An Unlikely Performance Champion

Wally's World

Agility: Week 7

Posted by shana on April 28, 2011 in Agility with No Comments

For our final week of the Intro to Obstacles agility class, we reviewed the obstacles we’ve learned, and were introduced to the Table. In agility organizations, the Table can have many uses. For Wally and I, we will see the Table in both CPE and AKC agility. In CPE agility, the table is used to stop the timer in games courses – you send the dog to the table once you have completed the course, if the dog goes to the table early, your time ends and if you haven’t completed the course requirements, you are out of luck. So, in training the table for CPE agility, you only want them to understand the cue “Table” means jump up on it, and you don’t want to overly reinforce it to the point where your dog will bee-line to the table every time they see one. For AKC, the Table rules have changed. The Table is used as a pause point in the middle of a Standard course. In the past your dog had to do a 5 second down-stay on the table, an action that is not easy for large or giant dogs as the table isn’t really big enough for them to do this without hanging off one side or multiple sides. Now your dog must stand, sit or down on the table, for 5 seconds, so it gives us big dog people more options.

The Table is an easy obstacle for the most part, and Wally enjoyed lounging on it and observing the room from his perch. We worked on a down stay, and we will see what works best for him in the future.

While we reviewed everything else, I realized the agility honeymoon is over. Remember how I mentioned he was giving me such wonderful attention in those first classes? Yeah, that’s gone. Its still better than normal, but he really wants to play with the other dogs, or go do something else. Until class is almost over he’s rather hyper and unfocused. That will improve with time, but its important for me to remember he has a long way to go and I can’t relax on working with him on the basics. He also seems to have forgotten some things. He tipped right off the teeter, in a very cartoonish way reminding me of those fainting goats, and seemed entirely baffled by the weave poles. He stopped at the exit of both the chute and the tunnel, and looked around the room like he didn’t know how he got there. What a nut.

Now we start the long road of weekly classes. We will begin with short sequences of 2-3 obstacles, and continue to improve our skills on the more complicated obstacles. I realize I may need to take a break during the summer, as the barn becomes very warm and he probably won’t enjoy working when its 80 out. I am hoping it won’t put us back too much, and maybe we will have a cool summer, spring hasn’t exactly been warm. I will need to come up with a good plan to get us through July-August when it heats up.

Agility: Week 4

Posted by shana on April 6, 2011 in Uncategorized with No Comments

Tonight I failed Wally big time. I forgot treats for class! He was appalled that all I had was a baggie of dog kibble, stale no doubt, that I found in the car once we got to class. Luckily another classmate was able to loan me some treats, which Wally approved of.

In addition to continuing to review the other obstacles, tonight was the first night with the a-frame at fully height. Wally needs more of a running start than I gave him, poor guy, so he had to really scramble to get up, and in the process scrambled right off the top onto my head. I survived, and so did he considering I broke his fall. Note to self – give a head start to the huge gorilla. Luckily he wasn’t┬átraumatized┬áby it and had no problem trying again with a better running start this time. He is also getting better about his down at the bottom, as long as I cue it in time. Handling a dog that can hear seems to be presenting me with all manner of new challenges, it makes working a deaf dog seem downright easy! Moving, thinking AND effectively talking are remarkably hard.

We are moving along with the teeter, allowing it to come down harder with more impact and sound. So far he’s doing well, although he has a hard time keeping his feet on the board and maintaining his balance as it falls. Its not easy when your natural stance puts your feet at least 12″ apart, and the teeter board is 12″ wide…

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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