Thursday, September 8, 2011

Discriminate this, baby!

Secret is totally rocking her discriminations lately! She's handling them with much more confidence and a lot less stress. I'm doing my best to try to cut the umbilical cord and trust her more, thereby babysitting less. I think she appreciates it.

I totally and completely fail for forgetting to take a picture of our course from last night. :o( Without a course picture, I feel like any descriptors I use about our training will be kind of lost, but oh well. I'll still try. Maybe I can edit a picture in tomorrow? Does it let me do that? Guess I'll find out!

I waffled between setting up the Chances course or the Regular course from our last trial. I ultimately settled on the Regular course because I figured we needed to work on longer courses and because we had plenty of time (due to it not being a shelter night). The course fit very nicely in my yard and was a fairly exact replica from the trial, minus using two hoops to replace the tricky tunnel that sucked Secret off course in Round 1 (granted, that was MY error due to not cuing in time).

I really enjoyed this course, both at the trial and running it at home. It provided a nice variety of challenges, including multiple discriminations. It was also a good length with plenty of running. My version had 23 obstacles, since I required the extra hoop in place of the tunnel. That actually created an interesting challenge -- While it took away the "tunnel suck" factor, it also meant having to handle a bit differently as you couldn't take for granted the tunnel getting them from point A to point B.

Secret completely nailed the first run. I am not totally thrilled with my handling of it as I really struggled with trusting her on the "out tunnel" discrimination. My preference would be to trust my dog, send her and hustle for a blind cross at the tunnel exit, but I hesitated too long and had to do a rear cross on the flat (I'm not a fan) following the next jump. Secret handled it well, though, and stayed happy & fast through the sequence. That was the area where I'd sent her off course at the trial, so I was happy that we improved upon that. It was my same hesitation that caused the error at the trial, though, so I'm not happy about THAT.

The rest of the course ran quite lovely and she had some lovely sends (because try as I might, I just couldn't get there!). She nailed her weaves at the end and we had a giant party and played tuggy probably 5x as long as it took us to run the course. lol And hey, bonus -- The running must be starting to pay off because I didn't feel nearly the need to die as I have in previous weeks. ;o)

Part of me wondered if I should quit there. Hmm. Maybe, but the part of me that thinks actually training my dog is beneficial won out. I decided to run the course in the opposite direction. I tried to send a bit too far a couple of times, resulting in Secret coming back into me (this would likely be a result of me being more winded on this run and thus not getting to where I needed to be), and I got too far behind her as I attempted to get the "out tunnel" under the a-frame, which resulted in her going up instead of out. Other than that (all for which I blame myself), it was great and she was a happy girl.

After this we did spend a short bit of time reminding ourselves of contact criteria. All of my early releasing is starting to take its toll, as Secret was self-releasing (ie: not even stopping) on pretty much every contact. I didn't correct her on this during the course because I was more concerned about keeping everything happy, but she took the reminder in stride and happily nailed her bottoms a few times and we called it quits for the night. I do realize it's a slippery slope to go down when you let them get away with not maintaining criteria, so I should probably be better about that at our next trial. That said, having that early release will surely make sends in Chances far easier.... Bah, I'm such a waffler.

Secret blew out another tuggy last night (evidence above -- Kaiser was not the culprit!). Recently a facebook friend posted about Woolie Dog, a company that makes wool tug toys that can withstand hardcore tugging and are more durable than, say, these fleece toys that I have. Seeing as Secret has been such a tugger lately, I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to give one of them a try. Which reminds me, I wonder what the heck ever happened to her wool Ringzee....?

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