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Monday, February 2, 2009
Seriously. It's a little pathetic how much he LOVES that dog walk!
Last night we had another agility class. I don't know if it was because of the Super Bowl or the windchill, but class attendance was quite low. Normally, there are three groups of dogs at different levels all training at the same time. Each group is about 6-10 dogs, give or take and we have class for an hour and a half. Last night there were still three groups, but my group was very small ... only Romeo and one other dog, a gorgeous young Border Collie named Cinder. So we essentially had private lessons, fabulous!
We haven't done much work on contacts in class, though Romeo and I have been practicing at home with the stairs to the basement and a board that I prop up on a box. Needless to say, I was excited when we pulled the dog walk out. A nearly private lesson on contacts, YAY!! I have dreams of Romeo having rock solid contacts, and he is bright and eager enough to figure it out, if only I could get my act together. Romeo had seen the dog walk only one other time and he seemed to enjoy it. But the past exposure to the dog walk didn't come close to giving me a real sense of his budding obsession.
You know how some dogs are tunnel suckers? See a tunnel and just HAVE to tear through it again and again ... and again? Well, I have a feeling that Romeo is going to be a dog walk sucker. He just couldn't stay away from the darned thing! Started physically quivering when I set him up in a stay in front of it for the first time.
And even better ... all that contact practice we have been doing on the stairs has paid off! He is well on the road to a beautiful contact! I can tell him to touch when he is half-way down the sloped end and he will race to the bottom and nose touch to the ground. He only missed one contact all night and that was when I cued him too late so when he slammed on the brakes it ended up toppling him off the side a bit. It was a one-footed contact, so at least he tried!
His one downfall so far, his attention on me. I knew this was going to be an issue. He has such intense focus on me, it is hard to get him to look away. As such, he tends to turn to look at me after he does his touch and that angles him off a bit. Nothing major right now, but if I let it go it could become an issue later. So now, our task is to get him to look straight ahead, no matter where I am, or at least consciously work on keeping his body straight at the end of the contact. We did a bit of work on that with some jump bars forming a channel at the bottom of the contact. That worked pretty well, but he is so narrow they aren't enough to keep him perfectly straight. But it is a start. I am thrilled at how well his at-home contacts transferred over to the real equipment!
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