Ok, here are a bunch of videos, most are from last Wednesday when we would have had class. It was a beautiful day, I had some left over roast beef from a NW mock trial that had been canceled and left over bbq chicken from dinner, so I was armed and ready to go! We had a lot of fun outside.
I wanted to continue to work on the “back side jump”, where the dogs turn away from me to either go around a cone, or go behind the jump bar then land towards me. I like to practice distance, where I’m not going to the back side of the jump myself, just the dog is. But, this makes my timing and hand signals really important for clear communication. A couple times, my hand signals are wish-washy, and not very clear. The dogs give me a different behavior, and sometimes I roll with it and decide to practice it. You’ll see I reward them a lot, because after all, I was the one who was not clear!
I hope this shows us working thru mistakes, goofing around, having fun and experimenting. I could have broken the repetitions up a bit more with play… Quattro was happy to chase and bring back his “blue stick”, Coach was more about the roast beef than his “soccer ball”! But whether it’s chasing a toy or chasing and hunting tossed treats, take a break from the focus and direction, and let them do something a little more mindless and freeing.
With Coach, I wanted him to walk alongside me to where we were going to work. Since he knew Quattro had been out there before him, it was really difficult to keep his attention! But I know I need to work on this a bit more with both dogs. If your dog is not in control heading to the start line, are they focused and in control when you start the course? I want them excited, but not out of their minds! As you can see, Coach and I have more work to do on the way IN to the work area… he is a perfect gentleman on the way OUT of the working area.
The last videos are from today. I did several repetitions before I thought to pull the camera out, but basically I wanted to work on control (stay as I ran around hiding their favorite toys) and a quick release off the start line (being released to “Go!” and hunt for their toys). Since it was snowy out, I didn’t want to risk them slipping doing jumps or turns, but thought this would be a good skill for agility. This can come in handy in agility at start lines. We’ve had to work up to this point, starting w/ less distance, and there were more than a few times that they broke their stay and I had to “catch” them verbally and with body language. I REALLY try not to grab them or drag them, it has to be on THEM to hold the stay. In an agility trial, you cannot touch your dog once the leash is off and they are on the start line! The reward is the hunt and the catch – ie, finding their toy. Coach like to prance around w/ his soccer ball, sometimes play tug, and Quattro likes to either run around w/ his blue stick, or drop it and back away so I can throw it. I’m still being careful of his back leg, worried he may have a partial tear in his knee, that has kept us out of agility class all season. Just in the last 2 weeks have I let him come on trail walks off leash, and just started to do this more active type training in the back yard. So I really tried to limit throwing the toy, which was a challenge for me, because I see how much he likes it! Anyway, I wanted to show some other activities you can do in the snow.
Hopefully you get some inspiration to get out and play with your dogs! Especially once the snow melts again… no torn CCLs, please!