Friday, September 2, 2011

September Goals

September is here now and school has started, meaning I will have significantly less time going forward.  We had a great month in August, though, and I'm very optimistic about what we have going forward into the fall.

Here were our August goals:
1.  Have excited, happy trials at Muddy Paws, Amherst and Gemini (all CPE).  My job will be to make sure Jonah has fun, no matter what the result is.  
     Yes.  Jonah was excellent and enthusiastic at Muddy Paws, very brave to run fast in a new facility at American K9 Country, and then he was good in his two runs at Gemini.  We missed 2/9 Q's thanks to blown A-frame contacts, which is pretty bad for us, but now we're on track to have the A-frame in much better shape.  I'm pleased that his attitude was excellent for all three trials, even with a number of lead-outs and un-motivating starts to the course.  He started fast, stayed fast, and usually got even faster for the closing lines.  Good boy.
2.  Make weave poles really, really exciting with good cookies and lots of praise.
     I have to say that this could still use more work.  Jonah often seemed to be slowing down the more we would weave, no matter what the reward, so I haven't been drilling them much.  It's a bit of a balancing act for us--I'd like his weave entries to be better, but practicing too much slows him down.  We'll keep toying with the line.
3.  Keep all training sessions short, do-able, and high reward.
     A few times I was too ambitious and pushed to hard, but in general we've been doing a good job with this.  I have been bringing out good cookies (cheese, hotdogs and peanut butter at home rather than cookies), and it's going well.
4.  Decide how to proceed with lessons at DogStar, whether group or private.
     Yes.  I'm thrilled with our group lesson.  Jonah is getting significantly more comfortable doing agility with other dogs around, I'm learning from watching my peers (and I love their company, too!), and we get a full hour of learning for less money.  Seems like a good deal to me!  Now I just need to remember to bring the video camera next time and I'll be able to learn after the lesson, too.
5.  Set up one new, full course each week in our backyard area.
     Well, no.  I think we set up 2?  One week we were out of town and then the hurricane came when we took down all the equipment.  The biggest thing, though, was that I wanted to keep sessions short and high reward (see #3), so full length courses just didn't fit well with that.  
6.  Discuss an A-frame strategy with Grace.  Do we need one at home?  What can we do in class and trials to make him more consistent?

     Yes, yes, yes!  We now have a beautiful A-frame at home and we're working through the Rachel Sanders method.  Jonah is making super progress, but it's just going to take some time.  That means that we may well miss some at trials for a little while, but I feel like we're taking the right steps to get better and I have confidence that we'll get there.  Exciting!

And here is a look ahead toward September:
1.  Attend two USDAA trials where I work to be more relaxed and help Jonah have a good time.  It would be great if we could get two more standard Qs and finish our Starters Standard title, but with our A-frames where they are I'm not going to count on it.  

2.  Progress towards a running A-frame!  I'm not sure how the timing will go on this, but I'd hope that I could start fading the box by the end of the month.

3.  Maintain DW 2o2o criteria in all settings.  He may not be perfect when he's high/nervous at a trial, but I need to do my part.

I'll keep things short and do-able this time since I can't think of anything else at the moment!

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