Archive for September, 2011

2-minute dog trainer – trials and tribulations

September 27, 2011

Tribulation  1. great misery or distress, as from oppression; deep sorrow  2. something that causes suffering or distress; affliction; trial

Here’s my theory.

Our workaday worlds are characterized by a lot of “same old thing.”  We wake, we feed dogs, we shower, we get our coffee, we go to work, we train our dogs, we visit with our friends.  Same ole – same ole.

We seek out hobbies that meet our desire for exhilaration and tribulation (aka “DRAMA“) without entering into activities with too-high risk.  I don’t, for example, go rock-climbing, para-sailing, extreme anything, off-road anything except mowing. <g>

I do dog agility and it provides me with all the exhilaration and angst I can stand.  In fact I’m slightly addicted to it. It fulfills my need for drama, for exhilaration, for tribulation.

Would agility be as addictive with a “steady-Eddie” dog that Qs every run, or a dog that runs clean every time but is slow? Do I need to live on the edge to get my agility high?

And, if my dog is a “steady-Eddie,” is the accumulation of MACh points and double-Qs and championship titles enough drama?

Would agility be as addictive with a dog that didn’t really like agility trialing?  A dog that enjoyed the training, the socialization, the travel, but didn’t appreciate the stress of the agility test?

Well, we all have our own definition of fun, and we all clearly have our individual needs in the drama department.

All I need to do is either ramp up my tolerance for excitement, or get my demon spawn (18-month-old BC) Tempest to be more predictable.  When he’s more predictable, more responsive to my movement, our trial experience won’t be as “exciting.”

He does a lot of stuff very right:  1) start line stays 99% solid,  2) 2-on-2-off contacts 100% solid,  3) weave entries 90% solid,  4) automatic down on table 85% solid,  5) recognition of jump job 80% solid.

He does a few things very wrong:   1) straight line of jumps,  2) pinwheel of jumps,  3) accepting handler movement,  4) attending to my position,  5) keeping bars up.

My first plan of attack is to continue my conditioning exercises with Tempest. Our mealtime training for winter will include:

1) straight lines of jumps (go on!)

2) pinwheels of jumps (go on!)

3) front crosses on the landing side of jumps

4) rear crosses on the approach to jumps

5) absolute directionals (jump, left! and  jump, right!)

I’m going to go back to jumps at 16″ and start from scratch with “handling” Tempest in jumping sequences.  He drops bars at 20-22-24-26″.  I don’t think it’s that he can’t clear them. I think he doesn’t have the skills to see the jump and estimate the effort needed to perform it. So we go back to the beginning.

At the same time I want him more accustomed to absolute directionals.  These skills will enable me to pre-cue a turn without being in front of my freight-train boy.

Additionally, I’m going to keep in mind what Bud keeps saying, “Tempest is exactly where Kory was at that age” and that Tempest is a little faster and has no regard for physical pain or survival.

I got what I wanted in a pup — self-destructive brave.  I’ve got to be the voice of restraint, calm, control.

This winter’s lessons are going to constitute the last chapters of my 2-minute dog training book for agility training from 8 weeks to 2 years.  We’ll forego trialing in favor of training, and hit the trial scene again in the spring!