Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Did You Say, Linda?

Yet another great class for Gilda! She was happy to be at Dog School and was eager to play Agility. We started with a brief Shadow Handling warm up with a few Jumps. We are back to warming up on leash but Gilda is focused and is not flying off after Jumps so we'll try moving back to off-leash next week. (Linda says 60-120 seconds is all the warm up needed for a stressy dog)

{Typical Scenario:
Pico's ready, Gilda's worried...}

We began class with a 'Happy Game': Linda called Gilda to a Table and used a C/T. I then moved so that a Tire was between us and called Gilda to me. She left the table and went under the Tunnel so no C/T. When Linda called her, she correctly jumped through the Tire and onto the Table. I moved and she was able to correctly leave Linda's table, jump through the Tire and onto the Table near me for a C/T. Smart girl, Gilda!

Next we tried a new exercise: 2 U-shaped tunnels were set side by side so that all 4 entrances were lined up. A Jump was set up in front of the tunnels. I was to guide Gilda in a Jump-Tunnel-Jump-Tunnel as many times as possible using any or all of the tunnel entrances with the single Jump. Gilda did well... I got stressed out... Before my stress adversely affected Gilda, we moved along to sequencing!

We Backchained a short sequence and then ran it in both directions: Tire, A-Frame, Tunnel (Front Cross), Jump, Jump. Gilda did well... I began a new idiosyncrasy of switching treats from hand to hand depending on which hand I needed to signal with. All of this fumbling around was not conducive to clean, clear handling! Linda pointed this out (a few times), and I continued to do it without realizing! [Adult learners may be more motivated to learn but some of us have difficulty overriding our previously learned tendencies!! Either that or we just like to challenge Linda's patience...]

During the process of analyzing the sequence, I learned 2 little tidbits that I think will really help me with my handling:

1. In its simplest version: When the dog goes through the Tunnel or the Chute, they will exit the obstacle looking for the handler on the same side that they entered the obstacle. Ex: If your dog enters the Tunnel off of your right, they will exit the tunnel on a left lead looking to their left to find you. Simple right?

2. The dog will always naturally turn toward the side the handler is on. This is important when deciding how to most efficiently navigate a course or in our case, a few obstacles: Gilda was to enter the long side of a J-shaped Tunnel off of my right side. When she exited, I wanted her to make a 45 degree left turn to perform 2 Jumps which slightly curved to the right. My first inclination was to keep her on my right out of the tunnel and over the jumps. Linda demonstrated that by performing a Front Cross after Gilda entered the Tunnel, I could pick her up on my left and use her natural tendency to curve toward me (in this case right, the same direction the Jumps were curving) to send her over the Jumps! (If I had kept her on my right side, her tendency would be to curve toward me or left and I'd be trying to push her over the jumps to the right). Simple and Amazing.

I am thinking that Linda's probably said these 2 things to me many times over the months she's worked with us but I wasn't able to process them until now. {Thank goodness she's a patient soul}


Each time Gilda ends class happy and I've learned something is a HUGE success for our little team!

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