20 April 2010

Discrimination training the Team Small Dog way.

OMG. We are resuming our dog show career this weekend.

I forget when we last had this career? It's like one of those things from days gone by that pops into your head, like you are driving down the freeway and in pops the time you were at the picnic with various members of the Dead Kennedy's and a Dead Kennedy wife got all crabby pants over Timmy being too close to the picnic spread and her toddler and said something mean about Timmy and then maybe you said something mean back and then poof, it all goes hazy and you missed your freeway exit?

And you can't remember when this was, or if it was even real, except that there is a deja vu floating around behind your eyeballs and you just KNOW you are supposed to stop somewhere to buy rubber gloves because last time you were the Garbage Lady at the dog show, you really wished you had a good sturdy pair and that's what you were thinking about the dog show.

And, not to beleaguer a moot point, but Garbage Lady spelled sort of backwards and mixed up is almost the same as Lady Gaga. So if you see me hauling around bags of trash this weekend, just think of me as Lady Gaga and not the Garbage Lady. Sometimes she wears gloves and other items of clothing made of rubber and latex, too.

Which brings me to the important point I was actually trying to make. I noticed that Gustavo was rusty on tunnel and a-frame discriminations. Namely because with the other dogs, I don't even think about this. I use the right cue, and get the right behavior and it is kind of a no brainer. I thought this was the case with Gustavo, but when we were practicing yesterday, oops. Gustavo needs to practice things. A lot. That's just how he rolls.

My non-dog agility friends, let me refresh your memories. A discrimination is when you have 2 enticing obstacles right next to each other, say a tunnel and an a-frame, and your dog must have the discriminating taste to know which one to take. Rarely do you, the handler, actually want to have to run over there and tell them. So tiresome. You probably want to run somewhere else and your dog should know via either magic or training which one to do.

We have a secret handshake that tells them this. Which sounds much cooler than a distinct training cue meaning, Arm Out-Go to the Thing on the Outside and Shoulder In-Take the Thing on the Inside. A foundation skill, kittens. When you're running fast, you use this with various degrees of obvious. Otterpop just KNOWS. Ruby wants you to be pretty obvious. She is spot on with her verbals, though.

Gustavo needed a short refresher course to refresh things. Things smelled better in a flash. I did forget to stop and buy the rubber gloves though.


Cynthia Blue said...

I usually rely on the 'magic' for the dog to know which obstacle to take... and it usually fails me. LOL

Otterpommom said...

Three things!

I am so glad someone else has a dog named Otter who calls them Otterpop. People were looking at me funny at the trial the other day (he's not competing yet, he was there to watch the 'big' dogs run. (He's a Pom; it was a TDAA trial.)

This is a REALLY freaking helpful post!

Also, your captcha is saggy, which I object to as perjorative, I'm only 30!!