Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Problem or Opportunity?

We have been having a bit of a problem with our running contacts this week. Last week at our lesson we spent quite a bit of time working on running the plank. Reese had been nailing the contact very well at home.

At our lesson she wasn't hitting the contact with the consistency she had been and was jumping and bouncing more than we wanted. We tried sending her through a tunnel and then onto the plank, but that seemed to get her a bit too excited and she missed the plank - she loves the tunnels. My trainer got her to correct her stride and start hitting the contact when she placed a low jump in front of the plank.

This week at home I was to use a jump with the plank to keep working on this. But it didn't quite work that way. Our first session she hit the contact once but after that lost it. She couldn't hit the yellow with the tug at all. Tried treats that worked maybe once then we lost that. I didn't want her repeating too much so we stopped. I left it for a day or so tried again with the same result. Clearly I needed to try something else.

Hmmm a problem, OR was this an opportunity?

Well actually it was both, but a problem doesn't have to be bad, after all it gives you the opportunity to fix it, and learn. So I went back to what had worked before. Used treats and she hit the contacts, went to the tug and she hit the contacts. Hmmm. Left it for a day.

Tried it again tonight and didn't use the jump but had her sitting back from the plank farther where she would if I was using the jump. She missed the contact. Hmmm, what is going on. Something is different, what could be causing this?

I put her closer to the plank where she had been when we started the plank work so she was almost right in front of it, she hit the contact. She hit it again and again. Moved her back a couple feet and she missed. Put the jump up so she would land right in front of the plank and then step on...she hit it, moved the jump back just a bit which gave her more room between the jump and the plank and she missed.

So I figured out the problem was her distance from the plank. At our lesson last week I placed her farther from the plank then she had been when we worked it at home. It was too much of a change. This was, of course, handler error because my trainer said, "set her up like she is at home" and at the time I thought I was. But now knowing what the problem is I realize I had set her back too far at the lesson and that started some of the confusion.

Bottom line....I don't think she understands the criteria, to hit the contact, well enough yet to start adding things - like distance, major movement, running along side the plank for the full length etc. I'll work very incrementally getting her farther from the plank with the jump to test her and see where we are for our lesson this week.

I could have called my trainer to ask what I should do next, I could have left it and not worked on the issue until our lesson, but I didn't want to do that. I am glad that I worked the problem and figured out what was causing the issue. That is the first part of correcting an issue is to identify the cause. Once you know the cause - then you can work on how to fix it.

I have some video but don't have time to get it up tonight maybe I'll get a chance tomorrow. This issue might have set us back a little bit in our training but it was a great "aha moment" when I realized what was happening. I am okay with losing some training ground as long as Reese or I learn something in the process and we did.

We will see what our trainer says the next step will be when we have our lesson. I have a feeling it might be something like, "repetition, repetition repetition, you need to more practice."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy 2010!
I am a fellow animal lover, and I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed my visit here.
Greetings from Canada.