Friday, November 6, 2009

Chute Teeter

Thanks to my travel schedule (India + 2 more short trips this month), right now I'm not taking any training classes.  Sometimes  I go a bit "adrift" when I'm traveling a lot and not taking classes, but I'm trying to change that.

So what am I doing?  I've decided to concentrate on Ziggy until the next set of classes starts up.  To improve his agility preparedness, I'm working on a few obstacles that are easy to work on in the basement (the frost and short days have come to the Midwest, making it hard to train outside).  The obstacles we're working on:  Chute, Teeter & Tunnels

Ziggy was really not a big fan of the chute in his beginning class.  He never got to the point of doing this obstacle without someone holding the chute open.  And, being a Cardi, he was suspicious of that woman at the end of the chute (just what is she up to?), so went slow, to boot.  In the past, this has been an obstacle I've struggled to train at home, as holding the chute open requires a helper.  I love them dearly, but The Husband and The Child are really not the best training helpers (Husband = disintersted; Child = unreliable and easily distracted).  So what's a girl to do?

I was stumped until I ran across a short article in Clean Run magazine.  The author suggested using a collapsible  yard waste bin to hold the chute open.  Great idea!  And, it involves a trip to Lowes - what could be better?

Unfortunately, Lowes didn't have a collapsible yard waste bin.  So I decided to wander around the store to see if anything else would work.  After much time wandering (I'm easily distracted in Lowes - so many things we could do to the house!), I figured it out - a rope handled utility tote! (found in the storage aisle near the trash cans):

I brought the tote home and cut the bottom out of it using a utility knife w/ a new blade.  I then cut the rim off of half the top so it wouldn't sit up so high.

Finally, I used duct tape of of the cut edges to make sure that the Cardis (or The Child) didn't get snagged/cut/injured on the cut plastic.  Or maybe I did it because I just love duct tape.  You decide.

Here's what it looks like "installed" in the chute.  I'm using the sandbags to keep it from shifting too much (it still does a bit, but not enough to bug the Z), and the small clamp to keep the fabric from shifting.

Here's the "full chute" view:

The tote can be moved with the sandbags (or shifted more into the tail of the chute - towards the entrance) to open the chute up more - giving the Cardi a more clear view of where they're going.

Here's a Cardi-eye view with the chute mostly collapsed:

So how is it working?  REALLY well.  I took Ziggy downstairs and did a few clicks & treats (throwing the treats a bit forward into the chute) when he showed interest in the chute entrance.  After a few times of that, he ran right through!  I clicked when he hit resistance from the top of the chute, and treated when he made his way out.  Ziggy already likes the tunnel, and I think being able to see "daylight" at the end made him more confident.

After a few tries with it open, I slowly moved the tote at the end so that no daylight could be seen, and Ziggy had to push his way through a few feet of chute.  He was happy and smiling and wagging the whole time, so we quit there for the day.  I plan to work on it a bit every day, slowly moving the tote until he can push all the way through.  What fun!

Ziggy and I are continuing the work we were doing in class.  We're working with a lowered teeter (you can see how high it is in the background of the 2nd to last photo - behind the chute - we've worked our way up to this height).  I've adjusted the teeter so that it doesn't pop back into position after the dog is done.  This allows us to run (what fun it is to go fast over the teeter!) back and forth over the teeter.  We're working on this so that Ziggy gets used to the banging and the dropping motion of the teeter, all while continuing to move on the teeter (instead of stopping at the middle & riding it down).  Z has always gotten clicks & treats on the teeter, so he thinks this is really cool.

Maggie had a slow teeter performance.  She was VERY consistent and seemed to enjoy it, but she stopped shortly after the pivot point to let the teeter go to the ground before she'd move again.  This is my fault (I trained her this way) not hers.  I didn't want to make the same mistake with Ziggy, and lose precious time on obstacles, so I'm trying a different method this time.

If I ever get more of the basement cleaned out, I'll start working on jump grids again.  I'll let you know when I get that done....

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