Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Melting Snow and Spring Break

I am on spring break and the snow has melted enough that Jonah and I have been able to enjoy some agility at home!

Our back area still has some patches of snow, but they aren't icy, and at this point they only cover about 10% of the area.  The nice mulch that I uncovered in the fall is wonderful--the ground has a nice squish to it without being muddy.

On Sunday Dave and I put up the dogwalk, which was a bit of a project.  I managed to lose the screws that came with the hardware and it was a little bit hard to find good replacements.  Then it's just a hassle because the boards are heavy and it's hard to get the little holes all lined up.  Also it was a little tough to get the supports good and level before we put the boards up.  Anyway, it's up now and it looks good.  It's already getting good and dirty after a few days, but generally I like that since it's a little less glaringly yellow for the neighbors.

Aside from the dogwalk, we have the teeter, table, the new weave poles (2 sets of 6), the old 'weave poles' (They're stakes in flower pots.  I know it's really unprofessional looking, but they work, so I haven't taken them down yet.), the two 'tires' (hula hoops tied to trees), and one jump.  I also brought the tunnel out today, but I don't want to leave the chute and tunnel out all the time since they're just not made to withstand the weather.  I'll bring them out when I'm using them.

I could really use a few more jumps, so I may scramble around and see what I can find, but it's nice that I can already make some simple sequences and get good practice in.

Jonah has developed major dogwalk and teeter suck.  I'm glad he's gotten over his teeter fears, but a few times he's gone behind my back to the contacts.  I need to work on that.  Not a good habit at all.

He is getting really good with his contacts, though.  I'm working on having the contact command be independent of my movement, and at this point he's getting it.  I usually slow down to a slow jog rather than a full on run, but I'll keep increasing my speed.  I'm also trying to vary the amount of time I keep him in the 2o2o position.  I want it to be a high-reward zone, but I also don't want him to start thinking it's boring because it's not fast.  I think it's a lot of the same challenges of the table.

Speaking of the table, his fast downs are very good right now.  I'm pleased.

We've also been able to work a little bit on discriminations of a tunnel next to the dog walk.  As I said, he has a lot of dogwalk-suck, but he was doing a good job.  It was harder for me to push him off the dogwalk and into the tunnel than it was to pull him into the tunnel.  We'll keep working on this, since it's a pretty big skill we'll need to have, but I was pleased that he was able to focus and get the discrimination most of the time.

Another skill with the same setup that we need work on is to come down the dogwalk into 2o2o and then turn away from me into a tunnel.  Jonah turns away from me fine, but then he'll go right back up onto the dogwalk.  It's good to have things to work on, and we're definitely not there yet on this one.

I timed him in the weaves today and he's between 3 and 3.5 seconds.  He's very consistent and reliable, but I think he could be faster.  He looks very relaxed when he's going through them, not like he's really driving.  It's probably not the biggest thing for us to be concerned about right now, but I'm hoping that at some point he'll switch to using one paw on each side.  Maybe I'll get Dave to video his poles some time soon.

Anyway, it's nice to have our space back up in action.  I've been enjoying a number of quick sessions each day, and I know Jonah will start improving quickly again like he was last year before winter hit.  We have a lesson tomorrow at Riverside and I've got lots of questions for Joan.  It's nice that I feel like we can ask for real homework now, and have the resources to do it!

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