The Listen to Her!! Zopa Plan

Megan’s input…”it will go away just like that if you keep going like ‘this’.”

Zopa’s current working limit is 6 minutes, as demonstrated in Novice/Open Handling. For now, while doing ‘this’ training avoid techniques that break connection. Stick to straight lines, front crosses, false turns and rear crosses. Work reverse spins and blind crosses in very short segments, 2 – 3 obstacles.

Never stop running with a dog you’re trying to convince agility is her career path. Reward often and randomly, doing no more than 4 – 5 obstacles between rewards. Do not stop running to correct mistakes. Have a Big Party after each work session.

She leaves for several reasons. She’s paired leash removal with permission to walkabout. She loves to sniff. She spots a person in her work space. She simply cannot work anymore. I have disconnected from her, showing her the back of my head. She needs a break. Listen to Her!! and determine what’s going on and adjust.

Going back to foundations… Leash Games. Ask her to put her head through the loop and remain engaged when it comes off. Always, always reward for leash removal. I have struggled with leash removal. My dogs’ hair gets in the way and my fingers aren’t nibble. Lori showed me a great solution, the “Ready?! Leash Game”. Pull the leash up behind the ears, put a bit of tension on it, “Ready?!” and the dog pulls out of the leash.

When she leaves me on course wait for her to check-in and start running away picking up where we left off, so to speak. While waiting for the check-in either stay in position or run away. Immediately reward when she comes to me; for example one jump and toss the toy…which rewards her for both joining me and working.

Listen to Her!! Let her sniff. Don’t take the leash off until she has chosen to engage. She can do all the sniffing she wants on leash. Wait her out on the startline. She may not do all the sniffing she wants off leash. This is a fine line, yikes. Wait her out. Run from her. Go pick her up literally, put the leash back on and try again.  When she is with me, but lays down telling me needs a break let her, reward her for being with me, ask for a hand touch and move on quickly rewarding after the next obstacle. Put the leash on and give her a break, either on the course or outside. Ah! The Art of Training!


Notes from the sessions as well as notes taken while reviewing video from which this is compiled:
The Zopa Plan is elaborated upon and summed up succinctly in International Handling. As Megan worked with us through out the weekend, got to understand us a bit, she tweaked things. Specific Zopa notes from this first session…randomize The Leash Game…when she leaves, then comes back put the leash on and take a break (talk, pet, play)…leash comes off, keep rewarding…intent is to break the pattern that I’ve created…
The Zopa Plan is expanded upon and summed up in International Handling ~ Zopa. Notes from this session…
~ reward after 4-5 obstacles…when she ‘leaves’ wait for her to check-in, ‘pick her up’ (not physically but as start running with her) and go. While waiting for the check-in either stay in position or ‘run’ away. Immediately reward when she comes with you. For example, one jump and toss the toy. Have a Big Reward (her treat bag filled) and party after each session.
Never stop running with a dog you’re trying to convince that agility is her career path. If I make a mistake, keep running!
Whew! Watch this video. Megan determined Zopa’s new working limit is six minutes. I’m suppose to expand on that.
Tip! No chasing. No grabbing.
From International Handling
Reward vigorously…like every obstacle
She disengaged immediately when leash came off…did a short walk-about of ~ 7 seconds…Megan said put leash back on and try again…this time don’t take leash off unless she’s looking at you…she can do all the sniffing she wants…just stand there like a tree and wait…after *forever*… it was one minute and 40 seconds!!!…she looked at me, came to me and went up on her hind legs…Megan said to tell her to sit…tell her to sniff some more “okay, go sniff”…see if she reengages sooner…she did!…within 7 seconds..including offering her cute down…totally engaged…leash off while feeding…quickly moved to her other side so we could take off running…she took two obastacles, she disconnected (I think) but was back within 4 seconds fully engaged…rewarded her…she chose to disconnect…Megan said I could go pick her up…thinking she meant ‘pick her up running’…Megan said, “I believe her”…???…as in she needs a break…???…let her have the break…???…picked her up on the run…jumped and refused the tunnel…or didn’t see the entrance…disconnected…my fault…she came back running to me and the tunnel in 13 seconds…run, run, run!…connect…hit the next jump (which was a wrap) and kept going straight…keep going!!…call, call, call!! …she took the next jump and came back still running ‘with’ me…got to the send to the back…my back was to her…we disconnected…’there she is!’…send to the back and rewarded…Picked it up from there, sending to the back and continuing. Had her for 5 jumps until I did a reverse spin…she continued forward…but returned within seconds never having ‘left’ me…after the reward she headed to the corner for 7 seconds and came back running so I picked her up and kept running…miscued the reverse wrap as she blasted through the tunnel…rewarded by tossing toy at the end of the tunnel…she ran to the toy dancing and prancing and playing with me…OMG!!…Megan says come back to the start and start over again…we ran together back to the beginning and without breaking our ‘run’ we started…Megan said, “I don’t care if the handling is shit, just stay connected.”…we did until she jumped the sixth obstacle…she circled back to check it out…Megan said, “that’s okay, keep working it, the nose id doing it, wait.”…she came back in 9 seconds…she came back but laid down to tell me she had to take a break…she took treats but stayed laying down…Megan had me ask for another behavior like a hand touch…got her up and we did a push to the backside, over the next jump and I tossed the toy…she came to me so happy, dancing and getting rewarded…after getting rewarded she left for 10 seconds…Megan had us do a little bit more…straight ending…it was four jumps and the tunnel…at the far corner jump she left briefly, circled and came back to me…reward!!…went through the tunnel…tossed toy…danced in celebration…I looked at Megan and Zopa went on a 15 second walkabout before running to me…rewarded and leashed her.
Megan’s input…she thought she did super and that it’s not about the handling…”it will go away just like that if you keep going like ‘this’.” “when you’re doing ‘this training’ avoid the techniques that break connection” (reverse spin she goes away)…”stick to straight lines, front crosses, rear crosses to increase the length of time she’ll work”…work reverse spins, blind crosses, german turns is very short segments with two or three obstacles, two or three minutes…when increasing the amount of obstacles she’s doing cut down on the disconnect techniques…
I asked for clarification about the leash coming back on if she’s disconnected at the start…yes, she’s fine with the dog sniffing but the dog isn’t going to have the whole area to go on a sniffabout…they are only having sniffing access to what is around them on leash
From Novice/Open Handling
when she catches sight of another person, she turns away from that person
Megan went and stood in the vicinity of 1,2,3,4…if Zopa stayed running I was to reward after 4; if she went the other way I was to wait…when she looks at me and starts coming to me, mark that Yes! Good Girl!!..could pick her up and do one jump…reward…Zopa stopped and looked at Megan between #2 and #3, I waited, she joined me…rewarded over #4…party at the leash…We can work together for 6 minutes…I mentioned stopping when it’s good. Megan said she wants to stop when it is great.
Commitment to Jumps
use leash to give her a little break…randomize…for example if the dog’s limit is 5-6 reps, randomize 2,4,1,2,3,6…objective is to elongate her working timeframe

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