2-minute dog trainer, Tempest’s 4th trial

We arrive at this weekend with three qualifying scores in Novice Standard (2 firsts, 1 second) and three qualifying scores in Novice FAST (1 first, 1 second, 1 third).

We have NO novice jumpers legs due to dropped bars and off courses.

My goals this weekend are to keep the 20″ bars up and to have no off-courses due to Tempest misunderstanding my handling.  I’m trying to NOT set goals that sound like, “I want to come home with 2 novice jumpers’ legs.”  <g>

We’ve run the first class of the day, AKC’s new game “Time To Beat.”  Tempest had an off-course to to misunderstanding my handling.  Well, we’ll just have to try harder in the rest of today’s classes. <g>

However, on a rather technical, complex sequence, Tempest kept all the bars up, hit all his contacts, completed 12 weaves (the second time around).  Time to Beat is not leveled so all dogs, novice to excellent, run the same course.

The most marked improvement in our performance, from my perspective, is his increased attention to me. He’s watching me and turning when I turn, but (and this is the important bit !!!) allowing me to move without altering his obstacle performance.

In other words, he hits his contacts and holds them even with me moving.  He weaves with me moving and pushing him.  He allows me to get into position while he’s jumping, and (today at least) is keeping bars up.

Tempest’s 2-minute training is focusing on two elements of his performance.

First, contacts.  I’ve had several people say to me, “my dog had great 2-on-2-off contacts until he turned 18 months old, then he got a little crazy and his contact performance went away.”  I consider this unacceptable.  I’m also guessing (hoping) that my contact training has little in common with their contact training.

If I do the math, Tempest has performed his 2-on-2-off about 2,000 times for meals (6 times a day when he was eating 3 meals a day x 3 months, 4 times a day while eating twice a day x 11 months).  He continues to perform his contacts for meals at least twice a day now.

Amusing sidebar on conditioning performance …. this week I walked away from the contact trainer while Tempest was eating … I emptied the dehumidifier in the basement … as I walked back Tempest’s bowl had moved and he’d walked off the trainer …. he glanced at me coming back and replaced his back feet on the trainer … waited for me to push his bowl back to him.

I continue to allow Tempest to hit his contact performance.  I don’t release him until he’s settled into position. I refuse to become so rattled in competition that do the wrong things for my youngster. I’m hoping that the continued conditioning at mealtimes, and allowing him to settle into 2-on-2-off on course, will keep his contacts solid.

So I guess what I’m hoping is that broken contact performances are a result of inadequate conditioning, lack of support on course, and allowing the first mistake to be self-rewarding.

Second, jumps.  I’ve said all along that I was not going to worry about Tempest dropping bars. I’m not going to punish him, correct him, or drill him.  I’ve considered raising the bars so he jumps a little rounder but — guess what — as he matures and pays closer attention to his coach he’s jumping rounder at 20″ !

As he matures he’s becoming more “forgiving” of my movement, and naturally taking more responsibility for his job. Interesting …

On another note, I continue to gather information on canine seizures. Friend Bonny is recommending an anti-convulsant that, unlike phenobarbitol, does not result in loss of equilibrium or weakness in the back legs.

Tempest loves to travel, enjoys agility, and will continue on this journey as long as possible.  I’m hoping to partner with this boy for 9-10 more years.

I’m off to run novice jumpers and open standard in Dayton, Ohio !!

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