I never did blog about agility class last week, but I'm going to do it belatedly... and then brag about tonight. I did mention in another blog about making a special effort to get to class sooner for an extra walk AND I'm getting her from the car sooner for our turns so we have extra time to get focused.
Its interesting how much better she did on the first run than she had been doing. She still had her initial distraction, but it was much shorter. I'd been editing out about a minute and this time was less than 20 seconds. There were less distractions following error points. Overall the first session was pretty good and Blynn was able to focus on some of my handling.
Note the rousing play session. I did edit out the discussion with Blynn about my experimenting with play. I thought Gimme would like to win the tug by getting it away from me and had tried it the week before. What I found is she really prefers to have me holding up my end - when she gets it away from me she just hangs out close by and waits for me to grab it and re-engage. So I was experimenting by letting her pull me around using the toy. After this tug session, she doesn't really engage with it again, though she seems to want to. I think its just hard to tug when she's hot and panting...
The "3rd time is a charm" refers to Blynn getting my handling right, at which point Gimme did a great job and was moving out. Then Blynn fixed my handling for the turn to the aframe and naturally Gimme was brilliant then. ☺
071014A Agility Class
The second session was a jumpers course set up outside on grass in a fenced agility yard. Because of the setup, I was able to have Gimme out nearby for a long time before we went in for our turn. I had our matt and she was able to "chill" for me and get copious quantities of treats. By the time it was our turn, she was less concerned about the other dogs. However...
She was still distracted by the new setting and the presence of other dogs outside the ring. I used ping-pong treats to get her more focused. Of course, the first jump aimed her right at where a couple people were standing with their dogs... she would see them, loose focus and drift in that direction, missing the turn to the second jump. She wasn't fence fighting or reacting, just loosing focus. It took three tries to get the second jump and I played with her for a reward and to hold her attention. At one point Blynn said something about it not being my handling and so I told her about the dogs there. She started over, directing them to move and I said not to... I wanted Gimme to have the opportunity to work through this challenge. It took five tries to get all three of the first jumps, but given the setting, I was very happy with her for figuring it out.
After that the course just flowed and you'll hear the cheering in the background from my classmates about how fast Gimme was. Too often they don't get to see what I know this girl is capable of, so its nice to hear their appreciation when they do see it. They are a nice supportive group.
The second time we ran the course, Gimme paid no attention to the other dogs. It was so cool to see her totally dismiss the distraction/concern once she had worked through it. I love that about her - the way once she gets something, she pretty much has it from then on. (Tire jump notwithstanding)
One thing I've noticed and think is strange... Gimme will not permit physical/vertical play from Grafton - she gets quite incensed at his attempts. He has a great time teasing her with it, just to make her squeal at him with her high pitched girlie voice. Yet she seems to really like it from me. I've been using it quite a bit and she really responds well to it. Perhaps its because I'm not a dog and she's not a dog, but Grafton clearly is a dog. Who knows...
Anyway, my brag is - drum roll please - Tonight when we went outside for the jumpers course, despite the second jump pointing her directly toward dogs standing in the same place (even a little closer) and Gimme paid no attention to them. I'm sure we have a long way to go, but these two classes give me the most hope to believe she'll one day be able to compete in agility. I can't wait to show you the video.