Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sorry, Rabbit- AND Kids- Trix are for PUPS!

 This’ll show those nasty little kids who never shared their Trix with the Rabbit.

Trix are for DOGS now- ha!

OK, I guess they are for rabbits too- per the RABBIT SHOW JUMPING LINK that our friend at BC Insanity found.  I’m so getting rabbits now.

So there you go: Rabbits and Dogs, 1. Kids, 0. Reason one thousand seven hundred and twelve that I have dogs instead of kids still. For anyone keeping track.

OK so I really digressed a bit there. What can I say? I’m delirious from a severe lack of Mexican food. I need 50 cc’s of queso fundido, stat.

ANYWAYS. I really love trix. By which I mean tricks.  When I brought The Pup home, I decided to experiment a little. I decided to try 100% tricks-based foundations with her.  Why? Two reasons- I love tricks and find them to be very entertaining, which makes training more fun and not a chore (how many millions of times have I heard people say “UGH I can’t wait for the puppy stage to be OVER, I HATE foundations, I just want a trained DOG??” I so didn’t want that to be me.)  Second, it was in the name of The Project.  Remember, one of my goals here is to try new things and evolve with the sport.  I definitely don’t want to be one of those people who trains every dog the same way… forever.  Blah. Even if it works. Blah.  I can’t even imagine how much it would suck to have an agility ‘brand’ that you are known by- try to change anything, and it’s like suddenly you’re no longer behind your own product!  How limiting.  So the key is to ALWAYS be trying new things.  Further, (secret hidden third reason?) I’ve had the unique perspective of teaching hundreds of other people’s new dogs for several years now- I have a pretty darn good idea of what works…and what really doesn’t.  So it isn’t a totally uncontrolled experiment- I am working under the reasonable assumption that this will pay off.

And it SO is, for those wondering.  I am NOT working on obedience, manners (except the not biting thing), drive or the other countless things that some people obsess over.  Just tricks.  And ta-da.  Those other things are all popping into existence on their own.  PLUS I have a brilliant, confident puppy who works to engage me.  She IS a bit (ha!) naughty, but it’s all coming along.  And I would rather have a dog who feels good enough about herself and her life to attempt a crusade onto the counter to steal a taco (and who can solve the problem of getting up there!) than a dog who never tries anything because she’s too scared or lacks ingenuity.  At least I get good stories out of it.

In case it isn’t totally obvious, we’ve had some good training sessions around here recently.  I’m dang happy with how all the trick work has morphed along into obstacle performance.  I did get some video of things last night:

Teeter- her favorite thing on the planet.  I couldn’t even take the two seconds to lower it before she was trying to run over it, so I caved and let her do it as it was.  It’s about 12” high here.   This is her third time on am entire teeter.   Contributing tricks: Wobble board, perch work, perch work on wobble board, Four feet in a box, plank work, ‘ready-steady-go,’ drawer slams and the bang game.  Find it fascinating that we spent most hours away from the actual obstacle only to have close to a proficient final product within a session or two of actually seeing it. Similar to making a really good mole sauce. 

Plank work- I decided she understood the concept of committing to staying on the length of the plank well enough to start raising it up. It’s maybe 6” off the ground- I grafted it onto the actual DW which works awesome(ly?), FYI.  She did very well, did not come off the sides, and seems to have a non-leaping stride.  I did a few (not shown) running with her so the concept wouldn’t be foreign to her in the future and those were good too.  I am still targeting only to food, not toys.  I’ve dubbed the ‘method’ Tex/Mex: a Daisy/Silvia bastard brain child- I took what I liked and what is appropriate for The Pup from their training and squished it together.  I very much agree with the Daisy/Linda idea that thinking matters most right now and will equal more correct behaviors, which equals more positive experiences/reinforcement, which equals confidence which equals speed.   I’ve seen this in action on the jump training- why not apply it to contacts too? So this is another experiment.

As for jumping, we’ve done many sessions of the various one jump c/t exercises and I decided to move to the next stage of walking through sequences.  Obviously, the jumps are low, basically non jumps.  We will revisit the one jump work when it comes time to raise the bar, but before then I have lots of time to get her used to seeking out jumps, loving them, and learning my handling cues too.  Also am simultaneously teaching the cik/cap style turns.  

Not completely throwing Silvia’s idea on speed from the get-go though, doing lots and lots of flatwork with this concept in mind.  (The Pup is the best chaser ever.)   I really liked the idea of training everything separately- handling away from equipment and equipment from other equipment so I am doing this to some extent. Hopefully it all mushes together like some kind of beautiful agility nacho plate. 

Not to be outdone, The Dog is lovely. Cik/cap turns up to 20” and holding strong. I can’t get over that I have to do it, but we are building lots of tunnel drive still and last night I had fun directing her into various tunnels from across the ring at breakneck speed.  Oh, she had fun too, don’t worry.

Now, onto the next big problem- getting’ me some Mexican-y goodness.  Ole! 

Oh god, so good looking I may lick my screen...

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