Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cramming Table Behavior Training

My friend talked me into giving UKI Agility a try this Wednesday evening.   (Yep, the same friend who persuaded me to try USDAA and AKC.)  And I of course said, "Why not?".  Because I love agility, I love trials, and it will really break up the week to go to one on a weeknight.

I signed up for that trial about three weeks ago.  I skimmed the rules.  Molly and I will be in Beginners and we will do Agility and Jumping.  Refusals aren't counted as faults in Beginners.  An off course is an NQ.  Gulp.  You need a down on the table.  Gulp.  I decided to find a low square coffee table at a thrift store somewhere and work on the Down at home.  I even had a coworker offer to sell me one she wanted to get rid of as long as her husband didn't mind.   Neither option panned out, and here I am, a few days before the trial having that "Oh yeahhhhh..." moment.

I don't particularly expect success with Molly at this trial.  I'm shooting for "have fun" and get to know a new venue.  (UKI is something I have my eye on for Perri, since you can train in the ring.  When I finally decide she is confident enough to trial, I want a back up plan to keep the ring a positive place for her if she stresses out.  Being able to shift to training mode will be a welcome option.)

No off courses allowed is frightening at the most and I have heard the courses are international style.  We have had limited exposure to that.  Also, my dog likes to thunder around like a runaway train.   But I would like to be reasonably prepared.  I racked my brains for a pause table substitute.  I tried the top of our green plastic crate but it is too small and too high.  I have a wooden skid, but how to build it up and make it a flat surface?  Hmmmm...the groom table!  I put it at its lowest height and have done two sessions with Molly on there today.  I ask her to get "Up" and then lay down.  She was reluctant at first, as she always is.  The reason that Molly doesn't have a down on the table is because A) She doesn't like it and B) I'm lazy.  I decided to shape it.  Instead of telling Molly what to do, I would let her figure it out.  It didn't take her long!  I did lure her the first few times.  At the moment I have a dog who will willingly hop up on the table and give me a Look.  She then lays Down!  She gets a jackpot when she hops onto the table and goes Down immediately, with no pause.  (I give her chicken for these times, but I swear she doesn't know the difference between that and the kibble that she is working for!)

I have no idea if she will generalize this with an actual pause table, but I figure it can't hurt.  (We will find out tomorrow night in agility school if she will translate!)  I have to hope that somewhere in that spazzy terrier brain, value is being built into hopping up and laying down.  I do plan on getting/building something that actually resembles a pause table, because of course Perri is sometimes afraid of it.

Downs suck, but I like food so I will do it!

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