Rain was the only dog at agility this week! Our classmates were all MIA so we ended up having what amounted to be a private lesson.
At a certain point I realized that Rain and I are the only team that has yet to miss a single class since we started in mid-April. Going to classes, while challenging, has been really good for both of us.
Having the whole hour to ourselves, we did a ton of different exercises…
- Review of “feet” with the cheese wedge (above).
- Review of “table.” We practice this every morning at the park, but Rain was having a hard time with it on this evening. Perhaps because I was grouchy at the beginning of class, perhaps because Rain’s brain wasn’t switching well from one exercise to the next yet. Hard to know.
- Random “downs.” One of the things Molly suggested I start doing with Rain is randomly having her lie down, working to where I can get her to lie down even if she’s not next to me. We’re trying to deprogram her from certain behaviors that were reinforced for six-plus years. We’re making progress, but this is part of the effort.
- Review of right and left turns. When she aced that, Molly added a new level: right and left turns with Rain facing me! Once Molly showed me how to gesticulate, we did this one pretty easily too.
- A line of four jumps. We set up a line of four jumps that spanned just about the entire length of the arena. First I made her sit and wait on one end, then I called her to come from the other end.[Rain was so fast and looked so graceful running through the jumps at top speed!] Then I had her sit and wait, then started calling her from the side of the jumps. We started with just two jumps, but instead of keeping a straight line she started slicing over to run next to me. To keep her in a line, Molly placed a piece of string cheese at the end of the jumps with Rain there to watch her do it. After I dragged Rain back to the start and we did the exercise, she kept in a line to get her cheese. Nom nom nom.
- Introduction to teeter! We’re the first in our class to get the okay to use a teeter! Apparently some dogs have some sort of bad first interaction with the teeter and it takes them months to recover. Rain and I worked at the end on the ground. while Molly held the end that was aloft. I circled her around and had her do a down on the contact area of the teeter. She did pretty well, although more practice is needed before we progress.
- Tick, tick, tick. This is another one of those agility games that has bigger ramifications than is immediately obvious. Basically I lured Rain around an orange cone while saying “tick, tick, tick” and then threw the treat away from me so Rain would drive forward away from me. Eventually the goal is to minimize or eliminate the hands and just say “tick, tick, tick” to cue the dog into motion.
- Reviewing acceleration/deceleration coming out of a tunnel. This exercise is about encouraging shadowing. If you send the dog into the tunnel, where you are when they come out the other end dictates what they do. If you’re at the end of the tunnel they just popped out of and moving forward, that’s a cue for acceleration. If you’re back where you sent them into the tunnel, that means they should double back and wait for your next physical cue…or something like that. Rain is pretty boss at shadowing—it’s sort of what Aussies do.
PHEW! Sounds like a lot, right? Rain was both mentally and physically active the entire hour of class, and when we arrived home she still had energy to spare. I, on the other hand, started class feeling a bit drained and was more than ready for bed when we got home.