running type learnings

So, I’ve been playing around some with Loki’s dogwalk again. I was using a target mat but as soon as there was any speed or turning he’d stop targetting. I don’t think he likes targetting so much. So recently I’ve started doing more like what Isabelle did with Finn (Fyn?) and Jenny did with Lili and letting him choose a speed to run down to a Manners Minder, and rewarding for low hits. I’ve put a towel over the end of the dogwalk to hide the edge a bit to try and desensitise him to it a little as I think he’s in a habit of hitting in certain ways at certain points…

Anyway, everything is looking pretty nice, I’m getting a variety of hits, a mix of quite low, and one paw near the middle, one near the top of the contact (still a good hit!). We’re working on a 60cm dogwalk, even though most people seem to do it with a plank from a table, we don’t have a table so I can’t do that.

I’ve also done one session with hard turns, using a pole at the end and that was really nice… and once I feel confident he’s understanding his job more, I’ll work on soft turns by moving the MM.

But like… I don’t know if I trust my own training skills… There’s a class that Martina Magnoli Klimesova recommended – a Portuguese trainer, and I was thinking of signing up… but I kind of like what we’re playing around with, I think we’re heading in the right direction… I don’t want to start something completely 100% different… So anyway, I emailed her with what we’re doing and if it’s kind of similar maybe I’ll join. An extra eye and more experienced expertise can’t hurt anyway. I just don’t want to spend a crapton of money to then not really get much out of the course/not like the method/whatever. Hmm…

 

We also played on our fancy new height see-saw today (90cm at the top end! Yes!!!) and Loki did so awesomely. He doesn’t do the big powerful SLIDE onto the contact, but he gets there quickly enough for a first session. I don’t know if he’ll ever slide… maybe he will with more confidence. He did very well on the new height. He’s a lovely friend.

Weaves are on hold during break, as is jumping… I’m working on stays and have a bit of a plan of attack, including a new ‘setup’ routine that will help him get ‘unstuck’, as he’s getting VERY sticky when training at home.

One thing I do need to work on is listening skills… Once he has it in his mind to do something and is committed to it, it’s so hard to get him to do something different. And his commitment point for most obstacles is like, 7 meters away. 😉 I’ll think of some games I can play for this kind of skill. LISTENING GAMES, LOKI. ❤

 

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obsession collie

One of my hesitations before getting a collie was that they would get obsessed with their toys. Constantly shoving a tennis ball in your face for hours and hours until you wanted to throw the ball out the window.

Loki shark

We’d been pretty fortunate that so far, Loki had only seemed to play when you were actively interested. But over the last few months, he’s been refining his retrieve skills and working out the optimum place to put a toy in order for you to dismissively throw it somewhere, just to get rid of it/him.

It’s VERY cute. At first he puts it at your feet. If that doesn’t work, he’ll put it on your lap. If that doesn’t work, he’ll get it, and push it further into your lap. Oh, the cuteness.

Until it goes on, again, and again, and again, and again, and again… until eventually I hide the toy and the game ends.

So now I have a typically obsessed BC who will continually push a toy at you until you get so frustrated you kick/throw/push it away (of course, rewarding him). Luckily he knows that guests are more likely to see it as a novelty, so when people are over he harasses them instead of me. 😉

I guess now we just need to work on an “all done!” cue which means stop trying!

muscle & sinew

Not a great day. An OK day. I went to the local training place again and frankly I’m not sure how much I’ll be going back. I ran Lu to start and there’s no instructors or anything cos you’re in ‘advanced’ so you don’t get any feedback, which is ok because I generally know what went wrong but sometimes it’s nice to have some feedback. We had a slow run, then a fast run. We did great on the fast run. Go Lu.

Then it was Loki’s turn. He’d been waiting through ALL the setup time, and ALL the Lumen time, and ALL the waiting-for-advanced-to-finish time. He came out, warmed up and off we went.

A few bars came down, a few little things went wrong, he couldn’t remember how to weave (no worries, he only learnt yesterday!) and we finished our turn. Then someone outside the ring says he was holding up his front paw while I was talking to the “instructor” (who was telling me (and this was basically the only feedback I got) that when Loki goes fast his jump arc flattens out. I said: “Well, I’m not going to make him slower” so the “instructor” (quotation marks included on purpose) says: “well you’ll just have to run faster” AHA AHAHAH AHAHAHHA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA BAUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH oh lord. Anyway) so I trotted him a bit and he looked ok, not limping or anything, so I took him over to work on his stays and on some serpentines since there were 3 jumps set up.

