Agility contact overhaul

I know my last post has been awhile, but I've been busy :)

Since then Lance and Vito have gotten to do agility at two new places, one as a small demo during the U of MN open house. I've been very proud of my boys at how they reacted to running on dirt for the first time and just paying attention to me in the new places! I've also discovered that Vito HATES the taste of dirt. It is actually quite humorous as I was using his ball as a reward at the first place and Vito was really quite torn between the love of his ball and the taste of dirt in his mouth. His little toller brain would go "ooh ball, give me!" and "yuck, get it out!", repeated a thousand times. All treats that succumbed to the dirt floor were also repeatedly picked up and spit out.

Now that winter is basically here in Minnesota, I have had to do some serious thinking about the dog's contact criteria in agility. Now it's getting cold and with the weather either raining or snowing and the daylight getting shorter I have almost zero time to train contacts. I've been questioning whether or not I can bring the board into the house as it might just barely fit in the space between kitchen frame, living room, and bed room but obviously I would have no room for proofing anything.

Lance's training has been so full of ups and downs that I have no idea what to think. Recently it's been up, the board has been raised and Lance really seems to be getting that he must run all the way through without jumping. Unfortunately I don't think I have the time needed to devote to training running contacts.

In class tonight I exprimented with what method I might switch to. Lance is a very black and white type of dog and I have done some 2 on 2 off shaping with Lance on different objects in the house so he took very keenly to this training on the dog walk. Actually Lance loved it. Lots of corgi drool was seen as Lance clearly saw that all that was needed to produce treats was running to the end and putting his front feet on the ground. This love is really not a surpise to me. I know that there is a ton to proof and train with this method but it will be SO much easier for Lance then running.

The a-frame is where I am struggling to know what to do but I'm thinking of a down right after it. The first time I tried it Lance did the most perfect performance as he practically slid into a down right at the end. Of course I tried repeating it and Lance refused to lie down as he just knew I wanted a one rear toe method. Of course little corgis and that method don't exactly mesh, especially free shaped corgis who will repeatedly switch from a toe in the air to toe on the board. Really it took Lance several minutes and lures to finally give up the tripod act and simply lie down. Overall I am much more worried about the a-frame because of the pounding on his body doing a stopped contact can cause vs a running contact. I will have to consider very carefully what will be the best for Lance.

With Vito I think I'm still going to stick with running contacts. I was able to get his performance up to full height this summer so he doesn't need as much work this winter. There is a lot to proof with it still- speed, my position, and of course actually doing the full dog walk and not just starting at the top of the board, but he has the foundation training and his body is built to easier accomplish this. Plus I still have another summer of training before I'll even think about competing with the little guy!

Oh, and wish Lance I tons of luck this weekend! Lance will be debuting in Open obedience and I am extremely nervous.

Mango  – ( October 16, 2009 at 5:18 AM )  

Good luck with your good dog attention competition. Doing that stuff could through your neck out, huh?

Those little guys sure do like their contact obstacles, but not the contact part. Hehehe. Pee-Wee is the same. He thinks he is supposed to fly over like super dog. He was supposed to learn to touch an object with his paw so momma could put that as a target at the bottom on the A-frame. Won't help much with his first upward contact being halfway up the bloody thing.

I bet the ferrets would like it if you brought the agilities suff inside. Weeee!


Mango  – ( October 16, 2009 at 5:18 AM )  

Whoops, I meant throw your neck out. Sheesh!

Anonymous  –   – ( October 16, 2009 at 10:28 PM )  

Good Luck Laura! I know it'll go well. You've done an amazing job with your two babies.

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