Monday, January 31, 2011

That Was Optimistic: Fine Tuning the Competitive Team

 Today we had our working sessions with Silvia, with the all day handling portion followed by the Running Contacts session.

For those of you attending this seminar, you may be familiar with the headlining phrase here: "That was optimistic." For those of you yet to attend or who are unable to, these words are Silvia's gentle way of saying "Hm. Interesting approach to handling, but you know there was no way that was ever going to be executed...right?" In regards to today's courses, we heard this a lot.

And can you blame us? We were throwing out every trick, skill, and desperate idea in an attempt to combat and survive the European layouts.  Optimism was often all we had left!

But seriously, the level of difficulty was an amazing test for our dog's skills, and our own.  The tight, seemingly non-sequential layouts had a way of finding the holes in one's training and throwing into sharp relief the areas which needed further development.  It is truly one thing to succeed in a course that has a wrap, and a serpentine, but completely another to succeed in a course that is ALL wraps and serpentines. Even if many of us will never have to work these courses with any regularity, it was extremely helpful to do so today.

Thanks to a killer new iPhone application, we were able to replicate the courses for posterity (though keep in mind that we were also dealing with poles. Big scary poles intermittently spaced about the facility. As if we needed another element of danger!).  The first course threw many of us for a loop simply because it was so unlike anything we'd worked before. In retrospect at the end of the day- probably not the hardest (again, compared to the end of the day!).

Most people had issues getting from the number 4 tunnel to the number 10 tunnel. The wrap around 5 to 6 and the approach to 9 threw most dogs- and handlers (including mine- she went a bit banzai on this one and displayed her love of visiting China for Silvia).  We were all told to stop looking at our dogs taking the jumps and to MOVE to where we needed to be at least once. I was forbidden from running backwards. Bummer.
 Course number two went a bit better for me. I think the beginning tripped a lot of people up and overall Silvia had lots of suggestions for everyone on improving 9 to the weaves (another example of 'get your dog committed and MOVE'). The Dog did settle a bit into this one and manged to get through most of it. Um, eventually.
 Course number three was the easiest (relatively) for The Dog. This was the only course we made it through without stopping.  She even earned us a 'good job' on rear cross execution from 8 to 9 and being awesome from there into the tunnel- OOOOooo! Though Silvia did want to clarify whether that was an accident or trained... hmmm.  Tricky areas for all seemed to be 5 to 12 and then finding the backside of the tunnel #17.  The Dog surprised me most by not running into the tunnel bags- glad we were able to train away at least one bad habit!
The last course was just ridiculous. The beginning (ambiguous handler position amidst a sea of obstacles) is The Dog's nightmare start. Third try was the charm! Then we manged through to number 11 before it all caved in again. However, we were not alone. The weaves were a unique challenge, and that is saying something based on today's session.

All in all, I could truly consider this an exercise in fine-tuning. Our personal weak zones (Though probably applicable to many today):

*Getting the Dog to run into me/with me at speed. Silvia agreed that China trips are bad.
*Wrapping. Good thing we are auditing the turns session.  Sometimes she was amazing, others- no.  Silvia said repeatedly " I KNOW she can do it tighter." So we must!
*Me RUNNING, not gawking. Countless times we were all admonished for watching our dogs jump instead of trusting their commitment and getting ourselves to the next position. According to Silvia, if they are in takeoff, you are pretty much cleared to move on- so stop being a spectator!
*Keep an eye on how much time (steps) you are wasting on crosses and running backwards. She banished the running backwards completely (I guess you CAN'T run as fast backwards after all) and made us all aware of how consuming and inefficient it can be to even front cross. She wants you to do what you can to get your feet pointed in the right direction and to stay on that path.
*More obstacle independence. Though her dogs run ridiculously tight and she always appears to be right there, in fact Silvia's dogs are performing most obstacles independently. She is always one step ahead, cuing what is next. I had thought The Dog was a good sender, but she is certainly not 100%, even with tunnels but especially with weaves, and certainly not as efficient or controlled to the extent that she could be. This will get better as we work on other points (the not gawking and the tight turn cues) but also comes down to jsut proofing some things.

Lots of homework then, but it's all stuff I kinda thought about doing anyways (but now I have a better idea about bringing it into action) and it is very positive.  I learned we have a few skills that actually have some polished shine to them. Big Positive! Also positive was The Dog's attitude; she was SO high all day and only once got a bit sad (on her nightmare start) but completely rebounded two seconds later. So for her- the world's biggest over thinker- to be happy and run willingly (blissfully even) all day? Completely uplifting. Something is going well here in the Project.

