2 minute dog trainer – holes in my training

Tempest is now 7 months old. I’ve had him for 5 months.

He’s 95-100% consistent on the following behaviors:

1) 2-on-2-off contact performance on dogwalk, a-frame, and teeter

2) automatic down on the pause table

3) coming when called

4) letting go of his toy when I say “okay”

5) releasing off the start line when I say “T!”

He’s 75-80% consistent on the following behaviors:

1) heeling off my left leg, looking up at me (he tends to forge to “head” me off)

2) taking his nose away from an item of interest when I say “leave it!”

3) walking on a loose leash (he walked with my Mom the other day and she said he walked beautifully for her, but he tends to forge with me)

4) sitting at the start line (he anticipates the run and can’t be bothered with sitting)

5) tunnels (he has started “heading” me by running to the entrance of the tunnel, whirling around to face me and stare, heading me as he would sheep or cattle)

6) jumps (he has had little or no jump training because of his age, so he takes the jump if I’m really specific and goes around it if I’m not)

7) tire (again, little jump training so good response if I’m really specific but no desire to do the jumps or tire if I’m vague)

Thursday night class:

Much to my delight, my work schedule allowed Tempest and I to attend this past Thursday night’s agility class. It’s an advanced class, so I did mini-sequences with Tempest and kept them brief so we didn’t interrupt the training going on with the more advanced dogs.

Here are the holes in our sequencing and obstacle training and my resolutions for filling in those holes.

A)  turning … Tempest loves to get a head of steam over 1-2 jumps and would, I suppose, just like to keep running until he hits the state of Virginia.  To fill in this hole in his training I resolve to teach him to target my hand, come to hand, and recognize the word “close” as his cue to come into handler focus. Because I don’t want him to constantly be in handler focus I want to be very specific about when and where handler focus will occur.

B) working away … just this week Tempest decided to run ahead, turn and face me, and head me off as he would livestock (or his brother Kory).  To fill in this hole in his training I resolve to return to return to work at sending him ahead to do work. When I point to a tunnel and say tunnel I want him to stay focused on the tunnel until he’s completed the task. If he turns to face me I’ll break off my attention, turn my back on him and walk away. The training will continue when he discontinues heading and follows me. This training won’t take place in a class setting as it involves too much time and patience. When others are waiting I’ll be impatient and won’t allow Tempest to think through his error, so I won’t make the mistake of trying to work on this problem during classes and workshops.

C) jumping and tire training … an intentional hole in Tempest’s training, left until last because of his age. I resolve to get our hoops out and teach Tempest some obstacle focus when I’m moving. He needs to begin operating like an agility dog in motion (following the line I’m creating) instead of a herding dog (controlling my movement by heading me off).

This is a really exciting phase in training for Tempest and I. We’re getting to run, we’re building a partnership, and we’re going to become a team.

A few things I’m pleased with include:  my weight loss (due to my job I’m working off about half a pound a week), Bud’s and my resolution to eat better and live healthier, the general health of our pack of dogs.

Creaping slowly toward winter I’m reminded of the old dogs we lost this year. I dreamed of them last night and miss all the effort we used to spend making sure they were steady on their feet, warm, and dry. I see the rubber attached to the ramp into the yard and am reminded of Banner’s difficulty with the slippery ramp last winter.

My heart aches every time I pass the graves of my dearly departed. No dog will ever replace any one of them. Each of them held a special place in my heart.

In the words of Eric Clapton, “will you know my name, if I saw you in heaven?”

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