Tags: dahlia-agility


And now for the happier stuff!

I've realized recently that I have like NO VIDEOS of Dahlia. I have a few but none of her doing agility stuff and none of her doing any of her tricks. I don't like to video tape myself but I've realized someday it won't matter what I look like on camera. I WILL want videos of my girl and I will cherish them even if I feel like I looked fat.


I took her out to the park last night and got some videos of her doing a few agility things and some tricks. There are a bunch of them but they're all super short, so feel free to watch them all. Some are, literally, about 5-6 seconds long. And there's no sound. I got rid of it. Not entirely because I hate hearing my voice but mostly because it was REALLY WINDY and the wind sound was so annoying on the camera. You couldn't hear much anyway over the wind.

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Agility class #6

Wow...the last agility class already! I was never quite clear, for some reason, on whether or not there were 6 classes or 7. It turns out there was 6. The problem? I didn't think to bring my camera just in case. I could have kicked myself! The instructor had a camera but it was a pretty crappy one and it was hard to get action shots off of it. She did get one decent photo of Dahlia coming out of the chute, and one as she was starting to leap over a jump (just had one foot in the air at the time), but that was it. Damn. I could have taken a lot better photos than that! Oh well.

There were only two of us in class this time around, just the female dogs: Dahlia and Ellie (I think, if I remember correctly, Ellie is some sort of pit bull/lab/sharpei mix of some random sort). We started off with having them do individual obstacles and taking pictures of them doing it. It was fun. Dahlia was none too fond of the weaves last night. She had closed them up completely and I think she was a bit confused. I did manage to get her through them but not at the usual speed. She did well with the jumps and the chute. And I got her to get two feet up on the teeter. I really think jumping is where it's at for her. She loves jumping and has no problem with just leaping over them when we get near them. The rest I think she could give or take, but jumping she enjoys. I'm glad that I bought her a jump!

We did a few run-throughs of the course in various arrangements. Dahlia was exhausted by the end. With only two of us there, she did a lot more than usual. During the last run through she just barely made it through the weaves. Poor girl! She was still grinning though.

At the end of class we all got a little goody bag with some biscuits and a toy for our dog, a plastic dumbbell (which floats!), and a gourmet biscuit which Dahlia loved and ate right up in the car on the way home.

Overall, I'm glad I took the class. They're going to see if they can set up "play dates" for people to come and use the equipment for a small fee, so we'll definitely go down for that if they can get it together.

Agility class #5

It's hard to believe we're almost done with this class! Next week, I think, is our last class. And then the following week is something marked "graduation." So we're almost done. I'll be sad when it's over. I enjoy these classes with Dahlia, but as I need to get a new car sometime in the nearish future, I don't think I can spend another $100 on a class for a time. Ah well.

Last night we started with the teeter. Dahlia still hates that thing, but the instructor managed to get her onto it (basically by lifting up feet and placing her on it). She was relaxed enough to eat the treats placed in front of her. Eventually we bobbled it a little bit and I held her on it and petted her. And then when we did it again she jumped off. It's better than she's been with it!

While we were going around from dog to dog allowing them up on it, I decided to see what I could do with the tunnel. This time they had attached the chute part of it, which makes it more of a challenge. For those who don't know much about agility, there are two kinds of tunnels: an open tunnel (and since we're using one that's short the dog can see right through it) and a closed tunnel. The latter is more challenging for the dogs since they have to go through the chute part and can't see the end. This is ESPECIALLY challenging for Dahlia as she seems to hate dark, enclosed spaces. David told me she'd NEVER go through it.

I started off by tossing treats into the tunnel and letting her go in and out of it. I was surprised at how easily she did it. She tromped right in. She wouldn't go through it, but she did go in and come back out the same side several times. I started throwing treats further back in and she went after them and came back out. Finally I tossed three treats in, the furthest halfway through the chute part. I got up, ran to the other side and started calling her to me. And she came right through the chute! I was so proud of her! We did it several times. One time I thought she got caught in the chute, but it turned out she was looking for one of the treats she missed. Food hound. LOL. I guess she was pretty comfortable. Even the instructor was impressed that my chicken dog went right through it!

