Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pre-Trip Goals

Here's what we had hoped to accomplish in March:  
1.  Work on accelerating out of technical questions.  
      Yes.  There's definitely still room for improvement, but we've worked on tight turns into big runs both at home and in class, and Jonah's doing well.  He has shown that he can slow down on course and then recover back to a faster pace, which is something that used to be a problem for us.  So, we can keep working on this, but we've made real progress.

2.  Four more Qs at All Dogs Gym.  

     Nope!  We missed the Q in Snooker, due to my weak handling which made it unclear to him which tunnel entrance to take.  I think we did a good job keeping it positive anyway, though.  I'm not sure he knew he did anything wrong.

3.  Work on off-side weave entries.  

     Yes.  In practice his entries are getting pretty strong.  Today in the trial, though, distraction made weaving difficult.  He just didn't focus soon enough out of the tunnel to find the entry (it was maybe 10 feet from the end of the tunnel to the entry).  I guess we just need to keep proofing the weaves.  However, my practice this past week at home with weaves was making him a little dull, so I don't want to put too much pressure on him.  Sometimes I just have to be patient.

4.  Fast tunnels.  

     Yup.  The tunnel sprint game (straight tunnel, we just sprint back and forth) has been a good addition to our exercises.  He's driving into tunnels from a good distance now.  This is another area where I've seen real improvement.

5.  Go to Willards Woods and keep him on-leash for some introductions.  

     Yes.  We need to keep working on our social skills, but we're making progress.  Today's trial was a huge step in the right direction.  We'll keep taking him lots of places to work through distractions with cars, on leash dogs and also off-leash interactions.
6.  *Hopefully* (weather permitting) set up our outside agility area.

     Yes!  Everything's up and running.  I haven't had as much time to use it as I'd like, but it's great to just pop over the contacts fairly regularly to keep them fresh.

Considering how busy I've been with school, I think we did pretty well in March.  Here's what I'd like to do before I go to Greece and Turkey (only 22 days!):
1.  Happily walk on the sidewalk while cars pass without barking or lunging.
2.  Polite behavior on-leash meeting other dogs.  If this means not saying hello but just walking by, that's fine, but I'd like to be consistently confident that we can be near other dogs without any disruptive, reactive behavior.
3.  Give Jonah some off-leash social time to see if he can figure out how to get involved in playing and running when he'd like to.
4.  Get Jonah to play tug outside of our yard (for example, at a local field, at a dog park or at one of the training facilities).
5.  Go to another DogStar run-thru and have positive runs.
6.  Develop a plan for A-frame contacts and for managing in-ring distractions at trials.
7.  Enter Muddy Paws and Bo-Gee for after I get back!

I realize most of that does not seem directly agility related, but I think they will all help our trial experiences.  When Jonah is focused and not over-stressed, his actual agility skills are pretty good.  I just need to help him be focused and manage his stress so that he can do the things he can do.

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