Friday, March 13, 2009

Retrain or desensitize?

As I prepare to put on our first NADAC trial of 2009 I am looking at my calendar and realizing that for the next 6 weekends the only agility trials my girls and I will be doing will be NADAC. I thought this would be a perfect time to work on Feisty's teeter performance.

I experimented with Feisty's initial teeter training and used a method I had heard worked well with small dogs. I held the board and had her drive to the end of the board and then I lowered the board. I started with the teeter low. Then after awhile I added in the drop part. Well what I hadn't realized is that Pyr Sheps as a rule (and they do like their rules) don't generalize easily. Dogs don't generalize that easily but Pyr Sheps are the extreme in that department.

While Feisty could do the teeter she had trained on very well, she balked the first time she did a different low teeter. The tip point was not where she thought it should be. While the teeter is a hard obstacle for dogs, ALL dogs need to get used to being on different ones early in their training.

I hadn't really thought about how I was controlling the tip point too much with this training method. I had once heard a well know agility trainer say that one should not let the dogs go back and forth on low teeters because the tip point changes in each direction. Well in retrospect I believe that is exactly the kind of training Feisty needed.

I still rarely hold a teeter for my student's dogs - letting them race to the end. I used to tape a target on the end and put cheese on it but when I had to use equipment that belonged to others I ended up holding the treats at the end of the teeter. I didn't have anyone who could do that for me with Feisty.

So after discussing my problem with Dana who said she ran into similar problems using the method I used with Feisty, I've decided to take these 6 weeks and work on Feisty's teeter. My goal is to speed up her teeter performance by at least one second. At times we have a 3-4 second teeter performance in trials. She stops at the pivot point and waits for it to tip.

Feisty has no problem with the "bang it" game - she will jump up and ride the board down at the end. She offers that readily on different teeters. So I have started her on a low teeter and I am having her run back and forth on it. Our first session was on Wednesday and she did get noticeably faster with each repetition. I am fortunate enough to own 5 different teeters so I will be setting those up as much as I can in the next few weeks to have her work on teeters that have different pivot points. I will also be adding counterweights on the various teeters to change the pivot point.

This program seems to me to be more about desensitizing her to the pivot point of a teeter rather than retraining her. I really want her confidence to increase so she will run through the pivot point instead of slowing down waiting for it to tip.

Oh and what am I doing all these weekends without a teeter in agility? Next weekend I will be doing my Shamanic Apprenticeship, the following weekend I'll be running Jedi at the AKC Nationals (the girls stay home), the weekend after that I don't have anything planned , then on Easter weekend Pam and I are going back to Lanesboro for a weekend getaway and then we have our second NADAC trial of 2009.

Now to get back to trial prep!

1 comment:

  1. I think a teeter session at your place would be a great little session for Winn. Let me know when you plan to do this and if you would share the session?