back in the land of running dogwalks

So the dogwalk has been set up and we had our first session last night. One end was an obvious curved-tunnel exit, and the other was a straight bar. Her striding to the curved tunnel exit sucked and she certainly wasn’t giving it her all, but the exit to the bar was beautiful. Then I pulled out the hose and started jackpotting with hose chases so HOPEFULLY she puts 2 and 2 together and figures that running the dogwalk fast + going through the tunnel = hose game. It should also mean that her arousal level will be higher as she loves the hose game so much, so should imitate a competition a little closer, too. I’m hoping that the crappy striding is also just a side effect of her ‘getting back into the swing’, running in  a new location, etc.

I’ve also been playing around with different techniques for keeping her focused and enthusiastic. Last night I wanted her to do a start from on the top of the dogwalk but it gave her a good view into the paddock next door and all she could do was stare and look for rabbits. So I calmly walked her off the dogwalk, attached her to the lead, and had a play with Loki. She cried and barked, and then got another go. A bit more focused, but I didn’t try her on the top plank again. I was also doing some one-jump stuff where I would wait for her focus, when she gave it to me, I’d verbally tell her how good she was, say, “ready, ready!?” and then do ONE JUMP, and then reward her, and then release her do go sniff. By the end she was like; I DON’T NEED TO SNIFF LET’S GO AGAIN! And although she wasn’t giving 110% (and maybe she won’t ever in a training situation), she was heaps improved on how distracted she was earlier in that session.

We have a pretty big competition coming up at the Royal Melbourne Show. I entered before I found out about her injury and didn’t try cancelling the entries because the time-frame meant it would be 8-9 weeks after she started rehab. From what the rehab vet said, she should be back to full height and bending and weaving 3 weeks from the monday just gone…. which is exactly when the show is. So I think I’ll scratch her from one event that has weaves, giving us 3 runs on the day – 2 with weaves, and just make sure she gets a good stretch before and after. It’ll just mean that she’s had NO weave training for the last 2 or so months, so it’ll probably be a bit hit or miss I guess.

 

Loki’s plank running is going well. We’ve done 3 sessions on the flat now though yesterday was a bit ‘meh’ as I think he was slipping off the plank or something. It’s giving us a fantastic opportunity to practise cik/cap and hitting the foot target to take off really close to the bar, and I always try and mark that with a verbal to let him know he did good.

Anyway. That’s where we’re at. Good but not good. Time, but no time. Training but not.

 

 

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happiness

I’ve had a thought for a little while but haven’t said anything yet incase I was wrong, and I don’t like being wrong… But I don’t think I’m wrong.

Lu seems happier. Like, really really happy.

I started having her sleep in her crate at night, initially for my own sanity (you know how in the morning, just before your alarm goes off, you start to stir and roll over and stuff? She’d assume that meant you were awake and therefore needed to be either licked in the eyeball or pounced on for a joyful morning greeting. I didn’t necessarily appreciate this so much when it’s 5.30am on a weekend and I’m trying to tell my body to go back to sleep) but then I had her out one night a bit later and as I was falling asleep I felt her constantly jerk her head up to look around… settle down, look around, settle down, look around, get off the bed to go check to see if the cats were being naughty, pace around, lay down, get up, etc. She was constantly on alert. And I thought about how tired I would be if this was my state of being all night, and thought that surely the same must be true for dogs? You can’t be happy, enthusiastic, energetic, driven, of clear mind and willing to work if you’re just tired from a broken night’s sleep. So I’m crating her because in her crate she SLEEPS. She doesn’t even bark at the cats fighting unless they get particularly rowdy.

So there’s that. There’s all the recallers games we were playing before she wasn’t allowed to run around for a couple of weeks with her iliopsoas. There’s the expectation there that I am the only access to reinforcement in distracting situations… It’s amazing to see her now go: OOO RABBIT…. Ohhh… Ohh.. TREATS!!! Like how cool is that? The other day I tested her on kangaroos in a paddock (they weren’t moving, they were just there) but she lost her mind. Not quite there with the roos yet. But, getting there with soccer kids, and she could SMELL roos nearby (but didn’t see them, they blended in) on a walk the other day, and I had her walking with 100% focus at my side, looking up at me with her beautiful blue eyes, feet prancing along as they do. Gosh it was nice.

You know I used to say that she wasn’t a dog who got excited about things? Let me tell you a few things:

1. My arrival home now means an explosion of wiggling, jumping around, tail going crazy, nips and nibbles and a general tornado of Lumen happiness.

2. I was eating breakfast this morning in bed, and she starts going crazy – chasing her tail, yipping, pouncing around. It wasn’t her normal obnoxious “feed me or I pounce and bark at you” type behaviour, she just felt a bit silly and energetic. Very cute.

3. Before her dinner bowl (when she gets one) I get her to do a short bit of heeling as I figured it wouldn’t hurt her to train up for Rally-O while she couldn’t do agility. I put it up on a shelf but she knows it’s there. And she looses her brain. She barks and jumps around and can’t heel properly and can’t get into heel position and nips at me. And ok, this is all really BAD behaviour but I find it so, so funny, and can’t help but laugh because I’ve gone from a dog who didn’t care that much about food, to one who goes crazy at the prospect.

So I don’t know – maybe it’s a combination of: Lu actually sleeping, Lu being desexed and not having stupid hormones making her moody, and having to compete with Loki for attention (or not being the CENTER of attention, so being more ok to just ‘be’), but something is working, and I really like it. I love seeing her tail wagging and her eyes bright.

magical

Just quickly:
This morning, doing RC, I accidentially threw the ball into the corner of the other paddock…

 

WHERE THE HORSE WAS STANDING….!!!

 

Lu, ever the trooper, ran over to collect her ball. Realised there was a horse, but wasn’t deterred. SHE WAS GOING TO GET HER BALL, DAMNIT!!! So she skitted around the horse, not sure whether to bark at it or get out of its way or what but she wasn’t leaving the job unfinished- she had to get that ball. Eventually, she ducked in, the horse moved a bit, she grabbed the ball and ran out- triumphant…!

 

But the amazing thing? She was so focused on her job- she wasn’t thinking about how fun the horse would be to chase, she didn’t even ditch the ball to come play with the soccer-ball for her JP, she wasn’t completely distracted by the horse even though she literally had to get under its legs almost. WHAT?! This same dog was barking at that horse just over a week ago. Amazing.

our homework for the week: practising all over the place!

What’s over there?! Never mind!! Ignore the distractions, puppy!

So I was just thinking about how our foundation course with Silvia Trkman is going to start in a month, and how Lumen and my training sessions have become a little ‘routineized’ in that we go in, every morning and every afternoon (pretty much) to our spare room and we train.
We run through tricks based on what Lumen seems to want to do, and we’ll go off on tangents for whatever’s fun, unless we have a necessary focus like working on restraints with her collar, which is how we’ve been warming up…

But we’re always in the same place.
For things like tunnels and cik/cap we’re either in the backyard, down at the reserve or sometimes at the lake park where we cik/cap around trees…. But we rarely do tricks or trick training in those places.

So, I’m setting myself my own assignment for the next few weeks as it starts to cool down again – get out to different places and do those shaping tricks. Take a bowl for 4-in. Run through equiptmentless tricks we’re working on like ‘bang’ and roll over. Get her used to not focusing ONLY when we’re running around playing, but also the time before we get to run around and play, when we’re doing hard thinking work.

I think for me, this will mean keeping the sessions short and sharp- asking for a little bit of shaping, or for a trick once or twice to get a good one, then having a really good exciting play. So trick-work and free-shaping has to be fun and focused even in unusual situations. Because if I can get that, agility focus will be simple, since it’s more about play and running around, which she loves.