Monday, September 24, 2012

Go to the Head of the Class

Dave's out of town so I got to take Nika to her class tonight.  Wow.  She's so smart.  I'm really impressed.  Of course I've worked with her a lot at home, but we always do short sessions, and I often work her with a lot of distractions where she's not 100% focused.  With that in mind, I didn't have super high expectations.  This is a new class, a higher level, with new dogs...all reasons to be distracted.  Well, she was awesome.

We started warming up with some heeling.  Sure, every now and then she'd look around or get excited and leap out of position, but in general she was right with me.  It's funny not having Grace as our teacher, because the new teacher didn't know us and when class started she asked if I knew what heel position was.  I'm certainly no obedience expert, but I know what heeling is :).

After 5 minutes or so the teacher had caught on.  We all worked on heeling and while the others were lucky to get a few steps in, Nika was working on turns, sits, downs and any rally signs I could remember.  She was great.

When we practiced sits and downs, I realized that she's gotten a little rusty with hand signals only.  She's great with verbal only, and great with both verbal and hand, but we need to work more with hand only.  Good to know.  After a few repetitions at class, she was quite sharp again.

For recalls, we were the only dog who got to do recalls out of a stay rather than standing with the instructor holding the dog.  Again, she was picture perfect.

We worked on stand and stand for exam.  She's gotten good with the verbal only or with the hand signal only for stand, but she's not always great at staying right in heel position for it.  For the exam, she wiggles if she's not lured.  We'll keep working on that.

When we practiced stays, I was actually able to get her to break her stay when I jumped up and down.  Another thing to work on.  Otherwise, though, she was excellent.  I could run away from her, go anywhere away from her, get far away, go around and behind her, bend over...jumping was the only thing I could think of that made her get up.  Even then, it was the third jump before she got excited enough to break the stay.

At the end of class we practiced some targeting and spins.  I haven't done much targeting with her lately so I'll have to go back to that.  She was good so long as I held the target but wasn't as great when it was on the ground.

We ended class a few minutes early and I had her play on the teeter (which was really low) and a skate board.  She was good with both.

Overall, she was just such a joy to work with.  So bright, so focused, so happy.  We took a number of tug breaks during class, too, and she was eager to tug.  I'm so excited to see how she does with agility.  I think she'll be a superstar!

Also, yesterday we went to an English Shepherd gathering.  It was lots of fun.  Pictures and a longer post to follow!

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