Friday, February 24, 2012

Boxer Agility Update:

Here ye!  Here ye!

The Lady McKenzie Rallies in Final 
Minutes of Class to
Focus on the Goal

In the last episode of Lady McKenzie (the Frenzie) and her agility class I was telling you about my 'homework' assignment.  Remember?  I had to work on the command 'SETTLE'.  Yea.  Right.  I mentioned that I would run that by my obedience instructor and I did (who laughed heartily).  She then went into a sermon on the benefits of FIRST training in obedience and THEN moving on to agility.   She made sense and I knew she was right......but who wants to wait to have fun when you can have some fun now?  After all, they wrote a whole song about that, didn't they?  (You know, 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper)  Anyway, she had all ready passed the 1st 2 levels of obedience.  And she does pretty well for her level in the ring.  I just can't get her to focus in a different ring or outside of the building.  In my opinion, (which is really not the one I should have gone with) we were definitely ready to have some fun in the agility ring.  

Not the agility ring, but running just the same.

And we ARE having fun.   In fact, so are all the people in my class!  It's hilarious to watch me try to control this crazy-hyper, really fast, super smart dog.  I don't think the woman teaching the class finds it amusing, though.  I don't know if it's her of if it's me, but she doesn't smile much.  Oh, well.  I paid.  She'll deal with it.  

Coming out of the tunnel.

My obedience instructor knows quite a lot more about dealing with different types of dogs.  She gave me great advice (which I wisely decided to follow this time.--You see?  I'm learning, too!)  She sent me to the Army/Navy Surplus Store to buy some Parachute Chord.  It's light.  And it's strong.  I also bought a clip with a D ring to attach to the chord so I can clip it on her collar.  We went into a ring alone and I let her just do what ever she, sniff, stand and look, spin like a top until she was so dizzy all 4 legs had to spread out so far so she could still stand up....what ever she wanted to do.  (At this point, many people were standing outside the ring just watching.  I found out later, that they thought I was working on a great dance routine with her.  HE HE!  No.  She was just acting her crazy self.  Periodically through all this crazy play of hers, I would calmly give the command, 'McKenzie, HERE', and she would come bounding over to me and sit in a perfect FRONT to get a treat.  If she didn't come right away, I walked her down (using the chord--she couldn't get away) and gave 3 corrections, then I praised her for coming but didn't treat.  The corrections* are not severe, but she knows I mean business.  I only had the chance to correct her twice.  She came every time after that and loved making a game out of playing silly and then running to me for a treat.

So.  Sunday was her regular agility class.  We were learning to do some pretty 'tangled up' moves.  Both handler and dog had to really pay attention.  When it was our turn, I asked (as I usually do) for people to block the exits so she wouldn't escape.  I took her off lead and WOW.  She never went Ballistic once during the entire class.  Again, I'm probably 'jinxing' it.  But I think there is hope for us yet!

As a side, Malcolm does also get distracted (usually searching the floor for something to eat) but doesn't go "Cracker Dog" like McKenzie. (He's feeling much better from his surgery, BTW.  He has a new 'MOB' name, too;  Scar Belly)  I am working on the 'HERE' command with him too.  He's a lot slower and easier to manage.

Malcolm waiting for his turn at the weave poles.

*The correction is to hold the dog by either the collar or even the neck area behind the dog's jaw, take a step backward and pull the dog toward you, saying {dog name} HERE (or whatever your word is).  Not hard, and use a calm voice as if it's the first time you've called the command.  Do this 3 times and then praise with love and pets and good dog---NO TREATS.  When they come right away and sit in front of you on the first time, you can treat all you want.

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