Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rear crosses

We have a pile of snow here now so Tangle and I were forced into the basement for training. Not so bad because you can focus on things that don't need the space for. Otherwise I would probably choose to do something where I am running more (I love to run).

We worked on our foundation work--sending to a jump upright, front crosses, rear crosses, and facing forward skills.

Things catch my attention from time to time and I really begin to think deeply about them. For instance, my thought yesterday was "when does the rear cross cue really happen?". Am I late or on time? Sure, you and the dog are running along, you send him ahead, begin to converge on his path, head toward the opposite jump stanchion, probably put your arm forward and magically the dog knows to turn away from you. When is his moment of realization that you are going to rear cross? Is it when you purposely send him ahead? Is it when you converge on his path?

The fun thing for me watching this video is how much Tangle and I are in unison. Watching this in slow motion didn't really give me more of a clue EXACTLY when Tangle realizes that we are rear crossing. I can tell that he knows that he is going to rear cross when his head begins to straighten out and look ahead (he begins to move from direct eye contact and peripheral vision). But there is no moment of realization. Kind of like that moment when your cue is late for the dog, all the sudden you tell them to weave, and their body lowers and takes off (Ah, thanks Mom for the cue, I got it from here).

The other thing that I noticed with Tangle is that he is very sensitive to my hand motion. On some of these turns, I use my hand to turn him on the flat. He follows that motion very closely. Mostly good, but have to be careful.

Love this dog, he seems to respond very naturally to body cues. I think he has done this before!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Competitive isn't always good.

I don't think too many people know this, but I actually thought long and hard about starting to trial dogs in agility. I shy away from competition because I get too competitive too fast and then set unrealistic (perfection) standards for myself. I don't enjoy myself as a person when I go over the top. I can't always see it coming or prevent going over the top.

I love being active, and in sports. But, when it comes to competition I haven't been able to figure out exactly where the line is that I should not cross for myself. That is, I move from fun loving to a perfectionist very fast. When the perfectionist in me surfaces it sucks all the enjoyment out of competition for me. I totally loose perspective!

That happened to me today AGAIN! If you have followed my blog you may have noticed that from time to time I wish that Split was a more confident dog. One of the things leading to my decision to try and be a better trainer (that is, more consistently reward for good work) was that I wanted to try and build Split's confidence. I have seen some of the fruits of that in the last several weeks practices. His speed and bounce in his work has increase noticably.

We just finished a weekend trial and I have to say I ended it on a VERY frustrating note. Our last run was with Split and Standard. The run started off great but then we had an off course. Once that happened Split went into a little bit of a wilding. He actually took three obstacles before I could get him to stop and think! It totally frustrated me!!! The frustration came from the frickin quest for the perfect run and Q. 20 20 hindsight, was that a more confident dog I was seeing?

We have been working on contacts REALLY hard over the last month. In Split's final run, I was frustrated because we didn't Q. I should have been really, really proud, he held all of his contacts until he was released. He even held them as I started motion again and then released him. There was nothing tentitive about his contacts, just a solid hold! How awesome is that??!! I didn't celebrate those moments like I should have. Perfectionism got the best of me!! I should have praised him RIGHT ON THE SPOT!! Ops, am I asking myself to be the perfect trainer?? No, I am asking myself to focus on the right things.

Shame on me.

I have been working on nothing but contacts for the last month and guess what? The contacts for both dogs were much improved.

  • Split's contact were much more solid all weekend.

  • Split and Tip only blew one teeter the whole weekend. Much better than it has been.

  • When I finally got my head together and asked for a 2o2o DW contact from Tip, she was right on it! Good girl.

Now I will say that I have gotten rusty has a handler in the past month and that is not the dogs fault.

Putting together the dog/handler team is like creating a fine wine. I should enjoy it as it ages and becomes better and better. Team's aren't built over night and the quality of the run should not be measure in the Q.