Monday, April 30, 2012

Gali gets the day off

Yesterday's training session went really well. I had Aydon call jumps for me and he was REALLY good. Go-outs and random sits were all excellent. I pulled the chutes away from the wall to about 8 feet away and I could see Gali make a decision to sit in place even though he was tempted to walk forward to where the chute was. Before I left I put one half of the directed jumping exercise together (one go-out and one jump).

I will admit it is killing me to take the day off, but I think we need it. I am itching to get to the hall, so Ribbon will get some more training today. Gali must feel the same way, every time I go near the door; he is standing there with his tail wagging. That is a good sign right?? I also want to spend some time planning out my training sessions for this week. I will need to include all the other exercises for utility and I would ideally like to do several complete run throughs. I also have to work around a busy teaching schedule this week plus a day long retreat on Friday. With any luck I will get a spot at the match on Friday. Maybe take the day off Saturday.

My stomach is churning just thinking about the trial and all the prep work that is left to do. Pretty exciting though?!?!?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Plugging away

I got an opportunity to train Gali twice yesterday. In my first session my friend helped me with some distractions and sure enough the first jump (bar to the left), he couldn't do it. He just simply walked towards me. Once I got him over it then he was fine for the rest of the session. She also helped me by calling jumps for me, which went great, no problems at all. Random sits and go-outs were fine as well. Although for go- outs I only managed to get two directions done.

In my second set Chad helped me by calling jumps for me. This was about 6 hours after my first training session. Gali was keen and interested in what in was going on. I haven't told Chad what Gali is doing in training and I didn't tell him what I wanted him to do other than tell me which jump to go over. We got high jump first, no problem, then high jump a second time, no problem. Bar jump was our third jump (it was located on the left) and he did it without hesitation. So that is good news!!!

I set Gali up at the other end of the hall and had Chad repeat calling jumps for me. He has one occasion that he almost went in the wrong direction, but very quickly changed and did the jump he was asked. So that is good news too!!

Before I left the training hall I couldn't resist doing one go out and combining it with one jump, I did bar on the left of course and it all went very well.

Today I am going to get Aydon (my 12 year old son) to call jumps for me. I hope it goes well. I am also going to bring the jumps into 16 feet and pull one or two of the chutes away from the wall so that Gali is not sitting inside the chute but using the chute to keep his line of travel straight.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Yesterday went well. I practiced go outs in all four directions, including one direction to baby gates. We made it all the way to 60 feet going north, south and east (for lack of a better way to describe it, sorry). Going west I introduced the jumps (that were set about 20 feet apart). I am still having some walking forward on my turn and sit, but I also see improvement.

On my random sits, I still got one or two drops and I also addressed sitting immediately in place, by walking into Gali and pushing him back.

For directed jumping I made progress with the distance between the jumps, we are up to about 20 feet apart and away from the jumps. I had two incidents of not wanting to jump to the left but always when it was the bar jump. He had no problem jumping to the left when it was a high jump and he has no problem jumping to the right over a bar jump. So it appears that I have a signal problem.

I did manage to get two sets of directed jumping and two sets of go outs in one training session. Gali maintained his attitude. I did change up what food reward I was giving and did play some games with him to keep him happy and relaxed.

Today the plan is to put up some barriers so that I apply a little pressure from the side. Also I have a friend coming to train her dog while I train to add in some distractions. Gali and this dog love to play together, so it will be a distraction for sure. Also I am going to ask my friend to be my judge and stand where the judge would normally and not normally stand during this exercise. And I am going to ask her to choose jumps for me; I have been worried about creating jumping patterns when practicing by myself.


Ribbon gets to do all of these drills, except for go outs, plus do heeling drill and one Novice run through. If I time (and energy) I will do articles with her.

After that I am spending my day watch tennis and then hockey!!!!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Cracks are starting to show

In my session yesterday with Gali, everything went along swimmingly until I got to the directed jumping section. The jumps were at 14 feet and when I signaled him to go over the bar jump on the left, he jumped forward and froze in a standing position. I re-did the signal again, he didn't move, on the third time he went to the jump and leapt over it. I moved on through my sequence and when I came back to bar on the left, he froze again. I was being conscious of how long I was holding my signal. I wanted to drop my arm as soon as he committed to the proper direction. I am not sure if this had anything to do with it, but it only occurred if the bar-jump was on the left. My go outs were fine, but I could see that Gali was getting tired, so I only did two of four walls. Random sits were much better, I think he only dropped once or twice.

