The first sequence was basically a course--a run through to see where we all stood.
His first thought, as Jonathan and Bentley ran was that we're standing around too much. There is a lot of starting and stopping on the handler’s part. We are handling really passively, “ok, let’s go, take your time, get to the a-frame, etc…” and thus babysitting him too much—we have to get over that. He has a lot of untapped speed, he is riding the brakes through the course. We need to start being more aggressive about the cues, which allows him to drive to the obstacle. It’s about speed and intensity. He’s in handler focus an awful lot. We are waiting for him. We have moved past going obstacle to obstacle (novice). We need to be able to see the sequences and move sequence to sequence. Bentley needs to complete the sequence by himself while we set up for the next sequence.
We should be able to be a little bit sloppy and the dog should still complete the obstacle. This demonstrates their ability to understand the criteria of the obstacle.
The second sequence was a series of tunnels and jumps basically in a circle (slightly more complicated than that). The objective is to send him to the tunnel and keep moving, while staying 5 feet from the entrance to the tunnel. We need to get him to go to the tunnel regardless of where we are moving to set up. It’s okay to get ahead—Bentley needs to listen to what he needs to do. Just because we’re ahead doesn’t mean he can’t be in obstacle focus. This will force him to pick up the pace. He wants to run with us, but he can’t if we didn’t ask for that. This was really difficult for Bentley. He has a tendency to peel away from the obstacle he's heading towards if we peel away as well.
The third session was similar to the first, but we tried to make it more complicated. Not only were we to peel off the obstacle, but move in an entirely different direction. He asked us to layer a jump, and still push Bentley into the tunnel. We were moving in a different direction while Bentley should complete the sequence by himself. Needless to say, it did not go well. We spent a while on this, and only once did Bentley get into the tunnel without help--it took a long time. I asked, and Stuart said that this is common for shelties. Watch Karen Holik and Sizzle, apparently she has the same problem.
When he wouldn't get into the tunnel, if it was apparent what we were asking for, he told us to hold our position and let him figure it out. Don’t sneak in closer. When the hand gets stuck “out”, it doesn’t mean anything. Bring it back in and throw it out again. In the beginning, we can’t stop motion completely.
Bentley wants to use direct line vision, not peripheral. We want him to start using that by seeing us move in a slightly different direction.
I spoke to Stuart about our dogwalk contact, and this is what he had noticed. We are babysitting the contact. He is keying on me, focal point up, instead of the bottom of the dogwalk. We should not help the dogwalk. He needs to start figuring things out.
The same was true for his a-frame. Need to change the focus on the a-frame. The focal point has become corrupted. His head is looking out. He’s driving out past the contact. He needs to be looking down and not up. Settle him down before he gets to the upside. Temporarily go back to target plates. The target cookie should not be on for very long. Hoops would do the same thing—but they are more physical. So they are even harder to move away from. Change has to be more subtle. We need to praise his focal point. Only use them for a week or so. When training, don’t isolate the a-frame. Use it in sequence, interval training, so he’s concentrating on other things.