Saturday, May 9, 2009

I have decided...

...that I am really crappy at updating this blog. :(

I am still videotaping every session, because I'm trying to keep track of his success percentage and whatnot, but it is just so time consuming to get them all online. :/ I may not upload them at this point. We've hit a lot of speedbumps, and I think that perhaps Strata and I are not the best "pet project" for the online agility community at this point. I will be going extra slow in the next couple of weeks as he is coming off of a knee injury (mild strain, nothing serious) and I want him to stay healthy.

So in short, I'm probably either just going to do a mass upload of all of the videos with no commentary or sound, or most likely just do a big 10-minute video when all is said and done.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Thoughts

I'm really getting back into the 2x2 training with Strata, and have been trying to do 1-2 sessions a day to get his poles all wrapped up in time for 'trial season' (which for me really starts in April).

You may have noticed that we ran into a pretty strong rut in sessions 17-21. After talking to my obedience instructor, she and I came up with some great suggestions as to how to make things "easier" without really making them easier, if you catch my drift. Not all of these are 100% true to Susan Garrett's DVD and workbook, but we feel they are going to work better for Strata. Here's what we came up with. By implementing these changes I have already gotten him PAST the angle where he was stuck for a week, which is pretty significant.

--Alternate the angle and don't always make it harder. I'm going to be playing with the poles more in each session, sometimes rotating them 2-3 times, occasionally to make it "harder", occasionally to make it "easier". My obedience instructor pointed out that if you ALWAYS make it harder, sometimes the dogs begin to give up or stress because they feel they are never really grasping the concept and making you totally happy. You will see this in sessions 26 and 27 (which have yet to be posted) and it seems to really be helping.
--When the poles get harder, let him enter in the "thin" slice of the arc the first couple of times. For those of you who don't have the workbook, this basically means an "easy"/straight-on approach to the poles. SG talks about constantly "working the arc" and providing the dog with hard entries to the poles, even in the early stages. I agree with this and you can see me doing it all the time, BUT that's not to say it can't be easy the first couple of times.
--Shorten the sessions. The problem with this is that they never feel that long to me! I don't think I was "forcing" him to work too long, and after having a SUPER sensitive dog for ten years, I'm watching those signs of stress. But, I think it would be advantageous to do perhaps three 2-minute sessions instead of two six-minute sessions, and to provide him with fetch breaks to help him blow off a little steam. (This is Strata's favorite part of all of these new "rules"!)
--Improve my reward line. The reward line is like an invisible line that extends forever from the base of the poles. I'm well aware that my rewarding skills suck -- my clicker timing is solid, but I really cannot throw for crap. But, I've been trying my damndest to work on this and I think I'm improving! Fortunately, I am blessed by a dog that naturally wants to drive through the poles with his head pretty low, and he's not constantly looking for the toy. (Beginner's luck?) But, I know if I'm going to train using this method with another dog that I'll need to improve.

I appreciate all the comments so far, and encourage you all to keep replying! I'm more than willing to answer questions or further explain something if you don't "get it".

Session 27

--Way better than the earlier session!
--Noticed him digging in at the first pole -- nice to see.
--84% success rate.

Song: "Letters From The Ambulance" -- The Fashion

Session 26

--I'm seeing trouble when I speed up.
--He was doing just fine until I increased the angle.
--66% success rate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Session 24 & 25

--This was on YouTube for awhile, but I forgot to post it here! (I was wondering why the view count was so pitiful!)
--Not 100% sure on the date for this one. :x

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Session 23

--Dropped slightly to a 68% success rate, but he made more attempts in this session than last session.

Session 22

--77% success rate!
--You can see I significantly opened up the poles to go "back to basics" for him.