Saturday, April 13, 2013

Agility class 2.4

We arrived early, and did a few dumbbell retrieves to warm him up. We're working on adding the length of time that he's holding the dumbbell confidently, without just adding a ton of throwing distance. I've been backing up and sometimes zig zagging around, which encourages him to come to front. I slow down, but not stop, right before I take the dumbbell (with hands on both ends).

After that I played fetch with a small ball, and was happy to see him reliably bringing it back to my hand! That is something that I shaped by playing fetch in our narrow hallway, and I'm pleased that he transferred the concept to this new location. It's not natural for him to bring anything to me, because of his strong resource guarding.

The other dogs started to come in as we were playing, and I cued him to look at them, and again was so happy to see that he understood the cue, and reliably looked at them and then back at me. Woohoo!

The first exercise we did was circle work all together in a big circle, and once again I joined the group, and Cai did pretty well as long as I threw in subtle extra pace changes or turns in place to break up moments of extended heeling (beyond 4-5 seconds). The instructor called out when we should front cross, or stop and have our dogs sit or down.

We moved on to ladder work, using the dog's drive to go through the ladder to practice rear crosses in action. This was our first time doing a real rear cross. The first time, I was a bit late in rewarding and Cai spun to try to find me. The next two times, I rewarded as soon as I had moved behind him, which kept him pointed forward and then he continued on through the ladder. Perfect!

We used crate games to work on lateral distance. Cai had low drive to get to his toy (sock with liver pieces mushed into the end). I need to sew up the holes he's torn in it so that I can fill it back up with big pieces of liver. At home, I can use tug toys for this kind of thing, but in class he doesn't drive to the tug toys as well.

Next was a "don't cross me" drill, first with a toy distraction (easy for Cai because he didn't care that much about the toy), and then with a food bowl (big, big distraction, great practice).

Finally we did wobble boards. Cai is ahead of the other dogs in terms of climbing up on very high boards. The instructor put a FitPaws circular board on top of a big blue pilates disc, and it was very wobbly indeed! Cai rose to the challenge for a few reps, but it was clearly a lot of work for him to balance on it, and he tired out quickly.

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