An Unlikely Performance Champion

Wally's World

Agility: Week 1

Posted by shana on March 16, 2011 in Agility with No Comments


Tonight was our first agility class. We have tinkered on a few obstacles at a local training barn, but for the most part he hasn’t done anything on equipment. Our first class is a 7-week Intro to Obstacles class where we teach the dogs the basics of how to do the obstacles safely. There are four other dogs in our class, an Aussie, a Springer, a Viszla, and a heeler mix. With the exception of the Aussie, who Wally knows from obedience classes, the other dogs are new to him. They also are reactive to dogs. So we all must be mindful of where our dogs are at. The beauty of agility is almost all dogs learn to focus on the course and forget the dogs on the sidelines, even when they aren’t good with other dogs.

We worked on the tire jump, the tunnel, and the a-frame set at about half height. We need to jump the tire jump at about 12″, higher than I want him jumping regular jumps, but because he has to jump through a 24″ hole its easier on his body to jump a bit higher so he doesn’t have to duck down. And since he won’t be jumping it very often, its not a big deal. He leaps off furniture and through the yard, jumping higher than 12″ to do so, a few times in class every couple of weeks won’t hurt him. The tunnel was done short and straight. And the a-frame set with the apex roughly 3 feet off the ground.

Wally was amazing at it all. And the most stunning part was how focused he was on me. Never in all the time I’ve worked with him over the last year, in classes, at home, on walks, has he ever been so completely engaged. He loved it! At the end of every obstacle he would look up at me with such joy, and what seemed like amazement, if I could put into words what he was thinking, I imagine it was that this stuff was so fun and so cool and he couldn’t believe he was going through tubes and over tall objects and through round jumps. He was tired by the end of class, but so happy, I nearly cried! I had expected him to have fun, but I had not expected the connection we had. I’ve had little glimmers of that in obedience and conformation, where his brain turns on and he engages with me, but it lasts, if I’m lucky, a few seconds longer than a minute. To go a full hour long class with him engaged was amazing. Simply amazing. I think he is going to be an awesome agility dog. He’s taking to it like he was born for it!

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Agility: Week 7

For our final week of the Intro to Obstacles agility class, we reviewed the obstacles we'v...

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A Note From Shana:

This blog is a journal to record my progress in training a Tibetan Mastiff, known for their independent and untrainable nature, to compete at the highest levels of AKC Agility and Obedience. Succeed or fail, my hope is our journey is inspirational to my fellow TM owners, as well as a source of humor and humility for dog lovers everywhere.

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