Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ST Foundations Class - Lesson One Week One

This is the lesson - there was a video to watch and then this:
1. restrained send to cik/cap - the purpose of this exercise is to play a nice chasing game, while teaching great sends, distance work and commitment - see how early I can start running in the other direction when sending Le to the jump.
Things to pay attention to:
- height: If you only did cik&cap on other objects so far, start with a jump now, but without the bar for first 3 sessions: and then put the bar VERY low - max. 5cm (2 inches) for smaller dogs, 10cm (4 inches) for BC size and bigger. You can then add some height every 5 sessions: 3cm up for small dogs, 5cm for bigger dogs - SLOWER with young dogs! If you already did cik&cap with more height, do this exercise on your normal height, send a video and I will tell you if it’s o.k. or you need to make it lower.
- distance: Start the dog very close to the jump first and then further&further every next try to slowly add distance. If the dog turns back to you (as Le does once in my video) or waits for you, start closer again and add distance more gradually.
- angle: Note from which angle I bring Le to the jump and in which direction I run away to reward. The purpose is to teach them to jump close to the wing, NOT in the middle of the bar! That’s why I always do this approach FIRST and do lots of it before trying any straight approaches.
- speed: You can’t expect much speed with multi-warps, but you definitely want it now. Restrain the dog, wait for a good pull, let him go and run away for them to chase you&the toy. Make sure the dog is rewarded when still moving - don’t stop and reward: run and reward! :)
2. If the first part goes well, you can also do some figure 8s + chase it game: it’s the same game, only that you use two jumps now and run from one to another, sometimes still rewarding the first wrap, sometimes 4th, sometimes 2nd, sometimes 5th, sometimes 3rd… Note the angle of the jumps and the distance between them: you want BIG distance to get good speed - something like 10m. Again, you want the jumps under this angle to make sure the dog is jumping close to the wing, not in the middle of the bar. DON’T do figure 8s on one jump, it teaches the dog to jump in the middle!
3. restrained send to a tunnel (obstacle discrimination!) + come to hand vs. go game
Restrain the dog very close to the tunnel, as he is pulling towards it, say “tunnel, tunnel” to them: pulling in the direction of that thing is what you want when you say “tunnel” - and then let them go. Slowly add distance. Later on, you can add more obstacles (jumps&contact) close to the tunnel to make the discrimination harder: only say “tunnel” when the dog is pulling in the right direction, you can feel it if you hold him. You do the same with jumps: call cik&cap and release to the jump that is first the only thing around and then add tunnels closer&closer. The goal is teaching obstacle discrimination AND actively pulling towards obstacles you call (as opposed to hanging with you, waiting to take them all the way to each obstacle).
To train even more things at the time, when the dog is out of the tunnel, either call to hand and when he is at your side, either do a front cross or a shoulder pull (see the video) and reward for closeness - OR say your magic “run FAST” word and throw a toy ahead when the dog is catching up with you - meaning that you’re moving in both situations, do NOT stand still when you send!
4. independent weaves
If you haven’t started weaves yet, set 12 poles in two rows (left row must always be 60cm/24inches closer to you when you stand in front of the channel in order to teach them correct entries), at least 1m apart, restrain the dog at least 3m before the channel, throw the toy through and release. As the dog is running to his toy, sometimes just stand back, sometimes run after him, on both sides, sometimes far, sometimes close, sometimes run and stop, sometimes run and turn etc. The purpose is to teach the dog to ignore your body language when in the weaves and complete the task. Slowly switch to a static toy 4m after the channel, bringing the two rows closer&closer as you practise independent performance (I’m using bowls with treats with Le as she isn’t too excited about dead toys… - but I quickly switched to a toy, thrown after she is out then to get more speed). See the video for some ideas on what to do when the dog is in channel. If the dog already knows the weaves, send the video of how independent it is. If it’s not, go back to the channel.
Have fun

What I said:
"Hi classmates! Well, we tried out the 3 basic parts of the lesson. I think this class is maybe a little too advanced for us, but we are just going to go at our own pace.
When I was putting together the weave pole set I realized that this was the first time I had ever touched a weave pole - so you see we are beginners!
Tibby had a little tantrum (as usual) when we were working on the cik/cap. This is something we are working on and she has made a lot of progress in the last few weeks. She used to just run away, but now she will come back and play some more. She has 2 speeds - flat/calm and cRaZy! Someday her brain will catch up and I think she will be able to control herself. I like to get her excited, because I want her to be fast, but it is hard to know HOW excited to get her before she has a little tantrum. Even though she is 14 months she is very much a baby dog. Baby brain.
I hope you enjoy our movie - there are lots of funny parts :) "

