Monday, 15 June 2009

Zeki's Training

It's ages since I did an update on Zeki's training. Things are progressing well and I feel I'm getting on top of the chasing problem. There is still one little hole in this process; if I am not either working with her or giving her a job to do then she will chase if she is not on lead.

A good example of this is how I can now do all sorts of training with her with another dog working in the same ring. If I am working on a sequence she remains focused or if I ask her to do a "stay" she will comply. However that grey bit in between where she is loose and I am not paying attention is when she will go. This was proved when I was doing a few bits and pieces with her at Boot Camp on the Monday afternoon. Leah was working with Hex and we were fine until I took a short break to answer a question from someone outside the ring. I stopped paying attention without either putting her on lead or asking her to stay. As soon as she sensed my lack of attention in her direction she was off after Hex at high speed. The plus side is that she did come back to me when called which is an improvement at least!

I also take heart from the fact that all of the above is achievable with a toy reward and no food at all!

Agility-wise she is just such fun. She works her heart out and is happy to try anything I ask of her. She learns fast and just wants to get on with things. IMO she is an obstacle-focused dog rather than handler-focused. This is wonderful but it brings its own challenges which I'm sure we'll have fun working on! She reminds me much more of Poppy and Bess, not at all like Abbey or Niamh.

We are continuing with the running A-Frame and I am still very happy with progress. I have started to teach the turns using stick in the ground poles and her directional cues. So far she is responding well and so now I have to introduce other obstacles into the process.

I am a bit stuck on the dog walk as there is still a little part of me that would really love to train her to run the dog walk also. This is definitely curbing my enthusiasm and commitment to training the stop version!

I was struggling over my turn commands but after a sleepless night after last week's training class I have finally come to a decision on what I will do. I will stick with my left and right for tight turns (e.g. wing wraps and u-turns off the A-frame). For more gentle turns I am going to use "out" to move her away from me on either side and "Zeki" for her to come towards me. There, simple really! Except ........ I am still puzzling over whether to incorporate my favourite collect and turn cue into her training but I'm not sure how that sits with her left and right cues. Oh, here I go again, too much to think about. Sometimes I long for the days when I ran the ballistic missile that was Bess. I had just one command (as we called it in those days!) - Bess. It was so easy!

Anyway, here is a very short film of Zeki's A-Frame at Boot Camp last week. On one of them you'll see how she must have mis-judged her approach as she comes over the apex at a really awful angle and throws herself into the contact area. What a good little girl!

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