Agility #6

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY ARMS /rant

Today’s class was pretty good although we did have some little hiccups. I think a lot has to do with Ranger’s limited exercise since last Friday, and throw in the warmer evening. We started with having them go over some low caveletti work and then some table work. Ranger is happy to bounce on and off the table, but still needs luring into the down. I really need to work on it at home, but first need to find something to be the table. He has a pretty solid “go to your mat” so that should help us.

Jump-tunnel-jump involved him coming unglued and trying to climb/jump/stand on the tunnel entrance the first couple tries. Just full of bouncyomgicannotcontainmyself energy but we finally managed a good sequence. We’re still running into issues with him watching me or my hands and not paying attention (which I think had a lot to do with this). I end up moving like a robot with my arms by my side trying to draw no attention to them, but sometimes he still tries to come mouth them and loses his line to the next obstacle. Putting them on my stomach doesn’t help either.

His A-frame was good, but he’s fast and we weren’t using a wait before it. If I rush to get to the other side he goes faster, if I stay slow he is ahead of me and I can’t see to click as he hits the contact. I know a lot has to do with my timing and ability so we’ll trundle along. Maybe I should ask to put him in a wait before most obstacles?

Tunnel-jump-tunnel had to be broken down into a reward after each piece to slow him down and re-engage his brain. He did check out once though and bombed past the tunnel and headed for the fence…I ran (read: quickly hobbled) in the opposite direction and he came right back (this was before we broke it down).

Sometimes I watch the other people in the class and wish my dog was as slow. It’s partially that he’s the biggest dog in the class (him and one other are jumping at 16″, the rest are at 10″) so he’s obviously going to get places faster, but even the other big dog has a beautiful slow canter between obstacles while mine it creating his own squeal marks and dust clouds. I think it’s going to take us longer to get farther along (not that I care how long it takes us if/when we’re ready to trial) only because I have to learn how to do everything fast…and trying to control my brain, eyes, voice, and arms while he’s at mach 10 makes me feel like a lump.

*deep breath*

Ranger’s teeter (and eventual teeter-jump-jump) were the highlight of my class though. I use a wait command so that I can get up to the end in time (still having the instructor there to control it) and he handled it really well and wasn’t bothered by the noise. He released and popped over both jumps…apparently it’s the straightest they’ve every seen him go. I’m super happy he enjoys the teeter because when we started with the baby teeter last summer at a previous beginner agility he was terrified of the noise and we had to use pillows under the landing to soften it. Also, at least for now, his wait is fantastic.

Is it easier or harder to start agility with a fast dog? While I glance wistfully at the other people who need to encourage their dogs to pick up the pace in class I can’t help but feel a little jealous since I blink and mine would be 5 jumps ahead. This is the dog who kept taking the last two once strides as a spread jump in our last set of sessions.

Agility Class 2

With the new foster dog having to be settled beforehand, we made it to class just in time to start. Ranger was excited I think to have some personal time as he’s had to get used to me spending time with Sophie.

Our first exercise was the ladders on the ground for body awareness…my heart sank as I met the eyes of my friend who comes with us; she knows his bull in a china shop routine. It actually wasn’t too bad. He was too focused on me (as usual) but our trainer would grab his attention from in front of the equipment and he was working better by the end of it. He has issues working and staying on my right side, which is completely handler laziness since I’ve slacked on working from walking on both sides.

The rest of our warm up was good. Trainer mentioned that he tends to tuck a front leg under when laying down which may cause problems later on, so treats are now delivered on the down of a puppy pushup instead of the stand…and no treats if the leg is tucked. I’m going to keep an eye on it, but he seems to tuck both legs evenly.

We did some work on calling them through four sets of standards using their name, and their release word. Trainer still gets a kick out of BACON, but I bet no one else will ever have our release. After they were working through the standards set straight, we off set them (standing at the end facing them through the middle and went through the drill again. Ranger has no issues popping over them all and his enthusiasm to get to me is going to require my back to hurry up and heal; otherwise I’m going to be left in the dust with him.

The next line worked on was standard – tunnel- standard working by name, “tunnel”, and release cue. Ranger loves the tunnel, and also worked well staying with me off leash while we returned to the start….no self rewarding by dashing off through the tunnel on his own. While the other dogs were having their turn, he kept his attention on me in our fenced off area working on our different commands. No barking or trying to push through.

I’m so pleased with how his focus was improved in class and if we can get that same amount of focus on the ladders we will be all set.

 

 

Dog Forum Weekly Trick

The dog forum I frequent is holding a weekly training competition. Personally I think this is great because while I don’t mind working on something, I have a hard time choosing what that something should be. Last week was BOW which he already knows, but this week was something new: weaving through person’s legs. 

Back in the summer I had tried to teach this to Ranger. By a combination of my ineffectiveness as a handler and Ranger’s confusion, it didn’t go well and I had put it on the back burner. This time I think my experience working with a clicker paid off. 

Our first lesson was a mixture of luring and shaping. The end result was Ranger comfortably ducking between my legs for a treat. No verbal commands at this point. 

The second session a repeat of the first. I don’t want to push him too fast as this was something he had previously had difficulty with, but by the end I could request two weaves before treating. 

Now we’ve added it to Ranger’s list of short behaviours he can do for a treat. Once he figured it out, he started turning toward the back of me instead of the front which broke the flow. Opposite hand reward (duck through to the right, treat received by the left hand) has caused him to curve to the front eliminating that issue. 

Hoping the rest of this week will allow us to improve. Tonight’s little session in a new area with distractions was great with rewards after one, two or three weaves. I am so happy with him. 

And why another blog

Despite my failings previously to keep a blog going for more than the ‘new toy’ phase, this blog is started with the intention to record the triumphs and tribulations of my mixed breed black adopted dog, Ranger as he (and we) travel down the path of life learning along the way. 

I don’t make any promises to the order or the content. This blog has been strictly started as a way for me to have a record of our travels.