I’ve been making a real effort to do lots of strength and balance tricks every 2nd day at the moment. It’s been wonderful actually NOT having my equipment set up (apart from the weaves and 2 jumps) because I really haven’t been training (or especially over training) much at all. Which is weirdly feeling ok. It’s been 7 weeks since her surgery now and I’m starting to amp things up a little…
I’ve been doing tunnel games maybe twice a week. She seems to really enjoy these, and I get to throw in a little bit of handling stuff as well, which she needs. I think my next goal with the tunnel games is to either do 2 curved tunnels (but this is so much more effort to set up) or start adding a jump, then another jump… into the game. Because I see her driving really nicely into the tunnel and especially out of it in this scenario, but start doing a sequence and that same drive isn’t there. So I think we need to do the tunnel games and start sneaking in obstacles so she can learn that she will get to chase the ball, after this jump, or after 2 jumps, 3 jumps, etc.
After another month or so, I guess, I want to do some DW speed circles. At the moment she’s done 2 full DWs, and one time when she didn’t want to do it. When her fitness is up a bit more and she can actually run them full speed again, speed circles in and out of tunnels and stuff with the DW in the middle would be really fun.
Tricks we’ve been doing include: lots of sit pretty, especially on a big couch cushion. Interestingly, I’d say her ‘sit pretty’ stamina is almost better now than it was before the surgery. Go figure. Today I just started playing with the ‘hold the toy’ trick which will help as well.
We’ve also done lots of sit pretty – stand up – sit pretty. She’s good at this! The only thing I want to work on here is the sit pretty – stand up part, because she has trouble standing straight up and steadily.
Lots of sit pretty – drop – sit pretty, but these have always been easy for her. Side legs on both sides, and handstands against a cushion vertical on the wall… I’m going to start getting her to do these quicker, so she has less time to think and ‘climb’ up, and I might start to get the ‘hopping up’ behaviour I want.
Sometimes I get her up on the fit ball, but not often.
Then, I’ve been getting her to get all 4 paws up on the not-so-narrow edge of our couch, and interestingly, she finds this surprisingly difficult. I actually think it’s a MUCH better balance workout for her than her 4-in a bowl. Whether the bowl was too small and her feet were all squished and she couldn’t actually hold the 4-in for more than 2 seconds, or just because I didn’t train her well enough to hold it for more than 2 seconds, I’m not sure. But on the couch, I can see her really working to stay balanced, and her feet are more or less in the same ‘4-in’ position. Once she’s more confident and strong doing that, I’ll move her to a narrower edge of the couch.
Meanwhile I have an ‘instant-nose’ trick, where if you ask her to sit, she’ll also start offering the ‘hide your face’/shame trick that she hasn’t quite mastered yet, and basically results in her punching herself in the face. It’s kind of adorable and hilarious.
We’ve also been trying to go for walks and runs where we can, but it’s very weather dependent. I don’t do well in warm weather (as in, I’m not going to go for a jog when it’s warm), and any time it’s vaguely sunny we can’t really do any bush-type walking because of the snake factor (like this morning would have been perfect), but we have done a couple of walks with Penny and her dogs and Lu tries her best to keep up but isn’t quite there yet. But, the other morning we’d been doing a tunnel game and a man came along and asked if he could walk his dogs on the oval nearby, which was nice of him to let me know (he thought I had 3 dogs as there were 2 randoms from the nearby camp hanging around) and since Lu has been ‘guard barking’ anybody who dares enter ‘her’ park, I figured it would be a good idea to go down and reward her for not barking, and for nice calm behaviour. As I came down I saw he had kelpies (3) and an old BC, and they were running so I let Lu off the lead and off she ran. Turns out he’s a herding judge who knows Lu’s breeder well, and whose dogs have competed against Lu’s sire. Good part about this is that with a whistle, he can send his 2 experienced kelpies racing off around the circumference of the oval, or away from him, or whatever, and Lu gets to go charging after them. He also has a young pup who she played chase with the other day, and as the pup gets older there’ll be better games of chase cos she’ll be able to keep up. So Lu’s been able to run with them about 3 times now and I can actually see her old stride coming back, she’s able to run for longer and look almost as fast as she was. That’s why I’m calling it ‘kelpie therapy’, because she’s getting some wonderful sprinting in with them.
Meanwhile still doing weaves when she seems excited or like she wants to run around or play with me. Keeping it nice and short unless she’s having trouble with an entry or something, in which case I keep upbeat and keep trying, and have a huge reward when she gets it (or… nearly gets it, like yesterday), and then do a really easy fun and fast one, and then call it quits. The poles are open about 10cm still, but I’ve been wanting her to find her rhythm, and the session before last I saw it- she wasn’t randomly smashing through the bars but she was getting into that one-foot motion and looking fluid. I’ll give her another two or three sessions on this width as I still need to go from the opposite end, but I’m feeling pretty good about her progress.