Saturday, July 12, 2008

Week in Review

It's been a busy week. Last Sunday was Competition Heeling #4. It was supposed to be without dogs. I forgot and brought Iris with me anyway, so she hung out in her crate. The first thing we did was pair up and have one person act as the dog while the other was the handler. Katrin gave the handler instructions (such as left, halt, turn around, fast slow, etc), and the "dog" was supposed to watch the handler and try to stay in position. When I was the dog, I found myself really watching the handler's feet. That really drove home how important my footwork is for Iris. Also, abrupt transitions make it lot harder to stay in position. This is something that's important in agility too! My dog is smart, but she can't read my mind (although she's gotten pretty good at guessing).

Next we practiced our footwork. When making a turn, you place the outside foot in a T over the inside foot. By turning that way, it slows you down and gives clear body language so the dog can see you're turning. To turn around completely, you just make 2 T's. This footwork stuff is going to be much harder when I add in the dog!

Iris was good about hanging out in her crate when I was sitting next to her, but she turned into a complete loudmouth once I walked away. Partner (a young lab) was also in a crate, and while he was much quieter than my crazy dog, he would whine when Ann walked away. I noticed that when Iris would quiet down, she'd start right back up when Partner would whine. Looking back on it, I could have been better about rewarding her when she was quiet. That's something I'll have to work on with her in future.

Thurs was 5 Directions #3. Iris was great. We worked on "tight" which is the opposite of "switch." I can't keep them straight. I pretty much sent my dog toward the cone, said a word, and hoped that she'd go around the cone and come back toward me. I'm going to have to spend more time training myself this week than training Iris! The difference is the dog turns away from you for switch, the dog turns toward you for tight. As long as I remember it that way, I think I'll be able to get it. Eventually. Otherwise the end result might be that I shout words, flail my arms around and hope that my dog guesses right. I could say that she's got a 50-50 chance of getting it right since she can only turn left or right, but I know my dog better than that. Iris' options include left, right, bark, bounce, sniff, zoom, chase the Beagle... I'm sure she could keep adding to the list.

Everyone in class (4 dogs) practiced tight at the same time. Iris was so good! She stayed with me and kept working the whole time. "Other dogs moving around" has always been a trigger for her, so I was proud of her. After we practiced tight, Katrin set up a course of cones and gates which included tight, switch, and out. Julie has a diagram of the course on her blog, although I think it's lacking a stick figure schnauzer. Iris did really well with this, better than me! I need to remember to give commands further in advance. Iris doesn't know where I want her to go (again, she's not a mind reader) and without enough feedback, she starts to check out.

So much to remember! But both very good classes.


Katrin said...

You both did a great job! Remember- you're as much of a 'baby brain' at this as she is! Don't be too hard on yourself, you'll get it, takes time. :-)

Blue said...

That's true, Iris is my first dog that's gotten more training than just "be a nice pet." For whatever reason, switch and tight have been the hardest thing for me to grasp so far.

Jules said...

You and Iris have been doing AWESOME! I found "Switch" a really difficult, too.