2-minute dog trainer, running Bud’s Kory

At last evening’s masters class we ran Bud’s game-of-the-week, “Golf.”  (See budhouston@wordpress.com for game details.)

With Bud in Colorado I was teaching, and I took Kory to the building with me to get a little running time.

I don’t train Kory.  I run him occasionally in order to learn what it will hopefully be like when Tempest is that age. They’re two completely different personalities, two different body types (Kory is tall, stringy, anorexic, while Tempest is a chunky monkey), but I’m thinking Tempest is going to be just as fast.

All our agility careers we’ve run dogs we could (or had to) get in front of and motivate forward.

Banner was a challenge to get in front of, but her best runs were those where I managed to lead instead of follow.

My long string of rescues were all pretty much the same — get in front and show the way.

But Bud’s been teaching Kory a whole new set of cues — absolute directionals, independent performance of obstacles, distance work, dead-away sends, “go on” and more — because it’s just not very possible to get in front of him without pushing him off the course.

Bud’s also been playing with the pre-cued front cross, and teaching Kory the up-close turns he’s going to need.

So I ran Kory last night on 3 out of 5 of the sequences in “Golf.”  We skipped hole #1 because the class wasn’t settled into the pace I needed to set (60 minutes, 5 sequences, each one can’t take 15 minutes!).

On hole #2 Kory was running beautifully until the mid-way point where I found myself so far out of position I was left with no alternative but to use left-and-right directionals. Still he was on course until, at a 180-degree wrap from the wing jump to the a-frame, I shouted “right-right!” instead of “left-left!” and, instead of wrapping to the left as he should have, he corrected himself, turned right, found nothing but a wall, and back-jumped the wing on his way to the a-frame.

I was stunned that he’d trusted my verbal and ignored my physical movement. It was spectacular, and convinced me he knew his left-and-right better than I do.  I’m going to have to work on that. <g>

He also ran hole #3 which turned into a train wreck because I was being conservative in my movement. I’m going to have to work on that. <g>   Instead of pushing him out to the tunnel I put him on the dogwalk. Yikes.

Our class format was:  1) run all dogs on the hole, 2) find a spot where we can improve our dog’s movement, 3) work all dogs through that spot, 4) walk the next hole while I move cones for the hole to follow.

He played some with the weave entry on hole #4 but didn’t run the whole course.  His pre-cued front crosses are becoming really solid as he begins to understand his role in the tight turn. Because Kory is young and gets up a head of steam in straight lines, he sometimes skids and swirls in tight turns. Bud’s working on that. <g>

Hole #5 was an interesting bit of weave-entry work. The dog has 4 sets of 6 weavepoles, all with fairly independent entries, some out of front crosses, some straight out of tunnels, all at top speed.

But what I found really amazing was that Kory let me lead out past the first jump and all the way to the end of the dogwalk, turn and face him with my pre-cued front cross lead hand.

He came roaring across the jump and the dogwalk, assumed his “bottom-lie-down,” crossed with me to the first set of weaves, roared into the tunnel 20 feet ahead, nailed the next weave entry at full speed, took another pre-cue to turn tightly into the #6 tunnel, nailed another weave entry at full speed, roared into another tunnel independent of me, allowing me to set up another front cross into the last set of weaves, turned to the box of jumps and took my “go on!” to mean “straight ahead boy-o.”

It was magical. After 12 years of running agility dogs I’m finally understanding why people seek out brilliant, high-drive dogs. He made me look brilliant as well.

I’ll have to work on that. <g>

Tempest is continuing to work on his contact trainer and his heeling, interspersed with tiny “stay” exercises.

At bedtime, Tempest has decided he’d prefer to sleep on our bed, or on a dog bed, instead of his crate. I let him stay on the bed for about an hour if I’m watching TV, and we do little “stays” while he’s in bed with me.

He’s lying down getting petted, he wants to come closer or shift position, I say “stay” and hold my hand with the palm facing him. He has to freeze just for a few seconds, then gets an okay to move. He’s developing really good eye contact during this game, and sees it as tons of fun.

At breakfast and dinner he waits patiently for all the other dogs’ bowls to go down (without sticking his nose in every one), then trots ahead of me to the contact trainer.

It took him about a week of 1-or-2 meals a day to figure out the position I wanted on the dogwalk contact. Now he approaches the down contact from the side, facing the correct direction, hops onto the dogwalk, and moves swiftly into his 2-on-2-off position, gets his “click,” and his meal.

I’m still picking him up once or twice during the meal, carrying him to the top of the ramp, and allowing him to drive to the bottom where his meal waits.

Tempest if 15 weeks old tomorrow, and already has nice skills.  Best of all he has the capacity to focus on me, focus on work, and thinks I’m “fascinating, fun, and delicious.”

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