Monday, July 11, 2011

Different dogs, different training, different handling...

The universe continues to send me different types of dogs for my own personal training experiences so I can learn and presumably use that knowledge to help others (at least I think that is what is supposed to happen!)

This past weekend I ran Tay in  a NADAC trial in all the runs for the first time in close to two years.  She has been one of my interesting training and trialing challenges for me.  Now that she is not in pain when running she is less stressed and not avoiding obstacles as much as she was before I found out about her injury.  In training she is fast and brilliant.  She rarely makes a mistake or misses a body language cue.  She loves agility and any kind of training as long as food and running are involved.  Training her is so easy because she catches on to things quickly for agility purposes.  However trialing her is very different.  She is a very different dog in a trial setting.  She absolutely can not do a stay at the start line in a trial.  I've tried pulling her off for breaking it and it doesn't get through to her.  She is so high at a trial that she can't put that together.  By the end of a three day weekend she was tired enough that I could do very short sit stays with her on the last couple of runs.  At a trial she does not seem to pay any attention to my body language.  I really want to run quietly with my dogs and I train that way.  However there are times when I have had to be louder than I like on occasion.  With Tay it seems like I need to be loud and extremely vocal with her during the entire run.  This takes me way out of my comfort zone.  I also need to sound threatening to her in order to get her to do her contacts correctly.  I think she gets very excited and then becomes easily distracted.  She often seems to be scanning the outside of the ring when she is running.  Some of her photos show the whites of her eyes like she is very excited out there.  She really wants to play but there are times when she starts to sniff that I know she and I are not connected and she is worried - I think she loses focus and then needs me to help her get back on track.  Anyway she requires more micro managing on a course than I am used to doing.  At the trial some folks said maybe I should just train her and not trial her.  I thought about that but when you see how much she wants to run and she was trying hard to do her dogwalk contacts at the trial.  It is the first trial where she actually did her dogwalk with a 2 on 2 off (sometimes sloppily) and she stayed on course more than she has in a long time.  While she is a lot of work to keep on course I do think she is enjoying it and she is fast enough to make time in elite jumpers even when we had to fix a jump - that is pretty fast!  Everyone who watches her thinks she looks like she is having fun out there.

So once again I am adapting my handling style and techniques to the dog in order for us to be successful teammates.