the sheltiechick blog

Natural Jumping Method – Round 1

I meant to start last week but things kept coming up. So as of yesterday we are in week 2. Week 1 is getting dogs used to jumps/jumping multiple jumps; Clothier gives people who have dogs used to that sort of thing, IE flyball, permission to go straight to week 2. We don’t do flyball but Auggie IS used to jumping a ton of jumps in a row, so I went ahead and skipped to week 2.

Please forgive my very ghetto jump chute… I am in the process of trying to decide on some kind of fencing to build the other side, and until then I’m using my two ex-pens and the plastic playpen I’ve had since Auggie was a wee puppy. Also please forgive some of the camera angles… I know it’s hard to see a lot of the jumps. I was still trying to figure out the best way to shoot the videos.

Some details: per the measurements and formula in the book, our distance between jumps is 90 inches. I had a lot of trouble deciding on what height to start working at, and ultimately I decided to start at 10 inches (Auggie normally jumps 12), and if it seemed that was too high to move down to 8. The jump heights were all set at 10 inches during day 1. During day 2, I went ahead and moved the jump heights down to 8 inches after the third jump. They will remain at 8 inches for a while.

During day one, he basically stutter-steps the ENTIRE length of the chute. I apologize for not having all six jumps filmed, but my mom was helping me and by “helping” I mean she was putting her terrible camerawork to use. Only four of the videos she shot were any good, so those are the four jumps I show.
By the sixth jump on day 2, he actually appears to run the length between the jumps (it’s supposed to be two stride lengths) instead of stutter-stepping the entire length between jumps. He’s still not taking normal stride-lengths; he still stutter-stepped just about the whole length of the chute. But he is smoothing out a little.
Day 3 gives us some better results and he really begins to smooth out more. There were multiple times that I could count the two strides between jumps. Day three was encouraging to start seeing progress already!

The Mud

It’s too early for this. It’s only February. The SIXTH of February! Why is all the snow melting? Why is the backyard suddenly a big mud puddle?

I gave up and deposited One Whole Auggie into the bathtub – which caused him to think I was about to commit murder or something – and then immediately after I got his paws rinsed off I lifted him out onto a Doggy Towel, and he got the wiggles and giggles, the post-bath zoomies, the friskies… whatever you want to call it.
Note: wrestling with your dog in a towel after his bath is potentially teaching him Bad Things. Because he tried to wrestle with me while all I wanted to do was wipe his paws off, and he’s squirming and wiggling in my arms, trying to get away, trying to grab the towel in his mouth, tail wagging, happily panting… I took the towel over to the door and scrubbed down the mudprints he made on the carpet (he’s a fast one, that little guy – like all bad little dogs he makes an immediate beeline for the carpet when he has mud all over his paws) and he again tried to grab the towel and wrestle with me. From BEHIND he tried to grab the towel, and I wasn’t looking, so in my scrubbing motion with the towel and his forward lunge to grab said towel, I ended up clocking him in the head with my elbow. Apparently, he was unphased by this, and leapt around to dance in front of me and again try to grab the towel to wrestle.


Agility Goals

I’m revising our agility goals.

1) Work with Auggie so he becomes a smart jumper. Jane Simmons-Moake briefly talks about using a ground bar to help flat jumpers learn how to adjust their takeoff. Auggie stutter-steps up to the bar almost as much as he jumps flat, so I’m not positive if that method will work. Instead, I ordered myself a copy of Suzanne Clothier’s book “The Clothier Natural Jumping Method.” Once the snow melts (SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER) I’ll be outside with Auggie working my way through her book. I think I have enough room if I run the entire length of the back fence to set up a jump chute, and I think I have enough jumps. If not, well – I’ve got some more PVC layin’ around here, and it’s like $5 to make a brand new jump even if I had to go get all-new pipe and fittings.

2) Target training. I started this last week when I was home sick from work one day. Funny enough, I had basically lost my voice, so I trained the entire thing essentially mute. I took out one of those little plastic can covers, held it, and got Auggie to paw it. Moved it down to the floor – reward for paw touch. Moved it away from me, reward for a “go touch.” This weekend I purchased one of the big puppy Kong frisbees to use as a bigger target, because when he would get a distance away from me I had trouble seeing if he actually got his paw on the little can cover.
So far this is working out great. He’ll go touch with no problems. I’m starting to use it on other things, like putting it up on the steps and having him get up on something to touch it. I have a big flat plank that I bought to make into a teeter and am currently running him across that and having him 2o2o at the end. It’s got a coating on it that I need to sand down, then paint it with some of that gripping texture stuff I used on my mini a-frame before I can start doing any sort of lifting it to simulate a dogwalk. (Believe me, I tried. It was pretty funny because Auggie basically slid straight down it like a slide, with me holding him so he didn’t fall, to 2o2o at the bottom. Yet more proof that this dog trusts me absolutely – he lets me put him on, in effect, a slide.)

Anyway, if I can remember to do so I’ll update here as our training advances. I think I’ll definitely be doing updates when we start the jumping method training, because there are “lessons” to advance through so I should be able to remember to update along with each lesson.
On the plus side, our rear crossing seems to be going wonderfully.