Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last night's class was good, but not as good as the others have been.  Right from the start Jonah was trying to get on all the equipment rather than paying attention to me.  I'm not sure if the initial warm-up when I was pulling him away from obstacles influenced the performance later, but nonetheless he was distracted. 

When we warmed up with the back-chaining, he was about like he's been in past weeks:  he'll get it sometimes, but sometimes he swings his butt off.  Also he'll get the two on/two off positioning, then look at me, and upon being reminded then he will touch the target.  One of the teachers has told us to bait the target so he's driving to that rather than looking for me, but the other teacher doesn't like to bait targets.  It's a little bit of a confusion, and I'm not sure we've found the right answer, but we're not too far off.  He's so great with the target when it's not at the bottom of an obstacle, but somehow it's not his thing when it is. 

We learned some ground work for a rear cross and he was awesome at it.  The other dogs in the class were having trouble, but Jonah got it right away.  Of course, we've done a bunch of spinning exercises before, but it was still a nice breath of air to have him be super good at something.

After warm-ups we split up into groups and our group started with weave poles.  We had three straight poles that we were supposed to weave through.  It was a little tough to handle leashes and luring the dogs right through the poles, but Jonah did well.  Again, he didn't 'get it' like he does at home, but the environment was different and I was handling it differently than I would at home, so I don't know why I would expect him to understand.  After doing the three straight poles we did the full channel of 12, still about a foot wide.  Jonah thought that was no problem at all and went right through happily.

Next we worked on a line of three jumps that were all at funny angles.  Jonah jumped the first great but then wanted to run out at the second and I had to push him back into the line a little bit.  All of the dogs were doing this, but it's strange to me that he would be so great with jumps at home and not at school.  Again, though, I handle a little differently; at home I'll often start with a lead out, and our jumps at home don't have wings.  You wouldn't think a wing about a foot wide would make that much of a difference, but maybe it does.

Then we did the tunnel, which was curved.  For the first time since we were at Gemini, Jonah didn't do the tunnel perfectly.  He balked entering, went in a few feet, turned around and came back out.  Oops.  After the first time he always did it well, but I was surprised at his hesitance at the first time through.  Other days we've always started with the tunnel straight and then curved it, so maybe he was confused when it started out curved.

After the tunnel we did the chute.  Jonah had no problems with it.  Our teacher still holds it open about a foot as they enter and then drops the cloth on their backs once they're inside.  Jonah didn't seem at all worried, but he wasn't really driving through, either.  I'm not sure if he would push it all the way open on his own just yet.

Next we did the teeter.  This week it was about full height, but there was a pause table under the high end so it would only drop a few inches.  Again Jonah showed some hesitance.  He got right on but then hopped off.  Then he walked all the way up, onto the pause table but then was nervous getting back on.  The movement of the teeter wasn't an issue, but I guess it just looked different with the pause table with it, or something like that.  He got better, but always seemed a little less-than-enthusiastic.  I'm not quite sure how to practice the teeter at home, since he loves any moving board I throw at him.  This week we had him get his front feet on a yoga ball that was rolling around and that didn't faze him, so I'm not sure what it was about the teeter last night that worried him.  We'll have to see how that progresses.

Next up:  dog walk.  Yet again, Jonah got on and then popped off.  Now, I guess I shouldn't blame him since we do the back-chaining where we hop on and off about half way up the ramp, but still, he was just not very confident.  In general he wanted to move more slowly than he did last week.  Last week he would canter along it but yesterday he trotted except for the last time when he sped up a little bit.  His contacts were pretty good, but he would get the positioning and not want to actually touch the target with his nose.  I might try asking him to 'down' at the bottom and see if that gets him crouched and ready to move on to the next thing without swinging his butt around. 

The A-frame was next, and once again Jonah popped off the first time.  Then when I slowed down he went right up and over.  This time the teacher baited the target and that worked quite well. 

The last thing we did was the pause table, which I was quite pleased with.  Jonah has a tendency to cheat--he doesn't go quite all the way down, and when I click and treat he likes to get back up into a sit.  He's very good at going right down once he gets on the table, and we just need to work on going all the way down and staying there.  When I fed him on the table rather than in his mouth, though, it seemed to work better.

Overall, Jonah just acted a little more cautious than he has in the previous weeks.  I also felt a little nervous because he's doing so well at home and I feel like I need to prove to the teachers how great he is.  At the end of class, they told us that, depending on how they do next week, they will either pass onto Advanced Beginner or not.  It sounded like the teeter was the determining factor.  At this point I'm not too concerned because Dave and I decided that if he is hesitant about the teeter again and doesn't 'pass' right on to Advanced Beginner, we'll get a private lesson and work on it with more focus.  It seems like it would not be too profitable for us to retake the beginner class, since we've only been on modified teeters twice now and next week will be the first time we do a 'real' one (although still lower than regulation).  If that were the case, I'd be very excited about a private lesson.  I think it would be a ton of fun to play with all the obstacles at our own pace, get lots of repetitions, and try some harder things.  So, either way will be fun.  Hopefully we're both back to our confident selves next week and moving forward, but if not, we'll take the time to get there and have a lot of fun in the process!

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