Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beginning Agility

Kharma and I had our first agility class recently. Alas, her lack of foundation skills quickly became apparent to me as she tried socializing with the other canine pupils, barking at the workman next door to the ring and bouncing around on her leash. So we've spent the last week brushing up our heeling skills and some manners.

In the process I'm trying to convert to a training system that our instructor uses: the dogs in Beginning Agility are on-leash naturally (and I rarely work Kharma on-leash); a marker word rather than a clicker; naming an obstacle right from the beginning; and projecting calm rather than excitement.

It's a lot of changes for me right at the beginning. I catch myself training off-leash and using a clicker at home. So I'm going with it and then adding a leash, losing the clicker and using our marker and release words. I think of it as proofing our behaviors.

We're supposed to be practicing flatwork--our teacher wasn't exactly clear what she expected so we are focusing on driving to a target with food on it just like in class. Kharma figured out that touching the target was what I ultimately wanted within the first five minutes. She ate the treat, looked at me, nosed the target and looked at me again. She got a laugh out of me and a treat. Now she's trying to figure out if it's better to nose the target or paw it. And I'm clueless whether it's either or both until the next class.

Clearly it's more about training the trainer than training the dog (at least at this point)!

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