First attempt at the serp it looked BEAUTIFUL from my peripheral – I heard a bar knock, no worries… Loki looks like he slipped over a bit landing the last jump and comes over to me sort of dazed… and not putting any weight on his rear foot wtf. So I check him out – he’s not whimpering or anything just sort of stunned. The upright of the middle serp (not a wing, a horribly spiky metal pole) had been knocked over as he sliced past and obviously got his leg somehow. It’s not cut or anything and of course 10 seconds later someone was running the course so he’s all: I’M FINE LET ME DO ALL THE ‘GILITIES!!! 

To which I told him to calm down (fat chance) and stop straining on his lead (NO!) and walked him around a bit. He looked ok but when I asked other people if they thought he was ok he went all weird and hoppy so they said no, so then we went home.

And I was sitting here patting his little injured leg before thinking how weird it all feels in there. Like, is his knee meant to be that knobbly? Is his little sinew on the back meant to be so tight? Are those muscles meant to be so muscly? Good lord what’s that squishy thing? Is he meant to bend like that or not? Like he’s held together by string and tape and at any moment it’s all going to blow apart and he’s going to be so broken. I feel like he’s in really good condition – he’s strong and lean and has a good core, but today he just completely disregarded his body. I don’t know what to do with that. Does he need a run before we go to agility? Chasing a ball? Wrapping trees? Something to get that ‘edge’ off so he can actually stop and think and not just smash himself into bars regardless of the consequences.

Anyway I checked him all out at home and he didn’t flinch once when checking out the back leg, but didn’t like my curling the toes of his front leg. So I reckon he just knocked his toes/foot on a jump, and sliced past the upright on the serp and sooked about it. I’ll give him tomorrow off as well and see how he looks then. If he’s even vaguely suspect, maybe we’ll go see someone.

breakthrough!!

Remember last week I said we were struggling with the weaves? Remember how I kind of asked for help but then solved my own problem by deciding to close up one pole instead of 2?

No? Then your memory is as good as mine!

Really though. I went and did that – I closed up the most middle pole so there were 3 straight ones in a row. The rest were at varying widths. First session and he struggled with those poles a lot. I went against Silvialosophy and slowed him right down. Close, angled entries, no speed on the approach, no rushing him, no hanging back or moving sideways, just jogging along with him while he worked it all out. By the end of that session it was looking shaky but he had it. The next session, he hardly missed those poles and was looking confident. I obviously do too much with me on the right of the poles to practise left entries because as soon as I went on the right-hand side he was missing those closed poles again. Slowed him down, and off we went.

Then we had Niki’s seminar and then I gave him a break until this afternoon – I took him for a nice hike so he was warmed up but not exhausted, warmed up his bendy spine and went to play weaves. He had no trouble with the middle 3 so I thought I’d test him by closing the next middle pole. That would make 5 closed. No problem! What?!!? I truly expected to go back to skipping poles and head explosions. Since he was doing so well, I closed another.

And another.

And another.

Until all 12 were closed….

And…. he just did them.

LIKE THE LITTLE CHAMPION HE IS.

He could cope with any entry though I didn’t push him on speed too much for this session, and he still found me being on the left a challenge so I obviously need to work on that but … I have closed poles!!! I have a reasonably consistent contact behaviour on both obstacles! I have turns! I have tunnels! I have going very very very fast!

I… have absolutely NO table behaviour (maybe I’ll just call him back before it, slingshot him around my legs and THEN get him on it, until we get out of Novice & the table goes away! No? Oh), and jumps without wings are questionable so… that’s something to work on. But I pretty much have all the required ingredients now to enter his first trial in August!!! YAY!!!!!

And we joined a stay class! So maybe we will have lovely start-lines too!! Everything’s coming up Roro.

letting it be, part 2.

So hey.

Good news, Loki no longer seems ‘flat’. I actually wonder if he had a stomach thing or if his food wasn’t agreeing with him. But he’s back to keen and fast and running to the start to do another rep of the DW so hurrah! That’s awesome.

His weaves are coming along so, so nicely. I think the poles are probably about 7cm apart now and he’s starting to understand how to collect for entries of 90 degrees on the left. I need to do more right entries though as he goes in at the 2nd pole. His independence is great and I’ve even been doing rear-crosses into the channel. So much fun. Scares the crap out of me how he does them though – absolutely no regard for his body.

I dropped the A-frame to lower today as well as he’d been trying to clear the down-part in one stride and not getting deep enough so I decided I actually needed to do some work on it, so we had a lovely session doing that, too. I think I need to proof him to my movement…. In Loki world, the priorities are speed first, thinking second. Which is what I’ve found with dogwalks too. LOVE his speed, but this presents new challenges.

