Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Pushy, pushy, pushy!
You guessed it, Lexi is getting really pushy about her contacts! I've noticed it getting worse over the last month or so (we're taking a Contacts and Weaves class and it's easier to see now that we have more time on the equipment).
She ALWAYS gets her 2o2o, but about 50% of the time now doesn't hold it. On the dogwalk and a-frame she often gets into position and immediately releases herself (especially if I keep moving--which I almost always do). On the teeter she gets into position and then releases herself after a second or two. I guess I should consider myself lucky that she is still getting into position, but knowing how pushy she is, I can see this deteriorating further if I let her.
I spoke with my trainer last night and expressed my confusion. I had previously been feeding her in training when she gets into position, but she seems to anticipate when I'm going to feed her and when I'm not. My trainer suggested trying to switch things up. Sometimes quick release her, and sometimes make her hold it, but not to change my handling. I then asked her what I should do if she misses. She didn't necessarily recommend taking her off (though she did say that she thought Lexi knew her criteria well enough that this is an option if I felt comfortable doing it) but she did say I should walk her back to the beginning of the obstacle and not look or speak to her. Then just a verbal reward if she gets it right on the second try. Basically, I need to become less predictable.
Bentley has different issues, though I suspect for similar reasons. I would like to stop to pat ourselves on the back, though, because he has not missed a contact in at least the past 6 months. One year ago he was missing all of them! In trials I am still seeing jumping off the a-frame about 70% of the time, and creeping on the dogwalk about 50% (with it deteriorating as the trials continue). I think we need to try to make training feel as much like a trial as possible as well as make sure to vary the rate of reward.
So this summer we're enacting...wait for it...Contact Boot Camp (CBC)! Hopefully this weekend we'll be able to put up our dogwalk and our mini a-frame. The plan is to put the dogs on the obstacles multiple times a day and trying to think of ways to proof it. Because our yard is so small it's hard to build up a head of steam (one thing that causes the dogs to fail) but I'm coming up with other ideas to practice (taking the dogs IMMEDIATELY to the contacts when we get home when they are super excited, having to get into a 2o2o as we fill up their food bowls, etc...)