Apologies for that last post. Penny made me do it. Here’s an actual, real post.
I’ve discovered something about my dog!
Yep, pretty exciting.
When I take her outside in the morning at the moment she gets all razzed up so I thought I’d do some really simple handling-on-the-flat stuff as a way to get some of her energy out in a low-stress, recovering-from-surgery kind of way.
And I found that she has no idea that the non-dog-side-arm means “come over here”. Instead, she ignores it completely. eg. if I stand near my fancy new wings and say “ok!” and give her my off-arm, turning into her, everything, she’ll go out around the wing and do it that way. I thought off-side arms intuitively meant “come here”, but it doesn’t seem to be a strong command for her! I know I’ve done it before for a serpentine when she’s coming out of the tunnel and I want her to take the inside of the first bar rather than the outside, and that seemed to work, but she really found this most simple of exercises challenging!
I’m wondering how I’ve accidentally trained this along the way. Is it my cik/cap cues which I give VERY early with an off-side arm, signalling a wrap, but sending her out to do it? (eg. ignore my arm, use it as a pre-cue only? and therefore in future situations: this is a pre-cue to come in, after you do that obstacle).
But I guess there is other times you use the off-side arm, like this:
Ok here’s another example. Dog comes out of the tunnel, off-side arm, dog comes in, does the bar from the inside. Lu? She’d be wanting to go to the outside of that bar… Probably.
So, my agility-minded friends. Thoughts? Like I said, I’ve been doing plenty on the flat and with those wings around so she can see that if there’s equipment around it doesn’t automatically mean ‘go do it’. It’s kind of ‘call to hand’ but also kind of not, since that can be ‘dog side’ hand too, and mean something different. When we’ve been practicing, I’m rewarding every try, even if she does the back of the bar, and I’m jackpotting the ones where she does it right. I feel like at the moment, Lu doesn’t trust my handling and therefore she’s not at fault for doing what she thinks is right! Because that’s probably how it’s worked so far and she’s just doing it how she knows to do it! I think this is good for her. I think I haven’t done this enough, but I also think we need to get some kind of understanding between us – if I do this, I want you to do this. Because she can sequence obstacles just fine, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because she’s paying much attention to my handling, at all. I think it’s more because a) she takes obstacles that are obvious and in front of her (this isn’t a bad thing!) and b) most of our sequences have been a mix of straight lines and cik/cap, both of which are very easy for her to read. As soon as I try something else (forced front cross, threadle, come in to me before you to that obstacle that I want you to do), she makes it up as she goes along. So, I need to build up her understanding of my handling by making my handling clearer and more consistent, and build up her trust that she’s not wrong, I’m not going to lead her astray, and if I do, it’s totally my fault.
Does this make sense? This off-arm thing?
Also, I found this really cool looking dog on PetRescue, and sent an inquiry through about him. I’m still in 2 minds – I think a 2nd agility dog right now would be really good for Lu because she’d have more breaks and would get revved up by her ‘friend’ getting to play, she’d also have an actual playmate (Mal doesn’t count!!) and it would take the pressure off her somewhat. Maybe it will mean that in 2-3 years we have 4 dogs for a while as Mal gets older and can’t come on adventures, and we have puppies from Lu (if that ends up happening and if we end up keeping one)… But as I’ve found from this week, so much can change in a week, a month, a year – who knows what will be happening in 2-3 years. I loved what they said about this dog, that he loves to know he’s pleased you- this is something I don’t have with Lu (apparently a very typical Aussie girl thing) but that I think would be really great in an agility dog… Plus, as a greyhound x heeler, it’d be that mix of speed and smarts that I’m looking for.
And I keep looking at this little guy because he’s so darn cute, but doesn’t sound like as much of an agility prospect (but he’s been on PetRescue for a while and every time he gets moved to the top of the list I look at him and think he’s got such a cute face.)