Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Agility Classes with the Boyz

Last night both boyz had agility class. I walked into class a nervous wreck because Bug slipped on ice Monday not once, but twice, WHILE ON LEASH!! Argh. That is 3 times in three weeks, and he lost his pelvis twice in the same span! I was terrified he had knocked himself out or strained his iliopsoas again, because as you all know by now I am a paranoid worrying fool!

I had spent the day trying to coordinate with Cheryl (our chiro) in case he had knocked himself out and we needed to try and see her. We do NOT want to do acupuncture and chiro on the same day anymore as it appears to be too much for Bug. If Bug refused obstacles, the options were to leave class immediately and drive to East Greenwich, RI or drive to Auburn, MA Thursday. If necessary either would have been fine with me.

The best possible outcome occurred – I was worrying needlessly. My dog was happy and very obstacle driven. YES!

Our class format has changed somewhat and I like it a lot more. Kathleen moved three of the most advanced students up to the 7 o’clock drop-in class and turned it into a six week class. Now there are 6 students and the dogs, the handlers, or both are all in roughly the same place working on fundamentals.

Last night we ran two sequences of six obstacles. First sequence was tire to curved tunnel, fx, jump, jump, jump and the tunnel (it was an a-frame/tunnel discrimination with the tunnel being nearest to the handler).

I mentioned in a previous post I am not doing a start-line behavior at the moment because I am still trying to get the boys amped up. Ike I will likely never do a start-line with. Bug eventually I would like to have it in his tool box. I started Bug straight at the tire. He tried to enter the near side of the tunnel when I wanted him to enter the far side. Kathleen stopped us and had us start again coming to the tire at an angle so the far side of the tunnel was the most obvious choice for Bug.

Very obvious handling and yet sometimes we handlers (or at least me) do not take the time to think, at all. I was pleased Bug did not take the a-frame he went right for the tunnel. I think I pulled off enough that he wasn’t tempted.

We did this sequence a second time and I was much better about starting Bug at an angle so he was successful.

The second sequence we worked on was 4 jumps, the curved tunnel, and the tire. Initially I walked the course and thought I would stick a front cross in after the jump right before the tunnel. When I ran it I ended up having Bug enter the tunnel from my side and then sending him to the tire. I commented to Kathleen that I had wanted to do a front cross between the tunnel and the last jump - she said given it was a straight away it really wasn’t appropriate nor was there time (which I discovered). She recommended a front cross before the last jump (I think). She also commented that when Bug exited the tunnel to go to the tire I wasn’t moving and his speed definitely decreased. She asked me to be at the end of the tunnel, crouch slightly, and ready to run to the tire with Bug next run.

Next run I got the front cross in where I wanted it. I was really proud of Bug because I had to trust that he was committed enough to the jump that I could move some distance away and in front of him. He did not bobble. I was also ready for him at the end of the tunnel and we did see an increase in speed.

This class I noticed that Bug is more stimulated by some of the dogs in class running. We have two other herding breeds (a Sheltie and a PWC) in class and they sometimes bark while running. If I am not paying attention Bug feels it is appropriate to bark. Hmmm. So we practiced lots of attention games and while the PWC runs I do Bug’s stretches so he is otherwise occupied.

Ike’s class is no longer a drop-in – it is now a six-week course with 5 other dogs in it, including a Standard Schnauzer who Ike spent some time trying to play with!

Our first run out was just stellar. He was so happy and fast. Kathleen said she has never seen him run so fast. It was a really smooth run and felt good. I did send him up the a-frame at the tunnel/a-frame discrimination – I did not turn strongly enough. CM just purchased 24” weave poles so we got to use them and I swear Ike moved faster through them. My stride was definitely longer and faster while he was weaving.

I am trying to remember our second run – it was the same course and I don’t think it was quite as smooth, but I didn’t slow Ike down with my confusion. I did the exact same thing with the tunnel/a-frame discrimination – forgetting to turn until it was too late.

The second course also had an a-frame/tunnel discrimination issue, but the tunnel was on the far side close to the gating and where all the students are. A lot of the dogs were choosing the a-frame over the tunnel due to the pressure of the people and also the fact that the a-frame has been so highly rewarded. Kathleen gave a nice explanation about how she continues her path-of-travel in a straight line across the path-of-travel the dog would need to take to make the a-frame regardless of whether she is 20’ behind her dog or right there. She said if you turn too soon you make the a-frame the obvious choice which makes sense.

I had a moment of complete confusion in the middle of this course – I could not remember where I was supposed to go. Kathleen reminded me I really need to reward my dog and stay up emotionally. Just because I forgot my path is not reason to be upset in any way, I have to be careful my body language doesn’t tell Ike he did something wrong. I was happy it didn’t upset Ike too badly. I REALLY need to get better about not letting getting lost bother me!

I was so pleased with Ike. Lots of new dogs and people and yet when we walked the second course and he was tied to the wall he was such a good boy. He quietly sat there. I tossed treats at him as I walked by to reward his good behavior! It’s funny because during the first walk through he was crated and he was being grumble-y; maybe because there was more activity there? Not sure.

It was a GREAT class for Ike. He is really enjoying himself and starting to turn on some speed. Linda, who has the Standard Schnauzer, came up to me after class. I met her the first summer I started trialing Ike, at an ASCA trial, in 2007 I think. She wanted to let me know what a huge difference she sees in Ike. I thought that was really sweet and I appreciated her taking the time to tell me that.


Katrin said...

that all sounds terrific! great job!

manymuddypaws said...

sounds like a great night!

Nancy and Stewie JRT said...

Sounds like you all had a blast!
Glad to hear Ike is being happy and speedy.

Blue said...

Sounds like a great night! I'm glad to hear that Bug was feeling good even after falling.

Blue said...

I just thought of this, you're taking classes at Canine Mastery, right? Are Kim and Chayse (Chayse is a yellow dog, maybe lab/husky?) in either of your classes? I'm not sure what class they'd be in.

Jules said...

Hi Blue, It doesn't ring a bell. But Kathleen also teaches Beginner Agility another Beginner Agility 2 and there are classes on Wednesdays with Erin.

Blue said...

They must be in one of the other classes. Kim is my cousin so I was wondering if you'd run into them.

101mutts said...

Sounds really great! You had a moment of Katrin's famous "handler error, feed the dog a cookie!" it sounds like. Smiles.