Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday Nite Class

Tuesday night Ike had class. Bug did not. Bug is sitting out of class for a couple of weeks – he is still very tight in his lumbar region and we are going to do some physical therapy to alleviate it. Hopefully I will remember to bring my camera to PT tonight and get a picture of him draped on the GIANT (as tall as my waist) physio ball.

I arrived about 20 minutes before Ike’s class. I had promised a classmate the Pumpkin Bites recipe and wanted to make sure I got it to her.

I am so glad I did because at the end of the class Kathleen was discussing rear crosses on the flat. As you know, I suck at rear crosses. The method which Kathleen teaches a rear cross on the flat is slightly different than the way I learned previously and I am eager to try it with Bug. This is something we can do while we sit out classes (hopefully not for long though!).

First step, teach your dog to spin in each direction – if they do not know it. Bug does not know spin, so we will work on that. Once you have a solid spin, have your dog at your side and ask them to spin away from you. Then add movement, you are walking with your dog at your side and ask your dog to spin away from you. Lose the lures quickly.

I think I will practice this method and the existing method I know. Hopefully I will eventually have a solid rear cross with Bug!

Ike’s class went well. When I got home I was a bit discouraged, but I think I was just not in the best head space with Bug being tight, etc.

The first course was designed to help us work on wraps and rear crosses. Of course the only rear cross I tried Ike went the opposite direction. Why? Because I didn’t realize I should have cue’d a rear cross until he was already committed in the opposite direction (due to my body language of course).

The first run of the first course I only ran Ike to 10 – the A-frame.

From 9 to 10 Ike really wanted to take the dummy jump – he didn’t want to stay out. After we tried it the first time Kathleen had two comments. One, she said the way I give my obstacle commands is very staccato and she feels like it is startling to Ike. In particular she noticed him startle after 8 when I said “jump.”

This is VERY true. I feel very German when I give commands (unintentionally) – they come out very loudly and abruptly. Kathleen suggested I try to be quieter and perhaps use “go” more frequently with Ike since that is a cue that makes him very happy, and adds speed. Go doesn’t lend itself to staccato – which is a good thing!

Her second comment was that the reason Ike did not want to stay out beyond the dummy jump between 9 and 10 was because of the pressure of the other students and their dogs. Ah…yes, Julie, remember Ike is sensitive to space issues!?

In order to help Ike become more comfortable and successful we tweaked the placement of the a-frame – getting rid of both dummy jumps we were supposed to layer.

The second time we ran this course Ike didn’t have an issue with the a-frame, but I had a lot of trouble with the sequence 14-15-16. First I asked Ike to “weave” and he looked at me like, “huh?” When I said “poles” off he went. I am sure the stutter had more to do with my body language and attempt to layer the jump than the actual word. I am sure the wrong word didn’t help though!

I was able to get Ike over to 15 pretty successfully and then tried three times to get him to do the 270. Each time he came in and back-jumped 16. Kathleen came over and showed me that I was turning to do my landing side front cross too early and creating a straight line after 15 – to me! Kathleen asked me to hold my position until Ike passed the stanchion. Success!

Course 2 focused on landing side front crosses. We did really well (in terms of not getting lost and rewarding) until coming out of 13 when I flashed back to course 1 and thought I needed to complete the 270 again. Then I thought I needed to do the tunnel and 11-12 again. D’oh. We ended there. Poor Ike. I felt no need to go back and try 13-14-15. What was frustrating about that particular getting lost experience is that I didn’t even know I was lost until too late and so I don’t feel like I was very present for Ike.

I am so frustrated by this getting lost business. It is a new experience for me. I have gotten lost on course before on occasion, but nothing like this. I am getting lost every time I run! Kathleen did suggest it might be harder for me because we are running two different courses with the same set-up (and in general they are twistier than what I am used to). It’s true that on Tuesday during the first course I didn’t get lost – it was only during the second course.

