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Agility’s Fun!

On Friday of last week, Abby and I went to agility class again. I had managed to work one-on-one with Abby two or three times last week, and she really seemed to enjoy doing it. (Whether that’s due to her fondness for work, her pleasure at spending more time with me, or her love of those salmon treats we sell on our website , I dunno. With luck, perhaps a combination of all three.)

When we got to Edie’s house, she had a bunch of agility pieces set up in her yard next to her training building. Because of the gorgeous weather and a couple of absences that afternoon, Edie decided that we’d just work on the pieces. And she selected me and Abby to go first.

The first piece we did was the high walk. Edie suggested that I be cautious because lots of dogs are anxious about going up that narrow (8"?) board and walking along it, but Abby trotted right up it like she’d been doing it all her life…not neglecting to each the copious amounts of salmost treats being left along the way to motivate her. We did that a couple of times and it was clear that it wasn’t going to be a problem for Abby.

Then we moved over to the A-frame, which Edie had lowered from the rather steep angle it will have in a trial to a more moderate 45° or a little less. Abby thought that it was strange to have to climb up something that steep, but she wasn’t at all worried about it. Again, the treats were an added bonus, but I think she had fun on the A-frame as well as on the high walk.

Next, we tried out the teeter-totter (what a strange word!). Abby walked right up the board without a problem. When she crossed the mid-point, there was a treat just ahead for her to target…at the "push point", where the weight of the dog should just cause the board to raise up behind her and go down in front. Edie and Cynthia kept putting treats out and gently lowered the board to the ground. And Abby thought it was wonderful. So we did it again. And, again, no problem.

A little later, Abby and I did it by ourselves. This time, she noticed that the board was moving and it startled her. It was apparently OK when some person was in charge of it moving, but not so much when it moved on its own :) We did it a couple of times, without much change in result, so Edie came over to work with us. After a couple more tries, Abby decided that she’d lie down at the push point so she’d be more stable, and that seemed to do the trick. This coming Friday, we’ll see whether she remembers being anxious, or remembers having fun. Fingers crossed!

During the week, though, I’ve got to work with her on several things, including "targeting". For those of you who don’t train regularly, targeting is getting the dog to go to, touch, sniff, lie down on, sit on, or otherwise focus attention onto a target of some sort. For Abby, I’m starting off with something like a plastic bowl lid about 6" (15cm) in diameter. Some dogs use a pad and lie down on it. I just want Abby to stick her nose down to the lid. (Putting a treat in it is a great way to make that happen!) The purpose (in this situation) is so she’ll stop instead of just racing off the end of the piece.

I’m really glad that I adopted this little girl! Not that I wasn’t already glad, but it’s really fun that she’s interested in doing some work, too. It’s so much fun to see her thinking about things — "Now what does daddy want me to do? And what’s in it for me?" :)

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2 comments to Agility’s Fun!

  • Harleysmom

    That’s great Jim!! You and Abby certainly seem like a bonded pair. It’s sure easy to love those little ones. Abby is a special little girl and lucky to have found you.
    Gil and I loved agility too, but given the chance, Gils main interest was marking!! (uh oh!) Not really what we want. I just ran out of time to work Gil. Abby is a great little dog. Good luck!

  • Yay Abby and Jim! I knew you two were going to have a great time doing agility! :-) Sounds like you’re learning alot already.

    As for targeting. I’m a huge fan of it. Once the dogs understand that concept it is such a useful tool in some many different situations. I find it interesting in working with my dogs that some like to target with their foot more than with their nose. Rogue and Layla prefer to “hit it” with their foot, while Raven likes to “touch” with her nose. Fun to watch their different personalitites.

    Can’t wait for more updates…

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