Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weave Entries

With LP's help, I worked up a "lesson plan" for fixing Riff's weave entries.  He's terrific once he's in the and dedicated...but 'angled-entries' have never been his strong suit.  Neither has 'running into the weaves from a distance.'  Riff likes to run - and jump - with an extended stride.  'Collection' is not a big part of his inherent vocabulary.  Lack of thoughtful collection effects his weaves, and it effects his turns.  I'm not used to this because Keeper always ran "collected," as LP pointed out.  And it didn't help that my back was injured and I began to encourage Riff's distance work...and, as a by-product, extension.  So...we have plenty to work on.

We used the 2x2 method to introduce him to weaving, when he was a bipster, but I obviously made it's back to the drawing board.  We haven't gone all the way back to the beginning, though.  We start each lesson with 4 poles in a straight line, quickly introduce 2 more, then (hopefully) move onto the 12-pole weaveset for a couple of excellent entries before the lesson is over.

Basically, we're working our way "around the clock face" (or "down the arc," as I call it)...from each side, at various distances and, eventually, from various obstacles.  We mark correct entries with the word "YES!" and reward with a toy on the line.  When he doesn't hit the first gate, there is no word, and no toy.  One change I've made this time around is to take him to his 5-to-10-minute weave sessions a little tired.   Not really tired, but with a bit of the edge off.  It may be making a difference.

Last time we worked the 2x2 method, Riff had a tendency to become frantic and start running in circles from me through any weave gate and back.  He wouldn't even look at me....he would just run in anxious circles.  Not fun.  Back then he started the method very well, with just two poles, and he did great with four...but when poles were added he got so anxious to get to the "toy part" he'd just run by poles as fast as he could.  Both sets of six.  He's nuts for his toys, this pupster.  We drifted away from the 2x2 method and into channel weaves. 

This time around, I can happily report that he seems more mature.   He's actually thinking about the game instead of trying to blast his way through it.  He's beginning to understand that he needs to focus on that first pole in order to earn his "YES!" and then get through the rest of the poles to his toy.  He's also understanding that he needs to "check in" with me before he gets another try.  He needs to touch my hand, and look at me.  He needs to be by my side.  This part is still difficult for him, at times.  Riff has a need for speed, and when the RUN switch is ON, his eyes start swirling around in his head.  (Or so it seems.) 

But it's wonderful to watch his progress.   My "lesson plan" includes a total of 16 sessions.  So far we've done 4. 

At one session a day (if we're lucky enough to get to a field with a set of weaves), we obviously won't be finished before the USDAA show next weekend.  And we need to skip a couple of days.  Ah, well.   All we can do is the best we can do....and right now the best we can do is "make good progress!" 

We'll have to take the trial as it comes.  He'll either get his weave entries or he won't.  There's a lot we can work on at the show, regardless.  Startline stays.  2-on 2-off contacts.  Weave entries.  Trial nerves.  Attitude.  As always, our main goal is to have fun.  Yes?  Yes!

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