Here is what both my Wednesday Pre Intermediate class and my Thursday Upper Beginner classes did this week. My goal was, to quote animal trainer Bob Bailey, do something “simple but not easy”. Two jumps and a tire, that’s it? Two posts and a set of 6 weave poles? But I think you found that the short sequences did require some thought… on how to position yourself and your dog, and they required you to be on your game as far as timing went.
I tried to put some comments on the videos, things I either didn’t notice live, or were hard to articulate quickly, that stand out when you slow down the video. I need someone to do this for me and my dogs! I have to get my tripod set up and video some of my practice sessions with them, because you really see a lot more watching it back. Things that in the moment have you frustrated with your dog for doing (or not doing), that when you watch it back, you realize, he did exactly what you told him to do! I know I owe my dogs a lot of apologies… Quattro is famous for taking off sniffing the floor when he senses my frustration (which is usually with myself, not directed at him, but he still feels it) You’ll hear me comment a couple times when we see the dogs drift off sniffing the floor. Remember to stay upbeat and interesting, don’t take yourself or the mistakes too seriously. Our dogs are only doing what they think we want them to do, and sometimes, we are not very clear, or, we inadvertently tell them one thing when we mean another. Talk about demotivating for a dog!
Agility is so much about timing and direction. Of course, the dogs (other than Jenny) are still learning how to perform the obstacles, but for the “easier” obstacles, like our opening of 2 jumps and a tire, it’s all about timing and direction. For an experienced dog like mini Schnauzer Jenny, Carol doesn’t have to be as obvious with her hand signals, Jenny just uses muscle memory and experience to guide her, as much as Carol’s placement in relation to the obstacles and Jenny. There are still things to learn, however! That is what makes agility so fun and challenging… a simple sequence (jump jump tire) can use a lot of mental calories for you AND your dog to figure out. Since both of these classes are relatively small, you get a lot of runs – which is great! But, watch out for mental fatigue – from both your dog and yourself! I know on Wednesday nights, when I am running Coach in class at 7:30p, I’ve usually done a private lesson, taught the 5:30 class, run Quattro in the 6:30 class and then have to have the mental energy, timing and patience to run Coach – who at this point, has been in the crate in the car since 4p! Figuring out how to motivate and stay focused is as important as running the course, so you’ll see I left some blooper ready moments in there.
For the Pre Int class, we may do more of the jump posts and weave poles combo… I really like the flow you can get into with your dog, it helps them learn to wrap the post tightly (for when you want them doing a jump and changing direction right after it) and you get to work the poles from both your right and left sides. I think the dogs enjoy the groove you both get into 🙂
For the Thursday class, we’ll do something that requires a little less thinking on your part next week. I know when I am really focusing, everything slows down for my dog, and my heavy concentration can sometimes cause him to doubt himself. Once you are confident in what you’re doing, you will see your dogs become more confident.
I put both classes videos here, since you pretty much did the same program. Happy viewing!