Friday, April 15, 2011

Week 2 Agility & Obedience

Tuesday was week two of our "Next Steps Foundation" agility class. As soon as I got home from work I took Leo and Vegas out for a walk. Since our class doesn't start until 8pm, we had a decent chunk of time. Boy were they gung-ho to go! Vegas was full steam ahead, walking almost faster than I could keep up, and Leo, bless his giant heart and tiny little legs, kept up! One hour and several miles later, we made it back home - dry! - and had just about 20 minutes to class.

We started off the class by each warming up on the obstacles of our preference. Most everything was set out. I think the only thing not set up at the beginning of the class was the weave poles. We jumped straight onto the teeter and Leo took it at full height a half dozen times at least. I was so proud of him!

We went around practicing other things, jump sequences (There were five set up in a circle.), the a-frame, the table, the dog walk, and some tunnels. And we returned to the teeter. We're not over our issue, but we're building confidence. When it drops behind him he still flinches and or jumps a foot. He jumps when others go over it and it drops. All of it is a building process, but he's doing well!

About halfway through our class period we started working on a sequence. It was nice and open, a bunch of obstacles that spanned three of the four sides of the barn. If memory serves we had two jumps to the a-frame, a tunnel, a jump, the dog walk, the table, the weaves, and the teeter. Autumn wanted us to try a lead out on the jumps. Leo did well the first time. The second and third time he was quite the pill. Believe it or not, jumps seem to be his biggest issue right now. I can't quite figure it. He's only jumping eight inches but he wants to go around the jumps. It's the strangest thing and I really need to spend some time building some jumps and using the jump cups a bought a while back so they're adjustable. I want him to love the jumps because, in AKC, we'd be toast for refusals. Anyway, I don't expect to do AKC until late in the year if not in 2012, but it's an issue for sure. I have confidence he'll work through it just fine though.

Thursday was obedience class. I really didn't feel like going; have just been super tired and over-stressed at work, but I'm so glad we went! After last week's class I wondered what little dog I would show up with. The boys were with me so I headed in while they pottied Leo. When he came in he was surprisingly disinterested in me and wanted to sniff around. We were about 10 minutes early so the other class was still there. Once I got our stuff settled, he and I worked on some heeling around the outside of the ring, attention during heeling, and his halts. He was doing really well - so well he halted with my every step and stop. When the other class cleared out, there were just two of us left! The PWD was out of town on business and the Beagle decided they weren't ready for such a class yet. So with just two of us it was a really productive class! We did one step heeling and rewards for maintaining focus. We worked on our halts. We did recalls and a bunch of drills and games to try, practice, and learn better focus and attention on heeling. Oh, and the boys and the other handler's grandson made fabulous "posts" as we took turns working the dogs off-lead in heeling patterns around them. Surprisingly, Leo did well off lead and was really trying to keep up and stay in position. I was totally impressed! The thing I'm finding most difficult is keeping an "eye" on him without looking for him. He's so small and far down!

The boys were also helpful with stand for exams and Laurie was awesome in teaching them. Her Briard, Belle, was an excellent demo dog and got to come out quite a bit during class. I was very proud of my boys for being such willing helpers and they weren't at all negative about the class on the drive to their dad's afterward. I have a lot of things to work on and now just need time to do so! However, I'm super pleased with how the class went and Leo's attitude during it. Having lots of positive, quiet, uneventful, and rewarding experiences with our obedience education is super important right now!

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