She did ok on the weaves. The instructor brought them closer together so they had to really weave through and it confused her a bit, but she eventually got it pretty well. Not as fast as before, but we'll get there.

We did several combos after that and except for really bad handler errors on my part, we did ok. It was really hard getting her to go over jumps to my right side. She wanted to be on my left. I wanted her on my left. Eventually we did manage to get her over the jumps on the opposite side of me from usual and from there things went well.

One of the combos was going over the jumps in quick succession. Just a step or two in between them. I wasn't sure how Dahlia would do but she did great! Especially the second time over them. She seems to really enjoy the jumping part. The instructor set things a bit higher so she had to leap a bit instead of just step over them and she sailed right over and through the tire jump. I'm SERIOUSLY proud of her and how well she's doing. After class was over, I set the tire jump higher than it's been before and got her to go through it a few times. She sailed right through with a big grin on her face.

Yep. Jumping. That's what she's there for I think. She loves 'em. I figured she would since she loved leaping over snow banks this winter.

On a side note, I got laughing SO HARD at Samson (the pit bull) during one of his run throughs. He managed to destroy everything in the room: took apart the weaves, knocked one jump bar off, knocked the other off and steps on it so it came apart into two pieces, knocked over the tire jump, and ripped the chute off the tunnel. He cracks me up.

Agility class #4

I can't believe this was already our 4th class! Wow. Time flies. I think there are just two more and then "graduation" (whatever that is exactly).

Now, you might recall that Dahlia was a complete chickenshit last week. She didn't even want to go through the tunnel, even though she had done so many times. It was almost like starting over and I wasn't quite sure what the issue was. I'm thinking now that maybe it was too much stimulation and uncertainty that day. We had taken her in for grooming so she spent quite some time at Blueprints that morning (from about 8:30am until 2pm or so). So it might have been an all around bad day for her.

Well, this week she rocked the agility equipment. I was so proud of her!

We started with the teeter. She was still nervous around it, but we managed to actually coax her up onto it, all 4 feet. The instructor let it rock forward a bit and Dahlia immediately jumped off when it moved, but it was a start. She's still more nervous around it than some of the other dogs, but she's much better than she was last class. When the class moved onto jumps (which Dahlia has been doing fine), the instructor took the teeter off the base and put it on the ground (so it only moved slightly when you touched it) and suggested I work with it really low like that. I managed to get her to put paws on it while it moved around a bit. She was still nervous, but definitely much improved. I got her to stand and it on it a couple times.

We moved onto jump sequences after that. The jumps were set side by side. We had to make the dog go over the first jump and then call them to and over the second one. Dahlia did great! I think she's ready to move the jump up a bit. She mostly steps over it, sometimes slightly leaps over it. I'd like to see it a little higher for her at this point, so we'll see if the instructor wants to move it up. Of course, little Cesar (the Bichon Frise) can't have it much higher. I think he might be jumping at close to conformation height for a dog of his size already.

Then it was back to the weave poles. We started with them pretty far apart and Dahlia went through fine. Then she moved them closer together, almost so they were completely straight on (each pole was moved maybe a couple inches out from the center). I wasn't sure how Dahlia would do with that, really. I thought for sure she'd avoid going through. Imagine my surprise when she went right through them like she'd been weaving her whole life! The only problem is starting her into it. Sometimes she goes the wrong way, but once I get her in the correct way, she just weaves right through without my having to guide her. Go Dahlia! I was so incredibly proud of her. She would come out of the weaves with this look of "wow that was fun mom" on her face.

