Friday, February 20, 2009

No right turns allowed

This past Saturday we had practice at a temporary new field in Morrisville, NC. A new field near Claremont is in the works, but they have just cleared it, evened it out and seeded it so it's not functional yet.

In obedience, we first did a long down while Mike was working his rottie Jazz. I used the remote a little heeling onto the field, but then not at all. Kane did well. He had a line on which I was loosely holding about 10 ft away.
He looked at me most of the time, unless Jazz was running and then he looked at him. Yeay! :-)

On our obedience, the feedback from friends was that during our turn on the field, Kane was very forged. (This means that he had his head and front wrapped around me, resulting in his butt being swung out and not parallell with my body.) This also forces his body into my every time I bend my left knee.
The suggestions were to only do left turns for a little while when working obedience during the week. Left turns will force my knee to bump him HARD and eventually he will stay away from it.
Another suggestion was to use a long stick and lightly smack his left back flank to make him straighten out more.

We did a little heeling during our walk on Monday morning (@ 5:30am), and he was not forged at all. So I wondered if the stress of having the remote collar on, and the stress of being in the long down, makes him forge because it's a way for him to have body contact with me as much as possible??

I posed this question to some good friends, and here's a collection of their answers:

C: Hey, just because you’re awake enough to do OB at 5:30am doesn’t mean your dog is! He was probably in correct position because he was tired and wanted to go back to bed, poor Kane. You’re never going to ask me anything again are you?
I know when correction comes with my dog he does in fact want more body contact with me. This became very apparent when I was correcting him for crowding and it produced worse crowding. I had to use the prong collar very gently and correct him straight away from my body and even give a light verbal ah-ah as I corrected to help him get the point. The forging baffles me a little, but you seemed to relate it to his way of having more body contact, so that would make sense. The only other time my dog will crowd and actually will forge is when he’s in very high drive and doesn’t want to contain himself. This is a very different picture than when he’s leaning on me because of corrections. Can you tell the difference with Kane? Is he more or less drivey on the SchH field or at home? As for a solution, I agree with the left turn theory. You can also take your right knee and raise it, cut across your body (left leg) and knee Kane in the chest/under the chin. Just whatever you do, make sure you get the desired response and then reward for it quickly. Make the left turns, sudden halts, or knee kick a game so he wants to fix himself and get a reward. If the problem is stemming from the e-collar correction, it’s all the more important that your “fix” be a game. Even slowing down your walk and givingvery gentle prong tugs while saying ah-ah might do the trick.

J: . . . you know how dogs revert to old habits that you've fixed when they're under stress? Maybe whether from the long down or the new field, Kane was going back to his old bad ways because he was less comfortable than he was on your walk this morning?

J: (after many e-mails back and forth asking questions about whether I had a ball in my vest-pocket at practice (yes) and whether I had a ball on Monday morning (no) and whether I was wearing the vest on Monday morning (no)
You could try practicing on your walk with the schutzhund vest and ball in it and see what happens. I'm sure he can smell the ball

I would try what Carrie and the people at the club suggested to you but would also teach a side heel and a backward heel so that he doesn't anticipate the heel as always a moving forward or a turn but rather he thinks where your left is and what it is doing.
I don't know Kane well enough to say whether a nick from an e-collar would make him forge or a strange place would affect him.
Some dogs will touch you on the heel to avoid loosing your leg from being corrected until they figure out that it doesn't help them as you turn into them and bump them as you move your leg up and over a little.
I would also let him know maybe a command to fix it. I use close with mine and usually start that as I move to the side or step backwards and want them to follow that leg. I would reward right away for the position as soon as he came into it.
When you heel him and have the ball have you taught him to work with proper heel position with the ball in front of him? Where he can see the ball and still hold eye contact on you.
He shouldn't break a heel position even if the ball or other distraction is in plan view but be focussed on you.
If that's the case I would go back to teaching him a "game" that the toy is yours and he works for it while it's in his view. That way regardless of what you are wearing or where the toy or food is his attention is on you.

Don't I just have some awesome friends with great advice?! Without them, I'd be so lost.

On another note, we (well, Kane) ran three blinds at practice which was new. Here's a small pictorial of that. Up until now, we have only been running two blinds so he's gotten used to the helper being in the second blind. It was amusing to see his face when he came around the second blind expecting the helper. :-)

Here we are at the start. Me pointing out the blind.

On his way into blind # 2...See the excitement on his face?
"I'm gonna get this guy......"

Still excited....coming into blind # 2

"Where the heck did he go????!!!???"

"Aaahhh....there he is!"

"I'm coming to get you, Jack! Just you wait!"