Time for some strategy. We've got a show coming up and then it. Just. Doesn't. Stop. after that. So. Obviously we don’t want to wander into 2011 unprepared so we have to figure out our plan of attack. First step: Define optimal targets.
The Dog met and surpassed every milestone I had set for her last year, accomplishment-wise. This means we get to coast next year. No goals! Yay! See you in a year!
Just kidding- I'm not quite that lazy. Though I think that having the trialing goals that we did lent to some of the problems we were having (emphasis on maximal qualification equals doing what it takes to get by, not what it takes to be awesome). So next year we are really aiming for quality not quantity.
Performance over milestone.
The Dog is 10 various Qs away from her Bronze ADCH. Definitely a goal. Beyond that, she would need a further 45 for her Bronze LAA which is probably doable. Not going to worry about it though. I don’t trust myself not to get hung up on it and fall into The Trap again, so I will hold off on obsessively tracking results in hopes that it will just happen and that I will get a super surprise. (Does USDAA mail cakes along with the LAA certificates???)
I want to qualify her for the USDAA Nationals. We need to try that again. Also going to hit the close Regional for fun. In those I want to… compare. I think that is reasonable!
I think more than anything I want to see if I can break her into the Top Ten in something (I'd like it to be Standard, but I am not too fussed.) at some point in the year... or the year after (let’s call this the Long Term Goal). If she keeps picking up in speed this should be realistic to work towards. I think it is a great goal for us- not just about qualifying, but about being competitive. Seems to be in the spirit of the whole Project.
I haven’t told our Number One Travel Companion (mother) this yet, but I kind of sort of want to go to the AKC Nationals. We never did end up taking our boys there because, while they were awesome, fast boys, they didn’t fit the AKC requirement of consistency. (50% weekend? Yep. 75%? Maybe. 100%? Nope! Never!) Meanwhile, our girls are pretty consistent and I think we could actually stand a chance of qualifying in 2011and not having a miserable time there! So I will sneak the Experience onto my list of goals- maybe we will blog live from the 2012 AKC Nationals?
Lastly… show in obedience. Ugh, talk about new frontier. That will be scary! I have to psych myself up for it so I don’t psych The Dog out.
Second step: We need some clever tactics for meeting those targets.
For one, we will continue our obedience classes. I may try and schedule some privates; we have areas in need of fine tuning. (Recall, you are the Nemesis.) And anyways, obedience only helps in the other realms of dog sports and overall Good Dogness.
In agility, most of my goals seem to circle around having a successful Standard run. My favorite class, alas, the most likely to see issue.
First, we are starting a retrain on the teeter. I have to start over on this to help her feel better about it. I don’t like how she occasionally runs around it or does it with such varying speed- those can’t be examples of confident dog performance, can they? So far we are playing the BANG game where she jumps on the end of the board and gets clicks for BANGing it and just added having her run to the end of the high suspended board Tower of Terror style. FUN!
Also on deck are training a run on the dogwalk into a wall. This still makes her very sad. I have to convince her that she will not die if there is a wall. I will turn her before she hits it. Probably. But at least she finally gets what the point of the obstacle is other than that. Just heading towards elusive consistency now.
I was going to add something about training lead-outs. Now, not so sure it's necessary. Yeah, I may be disadvantaged, competitively speaking, in a Snookers lay out every now and then but on the whole? Not an issue. If my goal is an overall faster, happier Dog, then maybe I should throw in the towel and literally just go with it. I will focus instead on practicing starts that would be unfriendly to our style, to tamp down any surprises in a show.
Talking about handling, we are working all manor of tight fast turns. I am trying out every style out there to see what works best. Gotta say, the 'grab the nose' trick I picked up at the Nationals has been the most successful! Add this to our acceleration work and you have one fine tactic for competitive success.
Lastly, continuance as always on speeding up the auto-drop on the table and her weaves. The table IS improving (She is offering the behavior occasionally! And not looking like I am beating her into submission! OMG!), but the weaves… eh. She still has only one or two good sets each day, maybe.
Since that could be caused by lack of strength in the right areas, and not just a lack of muscle memory, we are doing lots of exercises. I think I will share those in a future post (with pictures to illustrate) so look out for Dog Yoga on a screen near you soon!
My Christmas list for Santa included:
Adjustable Teeter Base
Plank (to be used as teeter board AND to train dogwalk bottoms off the table)
Come on, Santa! Tactical Skill Training is counting on YOU!
I'd say all this combined could result in some conquered targets. Here we come, 2011.