Ice and the Table

Ice and the Table

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The table was one of the first obstacles that Ice learnt.  We used to practice it in the garage over the wet winter months.  Ice got to love the table, it was one of his favorite games.

Last night in class Ice encountered a table in sequence for the first time.  He used the table as a trampoline to the next obstacle – so much for my training over the winter.  After a couple of retries he “stuck” the table but would only sit on it, I wanted a down but decided this was not the time or place to push things as I really wanted to focus on building up Ice’s obstacle drive.

This morning I got my table out and placed it on the grass – without much effort Ice was happily being sent to the table and immediately going into a down.  He remained in the down until being released.  All the time he was on the table in the down position he’d get small cookie rewards.

My next step was to incorporate the table into a small sequence which started and ended with the Table.  The sequence went like this:

  1. Table
  2. Jump
  3. Tunnel
  4. Jump – wrap back to the tunnel.
  5. Tunnel – other entrance from #3.
  6. Jump – same jump as #2 but taken from the other side.
  7. Table – down, wait 20 seconds in the down position and then repeat.

Observations

  • Jump #4 requires a collection cue in order to get a nice tight turn back into the tunnel.  On our first run I just used deceleration as the cue to get the turn and Ice didn’t read it that well.  He took the jump a little longer that I was looking for.  On our second run I decelerated, turned into him and showed him my outside arm and hand but didn’t give a verbal jump command.  This time Ice stopped dead in his tracks in front of the jump – what a good boy!  On our third run I gave the same cue’s and added the verbal jump command and got a lovely tight turn.
  • Ice nailed the table on all three runs – he landed on it and went straight into the down, I didn’t even need to give a down command.  At the end of the training session (we only did 3 reps) I was feeling pretty good as this had been one of our best sessions so far and I started thinking what had made it different from the other sequencing sessions we had done.  In the past Ice would easily get distracted between runs, he’d wander off sniffing the grass and this didn’t happen this time.  Of course it was the introduction of the table, the course started and ended on the table, Ice values the table very highly because he gets lots of cookies on it provided he remains in a down so he doesn’t have the opportunity or desire to leave it and go sniffing.

Conclusions

  • Don’t forget verbal jump commands – Sky would benefit from these as well as Ice.
  • Incorporate the table into more of our training sessions.  It stops Ice getting distracted and the table still occurs in a lot of the venues we compete in so it’s a valuable skill to master.
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