So, time to put a training plan in place...
Well last year I trained with a lot of different, very good, people. I was looking for someone who could help me with Zazzy. Of course at the end of the day (/year) there was no magic wand or secret to help with her lack of omph. In fact, with hindsight, as she is such a sensitive soul, it could be possible that trying different things might have knocked her confidence and slowed her down. SO consistency in her training over this winter is what I'm aiming for. Huge thanks to Karen and Toni Dawkins who talked this through with me. We are very sad to loose Toni from the UK, our loss is Belgiums' gain. Anyway, I asked who she would recommend that I take Zazzy to for training, and she said Lee Windeatt. I have seen how good he is with Beep, as well as needing no introduction concerning his own dogs of course. Setting up training, however, has not been that straight forward, as neither of us have our own place to train. So I am arranging one training day a month, so that other people can also benefit from his training, so that hiring a venue becomes affordable, and so that it is worthwhile for Lee as well.
Phase one then, before even starting to train, Lee wanted me to get Zazzy driving to a static toy. Easier said then done, but I have perservered with this, and what good advice it was. I am now seeing the benefit of it. As I was running Becky this weekend I remembered that I did use static toys all the time until more recent training with Zazzy. I stopped using them as Zazzy was completely disinterested in them. However, we have played and played and played, and she is now happily running to her toy. Before I was always throwing toys, running and tugging with her, and giving her lots of verbal encouragement. Lee wanted me to stand still, cue once, and let her get on with it. I have done this with lines of jumps, weaves and sending Zazzy onto the dog walk so that she goes to the end on her own. This has built her confidence in what she is doing. Although she was pretty slow at first, that has improved as the reward is always waiting ahead of her.
Kaydee is doing little bits. She looks a bit 'scuttley' to me, she puts in lots of little strides. She extends well over jumps but can't, or won't, extend her strides to bounce between even the lowest jumps. This could be due to bad memories, as she couldn't do this when her back hurt, or it could be physical. I am, however, obsessive about watching her to detect any indication of pain, stiffness or lack of extension. I can't see any, and she seems soooo much happier in herself too these days. I have also realised (thanks Natasha!) that when I run her 'properly' she looks really good, if I keep watching her as she runs, she becomes hesitant ('what's the matter? What's the matter?') I will keep working on her fitness (carefully!), especially trying to build up the muscles in her back end, meanwhile I am just trying to give her big spaces and short exercises, and to get her driving forwards. Her contacts are pretty good, I am now proofing them by sending, recalling and running as fast as I can past her, front crossing at the end etc.
Deece is 13 1/2 months old now and starting to learn about agility equipment. We have done straight lines to a dead toy, and a front cross using a fan of three jumps. He is learning his end position in 2 on 2 off contacts. This video was taken this last weekend, this exercise puts together a recall, send on and front cross.
At the end of a good weekend, some training and lots of lovely walks.... I need a bigger sofa!