I am not part of the Agility Blog network or whatever, but I see everyone is doing "if I knew then what I know now" today. I'll contribute a small blurb to this thought. I've been in agility for 20 years, seen many things come and go regarding handling and training. Most of what I wish I knew was simple training methods, but what I think I really wish I had back then was the in-depth understanding of how dogs work, both mentally and physically, because honestly, most of what I do now is the result of me either sitting down with my computer and watching video of other people doing what I'm contemplating, or just thinking things through. I wish I'd known how important it was to be consistent in your handling and just in your interactions with your dogs in general. A always means A, B always means B.
I wish I'd known a lot back when I got Drifter - that collection is super important to teach early on. That conditioning is super important. That start line stays can disappear like *that*.... That eventually, Drifter and I would make it to the big show on another continent... That a "bang and go" see-saw is a HORRIBLE idea...
But generally, most of the stuff I wish I'd known then, no one knew then. So it's not a big deal. We all go through this process. Those of us that started in the early 90's just had a longer road to get here. We remember the days of just hoping your dog hit the contact. . .
Anyway. Speaking of thought and contemplation and consistency, I am still not sure what I'm doing with Strafe's dogwalk. I did 3 intensive training sessions over Mon/Tues, and each idea that showed promise eventually didn't pan out. I have 2 more ideas to try but Strafe seems really set on that oddball striding... which makes me sad. I was really really happy with his nice dogwalk for the first 5 trials. He was balanced, fast, and consistent. Then POP it left. Most of the time I tell people that once your dog "gets it", the behavior won't change much, but here is my very own dog showing me not to get cocky.
What I may need to decide, soon, is whether it is worth the time for me to keep trying or not. I want consistency with this dog, really badly. He's my first dog to come right out of the gate ready to go, ready to be my partner. He doesn't argue, he's fast, he's talented. Do I need the extra .4sec I get from the running dogwalk? Would I rather have the ease of a stopped contact that I can trust to be somewhat independent? His aframe and see-saw are pretty trustworthy already. His weaves are getting there. His accel/decel is lovely, his jumping is nice. Do I want to have to fuss about one obstacle for .4 of a second?
Anyway, those are the thoughts tumbling around my head right now, along with "what else can I do to make Kiba stronger?" and "what other international skills does Kiba need to be stronger in?"