All I can do is try to be present and not stress out or demotivate my dog too much by getting too frustrated with myself. If anyone has any suggestions dealing specifically with this phenomenon I am all ears!


Nancy and Stewie JRT said...

Hi Jules,
A couple of things, while you are working on spins away from you for the rear cross, you might want to think about adding the directional too, so Bug will learn left and right as he makes the turn away. Just a thought, when I first learned a rear cross I called it a flip, with a "scooping motion" of my inside hand, later I changed it to a left and a right.

About the movtivation/stress, I have the Audio CD, Mental Game for Agility if you want to borrow it and see if it help. Let me know, I could bring it to Smithfield. Can't wait to play some agility!

Jules said...

Thanks, Nancy. If you think it would be helpful I would love to borrow it.

I will work on left/right, too. My only fear is I wouldn't be able to use it in a trial because I would use the wrong word! but it is definitely a useful skill and a good thing to work on right now.

I can't wait to see the new venue! And all my agility friends. :-)

Cat, Tessie, & Strata said...

My two cents on the rear cross on the flat -- Amanda does not teach the spins. She just lures the dog with treats in her hand and quickly fades the lure. This worked really well for us. (She may very well teach spins away from this exercise, but I know she does not use them in this context.) She calls this a "flip on the flat" and that is how she teaches her dogs and her students' dogs to r/c.

Here's what I like about doing it that way: the luring hand quickly becomes the hand signal to the dog. If you are doing a rear cross on the flat while on the course (which is a useful tool to have), you use a modified version of the luring motion to cue the turn, along with other body language. So the dog is learning the physical cue from the get-go.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, in a way, it's a good thing to lure it because you're going to want the hand signal in the "finished product" anyway, if that makes sense.

Jules said...

Thanks, Cat. The way you are describing is the way Katrin teaches it. I find it a very straight-forward and easy to do method. I think this method (mentioned in the post) would be helpful in addition - it is a different way of approaching the same issue.

You end up with a hand cue either way, though.

Sara said...

I get lost on course ALL the time. In class, I tend to just go with it and make up my own so Oreo doesn't know I goofed. Then, go back and try again...and hopefully I get it.

Someone once suggested trying to remember blocks of obstacles in a sequence, such as "3 jumps", "tunnel/a frame/serpentine", or "pinwheel/tire", etc. Rather than trying to remember the numbers and what not. Other people do it with jump stanchion colors, i.e. red, blue, purple jump. Unfortunately, that doesn't work if all the jumps are white! LOL.

Jules said...

That makes me feel better, Sara. no one else in class seems to get lost! :-)

I do try to think of the course in groups of obstacles, but it doesn't seem to be working. I think all our stanchions are red - just as bad as all white!

Kim said...

I just wanted to thank you for your pumkin bites and tuna bites recipe! My dogs are ga-ga for these chewies more than any crunchy treat I've baked up. Great for training since I can cut them up into really tiny pieces.

I've found the "flip" away from me really useful for training the rear cross. Steve at Agility Nerd used a "walking the line" description. Holly's flip either direction and rear cross are excellent and she can now do it up to 30 feet away on the flat. I thought of the left and right cues, and think I'll be adding it later as we increase our distance out there. Good luck with it all and I really enjoy reading your blog :)

Jules said...

thanks, Kim.

Kathy said...

Wow, sounds like a challenging class. I used to have sooooo many problems remembering courses and getting lost, but like Sara said I look at groups of objects or patterns, 180, 270, little circular line to the weaves, pinwheel, etc, and I definitely noticed for myself once the courses started having multiple times going past the same place, it got way harder again for awhile until my brain got used to that, and running two courses with the same set up was really hard at first . I think it must just be one of those things that our brains just get better at the longer we do them??? So hang in there. One thing I have been doing that helped me is setting something to run up and walking it then leaving it until that afternoon, or evening or the next day to run it, then I walk out and have to depend on my memory, anyway that has seemed to help us and was a fun exercise.