As you know, I have been trying out a variety of contact methods in an attempt to come up with a behavior that we both can live with. recently, after I was practicing her 2o/2o behavior at home. I worked her for her dinner, running her over about 10 a-frames and teeters. Later that evening, she came up lame, seeming to favor her left front. So I rested her completely for 48 hours (that was fun) then I brought her to class and just did one run, with no contacts at 16 inches, just to have other people look at her. They thought she looked ok, but I wanted to take it easy with her anyway. That was a wed. class, and I teach on thurs. I usually bring her and work her some after class or use her to demo something, but I didn't want to be tempted to do anything so I didn't even bring her.
Friday we left for a trail, so I didn't do anything with her then. Sat. I ran her and she seemed to move ok, although she jumped her A-frame (so all of that 2o/2o didn't help anyway). I got her massaged afterwards and she said that she was definitely sore, but ok to run tomorrow, and to ice her tonight and give her some rimadyl, and to get a second massage tomorrow. I ran her the next day she seemed fine. She said that she felt some better, but to ice again for a day or two and take it easy with her for a few days. (See Mattiponi Trial)
All of this got me thinking....I already know that if I try to teach her a running a-frame that she looses her mind in the ring. I also know that trying to force a 2o/2o in practice can make her sore, and it still doesn't translate to what I want in the ring. So....am I supposed to not train the a-frame at all?? doesn't seem to be practical.
Then I thought, well I haven't tried 4 on the floor yet, why not?
So I found an old clean run that had an article about training the 4 on the floor (4otf) method, and I read over the steps.
1. I started with a towel on the floor and shaped a down on it.
2. I started calling it "spot"
3. I practiced that for about 4 days then
4. I put it out in front of the bottom of the aframe.
5. I pulled it out about 2 feet from the aframe, because I didn't want her to try to jam her self into position and I didn't want her to leap onto it either. That seemed to be a good compromise.
6. I did some hop -ups with it, saying "spot" and she would usually stop in a 2o/2o, then I would say yes - "spot". She would then go into a down on the towel. I would say yes again to release from that.
Sometimes, she would go down all the way to a down the first time. I just said yes and released. I didn't want to stress her with trying to break the 2o/2o again. I'd done it 3x already.
In class, when I put the towel down, she does a 2o/2o. I started out saying yes and spot again, but somewhere along the way, I just started releasing her to the next obstacle (probably, because I didn't like making it seem like she was doing something wrong).
The next weekend we had our first trial with my new "spot" command. Sat, she did a great run thru, the contact, which I am perfectly happy with ( although I was apparently so happy that I forgot the course. Sunday's was a little jumpy, but it is still a work in progress ( see Cocker Club Trial)
The next trial, was Morgantown, she did really good a-frames there to. I was even able to front cross at the end of the frame. both were really nice run thru the contacts. ( see morgantown trial)
The third trial was Oriole - Aka the kitty litter trial. I did 2 really nice front crosses,and a run straight off, which was a little high. We had 2QQ's that weekend and were 3 for 3 in standard.. that hasn't happened in a while! ( see Oriole Trial)
It should be noted that I also was saying "wait" for the teeter for these last three trials, and they were MUCH better Teeters too!
In class she is still stopping 2o/2o in front of her towel on the word "spot".
It should also be noted that her 2o/2o never had a target or touch word associated with it.
Will this hold up, time will only tell, but I am very pleased with these early results.
Do I need to actually make her stop in the "spot" position in practice or competition? I do not know. Is it a fix....I sure hope so!
Wish me luck and I will keep you posted