2 minute dog trainer – goals for this weekend

This is Tempest’s second trial weekend.

My goals are two-fold — 1) improve my strategizing and handling by understanding how Tempest interprets my cues (new dog, new interpretations!)  AND  2) manage my twitches and mixed physical messages so Tempest can continue offering his 2-o-2-o contact performance, his weave entries, and can keep all his bars up.

On Saturday we ran Novice B Standard and JWW.

Jumpers included one dropped bar and two off courses — both in the wrong end of tunnels and both could have been solved with a different handling strategy.  Jumpers also included a to-die-for weave entry for my novice boy.  He’s showing increased obstacle focus and an ever-increasing understanding of his job on the course.

Standard started with a 3-obstacle depressed angle turn, with Tempest facing an off-course a-frame versus #4 teeter obstacle discrimination. I agonized over my handling strategy, considering a v-set, a pre-cued front cross, a KISS post-turn, and combinations of all these.

Bud recommended the lead-out with a pre-cue to indicate the left turn, to keep up the pre-cue for another left to the teeter, and then let him have the teeter when his nose was pointed at it.

Part of my angst was created by the fact that Tempest doesn’t always understand the pre-cue, and I don’t spend much time training it.

Watching the rest of my class wasn’t all that helpful. Most of the dogs were slow enough that handlers got away with whatever handling choices they made. The faster dogs were mature dogs on their retirement (Preferred) titling track. Starting over in novice with a dog that has it’s agility championship titles is considerably different than starting out a young pup, and their handling choices didn’t influence me much.

I decided to try the lead-out pre-cued turn and, though Tempest did a slight fly-by on jump 3, it enabled me to be in position to pull him back and pre-cue jump 3 and the left turn to the teeter.

For my ballistic boy, it was a very controlled opening line. <g>

At the #4 teeter I practiced my blind cross on the dismount. He held his conditioned position while I moved.  NOTE: 2-minute dog trainers — Tempest has been eating 2 meals a day on his contact trainer — I send him to the mounting end and do several blind crosses at the dismount end, in front of him while he holds his position.  You can’t expect a dog to do in competition what he’s not conditioned to do in training.

After the teeter I sent him to a jump and — completely out of control — turned towards the #6 a-frame. Before I could re-focus on the jump I heard the bar drop.  Dumb handler ….

Once more one dropped bar kept us from a Q and no-doubt placement in Novice Standard.  I’ll try harder today.

When Tempest gets his novice Standard, FAST, and JWW titles, and his USDAA starters’ titles, I’ll be compiling my 2-minute-dog-trainer blogs into an electronic document, complete with pages where readers can add their journal entries.

I’d love to have feedback from my regular readers.  E-mail your comments to marshahouston@hughes.net or add them as comments to the bottom of these blogs.

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