Hooray, as I say every week after agility. Tonight we had class with Katrin and the focus was on jumps (and easy one jump practice exercises). Katrin wants us to understand that teaching our dog correct jumping form, and that there is actually a variety of forms their body can be in while jumping, is important.
First exercise, which she illustrated with happy-boy Niche, is to have you dog take the jump from a sit quite close to the jump. The dog literally has to hop over the jump and lift their front legs higher than they would typically. Okay.
Step two of the exercise is to put your dog in a stay a bit a way and then release them to jump (with you right beside the jump). Be prepared to treat them immediately following the jump, so that they get used to landing close to a jump. I found it really interesting to watch Ike do this - he would land on his front to paws, only a few inches after the jump, and then bring his hind quarters into that same small space. Of course, he is a small dog. But really Niche wasn't doing it that differently.
Second exercise was to have your dog do figure eights, or weave, over one jump. This is to help practice splicing jumps. A couple of things. First, I couldn't figure out where the heck to put my body, so I was moving around a lot *helping* Ike know where to be and getting out of his way. Katrin pointed out I don't really need to do that for him anymore (and hullo, it is part of the problem in the first place - BABYSITTER!) and that he should be comfortable taking a jump and nearly landing on me.
So, take two of this exercise, I stood less than a foot away from the jump in the middle of the jump stanchions (? what is the right word ?) and had Ike jump figure eights around me.
I nearly forgot to mention something important! Katrin suggested moving the jumps up to 16" for the boy; we currently jump 12". As I have mentioned in other posts, when Ike and I first started working with Katrin he REALLY did not like jumping, in fact I don't think he liked agility much at all. He just liked me a lot so he tried. Now he hops over anything in his path with abandon and easily clears 16".
So, Katrin suggested there might come a time when I want him to jump 16" and it is worth practicing (ASCA, anyone?). She pointed out the one thing we need to be aware of is if he starts tacking another 4" inches onto his jumping form in order to jump the 16" jumps (thereby jumping 20"). With 12" jumps, that is essentially what he does and who knows if it is because he can or that is how he thinks he is supposed to take jumps. Katrin said if we run into that issue we can do lots of tires, which would limit his jump height and use the top of her tire over a jump (she has a displaceable tire) which would do the same thing but over a jump.
Back to the exercise....jumping 16" I was much more clearly able to see Ike collecting himself - it is definitely more of a physical challenge for him. I also noticed that he seemed hesitant to splice the jump heading towards me on his left. Hmmm...don't know if that means anything?
Then we moved onto a little distance work. Ike can confidently take obstacles that are up to 5 feet away from me, but obstacles between 5' and 12' he doesn't seem to see them and thinks he needs to return to me. This brought up an interesting distinction, the difference between a "go on" and a "get out." Katrin asked us the difference. Lets see if I get this right, I said a "go on" is when you want your dog to continue on to the next immediate obstacle until you call him off. A "get out" is when your dog is veering towards you/returning to you and you want to send them back out to the obstacle, but I don't think that is exactly right because you also use it when you want to send your dog further away from you.
The portion of the course we were working on went, jump, jump, curved tunnel, jump, wing jump. The tape started when the dog came out of the tunnel, so by the first jump you were 5 feet away, by the wing jump you are 12 feet away from your dog. I did remember to bring Ike's ball, but Katrin said NOT to use it as a lure (i.e. throwing it over the jump for him to chase, which by the way didn't work!). I moved too far ahead between the jump and wing jump and Ike was going around the wing jump to the ball I had thrown as an ineffective lure, but he *was* thinking. Katrin suggested instead of moving forward I should be moving vertically. If Ike was going to continue to reorient to me, by moving vertically it was more likely he would realize I wanted him to take the jump that was now more directly in front of me.
When we reversed the tape so that the distance challenge was on the opposite two jumps, I had gotten control of my body and was able to stop halfway between the two jumps and move vertically towards the jump in order to help Ike see where I wanted him to go (versus continuing to move forward which was causing him to go past the jump and look for what on earth I wanted him to get out to). We did this three times and by the second time I was able to get Ike to take the second jump by *helping* him out with the vertical movement. Good boy!
So, this is something we need to practice, The tough thing is the weather. The minimal distance we have (I think) is in part because after I got my jumps I practiced it a lot (that and Ike's increased confidence). This says, practice pays off, but my house isn't big enough to practice 12' distances! Suggestions? : )
4 days ago