Thursday, August 12, 2010

In the Beginning (Original post: August 5, 2010)

Today Jonah starts agility. I am super excited but I haven’t been satisfied with the information I’ve seen online about how to start agility training. I’ve found a bunch of blogs discussing topics much more advanced than us, but nothing about the very beginnings, so I thought I’d record our experiences in case anyone else is ever looking for the same thing I was.

Why agility? Well, I am an equestrian who is currently without a horse and with a dog. Competing with animals feels very natural to me. I’m an ultimate frisbee player, too, but ACL surgery earlier this year means I’m out for now. Playing with the dog is more my speed at the moment.

Jonah has tons of energy and needs exercise. We have a large fenced yard but, unless there is a squirrel, chipmunk or bunny nearby, he doesn’t charge, leap, bound and play enough by himself. We run with him, but we’re not nearly fast enough. Thus, agility.

Our training background?  Well, we started classes at Gemini because we knew they offered agility. Jonah started in the beginner obedience class where he practiced the sit, down, stay and come we had taught him on our own.  He has newly learned to leave it, go to bed, target (“touch”), heel, and had practice rally-o commands. We’ve used luring, shaping and clicker training. After three obedience lessons (and a LOT of practice at home), we’ve graduated! A beginner agility class is starting and Michelle thinks we’re ready.

As for how we’ve prepared for agility, we haven’t done much aside from the obedience class. In our fenced area, there’s a tree that has fallen down and Jonah likes to climb it and walk along it. It’s like our own dog walk. I also pulled out some old hula hoops and he jumps through them.  We’ve had him walk on and jump over the slide from my old swing set. When we go for walks, we have him jump on/jump over/go under/walk along any safe, strange object we can find, like trees, benches, rocks, etc.  The other day we took him to the horse farm where I used to work and he jumped many funny looking jumps, ditches, banks and had a blast in the water complex.  We’ll see how that goes for preparation.
Wish us luck!

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