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Ido and I had our first agility class with a new instructor/facility last Monday. As some of you know, my life has been tossed around a lot the past year or so, and since that single 5 week course we took waaaaay back in Oct, Ido has not laid eyes on a piece of agility equipment since. I was apprehensive, as my description as to what Ido was capable of was a bit...well, uncertain. I knew from past experience she could *do* many of the obstacles I asked of her last October. Her off leash manners and etiquette are exemplary. She follows direction well and is very eager to work and learn. But, there was the issue that she'd not been around anything agility-wise in over a year. Therefore, the instructor was unsure of where to fit us in. Hoping we would not be too far behind, he stuck us in Monday night's class, a group of people just finishing up the first 8 weeks of agility training. Having only 5 weeks of guidance over a year ago, I must admit I was a bit intimidated...but willing and eager to see what we could do.


What on earth was I worried about? Ido had this all under control! LoL.


First thing, within ten minutes Ido learned to follow the back of my left hand on the command 'close' and the back of my right hand on the command 'side'...This was a bit of a challenge for us initially, because the instructor's typical method involved a smear of canned cheese on the back of the hand to get the dog to follow. Well, Ido has inflammatory bowel disease. Cheese is out of the question. Cheerios, on the other hand, are not. Of course, by the end of the night, my finger dexterity improved twofold having to balance cheerios between my fingertips and release them according to when Ido earned her reward or to keep her focus. Luckily, Ido is a fast learner, and seems to get more reward out of pleasing me than cheerios. Food has never been the biggest motivator for her. Her desire to please has always been outstanding!


Ido did everything I asked of her as though she'd been born to it. Her trepidation with the teeter is still there, and she needs a refresher course with the chute. (In our first class, she loved it! I don't think she yet remembers that the fabric does indeed open on the other side. Like most things, I don't doubt it will only take one time showing her before she'll be darting through it with all enthusiasm. Unfortunately we did not have time for this last Monday.)


I really like this instructor. He puts a huge amount of emphasis on the use of body language and hand signals. He will also not hesitate to call you out on what you're doing wrong. He was respectful of my dog's special dietary needs, and did not seem to get exasperated and continue to offer her other food rewards as my last trainer did. His training methods are also more geared towards having FUN while still learning what it takes to compete, which is ultimately what I want to do.


This week, Ido and I have been working on 'End'...our 'two on, two off' cue for contacts, as well as 'Close' and 'Side'...the weather has put a damper on our ability to practice outside, but I am compromising with the use of stairs and foot stools. :D I have also begun clicker training with all my dogs, and I am swept away by the possibilities. I am commissioning my significant other to build us a dog walk that I may use to practice with, as well as a teeter board to increase Ido's comfort level over the ground shifting beneath her feet.


This is addicting. :rolleyes: I am so excited about the possibilities this opens to both myself and my other dogs!

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I loved your descriptions- it sounds like you both had a lot of fun. The command "close" - how or when do you use that? Cody and I have had 3 classes- I am still really trying to figure this out. This week we are working on turns - unfortunately I cannot remember the proper terms. I am so glad that you had a great experience. :rolleyes:

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Hold you hand out from your side, palm out...so that the back of your hand would be facing the dog at your side. Getting Ido to follow the back of my hand has strengthened her ability to read what obstacles I am trying to guide her towards. When she pops out of a tunnel, her eyes are already on what hand I have out, and it helps adjust her position as I call out 'Side' or 'Close'...she will either be on my left or right side.


Its really helped our communication so far...

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Sounds great! I am working on those commands with Maya also. I use Side (right side) and Here (left side), Karen Holik did a foundation seminar at my club a while back that I went to, and she has an article about how to train it on her website.


here it is if you are interested.




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Glad you had fun at agility class ! You can use your couch for the 2o2o with his rear up on the couch. And you can make yourself a wobble board to strengthen his muscles and build confidence when the ground "moves" beneath his feet.

Just make it into a big game and in no time , you will have him jumping on the wobble board. If you need to see the wobble board to get a idea on how to build one , check out cleanrun.com , they will give you good ideas on the tippy plank too. Both easily made at home. ( just type in wobble board or tippy plank when in cleanrun ).

Dont move fast in training , remember to breathe and have fun.


Enjoy and good luck :rolleyes:

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I have also begun clicker training with all my dogs, and I am swept away by the possibilities. I am commissioning my significant other to build us a dog walk that I may use to practice with, as well as a teeter board to increase Ido's comfort level over the ground shifting beneath her feet.


Oh dear..... :D . You know once you have one piece of equipment it will never stop. I started with an A-Frame just for practice and now we have a dog walk, wweave poles, teeter,tunnel, table and a full set of jumps. :rolleyes:


Look up "shaping" it is all basically done with a clicker. It really creates your dogs to become "thinking" dogs and the possibilities of what you can teach them are endless! Sometimes when the dogs get bored we will sit down to do a free shaping lesson, i have no goals in mind or even any idea of what i will teach my dogs so i just go with whatever my dogs offer me and we always end up with a new trick or something nifty. I have not found a reason yet as to why people would disagree with shaping and the clicker in certain applications. You can teach many things complicated through shaping that would be hard to teach a dog forcefully. The lessons are less stress, the dog retains the information better because it is thinking for itself and it is way more fun.


You can even begin to chain behaviours together. Myla started our first chained behaviours a little while ago. It is her Bang! Your Dead trick. It comprises of her standing up when i point and say bang! she will left her front right paw (i think) and limp a few steps, then she drops and crawls to infront of me then rolls on her side and covers her face with her paws. Now that's a party trick! All of that took less than 3 lessons to chain together and only 10mins to teach each trick separately and over time we just proofed them. Good luck! I always love when people discover what they and their dogs can really accomplish together :D

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Definatley start backchaining your contacts ( if thats what your instructor teaches you )

Just think about getting Ido to do his (2o2o) on the couch during commercial breaks and he'll have it down in no time.... :D


Wow, a newbie to agility..... once you start , you never stop ! :rolleyes:

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