It was a sunny summer afternoon. Finally! My mom decided to come to class with us again. It was shaping up to be one of our more enjoyable agility sessions.
We took the alternate route and had a splendid time.
When we arrived at the big park to burn time and energy before class, we discovered the grass in the entire place had been mowed. It smelled sweet and refreshing.
I had forgotten to bring a ball for fetch, so I walked around the field while Rain ran circles around me. (It’s what Aussies do!) I took off running to get Rain to chase me, then suddenly switched directions to keep her on her toes. Eventually she did find a spare ball in the grass and we played although it had been sliced a bit with the mower.
Soon enough Rain’s tongue was hanging out of her mouth and it was about time to scoot to class.
We began class by showing Molly how far we had gotten on the circus elephant exercise. (Rain isn’t there yet—she seems to have hit a bit of a wall.) Then we worked on an exercise encouraging the dogs to go around the side of a jump (set very low) in order to get treats. We’d done variations on this for some time, so Rain was acing it. The next step for us was to walk near jumps to see if Rain would offer the behavior in order to get a treat.
She did! A LOT. In fact, we were standing near a group of jumps for the rest of class, and Ms. Smartie kept stretching her leash in order to do another low jump to get a cookie.
It wasn’t part of the agility curriculum, but I ran with another training suggestion Molly gave. We’re starting to work on “sit pretty.” Starting in a sit, you sloooowly bring a cookie above their head until their front paws lift off the ground. Sit pretty! She’s not an expert yet, but this exercise also builds ab strength and balance—great things for agility training.
If you’re not familiar with agility obstacles, a few of them have markings called the contact zone. These are often at the ends of an obstacle, and indicate where a dog needs to come in contact with the obstacle while climbing on or pushing off. It’s for safety! Missing a contact zone leads to point deduction and could lead to injury.
Molly introduced an exercise using a short piece of board that will feed in to making sure dogs don’t miss the contact zone. It starts by rewarding the dog for having their front paws on the ground, their back paws on an object. Eventually it will translate into a dog being able to stand with two paws on, two paws off obstacles like the dog walk (which we got an introduction to last week) and the A-frame. It looks a little something like this.
Then we were done for another week! Without a ball to play with in the back pens, we didn’t stay for very long afterward before heading home.
Additional photos by Sharon “Mom” Andrews.