Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Lesson of Selflessness

Tonight we had a great class.  This was the first week of the 4 week extension of the Advanced Beginner class, and only 3 dogs are in it.  Each dog and handler pair is quite competent, so the class moved along quickly and we got a lot done. 

We probably spent the most time on weave poles, finally moving them in closer.  These are the three dogs that can weave straight poles, although one dog walks through them when they're straight.  We moved them in slowly, and never got to quite straight, but they definitely had to start weaving around them.  At the end they were probably about 6 inches apart.  I was very pleased with Jonah.  He was really driving through, and when they got close enough he was doing one paw on each side rather than hopping through.  So, even though in the past I've complained about the channel now that he can weave straight, maybe going through the channel again in class will get him to do the faster method.  The poles at class are 22" apart, so I wonder what he'll do with 24".  After a few trips through, our teacher was impressed with Jonah and asked if we did weave poles elsewhere.  When I told her we had makeshift poles at home, she suggested that I cut the poles short in hopes that he will weave with his head lower to make him faster.  I'll have to see if I can find some shorter poles, as I'd like to avoid cutting them if I can avoid it.

Other than poles we did a whole bunch of sequences.  We worked on a serpentine, front crosses, rear crosses with the tunnel and a single jump, and trying to send Jonah out in front of me.  Overall, he was great.  I was especially pleased with his tight lines for the jumps, and he was happy with the rear crosses, thanks to our work this weekend.  His contacts were excellent.  We need to keep working on our sends.

He actually jumped off the teeter once, which was a surprise.  He's been great with the teeter recently.  Anyway, he got right back on, but he was slower than he has been.  Hopefully it's just a blip.  We'll see!

The main thing our teacher wants us to focus on is getting Jonah out in front of me.  She described it as being like a race.  If I always win the race, it's not fun for him.  Clearly he's a lot faster than I am, but he doesn't run the course that way.  Especially now that I can work at a little bit of distance, I don't have much trouble getting in place for front crosses.  So...I need to let go of my competitive nature and let him win.  We'll have to see how that speeds him up.  The other thing I was doing was restraining him at the beginning of a sequence instead of doing a lead out.  He was getting very excited and did seem to come out faster that way. 

The next few days we won't have much time to practice, but when we get back I'm going to work on sending him out ahead of me and throwing his kong out in front of him.  I'll keep working on rear crosses and just emphasize lots of rewards to get him moving faster and loving agility.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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