Soooo we’ve moved from training once a week because of winter (I try not to train two days in a row, and I work full time so that only left one day on a weekend!), to twice a week now that the nights are lighter. I always enjoy evening sessions sooo much more, I find there is a lot less pressure to get things done.
Obviously I didn’t give in to this pressure over winter as we didn’t do much…! Haha but I’m pleased I’m taking my time with him.
We still have to learn seesaw, aframe and weaves – and my dog walk isn’t complete yet. It’s competition ready if I am next to him or ahead, but I also want it to be independent. We started this last night, he looooves dog walk training now so it was fun.
My preferred method is 2×2 for entries, get to 12 poles and then open them out as channels for speed & confidence. But Toast hated 2×2. It was just too thinky for him and we barely got past entries (although he does have a good understanding of them now!). I prefer doing stuff to a dead toy vs throwing, but at one point when I added a second pair in he would start offering all sorts… including contact behaviour where he stops and stares at them!!!! Not good, and I knew it wasn’t working.
2×2 was good in theory because I could do it every day, but I could tell he just wanted to stop and do something else… and when I got his toy out ready he didn’t have half the enthusiasm as he would for other stuff. I did try to take it outside and he wasn’t too bad – but again I could tell he wanted to be doing something else.
Channels were a little bit better in that he could ruuuunnnnn. But he wasn’t focusing on understanding, and the correction when he failed was way too long. If he popped out, I would have to say “whoops”, run back to the start with him (whilst he’s thinking “oh…”), put him in a down, ask him to wait, set the toy back up, get myself in position, release… to potentially fail again. I was getting worried I would poison his down & wait as he was starting to get sensitive, I didn’t want it to be punishment so I just… stopped.
The other week I was trying to think of ideas to help and I came to the conclusion that I just need to adapt for him. I decided I wanted to break channels up into 6 poles. This way, there would be less emphasis on failure because it would be so much quicker to get him back in position. I then spoke to Chloe Machon, who said Diece was very similar and split the poles up too (a little differently as Diece already knew how to weave but it confirmed I was thinking along the right lines!).
Anyway we did this last night and it worked much better. He genuinely enjoyed it and was always ready for more. Obviously I keep my sessions short but this was a massive attitude change so wooohooo! The entrance and exit were open but the middle was just closed enough for him to start thinking about it. Previously, I also had a big issue with his head being high up, couldn’t get him to drive down towards his toy in the way that I wanted to. Not 100% yet but huge improvement already by doing this instead!