As for running DW. I posted last time that he was trying new patterns. Well he’s decided that the most comfortable option for him is a 4-stride dogwalk where he flies down the down-plank and puts in the stride near the end. This actually works most (not all) of the time. I was going to get all pedantic and try and slow his entries to the max to try and get 4.5 strides but really… he’s hitting, and he’s running like this VERY consistently, even with slow entries, so it’s obviously WAY easier on him than his big down-plank adjustments… so I figure if I can JP the best ones he’ll work out how far he needs to stretch. By the end of today’s fairly short session he’d worked out that if he stretched a little more on the top plank, he’d push off the apex with RF and have a beautiful hit in the contact with the next stride. If that’s how he wants to do it, GREAT!!! I’m feeling like this ‘let it be’ attitude is freeing. I don’t want to impose my ideals of how his DW should look if his way is working for him. Also his separation was coming back in this last session. Hurray!!!

Now I need to start introducing different exits with discriminations. Oh boy. How do I start? He can hit any exit, and even when I was playing with tight turns he was doing them BRILLIANTLY! I’ve trained them a little but today ran the whole thing with a sharp turn at the end and he did SO awesome. Maybe this is finally a DW thing he’ll just understand! But if there was an option to race forward and do the forward jump, no way was he turning. He patterns so easily. So I’m not sure how to introduce discriminations without freaking him out, but proving the point that he still needs to listen.

The other day I had a nice setup with a pinwheel option, a jump tunnel option, or a ‘cik’ option…. so maybe I’ll do that again. In the meantime I’ll see what Silvia has to say. I bet she won’t be happy with Loki’s DW behaviour. Meh!

We had such a fun little agility course at the trial today. It had some great little technical bits with opportunities for different handling options… nice dogwalk entry and exit… couple of push-blinds… really fun… and Lu was all flat and bored. I can’t wait to run Loki. It’s going to be THE BEST.

Here’s today’s dogwalks

rainy days

We’ve had a lovely day – first some agility training with Loki. I’m building up his dogwalk again to try and promote better running style and stretching over the apex. We’re on 600cm again and doing well. It’ll be interesting to see if it helps.

We also ran an O/E course that our friend brought around on Sunday & a bunch of us broke down into pieces and worked on. I got some feedback from my online coach Niki and went and ran it again with both the dogs. I still couldn’t get all the way through with Loki but we did pretty well. He’s still a baby who doesn’t commit as well as Lu.

Lu and I managed to get all the way around perfectly! Despite not feeling a ‘connection’ with her the way I do with Loki, and not necessarily finding her the most fun to run, this course ended up being really good for her – I could keep her in extension the whole time, there were no wraps, she likes pushes to the backside like in this setup, there weren’t too many tunnels… it ended up being quite a Lumen-y course.

Then we headed off for a nice hour-long hike. I’ve been getting a bit brave with Lu since I took her to the park with Penny’s dogs and let her run free, and she kept coming to check back in… Remember she’s been on lead for walks (apart from at the beach) for like, 6 months so I wasn’t really sure if she’d remember how to recall or what…nic & I let her off on a hike the other day with a bear bell on… we saw kangaroos and she was off on their trail, but we could hear where she was which was reassuring. Then when she came back she got a steak. I let her off in the bush again today and she ran off 3 times – once she got so far that I couldn’t hear the bells any more… but she came back. The good thing about the bells as well is that I can hear when she’s coming back so I can be verbally praising her for coming back even though I can’t see her and she’s still a distance off. More steaks and off we went again. My main fear initially when letting her off (because I knew if there were roos, she was going to run after them) was that she wouldn’t have a distance threshold any more after that one broke its leg. I also didn’t want her to corrupt Loki & for him to learn to hunt. So the good news is that she does have a distance threshold and will come back within a reasonable timeframe… and the other good news is that Loki doesn’t go with her. His recall off of chasing with her is AWESOME, and once he’s with me, he stays with me (looking nervously in the direction she went). So that is very cool. It’s lovely to be able to let her off and have all 3 of them tearing through the bush, banking on the trail-bike tracks and running together. It’s the best.

Now it’s raining and everybody is sleeping in front of the fire. School holidays are the best.

when to trust your gut

Loki is so close to being consistent with his dog walk… SO CLOSE I can taste it. He can hit all the time with slow starts and now, 4 strides are coming together. I can see him trying different options, seeing which are easiest for him and still allow him to hit. Yet Silvia’s suggestion had been to work on slower entries for longer, very gradually building up more and more speed.

But I felt like he was close. He was almost there, almost! He just needed time and practise. He just needed to work out which striding felt easiest, which worked, how to make his body do what it needs to do at warp speed.

And today we had the hits in the video below. They weren’t all the hits in the session, there were some high ones but no misses… you can see him trying some different things, and he seems to be working on 3 options – the long extended foot over the apex, the short stride before the apex then extended foot after, and a new one that appeared today which was kicking off from the apex with back feet. I think in a session or two he’s going to choose which is easiest for him and start doing it more and more, and maybe sometimes do the other options too when he needs to, but he’s doing so good now, it’s so cool.