Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mesa & the Weave Poles: Take 2

You might remember my post about Mesa attending "Weave Pole Boot Camp" back in April. Well, she was doing great--weaving all 12 poles in line, hitting 90-degree entrances off of jumps, and allowing me to run a good distance parallel with her while she weaved. She was displaying great form. with fast hops between the poles.

That is until we took it back to Sandra's and worked on the in-line weaves there. She'd run by the first few poles, then hop in and finish the rest. Or, she'd just do a middle set. Or, she'd just run right by them. This was frustrating to me because I couldn't understand why she can do the poles perfectly at home in the back yard, but go somewhere else (even some place she's been training in almost every week since November) and she can't nail her entries. This is when Merinda told me I needed to work her in different places and to start moving around with the weave poles. This was foreign to me because Dally never needed this. I worked her mainly at the BFO field when we started out, and she has been just fine. That's when I get reminded (time and time again): Mesa is a totally different dog from Dally.

So what to do? For the past week, I've been learning Susan Garrett's 2x2 Weave Poles, thanks to the video Merinda loaned to me. I've walked Mesa through the steps, this time working in many different places: a new spot in our back yard, my parents' garage and front yard (during a 3-day visit last week), the local park, and Sandra's. It's been hard for me understand all of the training involved, and since Mesa wasn't started on shaping and offering behaviors like other younger dogs from our group, I knew we could be at a disadvantage.

But some how one day it clicked. I've been doing my best to be patient and not lure Mesa into the entrances, like Garrett warns against. I have to admit, there have been a few times that I was just getting frustrated and once Mesa made one positive move, I'd treat her and we'd be done.

Another small frustration is the lack of the 2x2 weave poles. I've been using my stake-in-the-ground weaves and mimicking the set-up that uses the real 2x2s. In the beginning, I was using a 3-pole base that my dad had made for me while I was training Dally for weaves in my small apartment--it was a set of six, but with it divided in half, and only at 20 inches (as opposed to the 24-inch spacing in competition weave poles now). I used these for the initial training on our concrete slab/porch in the back yard, that way I could throw the treats on the reward line and it'd be easier for Mesa to follow. But now we're working in the yard with the stake-in-the-grounds, so finding the treats is a little harder, but still doable. Plus, I was having to figure out distances and make sure my poles were set up like they should be if I were using the standard 2x2 pole bases.

I'm lucky enough to use the standard 2x2 weave pole bases at Sandra's, which I did Monday and Tuesday of this week, so that has been a big help.

Today at lunch we were able to get the four weave poles in line. A few times Mesa missed the entrance, but then she'd get it. Now to keep working the entrance and arc, all while hopefully adding the third set of two weave poles for six in line Thursday on our lunch. Then Mesa will have a three day break from weaves as she sets off for her last conformation show in Cincinnati Friday through Monday, so I'm hoping she'll come back Monday afternoon ready to weave six and move on to "double sixes" as Garrett calls it.

My goal is to hopefully translate this success to her having the same success anywhere we go to weave: the park, Sandra's, mom and dad's, a TRIAL... She's entered in her first AKC agility trial June 10-12, which is outdoors and hosted by my dad's kennel club. I'm really hoping we can nail these weaves down by then and she'll be able to post a few Qs that weekend in her big debut. Then we can move on and get the ball rolling on what I hope will be a promising agility career for Mesa--12 weave poles and all!

Anyone else have experience with 2x2 weave poles?