Thursday, June 11, 2015

Open Agility Practice (again!)

I was lucky to have the day off today so that me and the girl dogs could go out to open agility practice for the second week in a row!  Today there was a jumpers with weaves course set up outside, as well as a Standard course inside and then the letter "J" exercise in a third ring from the Alphabet Drills.

I started both dogs on the Standard course inside.  Molly was too hot before she even started running but she kept trying!   She took a few bars, and that is unlike her, but I know that she was hot.  Molly was slow on her weaves, stepping through them.  I rested Molly but decided next to try something that my instructor suggested in our class on Monday: interrupting that type of performance and asking Molly to weave again.  This is new for me, because up until now any getting into the poles and staying in I will accept.   But this is the natural progression: Molly understands the behavior so now I need to start only rewarding what I really want.  And that is speed and smooth footwork.  

Perri and I worked on the Standard course and she was really lovely, but her weave poles were not so much.  The same stuff as she has been doing.   Skipping poles, running alongside of them...  I was disheartened.

For our next runs I chose to go outside.  I wasn't going to run the dogs outside, because it was hot out there, but when I asked a club member where I could hose Molly off, she told me that there was a baby pool full of water near the outdoor ring.  It was a gamechanger for our day!  Molly was very happy to dive in!  I tried to run her on the course after that but she became totally silly!  Zoomies and racing through the tunnels at top speed, back into the pool with a huge splash! then racing around the ring.  She finally settled down to rolling around on a choice spot on the ground

This all seemed to refresh Molly!  We went inside and ran the Standard course, and pretty nicely! She was running fast now, saturated with pool water and grass and deer poop and happiness.  She started in the weaves with the bad and slow footwork and I told her oops!  We returned to the beginning of the course.   The weaves were the fifth obstacle and she was moving quickly, and I got behind her on the weave entrance.  I was very surprised that she collected independently and did fast weaves and stayed in!  I had been worried about demotivating her further.   We finished the rest of the course and the weaves were the second to last obstacle (a second rep), following a tunnel.   I was blind crossing the tunnel and caught Molly as she came out and told her Poles and she flew into the entry and was fast again!   I felt great about that.   We will get there....someday!

Since I got to take some fun pictures of Molly outdoors, and since she enjoyed the pool so much, I wanted to do the same with Perri.  It ended up that I ran the first half of the Jumpers course with Perri and she did really really well, and was running very fast.  I love it when Perri forgets all that low confidence and worrying stuff and just runs.   Today was one of those days.   No matter what, she would do anything for her squeaky tennis ball and we played and danced together out in the field.  For some strange reason that I really couldn't explain, I felt a peace and assurance come over my mind about Perri's weave pole issue.   So, she used to do them and be okay?  Well, now she isn't.  But it isn't hopeless.  I just felt this sureness that we are going to overcome this.  It may not be easy, I may have to do a lot of thinking and experimenting and a lot of work, but we can do this.

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