Anyway, last week we worked on our perspective (the handlers) in dealing with courses, this week we worked on some foundation sequences for dogs. These common and important sequences are:
- A "jump chute," i.e. 5 jumps (in this instance) in a straight line at 20 foot spacing - a 120 foot run. The reason it is important to practice this is because it isn't exactly natural for a dog to run in a straight line; I have noticed this when dogs play. Katrin pointed out that in a lot of novice courses the course will end with a straight shot and a tunnel off to the side, for example, and people don't understand why their dog takes an off course. Well, it's because they haven't been taught to run in a straight line! Katrin set up ring barriers to create an actual chute.
Ike was not freaked out by the jump chute at all. He ran his little tush off, until the third time we ran it, when I did a complete face plant into the sawdust. To illustrate how incredibly far Ike has come, he was not freaked out by me falling flat on my face AT ALL, he stuck his nose through the ring gate to make sure I was okay. Gods, that makes me laugh. Katrin was amazed that I made it this far without ever falling like that before. I was talking to John about it last night and, duh, the reason I never took a fall like that before is because Ike used to be SLOW AS MOLASSES! I have a very nice sawdust/clothing burn on my hip. Wah! But nothing broken, or ripped, and no freaked out dog. Thumbs up!
- The closed tunnel, commonly known as the chute. Ha-ha, one of Ike's FAVORITE obstacles! Apparently, for dogs that actually do the chute quickly, it is not uncommon for them to come out of the chute at an angle towards the handler (they can hear the voice but can't see anything). The dog coming out of the chute at an angle and the handler continuing to move in a straight line can cause a major collision. Katrin set up a tunnel immediately following the chute to try and teach the dog to continue to move in a straight line after the chute.
The first attempt through the chute Ike said, uh - this isn't a tunnel. After that he was fine. Poor Ike, Katrin pointed out that I stomp my feet while he is in the chute and I don't do this at any other time. Hmm...I ran it again consciously trying to run nimbly with no stomping and Katrin said he was quicker. I think I must stomp my feet because I want Ike to know where I am....maybe? Stomping my feet, or attempting to sound like a herd of elephants was an unconscious action and I will try very hard NOT to do it in the future - especially if it makes/allows Ike move faster.
- Splicing jumps! Let's see if I get this correct. The jumps are angled, but the dog takes the most direct, straight route by jumping a straight line over the angled jumps. There must be a better way to describe this!
Ike did this beautifully! I am so proud of him that he remembers this from the one time he has done it in the past - very cool! Also, I have been asking him for some "start-line stays" and he has no issue complying. Yay, Ike!
- Jump at a 90 degree angle to the teeter. Dog has forward momentum going but must make a sharp left or right turn in order to take the teeter.
Again, hooray Ike - all our teeter work is paying off. Last night this was set up with the dog taking the tunnel, jump 90 degrees to the right, and teeter 90 degrees to the right. Ike handled this sequence really well. The final time we did this Katrin had me move out from the teeter a bit and not go past the mid-point. Ike was actually faster than usual. hmm!
A fun class. To check out the course drawing, visit Katrin's blog.
I REALLY feel like staying in Continuing On was the best thing I have ever done for Ike and ME. I agreed with Katrin that staying in Continuing On was the best decision for Ike, but I think it is better for me, too. I feel like I am learning so much - that everything is sticking much better than last year. Maybe it is because I understand the act of running a course with my dog better, so by focusing on these foundation pieces we have a really concrete understanding of them?
Last year I was going from Agility-for-Fun to training for competition and I guess I was more overwhelmed than I realized. Of course, thinking back I do recall being somewhat depressed after classes when it felt like maybe agility wasn't for us. Ah, my refrain for 2007 is, I can't believe how far we've come. And, I am such a dork, the exciting thing is we can keep growing.