Saturday, January 14, 2006

Run Throughs

We drove 2 1/2 hours each way last night to get to some agility run throughs at the All Dogs Gym where we will compete next week. I was wondering if I would see proofing issues there or if it would be more like practice. If it was more like practice, that would point more to my ring nerves as a cause of contact issues. If it was typical of what I see in a trial, it would point to Wyatt's ring nerves more. At our last trial, Wyatt did perfect practice contacts and then had trouble in the ring which points more to my nerves or something I was doing.

It was more like a trial. When we got there, it was very loud with lots of dogs around. During the first run, he did blow quite a few contacts the first time and I made sure I was running just like a practice. I tried the peppermint breath mint trick to mask any stress fumes but it did not seem to do anything. That still could help at a trial though when I actually do have ring nerves.

I took him back and I saw a big improvement especially as the night progressed and it got quieter. They have a low A-Frame there and we practiced that a lot. What I found was that he needs more support when his stress is higher. So I have to give him more eye and voice contacts and more body language/position to support his contacts. I can't expect to give the spot command and then have him do it independently with no connection to me even though he can do this at home.

I am still working on "spot" with me behind him. This is weaker BUT happens more at trials when he tends to run ahead of me more and I can't be there to support him.

So for the next trial, here is my strategy.

1) Center myself before the run and take a deep breath before running. Make sure he is in a good stay before running. I noticed on the latest videos that I was bending down and holding him back, a great way to rev up a dog.

2) Run more slowly.

3) Slowing down, maintain voice and eye contact on the contacts. Give a spot command or two in plenty of time. Stop at the end of the contact and give him a stay signal when he gets to 2 on 2 off position.

4) Wait a few seconds and release him.

5) If there is a problem, mark it with the "Oops" command, wait a few seconds and say "Try again". If we can redo the contact (you can do this in CPE fullhouse and jackpot due to the rules of the game) or else move on.

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