Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Day of School

Today was our first session in our new class.  We're in the 7:00 Competition Agility class on Thursday night.  Grace had said that she had to move another student out of the class to make room for me, but only 3 other dogs came, so it wasn't as crowded as I'd expected.  There's still a noticeable difference between having 3 and 4 dogs in a class, but I thought we got a lot out of it and I'm glad we have five more weeks!

Jonah was excellent with the new dogs.  We got there early and got to watch the previous lesson.  There was a lab who stared at Jonah and barked repeatedly at him.  Jonah growled softly a few times but eventually ignored the dog.  What a good boy!  When a new dog came in for our class he barked once at it, but didn't lunge and focused right on me.  When I tied him to a hitch to walk the course, another woman walked her dog with her and Jonah didn't blink an eye when the dog walked right past him (maybe 4 feet away)!  There were times where he was generally excited and would bark a little bit, but it was just general barking and I didn't mind.  A+ for social skills (at least using Jonah's scale of comparison...for other dogs it might have been an A-, but even that's not too bad).

I'm really excited for our class because the dogs and people seem so great.  Not that our last class was any different, but you're always a little concerned when you're starting something new.  We had a fast, good but slightly nervous Whippet, a sweet, slow, fluffy dog and a miniature aussie whom I've admired at trials we've been at.  All the dogs are right about our level and I can learn a lot by watching them.  The people seem great, too.  I'm excited to have a few more friends!

As for the agility, Jonah was good and fast and I couldn't always keep up, causing us some errors.  That's definitely the kind of problem I'd like to have, though.  He did have some trouble with a 90 degree on-side weave entry, but with support he was fine.  There was a tricky sequence that never flowed beautifully.  The first time I pulled Jonah too far off the chute and we nearly collided.  After that we got the job done but it wasn't pretty.  I tried to FC the bottom of the A-frame once and it was messy.  Best to wait and RC the chute.  Here's what that sequence looked like:

1 to 2 was the weave entry that he missed repeatedly.  Have to keep working on that...

I did both FC and RC between 2 and 3.  I preferred the FC because when I did the RC he curled back in to me coming out of the tunnel.  With the FC I could get ahead so he saw me as he exited 3.

Jonah was great with a send out to 4 so I could get moving to the A-frame.  He never missed the discrimination.

5 to 6 was just cruel, in my opinion.  The first time Jonah came down off the A-frame, turned towards me and just ran right past the chute entrance.  I think the FC at the bottom of the A-frame could have been nice if I could ever get there in time, but I'd have to get a lot faster to do that.  No matter what you did, the dog had to decelerate.

Running the chute with the dog on the left gave a bad line to 7.  You had to be on the left so they curled towards you coming out of the chute.

The rest of the courses ran pretty smoothly.  There were certainly things to fix.  For example, I pushed too hard on a RC that made for a wide turn instead of wrapping tightly.  Jonah's table was excellent 2/3 times and weak the other time.  Still needs work.  He missed one A-frame contact.  Other than those things, though, I was very pleased with him.  We should be in good shape for tomorrow.  Wish us luck!

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