My baby is ten months old.
It’s not as bad as nine months.
Ten months sort of seems more like a ‘fun age.’ The age I’ve been waiting for.
You see, for a small-medium puppy, ten months means that the fun can REALLY start. I think it’s safe to say she’s done growing so now we can get to work on the last few elements of training.
So I know I initially said I wanted to train channels, no wires. But I hit a wall where I wasn’t able to crank them any tighter because of her age. And now that she’s old enough, its basically winter and there is no place to work channels every day. And believe me, I don’t want to wait until spring to start the long process of teaching channels. Magic solution?
I was very… thbbbbtttt about the thought of teaching this method. But knowing what I know now about The Pup’s food-drive, and that she prefers challenges and shaping to repetitive muscle memory tasks it seems that 2x2s are the best method for her.
I decided to go with MEB’s method of 2x2s, a slight derivation of Susan Garrett’s. You can see MEB’s method here. The main differences that I see are that the poles are always in line (not opened up for an easier approach) and that it’s less um… particular. There are some dos and don’ts but it made more sense to me and less like a ticking time bomb of failure if you didn’t do EVERYTHING exactly as prescribed.
So we started last night and boy, do I like being right. The Pup was much more into it than she ever was with the channels. She caught on right away and after we raised the bar from ‘any offered pole passing behavior gets the cookie’ to ‘correct entry only’ she never offered anything but criteria. She was even an angel about running back without back weaving. But the best part was how fun it was for both of us.
So that’s it, that’s the last element to her obstacle training.
However, now we go back and start filling in the outlines. For the progress record (that was the basic point to the blog, so sorry if lists are not the most gripping text I could share):
Tunnels: Good drive to and from (better from). Needs some work on committing; she will turn back in an ‘are you sure’ manner if there is a cross before.
Chute: If Marvin awaits her at the exits, awesome. No Marvin…eh… sometimes she forgets that she must burrow through. Work in progress. Probably the weakest obstacle now.
Tire: Awesome! Really good about going through the circle, hasn’t discovered going under or around (jinx?). Will seek the tire from any angle.
Table: Also awesome! Very nice auto drop and will stay for a 5 count. I can move around, run past and send, but I can’t circle her yet. She likes to follow me around (though at least tries to remain down then?).
Jumps: Nice at 12”, working on 14”. Not ready for anything more yet. Solid on lines, angles and pinwheels, pretty good sends and commitment, NICE wraps and post turns. Backside annoys her. I plan on doing a lot more one jump work this winter to start putting commands to the maneuvers and keep her motivation up for jumping in general (though it’s been really building on its own funnily enough. Hmm.)
Teeter: Love her performance now. Drives through the tip and has a true understanding of the 4 on. She will stick it if I run past or cross or drop all the treats everywhere (oops). Sends to it very well. Might be her favorite thing, close call between teeter and table.
Aframe: She’s still working out how she’s doing this. I have Marvin out for most reps still; when he is there she thinks less about what she’s doing, in a good way. She doesn’t do scary boingings over the apex anymore with him there either so, phew! Without him she has the tendency to rock back much more and take more small steps. Not bad, but not running like she can.
Dogwalk: PERFECT with Marvin. Fast and good extension. She needs more exposure to different dogwalks at this point, finding entry from angles, and continual work on fading Marvin. When it’s dogwalk into a tunnel I get a pretty close performance to Marvin, but to nothing I can beat her. She has still yet to leap though. That makes me happpeeeee.
Hmmm, if I forgot anything, someone had better tell me!
As for what it’s like to run now… mmmm… better than cupcakes. She figured out quite recently that there is no “I” in “Team” and it feels like we are working together now. Her agility switch is officially on.
Like I mentioned, I started her this week in classes. She was a star!! Quite loud and obnoxious, as promised, while waiting to go but focused and brilliant for her turns. I admit, when we first started doing obstacle work and handling groundwork I really didn’t see how she was going to end up with the running speed and style I wanted. But now… my baby is fast! AND smart!
And in life…well, she’s grown up there too. I’d never thought I’d say this, but she can sleep out now!! All of a sudden, she turned into bedtime snuggle pusher. As soon as I am in bed, she’s there squishing up in a little Pup ball next to me. And there she sleeps, the whole night.
Still a holy terror during waking hours though. Some things never change. Why o why did I teach a dog to be so explorative? No cupboard is safe.
That’s it! Ten months, in a nutshell (though it’s a big huge hazelnut shell I guess).
Because you can’t post without mentioning The Dog, here is The Dog in her new PINK Thundershirt. No, not scared of thunder, just anxious about life. What can I say? The Dog needs a big pink hug.