Jonah, Dave and I had a fun Friday night visiting Four Paws Academy's advanced agility class. First we let him walk around in their training room and he was a little bit worried, but very focused on us. It has nice, bright lighting and high ceilings. There were no dogs barking on the other side of a wall, and there were no sudden loud crashing noises. We brought him some turkey as a special treat to eat in the new place, and he thought it was most excellent.
After looking around inside we went on outside to watch class. The whole vibe was so friendly. Everyone came over to introduce themselves and tell us how nice Jonah was. Their dogs seemed to be every shape and size: a basset hound, a yorkie, a pug, a golden, a Shih Tzu, a JRT, and a poodle. Dave and I figured we were half the age of all but one of the people there.
The teacher set up numbers to make a standard course, and the people walked their course and then took turns running it. It was so much fun to watch! Each dog really had a lot of character. The pug would complain and bark as he ran, but he was really good. The golden just sort of loafed around and waited for his slower dad to catch up to him. The JRT was very fast but would frequently get distracted and go off course. The basset was hysterical through the weave poles because his body was just so long.
In general, I was actually surprised the dogs weren't better. I guess I've pretty much just watched championships on TV and YouTube, so I was not expecting slow dogs or dogs who made 'errors' (popping out of the weaves, jumping a wrong jump, etc). Anyway, I know I'm probably really naive and don't know what to look for, but I thought that it wouldn't really take Jonah that long to get to that point (and by 'not really that long' I guess I would think a few months of focused work doing regular homework). Anyway, I know I'll get busy with school and probably won't have the time to be doing training with him all the time, but I just thought he would catch up fairly quickly. Of course, our class experience so far shows us that the actual agility things aren't the issue--it's getting over his fear. So, we'll just have to play it by ear and see how that goes.
I did get a lot of ideas of exercises to set up in our back yard, even just with small jumps that we could put together as simple sequences. I want to start with a simple straight line of jumps and just get him going fast and confidently down a line. Then I have some ideas of turns that I think he could do easily, and they had a sequence with a tunnel which introduces a front cross that I really think he could do. I think if the rain holds off I will try those tomorrow.
So, we have news! Jonah is going to start his new agility class at Four Paws next Tuesday night. Since I'm starting school, their class is later in the evening and the environment seemed so much less frightening, we decided to re-start him in beginner agility at the new facility. We haven't met our teacher, but we were really impressed with the advanced teacher and, since it fits better with my schedule, we decided to take the plunge. Jonah will get this week off from class and start up again a week from Tuesday. This week I'll work on the homework we got last time and try my new exercises. I was so impressed with the happy, friendly vibe at Four Paws and I'm super excited to try it out. Hopefully this will be a big step forward.