Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Four Paws

Today was our second class at Four Paws, although it was the third in the sequence (we missed week 2).  We started with the normal stuff--walking, sitting, short lead offs, switching sides, etc.  Then we did some stretching and targeting.  Jonah was super with all of this, and we have a new plan when targeting.  He will jog to the target from 15-20 feet away, but he's not really driving, so now I'm going to start sit or down-staying him, walking to the target and putting a treat on it, returning to him and getting him rev'ed up and then releasing him to the target.  I tried it a few times in class and it didn't seem to have a huge effect, but we'll keep trying.

Next we did some back-chaining.  Jonah and I got to use the A-frame this time, which was exciting because we'd never been on the A-frame before.  Jonah didn't seem to mind one bit, though.  Sometimes he would swing his butt off when he touched, but in general he was very good.  We worked from both sides and had about 85% success, I'd guess. 

After back-chaining we split into groups.  Our group had 2 other dogs in it, and we started with weave poles.  They were set up in a wide channel (about a foot apart).  There were 12 poles, so twice as many as Jonah's ever done before.  Then we put 4 targets with treats along the channel and walked the dogs through.  I wouldn't say Jonah really made the connection that this was like his weave poles at home, but he did well.  I can't blame him for not 'getting it,' as these look entirely different than his and were wide enough apart that they didn't have any opportunity for actual weaving.  When I had our poles in a wide channel, I would usually have him stay at one side and recall him through, so me walking next to him on a leash seemed pretty different.  Anyway, I'm excited for the poles to start getting closer together so he starts to actually weave with 12 poles--it'll be a big step up from our makeshift poles at home.

Next we did the tire.  It was on the ground so not really much of a jump.  The process was a bit of a handful:  sit-stay on one side, bring your leash through the tire, move around to the other side and recall through.  Our stay wasn't rock solid and Jonah just went ahead and jumped through, but he clearly had no trouble with the tire.  They asked us to get tab (short) leashes for next time, and I think that will make things a whole lot easier.

Then we did the tunnel, and Jonah was perfect.  They started it fairly short, and one of the dogs in our group was nervous, but then they pulled it out to full length for Jonah and he jogged right through.  Good boy!

After the tunnel we switched groups and went to the dog walk.  I was supposed to click and treat every few steps, but that seemed to confuse Jonah and he kept hopping off when I clicked.  When I tried to just treat him, he would lose his concentration and hop off.  Anyway, the first time we tried we didn't get the whole way along the dog walk but he was happy hopping on and off and taking a few steps.  The second time, I didn't click and treat along the way, and he went right up, over and down to a perfect contact position touch.  Awesome.

Then we did a line of very small jumps (about 4").  The second jump had wings.  Again the leash was a complication and I got it caught on the last jump so that it fell over and landed on him.  He wasn't fazed, but it was not ideal.  The second time our teacher said I could take his leash off, so I sat him in front of the first jump, took off the leash, walked past the first jump and called him through the line.  He swerved a little between the second and third jumps but was really good.  Then I patted him, gave him a cookie, and he heeled off leash right back to our leash, sat, and let me put the leash back on.  The next dog tried to go off leash to follow Jonah's example and ended up bolting across the room. 

After jumping we did the A-frame.  Again the first time he was a little concerned and hopped off a few times, but then he went right ahead over to another beautiful two-on-two-off position.  The second time we did the A-frame he was picture perfect the whole way.  No hesitation on, up or over, and right into the position at the end.

Last we did the table, which he had no problem getting on, but he was a little slow with the down.  We'll have to work on that one.

Overall, I am so super impressed with Jonah.  I can't believe how much we've done in such a short amount of time.  He was probably the best in the class, and the other dog who's good was there last week and has done a previous class before as well.  Most impressive, though, is his confidence.  He just doesn't seem at all like that shaking dog we had at Gemini.  I don't fully know what the reason is other than that he just likes Four Paws better, but I'll take it.  I can't wait for the upcoming classes and getting ready to eventually go to our first competition, hopefully sometime next year!

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