Friday, October 1, 2010

A Utility Training Update

I've lost track if I mentioned it here, but Gryffin sliced his left hock a couple of weekends ago. Not, thank god, a career ending slice, but it had him on 3 legs for a couple of days, thus ending our wonderful season of hunt tests. The silver lining is that I've leapt back into obedience training, particularly with Joker and Ty in Utility. Neither of them has shown in Utility yet, nor even done that many matches with any sort of thought of being even vaguely close to ready to trial. Joker hasn't really been trained regularly since sometime in the spring - maybe March? April? Ty Q'ed in Graduate Open at the National back in June, but since then, we focused on field work, with next to no obedience work.

I had matches here at home today and a week ago. I ran them both through last week. Ty had pretty disastrous signals and various other issues. Joker stood there on the down signal, but did the rest of his signals nicely. I don't think he actually did too much else right.

We have trained a whole bunch since then - almost daily, in fact - mostly at home, but we did take one road trip Wednesday to the Toledo KC, where we'll probably trial in late November. Gryffin just LOVES to show there.

Ty passed everything except for anticipating the MS return. In her defense, because she kept turning her head during the exam, the 'judge' kept pushing her head back. She probably pushed Ty's head about 5 times. When she finished the exam and stepped back, Ty started in. I think the alarm had gone off in her head... "Times up!" Other than that, she did a lot of excellent work. I'm not overly concerned about fronts and finishes right now, but even they were pretty good. Certainly, she did all of them without more than a 1/2 point off. I waited a little extra long to cue the 2nd jump. She was twitching towards the high jump, which she'd already done, but she waited and stayed attentive. She also started slightly in the wrong direction on a couple of finishes, but then went the right way. One was to my right, one to my left. I am VERY pleased with her progress in just a week.

Joker also did a lot more correctly today. Most of the problems he had were familiar. We started with Directed Jumping, and doing go-outs cold? No goes on both of them. But I've gotten that when I've done some glove/go-out proofing and he's made mistakes, so I wasn't that surprising. I still need to work out the best position for him when I send him, what the best signal is for me to use, etc. He also wanted to repeat the HJ on the right. He doesn't quite seem to get that after doing THIS jump, we do THAT jump. His moving stand was good, though I asked the judge to do a simpler exam. He went to glove 2 instead of 1. I already knew I had a problem with glove 3, so that's why I picked 1. It is probably his weakest exercise. Guess what we'll be doing frequently this week? He missed his first article, which was in the center. He had circled and sniffed all of the outer articles twice, and I think simply timed out. This is unusual, so I'm not particularly worried. He's actually been showing me a very nice and deliberate work on them. He got back on track, and his 2nd one was fine. AND... drum roll, not only did he do his signals fine, he actually heeled NICELY with me. And notice, I didn't say "Joker heeled nicely, for him." No, it wasn't perfect. But he was with me. We've been starting each of our training sessions with a dozen or so set ups. His understanding of heel position is so poor, that it makes training the Utility exercises cumbersome, because it takes so many tries to get him in decent enough position to get started. This set-up work is paying off - our last two training days have resulted in much less effort from me to get him there. Again, he isn't perfect, but he's improved.

Gryffin did Open after not doing much work on it at all. He was brilliant :-). I caught him in some attention lapses in Utility which caused him to bark at me when I corrected him. Mr. Sassypants. Overall, some really fine work from him. He is my 'comfortable slippers' dog now. Who would have thunk it about my goofball?

It's amazing what a week of consistent training can produce. I guess it is time to get off my duff and fill out those Marshbanks entries...

No comments: