Monthly Archives: December 2009
Well, I read Rachael Sander’s contact article in Clean Run last month and she mentioned that one of the reasons dogs will be good in practice and then miss contacts in competition is when you reward contacts too much in practice. So the past few weeks I’ve been having Enzo practice contacts without rewarding him with food at the bottom. I had thought about doing this before but was worried it might actually degrade his contact performance. It does cause him to run off in practice on occasion now, but that gives me the opportunity to mark it and have him try again. I’m also starting to mix in some early releases in practice.
Overall it seems to be working. Saturday he ran off through dogwalk contact without any thought of stopping so I marked it with a hey and had him wait for a second. I think that got him a little worried because he ended creeping down the aframe while looking back at the judge. The judge was raising his arms for a knocked bar so that may have been part of his worries. He actually came to a full 2on/2off stop though! I praised him really excitedly. Maybe he was worried the judge was going to get him if he didn’t do what he was supposed to like he used to do with the instructor in herding.
Sunday, he was still a little slower on the contacts than normal but not anywhere near as bad as the aframe on Saturday. He didn’t quite stop but he was at least coming all the way down.
Both Tooney and Enzo were 3 for 4 this past weekend which is great. Enzo got 3rd in JWW on Saturday, 1st in JWW on Sunday, 2nd in standard. Tooney got 1st in Standard! She is really rocking standard courses lately with her running dogwalk. Enzo fell out of the top 5 for the invitational this past week so hopefully we have gotten to the point where we can start Qing in Standard consistently again. Hopefully by AKC nationals we will have figured it all out to get his speed is up to where it should be while still running clean! We were there back in June and July of this year!
I’ve been struggling a bit with Enzo’s contacts lately, especially the aframe. At the three day trial last weekend he missed all 3 aframes plus 1 dogwalk and 1 teeter. On the second day and third day I made sure to mark his missed contacts.
After reading the Rachael Sanders article about contacts in this months Clean Run, I realized that I fall into the category of rewarding too much in practice. So all last week I stopped giving treats for his 2on-2off. Once I stopped giving him treats, then sometimes he would either not stop or stop and releases himself which he was never doing in practice before. This gave me the opportunity to mark the wrong behavior in practice.
I think this new strategy may be helping… at least for now. Even though he didn’t come to a complete stop, Enzo put three strides on the downside of the aframe both days this past weekend which he hasn’t done in competition since before USDAA nationals. He did get called on his teeter on Saturday because his front feet left before the board hit the ground and his back feet pushed the teeter down. It was a borderline performance that sometimes gets called and sometimes doesn’t. Sunday he got all of his contacts but slid off the table. He tried really hard to hang on but ended up tipping over the edge. So still no standard Q’s but at least I feel a lot better about his contacts now. Tooney had a good weekend with 3 out of 4 Q’s. She may pass up Enzo in points soon if I don’t turn things around soon.
My next step is to practice quick/early releases from contacts in practice. I will try mixing it up with having him hold them longer.
I’m also doing the ground work for using the PVC box to train running aframe. Not sure that I will actually use it on the aframe with Enzo but I’ll see how the ground work goes.