Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Summery Day in October

We're in the middle of a bit of a heat wave here.  At the end of October it's getting into the 70s, and it's pretty humid, too.  To celebrate the excellent weather, Dave, Jonah and I went to one of our favorite off-leash parks.  We ran a few miles across beautiful fields, by a calm pond and through the woods where we were surrounded by the vibrant fall foliage.  It was truly breathtaking.  At first Jonah was so thrilled to be out there that he would sprint to and fro, but he settled into a rhythm with us, and towards the end of the run he was actually seeming a little bit tired.  We stopped at the pond after our long run and Jonah swam a little and got really excited to be splashing around in the water.  It was much nicer than our trip to the beach (which I realize I forgot to post about--we went to the beach last weekend, but it was cold and windy and Jonah was not very interested in going in the water.  I thought at that point we were done with his swimming days this season, but clearly I was wrong!).  Then we ran to the big hill and did some hill sprints.  Even though he was clearly tired, Jonah was doing a pretty good job keeping up with us.  Anyway, by the time it was dark we were all nice and tired and Jonah was a hot, stinky, wet, but exceedingly happy dog.

Last night we also had our third Advanced Beginner Agility class.  Two of the 7 dogs in the class didn't come this week, and there was a noticeable difference in how much we got done and how quiet the room was.  We started out doing a pinwheel of three jumps, and we were supposed to do a front cross between the second and third.  Jonah was very good, but, man--he's fast!  I'm wondering when you would actually do a front cross in that situation in competition.  It seems like you wouldn't want to cross the plane of the two jumps on the same line, and if you wanted to do a front cross you'd do it after the third jump, but I'm probably wrong.  It was good practice either way, but made me really move my feet!  Here's a basic diagram of the setup (we'd do one of the lower ones first, then the middle one, which is vertical below, and then the third):

                                        __             __

Next we did the teeter (which has a cinder block under the end they'd get on, so it wasn't a full-height climb, but it dropped like it normally would) to a pause table to a U-shaped tunnel.  Jonah is doing awesome with the teeter.  At first I was working hard to make sure he wouldn't go too fast and make it drop suddenly, but after a few tries I just let him go his own speed, and he wasn't bothered at all.  Good boy.  He was great with the rest of the sequence, too.

Our third sequence was the A-frame with a 90 degree turn to a line of offset jumps.  This was good for working at a little bit of distance (and by little I mean I was probably 10 feet to the side of one of the jumps).  Jonah was really driving enthusiastically and I was super pleased.  His contacts on the A-frame were good, too. 

This week there was a tunnel underneath the dog walk.  We've put our tunnel under our dog walk at home, so I didn't think this would be any concern for him, but he definitely did slow down and take a look at it.  The dog walk was pretty low, so the tunnel was not far away and it's a bright orange tunnel, so I guess it did look quite different from our setup at home.  After the first time when he walked a little on top, though, he was unconcerned and ran happily across the top.  His contacts here were much better than last week, too.

We did some more sequences with the dog walk, tire, chute and a tunnel.  I was a little disappointed that he ran right past the chute twice.  I think the chute in class is heavier than the one we have at home.  Anyway, I'll have to keep bringing our chute out at home and rewarding an extra-lot so he'll drive to it at class.  As for the other obstacles, he didn't have any problems.  His lead outs are getting much more reliable, too.  It's fun to watch.

The final hurah of the night came with the weave poles.  They had pushed them a little closer together, but still he wouldn't even brush his shoulders against them while running through the channel.  We finished up a few minutes early, and I asked if we could do the poles closer together.  By closer together I was thinking close enough that he'd have to wiggle a little bit.  She said it was kind of a pain to move them all, so I said it didn't have to be all 12.  Then she went ahead and did all 12 fully straight.  Gulp.  I was concerned.  I'd gone ahead and said he could do 12 straight (which he can), but I felt like I was putting myself on the line that he had to do it now that she'd done the work of straightening them out.  The weave poles at school look a lot different from ours at home, so I was worried that Jonah wouldn't generalize.  Anyway, we gave it a shot.  The first time he got excited and didn't focus so he popped out at about the 3rd pole.  I brought him back to the beginning and asked him to weave again and he went beautifully!  I can't tell you how proud I felt.  It wasn't the fastest he'd ever done them--he didn't hop consistently the whole way through, but he was driving happily and smoothly through all twelve poles.  Considering that we've only been doing 12 at home for 8 days, and home is such a different environment, I'm honestly a little bit shocked.

That said, we've got things to work on.  I hadn't realized how much I'm verbally encouraging him through the poles to speed him up, and the teacher said I should try to wean off that.  She wants us to work with targets and toys and treats to get him excited rather than my own voice.  Otherwise, I think think she was really impressed with his weaving and even before that she said a few times how he was doing super. 

So...overall, it was a great day! 

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