Wednesday, 31 August 2016

An Agility Dog she is then

We're looking forward to Gillingham Show again this year. Last year we somehow found ourselves saying we would have this little girl.

Now a year on I am pushing on with her agility training. Getting a terrier cross to do agility with was not our thoughts. TBH we still have no idea what our thoughts were but hey ho sometimes what will be will be.

We don't generally do much training with our youngsters. Ideally that should be not much equipment training but realistically it somehow becomes no training.

Pikachu did go to a couple of puppy classes though and graduated from NTU too.

Other than that she has been working on waits and play and eating. Well mostly eating if she can.

Then her first birthday happened and as she is no way a lap dog she is going to be an agility dog.

I have done bits and pieces here and there but not any proper training sessions. Today I thought right lets get on with it.

The following clips are her definitely getting on with it. OMG she is amazing.

She works for tug, she works for treats and she works for tennis balls. What more can you ask for. She likes to go fast, she likes to perform a task, she likes to go fast, she likes to jump and did I mention she likes to go fast.

Small jumping sequence for a ball.

She has done a bit of just doing one jump either as a recall from a sit or a send on to and back to a toy. This is the first day I have done this set up. I did it twice on the other side and then this is the best clip and the first time we did it this way. 

Waiting is something I have done loads of with her. I believed she was very strong on it. Then I discovered in front of a jump that if I did it from a tug as soon I took the tug away she completely disengaged. I tried practicing taking the tug and rewarding quickly with a treat but would still get a off switch look. I tried just using treats and as soon as I passed the wing she would disappear off in the other direction. I thought it was something I was doing differently in front of a jump than I had been doing without one. Sure enough she will wait no problem with no obstacle in front of her but that's not much fun. 

Luckily I had discovered that she loved tennis balls. One tennis ball is pointless as it only has one use. Once it's thrown it is never coming back. Two tennis balls however are great fun and she will continue to play with me until I can gain procession of both balls again. Armed with two balls I can get her to sit on the start and she maintains concentration to enable me to do a start line like I want.

If I try to analyse then I think the tug option is going from tug to dead toy and it seems to annoy her that we have had great fun tugging and then I'm taking it away??

Food makes her think of more food and there is always food of some sort in the grass at our field - treats dropped by my students, by me, by Mark, pheasant droppings, hedgehog droppings etc etc. So why bother waiting to get some from me.

Balls however are in the hands of the beholder and whilst I am holding them I have the power.

She also loves the chase at the end. I say if you throw the toy you must run so I run towards her until she gets that ball then turn and run to throw the other ball for her when she catches me.

Seesaw to target for food.

This is the first time I have put a target at the end of the seesaw. I have done targeting to my hand and a disc indoors on a low step.
She has done the seesaw several times - usually when I am moving it and have hold of the up end. She loves running up it as fast as she can to get to my face or onto my shoulders. Not what I am generally wanting for a seesaw performance so best get on with it in a more controlled way.

Her attitude is perfect for agility. I think we will have to work on this a bit to ensure she can or wants to stay on while it tips but am more than happy as this for a starting point.


Pikachu loved running along on top of the tunnel especially when I was moving it about and could balance on it with amazing dexterity. I managed to avoid her being able to get into a situation that allowed her to do this for a while. 

I had a theory that if a dog didn't do tunnels it would not be any good at agility in the long term. This theory was supported by many a dog over the years of training that were not successful at the tunnel initially then dropping out of class. 

Basically it is usually such a simple piece of equipment then if your dog can't learn it (or you can't help them do it) then they/you aren't of the right mindset. 

Hence followed a few panic stricken sessions of trying to get her to go through the tunnel instead of climbing on it. Mark thought I was worrying about nothing. I left it for a while and then did a few recalls through it with Mark's help and hadn't done much since. 

I am very happy to have my theory dispelled and pleased she now understands the correct way to do pipe tunnels.

This clip also shows me using the tug as a reward. In this sequence I was asking her to come to me not drive away and I find tugging is great for that as opposed to throwing her ball which allows her to drive away from me. 

Running Contacts (blink and you'll miss them)

Well Rhyme had running contacts for one show before they scared the bejesus out of me and I decided to ask him to stop instead. He has a lovely stop so I am going to start teaching Pikachu running confident if a stop is then required I can add one. I am trying a different method though for a variety of reasons. 

This is her first time running a plank which was a few days ago. I haven't done any more yet.

A bit much all in one session but it totally confirms we have ourselves a small agility dog to have fun with next year :) :) 

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