Today I am going to start with go-outs, then move to directed jumping, then random sits, then go outs again and if I can one more set of directed jumping. He has only been on one walk so far today, so he should have lots of energy.

On another topic, Ribbon is doing these drills too. I thought I might as well since they were already set up and it is a nice mix with the heeling drills I have been doing with her. She is entered at the end of May. Of course because she is entered she now dumping all of her lovely coat. I am sure by the trial I will have a smooth border collie!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sharing my pain

Gali and I are struggling to get our last utility leg. My frustration level is sky- high and my self-esteem is at an all time low. I was writing in my journal after failing yet another trial on Saturday "I am so frustrated, I feel like quitting. But I am too stubborn to quit!!"

So apparently I am not quitting, but this doesn't really solve my problem. How can I get Gali to pass the directed jumping exercise in the ring? If I was my own student I would say without hesitation, go back to basics and re-train the exercise.

In my mind Directed Jumping has three components to it: the go out, the sit and the jumping. I have pulled all three of these elements apart and I am working them separately. I am entered in another trial in 11 days. The Friday and Saturday before the trial I am going to run Gali through some run throughs and see where we are at. If need be I will forgo the trial, but I would really like to use the upcoming trial as a motivator for me to keep going. I will only pull from the trial if Gali is exhibiting signs of stress in training. So far things are going well. Here is what I have been doing:

Go outs: I am working go outs in different locations, using a chute to help Gali travel in a straight line. I have been including touch then sit or sit then touch. I started the first session at about 8-10 feet away and working my way back from there. Today I am going to set up 4 chutes, one for each wall in the training hall so that I can practice go outs in all directions and increase distance. My goal today will be 20-30 feet. Tomorrow's goal is 30-40 and so on until I can send him from 60 feet in any direction in the hall. I will also be adding the jumps into the picture tomorrow, but still only working on the go out. I hope to have all of the accomplished by Monday.

The Sit: On occasion Gali has laid down when asked to sit on a go out. I wanted to make this simple skill stronger and since I am retraining the exercise I might as well cover all my bases. I have been practising random sits while moving around the training hall. On the first day I got a drop first every time. This was not too much of a surprise given that Gali really believes that drop are fun and sits are well, just sits. During the next session I upped the reward and jackpotted the first sit I got, from there I got a higher ratio of sits vs drops. I also added in a food toss, so that Gali ran away from me to a piece of food and I asked him to sit as soon as he had eaten the food. This meant that I was back to a picture that looked like a go out. I could also address the fact that I wanted him to sit in place, no walking forward.

Directed Jumping: I came at this step very methodically, I started with my jumps two feet apart and Gali and I were 2 feet back from the jumps, me on one side and him on the other. I am using a signal only for this exercise. I may add the verbal back in, but I'll decide that later. I practiced first one jump then the other, rewarding after each jump. Then I started him from the opposite side so that he got to see the jumps on either side (bar on left, solid on the right and vise versa). The first session I gradually increased the distance out to 8 feet, so this also meant that Gali was 8 feet from the center of the jumps and I was also 8 feet from the jumps. Our first session progressed fantastically. No problems, no hesitations, lots of great attitude (from us both!!). The next day I started with my jumps 8 feet apart and ended up with them about 12 feet apart. He has not chosen the wrong direction and hasn't really seemed to even consider it. I did see a few times that Gali had to readjust his path to push out far enough to take the jump. But this could have more to do with wanting to take the more direct path to get the reward. However he was still working at making the right choice without any extra help from me. I also added into the mix raising both arms at the same time while keep directed eye contact with him, I did this to see what his reaction would be. He lunged forward and froze. It was what I had hoped for. This signal should mean nothing to him, so I was pretty happy with that. Next I did my jumping signals with direct eye contact and he had trouble with this. He came directly to me, which is what I thought would happen; direct eye contact usually means a recall. In training and trialling I always glance at the outside standard of the jump I want him to take. Breaking eye contact with him clearly has meaning to him. With this knowledge in place today the goal is to start with the jumps 12 feet apart and build to 16 feet. Tomorrow I will push the jumps out to 20 feet. Saturday I will include barriers on either side of the jump and Sunday I will add distractions such as toys on the ground, food containers and pressure from people moving around and possibly another dog working.

On Monday Gali and I are taking the day off!

Wish me luck!!