Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back to All Dogs Gym

Today Jonah and I went back to All Dogs Gym for our second class there.  We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot.  There were actually more dogs this week, but somehow it felt less rushed.  Maybe we were just more relaxed.  Also, the sequences were a little easier, so we moved through them more quickly.  Jonah jumped 20" today and he did a great job.  The height didn't seem to bother him at all.  The only jump he had trouble with all day was a broad jump that he stepped on when I didn't give him a good line and he didn't have enough time to register what it was.

Our first sequence was a box that we jumped the two diagonals of, then a tight turn to the weaves, an 'out' to a jump and then a turn to the A-frame.  The first diagonal of the box faced right at the A-frame, so I decided to lead out far enough that I could front cross in front of the A-frame to keep him from going off course.  It worked beautifully, I caught him, and he jumped the second diagonal on a lovely line.  Then I was celebrating and forgetting about the turn to the weaves.  He jumped big and made a huge sweeping turn that gave him a terrible entrance.  Oops.  We stopped and tried it again, this time with me stopping my forward motion before the last jump of the box, doing more of a push to it and then moving laterally to the poles.  Beautiful.  He weaved well (faster than last time but still not as fast as at home), went nicely out to the jump and did a perfect A-frame.  Good boy.  Lessons learned:  First, the location of my front crosses should indicate where I'm going next.  I'm still not always sure what that means when I look at a new course, but when Laura showed me what I did and then suggested a better spot, it made a big difference for Jonah.  Second, I need to reign in his wide turns.  Adding a few crosses, stopping my forward motion and moving more laterally all help.

Our second sequence was a serpentine ending with a tunnel to a straight line of an angled broad jump and triple bar jump to a table, then to the dog walk.  The serpentine went very nicely, and Jonah went into the tunnel but he was a little lackluster on the tunnel entrance.  Then the jump line to the table was fun--we could just both run fast.  His table was very good.  When I called him to the dog walk, he stopped short about half way up the ramp.  I was surprised, as he did it fine last week and hasn't been nervous about dog walks in a while.  Then Laura pointed out that the light was streaming through the window and hitting the dog walk right where he had stopped.  I baited him up and over, and then we came around and did it again and he ran right across with no trouble.  It was a good learning experience because I would never have thought about light being a concern, but now I can look for it in future courses.  Otherwise, the handling worked smoothly and his contact was very strong.

The last sequence we did was the tunnel to the broad jump again, but instead of going straight to the triple bar, the broad jump was the first of a 3 jump serpentine.  We did two front crosses (between the broad jump and the second jump, and one on the landing side of the third jump), and then went straight to a jump and then another tunnel.  I was a little disorganized at the beginning.  Again he was a little dull going into the tunnel, and instead of moving ahead to where I should have been I paused and worried about his dullness a little.  Then I realized I had to get into front-cross position, so I booked it.  My disorganization made him step on the broad jump, but then he got it together and finished the rest of the sequence beautifully.  I'm really pleased that he's staying out a lot better, which let me get the second front cross in time.  We did the sequence again and, when I got in place better, the whole thing flowed great.  The big message Laura had for us at the end is that I'm 'flappy' with my arms.  Once she said that, I could really picture myself:  I'll flail my arm in the direction of an obstacle I want him to drive out to.  Instead, when I use my arms I need to hold them steady and strong so that they're easier for him to read and not just a bundle of loose motion.  I think that makes a lot of sense, but I'm going to need some practice to clean things up.

Anyway, it was a really good class.  Laura's out of town next week so we won't be going to All Dogs next time.  I may try to line up Riverside since I don't have class on Thursday nights anymore.  We also have our last session at Four Paws on Tuesday.

I've made a big decision:  I'm going to enter a trial tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the opening day for a CPE trial at All Dogs Gym in mid-January.  I'm going to enter Level 1, which has no required teeter or weaves, and I'll probably enter at the 16" height rather than the 20".  I'm not sure yet which games we'll play, so I'll keep you posted.  Anyway, it should be a big step forward for us!

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