oh my auggie

Training 6/25/12 Wrap-up

After dropping the 2x2s with Payton, I went ahead and switched to weave-a-matics since I already had them dragged outside and ready to go. It was going pretty quickly, I was basically treating them the same as you would 2x2s – get the dog going through the chute of weaves and practice from all angles. Not a big deal and he was going with a lot of drive.
Then we hit the major heat wave that has affected most of the US. I figured it may have not been wise to be outside trying to work a new skill (especially one that had us hitting our heads against the wall with 2x2s) while we were slowly melting, so I axed a lot of the outdoor agility work.

Instead we switched to doing a lot of heeling practice inside. We worked more on the perch and slowly, slowly started getting the progress we needed. I took Saturday off completely with him to let some latent learning set in, but as of tonight we have walking in heel with a C+T every three steps. His left turns are AMAZING (I mean really amazing), his right turns pretty good, overall not terrible at all. I really can’t complain about his progress. I’m a little antsy about how it will translate to a trial setting, but you can never really predict for that.

For Auggie, I decided to keep up with doing some jump work outside, but switched it up a little. Auggie’s current problem is that he likes to hug the right side of jumps… even if we’re doing a left circle, he hugs the right side. He wastes a lot of time on the course altering his path to take the right side of jumps. I’m not sure if this is a physical problem due to his feet, if he’s possibly got a vision problem (all signs point to no vision problem), or if he’s just weird. Personally I think it’s a bit of A and C mixed together. So my challenge is to re-train him to NOT always hit the right side of jumps.
I’ve had a few different ideas on how to approach this, and I’ve decided to do some work with a v-bounce apparatus, or “the spider.” I’ve taken my stick-in-the-ground weave poles and made my own very ghetto v-bounce apparatus, and it may be ghetto, but it does the job. I decided to alter some Susan Salo jump chutes by adding the v-bounce in. I set up a straight chute and put the v-bounce on jumps 1, 3, and 5. I started back-chaining to see what he would do… jump 5, then jump 4, then jump 3. Once we did jump 3 and he kept himself in the center for all the jumps, I switched to all five jumps. We did that for a few reps, then I took the v-bounce off jump 3 entirely and left it just on jump 1 and 5. And he was still running the center line rather than veering off to the side. Whoo-hoo! I even proofed it with some motion and got what I was looking for.

So right now the plan is to do a few more days with the v-bounce in, then remove one more. Probably remove it from jump 1 and leave it on the last jump and see what happens. If it goes well, I’ll take it off jump 5 and work that – and pray that I get a miracle. The idea here is to introduce some new muscle memory to the situation and reward heavily for running the center line.
Obviously running the center isn’t exactly ideal either – you want a dog who can pick his line and either wrap left or right depending on what is most efficient. BUT if I’m given the choice between a dog who wraps right or just runs center, I will take running center. I’m expecting to have to do a lot of work on this, anticipate we may see setbacks with his take offs, but all I can do is cross my fingers and hope we work closer and closer towards a confident, fast dog who can jump safely and appropriately.

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