I went to another agility workshop this weekend. This one was a course running workshop, with the goal of preparing teams to run in trials. I was nervous at first because it was run like a trial and I know nothing about agility trialing. I get very, very worried about being wrong – something I share with Hannah. No wonder my poor dog used to shut down so much as we were first learning to work stock!
Fortunately the crowd was friendly and people helped me scribe and time runs, and otherwise showed me what to do. There were six handler-dog teams, and over the 3 hours I got to chat with everyone. It was quite pleasant. The dogs were all pretty advanced. Hannah and I were by far the most junior team, which was nice for a change. Often we are the most advanced team at such events and then I feel like we don’t really get pushed. We certainly got to test our limits on Saturday!
At first I ran her in a novice course, but since we had to skip all the contact equipment (after putting all that work into developing contacts, why blow it for a morning workshop?) I decided to move up to the Masters group and do the more complex jumping. Hannah is very talented at jumping and she was pretty much able to keep up with the very tricky runs that were set for us.
I, on the other hand, made quite a mess of things on more than one occasion. Good thing Hannah can read my mind and almost always did the right thing, even when I gave the wrong signals. Boy do I have a lot of work to do on shaping myself! This is something our instructor discussed: we need to develop muscle memory for various moves just like our dogs. Hopefully it will come with time.
I am proud to say that Hannah nailed her weavepoles beautifully in the last two runs that we did. Considering that she’d only done 12 poles two or three times prior to Saturday, I’m very pleased with how she did. I really like how we’ve been (re)trained to do the poles. It makes a ton of sense and is a lot easier than how I was learning before. I have both Mira and Kess coming along quickly in weave training too now.
Yesterday I didn’t do anything with the dogs. For some reason I felt horrible. I was tired and unable to do much, and sat around staring into space, too dazed to even go lie down. I did take a nap at one point, but that didn’t really help much. By evening I was feeling pretty guilty so I decided to do a little basic training with each dog in my bedroom before going to sleep. I have three crates set up in my room, so put three dogs in and had one out at any given time. I like training this way as it teaches them patience in their crates. After the first round they all figured out the concept of taking turns and waited quietly while I worked the other dogs.
Now that I finally took the plunge and bought a timer ($1.50 at the dollar store, go figure!) I can really do 2 minute sessions. I set the timer for 2 minutes, work a dog, and when it goes off, I switch dogs. I don’t always end instantly when the timer goes off, but within a few seconds of the two minutes. All four dogs made good progress in just a couple of rounds. Then they slept all night, as deeply as if I had run them! Today I made up for the lack of exercise and took them on an extra long hike. They’ve been sleeping ever since, and I need to take advantage of that and get back to my work.