So recently with all our RC training, I’ve run into an interesting dilemma with Mr. Loki which is how to end a session.
Loki is a dog who loves agility. Just loves it. Even when he fails he tries and tries and never looses speed. Only when he’s really tired does he start making weird mistakes and I’ve only seen that happen maybe twice (and one time was when family was visiting and they wanted demos!). Whenever I open the front door he runs straight to the gate of the agility paddock and is so sad when I tell him we’re not going in. So for Loki, rewards are so cool and awesome, but so is going more agility!
As we were doing RC, Nic suggested I should finish the session when he did a really great hit, have a huge party and leave it there. To which I think there’s merit – the last thing he got out of the RC session was the awesome hit, so that’s the most recent experience he’ll have to think over… but on the other hand, he could very easily be a dog who learns that hitting well = ending the fun!
So I’ve had to develop a bit of a plan (or, at least I’m in the process of developing the plan) where if he does a great hit we have a huge party – he gets his squeaky ball, I throw grass for him to catch (it’s weird but it’s one of his favourite games), he hops in the bathtub and splashes around, I kick his squeaky ball and he pounces it and gets told how wonderful and fast and strong and brave he is. And then, he gets to do some easy stuff usually involving tunnels. When we’ve had a few goes at the tunnels, I finish him up – letting him know he’s wonderful and everything but without the fanfare of the RC hit. I don’t assume that he would associate doing tunnels with ending agility – just that the work is over for now and he got his toy and all is well… but he also won’t link ending the fun with RC at all. He’s so funny. Our last session was at 4/4 JPs with starting from a wrap about 4m-5m from the end of the dogwalk, and about 50% from 2 very hard spots on the DW. I’m sort of mixing GTCG with full-length running right now. The fact that he was hitting on the big speed ones was really impressive BUT… he’s not running normally during it – I wonder if he’s trying to work his legs out, he’s doing a long-ish stride over the 1st apex, then a short stride and then normal after that, but no/minimal RF separation until the very last stride off the DW. All this is resulting mostly in front feet hits, and I’m just not sure how well he’d be able to maintain this striding. I’m actually not worried about it, I think he’s learning so much right now and trying so hard to figure it out, and we’re having more successes right now than we have had for the last month or so, but it’s so interesting watching him working it all out and to see where it’s going to go from here.
It’s funny, I was just watching S. Garrett’s conference call video that she did (as I’m curious about different methods and why so many people down here take her word as gospel), and she keeps referring to the E-Book that you could download (which I had downloaded), and basically it was about teaching wraps around a pool noodle. And they keep saying how much it’ll make your dog love agility, and how much more confident they’ll get, and how much faster they’ll get and I thought: That is one of Lumen’s LEAST favourite things in the whole world. I can think of no better way to demotivate her than trying to get her to run out and go around something. Apparently, as long as the object has “value”, your dog will want to do it faster. Well, Lu really enjoys shaping around the wrap. She enjoys doing multiple circles around the object even. But why would she need to run full speed out to wrap it? I don’t think she’s silly, my girl. 😉
I just get frustrated with people on the internet who seem to suggest that if you do this one thing or that one thing that your dog will get faster magically, or that there’s this one missing piece. I felt like that with Lu for a long time – maybe when her iliopsoas was fixed she’d be faster, maybe when she got desexed she’d be faster. Y’know what? Maybe she just has a hard time going fast, or doesn’t see the point. And we’re working on it – I’m doing lots of fast, short, fun, easy things with her right now, and that’s fine, but teaching her to do one exercise or one trick, or by just trying to make her more excited isn’t going to do it for her.