Monday, July 9, 2012

Our 1st Agility Lesson EVER with Pam Johnson!

I first want to give a huge shout out to Pamela Johnson of Pam's Dog Academy in San Diego (read her blog here).  She gave Dolce and me our 1st lesson in agility yesterday at her school in La Mesa, CA.  We had a wonderful time, she was a terrific instructor -- very patient when I got what I call "foot stupid," and helped me learn where I was going.  I wanted to wait to really train Dolce in agility until we could have lessons to do it right the first time.  Our next lesson with Pam (most likely freestyle this time) will be Tuesday, the 17th.  

My 9 years of ballet training and 10+ years of horseback riding & horse training are definitely going to come in handy for all these dog sports!

We have a few exercises to practice.  The first was what I would call gymnastics.  There are 3 jumps in a row, about 1 stride apart.  Unfortunately, it was quite hot in the sun, and Dolce tried taking the path of least resistance at first, rather than jumping them without my luring hand.  He got it in no time, though!  My beloved husband was kind enough to get this on video...

From there, we did 4 jumps in a + plus-sign + shape.  Our job was to go around them with me standing stationary in the middle, using the arm closest to the jumps to guide Dolce over.  He really wants to be next to me, but he caught on pretty quickly, only needing a reward after each successful full-circle.  We took breaks while Pam demonstrated the next exercises with her beautiful and well-trained border collie, Twix.  Unfortunately, no video this time. :(

The third exercise involved me sending Dolce over one jump, then bringing him back around in a half-circle to a jump right next to it, facing the same way.  We did this in both directions, facing frontwards and backwards.  Again, no video. :(

The fourth exercise was sort of complicated for my footwork & armwork, but I caught on!  We used 4 jumps in a square to practice going over 2 of them, then turning to go over another 2.  Hooray, here's the YouTube video!  When Rick was heading back to take this video, Dolce followed him.  Dolce liked to check on everyone before he started the exercises.  I think he was saying, "Are you going to watch???"  But we need to be careful, or he'll go off-course to check on everyone in the audience at trials!

The fifth exercise started Dolce on send outs.  We started out with a 2 jump setup like the gymnastics in the first one.  We put Dolce in front of the end jump (jumping only 1 jump at first), and let him watch Rick put treats in a frisbee on the ground shortly after the jump.  When Dolce was really amped to get to the treats, I released him saying, "Over!"  He jumped the jump the first time like a pro, didn't even consider going around, which was a bit of a challenge before.  We worked our way back until we were behind the first jump, so now he had to jump 2 jumps to get to the frisbee treats.  He did it a few times perfectly, and we called it a day!  Sorry, no video here, either. :(

Overall, I think he has huge potential.  Pam guesses he'd probably have to jump 16" in competition and we set the jumps to only 12".  Considering the first activity Dolce came up with when we first brought him home was a mad one-man relay race of jumping over the back of the sofa to land on the seat cushion before getting to the floor, then reversing and going again, I don't think 16" will be a problem when we know our jobs and are more in sync.

So that really cheap agility set we got on Amazon?  What we can actually use out of it is the tunnel/chute (maybe on the chute), 6 weave poles, and the 1 PVC jump.  The tire jump is ridiculously cheap material.  So, we're getting 4 Clip & Go Agility Ready Jumps, like Pam's... So excited!

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