Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Improvising in the Rain

It rained all day yesterday.  Jonah would walk out to the screen door, see the rain, and turn around to go back in.  I could make him go out to do his business, but that was about it.  He wanted to be in the garage or in the house.  None of this wet nonsense.  Needless to say, by about 1:00 pm he was starting to get rowdy.  Molly wouldn't play with him.  I wouldn't play nearly enough with him.  Socks and paper bags and toys and napkins were on high alert for good reason.  When he eventually picked up one of the wedding thank you notes I knew I had to do something.  I pulled the weave poles onto the porch to dry.  Then Jonah got a rawhide.  Soon he was bleeding and the rawhide went away.  Then he got a stuffed Kong.  Before I knew it, that was empty.  Then the fun began.

I brought the weave poles inside.  At this point I'm using the high-tech version where I put stakes in upside down flower pots that have small holes in the bottom of them.  Since I'd just cleaned the room, I put towels down in a line and put the poles on the towels.  We're going for the channel method, so I started with the poles about 20" apart lengthwise and about a foot apart width wise:
                       o             o               o
                               o              o              o
Jonah was a star!  I was able to keep moving them closer until they were about 6" offset.  He was actually weaving around them, and he really understood the concept.  Dave and I were giggling that he was wiggling.  The only problems we had were when Molly would come in and stand in the way.  This would make Jonah pop out of the poles, but understandably so.  Anyway, I practiced having him sit-stay at the entrance and then I would recall him through and have him touch a target.  I also walked beside him as he weaved.  I was careful to work from both sides.  Overall, I was thrilled.  I had looked back at my agility book and it said it took months for dogs to get the weaves, so I kind of panicked and decided we had better start practicing.  He has a long way to go, I know--the poles have to be straight, eventually he'll have to do 12 instead of 6 poles, and he'll have to speed up (right now he jogs through but there's no hop or anything).  He's on his way, though, and I'm confident he'll get there.

The next question is equipment related.  Sometimes he would knock over the flowerpot/pole contraptions.  I think they'll still be a good training tool for a little while, but at some point if we want him going faster we'll need something more sturdy.  Also, I can't think of a way to securely add guide wires to these poles, and I feel like he's pretty close to that step.  My book identifies a few types of poles:  PVC's with stakes, all PVC, or metal base.  My first reaction was that the PVC's with stakes would be a good start because they're inexpensive and you can put them offset if you want to work on the channel method.  Then I was thinking that winter will be here before we know it, and weaves are a good thing to work on inside.  We can't exactly just put stakes through the hardwood floor.  That means something with a base is probably best.  The PVC bases seem pretty flimsy, so I'm leaning towards metal, but I have to do some research.  I don't really want to spend a fortune, so we'll see what I can find.

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