I'm sure I will think of more tomorrow. Stayed tuned for follow-ups on the Running Contacts and upcoming Turns!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taking an Informational Dump!

Must empty my brain before bed, so that tomorrow I don't get mentally constipated or something...

I audited the popular "Starting Your Puppy" this evening with Silvia Trkman. She was, as promised, a good presenter.  You can see she is much more casual than others on the seminar circuit, or at least gave the appearance of "I like what I do for me" and not "DO IT OR YOU ARE WRONG!"

She mostly reiterated her known philosophy of tricks as a foundation for learning, and then expanded on a few other necessities for puppies. I liked that she explained that actually teaching a dog to run was tantamount to a good agility career. Many of the exercises involved rewarding motion (with you, not random).  It might be something many people do naturally, but not everyone does and (especially for certain breeds) it is a crucial step.

After learning to run, and learning to run with you as a handler, she explained that the next steps for her would involve teaching a wrap- the tighter, the better of course. She demonstrated shaping this behavior very patiently using an object (pole, cone, tree, etc).  The working pups practiced this briefly, then took turns learning the next step: send to the object, wrap, and accelerate out of the turn to chase you. Then of course, reward the motion with you. She explained that you can learn many handling maneuvers this way, including distance sending, wraps, front crosses and could close the exercise in a variety of ways: pivot in a circle, practice front crosses on the flat or simply rewarding forward. Silvia advocates learning handling on the flat before employing with obstacles; she also teaches many items separately until perfection is achieved (e.g. contacts, weaves, and start lines).

She did go over a few of the the most beneficial (in her opinion) tricks you can do with your dog: sit-up, back-up, figure eights, and most interestingly, tricks involving object interaction. I loved the idea of teaching pushing objects as a precursor to the teeter. Pushing in doors, drawers, skateboards etc, with gradual force should help the dog to feel comfortable with motion and to learn that they can control it.  She thought that basically anything you could do that would provide interaction with obstacles, whether it be the front feet or especially the back feet, was a must.

She did talk about about her heeling method as well (starting out as another kind of object interaction) as being good for focus, and remember to be working in many environments as well.  Everything started out as a trick, or used the trick as a stabilizer when working the environmental factors in. A recurring theme seemed to be... a lot of things can be boring to a puppy and are hard because of that fact, since you lose their attention. It can also then mean that you are boring to your dog. So, if you elicit fun things (chase games and fun tricks!) and are an active participant in the fun, then you will have a good chance at a successful team.

Overall, the takeaway points seem to be that you have to make sure you have taught them the process of learning and problem solving, then present your puppy with many, many variables, and make sure you are an ever active FUN partner to all of the above.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Get In A Row Already, Ducks!!!

I wish I could teach my border collie to herd my life up.  There is too much to do, too many balls in the air, ducks needing to get in line- TOO. MUCH.  But alas, the herding force is not strong with this one. 
(Though the Boyfriend swears she was herding him around the house last night. I think he had some forgotten peanut butter on his arm or something.)

I woke up with my head swimming this morning from all the to-dos requiring check marks. It was enough to make me go back to sleep. 

When I woke up again I decided baby steps were better than nothing. So, breakfast of champions: PROTEIN SHAKE!


Now, once fed, everything looks a bit more doable.  I've even determined that most of it can wait while I dive into season 2 of True Blood. (I feel secure in liking this now that I realized the books came out before the Twilight Series and it was not a part of the post Twilight vampire fiction outbreak, which is enough to make me barf my breakfast of champions a little bit.)

Depressingly, the one thing I wanted to do in the early part of the weekend (over shopping, cooking, working out, cleaning, laundry, excess WORK I had to take home, etc, etc, ET CETERA.) was do a little training with The Dog, but she is feeling a bit under the weather. She was sick last night, and is still less than her typical bright eyed and bushy tailed self. It is vastly more important that I have her whole and well on Monday than I get a bit of training in today. Rest up, tiny tot!

...Because our working spots are on Monday!!!! Really excited. I wish I would have been able to afford auditing today's Foundations session as well, but I have a secret spy gathering intel for me. Spies rock! And I hope all my fellow bloggers attending the seminar will be sure to post their thoughts and share notes too. I'm looking forward to getting everyone's perspectives almost as much as the information itself.

