After class last night on the long drive home, all I could think about was bar knocking. Kittie's not a great jumper, that's obvious, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how....why...she goes for months with just the occasional knocked bar in trials and then all of a sudden, she can't keep bars up to save her life, and then the stutter stepping starts to take over. That's the point that I start to really fall apart. Stutter stepping effects her running, it gets very hard for me, because we're running together and then all of sudden I'm a mile ahead of her, because she's still back taking tiny, tiny strides trying to figure out where to take off to jump. I reread Linda's article on Early take off syndrome http://www.awesomepaws.us/earlytakeoffsyndrome.htm and the biggest thing that jumped out and hit me like a ton of bricks was *Confidence*....dogs that stutter step do it from a lack of confidence. This makes perfect sense!
Through out this Spring, when Kittie was just Qing machine, her Q rate was high enough that if the occasional bar came down, it really wasn't a big deal, we still were getting at least one double Q each weekend. Then the big MACH weekend came, and down came a bar, I'm sure I completely deflated....I know everyone watching did. I truly think Kittie picked up on both my, and everyone in that crowds disappointment, that's when the stutter stepping started, in that run after she knocked the triple jump! and it's been with her since...no surprise, since I'm sure that was enough for Kittie to lose confidence, she's just insanely sensitive and so serious in everything she does.
So, my job now is to get her confidence back. Lots of easy jumping, with praise no matter what and big, big rewards for keeping bars up and no stutter stepping!