Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blogmas Day 8 - Jumping

Miley has an issue with jumping.  I don't know whether it's a depth perception problem, a straight up confidence problem, a pressure sensitivity (the uncomfortableness of passing in between the uprights), or some combination of all of the above, but she is not a fan of jumping.  Even with only a bar on the ground in between the jump standards, she wasn't comfortable "jumping."  And this doesn't show up just in performance sport related training, I see this out on the trail when we're hiking.

She's made some progress while hiking, but in training, I was stumped.  I'll admit that it's part of what had me decide to put agility training on hold for her.  She couldn't handle working with more than one jump unless the jumps and handling sequence were in a pattern that we had worked repeatedly, and I didn't change anything about my positioning or handling.  If one thing changed, she was out.  It changed the picture enough for her that she didn't want to deal with it.

Okay, so agility is on hold while we sort this out.  Except that there are jumps in obedience and rally.  So we really do need to work this problem out.

I've had her eyes CERFed, and while they are clear, they don't have a means to test for depth perception issues.  I'm also not entirely convinced that there is testing out there currently that can conclusively test depth perception in dogs, that is also backed by findings in the literature.  So ruling that out is kind of a dead end.

Confidence issue?  That I can definitely work on.  She has matured into a dog who isn't as confident as she seemed as a puppy.  How much hormones have a constant influence on that, I'll find out once her uterus has gone bye-bye. ;)

Pressure sensitivity?  I can also work on that in many little ways at home.  I do feel like this is part of the equation as she has shown a sensitivity to "tight spaces" in a variety of settings.  The closeness of the jump standards, combined with a confidence issue and hormone related variables, could definitely be part of what we're dealing with.  And maybe she just doesn't like to jump.  But I'm not ready to accept that as the answer just yet.

I started doing some very basic one jump exercises with Miley, and by default Dominic, to tackle that which I have control over.  I want her to become comfortable with a single jump.  I'm taking it down to it's most basic elements, just walking between the standards and I'll build it up from there.  Here's the video of where we're at in the few sessions (I think three) we've worked on this:

You can see that's she's not super comfortable with this exercise just yet.  And adding "height" to the jump definitely throws her off.  This training session was the first one that I added height to.  At the moment, knocking a bar is something that I will praise her for because it is otherwise something that she's very uncomfortable with.  I want to make the jump itself as inviting as possible and get her as comfortable working with it as I can.  I don't know if it's just a random coincidence, but our obedience instructor noted an obvious improvement in her jumping style at our lesson on Monday.  I'm going to take that as a sign that we should continue with this.

Up until this point, Dominic has had zero introduction to jumping.  He has no issues jumping things while we're out hiking.  Though I will admit that I wish he were a little more thoughtful about his jumping (he ended up in a drainage ditch due to one of those not looking before you leaping kind of jumps, while chasing after Miley).  But he tends to err on the side of not paying attention to his feet during training, or when excited, which is just about all the time.  So a lot of our training on various equipment is aimed at THOUGHTFUL placement of feet.  Not just OH MY GOD THIS IS EXCITING AND I WANT TO GET THE TREAT style foot placement.  In a nutshell, he has no idea what a jump standard is, so he's learning.  He doesn't fully understand what I'm asking of him, but he's getting there and it'll be fun to see the progression of his learning.

If you live the greater Portland metro area, then you're probably already hunkered down and comfortable from today's Snowmageddon.  If you're from any other part of the country, we got some snow.  And then freezing rain.  In an area that isn't used to getting snow that sticks around.  So the city basically shut down.  I was given the okay to leave work early today due to weather conditions, so I did.  And used that time to to do the above training with the dogs.  While still sober.  And now I'm going to do what any sensible, kid less adult would do in such a situation; I'm going to get back to drinking, take some selfies with my dogs and binge watch some Christmas movies.

Happy December 8th!

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