Heading out there tomorrow night though for the "Starting a Puppy" session. No reason for that. Just in case. You never know when you may suddenly find yourself with a puppy. It might even happen in a few weeks... finger's crossed tightly!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HOLY REALIZATION, BATMAN!!

How did I not really notice this before? I must be blind. 

I was just watching the standard videos from the weekend again.  The scene:

The Dog. The Dogwalk.

She runs. I run. I catch up. She slows up. I pass. She runs again. Depending on the point of passage, this is resulting in the leap. 

So obvious!

In the first video I caught up and passed her at the point she was closing in on the yellow with her head down, so we both met at point A- the yellow.  This was a nice transition.  

In the second video, I caught up about halfway on the downward side and you can SEE her hitch her stride, then I passed her at the point where she had not committed to the remainder of the zone (point B, or "Before the yellow"). She ran again, which in her rush equaled a leap. Luckily, she launched from the yellow, but still. 

This tells me a lot- she's watching me, not doing the task; she doesn't really get the downward plank performance (or 'gets' something different from what I wanted); I am throwing her stride off even worse when I slow up out of 'don't miss the contact!' nerves... to name a few.

I knew she was sensitive. I knew she was pretty in tune, but that's easy to forget because she is SO obstacle focus. But this is just plain weird. It's like she is a remote control car that I'm running via brain waves instead of a remote. All of a sudden, I have a very keen awareness of all the little cues I've been giving her that are getting these strange show performances on the dogwalk.  I think besides showing her to watch me, not the job, I have also given her the idea that she shouldn't bother finishing the DW performance if she knows what is next. Yay me! Good job! 

Ugh. I think I will let The Dog have an owner break while I go and figure this out on some other victim.

Ladies and gentleman, my next agility project:

The Blob Fish. 

Perhaps I will be able to train this thing without psychologically damaging it. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gettin' Dirrty...

At Simon Arena!

Played AKC in the dirt this weekend with the girls. We had fun, challenging courses and nice, forgiving judges.

Black Dog ran really well for me, though she has officially accepted me and I have lost the grace period as a New Handler, meaning she will no longer wait at the start line. Darn.  She manged to finish her OA/OAJ anyways Saturday and got a nice first Q in ExA JWW today.

The Dog finished her AXJ on Saturday (no thanks to me and my missed walk through! Actually an amazing run considering I had to read the numbers...) and moved into "B" today where she also qualified... barely! The off course tunnel lured her like a Siren of the sea BOTH times she had to pass by.  The first time she actually stopped and looked at me in disbelief.  Clearly she contested the jump as the correct obstacle.  It was with begrudging steps that she came in for it eventually. The second time was hairy, but she was more amicable about the redirect.

She also had a very nice Standard run on Saturday with a qualifier.  I was surprised, as I walked the course and then decided it would be more fun to experiment with some new material than it would be to try and run clean.  So my goals were to mange the turn off the DW (since an off course jumped loomed in a straight line off the DW), and to try the weird backy-uppy blind wrap...thing. Move. Whatever.  I've run it in practice and the usual result yielded was a super tight wrap.  I thought the wrap back to the Aframe was an ideal place to give it a go, as yet another off course tunnel was set to draw to dogs out. 

Low and behold- it all worked! The wrap maneuver wasn't super tight, but she followed me and didn't take advantage of my back turned to dive into the tunnel. The DW part was also great- an amazing left turn to the correct jump. Very happy with this run, and I think she ended with the 6th best time in 20" too.

video
Here is the video from today's Standard class- no, not an instant replay, but both girls, just eerily similar. I missed their weave entries... yep, plural- same error with BOTH girls. Ga! Bad Leader! Oh well. Still a lot of good stuff. The Dog was really moving, so I will take that any day (especially since she started out Saturday a bit freaky). She finally swam the poles- YAY! And Black Dog held her contacts and managed the jumping portion in the beginning so well.

video
On this side of the weekend, NEXT weekend is practically here! We have THE SEMINAR next weekend! I am so excited for the opportunity to work with such an accomplished handler. I am hoping for good feedback and suggestions on improving some lingering issues. Still crossing fingers for magical solutions on the DW too! Yep, totally reasonable expectations. That's how we roll in Project Go Dog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let’s get physical…

Oops, sorry, did I just get that song in your head?

HA!