What Silvia said:
"Well, it’s much harder with dogs who are hard to motivate… Definitely only use her favorite toy and maybe don’t use it for anything but agility, to make it more special. Try to move yourself as much as possible too. Spend lots of time playing between one and another try to not bore her with too many repetitions. And, most importantly… Try to take the zoomies to your advantage… When she is running around as crazy, call her “run fast” word and run around as crazy too, pretending like it was your idea in a first place. Once she knows the tunnel better, you might also be able to redirect her running into the tunnel: that would be a real win. Once there, it’ very easy to throw in few more obstacles. It would a huge breakthrough if she realized agility is about running and see how much fun it is to run through the tunnel full speed.
So maybe focus on making her liking the tunnel first. To make the tunnel easier: no rear crosses on tunnel yet (meaning if you are on left side of a tunnel when she enters, be on the same side when she exits)! AND move with her to the other side. And to make it more fun – have her chase you once she is out, make it more abut running.
In general, no problem with the exercises as such, so motivation is definitely our major focus here."

What a classmate said:
"Hi Catalina,
You make my day! I was laughing my head off!! What such a smart girl you have!
Do not worry if you are in the wrong class me too!, as we dont even have proper poles we use the sticks to hold the electric wire for the cattle! Video coming soon, hopefully I will record it when I arrive home!!

What Silvia later said about someone's post:
"Why is everybody thinking they’re not yet there as the rest of the class? The 4 exercises above, all of your dogs can do, if you practised cik&cap. The only reason why things sound difficult to those new to agility is because there are many fancy expressions (front and rear crosses etc.) and rules where the dog should enter weaves etc. that you can’t know about. I’m trying to explain those things, but I sometimes forget some important parts as it’s just so self-understandable after you’re in agility for 20 years :) That’s why I decided for video form: so that you can see things I don’t see anymore :)
Yeah, I removed the sound as you can only hear the wind… But I started using my weave verbal already in 2nd session yes – I start using it as soon as the dog is searching for the channel and staying in. I like to introduce verbals very early as it takes very long for them to learn them: much longer as a behaviour as such. You can first just use a “go” or something and then switch to “weave”. As soon as you see she is o.k. with those poles on each side, you can close it somewhat. At the beginning you can do it as much as 3 inches/8cm at the time, but once you reach a stage when the channel is not much wider as the dog, you need to go VERY slowly, I will often only move two poles in (I check the set up and move in those which are set the widest: if they’re equal, I move in those in the middle), for as little as I can (about 2cm – less than an inch). – But I will do it as often as two times per session. It’s better to do it more often in smaller steps as less often in bigger steps. In short: you need to progress slow enough that it doesn’t make the dog pop out of the channel too often (you should go for at least 80% successful rate) – if it happens twice in a row on the same spot, move that pole out a little.
For the tunnel exercise, you can as well use a straight tunnel. Later on, it would be good if you could bend it at least some… You can always work around it too, but if you can somewhere get a real tunnel, that would be even better." 

She bolds the parts that everyone should read.

Ok  our video and then I will tell you what I am thinking.....

1- I don't see Tibby as that difficult to motivate. I can make her crazy very easily, but once she is at 100 mph I can't do anything with her. Yes she has her own opinion and if she doesn't want to play with a toy she won't. But 99% of the time she will play with me.
2 - Tibby likes to think things through. She doesn't want to be rushed.
3 - Yes we only use certain toys for agility - check. Favorite toys - check.
4 - Yeah tried the whole run with Tibby when she is zooming and try to name it something. I give you Exhibit A RunRun Video.
Yes in some ways it worked. She was kind of running with me. I think? But she can run like this for a loooooong time and if I'm not running with her? No big deal. Also, I lost my voice from yelling to her "run run". Plus side - I can now say this and she will run really fast. True story! Anyway..... This is NOT a video of Tibby excited - this is her playing and running. See today's lesson video for a true excited zoomie.
5 - We just need more practice. Tibby will eventually go in one side of the tunnel and come out of the other side. Right? Fingers crossed :)
6 - I REALLY NEED TO STOP WATCHING OTHER CLASSMATES' VIDEOS!!! Do these dogs all arrive with perfect focus and drive?!?! *whine* It's not fair!
7 - Whatever I think Tibby is awesome.

Well, that is my opinion and it is totally biased toward thinking Tibby is the best dog in the world, so that is that.
P.S. We are having fun.  And come on!  Tibby is so cute when she's naughty!

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