Sunday, November 22, 2009

Open Barn - Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon we met Shana and Pixie at the Larsen Barn  for agility practice. I knew Vegas was a bit tired so didn't work too hard. We mostly focused on weaves using a set of just 6 poles. I did a lot of repetition but tried to focus on independence. Sometimes I did recall work and she was really getting that. I also worked her from a distance and sending. She was doing really well. She seems to need some cheering or me saying something while she's going through. For now, that's okay. We have really struggled with some weaving lately, so my main focus is all about just getting her to choose the weaves and take the correct entry. I decided to treat every good weave (the full set of 6) and it worked well today!

We also worked on 270s. Those are still a struggle and she's not always getting the 'go out' part. I think next time I'll plan on setting up the jumps with more space so we can run them more like it would be in a trial versus just a somewhat stationary activity. Sometimes with such a large dog momentum increases success. She has something behind her pushing her into making a motion. It sounds funny, but it actually works better - at least for Vegas.

Last but not least, I worked on her independent contacts for the teeter and dog walk. Mostly I set her up 10 feet or so ahead and called the obstacle then our contact word. I expect her to stay her contact until she hears a release word. I'm working a little backward on this because, while we have always had contact criteria, a word, and a release word, I haven't pushed her to stay on the contact until released. Somewhere along the way I accepted touching the contact as good enough. As she's my first agility dog, I guess there is some expectation to botch stuff good. I'm trying to fix that now. The thing is, Vegas really knows them (her contacts). For instance, if she comes off, I can take her back and tell her to touch and she will step back up onto the end of the dog walk or the teeter as she has been taught. The key part I now have a goal of achieving is independence on weaves, the dog walk, and the teeter.

We're getting there and I have a great partner in Vegas, so I know we'll make great strides together. I love my girl!

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