Rain’s Feet: Weekly Agility Report

Whoopsie! Rain has been having so many adventures lately, we’re not keeping up. Bear with us as we’re a little behind. -Editor

The dog days of summer have hit, and the arena where agility is held has become consistently warm during our afternoon class. In fact, Friday afternoons have been so warm that I’ve been careful about exercising Rain at the park too much before class! She’s always raring to tear through the field of dried grass but after a few minutes of playing fetch I’ll put the ball in my pocket and just walk around the field, letting her sniff and explore as she will.

It’s kind of amazing how warm it can get inside the arena where our class is held. The two ends of the building have enormous openings but apparently the plastic roof panels heat the air inside just a little warmer. Along with the dampened dirt on the arena floor, done to minimize dusty kick-up, it can be uncomfortable to sit and do a few runs during a one-hour class. Of course the dogs have even more challenge, covered with fur and with just a tongue and paw pads to stay cool!

Here’s what we got out of class this week: Rain and I really need to work on her “feet” command, particularly when coming down from the A-frame.

Rain demonstrates what she’s supposed to do at the end of the A-frame.

Each time she descends the A-frame, she ends up letting gravity pull her completely to the ground. When I pause and look at her expectantly, she starts feeling around with her back legs for the A-frame and eventually she’ll get into position.

Molly paused us this week and set a new rule: no more feeling out the A-frame this way. Moving forward, any time Rain doesn’t get into the correct position at the end of a contact obstacle, I am to spin in a circle so she ends up descending a fraction of the obstacle to try again. We’re trying to teach her to get into the right position the first time, because she’s not going to be able to hang out and spend ten seconds feeling it out when she’s doing an actual course.

Will she ever do an actual course? I don’t know. She’s seven years old, after all! But we’re operating under the theory that she might do some actual agility trials at some point.

After class I took a short video that shows, as best as I could since I was running with her, the same issue.

Molly suggested practicing at home using a board, a step, or some other surface. Practicing board exercises at home has been a challenge. Perhaps this is how we got to where we are now!

We had our marching orders—what would we make of them? We’ve still had difficulty getting to practice this, but now we have frequent reminders about the need to do so. Working on getting “feet” on the first try is pretty low-hanging fruit and would improve our runs in class quite a lot, we just need to put in the time and make it happen.

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