Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speed up those contacts Kipper!

Sometime in early winter Kip came off the side of his A-Frame in trial. I marked it with an 'ut-oh' and moved on. Kip being the sensitive lad that he is internalized this to mean "go really slow on the a-frame to make sure you get that yellow thing or it makes mom unhappy". This proved to be a super-hard thing to fix over the winter with limited access to equipment and other things that also needed work during the same sessions. So I lived with it a bit - releasing him early in trials and supporting the a-frame, praising when he got out of the pause and into his contact behavior, then releasing and running like heck.

Kip has been rather consistently placing in JWW - which thrills the snot out of me given the dogs we're running against at 24". But he's still 3-4 seconds out of the placements in standard - I'm figuring he's wasting at least that on his a-frame, so if we can fix the a-frame he's got a better shot at getting those three Double-Q/Double Placements he needs for his GRCA agility hall of fame.

So to fix I dropped the a-frame as low as I believe it's safe to do so without a center support, and I've been working sends and early releases to an easy-button on the ground. Note that I've picked an easy button for two reasons. The first is that it's heavy enough not to blow away and not super easy to pick up after he's been released(ahem, looking at you Kip). It was a real drag to release for a great nose touch and have the happy dog grab the target and view me taking away his target as an adversive. Leave-it, is all well and good, but he's a super happy retriever, I need to save the leave-its for things that matter.

Secondly, if I ask him to hold a touch he and I both get audible feedback for touching the object - that was easy. Good touch, good boy.

I didn't originally teach the 2o2o with a target, but switched to one to help break the hang-time at the top. I'll likely keep the a-frame low for a while even though he'll see full-height in competition, the trick for me is to keep the number of reps in the range of sane (without killing my dog) and extinguish the stop at the top behavior. There's a balance there and I think the lower a-frame will accomplish that.

Here's Kip on day 4 of a-frame work:

BTW, yes my lawn needs to be seeded. If I'm not careful all of that bare earth will end up IN the pool.

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