Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Building to success ....

So you've got this dog.
It's a nice dog. It's a sports dog.

But it's not the same dog at trials or in class as it is at home.


What to do? What to do?

Well, if you've known me for any length of time at all you know what I'm going to say I bet. Set some goals, make a PLAN and get to it!

Let's take one specific thing to illustrate my meaning.

Seeing as how this is my agility blog let's talk about weaves.

You've got weaves, let's say in your garage, no problem... offside, near side, calling to you, sending away from you whatever you do you get nice looking weaves with some action ....

I thought I might be able to play in our garage ... umm I can hardly walk in our garage now!

You can work around the clock there with nary an issue  ... but oh lord anywhere else and you'd think you'd never taught weaves before ....

the struggle is real and you are not alone (be it weaves, scenting containers, dumbbell work, recalls, stays, contacts or whatever) and there are specific concrete things you can build into your program to help you .... honestly - let's break it down!!

So - your goal is going to become some variation of: doing whatever it is as well else where as at home!

Things to think about building in and upon

distractions - things that flap and move, things that our dogs would rather have (food, toys, other dogs, people). Build distractions up AFTER your dog is comfortable doing the weaves (or whatever) in each setting...

here is a little video example of toy distractions being scattered around

footing changes - concrete, padded floor, carpet, dirt, grass - all are very different to our very olfactory motivated canines! this is so much more important than people think of ...  I know when I started trialing I would have panicked to find myself on a horse arena floor - now I'd relish the challenge.

terrain changes (uphill, downhill?) if you always do things one direction the first time you turn it around you may feel like you are starting all over ... that said it will go much more quickly!

So in the above example  I might open the garage door one day and work weaves, then a few days later throw a couple of toys out and work weaves,... then perhaps both open the door and throw toys out ...  suck a friend or family member to come and putter in the garage for 3 minutes and weave then, ask them to stop and stare at us another time, put a big piece of carpet under the weaves another time .... tape the poles to change colour or pattern or put little balls on the top of the poles another time

While I was building distractions in the most familiar place ever I might also take the poles out of the garage one day - on the driveway, on the lawn, in the dining room ...  I might take the poles to our beer store (see number 6 in the link to understand that comment!)

If I was expecting weaves in a new location (let's say class) at the same time as this was going on I'd have one of two choices and what I'd do would depend on the dog and our mutual experience ... umm actually I'd do one ... but that might involve renting the space, or privates or something other people might not be able to do

1) I'd keep it really broken down and simple  ... start as if i was starting all over again ... I'd expect it to take much less time than the first time it was taught but I would teach weaves again as a discrete skill

2) I'd pretty much take what I got and ignore the weaves ... so run past them if they got missed or whatever ... if I chose to take the time to "fix" the weaves in a run I would then work on weaves alone for the time I had - in other words move towards 1 again!

I would absolutely NOT be worried they'd never come because at some point I'd be sure to  do number 1 and then all would be good again ;)

I also wouldn't fuss too much when they didn't work at a trial or in class -I'd just back up a degree and build confidence again.

What would you do?

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