So we are on Day 4 of THE REGIME. It wasn’t so bad to start (like, for Day 1), but I quickly realized that the makers of P90X have made 3 crucial errors in their assumptions of me, the Buyer:

1)      I am not a Viking. I have never been a Viking.  This involves a LOT of protein. And weight-lifting. Then more protein, and hey, how about some more weight-lifting?  So they have either assumed some Viking heritage or that I desire becoming a Viking. I want to be fit, but I have no need to wield an axe in battle after the 90 days are complete (if I even live to that point).  Maybe they will provide some lean muscle exercises as we progress?

2)      I work. I have a long commute. I have a dog who needs something daily and who is additionally signed up for more extracurricular activities than most children.  I teach classes. I show- a lot. I have the Boyfriend.  I have a gym membership that requires several monthly dates lest it double in cost. Clearly whoever devised THE REGIME assumes that I have or do nothing.  One hour to one and a half hour daily workouts, then you have to wait an hour after working out whilst your ‘recovery drink’ does its job (if you do not, you will pay…), then you have to make dinner from scratch. Oh, and lunch and breakfast too. To do this, one really needs to give themselves over for 90 days.

3)      (Despite all of the aforementioned details in #2) I am lazy. I love to decompress and do nothing. If I were an animal, I would be a cat.  Just four days and no couch time makes for a very cranky Project Leader.  I think the worst assumption is that I must be Jenny McCarthy or something.  I’m just not that peppy (at least not if I can’t fit in a nap).

But even with all my obstacles to overcome (thanks to the overly optimistic and overreaching creators) in order to complete THE REGIME I think this will become a very good thing. Loving the meals that we have to eat- though it really is hard to make everything, every meal.  But I am not missing the junk one bit, which says a lot since I am a crave/indulge type of person.  And I suppose I am getting by without naps. Maybe I will even gain energy and not want naps someday? 

I am feeling bad for The Dog though- she sits (in her snooty, “I have a ripped physique so Imma just gonna watch” manner) with her toy and waits fairly patiently each night while we flop around inexplicably. Then when we are lying on the floor dying from exhaustion and pulled muscles, she comes over and sits my chest and gently drops a toy in my face. Clearly this means “play time, human!” but we usually have to lame out on her for some time afterwards. I also have lamed out on table work for most of the week too. BUT we did get started on learning a ‘wrap’ command for turning tightly to the left around the jump post.  So at least we are doing some training.

"Yep- when you're done? Dis ball is goin' in yer FACE".
But we actually squeezed in a bona fide practice yesterday- not just basement practice. I was trying to deconstruct her DWs for most of our time. (I’m very proud of me for surviving all the runs back and forth and THE REGIME in the same night.)  I think I had some good realizations about why she sometimes leaps versus runs through the contact and when that will likely happen. So now that I think I get what is going on, I just have to find a way to fix it.  Very tempted to buy a ‘Hit-It’ contact trainer touch pad. The Dog is a clicker fiend- maybe that will finally bridge the gap of understanding so we can arrive at Continuity's Door? (And no, obviously I cannot just click, since my wrong clicks are probably part of why we are in this mess. My click privileges have been stripped.)

On a positive note- her Aframe is getting there. Last night- all perfect! Running through, head down, and very fast. (Although, she went Evel Knievel on me for the first one: LEAPT the apex and soared all the way over, landing all four feet in the yellow. I think she actually went “YEEHAW” over the top.)

Show this weekend. We will see if I broke her DW through my scientific studies- but it is AKC and their generous contact zone. It’s saved us before; it may do it again this weekend! That is, if I don’t become so buff that I can’t fit between the obstacles…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

Ugh, it's a Saturday, I should really not be thinking. Better try and make this quick then so I can cram in some slovenly, bad behaviors while I still can.

After this weekend, the event storm is a-comin'. We have an AKC show next weekend, then THE SEMINAR, then a USDAA show in Bartlett, IL, then MAC, then another AKC show... you get the picture. We are going to be busy for a few months.

And in spite of that demanding show schedule we are starting the P90X regime on Monday. ("We" being the boyfriend and me, not me and The Dog- she is already ripped.) It came in the mail yesterday and is sitting on the coffee table looking intimidating. For the last week, when the impending DOOM was still in UPS transit, we determined we had better make the most of our last week. Therefore we have been quite slothy and have tried to eat every thing we love that has been slowly killing us one last time. We still need to eat pizza and Mexican and then I think we will feel so awful that the Regime will be a welcome change. Finger's crossed!!

