Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whirlwind Day

Yesterday Bug and I had a half-hour private with Erin and handling class. In an attempt to maximize both these lessons I brought Bug to work so he would not have a whole day listening to the men working at home and getting himself worked up. He was very good at work. And given there is a suite being worked on and more ambient noise than usual – very chill. Good Bug!

In the morning I sent Erin the following list of items I wanted to try and work on:

Work on keeping him focused and engaged on/with me given all the excitement at canine mastery.

Work with a series of a few jumps so that he starts being happy with jumps outside of the barn and more confident with jumps (he isn't very!) - do things like 2 jumps, reward, 2 jumps, reward.

I would like to work on his contacts in a new and stimulating environment.

Start-line stays - In class he constantly breaks his stay. At home he nails them - with distractions and life rewards. I think he might be stressing about jumping. At home I have started practicing with having him stay in front of a jump and then releasing him to chase a tug toy either behind him or to the side. Sometimes over the jump too. I have been keeping it varied.

We started with start-line stays and Erin recommended I bring a jump bar inside and practice stays from about 10 feet away. She suggested I move closer to the jump bar as Bug gets better about waiting. She recommended I move more briskly since when I am trialing the Bug I will want to be moving fast not creeping.

She also suggested I lose my “oops.” She said it is too happy and that she spied Bug’s tail wagging. So, definitely not a NRM for him! It is interesting because most of the time when Carmie breaks her start line stay I don’t say anything I just get her back in place. Once in a while I will make a very shocked noise, but that is about it.

Next we worked on the A-frame.

A few weeks ago I sent out a frenzy of e-mails to Katrin, Erin, Holly, and some other Corgi people. I do not feel Bug is comfortable stopping on the A-Frame and waiting and I wanted an alternative plan for his A-frame contact.

I have decided to go with a running A-frame, like I do with the Schnauzers. After talking with Erin, Katrin, and the corgi people I have been convinced that most Cardigans can safely do a running contact primarily due to the front end configuration. The weight and momentum tends to keep them from blasting off (although not all corgis know they cannot fly, Mister Monty!).

We practiced last night and Bug was not leaving the A-frame until about 6”-8” from the bottom. And he was QUITE happy about it. Cool!

We worked on Go’s with jumps. Erin recommended I bust out the target plates and use them to motivate the Bug. Bug definitely understands the concept of the target plate, so this is a good, basic idea for him.

He was also much better about keeping the focus on me and we did some tugging to reward too. All in all it was a successful lesson.

Then it was off to handling class.

Bug and I have been working on him fixing his front feet and he has gotten MUCH better about it. But guess what? I haven’t put it on cue yet! Kerry reminded me yesterday I had better do that.

Pointers from yesterday:

Feed from the RIGHT hand NOT the hand closest to your dog. D’oh!! How hard is that for an agility person? You spend all this time training yourself to feed from the hand CLOSEST to your dog!

If I am reaching over Bug to adjust his left front or hind leg be careful not to make actual contact with my chest to his back as it will muss up his topline.

I felt like we had a good class. Bug’s “Stand” and “Fix it” are coming along.

Then we went home and CRASHED! Today Bug is in the office again as tonight we have Weave Pole Class # 5.

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