A few weeks ago I reported on the jump training of Bailey; I thought I might give an update. A few weeks ago she was more inclined to avoid jumps than to jump them. I was concerned that she would associate me with the things to be avoided so I placed an 8” jump in my family room to block the passage from one area to the next (so the only way to go from point A to point B was over that jump). It did not take long for her to figure out that low jumps are painless. I was very pleased with that. I messed around with putting the bar higher and higher, but I didn’t want Veri jumping that high so I only put it out when she was in the yard. Bailey realized she could crawl under it at 16”; I also saw her reach out and whack the bar down with her foot. Oh well, at least it got her willing to interact with the jump.
We worked on the Mecklenburg jumping a bit inside but I am not able to get her to offer to jump- the only jumping she will do is with a lure. With the lure we progressed to 16” jumps, but she was still uncomfortable with them, and I wasn’t getting the rounded arc I wanted, even though the lure was on the floor. I’ve continued with this approach every day or two, but she goes around the jumps as often as she goes over. I discussed this with a judge over the weekend and she pointed out that this approach only works well with dogs who like to jump. I think that might be true. I’m going to continue to use it though, as it is not much different than a warm up jump in a trial, and she might as well get used to it; I think I need to up the value of the reward though. I’ve been reluctant to use the ball, as I wanted her to think, but perhaps the ball would help to build value in jumping. She sure does love balls. I mean, really, really LOVES them. Especially if they are dunked in water and are really slimy. (then offer it to daddy- he really likes that J )
We did a small grid of 3 8” jumps in my living room (minimal furniture there!) and worked on calling her through it. She preferred to go around the second jump at first. We kept at it and she eventually became proficient at doing the line of three jumps, either as a recall to her ball or calling her back and forth between me and my daughter for food. I’d like to use my Manners Minder remote treat dispenser to send her, but she still hates that thing.
We worked some on Salo’s set point jumping with an 8” facilitator jump 6’ in front on the “real” jump set at 16”. This seemed to only work well if the reward was a ball. I’m still working on how to reward with the ball, without accidentally rewarding a knocked bar. Sadly, my timing is not perfect. I’m also having problems with her just going around the jumps, but she seems to be willing to jump if she is held by my husband or daughter, so whenever one of them is willing to help we do it that way. With this approach we actually got up to a 22” jump on Friday, and it was set as a double, so it was a pretty good sized jump. I was thrilled to death! I noticed that her form was much better over the jumps that we set higher than 16”- I’m not sure what to make of that, but I’m pleased to finally see the rounded jumping style that I was striving for.
Since Bailey finally seems willing to jump, I began real grids last night- 5 jumps set 6’ apart and all set at 8”. With my husband’s help we backchained the grid and when we got to the point of doing all five jumps she thought broad jumping 4 and 5 together might be interesting. No reward for that. Not surprisingly, she had difficulty in the entire grid, with ticking bars, the broad jump efforts and awkward striding. What pleased me was her willingness to keep at it happily, and she did not go around any jumps! I think she could have gone on for hours, but I opted to stop after a few resp. Too hot to do more. I’m hoping that this grid will help her with her striding, but I’m a bit concerned that she does not care if she smacks a bar; this used to bug her a great deal, but now she seems oblivious to it (I think that is the BALL- it seems to block out all thought).
So work continues on the jumping. I’m not sure if I’m really accomplishing much, but I am having fun, and Bailey seems to be having fun, at least when there are balls involved.
We started on a dog walk with just walking across a plank on bricks. She didn’t like that, but got used to it after a few days. The bricks were replaced by milk crates and then the board was propped on my pause table. When she could do that confidently we moved on to a real dog walk. I held her by the collar the first time, but after that she was happy to get up there all by herself, and even was willing to do it with speed. I’m not working on any end contact behavior at this point- I want speed and confidence across the whole thing before I’ll ask her to stop. To facilitate good approach and exit, and to prevent jumping off early, I have a hoop on either end of the dogwalk (just a small hula hoop held in place with stakes). My success criteria is go onto the ramp through the hoop, go across the whole thing, and exit the ramp through the hoop, preferably with speed. I’m trying to time the ball throwing so that the ball is flying as she is exiting. It doesn’t always work that well, but I try (geez, I throw like a girl!). I’m impressed by how bold she is on this thing- I had assumed she’d be a bit more cautious. I like bold. J
We have been working on weaves with the 2×2 method. It started off just awesome in my living room, and she really seemed to be getting it, but we had to move out into the yard to get more space, and it all fell apart out there. She knows there are stray balls in that yard, and finding them is soooo much fun- much more fun that interacting with me. We’ve kept at it though, and I’m able now to keep her engaged in the yard (for a ball) and can get some work from her, although we have not made much progress on the weaves lately. I think I need to re-watch the how-to video, ‘cause we are both frustrated. She seems to get the idea off my left, but cannot think when she is on my right side. From the start I’ve had issues getting her to even approach my right side and assumed this was from her obedience training, but we are still frustrated. She’s wondering where in the heck the ball is, ‘cause she just ran through the stupid poles, but doesn’t seem to get that I want her to go through BOTH sets of the danged things, not just one. I hate to deny that eager “throw the ball! Throw the ball!!!” look on her face. I think I just suck at weave training. L The video says to not be afraid to let the dog fail, because that is how the dog learns, but I see little evidence that she is even thinking enough to learn. Perhaps I need a bit lower value reward than the ball- then maybe she could think. Alas, if I train without the ball in my yard she isn’t likely to pay much attention.
Well, that is it for this update. Ideas and suggestions for improvement are welcome, as I think there is much to learn from this experiment.
I have video of her first jump grid, but I won’t be sharing it, as I was horrified to see what I looked like on video (how dare my daughter aim that video camera at my rear!!!)