And somehow, between showing and the Regime I will also need to fit in some supplemental training for The Dog. Which brings me back to the fact that I have been thinking on a Saturday.  Before I can do anything else I need to make two decisions:

1.) Dogwalk. It's time to decide if I am going to really pursue training the running contact or to leave it as is. If I am going to train it, I need to clear a space in the show schedule to do so.  I think that could happen after MAC in the spring? So in case, I have stacked up a lot of shows in hopes of getting Q'd for the Nationals early.  I want her to have a true running contact. I really do. But doing the retrain work all last summer yielded only the current performance. She does not "get" not leaping. WEEKS on a flat plank and still, two back feet leave the plank at the same time every time she tries to go faster than a trot. But is that because I never stopped showing??
And I don't hate the current performance. My whole goal was to speed up the obstacle, and I can see it has gone from a 3.5-over 5 second obstacle to around 2.1 typically. And with a quick release at least she is hitting the zone.  She sort of gets what she's doing now.
So here it is- if I can get some fantastic revelation on retrains at THE SEMINAR I will do it. If not, then quick release it is. And then I shall never speak of a running DW for The Dog again.

2.) Toying with the idea of the 'cik/cap' turns. I think The Dog could get this, no problem. I was working on bending in the air around the post while jumping last night and noted that this was amazing. Problem: I use lefts and rights for 'turn tight' and for 'just turn this way please.' I have to use other (mostly visual) cues for decel in conjunction with the left/right to get a tight turn/wrap. So do I train that 'left/right' are the cues for wrapping back to me? Or do I leave left/right to be the general directionals and pick new words? Part of me knows the first option is confusing for her and the other part say it is a waste since her 'left/rights' are already so developed that it would be easy to mutate them into wrap only situations. Unless she gets confused? Then it's a disaster and the first part of me will shake it's head in dismay at the second part.
My reasoning for wanting to do it is that I would like a verbal cue for the wrap action that I can give in advance of the obstacle that is also directional. Right now she relies on what I say and do and we have seen that not work one bit when I get out of sight. Her current 'left/right' interpretation is pretty open so I think I want something for a hard turn, specifically. Sigh. I can't work out what to do here.

Maybe someone will save me from thinking and decide this for me. And heck, even if I sound like I am 100% on my DW decision? Yeah, that is still up for discussion too. Can't you see how ambiguously I left that one?

Poor Dog. Let's just go eat some pizza for now. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

ADAA: Awesome Dogs All Around!

Entry Fees: $258
Gas: $30.01
Bruise salve: $9.95
Replacement screen for iPhone dropped on concrete: $106.05
Total cost for the weekend: $ 404.01
The exhilaration and entertainment of being able to run all three girls at the ADAA USDAA show:
Priceless.
Obviously!

My recent Songs for Dogs post was merely a preview what was to come this past weekend.  Clearly, no practice efforts can actually compare to the joy/terror of running our three wickedly different googly-eyed yahoos in a real show.

I won’t lie; based on those practices I truly prepared myself for an unmitigated disaster. I tried to prepare my mom for the worst, but she maintained bright-eyed optimism in the weeks before the show.  Even while watching me fail time after time with Black Dog and/or The Dog in practice. Multiple Dogs= HARD.

In the end I maintained cautious optimism (though I packed my Disaster Kit with all the other show gear) and was duly rewarded. All three girls were brilliant! And I survived running them! Amazing, as Black Dog seemed intent on killing me. I am covered in bruises from her abuse and my arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets from tugging (also my back is badly in need of re-alignment now). That girl has a lot of power and she isn’t afraid to show it. (Solution…Shutzhund-ing??)

Overall, White Dog was the ‘best’ with 3 for 3 qualifiers in her classes (Steeple and Snookers X 2).  She was our only girl to survive Saturday’s Snookers course- I learned that Snookers is a new game when you are running it at 7pm, are delirious with hunger and sleep and the course is crazy.  My brain was only able to manage the opening- the girls all ran beautifully through it, however then my brain switched offline. Only White Dog was able to discern that my feeble commands and late arm flops were my attempt to navigate her through 2 and 3 of the close. The baby girls did their best but alas aren’t used to having to switch gears into Service Dog mentality. Only White Dog can deal with a Special Handler.

Black Dog did really well for me too. She was so UP for everything that was thrown at her this weekend, but her eagerness was at times our downfall.  A bit careless on jumps, a little lack of patience, and fast and loose on some contacts.  We started out great, with qualifications in Gamblers and Standard right away, but then fell apart the rest of Saturday.  I’m sure her mother who understands her wouldn’t have had the issues we did so I chalked them up to the learning curve and moved on. Sunday was much better; we figured out her warm up and she ran clean in everything with breakneck runs in Standard and Jumpers. Thankfully, no necks were actually broken, but it was a close call in Day 2 Jumpers when I practically had to drop kick her into the correct side of the tunnel.  

