Friday, October 1, 2010

Eureka! …Maybe?

OK. Training a running dogwalk doesn’t just mean repetition. It means planning, practice, adjustment, revamping, frustration, exultation, and oh yeah, pulled muscles on my part from all the sprinting. This is SO much more involved than the 2o2o training process. This might be a lot easier with a clean slate but retraining to a running dogwalk is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do as a trainer. Adding to my issues: not having my own dogwalk at home, having a jello-soft super smart Dog who thinks everyone is trying to trick her, and not having a lot of existing precedence to help with troubleshooting. I think at this point everyone is still a bit in the dark as far as what it takes to get this performance down to the reliable “T” we want it to be. ESPECIALLY with the retraining process. It seems to be so much more about what works for THIS dog, than what is a method you can apply to MANY dogs.

I was very frustrated after the last show as it seemed her performance really regressed, due to the course designs (I think). On Tuesday in class I went back to just letting her go, no matter if she hit it or not and rewarded the running. She did have a nice hit rate on the AKC measured dogwalk, but if it was USDAA… eek. “IFY!” So, on Wednesday, I went and removed all equipment away from the dogwalk (since not having an obstacle to target to seemed to really mess her up at the show) and tried one last time to see if I could get her to target to a toy placed about 20 feet out (usually this would be read as “proofing” and would elicit a 2020). And HOORAY! she did it! Slower at first, but gradually she picked up on the idea and drove out to it. Unfortunately though, the hit rate was pretty low for a USDAA dogwalk.

So in one last desperate measure, I stuck a make-shift regulator just above the last slat above yellow. (I know, I know, it violated my rules!) Taa-daaaa! Magic! It put her all the way down to the base of the dogwalk. So, eureka? Maybe? I really don’t know how I feel about using a regulator. I feel like once they realize it isn’t there, then kablooey! No more contact zone. I realize that one needs to work it a LONG time and fade it out gradually and sneakily. So that might be the task for the winter when I finally have some TIME and get a PLANK to work with. But for now, am going to put all my hope in this as a quick fix to get me through Cynosport. So, is ten days of practice enough to shake out 6 days worth of dogwalks? We will see!

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