Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Agility Class

Iris had a great time at agility class tonight (and I had fun too)! It was the first class of a new session. I forgot, and we got there a half hr early, which turned out to be a good thing. I noticed yesterday that Iris has a much easier time with down from a sit than down from a stand. Bad dog mum not realizing this sooner! Since all of her downs in herding are from a stand, that's probably part of her issue. We practiced downs in the parking lot while we waited.

Because it's a new session, there were some different people in class - Julie with Carmen, Lael and Neil with Makin, Shaya with Tom (mixed breed, Sheltie-Terrier?), and Kim with Opal (Greyhound). I think Sandy and Sadie are in class too, but they weren't there tonight. ABC in March was the last time Iris had class with Tom and Opal, and she was definitely aware that there were new dogs in class. A couple of times when Iris was running, I saw her start to think about the other dogs, but she came right back to me. Good girlie! Both Opal and Tom came pretty close to Iris' crate and different times and no explosions. Ok, mouth full of cheese may have helped, but the fact that Iris was more interested in cheese than exploding was good.

Iris and Carmen started class off with a lovely duet while we walked the course. Here's the course diagram from Katrin. We broke the course into two parts starting with just the first eight obstacles (ended with the jump after the teeter). Before Iris ran, Katrin asked me what I need to remember. Uh cooler than dirt? It's the default answer. Sort of like the only French I actually learned in high school was "I don't know" and "nothing." But apparently I've graduated from that, and "I don't know" isn't a good answer in doggie higher education (and I know well that my dog is NEVER actually doing nothing). Here's the real answers so I can study up before next class:
  • Keep my arm out and level (not down at my side, not up by my head)
  • Keep my speed consistent - if I start and stop, my dog will too
  • Treat out of the hand CLOSEST to my dog. I think I'm going to write in sharpie on the back of my right hand "other hand!"
With the first eight obstacles, we had to do a front cross after the first tunnel, and a cross sort of during the second tunnel. When I do front crosses, I very consistently look at my dog and not where I'm going. This generally means that I end up on top of an obstacle by the time I bother to look up. Ooops! We did have some trouble with the teeter. Iris thinks contact obstacles are great fun. She's wanted to fly off the teeter since we started agility. I think sometimes I'm a little late telling her "wait." The first time we did the teeter, Iris flew off the end. I grabbed for her. Grabbing at running dog on teeter is not really how you train wait. Ok, we tried again. Iris runs onto teeter. I yell, "wait, wait, WAIT!" And my good Aussie did wait on the teeter. And everyone teased me. Hey, I got my dog to wait. Iris was probably rolling her eyes at me too. The third time, I did manage to say wait only once and Iris, of course, was perfect. It's a good thing I have such a tolerant little dog.

Working on the second half of the course was much less eventful. We started from the jump after the teeter The dog had to do a switch between jumps 9 and 10. Switch was the only tricky part. I still think switch is one of the hardest things, but I think we're getting better.

I thought Iris did great tonight. She really stayed with me, even when I was being silly. She was happy, playful, and silly too even with new dogs there. I had fun, and it was just what I needed for a week that has started off sort of iffy and stressful.

There's an agility trial this weekend, and I think I'm going to try taking Iris over to hang out for a little while. What I'll probably end up doing is going without her so that I can watch for a bit and get a feel for it. Then I'll go home and get her since it's only about 15 min away from my house. Should be fun!


Katrin said...

You both did GREAT last night!!!! Glad you had fun!

Makin & Tessa (Lael and Neil) said...

We agree- you guys did great! It's so fun to see everyone's progress. Very impressed!

Blue said...

You guys and Makin were great too! I agree, I love seeing everyone's progress especially the dogs that we've been in class with since the very beginning.

Jules said...

Iris was awesome - especially when Opal went sniffing over near her crate. Wow!