Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Be Aware... Be Very Aware...

We had a fantastic lesson with Linda tonight. Gilda, it seems, prefers it when no one but us shows up for class!

We started with some Rear Cross exercises which are simple in theory but feel very awkward to perform. When I do get my part right, Gilda knows exactly where to go and what to do. I continue to be amazed by this...

Which leads me right to my take-away lesson for tonight: To be a good handler, you must learn to be very aware of your body position and movement and the cues they are sending to your dog.

For me, this is not easy! I am hoping that like so many things in life, practice will make it come more naturally. Tonight, for instance, we were running a Jump Jump Tunnel Jump Jump sequence with a rear cross to the tunnel. Linda said, "You don't need to run to the end of the tunnel and wait. You want to beat her to the last jump."

For those of you who have not seen Gilda move, she is a fast dog. For those of you who have not seen me move, I am a slow person. Therefore, all I could think of was "beat her to the last jump" so when Gilda entered the tunnel, I took off running for the last jump yelling "Hup" along the way but not looking back at Gilda who dutifully followed right behind me skipping all the jumps!

On the next attempt, I concentrated more on my movements and made sure to catch Gilda's eye as she came out of the tunnel and like magic, she made both jumps!

It is truly astounding what Agility dogs pick up on naturally. I am often left feeling like my dog is a whole lot smarter than me...

After working her pretty diligently on Rear Crosses, we did some sequencing work which is fun for both of us. Here, I need to be aware of my arm movements as I often tend to throw them outward and then drop them to my side. I think Linda calls this "floppy arms" or maybe "sloppy arms". No matter as they are both!

Best of all, Gilda & I were able to demonstrate for Linda just how far Gilda's Teeter has come! I should clarify that this is her AU Teeter. I really get the feeling that she won't like anyone else's Teeter for quite awhile! Gilda did great at a pretty respectable height. We now have her at the maximum height for Jungle Gym and we are just a few links away from working at regulation height for the actual Teeter obstacle. She is now excited about performing her Jungle Gym Teeter and is willing to walk back and forth repeatedly. We will  need to work like this for a few more practices before actually naming the obstacle and asking for a 2o2o. With this great success on the Teeter, I think it's time to really start attacking those Weave Poles!!!!

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