I’m sorry I haven’t been posting. I’ve actually become really good at keeping hand-written notes after our training sessions but it means I don’t need to vent here as a way of solving problems. Plus we haven’t had a heap of problems lately. Bonus.
I’ve learnt a couple of really important dog-training self lessons over the last couple of months. It’s been sort of an interesting shift in thinking. I find it fascinating when this happens.
Firstly, I’ve learnt that even if some kind of training method doesn’t look perfect at first, doesn’t mean it won’t look better on the second session, and even better on the third. This happened with our running contacts retraining, where in the first few sessions he didn’t quite understand driving to the Manner’s Minder… We’re on full height now, taking things fairly slowly, and getting consistently deep rear-foot hits. Not at speed, but I’m confident it will come. It’s actually been a nice feeling to do a session of say, turns, and see it not work, and have faith that it will come good in the session after, or even the one after that. I think it’s something I’ve never had before, faith.
Secondly, I’ve become much better at not over-training. I’m still working on this, but it’s better than it was. I couldn’t fault Loki’s dogwalk today on his second session of full height, but didn’t want to make things more difficult than I had, so we just stopped. I think last year, I would have kept going, raised the criteria, changed something or other and then become all despondent when it fell apart. I’m trying to do the same thing with sequences – run it once as clean as I can… fix the mistake part/s if I can, and then not necessarily run it again. Otherwise, take away the mistake parts to train a different way later (we had a course with a straight line of 3 threadles at the club the other night and he couldn’t really do it, so I set it up at home but made it easier and worked on it there). It’s a work in progress but this part of my training is coming along.
We’ve been doing jump grid type things, but in general I’ve been ignoring his bars when running sequences, unless he gets a bit out of control and knocks a bunch, or knocks one I think he should know better on. Maybe this isn’t fair and I should be consistent – either care or not, but caring made him too stressed, and not caring doesn’t teach him much, so I’m trying to go for a happy medium. He still takes himself off out of the way after we run a sequence and he gets his toy, but I no longer think he’s avoiding doing agility, but more that he goes out there and gets ‘stuck’. I know how to get him back now, so we’re getting past that problem. Stays are still a big issue for us. Big issue! The other day I tried being stern with him and letting him know my displeasure for him standing up… All of a sudden, the 2nd jump in the sequence was haunted and he forgot how to do backsides. Oh poor little stress collie. That ended that experiment pretty quickly! But I’m going to try and have faith. Sometimes I see moments of brilliance and I can actually do a lead-out… Sometimes it’s a bit of a battle between him standing up and me stopping and waiting for him to sit again, and again, and again. Faith.