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Ups and downs…

Here we are, after a great 2014, beginning 2015 with some downs, and perhaps a few ups.

Krypto’s tissue adhesion has been taken care of and we are working on building/improving his hind legs muscular mass.

Two weeks ago we also went for a training session and a friend helped us video some grids and analyze them. I came home with a heavy heart and the realization that Krypto was using his front to power up for jumps, instead of his rear. And that his jumping arc was therefore inverted because of that. This jumping style also explains the stutter stepping and the getting lower and lower to the ground to then push up with head and neck to take the jump. This of course adds up to his propensity to take off early.

One of the things my friend mentioned  was that I should start considering the possibility of moving down to 16 specials if I do not succeed in resolving this issue.

I came home in a very blue mood, thinking of what I could do to work through this new challenge. I do not want to go to 16 specials. I like too much competing in 22 regular. And, going down to 16″ would not solve the issue.

I decided I had to put Krypto in situations that forced him to use his hind paws. And I realized that I had to go back to basics and that perhaps Linda Mecklenbourg’s book “Developing Jumping Skills” was just what we needed. And anyways, it would not hurt.

Unlike Susan Salo’s puppy and foundation work, where the take off position is always set up for the dog, and where the handler’s position is not taken into consideration both for collection and extension exercises, Linda’s foundation works through all that. How to teach the proper jumping style, how to teach to collect, how to evaluate take off position and landing position, how to read the handlers positional cues.

Reading Linda’s book helped me brighten up and think that perhaps we can make it. She underlines the fact that while a dog that has only and always jumped “inverted” will unlikely learn to jump with a proper rounded/curved style, there are dogs that may switch from one style to the other depending on the handler’s cues, the course, their mood, and so on. Those dogs can be taught/reminded to jump with a proper style. And looking back at Krypto’s videos, even the ones taken two weeks ago, he does jump both inverted and curved, although I have no idea why. That was reassuring.

Another issue we have, is the early take off. Krypto really enjoys “launching”.

This is what I found about early take off, among other thoughts, in http://speedoggie.blogspot.ca/2011/10/another-way-of-looking-at-early-take.html:
“We asked Dr. Zink whether she felt that it was possible that ETS was caused or exacerbated by certain training methods and she responded that,
I do think that this is the case. And I have only come to this belief recently. With my own dog, once she was mature and I lost a little weight, I started to push her for speed. Certainly we both were capable of moving faster over the ground. But that is when she started to take off earlier. I believe that this was because she was trying harder, running faster and as a result failing to realize that she still had to collect her strides before the jump. The harder she ran the sooner she took off. By retraining her to collect her stride, her jumping problem resolved. But it took about 3 months, and still requires ongoing training to remind her to collect. “”

I know very well that Krypto has a hard time collecting. Could this be the cause of his launching? Definitely worth exploring this possibility since teaching collection is also going to teach him a nice rounded jumping style. To this end, I have started re-training his jumping style following, albeit not literally, the Linda M. method.

This is a video of Krypto jumping a single at 22″, taken yesterday. I am supposed to invite him to the jump and he has to end in heel position. His distance from the jump has to be progressively increased to 15 feet and then my distance from the jump has to be varied as well. Unfortunately I had forgotten my treats and the reward placing is not as it should be. I will not forget the treats next time we go train!

This is his striding to the spread at 22″, from the same training session:

Meanwhile we have started working on the striding for our other project: running A-frame as per Rachel Sanders’ method. From the video (see below), I realize I have rewarded some wrong passes. I am definitely the weakest link as it is very hard to see live if he actually hits the box. Next time I will put coloured wraps around Krypto’s paws and I will bring my pipe box which is better than on the ground poles, placed there because I had forgotten the pipe box. I am quite happy of how this project is coming along though.

While we work on these two projects: jumping and running A-frame, we are not trialling. I am hoping that by the fall we’ll be back. I am not sure whether Krypto’s jumping will have improved by then. I hope so.

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