Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Jumping Experiments

The jumping experiments continue. The ultimate goal is still to get Dare more comfortable with striding in closer to jumps for take off. You know that we tried with the stride regulator. I decided to try something new, to see if it made more sense to Dare. It started with the suggestion from Andrea that maybe a foot target would make more sense to Dare as a take-off spot. Being a little lazy, I wondered if something that we already use for obedience. We have a pvc box that I send her to when we work on signals for obedience. I remembered seeing that Diana and Miley had used a pvc box when they were working on their running A-frame and I wondered if we could use a combination of ideas for Dare.

So, I started with the box and just clicked Dare for getting in and then tossed a toy out of the box to keep her moving. She picked up on that pretty quick. Here's the video.

Then I decided to try putting it together with the jump standards.

Now, I'm working on introducing the bars again on the jump. I also need to do some other variations, but so far, she isn't treating the box like she did the stride regulator, just landing directly in front of it, so maybe this does make more sense to her. I sure hope so.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jumping Update

Well, I looked back and I haven't posted anything since July about Dare's jump training. Where does the time go? We have been consistently working on the jump training, I guess I just haven't been good about posting.

I guess I'll start with the very basics of what we're doing and what we're learning. First, I knew it was important to teach the dog to be comfortable and proficient at taking off with the rear legs. One of the pre-jump skills that we work on is the beg-stand-beg exercise. Here's Dare demonstrating that drill.

Then we've worked on the up and over collected jumping exercise that I showed you in the previous jumping post. Placing the dog right in front of the jump and targeting just a body length beyond the jump in an attempt to get the dog to simply lift the front legs off the ground and push off for the jump with the rear legs. We did this starting at 8" and worked up to 16"

We've also been working on baby front and rear crosses...These exercises also have been started at 8" and worked at all angles and then repeated at the higher jump heights on both sides.

We have also been working on some jump grids. This one is test help us see how well she is able to scope out the differences in spacing and in heights.

What we noticed in the grid work you just saw and when I started adding more distance and speed to our baby front and rear cross drills...is that Dare prefers to take off for jumps from further away, (rather than striding in closer), which is neither efficient or a safe way to jump.

This led to a series of drills where we are trying to use the stride regulator to get Dare to stride in closer to the jump before take-off. We had some success, and a lot of experimenting in the process, and we are still working on it.

It was also around the middle of August that it was suggested that I take Dare in to the veterinary opthamologist to see if she was having issues with her depth perception or eyesight in general. In examining her eyes, they did find that she has Distichiasis, which is just simply eyelashes growing where they shouldn't. It can cause irritation and eventually scarring of the cornea, but at this point, they said that it doesn't appear to be even causing any irritation, so I'm just to keep my eyes on it for any changes. Other than that, they said that her eyes looked great, and they found nothing that they felt would account for her early jumping.

So, having ruled out any major vision problems, we are back to training. With Andrea's help, we are focusing on helping Dare get more comfortable with striding in closer to the jumps and rewarding that behavior. We are actually doing this not only with jumps, but with the table as well, since she exhibits the same tendency to take off too early for the table as well.

It's a slow process, but a fascinating one. One of the other things that I'm looking into is how to help condition her better for jumping and agility in general. I got the DVD "Building the Canine Athlete" and I'm trying to come up with a practical routine for Dare and I to work on.

Anyway, as with the last jump training post, this is now more of a book, so I'll just end it here for now. Hopefully we'll have more updates and progress soon!