Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ike's Class

I have the course map for Ike's class last night, but I forgot to number the sequences. Given both courses were twisty I cannot do it today; I just do not remember them.

The positives, I did a better job of not getting lost and I rewarded my dog when I did.

The negatives, I have some sort of aversion to NOT running the entire course. This is really frustrating me. Because I am getting lost, because I am trying to MOTIVATE my dog and have him enjoy agility MORE - I need to break it down. I need to run 10 obstacles instead of 18. Somehow once I get on the course and begin walking it, that decision and commitment leaves my head.

When I walked the course my intention was to break it into three mini-courses. However that intention is slightly faulty. I was talking about it with Kathleen and she warned me that by deciding ahead of time where and when I planned on stopping to reward I might miss an opportunity to reward a super-speedy Ike or a very nicely executed sequence and then reward mediocrity. Dang. Of course that makes perfect sense.

Another positive, I am feeling when Ike disconnects from me more clearly. Now I need to choose to stop more quickly and re-engage him.

Kathleen did comment that neither of us do well with a twisty course - it is very true. Hopefully there is hope for me, though.

It's funny, last week Darcy was barking while Ike was running and that stressed Ike out. Ike noticeably slowed down. This week Darcy was very good, but the Vizsla was acting creepy and Ike was a bit slow again. I am not sure if the Vizsla  being creepy did or did not have an effect on Ike - she wasn't being creepy directly too him, none-the-less.... Kathleen commented that if a dog feels as though they are prey they are not going to draw attention to themselves by moving fast. Yuck - we definitely do not want to practice that.

As I mentioned in the previous post I did bring two of Ike's favorite toys that we only use when training - his braying donkey and his sheepy octopus (originally bought for Bug, but guess who likes it better?). I was really happy that Ike was willing to play with his toy in class. I doubt anyone in the room knows that years ago Ike would NEVER-EVER have played with a toy in public, let alone as a reward  for running agility. I was really nervous about trying to reward with the toy, but I am glad I did. I do think I wasted a bit of time though so I will try to use it more economically if I do it again in the future.

My goal next week is to run a shorter sequence with Ike and try to reward him in a timely manner - not to keep going until we reach an imaginary point I have in my head.


Sam said...

I'm like that too about whole courses - it's like I feel more of a sense of accomplishment if I run the whole thing in one shot. Sometimes it can be hard to put human emotions aside and think about what the dog needs to be motivated.

That looks really tough, though, so kudos to you for doing well with that set up!

Jules said...

The desire to complete a course is funny. I am glad I am not the only one who struggles with it. :-)

Kathy said...

When I was taking classes with my sheltie Chloe I would do a lot of shorter courses and stop a lot to was hard a lot of times because I wanted to try the full thing ;-), but boy it sure helped sooooo much in the long run. Chloe got to be VERY HAPPY and VERY FAST-so fast I had to relearn how to handle with her, LOL, but I was able to reward speed by stopping more often, so sounds like you are being a very good trainer, and making a good investment for the future! That class set up looks fun, I am going to set it up and make up some numbers, it looks like it could be done a lot of ways!

Jenn said...

LOL - it is sooooo hard to stop and reward a dog for being speedy when you think they are doing so well you should just keep going! Even with 10 years of agility training behind me and two soft dogs I still fall into that trap with Steeler! And sometimes even the instructors can fall into that as well - I know one time I stopped and rewarded Steeler after something that I thought was difficult for him and C wanted to know why I stopped! Of course when I said I thought that particular sequence was hard for him she thought it was a good decision.

Another thing that an instructor friend has had me trying when practicing at home - is to roll the dice and do that number of obstacles before treating. That helps keep your rewards random. I really need to do more of that. I can't wait for spring so we can start practicing at home again!