Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back to Basics

Agility class is back in session and I'm already behind on blogging!

{Gilda & Sunshine}

{Pico & Sunshine}

We are now back to lessons with Jessica with Gilda & Pico each in their own class.
A little background: Gilda has been in Agility classes for 2 years now but has had a somewhat unorthodox path due to: 1) her novice handler 2) her reactivity issues and 3) her lack of 'confidence'.
Like many dog handlers who are new to Agility, I just wanted to get to the fun stuff! Believe me, early classes were not very fun with Gilda as I tried to keep her focus, pay attention, and keep my frustration from becoming overwhelming! With all that going on, it was even more difficult (and not so fun) to work on boring foundation drills...
Now that Gilda has better focus and is once again happy in Agility class, it's time to go all the way back and nail those important Foundation Skills.
I agree with Jessica's suggestion that we begin defining criteria for Gilda because she really does better when she understands what we want from her. For example, during our last session, we were  having Gilda travel across the Dog Walk in an effort to regain her comfort with the equipment. Now, working with only one end-plank on the ground, we are rewarding only for speedy movement across the ENTIRE plank (no late entry on or early exit off). Gilda did very well with this exercise even when the entry-side was elevated.
We are also taking Gilda back to Jumping basics mainly because she has never been an enthusiastic jumper (she  gets that look like, 'oh alright, I'll just do it so we can move along). During last week's class, she would lay down and just look at me between each half-hearted jump. (Jessica explains that this tells us that laying down is more reinforcing to Gilda than taking the Jump).
Last night we did a few Jump sessions with Gilda (with other exercises in between) and she was much improved by the last one!
Pico is an entirely different creature... Pico is, at every given moment, ready to learn and ready to perform. He is also more handler-focused and eager to please. I understand the importance of getting the Foundations down pat now too and luckily, Pico finds Foundation work just as much fun as running a Tunnel!
We are working on Pico's Jumping, Sequencing 2 Obstacles, Running a Plank, and getting a solid 'Stay'. Pico's Shadow Handling is coming right along even though I feel like a haven't put a whole lot of effort into it!

Here is a video (uncut and with me in jammy-pants!-sorry!) of one of Pico's first Jump practice sessions. The goal is for him to start offering a Jump as soon as he sees the Obstacle. Since we are just starting, I am  to remain neutral and give no cues. The treat is placed at the side of the Jump upright to get Pico to start Collecting and Wrapping the Jump. You can see how quickly  he caught on...


1 comment:

Catalina said...

Awwww Pico is so cute!!! Does his tail every stop wagging LOL! :) Can't wait to read about your classes with Gilda and Pico!