The lesson was at Erin's house - she has a nice space in her yard that is enclosed with enough space for 18+ obstacle sequence. At first Ike barked his fool head off - Erin was wearing a visor over her sunglasses. Eeek, not that! He actually settled down pretty quickly. We ran a sequence so that Erin could see how Ike moved and how I handled him.
The sequence had more tight turns and crosses than I am used to and Ike was pretty distracted during the run. He pooped immediately after we completed it, so I suspect part of the reason he was so distracted and sniff-y was because he wanted to find the right spot to go. This from a dog who had a nice walk and bathroom break just an hour earlier. Ah well.
Things I am pleased about:
- Ike really didn't hesitate about taking ANY of Erin's contacts;
- After blowing the weave entry twice, Ike did a complete set of 12 poles at his new "faster" pace;
- Erin's tire looks like an old fashion life-preserver and Ike took it anyway.
After the demonstration of our skills or lack of skills, Erin and I discussed ways in which we can work at motivating Ike. She thinks the speed is there and was pleased that he took all the contact obstacles without issue.
Rather than giving you'all an absolute blow-by-blow of the lesson I'll tell you was hit home with me the most and then get back to a bit more of the lesson info (maybe!). Erin really stressed that she doesn't feel like there is any right way or wrong way, right words or wrong words - just what works. She talked a lot about movement and lack of movement - the inadvertent cues we give our dogs. A great example is when Ike came off her A-frame. I did a front cross when he was coming down the a-frame and was partially facing him. Erin said later that she would have done a front cross before the A-frame because then Ike would know the direction I was heading after the a-frame. Novice handler that I am, I did the opposite and essentially told him to stop by partially facing him. Drrr....I have done this once or twice in Katrin's classes and she has called me out on it as well.
Erin also used a good analogy for me as a horse person. She said be sure and face the direction you want the dog heading, if you were riding, you wouldn't be leaning over to one side, etc. unless you wanted the horse going that way. Well, yeah.
This led to a discussion about running laterally to your dog or parallel. Currently I run parallel to Ike - right beside him. She suggested I run laterally, which essentially means running with my body angled toward the obstacles and forward - so I physically facing the way I'd really like Ike to go. hmmmm....
For homework Erin more or less suggested I get over Ike's barking. She thinks he "plays" me sometimes and I need to get better at figuring out when he really is stressed out and when he'd just like a treat. She is personally of the ignore what you don't want camp. Since I live in an area that requires lots of sidewalk walking and passing strangers I think I need to find an in-between position/better way to manage Ike's barking in general.
Erin also discussed her first dog who had a lot of behavioral issues and would bolt from the ring to aggressively take food from people/dogs, etc. She said the way that she managed that was with target plates. In the beginning during practice she would have target plates after each obstacle with food; then she would have target plates after each obstacle, but only some would have food. Then she weaned the dog down to one target plate some where in the sequence.
We tried to work with Ike and the target plate in her yard, but he couldn't see the plate for some reason. It was really odd. Although now, thinking about it the grass was green and the lid was off of a container of treats that I had with me and was red. Dogs are red-green color blind. Maybe that had something to do with it. Anyway, our "real" homework for the week is to practice with our target plate and long-term homework is to get some jumps. I think I may get jumps for my birthday instead of a chute. That seems to be more important right now.
I have a second lesson with Erin this Friday and then one in October. I got an awful lot out of this lesson and I think with Ike, maybe privates are the way to go - although *I* really do miss group classes.