Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Handler Exercises

Otherwise known as exercises in futility! Just kidding.

Below is a rough approximation of our course last night. Rough because I made it in PowerPoint and because if we didn't actually do an obstacle during class I can't recall it. And it obviously doesn't count if Ike just *chose* to do it - JUST KIDDING. I have limited memory power; need to start eating some Ginko or something!

We started off class doing the two wing jumps (those are the ones with the cute little blue boxes) and the single jump, then a switch and single jump into the tunnel. Katrin asked us to do a back cross/switch after the first single jump. With Ike, in my heart-of-obvious-hearts, I wanted to do a front cross after the first single jump. However I did the requested back cross, and this is a great thing because I need practice on how the heck to do those. Someday I will have a dog that is not Ike.

Katrin suggested setting our dogs up to the left of the first wing jump (right behind the wing) and putting them in a stay so they need to hop the first jump. Start-line stays are kind of new to me. I typically do not do lead outs with Ike because in the beginning (of our competitive agility training) I was so concerned about demotivating him. Now that he enjoys agility it is kind of a moot point and in fact might actually help us out, so start-line stays and lead-outs here we come.

Anyway, Katrin introduced us to her theory of arcs, essentially, a dog will be inclined to act somewhat like a boomerang and arc back in the direction from which they started with momentum. In this case, that meant choosing the single jump over the tunnel and it worked beautifully. My uneducated inclination was to do the exact opposite, start the dog on an angle behind the right wing. I was thinking he would move in a straight line. Eh....the things you learn.

Ike handled this really well. I was surprised and thought he would go for the tunnel. Yay for the theory of arcs! Of course, considering he still doesn't really know switch that well, as I prefer practicing the table, I almost stomped on him when I did the back cross. We both recovered much more quickly than we would have a year ago! I suspect with more practicing of switch at home and some more back cross practice this will stop being an issue for us. Hooray. At one point with Ike I just assumed we would never be able to do a back cross! I still have a preference for front-crosses considering the speed Ike typically moves at, though!

Next we did two wing jumps, tunnel, double jump, weave poles, dog does a 180 into the second set of weave poles. Ike had a heck of a time chosing the tunnel over the single jump. First it was my fault, I kept moving and he was just watching my forward movement, then I dropped my hand too soon and it looked like I was cuing him to do the single jump even though verbally I was yelling tunnel. Then he was somewhat pattern trained. However Ike responds super well to a verbal uh-uh (which I do try to avoid nowadays) and I was finally able to get him to do the tunnel.

HOWEVER, again with the bad handler, I wanted to reward him after the double jump and I bent down and was kind of facing him which caused him to drop the bar (should have just done it before the double - screw momentum - this is practice). ARGH!! Poor Ike. Thank gods he is a forgiving pooch. Onto the weaves in a 180 formation. I ended up handling this as Katrin suggested, by staying between the two sets of weaves, even though I wanted to babysit Ike and do a front cross so I could be on the entrance side of the second set of weaves.

It was a challenging class for me. Ike is at a wonderful point where he just enjoys agility, so I think he had fun too. And even though both dogs in our class are young and playful Ike does not get overly upset about this. In fact, he appears to like them. Yay, Ike!!


Katrin said...

Instructor note- You forgot to tell them the MAIN POINT of class!!! To try to look at things from the point of view of your dog!

Otherwise, lovely post. I just e-mailed you a copy of the actual set up, yours is a tad bit off, but nice, didn't know you could play that well in Powerpoint! :-)

JULES & IKE said...

Ooops!! That was the main point, wasn't it!?

I will upload your set-up and some jibber-jabber about about your dog's perspective! ; )