We then moved onto combinations, which I find hardest as the handler because I just can't quite figure out how to get her to them smoothly. I suppose that comes with time. I especially have difficulty because I'm moving VERY fast and over excitedly to try to get her pumped up. I can't quite recall the first combo right now, but the second combo was pause box, teeter (at least just walking over and putting a foot on it), jump, tire jump, tunnel, weaves, jump, tire jump. Quite the combo! She did well on it, though I had some difficulty getting her set up for one of the jumps. She's going through the tire jump and over the regular jumps like a real pro. She doesn't even try to avoid them anymore -- she just heads right for them.

At the end of class, I directed her back through the weaves (in both directions) and she did awesome again. And then when I headed to get her leash she raced after me looking all excited. I think she's starting to get more into it!

The really nice thing about class last night? There were only four dogs there: Cesar (the Bichon), Ellie (the only other female dog, who is also a little more hesitant about things), and Samson (the pit bull). Samson is HILARIOUS. I don't think he's quite aware of where his feet are at every moment. He runs toward things with his feet going every which way and just barrels through things. He knocked the bars off both jumps (because he doesn't jump -- he just goes through it most of the time), knocked over the tire jump, and yanked the weaves apart. I don't think his owner is helping much because she gets him all hyped up to do it. I HAVE to do that with Dahlia or else I end up with a dog who wanders over to the obstacles. But with Samson I think I'd want to keep it all incredibly low-key. She managed to start doing that on the weaves and he went through at a much more sedate pace.

On a side note, I ordered a basic agility jump (yay!) so I can do some jumping with Dahlia at home. Our next door neighbor (with the GSD puppy) is interested in the jump as well. She won't set it high or anything, but just having him go over a low jump will be fun. Now I wish I could afford other equipment, especially the weave poles!

Agility class #3

We arrived at class a few minutes early as some other folks were leaving. We met a couple very nice Border collies and an older dog on the way in. When we got in there, there was yet another border collie and it sounded like the guy was joining our agility class. It turned out that he wasn't -- he was there for the basic obedience class, but had the wrong night (his girlfriend told him to show up, but he was supposed to be there Thursday...oops!). I was most disappointed because I really wanted to watch a BC in class.

And then the guy proved why he was there for the other class. We were just standing there and he let his dog walk over to Dahlia (he wasn't paying much attention). The dog sniffed her, she stood there with no problem, and then suddenly the dog snapped at her. The guy just stood there and said "that's why we're taking class." WTF. You let your fear aggressive dog greet other dogs? When you KNOW he has a problems with this? He was one of those dogs who just gets overwhelmed and freaks out. He ended up having to drag the dog out because it started barking and snapping at everything, no matter how close it was. Niiice.

At any rate, we started off this class with the teeter. I pretty much figured this would be Dahlia's worst obstacle. We did it with a very short, very low to the ground teeter, that the instructor held steady underneath the dogs. The instructor put easy cheese on it at intervals and we were supposed to coax the dog up by pointing to each of them and getting the dog to lick them off. This worked somewhat well with Dahlia, but we had some problems in the beginning. I pointed at the first one and she laid down. My thought was "oh great, she's frustrated already?" And then I realized I had just given her the cue for "down" and she very nicely laid down. Oops. I ignored the bottom bits of cheese and pointed a bit higher and she went for them. Like the other dogs, she stretched out on her tippy toes in order to not put her back feet on the teeter. But eventually she did get one foot on and the instructor helped to place her on it. She took a couple steps forward and then we just let her stand there and petted her for a bit to get her used to standing on it. We never dropped the other side of the teeter, but just getting her on it was a good start!

Then class moved on to a tire jump. I wasn't sure she'd go through it, but amazingly she did (I don't think she liked my calling her a chicken! lol). She managed to go through it a few times with no problems, so she really proved me wrong!

Then we did a combination...two regular jumps, the tire jump, the pause box, and the tunnel in varying combinations. I actually saw her do a couple real jumps, rather than walking over the jumps. I was trying very hard to rile her up, get her excited. Both she and Ellie (the other female dog) seem to have a problem with not getting too excited about it. Samson (the pit bull) gets TOO excited, as does Chauncey (the Goldendoodle). Dino (the yellow lab) does really well and has real potential.

