Training is still a slack affair. I just can’t find it in me to get really motivated about it. You know I think it’s a bit of a middle of the year winter thing. I get home from work and it’s getting dark and cold. Being home with the fire going after taking a stroll (or in Sonic’s case a screaming kamikaze hoon) around the property is just a more appealing option. I have been doing some more Crate Games work though from the comfort of my living room. I want to use Crate Games extensively with my next pup so Sonic and I have been practicing to improve some of his behaviours (like start lines – see below). When I’ve actually made it to training I’ve been playing a little with doing some quick releases with Sonic on contacts but I don’t think he’s mature enough for me to do them at a trial yet. He’ll no doubt just think it means he can quick release them all the time!
I went to an agility trial at Northern Suburbs Dog Club in Carine on Sunday which this time last year was the scene of the Sonic vs scooter child incident. This year however we were up on the footy oval which thankfully isn’t next to the bike path… The trial itself only yielded one quallie card for us but I was actually really thrilled with his performances and the one Q definitely did not reflect how well Sonic ran for me. Sonic’s confidence continues to grow and it was purely bad luck that prevented us from qualifying in both Masters Agility rounds. One was most definitely my error and the other he just didn’t read my body properly, which is still really my fault. Just watching his runs back on video I can see how much more understanding he has developed and how much more certain he is about where he is going. Plus I also think I’m handling him a lot better. It’s taken quite a while but I feel like we are starting to gel as a team and as I move around the course it feels so much smoother and flowing which I have no doubt is helping immensely. I’ve been working hard to use running front crosses in stead of stationary ones where possible which makes the flow nice and continuous. The hardest part is not falling over my own feet, or the obstacle in front of me.
However don’t let the video footage fool you, his start lines right now are BAAAD. He ran a fantastic clear round in a Master Jumping course only after he had broken his start line and gone flying over the first two obstacles. At which point I promptly stopped him and took him back to the start again. As I was walking out to position I could see that he was teetering on a knife’s edge as to whether his butt was going to stay put or not (which obviously it didn’t). In more than one class I had to go back and tell him to sit after he stood up in anticipation of being released. After I went back and made him sit in one class he then proceeded to bark at me while I walked back out to position. Can’t fault his enthusiasm but I hate not being able to put my dog on the line and being able to walk out WITHOUT worrying that he’s going to break. At training he is a perfect angel (naturally) so other than trying to break it at training to make it stronger I guess I’m going to have to persevere with not letting him get away with it by going back and resetting him when we are at trials. I’ve never had a dog that wouldn’t stay on his start line before! It’s so stupid, I’ve taught all these complex behaviours but can’t get my dog to stay…..go figure.