Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Elite Chances Practice

It was fairly cool, but exceptionally muggy when the dogs and I went out this morning.  I spent a little time working Dusty over cavaletti in an effort to get him to trot instead of pace.  Apparently, getting your dog to do a slow trot while you walk at a fast past for 20 minutes three times a week is a very good way to build up their endurance.  Unfortunately, Dusty much prefers to pace, so I am working on getting him to trot on command.

After warming up over the cavaletti, we then worked on the Chances course I set up Saturday.  I did a little tweaking to soften the line to the A-frame and we ran it in reverse.  Belle was up first and we tried it from the "bonus line."  On our first attempt, I released her and said "A-frame," but since I failed to turn her, she ended up taking the tunnel.  The second time, I waited to say "A-frame" until she had taken the second hoop.  Unfortunately, I kept moving to my left and pulled her off-course when she completed the A-frame.  The third time, I caught myself, but not before Belle had already started moving in the wrong direction after the A-frame.

One of the reasons, I chose this particular course is that I knew Dusty would have a difficult time getting from the A-frame to the #5 hoop.  There are basically three different options I could try with him.
  1. Hang back and let him creep down the A-frame into a 2o2o.  That way, I would have room to move toward the #5 hoop without crossing the line.
  2. Go with Dusty and try to send him from the line.
  3. Take small steps and try to reserve some room for myself to move forward after Dusty completes the A-frame.
I felt the second option had the lowest likelihood of success.  Being up against the line would remove all my options for movement forward.  Additionally, Dusty is too handler focused and is not very likely to move forward just because I fling out an arm.

I like the third option, but didn't try it.  I don't think it would work with Dusty simply because his A-frame performance is highly dependent upon my motion :-(  This is a major training issue, and at this point in Dusty's life, I really don't want to take it on.

I went with the first option.  Since what goes up must come down, once Dusty is on the A-frame, I can be reasonably sure that sooner or later he will get to the bottom.  Once he's there, I can release him and move forward toward #5 without crossing the line.  At least that's the plan.  However, even this will take some work as you can see in the video.  One good thing about the 2o2o is that I could practice on just the release to the hoop without having Dusty do the complete A-frame, which is a real plus in my book.  I also tried starting with him to see if that would give him more momentum than if I took a lead out.  It might ultimately help, but it didn't seem to make much difference right now.

Note the red hoop on the course map above.  By simply adding one obstacle to this course, I increased the number of sequences that could be worked using the box embedded in this course.  I devoted yesterday's training session with Dusty to working the box and introducing the cavaletti.


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