Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Training update...

I haven't posted updates about our training progress...we've been doing a lot and I'm feeling like things are coming together...

Murphy is still Murphy - he's either really ON and ready to work or he's eh...and doesn't so much want to work. When he's ON though he's been phenomenal. I've been retraining contacts with him - instead of a sit on the dogwalk and a nose-touch at the base of the a-frame I've been working a paw touch at the bottom of both contacts. At this point I'm using a mouse pad as the target - it doesn't move when the dogs hit it and it provides a tactical response (it's springy). Plus, I have zillions of them around the house - they're disposable. Murphy's weaves have gotten stronger and faster, his table is the most enthusiastic he's ever been. He's reading me well and when he's into the work his speed is improving as well. He's been working some utility stuff too - go outs and directed retrieves mostly. He seems to enjoy the work...

Teller has been working pretty hard the last few weeks - and he just keeps getting better and better. I've changed his contact criteria as well - he had been doing running contacts successfully - I hadn't really trained them because I couldn't get him to blow the contact in training. His natural stride on the a-frame is one stride up, one stride jumping the apex and another stride to the bottom of the contact...To be fair he never blew the contact when we trialed either - but as time went on I became more and more uncomfortable with the running contact. I didn't have as much trust in the contact as I wanted and if I needed it I didn't have the training I really needed to make on-course adjustments if I needed to. So Teller is doing the mousepad work too. Lori has been working the target with Hannah's a-frame and I like the success they've had with that method. I don't want either boy coming down for a 2 on/2 off contact - I worry about their shoulders...Physically I think working the target at the bottom of the frame really lessens the impact there. We're only about 3 weeks (and maybe 50 reps) into this new method so it's too soon to tell - but I think we're on the right track. I'm getting some nice distance from him too, he's reading my body cues better now and dropping significantly fewer bars. Part of this is that I'm handling him better these days - I've been working VERY hard to stand up straight - I tend to do more front crosses with Teller (because I have the lateral distance) and fewer rear crosses. It's tempting to "help" the front crosses by bending over - not sure why I feel like that actually helps - it doesn't. I get in his space which causes the bars to come down - if I'm bent over I'm not moving forward which means he stops forward momentum as well and of course down come bars. Murphy is so darn cat-like in his jumping - I can count on one hand the number of bars he's knocked in his lifetime - but again, with the rear crosses there's no possibility to get into his way...

Teller has also been working his fair share of obedience too - both open and utility exercises. I'm seeing some really exciting things. Teller's go-outs are really coming together - he's "getting" it - running out to the gating and doing a GORGEOUS sit. I've worked the directed jumping part separately - not surprisingly this has not been a problem for him. At this point I'm not going any further than 2-3' behind the jumps and I'm working a much smaller diamond than what he'll see in the ring. Tonight I decided to put them together to see what I had - interestingly enough I had a nice straight go-out and it flowed nicely into the directed jumping part. PROGRESS!!!

I need to get him a set of scent articles. He's using Murphy's and they don't fit him properly. On my list to buy (when I win the lottery) is a shiny new Max 200 set for him. Larger bars and thicker bit for him...I think he'll be happier with the larger bars - I know I will be - the others are just WAY too tight for my liking - not that he tends to care.

The open stuff is also coming along nicely - drops, retrieve over high, broad jump...it's all coming together. What is most exciting (for me anyway) is that he's really maturing in his work. I was working drops the other day while someone else was throwing a dumbbell in the same ring and while he noticed that the other dog was jumping and retrieving he didn't seem tempted to do anything other than what I was asking him to do...We're having a lot of fun right now. I have no idea what we're going to do in the spring - but we're having a lot of fun right now!

In the next week or so I'll do my annual year-end thoughts and my goals for the coming year...

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