07 March 2012

PT Report

My PT was here and all my dogs were looked at. Drifter, predictably after his faceplant after the dogwalk, was a little out of whack but she fixed him right up. Seri is looking good and still has the green light for our re-re-re-debut in 10 days. Strafe wasn't bad, just a minor spot in the upper back which most dogs get from running on the hard dirt at the site. Kiba, though, was kind of a mess. I feel a little relief, actually, since I was wondering why she hit more bars than usual and her jumping wasn't as nice as it had been last weekend. She was having trouble decelerating into turns. Now, I do believe she has a very mild "perception issue" that is like a very basic, mild version of ETS - she almost always takes off a little early and she does a bit of a "gauge" thing before taking off. But she's been doing really well over 20" jumps for the last 6 months. This past weekend she hit a bar in 4 out of 6 runs, which really isn't the sort of frequency I was expecting (I expected maybe 1 or 2 for the whole weekend). But her entire back was tight. Upper, lower, a bit of her quads, her neck was messy. Basically she was a tight mess. This is what her back used to do all the time a couple years ago, and is one of the reasons I dropped her to 16" in the first place. Over the past year, though, she's been doing really well with only minor tight spots. So I'm going on the assumption that she did something that caused this, and that after a couple days of swimming and walks, she should be good to go. I will also be taking her back for a recheck before we leave for Reno to make sure it was just a one-time issue. Anyway, whew, good to know the bars were more of a soreness thing than a training or conditioning thing. Regardless, we will continue on a tough strengthening schedule, only letting up a few days before we leave for Reno, and resuming 48 hours after we return. I want her to be an aerobically fit, muscled beast for Belgium!

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?"

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