Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Just because I didn't blog about last week's agility class doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it. And actually, I think writing about last week's class and yesterday's class in one post is going to work out well.

Last week was a jump box class. I dread jump boxes. I always learn a lot when we do them. I do like doing them. I still dread jump boxes. They're not Iris' favorite either. The course focused a lot on "switch." I know I've said it before but I'll say it again anyway, switch (back cross, changing leads, every aspect of it) is one of the hardest things for me to grasp in agility. We had trouble with it in the 5 directions class. We had trouble with it last week. I could not get Iris to go over the jump facing the right direction. Part of it was that I was on top of the jump and not giving Iris nearly enough space to change leads. I could not figure out where to put my feet or my hands or myself in relation to my dog. I did get her to switch a few times, but most of the night was a struggle. Iris was stressed because she couldn't figure out what I wanted, and I know she hates that. My brain was fried. Her brain was fried.

I've probably run that course in my head a hundred times in the last week. I set up a single jump in my little apartment living room and we practiced switch over just the one jump. I did get her switching very consistantly and without me trying to stand right on top of the jump (you know, just in case my dog doesn't see it. Iris gets a cookie just for putting up with me).

Now fast forward to yesterday's class. Iris was in such a bitchy mood. She's getting worse I think. Sometimes she's worse and sometimes she's better. Over the weekend we had a fun run-in with our reactive-dogs-on-retractable-leashes neighbor. One of her dogs (a Papillion, which happens to be the friendly one of the two) got loose. Without even thinking about it, I stepped on the Pap's leash so he wouldn't run out into traffic. Iris was really really good about the whole incident, including the challenge of passing the Pap's leash back to his owner who didn't speak much English and was really afraid her other dog (American Eskimo) was going to bite Iris. He was giving a pretty good show of barking and lunging. Even though nothing bad happened, incidents like that aren't really helping Iris. Once the weather warms up, I'm going to have to spend a lot more time working on her behavior around other dogs and people. She did settle down in class eventually.

No more jump boxes in class yesterday, but the course did have a couple of opportunities for a switch (back cross). First, Iris had trouble with the tire jump at the beginning of the course. She really wants to run under it. I'm thinking about building a tire jump so we can practice at home since that's not the first time she's had trouble with the tire. There were also two sets of weave poles with cages only on one side. I thought Iris did a VERY nice job with the weaves. This was the first time in class that I've noticed her really looking stright ahead while she's weaving. In the past, she's done a couple of poles and then looked up at me for reassurance before doing a couple more. I think she might have been looking ahead last time we did weaves in class, but I didn't really notice it then.

Most impotantly, I think practicing switch paid off. During Iris' last run we got in a very nice switch (at least I thought it was! VERY nice for us). Iris came out of tunnel and over a jump, then I got her to come in towards me to make it over the next jump (I have a bad habit of trying to point out jumps for my dog which really just makes her go wide around the jump), and then we pulled off the switch and backcross over the next jump.



Jules said...

Iris had a very nice second run!

I think you need to buy her one of those water bowls. She is so funny how she makes a beeline for it when she is thirsty.

If it is any consolation - Ike has been uber-obnoxious lately in terms of reactivity. Maybe it's the lack of out-and-about time.

Katrin said...

You did do Nice switches in class on Tue! So yes I think the practice is paying off!!!

Blue said...

Iris is so funny about the water dish. I always bring water for her, but she'd much rather have yours. Silly girl.