Thursday, April 30, 2009

Training Challenges

So, as I've probably posted on this blog before, Grace is in agility training. Well actually, both of us are, since I've never done agility either, other than fun classes with Quigley when he was younger. Anyhow, we started classes in the late fall and have been going weekly pretty much since then (with a few breaks for holidays and stuff).

One of the things that Grace and I have been working on is weave pole training. When a dog competes in agility, they have to weave through 12 poles, set in a straight line, roughly 20" apart. Seeing a dog weave well and quickly is an awesome thing . . . but it takes a while to learn, because the dog always has to enter with the first weave pole by their left shoulder. We're learning using a method developed by Susan Garrett called 2x2 Weave Training. It works very well and it seems to really cement the concept of weave poles in the dogs' minds. I have been very happy with it for Grace, as she has been progressing quite nicely through the stages of training.

Until last week. I have a set of PVC weave poles that I made, and I'd been keeping them at the training centre due to the weather (can't train outside in the snow!). I brought them home last week and set them up in the backyard. Grace looked at them as though she'd never seen them before. Now, I know that you have to take a step back in new situations, to facilitate learning, so I went back several steps to make things easy for her. Even with the poles set in a channel, she acted as though she'd never seen them. Of course, that frustrated me, as she had been doing so well.

Tuesday night at class, she was reasonably decent with the weave poles. The instructor told me to persevere with practicing at home, because many trials are on grass. Well, she has gone through the poles a few times . . . but after going through correctly 5-10 times (with tons of praise and reward to reinforce it), she starts running around them, or blowing them off completely.

Hence the title of my post. Training, while something I love immensely, is occasionally really, really challenging. Really challenging.


Brenda said...

I was very lucky with Remi, he has loved the weave poles from the beginning. The only problem I have is when we are in mini competitions, he will skip the last weave and run to the next thing. My big problem is the tire jump. Every week it seems like I am 'reintroducing' him to it.
Sometimes it's hard to keep it fun, I have to remind myself it's supposed to be fun for us both.

Visichy said...

I once heard that weave poles are the one obstacle that dogs' bodies do not do naturally. Everything else is a natural movement for them so usually the weave poles take the most time, patience, training, etc. Good luck with Miss Gracie :)