Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Advanced Beginner Class #1

Tonight was the first of our advanced beginner class, and Jonah and I had a blast. 

Right from the start we got to work on new exercises.  They were simple:  a figure-8 over a jump and jumping back and forth with a slight curl.  Despite the simplicity, it was quick and fun and different and Jonah was very good at it.  He got a lot of cookies in a very short amount of time. 

Next we went right into sequences, doing a jump to a curved tunnel to another jump, doing a front cross while the dog was in the tunnel.  Jonah was great, really driving to the obstacles, and I had to move pretty quickly to get the front cross done in time.  It was nice to be a little bit challenged! 

Our second sequence was a jump to a chute to another jump.  It was all straight (no crosses), but the chute is tough.  Jonah was very brave.  The instructor did hold the end of the chute up a few inches, but it was pretty close to closed.  I bet next time he will do it without assistance.

Then we did the teeter to a jump.  Jonah showed no nervousness at all, but he really wants to rush at the teeter and I have to work to keep him slow enough that it moves at a reasonable speed and doesn't make a huge bang.  I still hold on to the tab leash for this, but I'm feeling good that he doesn't get nervous at all.  I'm sure he'll start to figure out that going slowly is a good thing as he gets more practice.  I just want to make sure he doesn't have a bad experience that sets him back.  One of the dogs in class tonight scared herself with the teeter and she wouldn't get back on after that, so we're trying to avoid something like that.

Next we did the dog walk.  It was totally different from last week.  He ran right up, then he did slow down on top, he took a few slow steps, and then ran the rest of the way down.  The next time he was faster and the time after that he was running the whole way.  The second time he did slip on the down ramp, but that didn't seem to bother him.  We immediately back-chained the ramp and he didn't show any problems.  Our teacher suggested that, since we now have our own dog walk, I reward him a lot on the top of it when it's a little bit wiggily so he gets the idea that it's a good place to be even if it's moving.

We did a line of three angled jumps to a teeter.  It was all a straight line, so pretty basic, but we did relatively long lead offs (about 20 feet, past the second jump).  I was thrilled with Jonah because he was so enthusiastic and really driving to the obstacles.  I don't think he needed me there at all--he would have done the line himself.  This week we had a higher table and it took him a few tries to get as fast as he is with the smaller ones, but not any problem and I'm sure he'll continue to get faster with the high table, too.

Then we did a sequence with a tunnel and the A-frame.  Again, Jonah was great.  We're now naming the A-frame and he's attacking it with gusto.  What a star.

That's the blow-by-blow of what we did.  Overall, Jonah was just completely happy and attentive for the whole hour.  While we were waiting for other dogs we would practice our tricks because he was so starving for my attention at all times.  I'm really excited that this class will challenge us a little bit more and give me some ideas for practice at home, since I'm currently running out of ideas.  It will also teach me more of the handling techniques and give me lots of practice.  Jonah is really paying good attention to my cues but my toolbox is limited.  I think it's going to be growing quickly from now on. 

It's neat to watch the other dogs in the class, too.  One of the dogs who was normally very good in the beginner class had a tough night tonight and was afraid of a bunch of the equipment.  I guess some days are just better than others.  Also, there were two new dogs who weren't in our beginner class but had done an intro class somewhere else.  They have a different skill set and seeing what they're good at shows me where we need to be working.  For instance, they both had better contacts than Jonah, so we're going to keep working on that (and now we have the dog walk to do it!). 

Also, one of the dogs weaved 12 straight poles.  He was very slow, but he did it all very methodically.  It makes me want to get Jonah up to 12 poles as soon as I can.  I want to keep his speed up, though, so I still want to master 9 before I put in the last 3.  It does look like we'll be using the 12 pole set at class right from the beginning, so even though most novice courses just have 6, and Jonah can do 6 well, we're going to be challenged.  I need to make sure it stays fun at home when I practice, though.  I tend to want to practice and practice and practice until it's perfect, but Jonah loses interest and then goes slowly, so I need to make sessions short and have good rewards.  That and contacts are our big goals for the next week. 

In other news, I just bought a tunnel and chute from eBay! 

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