Friday, February 27, 2015

Momma Told Me There'd Be Days Like This.........

Dog Agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy.
Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives and the handler can touch neither the dog nor the obstacles.  Consequently, the handler's controls are limited to voice, movement and various body signals requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

As most of you know, I've been training Lord Malcolm and Lady McKenzie since the Vet completed their puppy vaccinations.  We've had our ups and downs in training and in getting to know and trust each other.  Malcolm loved agility as a youngster until I unfortunately put him in the very uncomfortable position of trialing him too early.  He was not comfortable with the high amount of energy in the room and not only failed miserably on his first and only trial but began to act quite aggressive to other dogs that day.  From that point on, he never really liked agility.  He would do  it if I made him, but he wasn't having fun.  Had I had any sense at the time, which I admit that I didn't;  I would have forfeited my entry fee and taken him home.  Since then, he and I have been working on his reactivity to other dogs by taking him to strange places like Pets Mart and Lowe's where he can go in and be in strange places and where he is likely to meet other dogs.  We also go to the dog park;  not to go in and play, but to walk the outside of the fence.  We appreciate any dog that will come to the fence to see who we are because that gives us another chance NOT to react negatively.  After a couple of years of us doing this, Malcolm is learning to trust me and looks to me for guidance on how to behave.  He is a much calmer and happier dog than 2 years ago.  He has even been known to kiss a horse recently on a walk.  This is something that could never have happened 2 years ago.  The horse would have been bitten and the dog would probably be dead.  We've come a long way.

McKenzie, while much slower to pick up on agility, and therefore having never done a trial, really loves going to class and learning new courses.  As a team, I have to guide her where she should go and in what direction she should take each obstacle.  She has to trust me and listen and watch me always.  Something as simple as holding an arm out or bringing it down to my side will send her in a direction.  She will either go out away from me or come back toward me.  Well, that's in a perfect world.  (BIG SMILE)  Momma (should have)  told me that there would be days like this!

Dogs have moods just like we do.  Sometimes, they just don't feel like doing something.  Problem is, they can't express it verbally.  McKenzie had her mind on greeting all of her friends at the dog club, both human and canine.  We had arrived a bit after most others were there and she had to go straight into a kennel so that I could go have a look at the course and figure out how to get through it.  She got her wiggle-butt in a kink over anything that wiggled under her feet, even though she walks those obstacles all the time with little to no problem.  Then she started refusing to jump.  She made it perfectly clear to me that she wasn't going to play until she sniffed out what the other dogs were getting for treats.  

Different course, same night.  She wasn't doing it.  And she's a Boxer, so she wins. 

Malcolm happened to be with me that night so I tired him on the course.  I had him jumping lower jumps because he hadn't seen this equipment in 2 years.  He did very well for the 1st time in that long.

This is McKenzie the week before.  I put this video in just to prove that she can do it and she does enjoy it when she has her mind on it.