Tempest is 95% reliable on contacts (a-frame and dogwalk) when alone in the training building, in our intermediate class, or at class in a second location.
When he’s in advanced class his reliability rate on the big/long dogwalk drops to about 75%. I’m convinced this drop in reliability is a function of my lack of supportive movement.
He’s 5-10 feet ahead of me, driving for his contact, and I’m racing to catch up. My forward drive comes into view for him as he approaches the contact zone, and he feeds off of it. This is a matter for proofing.
I want to work on 3 dogwalk performances which will help him settle into his job on that obstacle.
First, lateral distance, or increasing my distance away from the dogwalk. This will provide him with an opportunity to take some responsibility for managing his performance, and remove me laterally from the picture.
Second, call across the dogwalk, or an ever-increasing lead out which puts me ahead of him. This will provide him with an opportunity to take some responsibility for mounting the dogwalk. He sometimes gives it a pass and I have no intention of managing the mount and the dismount at the same time.
Third, combining the lateral distance and the lead out, teaching him the name of the obstacle and to love performing it. This will become a mealtime activity, no doubt, since Tempest loves his food.
Tempest is 95% reliable on weaves (12 in-line, upright) when alone in the training building, in our intermediate class, or at class in a second location.
When the weaves are in an advanced sequence his reliability drops to about 80%, again due to my movement and the general air of excitement.
Another element which I’m taking into account is Tempest’s age and his stamina. I’m often involving him in 3 consecutive nights of training now.
Tuesday night he sometimes joins the intermediate class if it’s small. Wednesday night he’s in an intermediate class at another location. Thursday night is advanced class at our place.
The drop in performance percentages takes place on the third night of class, and may be due to mental fatique (on both our parts).
Tempest’s youth also plays a part in this, and I know he’s going to build consistency and staying power over time. He’s 12-1/2 months old right now and he SHOULD be something of a mess. <g>
Our greatest weaknesses are: 1) long, strung-out jump sequences, 2) tunnels (weird, huh?), and 3) obedience-for-agility (including start-line stays, and the down on the pause table).
Yesterday I started working on getting Tempest to take some ownership of the pinwheel. We use the exploding pinwheel exercise, originally shown us by Patty Hatfield Mah years ago in Florida.
Interestingly enough, Tempest caught on to the counter-clockwise pinwheel almost immediately. The clockwise pinwheel gives him fits.
I’m going to keep working the pinwheel as well as the pre-cued front cross for intricate jump work. We’re in elementary school on both of these skills and won’t graduate for months.
With tunnels, Tempest absolutely requires my movement to ensure a good tunnel entrance. What I’m trying to teach him is “go into the tunnel I’m looking at.” This is going to take some time and patience on my part, and some spinning and staring on his part. But I’m convinced he’ll eventually get it when he settles down.
In the meantime, if I am running toward a tunnel he’ll take it 100% of the time. If I slow down and try to send, he stops, spins, slams sideways into it, guesses what I want, stops, second guesses, stares at me, etc. Lots to work on there.
Obedience-for-agility — what can I say — I haven’t done the foundation work and I’m getting what I paid for.
I know better than to put a bandaid on a lackluster behavior. But something in me senses that he’s being disobedient because of excitement and anticipation, not due to a desire to be disobedient.
So conditioning, conditioning, conditioning — and practicing in lots of places, under lots of conditions.
I videotaped his performance in his Wednesday night (off-site) class. His obedience-for-agility was much improved as his confidence level diminished. Interesting …..
This weekend I’m off to Medina, OH, for a TDAA trial with Hazard. I’ve asked permission to bring Tempest as a ride-along, and permission has been granted by all parties. We’ll be working on pottying on demand in strange places.