And then there was MY girl. She was so good. I thought for sure she was screwed- that she would pay the price for me being stressed over running the other two- but no.  We had a very good weekend; she qualified in everything but Saturday Snookers and the last Jumpers run (weird bar).  Our Steeple Q was also her Tournament Bronze Title. I completely hosed our Steeple Round 2 but oh well. It was still fun to try and push her to see what I got. We determined we need to work on pushing for speed on ‘easier’ sequences because she gets out of control on fast lines of jumps.  Good speed, but no way of turning her once she got going.  Also contributing to this was the fact that all the courses ended in the same corner, so when she saw that corner coming she drove out to her leash. I believe she actually had her mouth on it during the midpoint of Steeple Rnd 2.  So while I love the drive towards the exit, I have to figure out how to turn it off when it’s not the end of the course!   (But even if it wasn’t convenient drive I am really not complaining - by the last run of the weekend or even the second day she is usually much droopier. Had no problems with that this weekend. Cool.)

She also WON gamblers, which makes me SO proud.  Historically we either have a nice opening and a bad close or a nice close but bad opening. Really good to see that when it comes together it adds up to something great! Overall her times were really good too.  We managed another Super Q Sunday (always welcome!) and her time in the first Steeple round was great (good enough to make up for a bar down and then some). Standard was better than ever (YAY AUTO DOWN ON THE TABLE!!!!) and she had her best YPS to date on Saturday in that class. I’m so happy to see her finally getting into the top of the pack in terms of times. Rather than seconds off it’s down to tenths separating her from top times. Obviously now that I am running in her a way she is familiar with and NOT like a superimposed alien and since I have stopped stressing over qualifying it is all coming together.  Doesn’t this just prove that we all have amazing dogs and the only thing holding us back is, well, US? Mental game. So important.

So there you have it. No disaster kit necessary.

Author’s note:  Super big warm fuzzy hugs to the ADAA crew for hosting a January show, and equal love to all the local helper monkeys for making it possible.  My only complaint would be the amount of cheese-related peltings…You know who you are…

So…Can we do it again next year?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Balancing Act

Ever been to the Renaissance Festival?

If so, I am sure you've seen the juggler.  Not the boring, "three bowling pins" juggler. No, I mean the one who juggles knives.  While walking on a tightrope. And the tightrope? It's on fire.

Now image that you are the juggler. That is how it feels to train agility if you are me and you are working with The Dog.

I know, The Dog seems sweet. Soft. Malleable.  Clay to an artist's hands. You may be thinking I am a tiny bit crazy right now.

HA. She really has you fooled.
Dog says They say there is a sucker born every minute.  Happy B-day!
If you are me, and training agility is the task before you, then you are walking a fine line indeed. You are juggling all the obstacles, trying to keep them in the air no longer than necessary, and taking great care not to let the performance of one drop.  You are trying to balance training and showing throughout this act.  Doing so will allow you to move forward along the rope. But then there is also the fire.  Ambition. One heck of a motivator.  You can so easily get burned though, if you aren't careful.

(Yes, I like metaphors, why do you ask??)

So. What am I driving at? We live in MN and it is winter. We have limited access to equipment in the winter. I must work my dog, lest she go insane. Also I still would like to show this winter and can't afford the consequences of no training time (akin to falling from your flaming tightrope into a shark tank). Therefore, I must use what I have. However. I have a dog that, when comprehension arrives and couples with appreciation, offers behaviors. Again and again and again. Hey, I liked it that one time she did it perfectly. She got a treat or the BALL.  So why not do it again? (And again. And. Again.)  Once she begins to kind of get something, we immediately HAVE to get another 'pin' in the air or obsession (A.K.A. imbalance) takes over.

Example: For one week, we've been working the table. Table fits in the basement.  Table is easy to do when you have limited time. But now, the table is Mecca.  Must do table. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200- head directly to table. She kind of gets the table.

I mean, this is good. I guess. Until we run Standard this weekend and she bypasses everything in her reasonably assumed path to do the table. 

Arg. 

If you only have one pin, you can't become much of a juggler!

The lesson? Balance. 
But how to do this in the winter?
I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.