Monday, October 29, 2012

Papillon Panic

Cassie and I are doing a lot of training right now.  It feels like getting this running dog walk done is taking a very LONG time.  I'm sure not many will appreciate it though!  I think most just assume that it's easy to teach a little dog running contacts but to get the drive to a nice low position on the dog walk at high speed with high arousal is hard work.  I know that running contacts take a lot of repetitions but I never quite realised that would mean sessions almost everyday.  Thankfully after four months of work we are almost at full height and I'm seeing her start to launch onto the down ramp and run deep through the contact zone.  I'd like to think we'll be full height in another week or so and then I guess we'll see how it holds.  Suppose I'd better start teaching the a-frame after that!  I haven't been brave enough to do any running contact work at the Dogs West grounds so that will also be another test.

Cassie on the twelve month anniversary of joining our family - 21/10/2012
Speaking of doing things at training we have finally turned a corner with her "visiting" everyone when she's off lead.  The last time she did it she was unceremoniously carried back to the car where she was deposited to watch in shame as I trained Fizzy instead.  Cassie never likes being taken back to the car so I was optimistic that it would have an impact.  I'm not a big believer in time outs but given that it was happening every time I trained her down at the Dogs West grounds I felt that she needed a consequence to her actions.  When I got her back out I put on a brave face and pretended to feel confident about letting her off lead again.  It was a now or never moment.  But to my surprise she didn't even look like running off.  We worked the sequence multiple times and she was totally with me every step of the way.  Since then we have had about four sessions with perfect focus when we start work.  In between she still loves to say hi to her minions but it's only if she gives me what I want first so essentially saying hi becomes a reward for her working.  Last week she blew me away when she ran a sequence surrounded by lots of little fluffies, including shelties, a breed that she adores.  Now she can manage that then hitting the trial ring is starting to become a realistic and increasingly exciting prospect.

Today's after work session at home saw a momentous moment when she did twelve weavers for the very first time.  I had her doing six straight last week so today brought in the second set with a gap.  She did so well that we kept going until we had all twelve in a row.  It's hard not to laugh because she was concentrating so hard to get every opening.  She has a typical little dog style and bounces between them.  Once she stops having to concentrate so hard I have no doubt she will be powering through them.  I'm looking forward to trying weavers with her down at training away from her comfort zone of home.  Or is that my comfort zone...??

Murphy - looking good for a 15 year old!

Best friends - Cassie & Fizzy
We had the Perth Royal Show back at the beginning of October.  Sonic is running so well for me at the moment and it's nice to have that team work going.  It really feels like right now he just knows what I want him to do.  The Royal is never a great trial for him with the agility area being half the size of normal which doesn't suit his stride or running style at all however he tried his heart out and we came away with a third place in Masters Agility and second place in Masters Jumping.  I even got Cassie out in the lunch break and did some work with her in preparation for next year!  Then the weekend just gone in 35 degree heat he managed a win in Masters Jumping on a course that most got caught on.  I wilted rather stunningly in the heat but he didn't care at all.  Not much trialling left for him this year but I will be running him in the WAO try-outs in an attempt to realise my goal of running a border collie at the event.  If he keep going the way he is hopefully we'll have a good chance.