Thursday, January 12, 2012

Practice and Creativity

So I'm realizing that we have limited opportunities to practice for pairs in a structured agility environment.  That means we have to get a little creative!

I was thinking that we could take advantage of local dog parks in more ways than I've been doing.  Not only can we go, walk around and meet dogs, but we could actually practice working with doggie distractions all around us.

I got to thinking how great it would be if I could bring a couple obstacles with us and set up a few little sequences while we're there.

...Unfortunately, most of our equipment is not particularly movable.

But then I realized that I wouldn't have to bring traditional dog agility equipment.  Dave and I have human agility gates that are light, small and moveable.  They look like this:

They're 12" high, so not really anything like the actual jumps he does in agility, but I figured it would be enough to give him a job to do.  Yesterday I brought out four of these little gates and set up different sequences.  We did a box, a pinwheel, a gymnastic line (line of gates at different distances to practice striding), a bending line and I tried to do a serpentine with mixed success.  I think they will be very effective training tools.  The serpentine was very difficult because these gates are only 18" wide.  If I wasn't very clear with my handling, he would just run by the gates.  It was interesting because he picked up the fact that these were jumps very quickly, and he would drive out to them if he saw the face straight on, but with the bigger angles of the serpentine he wasn't registering them as jumps.  They're imperfect because he could easily jump the full length of them, and the lack of stanchions makes it a little hard to 'read' what he's supposed to jump.  Anyway, maybe they'll never be good for work with lots of angles, but I'm confident that they will work for basic setups to practice distracting settings.

Of course, now it's pouring outside and I don't particularly want to go to a dog park :).

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