Yesterday we (Ike & I, Cat & Tess [ESS], Sandy & Sadie [AS], Nancy & Remy [AS]) gathered at Katrin's ring to practice some agility. Cat was there before Ike and I arrived and had set up a flexible course with two tunnels, multiple jumps, and the dogwalk. She and Tess were already practicing, so I pulled out some poles and decided I would work Ike on his poles while we waited for everyone to arrive. Well, dork .... I did the classic bad owner training. I asked Ike for what he was able to do at home perfectly - now speedy poles - in a SUPER distracting environment (Cat & Tessie racing around and Katrin & Monty [CWC] outside the fence) and then KEPT asking him for it. UGH....every week at the shelter I remind people to back up if their dog fails and try again with something slightly easier. I am a bit frustrated with myself because this seems to be a recent theme - my wearing blinders when it comes to Ike. Thank the gods Katrin was out there and reminded me of one of the basic tenets of training. D'oh.
The rest of practice went really well with Ike displaying the confidence he lacked last week on Katrin's dogwalk and picking up some speed. We also incorporated the poles into a couple of sequences and Ike was able to whip through them (whip is a relative term, I described his previous weave performance to Nancy as "a semi truck doing the weaves"). A couple of thoughts: two weeks ago Ike handled all of Katrin's contact obstacles with confidence (to my surprise); last week he was very hesitant about all the contacts; on Saturday I groomed him and trimmed his nails and the fur between his pads. I wonder if that made the difference in his confidence level. I tend to think so.
Today Ike and I practiced the SeeSaw and stays for a while. Initially he was cautious about the teeter as we haven't done it in a bit, but he was quickly doing it pretty confidently and with more speed than usual. I reinforced him heavily for this. Then I began asking him to do the SeeSaw while I was about 3 1/2 feet away from it. At first Ike got about a foot up the SeeSaw and hopped off. The second time he completed it. Whoo-hoo!! Needless to say we repeated this a few times.
Then I practiced some distance stays with me running away from Ike. I am lucky my in-law's have a large backyard. Ike was a very good boy and held his stays. Since both of these seemed to go well I decided I would try to put Ike in a stay and send him to the SeeSaw from about 5 feet away. I told Ike, "Okay, SeeSaw" and he flew up it. Hooray! I consider this a breakthrough. I know we have LOADS of work to do with distance but considering Ike's attitude about the SeeSaw I am pleased with today's mini-session.
I've noticed in working on Ike's weaves and teeter performances that he seems to enjoy these brief one obstacle sessions a lot. He is much more playful and excited about the obstacles and the training. I have to think about how I can utilize this new knowledge of Ike's attitude for future obstacles. I see myself with a backyard full of equipment!