What a difference a week can make! Yes, I was quite depressed after last weeks crappy training sessions. This week I am pleased to say that we appear to have recovered somewhat and things are going OK once more. I admit that I have been spoilt having a pup like Sonic who always tries his best and always works his arse off for me. So a sobering and important lesson for me as a dog trainer that there will be many ups and downs and it's not the end of the world.
His contacts, although still not quite what they were, have improved dramatically (even with me lobbing a toy as he's coming down the ramps). I maintained a high level of reinforcement on his contacts both Tuesday and Wednesday nights and tonight went with a 75% reward rate. This seems to have helped him regain some confidence (pause to wipe sweat off brow...).
Tonight was by far the most interesting though. For some reason the young fella switched up a gear in arousal and speed. He has been getting more and more aroused watching the other dogs while we wait our turn and likes to bark at anything and everything. I have been managing this without getting too worried about it with "look at that games" which does help a bit with keeping him under control. But tonight he was on fire. He was actually barking/screetching as he was running the courses. It felt a bit like at any moment I was going to loose any semblance of control but he seemed happy to yabber away while going where I asked him to. I couldn't say if the cooler evenings this week have made him feel "fresher" or if he was just feeling super good. Personally I hope that he is getting to that confidence level where he has less questions about what I'm asking him to do.
I have decided to stick with my decision to not run him in any of the games classes over the weekend. Although his contacts are much improved, I don't really think they are good enough to stand up in the ring. So it will be the Jumping classes on Saturday night for our exciting debut! I'm really looking forward to having a great time out there with him.