a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Still Larnin' After All These Years

Friday, January 09, 2004

Still Larnin' After All These Years

On Wed. morning, Tika and I finally had agility class again after two weeks off (then one week on before that and three (?) weeks off before that). The excitement was so thick you could chew it if your dog wasn't so busy jumping around like a crazed thing.

She was wild for the first run. Paid complete attention, but ran and jumped as if it were an extreme sport rather than mere standard agility, so we had to cycle around and try again several times.

Our threadle performance wasn't perfect (see Aug. 25 entry for diagram). So our instructor suggested that we practice by sending the dog out over the first jump, back between the first and second with my bod facing opposite the path along the threadle and a goodie in my hands in front of me for her to follow; walk backwards *past* the 2nd jump to give her a better idea of how we're moving together, and then go out over the 3rd and back in afterwards. Haven't tried it yet.

Our front cross performance wasn't perfect. (This is sounding way too familiar.) Instructor pointed out that when I'm trying to do a "chop" (point firmly towards the ground next to me with a "come" intended), I am in fact *first* raising my hand and arm out to the side, which looks like a gesture directing the dog in that direction, when I'll actually want the dog to change directions. After it was pointed out, we all watched pretty much everyone in the class do it repeatedly on the front cross exercises. How have we all gotten so bad/not realized it/forgotten it?

So we talked about keeping that hand down until the opposite (original) hand passes its path, then taking over with the new hand; one way to imagine it is that the original had has a leash connected to the dog, and as your body and arm draw the dog into a change of direction, your new hand takes the leash as the original hand passes its path. I think of it alternatively as your original hand and arm wrapping around your body until the dog follows your path and then the new hand takes over as your body turns in the new direction.

Wish I had some photos to demonstrate with. Or mini films. Huh--could be my chance to experiment again with my digital camcorder-- Just what I need, more things with which to suck up my copious time.

Now it's out for our daily walk and I'll see whether I have the energy to deal with Tika for a mile today. Often I just don't any more.

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