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Yesterday I took Duke up to the Houston Area Dock Dog facility to practice off an official dock dog ramp. With one week to go before the competition at College Station a lot of dogs came to practice so we were limited to a 3 minute session and then had to wait until everyone had jumped before we got another round.
Unfortunately Duke did not do well in his first session and would not jump. I sent him off the return ramp OK but he refused to jump off the dock. The second session was even worse. After another good leap off the return ramp I took him back up on the dock but did not pull the sliding gate completely to the end of the dock. When I threw his bumper Duke ran down and attempted to jump from the dock to the return ramp. He caught the ramp with his front paws causing him to go butt first into the water. He sunk a good foot under water before he popped up and like a good boy he did swim down to retrieve his bumper.
At that point I was thinking of not taking him to the competition. I watched one of the regulars helping out a first timer and he said you first build confidence to jump, then work on speed, then work on height. I felt Duke had lost all confidence and had become affraid of the dock so I stuck around for a third session to hopefully restore his confidence.
This time I planned to just let Duke jump from the return ramp and he did so several times with gusto. The trainer suggested that I try to get him more excited and reved up before throwing the bumper so I took him back up on the dock for one last attempt.
This time I really teased him with the bumper and had him leaping after it and when I thought he was totally obsessed with getting the bumper I ran down the dock with Duke in pursuit and Duke leaped out a nice distance. Two more times he did the same so I think I found the way to hit his go button.
Hoipefully at next weeks competition I will be allowed to let him first leap off the ramp a couple of times for practice before we have the official jump.
Of course if he decides not to jump that's OK. Maybe I'll jump for him.:D
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