Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rear Crosses and Handling

Last weekend Ike and I attended two 4-hour workshops hosted by my agility club with Amanda Shyne. Saturday's work shop was on Rear Crosses and Sunday's work shop was on Handling.

The most important thing that occurred, Ike's tail did not stop wagging the entire time. Ahhh....I think the transformation is complete. :) I said at the workshop I wish I had video of Ike from "before," but I do not. You will have to take my word that he has blossomed into a totally different dog. He no longer "shuts down" if I foul something up. He is engaged and happy and, in fact, did not want to leave the facility when it was time to go home. I think it helps that we train there so he now has a very positive association with it.

Amanda gives a lot of feedback and the biggest things I got from the seminar were very small details tweaking what I do. I have continued to struggle with rear crosses. I don't think I have ever really committed to learning to do them properly. One of the things Amanda went over once she saw where everyone was (which was a complete mash-up of weak or learning RCs to very nice RCs that just need a little tweaking) is how she starts the foundation with her puppies.

She puts her puppy in a sit and walks behind them. As soon as their head moves in the correct direction (i.e. the direction in whicvh you are crossing behind them) she releases them forward to tug or chase food (although if using food run with your dog to the food don't just toss it). Then she graduates to a jump bar lying in front of the dog and then stanchions without a jump bar. Very easy exercise I can work in my living room with Ike.

The other thing she suggested for me with Ike, I think in part because he is so small, is to use my inside arm versus my outside arm. I was taught to RC using my outside arm. When I tried it with my inside arm it felt incredibly awkward (muscle memory!) but it was smoother for Ike. Later that day she had me stop using my arms at all because I was obviously feeling conflict about which arm to use and my arms were all over the place.

I am planning on working with Ike on the foundation exercises and eventually, when I put it into action, I will try it with my inside arm.

The biggest thing I walked away with from Sunday's workshop on Handling is a game to make Ike more comfortable coming into my space. Amanda commented that part of our problem with Rear Crosses and in general is that Ike doesn't feel safe coming into my space or about me coming into his space. She asked if I had stomped him repeatedly, I haven't. I was talking to Kathleen about it and she commented that while I haven't stomped on him a lot I did used to regularly cut his path of travel off which made him not trust me! Well, duh!

The game Amanda wants me to play is very simple. Toss a cookie away from me. Then toss a cookie between my legs so Ike needs to drive between my legs to get the cookie. Over time I can bring my legs closer together. The first time we tried this Ike went around me multiple times. At first I wasn't quick enough and didn't grab the treat! Finally his confidence grew and he started running through  my legs. We will keep working on this.

Excellent seminars. I hope the club has Amanda back again next year. She has a very analytical way of looking at things, is a good teacher, and gives tons of feedback.


Sara said...

Good stuff. I'm going to try that rc foundation trick.

Yay happy Ike.

Diana said...

Wow that wonderful about Ike. And really good info on the RC. Thanks

Nancy and Stewie JRT said...

Sounds like a great time. So glad to hear about tail wagging Ike. That is the most important thing! Keep up working on the rear crosses, they will come along. Sounds like the game is a great idea. When are you trialng this spring/summer?

JackPDB said...

It's great to find such good advice in such a supportive environment. Glad to hear things are working out better for Ike -- and for you!
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