My sweet, wonderful hubby came to agility with me tonight! I know, I’m a lucky girl! Not all hubbies would go sit in the cold to support their wifey :-)

While there, he took some awesome video and pictures. Like this one:

Running a hoopers course. Yes, I should be on the inside of the circle. I was picking my battle and focusing on keeping his drive up.

Learning to tug, our biggest downfall

Back on course

Jump through the hoop!

See how he’s lagging behind me in that last one? That’s our biggest problem – lack of drive/improper positioning. The dog should be running slightly in front of me, but Toby is not really drive-y at agility yet, so he tries to heel or stay slightly behind. My biggest goal is to get him running farther in front.

Not that we’re all bad! See how focused he is in all the photos? No running off and getting distracted. Our second run was perfect! He ran the whole time (he has never run in class before tonight) and we didn’t miss a step, met every requirement of the course.

We were running practice hoopers courses tonight. In our course there were four blue non-test hoops down the middle of the course, and three tests made up of red hoops. We ran at novice level, so you entered the course and ran through 3 non-test hoops, then picked one of the three tests (sets of hoops you had to take in a certain order forwards or backwards) to run. You then went through two non-test hoops, and ran another test. Then you ran to the finish (blue) hoop. This was interesting because, within those limits, we picked our routes. I’m proud of the route I picked, it worked well for me and Toby. It involved some kind-of-front crosses (where the dog changes from running on your left to your right or visa-versa by you crossing in front of them) where was needed, I never tripped over Toby, and he could read my body language perfectly. Very encouraging! Really made me think about how all the elements we’re learning can go together. An important skill, since this is a kind of trial!

Want to see us run? Do ya? Do ya? Here you go! This is run three, after the perfect one. Toby was starting to get tired, it’s a fairly long run for a small dog with very little rest in-between, and running and thinking concurrently (following all my subtle body cues requires a lot of focus from him) is tiring!

Look at us go! The people you hear in the background are my instructor and his wife. Did you see Toby running? Did you see how as soon as Toby started to get behind me he’d slow down/stop running? I have got to keep him pushed forward.

Did you notice how I stepped into Toby at the end and caused him to miss the finish hoop?

Did you notice how whenever “Toby” made a mistake I stayed happy and kept running and playing, and still treated and petted him at the end? How I never once yelled at or punished him? That’s because the mistakes aren’t his fault. They’re mine. Toby knows how to do everything I was asking of him. He knows how to run fast, how to turn, how to go through hoops. I’m the one responsible for telling him when and where I want all of those components!

Now, here’s our fourth run:

Did you notice how we got better?! True, he was overall slower – on the second test he trotted instead of walked some, but he was tired. This was only about a minute, maybe two, after the third run. But, while I still let him get behind me and stop at that one point, he got going again faster. And at the end I consciously ran a straight line, and he took the exit hoop like a pro!

Look at us go! We’ll be national champions in no time :-)

Also, it made my day that my instructor and his wife (and the other students) were commenting on how cute Toby is when he runs…because this is the first time they have seen him run! This was history in the making , people :-D

I love agility!


Filed under Dogs, Life

4 responses to “Agility!

  1. Stephanie

    This looks like so much fun! I know my Pomeranian would be so good at this if I could work on it with her. :) So cool!

    • It IS a TON of fun!!! You should find a course in your area and work on it! Poms are often really good. My dog is not a competitive breed, but we’ll see what we can do :-) Just find a teacher who uses positive training…preferably clicker training to my mind. There was a lot going on in those runs with how I guided Toby and kept him focused that you probably can’t see, but we were able to run without mistakes (taking the wrong hoop, going off course, running back and forth through a hoop, etc.) because of the 8 months of foundation work we did before ever attempting to do something like this!

      Have I mentioned how awesome agility is? :-D

  2. Erica

    YAY Toby! :D Good job. Also, crazy adorable.

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