Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Agility Class

Last night Bug and I attended our first agility class at Canine Mastery. Due to Bug’s lack of generalizing when it comes to contacts I wanted to put him in a class where the contacts do not have rubber!

Kathleen, the instructor, lowered the A-Frame and we worked on having him run it. She did say that the A-Frame is a bit slippery, so I kept that in mind. Initially Bug said, “um, no thanks.” Then he would run up the contact area and immediately turn around. Kathleen had me pick him up and put him up much higher on the frame facing down. After that, while still needing some cheerleading, he was successful and offering to run up the A-frame. Kathleen would toss the treats forward onto the ground as he finished the A-Frame and Bug thought that was a great game.

The course was more AKC-style, for example it included an ugly wrap and general lack of flow in the course. Take that with a grain of salt, I am used to NADAC where flow is important.

First run through Bug bypassed the tire. This is a piece of equipment he has not seen a ton of. I neglected to treat him after he took it correctly. Bad handler!

He has a very nice table. Our table default is a down. When we got to the A-Frame/tunnel discrimination, Bug was meant to take the tunnel and given where I was he really should have – but he started doing the A-Frame. Goober. That’s okay – I want him to love contacts – especially contacts without rubber.

Next run through Kathleen suggested I have him do the A-Frame instead of the tunnel – what did he do but choose the tunnel. Like I said, goober! I called him back and we tried again.

The two biggest pieces I took from class are:

1. Don’t treat Bug from my hand. Kathleen said Bug and I are adjusting our speed for each other and treating him from my hand is just reinforcing he doesn’t need to run fast - or he only needs to run as fast as I am. I had string cheese cut into discs and Kathleen recommended tossing it to get his prey drive kicking. The flooring is black mat so the white cheese is very visible. The only bad thing (i.e. bad handler) is that a couple of times I tossed the treat before he had committed and completed the obstacle. Um, it becomes a lure instead of a reward with early release, Julie! I have to work on my timing and tossing confidence (this seems to be a recurring issue - why do I resist practicing my throwing?). But I can see how it will help Bug stop worrying about where I am and drive ahead.

2. Work on my “Go.” This is something we worked on in one of Katrin’s foundation classes and haven’t practiced or kept up on it.

Also, I wonder if some of Bug's A-frame issue is rear-end strength? I find that hard to believe considering the muscles he has back there. Maybe he doesn't know how to USE those muscles? I will start doing more ball work, backing up (which is also good for sheep), and stool work. It can't hurt, right?

Bug is SO fast when he is frapping or playing with the sheep. However, I don’t see that in agility and I think it is totally my fault.

I plan on doing some “Go” work. If the weather stays wet it will be inside. I might use the Manner’s Minder. I also need to start working on his weaves now that the iliopsoas injury has resolved itself. I will have to be careful NOT to practice daily – maybe every two days?

Either way, it was a good class and I have some things to think about and work on. I was also impressed by how focused Bug was with a whole new group of dogs and humans.

Oh! And Ike has been asking for a job. I think he wants to do agility again (but ONLY in class). I asked Cheryl to ask him and she confirmed he would like to do agility again, just NO TRIALING. So, I am going to bring Ike on Tuesdays and attend Kathleen’s drop-in class (which is after Bug’s).


Red Dog Mom said...

Sam and I used to take lessons with Kathleen at Canine Mastery too. Be sure to tell her that Bug is related to Sam and Hi from Dina and Sam.

Jules said...

Cool! I will. Is your Sam the cardi that turned Katrin onto cardis? and in turn her dog Monty turned me onto them!

Sara said...

I like the tossing treats idea to keep the movement going.

Can't wait to hear about Ike's agility classes :)

101mutts said...

Still think you need to be TAGteached to throw properly!

Red Dog Mom said...

Yup, my Sam is the guilty party :) If you come to the PA National, Sam should be there. I hope to have him in the veteran classes.