Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Love(d) training weaves

I love training weaves and always look forward to when our dogs are around 14 months so I can crack on through the stages. Although I love it I don't want it to take months and loads of sessions. 

I generally start with a wide channel and lots of games before and after. Only a few run throughs then next time I go out I just kick the base in a fraction. After about 4 days of this I put them away for a week.

Then next time I do weaves I do the first part of 2x2s again loads of play before and after when they get it right.

Next I get the channels out for another week moving to close together with guides on to help understanding of staying in.  Lots of energy before and after and only a few run throughs.

Then guess - I leave the channels again and move on to a 4 play exercise. Basically 4 poles a gap the size of 4 poles and then another 4 poles across to another set of 4, followed by a gap and then another 4 poles. 

Maybe back to the channels until fully together and then on to the 12 poles and adding distractions.

This tends to work well and this is Moog a few months ago working through the toy distraction.

Lovely, fun and familiar. As I said I love training weaves.

Enter the Pikachu .............................:-

  • Maybe I rushed through the stages too much, 
  • Maybe she's a girl, 
  • Maybe she's a little dog or 
  • Maybe somewhere in her puppyhood I rewarded too much from my hand.

Whatever the reason I was not enjoying weaves with Pikachu. She knew what to do but had her head up which I don't like structurally and there is a different vibe to the love my other dogs have for them.

She wasn't obtained with agility in mind (tbh I have no idea what was in our minds). However she loves running, she loves interacting with things and loves training. She will make a great small agility dog if we can crack these weaves.

I left them for a while and questioned many small dog owners to see if it was just a small/large dog difference. Easy excuse and I was sure they would give me a magic pill to sort out why I am not enjoying my usual success and voila the weaves would be done.
People are lovely and gladly gave me many tips and the word Manners Minder was mentioned more than once. 

I don't have a Manners Minder so thought long and hard about why a Manners Minder would work and came up with a major short fall in Pikachu's understanding of reward.

Rewards ALWAYS came from me. In order to see if the reward was coming she needed to look up to me, move towards me etc etc. In the weaves this then brought her head up to see if I was going to produce the reward even if I then threw the reward forward.

Then this week Mark and I decided we needed to get on and do some rounds with our youngsters as we have started entering shows for this season. Pikachu had only previously done a maximum of 10 jumps and stalled at 11 looking for the toy which was in my hand. I gave Mark the toy and went to go again and she couldn't understand to leave Mark and come to me.

Another penny dropped. Not only did she think the rewards came from me but she thought she needed to be or going in the direction of the reward.
With these two pieces of information I have a plan to work through her understanding of reward gaining.

I have a velcro toy that I can hide treats in and open once I get there so she knows the treats are there but has to work out what she needs to do before I will open it. I put it on the floor and ask her to come to me - away from the toy, do a simple trick then praise and tell her to get it. It hasn't taken long and already we are now having good success on 4 poles. She had been able to do up to 12 weaves but with head up so I'm going back through all the stages and working on head down, forward drive.

Other areas that this training will help with is the start line. I've placed her velcro toy behind her and asked her to come to me over a jump or two and then back to the start and the reward. Previously she would either work like a dream or put her nose down and disappear into Pikachu land. I am sure that working through this distraction of have treats near her then I will help her deal with other distractions more confidently.

I don't generally like to do any training involving a dogs food time as I think they should be able to just enjoy their food. Over the last couple of evenings I have managed to put her food down and ask her to move away from it, perform a couple of tricks and then released her back to her food. I will only do this a couple of more times but it is a very strong lesson in reward coming from away from me.

The other area that this will help with is when I start doing her contacts and need forward drive to a reward.

Overall I'm glad I puzzled and wouldn't accept her weaving as it was because the work I now need to do with and away from the weaves will pay dividends with all her agility training.

Off to do some weaving with Pikachu - did I mention I LOVE weave training :)

Picture taken by Hound and About Photography

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