Friday, October 17, 2008

Weaving - Part 2

Look I can fly...

I set myself a goal of teaching Sonic to weave in three weeks. I never really thought that we would achieve it. However after two weeks and four days Sonic can weave through 12 straight poles on the competition bases that we use. It's not perfect and his style is still developing but he is doing the 12 poles by himself (no luring) with me just walking alongside. Last weekend the light bulb just seemed to go on and we haven't looked back since. Three cheers for the clever puppy!!

I think we are just about ready to hit Greg Derrett's "Great Dog, Great Handler" DVD and start working on some of those sequences. I will still continue with the double box grid work but I think we need to start expanding our grid horizons somewhat. We have attempted a couple of general jump sequences at training in the last week and I wouldn't say they were particularly successful so I'm really keen to move on and give Sonic some new stuff to learn.

October has finally given us some warmer weather so we've been able to start hitting the beach again. I was starting to get worried about snakes so we'd decided to stop taking the dogs down the bush for this year. About a week later Simone and her dogs came across a snake while down in the same bush at the same place where we go so it was obviously a good decision. Snakes freak me out in a major way and I would prefer not to encounter one!

So training goals for October and November will be continue with weavers and build some confidence, start more complex jump grids, move the A-Frame up at least one more notch and work his speed into 2o2o on the dog walk. We shall see how we go...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Lots of reminiscing was done over the weekend while at the Royal Show. At last years Royal Sonic was all of eight weeks old and had only been with me for one week. This year I had him with us at the Royal for the days when I was there competing to get him used to the atmosphere and noise that goes on. We had a few reactive moments at garbage trucks and horse floats that needed a good telling off as Sonic likes to do, however all in all he handled it all really well. Hopefully next year when he's there competing he will take it all in his stride.

So, at fourteen months of age weaving training has begun in earnest and he's not doing too badly after seven days worth of learning. It's all a bit of an experiment really as I've never taught a dog using the weave-a-matic method but he seems to be picking it up pretty quickly. A lot of people I know have had trouble getting them up straight and I can see that we will have similar issues now that I'm getting to that point.

I started last Sunday using weave-a-matics with four poles lying on the ground. He was more than happy to bounce over those so I added the other eight straight away. From there I pushed them up very quickly to the 'V' shape and by the third day he was leaping over those like a kangaroo. I was reluctant to leave them like that as he was leaping over up to three poles at a time and I didn't see any benefit to that so up they went again.

So at the end of his first week of weaver traing the top of the poles are a couple of inches off centre. He is developing a lovely single stride through them although every now and again he gets his foot work a little confused half way through. Today after having a few solid run thoughs I moved the middle two poles up to centre and that completely threw him. He just couldn't see them at all and ran straight past them. So I moved one of the poles slightly off centre again which helped a little but he definately struggled. I also moved back in to the centre and rewarded him at the point at which he was having problems. It feels like a bit of a catch 22 with moving the poles upright. Even though his weaving with them slightly open is great and I would like to see his single striding get stronger, I'm reluctant to leave them like that for too long as I don't want him to get too use to seeing them open. I think that no matter how great his weaving is with them open his style is still going to change when he has to start doing them straight. At the end of the day you are teaching them to do something that looks like one picture and then when they can do it, change the picture on them so they have to learn it all over again. Muscle memory is obviously really important though so now that he is doing them only slightly off centre no doubt it will be worth allowing that to develop before forcing him to deal with all straight line weavers.

I have to say though that I am very lucky as he is a very clever little dog. He generally picks things up extremely quickly so I am being very spoilt as far as his ability to pick all this new stuff up. I can pretend that I'm some great dog trainer when really I'm just blessed with a bright spark for a pup!