You know sometimes you think and think on something and then suddenly realise something that maybe has been staring you in the face all along?
No? Was that sentence unnecessarily confusing? Possibly.
In any case, that happened to me today.
I decided I’d try an exercise using little ‘jump bumps’ (sawn in half PVC pipes) and put a low bar at the end for cik/cap. My thought was that Lu seemed, at least, to go so quickly as a younger puppy, why was she slowing down now for cik/cap? I decided to copy the old exercise with the cik/cap twist and see what she’d do.
First attempt was messy at the end, but that’s ok.
2nd was better, and fast! (I thought so anyway)…. Did a few more, then said: “ok, go sniff!” now, this isn’t an official command yet but sometimes I think we do so much and she goes and sniffs just to have a break, so I’m working those breaks in – with permission!
Then we did it again! Still good! This time I had a different toy.
And somewhere throughout this process I thought- Lumen gets bored.
Do dogs get bored? Well, everything I’d read about getting a puppy suggested you should rotate their toys so they don’t get bored- why shouldn’t this apply to agility?
I also thought that she seemed to do well the first time we try something new- eg. she’d be fast and good. First time we tried cik/cap around far apart trees? Awesome!!! Best fun we’d had in ages. Next time we did it? Less good. Time after that? Less good again, etc etc etc.
Same with toys. We’d been playing with a particular tug toy for about 3 or 4 turns down this row of ‘bumps’ to the cik/cap at the end. We had a quick break (I was puffed – still not fit enough!) and I showed her the toy. Her expression said: “meh”. I got out a different one: Excitement!!!
Ok. So. My thought (and this is sort of like: “What we’re working on” in a long and round-about way) is that I need to not repeat an activity so often. Because I’d do cik/cap around the trees for 3 days in a row… So if I do… cik/cap trees one day, jump-bump cik/cap the next, 500-ball-game-cik/cap the next, tunnel-to-cik/cap-figure-8s the next… not even every day (though I like to, because I think it’s important, and I’m impatient to ‘get it right’), but just… keep changing how we do it so she’s always finding it different, having to think..
I also think she needs regular sniff breaks and today I also threw a small handful of food in the grass every couple of goes after a good play, so she could have some ‘processing time’ as she foraged for food.