Since our last agility class, we've had two more sessions with Tonya. Its taking a lot of effort to get this neck/back issue under control. I had the session right after the head smacking (the barn hunt tunnel injury) and I thought it would be enough. Clearly it wasn't and the time between then and when this flared up again a couple weeks ago seems to be enough for it to get deeply seated. Our session this Wednesday required the least effort. Tonya is about to go on vacation and will be gone for three weeks, so I'll have her check Gimme before she leaves.
Yesterday for agility class, Gimme did much better. We jumped low and she was quite a bit more focused. Blynn reminded me to move with determination. When Gimme is unfocused and not reliably responding to my cues, my tendency is to compensate - essentially doing more than my "share". This is similar to how I trained her when she was younger and it took a lot of Blynn's coaching to break the habit and teach Gimme to do her part. Apparently its easy for me to fall back into those habits.
Thus our first run was choppy. Gimme was working well, having fun and trying hard, but I wasn't always giving her the cues she needed. Plus when I'm compensating, then I'm also not moving out. In a motion-based handling system, not moving out does not equal good cuing.
Our second run was much better. I was determined to really move and did a bit better. One turn to a jump at the very beginning of the course was quite challenging. Gimme kept bypassing it. I finally got her on the correct side and said "jump" and she did just what I said - crashing into the uprights. I was really surprised because she normally has a very good sense of self preservation. I think she must've been so focused on me, she just followed my verbal cue without really looking where she was jumping. Otherwise the course was really nice and she was focused and doing a good job.
Here are video's from mid April, just two weeks after my hand first went kaflooey. Gimme was focused and fast and back to her usual style; probably because I felt better. We had a few challenging spots and were able to work through them nicely. My verbal cues continue to be late - it would be just as effective to leave them out entirely.
Gimme started out well, but was distracted by treats left dropped someone right near the aframe. Clearly a training hole we'll have to address at some point. She shouldn't be finding food on a course once we are in competition, but sometimes they are held at sites where classes are taught, so she could be drawn off by enticing smells left behind. Once I picked up all the treats, she did well until the 2nd to last jump - its easy to pressure her off a jump unintentionally.
She really is the smartest dog I've ever worked with. Early this year I taught her to send to a tunnel opening turned away from her and it took her a few tries then, but she figured it out quickly. We haven't seen that exercise since then, but it was in tonight's course and she aced it as if we'd just trained it recently. She rarely forgets anything.
We had difficulty with the poles because Blynn wanted me to handle it differently and I hadn't trained Gimme to the level required. I still need to work on her commitment to the poles. You'll see once she gets it right - afterward, she just does it like she'd been doing it all her life.
Between her runs, everyone was complimenting her and talking about how smart she is. They really like watching her learn things because she puzzles through it and then when she gets it, she's so obvious; like, "ohhhh, why didn't you just say so..." Then she's cocky about it. Everyone loves her attitude, and of course, how cute and pretty she is.
The second run was nice. Not a lot to comment on. Gimme was really doing her job, so all Blynn's advice was about me.