Monday, June 09, 2008

What's in a command?

As promised: the work session update. This'll be quick because I'm really tired but I have to get it done before I go to bed tonight, since I'm taking the dogs out tomorrow morning again...

Basically, Taz was pretty good. Elaine acted as the set-out person again for us, and Taz had no real problems going around her. He was wide and didn't slice. He was also clearly having a blast—I think Elaine was right when she predicted that once he understands what doing a correct outrun feels like, he won't want to go back to his tight and slicy ways. I just hope his nice outruns aren't limited to working at Bill's! Taz is still hesitating at times, though, and Elaine cautioned me not to overuse the trusty "get out of that" command to get him to go. But it's the only thing that has consistently worked to get him to commit to his flank, so it's hard to wean off it. And, well, I guess I just don't really know how to wean off it. If we have truly fixed his outrun now, I guess working on the hesitating will be the next thing to fix. Then, we'll work on lengthening his outrun a bit. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself again. After all, trying to move too fast and not paying enough attention to his foundation work is what caused me to have to go back and reteach his outrun in the first place!

Things didn't go as well with Craig. He was really not in tune with me again, and actually he wasn't really responding very well to Elaine either. She wondered if maybe he was not doing very well physically. It's true he is very skinny these days, despite eating 20 ounces of (raw) food a day, and he seemed to get really hot really fast, and take a while to recover from the heat after resting. He was also dribbling while he worked, which I'd never seen him do before, and he had a couple of other symptoms that suggested a possible kidney infection was to blame. I took him to the vet and he drew some blood over the weekend, and he doesn't have anything obvious wrong with him, but he really just doesn't seem himself. He wasn't listening and seemed to tune out whoever was working him. It may just be that he was just frustrated with the sheep. We brought him to the arena to try to reset things, and he was a bit better here for me (he was much better for Elaine) and Elaine noticed that I use the command "there" in a way that Craig is not used to. I have always understood "there" to mean "that is the spot I want you to stop and then turn into the sheep at," but Elaine said she'd always used "there" to mean "don't flank past that point when you're driving." Which it totally different and might explain some of the communication problems I have with Craig. So I tried using "there" her way, and while we didn't suddenly become a team to rival Bev Lambert and Pippa, it definitely made a difference. Tomorrow I think I'll spend all of my time with Craig driving in the arena practicing this and seeing if we can get back in sync. This might be the last practice session I have with the dogs before this weekend's trial—yipes!

11 comments:

Julie said...

Laura,
Is Craig intact? Some of what you're describing sounds like the same issues I had with a 7-year-old dog who had prostatitis. Kidney stones were the other thought. I hope he's okay.

J.

Laura said...

Thanks Julie. Craig is neutered--is prostatitis a possibility with neutered dogs? Also, I hadn't thought about kidney stones. I'll call my vet and see if he's ruled stones out in his diagnosis. Thanks so much for the ideas!

Tansy said...

Where is Taz stopping now for the "Getoutofthat"? Young Rafe had his "get out" problem fixed by Mr. Glen, but I believe the source of his problem was somewhat different...

Barks,
Tansy

Laura said...

He sometimes doesn't leave at all (it's as if I never said anything), and other times he'll stop after taking two or three steps. Very occasionally he'll just sort of lope around on the entire outrun, as though he's not sure if he's about to be redirected or stopped at any point. One of the things Derek said was to say flanks nicely ("invite a flank"), but when I ask him nicely, that's often when he hesitates. When I tell him to "get out of that!" I say it in a more growly voice. It has been suggested to me that I say the flank command in that same growly voice. I guess I can try it...I honestly think he is confused about what is expected of him, but I don't know how to make it any clearer...

How did Scott fix Rafe's issue? Taz's "get out of that" seems to double as a true move further out command, as well as a get going (or keep going) command. What was Rafe doing, exactly?

Samantha said...

Just catching up with your blog Laura. I can't think of any helpful suggestions for Craig but i do hope he feels better very soon.

Laura said...

Thanks Sam! Craig's been taking it easy the past few days, and seems to be enjoying his convalescence anyway ;-)

Robin French said...

You know, if he stops after taking 2 or 3 steps, i might be tempted to run at him a little and chase him off so he goes on. Also make sure to always follow up the correction or chase off with a nicely said flank command. Just a thought.

Laura said...

Okay, I'll try this Robin! Someone else told me I should treat this as though he is refusing to do what I ask and get after him for that. I have been hesitant to do that because I thought it would be sort of yelling at him for being confused, but what you suggest makes sense in that it may actually make what I want him to do clearer to him, especially if I follow it up with a nicely said flank command. Thanks for the idea!

Robin French said...

Exactly, you're correcting him for not doing what you told him, and then giving him the chance to do it again. Classic "command, correct, command" pattern. It doesn't have to be a big ugly correction, just something to break the refusal off, like jump at him or stomp or run at him and just as soon as he moves, give the nice command so he has a way to do something and "get out of trouble". He'll start to welcome the nice command since it signals he's out of trouble and gives him the chance to do it right and get back in your good graces again.

Tansy said...

Young Rafe has a lovely wide outrun, but would either stick at 11 (getouttathat) or come in flat at the top. So at the start, we'd break his line of vision to the sheep right before sending (with stick) - worked beautifully. Did not opt for shifting his entire body, not needed. Fuller description soon on blog...

Laura said...

That sounds intriguing...can't wait to read more about it!