Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Class #5

Our trip to class started a little bit crazy, as Dave had gotten me completely engrossed in the trivia (we were trying to name all the animals in the Bible) and when I finally looked at the clock it was past time to go.  Luckily I had already prepared treats, and Jonah and I ran to the car and got on the road.  We only ended up a couple minutes late, and the class hadn't started yet, so then we took a big breath and got going.

We did a bunch of sequences with jumps, tunnels, a chute the dog walk, A frame and teeter (which had a pause table under the high end of it again.  When we got to do it normally last time I thought we were done with the 'crutches,' but I guess not).  Jonah was fantastic.  His lead outs are getting very solid, even when he has to hold the stay for a long time and I am far from him.  He's getting comfortable working at more distance from me and he drives at obstacles much better than he used to.  I'm finding front crosses to be quite natural at this point, so we're both improving.

We spent a bunch of class working on a serpentine.  It started out with the jumps angled but vaguely in a straight line:
\          /           \
Then the teacher angled them more and more until they were pretty much straight:
__             __          __
It was a really neat exercise.  Jonah was perfect every trip through and really drove straight to the jumps.  It amazes me how big of an angle we were asking the dogs to jump on, and how they really didn't seem to mind one bit.  This would have been a very advanced exercise on a horse!  When I've set up serpentines at home, I've always asked Jonah to make wider turns, but now I can't wait to set it up again and work on shaving off seconds from the performance.  We did the serpentine with the dog on one side of us and also doing a front cross between the first and second jumps.  Our teacher alluded to the fact that you can do a front cross after the second jump, so I want to try that at home.  I also want to work on rear crosses in this pattern.  Good homework.

After the serpentine we did a bunch of other sequences, including the channel weave poles.  They were closer this week, but still not even close enough to be brushing the dogs' shoulders as they went through.  A few of the dogs in class are having trouble with them, so I can't blame the teacher, but I'm personally kind of bored with it.  Oh well.  

Our final sequence was where we came up with one issue this week.  We did a jump to the poles to a U-shaped tunnel (apologies for my silly looking tunnel, but the Os are the openings, and just imagine the tunnel curves in a U):
                               O  \ 
|         ::::::::::::         O  /  
When I started with Jonah on my right, we had no problems:  jump, weave, tunnel.
When I started with Jonah on my left, though, I tried to do a rear cross while he was in the tunnel.  When I stopped at the tunnel entrance, he stopped.  Then he went in but as soon as I crossed behind me he turned around and came back out.  I had to run around the outside of the tunnel once before he would do the tunnel with me crossing behind.  

In response, the teacher had us practice rear crosses with the tunnel straight.  This was great, because it got me to be really sending Jonah out ahead of me.  He had no trouble at all with this.  It shows me that my running next to him and then stopping suddenly is problematic.  In situations like these, I would be better off slowing down and really sending him into the tunnel rather than having me run right up to it.  This is a great thing for us to work on at home.  I'm excited to have two big things to be focused on.  Rear crosses I guess are a central concern.  We haven't done them in class before yesterday, so we're not behind, but I always like to be ahead, so we've got some practice to do.

Next week is the last of the 6 beginner agility classes, so we got to hear a little about what comes next.  Our teacher confirmed that the night time Intermediate class is full.  The current plan is that we would extend our class at the same time and with the same dogs and just keep working along as an 'advanced advanced beginner' class.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I think our teacher is great, I like the other dogs and people in the class, and the time works well for me.  On the other hand, I would love it if we were in a class that challenged us a little bit more.  I'd like to be working on straight weave poles and rear crosses, obstacle discrimination and generally more difficult sequences.  When we watched the Advanced class back in August when we first visited Four Paws, we got to see what those dogs are doing.  Honestly, I think Jonah could fit in with that class.  Yes, we have to work on rear crosses, but those dogs weren't weaving consistently and they had their problems.  I know that, with a little help at class and a lot of practice at home, we could move forward a lot more quickly than we're doing in our current class.  So, all in all I really enjoy our class but I'm itching to get Jonah out and competing, so I wish we were going a little faster.  The best thing about this week, though, is that we've got good homework to set up.  Now, if only it would stop raining...

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