Monday, March 19, 2012

Mad Scientist Caliber Experimentationisms.


It’s a word.

Agility experiments are granted ‘Mad Scientist’ designations when they cost a lot of money and involve travel. Only crazy people go so far.

Our need to experiment with the 26” thing took us to a CSA trial last weekend.  We had many variables to test: Trial environment, Turf effects, Class load, Changing Heights, to name a few.  A big test would be held to determine the impact of actual courses on handling, therefore jumping. So many variables there!

All very scientific, you see.
With any good experiment comes a hypothesis.  My thought was that her jumping would best be represented by an upside down “U” shape on a graph, where the x axis records the amount of runs and the y axis shows the jumping proficiency.  That is to say, in non Mad Scientist words, jumping would start out not so hot, improve to a peak, but would drop off as she got sleepy from all the running.

Scientific AND mathy.
Interestingly, I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  I think I’ve conclusively proven that The Dog is a good girl, and I’m somewhat of a durp (see South Park if that word has no meaning for you).

Her jumping was not affected by turf, being at a show, class load, the unexpected heat, changing the heights on her, or the courses we ran.

Her jumping WAS affected most by…


To be mildly fair to myself, I’m not used to running her on full courses with actual yardage yet. I didn’t have much of a feel as to timing or what I could or couldn’t do yet.   I DID learn as the weekend went on though and redeemed myself a little. 
In order to make actual sense, a recap.  With Video!!

Saturday we ran Gamblers, Standard and Jumpers. Gamblers was the run of the weekend she needed to figure her jumping out and knocked two from poor judgment. Luckily, they were in the opening so we qualified and she even won!  Two amazing things I noticed in this run after the fact: first, she tried to wait on her teeter both times (I’ve been rebuilding her 4 on this entire winter) and second, she FOLLOWED ME!!! I ran somewhat across the ring, bypassing jumps and stuff and she came with me without obstacle shopping. Holy Crap.  Payoff.   (Note: One of the reasons that I’m a durp is that she tried to wait on her teeter a LOT over the weekend yet I ripped her off every time. Ga!!)

In Standard, I (wo)manned up and tried some blinds.  Another theory was that fronts aren’t going to work as well now (more later) so it was time to try. And they worked!! She actually had a really nice run, but the dogwalk and the jump following became a hot mess so 10 faults there. My theory is that her load (after the triple), coupled with the tunnel under the exit of the DW (her new thing that makes her LEAP) just were a perfect storm for what happened.  No worries, homework.

In Jumpers, she jumped BEAUTIFULLY! No bars. Yay.  Enter here one of several REFUSALS for the weekend though.  Totally set a bad line and let her land too long to save it. Oops.  Big “good girl” for though because she followed exactly what I showed her. 
Sunday was a full day.  We started with Jumpers and I did THE SAME THING and once again she responded and came into me instead of taking the tunnel.  After that hiccup she knocked a few bars and I started to see that  crushing her momentum (with stopping and squishy squashy front crosses) kills her ability to jump.  Dog requires consistent flow at 26”. Interesting. This was further expounded in Snookers. Two bars and a TWEET after an opening with lots of squishy squashy and no momentum. 

Pairs was a return to awesome: 1st with the Black Dog, super fast run and clean! (No video unfortunately.)  The Dog was filled with momentum and was super happy.  After getting walked off in Snookers this was a wonderful thing to see.  

Grand Prix, back to 22”, followed. (Er, partial video- camera malfunction!) It doesn’t look super controlled, but I felt in control 100% so that should count for something?  This course annihilated most entrants so I was pleased beyond reason to survive and Q and have a speedy time.  Just a stinky little tenth of a second from that other bye I wanted to get!  But glad to know that I can push her as much as I did on a course like that and get such good results.

Our last run was Standard.  No bars! I tried to carry over and push her on this one to test a new theory and I think it worked! She did really well, detoured to a tunnel but CAME BACK before it was an off course. Then she ran by the aframe- what?? Silly silly. But. I didn’t tell her to and clearly she was in ‘I’m a good girl and I pay attention’ mode. Plus we’ve been working on her following me when I take off so it was the right thing to do.  She did come back to end on a gorgeous DW to a triple so we had a big party. 
I learned a LOT. Totally worth the endeavor.

- Most importantly, I got to see that she is starting to show me some focus- I didn’t have to constantly battle with the obstacles for attention.   Now to remember this.
- Blinds are our friend, squishy fronts are not.  A rear will do as well, but getting ahead to show n’ go is key right now.
- Along with that, I really need to shape her takeoff more. Ugh. I can’t wait until she is jumping or even her takeoff point- she lands SO much further out now.  More information, earlier.
- She can do start line stays! Without getting sad and refusing to leave the line!! And no first bars down.
- She’s competitive, time wise.  A big, good group of 26” dogs and her times were there. So hard to tell with refusals, but best time in Stnd Sat and probably would have won Sunday.  I was worried, but not so much anymore.
- Still so far to go on the DW training. So many circumstances to drill!
On The Pup front, we spent a LOT of down time practicing walking in to the building nicely, not like a crazy animal who’d never been on a leash before.  Tons of attention and focus work while dogs were running. A few tough love moments, but by the last class we were able to sit ringside while she focused on me the whole time.   She was able to do tricks while fast dogs ran and the practice jump in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
 I’m taking the emotionless behavioral tactics of ‘real’ clicker trainers and it works.  Treating her like a ‘reactive dog’ rather than a naughty puppy has helped too- the naughty puppy route just put us both in unhealthy overdrive.  

11 days to go!
Can we go now? Me and Face ball are ready!! 
Then the beast is unleashed. 

Pig-nosed beast.

1 comment: