Friday, September 10, 2010

Agility Lesson 1

Yesterday Griffin and I had an agility lesson. Finally. I wasn't very prepared in a lot of ways, but I'm glad I finally scheduled the lesson and just got it done!

A few things we didn't do so well:
- Test your reinforcers. I'm used to normal dogs. I took his fish treats he was eating in class on Weds. I took his favorite cream cheese. And some lunch meat. We stopped at the store and bought some cheese. But during the lesson I forgot to open the cream cheese. And he wouldn't even take the mozzarella. The instructor commented that we needed higher value reinforcers. We definitely needed something else... but he wasn't much more attentive the days I used canned tripe!
- More environments: Griffin worked a bit and then wanted to explore the room and get water. When we did a controlled distraction exercise he quickly returned his focus to me (that's an exercise we work on ALL the time and gave him a familiar context for (not) interacting with the environment. We need to get to the point where the environment is automatically cueing him to look back.
- Water. Make sure I get him to drink a lot before class. Make sure I frequently take water breaks (using the cue "water!" to reinforce behavior. He likes that cue!). Make sure bowls are picked up. He had found one I didn't see....
- Obstacle focus: When he's working, he's nowhere as obstacle focused as Luna or Blaze. That's due to just not having very many agility hours yet. I can send him ahead and he's great. But if he's moving with me he really is just watching me. This was problematic because I expected him to take obstacles and sometimes he would not.
- WRITE DOWN QUESTIONS! I forgot the few I had, and only remembered half of one... My excuse? We've not been in class since June and only had 4 weeks there.... it's almost a good excuse....

What went well:
- Griffin jumps well. That's probably due to the jump training we've done. But I like to attribute it to the Susan Salo CleanRun article he ate as a puppy. That makes for a better story. Still, we haven't done THAT much jump training... and now we've had two instructors comment on this.
- Good stays. I don't do a lot of leadouts when working on my own. Because if you are using a lead out (stay until cued to start the obstacles), then you have criteria there AND criteria on the obstacles. I mostly only used a lead out to move a few steps to the side. We did some sit stays and more stand. A few times I didn't cue him before moving a away or he started to scratch and then forgot what he had been doing.
- Relaxed Down: When I would talk with the instructor, Griffin would lie at my feet. All on his own. Uncued. And flop on a hip. And put his head down. And stay there for a LONG TIME. OFF LEASH. STAY THERE!

It will probably be 2-3 weeks before we can get another lesson, part will be our scheduling availability and part of it will be the training progress I want to see before going again. If we're paying for the time, we might as well be ready to do new stuff!

What we need to work on:
- Control water access in a training environment. The day before at work we had decided NO MORE water bowls around the room when Griffin is loose. NONE. Cue him to water and to Outside.
- Get offered attention in new environments WITHOUT the context of "This is the game where you pay attention."
- Put a verbal cue to our recall. I don't use our verbal cue. So he never not comes to it. But he also never gets the chance to come and be reinforced. Ahem.
- Improve our informal recall.
- Work on contacts and weaves so we can use those during lessons.
- Practice a couple sequences we did in class...with cameras and/or mirrors.
- Obstacle focus
- More tugging and play.

I don't have any pictures of Griffin doing here's Luna two years ago:

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