Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First agility training session of the year!

Yesterday we ended our second 2010-2011 winter agility break and went to one of the arenas to train! (Our first break was from the end of October to the end of December, and our second break was from the end of December -- after we sneaked in some agility -- to yesterday :)

Wall-e trained first again. I like training Wall-e first because 1. still being a baby dog, he's the one who needs the most training, and 2. I can test out my handling with him and make sure I've chosen the best handling plan before I handle Mika, who slows down a bit if I handle sloppily.

First we did the teeter bang game. I noticed the last time we trained at this arena, in December, that both dogs were a bit nervous about this teeter. Mika used to be fine with it, but considering that she hadn't used a teeter in months, I guess a bit of her old stress started creeping back. (The only way she showed stress was by licking her lips and folding her ears back a bit, but I still had to take notice.) And Wall-e has never been on this teeter before, and he's still extremely sensitive to any noises he hears in arenas. He showed stress by not running right to the edge of the teeter to wait for it to hit the ground, like he usually does.

But Wall-e did really well with the bang game. He wagged his tail as he pushed down the end of the teeter (I propped up the other end with a chair). I gradually moved the chair to increase the bang, and he ended up being able to do the whole teeter with zero stress!

Then we ran part of an Advanced Standard course that was set up. Wall-e was nuts!! The course involved two jump wraps, which he did nice and tight with our cik and cap cues. And his contacts (just the A-frame and dog walk) were great! I'm so excited to trial him in Standard this year and see how his fast 2on2off holds up!

To finish, we played around with a tunnel to build tunnel drive. I used Wall-e's new favourite toy to reward; it's a cat toy that we bought at a garage sale years and years ago. It has a plastic ball in it that spins around and around, and the dogs just go wild for it!! And because there aren't a lot of toys that Wall-e goes wild for, it's great for an agility reward. I can't throw it or tug with it, but I can set it up on the other side of an obstacle:

Then it was Mika's turn! She couldn't run into the arena fast enough; she was just dying to train. And once we got in there and I let her off the leash, she started racing around everywhere, like "Are we REALLY here?!"

We did the same teeter bang game that Wall-e did. You wouldn't believe how the old memories started coming back of how we did this same game, over and over again, in the winter of 2007-2008. And Mika still has the same adorable technique of pushing down the teeter with her front paws, and then flipping her body around to face me. The only thing she's added is increased drive!

The segment of the course that we ran was SO much fun!! As I re-watch the clips I have this huge smile on my face because Mika is just having the time of her life. Zoom here, zoom there, she had so much speed and attitude...this dog is incredible!!

We finished up with some jumping-into-my-arms training. Mika can go over a jump, and she can jump into my arms, but when I try to ask her to jump into my arms *after* going over a jump, she gets a bit confused. She hasn't really connected this trick to agility yet, so we'll be doing some more of this at home. She did get it one time, though!

So to finish it off, this was a great training day to begin 2011. I'm so, so lucky to have two amazing, happy, healthy dogs who I can have so much fun with! I can't wait to see what adventures this year will bring for us!


  1. I'm so happy to hear that you had a wonderful training day with Mika and Wall-E. They are indeed amazing and lovely.

  2. How exciting!!! Glad you are back to training and that both dogs are ready and healthy and happy about doing agility!

  3. That really sounds like such a great training session, very exciting!