Thursday, August 12, 2010

Backyard Practice (Original Post 8/9/10)

Today was a lot of fun.  I finished my agility book and kept thinking about what equipment we need to buy/make so we can practice at home.  During our lunchtime walk with my mom and her dog Molly, mom got creative and suggested we look in the garage for some makeshift ideas.  Here’s what we came up with:

1.  “Tunnel”:  We started easy, but it had great results.  We pulled out a narrow card table (18″ wide and maybe 3 feet tall) and wrapped a sheet around it.  I know, the height is more than twice an agility tunnel, but it was something.  The sheet was even blowing in the breeze for an added challenge.  Jonah took a look but then decided it was a great game.  First I would sit or down/stay him on one side, go to the other and call him through.  After a few tries, though, I could run him up to it and send him through.  Good boy!  Next time I will wrap the table with the tarp in the garage so it makes a funny sound under his feet.  There are also some low shelves that I’ll try once we’re ready for a bigger challenge.

2.  Plank.  One of our assignments for this week is to shape walking on a board.  We found a nice 1′ wide and 4′ long wooden shelf in the garage and walking on it was very quickly not a problem.  Our teacher hinted that next week we’d raise the board if the dogs were ready, so we tried it.  He loved it!  Even when I wasn’t near it I kept seeing him jump up on it and walk around.    We tried two heights, the taller of which was about 15″.

3.  Jumps.  I just propped up some boards and shaped him jumping them.  For the first one, I put one side against the swingset, so he couldn’t run out that way.  I acted as a standard on the other side and just looked at it.  Before long, he was hopping back and forth and I clicked-and-treated away.  Good boy.  We also put the old slide up on its side.  He jumped everything, although sometimes ran around.  We’ll have to work on making sure he knows jumping gets him rewards.

4.  Pause table.  We pulled out a bag of hay and used it.  It was only about a foot high, and not square, but Jonah had no trouble hopping up and sitting or downing on it.

5.  Teeter.  I took a rake, laid it on the ground, and then put our plank on it so it would tip.  It would only get maybe 3″ off the ground on the end that was up, but it made a good banging sound when it flipped.  Again, he was a total star and got it right away.

What fun!  Now I feel like there is a whole lot we can do just working from home with what we have.  I’d still like to get/make a couple jumps because my makeshift ones look so different, and we’ll definitely need weave poles when we get to that, but we have lots to do this week before we start thinking about that.

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