I'm really pleased with how Dahlia's doing in the class. I still don't see her as a real agility dog, but she's having fun at least.

Agility class #2

Last night was our second agility class and it went even better than the first class! I think Dahlia is enjoying this. She looks bright-eyed and happy, spends most of class grinning. I know I'm enjoying it, even though I can't get the smell of freeze-dried chicken liver out of my nose! lol

We started off class with a new obstacle: the tunnel. I had been concerned about Dahlia going through the tunnel because she sometimes seems to have issues with going into darker enclosed spaces. Last weekend when we were at the dog park, I decided to take her through the tunnel they have there. At the park it's a short tunnel, just a few feet long and plastic. The one we used at class was a similar length (only a few feet long) and looks like the same material that ones in competition are made out of. They must be staked down in competition though as this one would roll all over when a dog went through it unless you held it. No big deal though as we're just learning and just getting the dogs to go through and onto the equipment.

While the instructor was talking, a new member of the class was standing nearby with their young yellow lab. The dog got up and ran through the tunnel a few times. It turns out they have a tunnel at home and have been taking him through it so he thinks it's a blast. The dog was really quite a natural as he took to all of the the equipment quickly.

Next up was Dahlia, mostly because the instructor thought it would take her a little while to go through it. I did too! She wouldn't with me standing next to her, but then the instructor held her while I went to the other side with a treat and she went right through the tunnel to me! Good dog. The next few times we did it, all I had to do was toss a treat into the tunnel and she went through. She wasn't hesitating much and I was pretty pleased (and surprised!).

Then we worked on the weaves. She was trying a different set of weave poles this time. These were ones where they have to step over some of the plastic a bit and she had them set in such a way that they had to weave slightly to get through them, rather than just walk between the poles. I was, again, amazed she took to it pretty easily. We had a couple false starts but I was able to get her to weave in between the poles pretty well. Like the tunnel, we practiced a little bit of that this past weekend. At Barry Park, they have these wooden stakes that are spaced further apart than weaves, but still seemed to be a good place to get her to weave in and out. She did well then and she did well in class.

After we had worked on those elements and taken a break, we practiced going over a single jump and Dahlia was much less hesitant. As long as I got her in the right position she jumped right over it. She didn't even walk over it! She jumped. I was really happy.

And then we did things in sequence. First sequence: pause box, jump, weaves, tunnel. She did pretty well. The pause box is nothing to her now. She steps right in and sits down. We had a little trouble getting to the jump because there was a pole in the way but once I got her over to it and heading straight on, she went over pretty easily. The weaves and tunnel went well. We did that a few times, each time she did pretty well.

Then the second sequence was: weaves, tunnel, pause box, jump, and a second set of weaves. It was hard to remember but we did ok. The hardest part was still getting her around the pole and in a proper position for the jump but I managed to do it ok. It was good working on the sequences because it makes you think about getting yourself into proper position, how to get your dog from one to the other, how to get them set up to go through and obstacle properly.

Dahlia did well, except she's slow. Seriously slow. Especially by the end of class. The instructor was amused and said something like "She's so energetic, how do you handle her?" *sigh* Sometimes I worry about my girl. She's only 3, maybe 4 years old. Should she be this laid back? She seems to have energy, but she just doesn't do anything fast most of the time. I don't know if it's the floors and if she'd be faster on grass. But still I worry that she seems so slow sometimes. I don't know how to get more energy out of her! If that's even possible.

One woman in the class swears Dahlia is an Aussie. I had no idea they can come in black (self black or minimal black bi). She kept saying that she looks JUST like an Aussie but with a tail. I have no idea, but she does sort of look like the dog on this page, except with a tail. I'm not sure the ear set is quite right though, but I thought that was interesting.

Next week they're bringing out the teeter. This is NOT going to go well. lol

Agility class #1

Last night was our first agility class at Blue Prints Dog Studio. The nice thing about this location? They're less than 3/4 of a mile away from our house. I could walk there if I wanted to, but since this is agility class I wanted Dahlia to have more energy so I opted to drive the short distance.

I found this class a little odd right off the bat. The instructor didn't introduce herself to us. I think most of the folks there are daycare dogs and so she knows them and their people. She knows Dahlia because she goes there for grooming, but I have no clue who SHE is. Odd. She was a nice woman though and was very positive with all of the dogs.

Our class has 4 other dogs: A pit-bull/lab/something mix named Ellie(She's adorable with cute spotty toes and adorable ears. She's also a really nice dog. She met Dahlia with no problem, came over and licked my hand, and was generally very attentive to her owner.); a pit bull whose name I have no forgotten (He's a nice dog, but a bit over-excited and seemed REALLY interested in Dahlia); a Bichon named Cesar (cute little dog, very alert and not barky at all...she brings him in his own little carrying case...lol); and a Labradoodle named Chauncey (biggest dog in the class...he's a nice dog too).

We immediately started in with doing some of the obstacles. The first one we did was the weaves. They had them set up so the dog simply walked through them, so it was more like a little path at first than actual weaves. I've heard of this method of teaching them: start with them far apart and slowly bring them closer together. Dahlia went easily through them, which I didn't expect! We moved them closer together and she still had no trouble. So then we started working off leash. We had to bring the dog to the beginning of them, unleash her, and then bring her through. Then we were supposed to leash them back up. The instructor decided that as long as the dog was staying with you, there was no need to leash them back up, so Dahlia did some great off leash heel work and sticking with me. She was bright and happy through most of the class!

Then we moved onto the jumps. Ahhh...poor Miss Dahlia did NOT like them at first. We were to lead the dogs up to it, throw a treat over it and give them a hand signal and the jump command to go over. Dahlia went around. And then around again. Then she finally sat down and look at me. She just didn't seem to get that she could go over it. It was like this HUGE barrier to her and she was definitely nervous to step over it. Finally *I* stepped over it and showed her "look it's ok!" and she managed to walk over it. We had a huge freaking party. lol She pretty much struggled with this all class, but we did get her over it a few times and even once was more like a jump than simply stepping over it.

The last thing we did was a pause box that was made out of PVC piping and laid on the ground. the goal was to get your dog inside the box and have her sit down and pause (I think it's 5 seconds in competitions). You'd think this would be easy. But, alas, Dahlia did NOT want to step over the PVC piping onto the floor in the middle. I finally stepped into it and then she immediately did as well. I guess she needs Mommy to show her its safe. Once in, getting her to sit and wait was easy enough. I was glad to see that Ellie also did not want to step over the PVC piping and would try to lean over it to get the treat they threw in the middle.

At that point we combined the three elements. Get the dog in the pause box, stop, lead the dog to the "weaves," go through, then go over two jumps. She did this ok...certainly she has the following me part ok and she goes through the "weaves" just fine at this point (no clue how she'll do when we try to get to actually weave!). It always took a bit to get her over the jumps, but she would eventually do it. Especially for the freeze-dried chicken liver treats the instructor had (we are SO buying some of those).

When class ended I decided to take her over the jumps again and finally, at the very end of class, she went over them without really hesitating. We did it twice in a row and both times she went over. She keeps her head down while doing it, though. I think she feels she needs to watch the jumps in case something scary happens. lol

I think my poor girl needs more confidence in herself with these things. She was nervous to try just about everything. I'm thinking about getting some sort of practice jump I can take down to the park with me and work on it with her. This one site has "duffle jumps" which you can take apart and stick in a duffle bag for carrying. That might be an option.

Agility tonight!

Dahlia and I start agility tonight and I'm actually nervous about it. Heh. I've thought about it and realized she she doesn't know much outside of normal commands (sit, stay, down, wait). She does know slow and relax, both of which were taught by accident, but she doesn't know heel really and she doesn't know to target anything. Oh well. I guess we'll see how this goes! At least there's not a test at the end of it.