Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weave poles, trials and tribulations. Days 1 & 2.

First, some background. I'm taking a 3rd-level agility class and Cohen and I are doing pretty well all things considered. (Things to consider: my unathleticism, my disinclination to flail, Cohen's disinterest in tugging in public...) However, we're falling behind in our weaving. Cohen and I never really "got" the weaves when we did them in our last level class, and this class is not set up to accommodate us slow folks still stuck on teaching via the 2x2s.

So, in an attempt to make up the gap I picked up some 2x2s (6 poles) and borrowed Susan Garrett's 2x2 training DVD from a friend. It's recommended that I keep a training journal, so that's what I'm doing.

It's recommended that you not do all your weave training days in a row, so, if there are gaps they're probably equal parts break-taking and laziness.

DAY 1, Wednesday 2 Mar 2011

Building and testing value, poles set to 2 and 8 o'clock.

Since Cohen had already done some 2x2 weave pole training previously there wasn't much time required to build the value. I started out using food as a reward with a marker word readily. Testing the value was successful as well, with a good rate of success.

I angled the poles to the standard 2 and 8 o'clock position and kept my rewards on the reward line. Problem: Cohen will sometimes look back to me after having gone through the gate, not at the reward line. Solution: I need to use the rewards more accurately.

DAY 2, Thursday 3 Mar 2011

Working the arc, adding two more poles.

I thought I might power through multiple steps today since Cohen had done these steps previously. As a result I feel as if today has been rife with frustration.

I attempted to move locations into my back room to have more area to work the angle of approach, but I still did not have sufficient room. Foolishly I also added a second set of poles, giving me even less room. Rate of success in difficult approaches was 50% at best.

For some reason I thought maybe having more room to work would help, so I moved the poles yet again (two sets), this time outside. Because the ground was wet, and because the DVD warned against using food in the grass I opted to attempt to use Cohen's soccer ball as reward.

She was incredibly aroused by the ball, so much so that she lost sight of what it was I was asking of her. I was pleased to find a toy to which she responds so well, but there was no progress to speak of.

The biggest problem is her arousal barking. I feel like this barking was initially developed as a response to the excitement and stress of learning the poles initially (in Agility Level Two) and now this emotional reaction is tied to the training. Sometimes I opt to ignore it, but sometimes it grates on my last nerve. I did not cope well with it today.

I think I'm going to reduce Cohen's arousal level despite Garrett speaking of how important it is. As soon as Cohen begins barking her ability to be receptive to commands and her capability to learn is diminished.

For our last session today I plan to move back indoors, remove the second set of poles, and use food as a reward while I work angles of approach. I feel like this step might be worth sticking with for additional time depending on how Cohen reacts. It is always my tendency to want to push past training the basics to more flashy behaviours, so I'll have to remember to slow down.

The snow, cold weather and wet ground also make it difficult. Weave training really seems best learned outside, but I make due with what I have.

Edit: Later in the day we revisited the process. I was indoors and was working with food. Cohen had a high rate of success with all entries (though being indoors and crowded we didn't have as much room to work as I would like). So I re-added the second set of poles and had greater success. There wasn't one instance of barking. I consider it a success. Tomorrow (or later tonight) will be more of the same. Obviously I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I really need to pace myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment