Training In The Sand

Yesterday I took Java to train in a new location – first time running on sand and in a covered arena with its tarp flapping in the wind and LOUD dogs (and she said she was not going to be outdone in the barking aspect 😉 ) So yeah, great generalization/distraction experience for her. I was pleasantly surprised that she not even once thought about doing zoomies on that sand. Well, she IS really good about not doing zoomies in training, but I thought sand would be a bit more tempting. Or at least she would be a little spaced out because she’s in heat. Nope, 100% focused on the job at hand. Love this girl 🙂

My main goal was to build confidence, show her that equipment there is the same as equipment at our club and not push the envelope much. Basically keep her successful as much as possible and she made this really easy for me. Well, except for not wrapping well at all at 25cm! I thought for sure she would be able to do at least 35cm, but after seeing her going wide at 25, I decided we’re going to stay at this height for the day. Maybe it was the sand (feels different when she takes off?) or maybe it’s because the obstacles looked different (this has been known to throw her off before). I don’t know. But we stayed low and her wraps looked better as the training progressed. My friend said this was too easy for Java, that I should have made the bars higher. She was probably right, but once I saw her wrapping tightly again I was afraid I was going to loose it if I put the bars higher 🙂

It’s really funny, sometimes it DOES look like Java benefits if I push her a little over the limit. It’s like something clicks in her head: a-ha, this is where we’re going with it! Like we had this footwork problem with her weaves. It’s a long story that I have been meaning to write for some time, but the short version is this: she had weird, irregular footwork in the weaves. It looked like a byproduct of avoiding touching the poles and stepping on the base or just generally having no clue where to put those long legs while weaving. We worked on footwork by making touching the poles fun, switching to weaves without a base, trying V-set weaves… The result was nice footwork, but only in V-set weaves and only in perfect conditions with weaves open by at least 10cm. So, limited progress.

Then after no weaving for two months (due to winter break) I was doing almost closed weaves with Ruby (he likes to smash through the weaves, so after a long break it’s less hard on his body if they’re open a little bit) and Java was going bonkers on the side, so I said sure, she can try them too if she wants. After all, she does learn by watching…

We never did weaves closed this much before. First she did every other pole. No reward. Then she did 6 poles! Wow! I was so happy that I rewarded it. On the next try she did 10 poles. This was getting exciting! Rewarded again. And then she did 12! We repeated weaves a few times and she did 12 poles each time. Just unbelievable! I was too surprised to watch her footwork, but during next training we did a 5cm channel and the footwork was perfect. On a set of weaves where she NEVER had good footwork before. No sign of weird foot crossing that she used to do, just beautiful single stepping all the way through. So… hm. No idea how Java’s brain works, but I like it 🙂

Ruby had to sit this training out because a sprained toe seems to be bothering him again 😦 He’s not limping, just seems to be more careful with that foot and less active and it worries me. I made an appointment with physiotherapist on Friday, I hope she can tell me if it’s the toe or if there is something else going on. And if we’re scheduling a visit we might as well take Java for some manual therapy, too. We’re starting a K9 Conditioning class with Bobbie Lyons next week and I will feel better if Kristina checks her before we start.

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