Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Building an Agility House

No, I’m not making a super cool facility that I can sleep in AND play agility in.


This is about what I’m always trying to impart on students. FOUNDATIONS.  You need them. You can build your agility house any which way you like.  But you have to have a foundation set.

A good foundation will keep your agility house from crumbling during the slightest bit of inclement happenstance. 

Like for example when the teeter you are using pulls off the hinges and starts rolling about wildly on the pivot point eventually bouncing your little dog right off before the whole thing collapses. 

Inclement. Happenstance. 

Roughly translated: bad coincidence.

Now we have two possibilities here:

One:  The little dog is traumatized and never does a teeter again. What crazy dog would ever go near some wildly unpredictable, easily collapsing wood scrap heap again- let alone get on it???  Not this little dog.


Two:  The little dog tries to figure out how to put her butt on the wildly unpredictable, easily collapsing wood scrap heap and gets EXTREMELY put out when it won’t stop falling over so that she may do so. 

Luckily, the little dog was The Pup, and she was all over option two. The Pup’s agility house started with a foundation.   Before she ever saw a teeter, she learned four on position on a wobble board. She learned to skateboard. She learned to walk a ball with her feet, balance on a peanut and a bosu and on every item in my kitchen cooking set, slam every door and drawer in my house, walk a board, run a board and, oh yeah, she learned how to learn, to problem solve, and to “fail” without getting discouraged.  Her agility house was built on a foundation of confidence, awareness and conditioning.  So when the teeter fell apart underneath her, yep, she got sassy and started trying to figure out what the new game was rather than run away and hide.  And when we encountered a non broken teeter two days later she threw out some of her finest teeter performances to date.

So, dear students, THIS IS WHY WE TRY TO GET YOU TO DO THOSE “SILLY TRICKS!” THIS IS WHY I DON’T WANT YOU TO HAUL YOUR DOG OVER A FULL SIZE TEETER WHEN I’M NOT LOOKING!!  And this is why I’m not surprised that your dog has chronic teeter problems when you tell me your method of training the teeter involved hauling the dog over, tipping it for them or holding the drop and you give me a blank look when I ask what you did before training the teeter.  Your agility house is a shack in the quicksand- what did you expect?

Sigh. Ok, I’m done with shouty caps now.  But I am really happy that my little Pup was duly prepared to meet the challenge of scary teeter and was SO not traumatized.  Or squished.

At any rate I feel like it’s been 1000 years since I’ve updated on her at all.  So for the record, she is still alive. And horribly naughty. Same old, same old. Her new thing is trying to destroy the cable box.  At least she is giving my plants a break.   Also she hogs the bed.

On the training front, we hit a slight road block moving outside. Day one she was utterly unfocused (“Nom nom grass! Bugs! Dandelions!”) and it took five time out trips to the crate before she would do the DOG WALK.  Days two and three were better, with only a few swipes at the dandelions and this time managing to sequence. Day four involved very little grass eating though had the added challenge of being in PUBLIC in CLASS with FAST DOGS.   I’m totally proud that her head did not spin around a la the Exorcist… though it was close.  She was SO over stimulated. But we ran some sequences and she left the other dogs alone and even held a down stay while I walked once (reallyreallyquickly). It was exhausting. Steam poured from our ears, so over taxed were our puny brains.  She ran fast, though occasionally entirely in the wrong direction. 

And that’s ok.  I’m so focused on keeping HER focus that I’m handling like crap so when she runs around things I can’t exactly stop to correct. CONSTANT MOVEMENT.   So when she does what is in front of her- GREAT! I bet I put it there with my bad position cuz I was looking at the pretty doggy. Do it fast and we have a deal, baby.  

It’s just so clear that she has a million miles to go before she reaches any kind of maturity.  So since she is in her wild and reckless teen years, we can party it up.  We might try trialing after the summer again, but I won’t bother until she exits the party phase.  I enjoy her antics much more this way- and why shouldn’t I? She’s dang funny and cute, especially when she flashes her staffy face (the true sign that the party is ON).
Besides, I’m moving into the enjoyable ‘mature’ dog phase with The Dog.  Now that we are on the same team it’s so much fun to play together.  Her antics are kind of running out and we think the same things are fun (er, she may like tunnels a wee bit more than I do…); she has very little urge to go backpacking in China or rebel to chase doggies.  So she deserves my focus now.

With that, I really did have to rethink what that focus would be. After our FEO experience I had many complicated thoughts that were somehow barfed out here last week.  Somewhere in that jumble was my two options- work REALLY hard at 26” and have nice, clean, middle of the pack runs at next year’s tryouts, because that’s really what I could hope for given her size, temperament and structure OR take what I’ve figured out trying to run her at 26” and apply it to 20”.  I get her timing needs, I get why she’s been jumping less cleanly, and when I apply what I get  to runs at 22” or 20” she isn’t just nice, she’s kind of amazing.  And now I’m working on getting me up to caliber too- no more ‘safe’ runs with trying to hold back. What’s the point??  So there you go, why settle for nice when you could do amazing?  

I don’t know. I suppose the main point is that I love my dogs and I’ve really learned a lot recently, mostly about appreciating what I have.

Even if one of what I have likes to eat the cable box.

At least she has a nice teeter.

1 comment:

  1. Go Pup! Conquer that naughty teeter!
    I'm glad things are connecting so well with Shiver now too!