This past weekend I have been auditing a Lori Michaels agility seminar at my club. She is such a nice person and I love her philosophy of not caring at all how people handle something as long as they execute it well!
I picked up some new ideas for teaching dogs to keep bars up and collect even when excited by their handler's motion. Collection isn't Vito's issue, but watching the work I realized that switching back into extension/RUNNING is a big issue for him so I asked Lori about ideas. She directed me to Silvia Trkman's cik/cap work which I have been meaning to do for awhile but has been stuck on that "to do" list. But just spending a little bit of time during the lunch break working on wraps and running out of them seemed like it could really help us. I don't know if I'll systematically go through the work of increasing heights although I certainly plan on working the sprinting out portion.
On Sunday I decided to pick up a working spot on handling skills with Vito. It was both good and bad:
Bad- Vito definitely noticed Lori and some other people standing on the edges of the course as we started walked to the start line and set up.
Good- Vito didn't bark or run up to them
Bad- Our initial start routine sucked each and every turn. Vito stretched, yawned, did some scratching one time, and didn't want to do his tricks. Stressed Vito who was capable of walking up and doing and looking at me but not much else.
Good- after stopping to give him his ball or to restart, Vito would very happily tug with his toy and would happily start again within each round and with good speed. He even screamed a few times.
Good- Running Contacts. Of course I chose to cheat on the one course where it was the far end of the tunnel and just did the straight exit to keep him happy. But on the other course I was further behind than I usually am and he still accelerated to the next obstacle and let me rear cross.
I am not sure where to go with Vito and his start line anymore. In practice he is mostly good but there are still some runs where he can be sluggish off the start. I thought I found a trick he liked, reverse chest vault, but Vito wouldn't do it today when asked. I already don't lead out with him and try to push back on his chest when waiting; he doesn't like being fully restrained. Lori suggested I teach him to bark/scream and I actually just started doing that this past week. It has been surprisingly difficult!
I am struggling to apply what was discussed in Vito's obedience lesson about similar issues to the agility ring where I usually want him in obstacle focus for at least that first obstacle.