a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Zorro Gets the Weaves!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Zorro Gets the Weaves!

SUMMARY: A wee liddle bit of agility class.

I've been doing stealth agility classes with Zorro. At Fetch Sam (a small indoor facility closer to downtown, with solid rubber mat flooring). Not instructors I've worked with before, no one I know in our class, etc. Not deliberately avoiding anyone, but Fetch Sam is perfect for us at the moment: My knees are so bad that all I can do is hobble with him. A small "ring" and a smooth surface are ideal for me. And it's indoors, so no wet surface to slip on. And it's only 10 minutes from my house (traffic willing), which isn't true anywhere else.

Started at the end of June, mostly for something to do with him to get him around other dogs more often, in a controlled environment, and to take an edge off his energy since I'm doing nothing else with him. Really, doing pretty much nothing else but a little bit of throwing a toy in the yard when I feel like it. Class was "Jumps and Tunnels" and I figured I could just keep enlisting in that. He does tunnels in my yard all the time on his own, and will send to them all the way across the yard.

In class: "Come ONNNN Human Mom!!"

Turned out that sending to tunnels that have been in exactly the same places in my yard since he arrived 4 years ago does not translate to going into unfamiliar tunnels from even a few feet away (go figure! Doh Human Mom!), so that has been an ongoing challenge.  Here's just jumps, tire, tunnel, from July, when he actually DID go into the tunnel (this was our 2nd or 3rd time trying this sequence).

I feel as if I'm completely relearning how to get around a course, too. I know exactly how I want to "run" it with him--my brain  and yet then am nowhere near where I intended to be, even with the small field and courses with only 3-7 obstacles. Different when you can't move well or fast--I mean, after nearly 2 decades of living and breathing agility with 4 different dogs, I still know where I need to go, what I need to do: But doesn't translate when I start moving! Yikes!

Despite owning a full set of agility equipment , I just stopped doing anything after Tika & Boost stopped, so everything he has learned has been in class once a week (or, on average every 2 weeks, I suppose, given time I've been gone for Reasons or when classes were called due to heat).

And I didn't stick with Jumps and Tunnels class: We went ahead to Contacts and Weaves and that's essentially where we've been after the 6th week.

They teach weaves there using using offset poles with channels (guides) on only one side of only the first 4 poles on a set of six. We've not made rapid progress--weaves are the most challenging thing for dogs to learn, I think, particularly without plenty of practice--and the class hasn't covered them every week, either.

Then I missed several weeks due to my planned absences, unplanned illnesses, and such. We just went back last week for the first time since mid-October. He was still not really getting the weaves, although he has slowly managed to get from widely offset poles to gradually narrower ones, but usually taking several attempts to get through even 6 in that situation.

I tell you this to tell you that today, in class, he did the first time through on the wide-ish offsets as if he's been doing them his whole life. We narrowed them; ditto. Narrowed them again, ditto. Narrowed them yet more, and I went a little fast so he popped out, but then did them fine. Not flying through them, but at a low trot, anyway, and clearly getting the weaving idea, and, like, boom! Dog is getting weaves! He's so smart. If I'd ever once done a whit of training with him outside of class, he'd be super by now.

I'm so happy with my little guy. And, BTW, he loves class and has loved it pretty much since we started doing contacts there (wow, running and climbing AND treats at the end?!?!). Maybe someday he'll be able to do enough to put him in a fun match.

He's five and a half already, and has gotten overweight this year, shame on Human Mom--*I'm* not feeding him anything more or different, and not sure whether I can chalk it up to all the Squirrels he ate during the year... But, you know, not an insurmountable issue.

No videos to show. Maybe next week I'll ask someone to film us doing something.

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