper understanding of why foundation is so important! I have been watching Mary Ellen Barry's (MEB) new foundation DVD. Fabulous addition to the library and she is just an amazing teacher.

I was working out the dogs today and I think that I could spot every foundation skill that either I didn't work on or I short-cuted. All three dogs!! Something MEB said on the DVD is that she spends a ton of time on foundation skills, perfects them, so that when she is teaching agility equipment she is not fighting the lack of any other skill! HUGE!!!!

Examples from today's' practice:
Tangle - Although he isn't even 5 months old and I have not finished his foundation by any means, I can spot what I need to work on more. I started out with just a little circle work at a slow trot. He didn't know that he was suppose to stay with me. It was easy to remind him, but I need to incorporate some specific training that helps him understand that better.

Split - he is a really strong flanker. He always wants to be slightly ahead and turn into me. Again, I need to go back to foundation work and teach him the value of being at my side. Also, Split has zero forward send to a tunnel. The nice thing about that is that I have to be moving in order to get him into the tunnel. However, if I start off with some motion and send him 5 feet he should be able to get into the tunnel without looking back at me.

Also, Split has lost/never had a strong enough understanding of the weaves. We went back to almost square one today and worked on weave entries. I was going to click/treat it, but Split would not take food today--interesting. So, instead I clicked and threw the Frisbee. We worked with just 4 poles and worked my way around the clock from 9 to 3 on the entries. Once we got past either of those he could not get his entry anymore. We will work that. I also noticed that he is dependant on my motion. I need to think about that and decide how independent I want that performance. Ie, I am moving forward in the general direction he needs to go, but I should be able to peel off laterally. I don't want him doing the weaves if my motions is going against the flow.

Tip - Tip was my first dog and I will always give her credit for that! She has adapted to so many different techniques, it is amazing that she can be successful on course at all. Tip does not have a good balance of obstacle/handler focus. She is way more obstacle focused. Probably because I was when I taught her! We need to review her permission to take an obstacle! Her start line stayed sucked today as well and I have been working that as well. Need to go back and work impulse control work with her.