2-minute dog trainer – agility sequencing begins

Now that Tempest is nearly 7 months old, has recovered from his neuter surgery, and has nearly reached his full size, I’ve begun agility sequencing using the obstacles he knows pretty well — tunnels, contacts, and jumps.

Jumps are not too familiar to him as we just started some very low jump training about a month ago.

Breakfast training still focuses on heeling, though I had an epiphany yesterday morning. I had this clear realization that I don’t have the time or money to show in two sports.

So I’m focusing on agility from this point on. Obedience heeling will be an elegant way to approach the start line, and all the basic stuff will still be reinforced (loose-leash walking, coming when called, sitting for attention, settle in the house, grooming, etc.).

My new job has me away from home 3-to-5 days a week. I leave home by 10:00 a.m. and don’t get back until 8:00 p.m. I miss all of Bud’s training time, all our private lessons, all our group classes.

I have managed to ask for time off on all the Sundays we have workshops but often find myself too tired to enjoy them. That’s going to change as I become more comfortable with the demands of my job.

In the meantime, with Bud at the TDAA Petit Prix in Washington state (with Hazard), and beautiful fall weather outside, Tempest and I have added 2-a-days to our breakfast and dinner routine.

Breakfast and dinner — with his meal in a remote location Tempest heels to a position on the floor adjacent to his contact trainer. I cue “left” or “right” and “walk-it!” and he turns away from me, climbs his contact trainer and gets part of his breakfast for a 2-on-2-off position. We repeat this once or twice for a total of 2-3 performances per meal. 

Next week I’m going to bring a jump into the basement feeding area and do at least one meal a day for ’round-the-clock jump training.  Jump is the middle of the face of the clock, handler moves with dog around the edge of the clock, dog-on-right, dog-on-left, sending to the jump from 6″, from 12″, from 18″, from 24″, from 36″, etc.

During our training in the agility building we’re working on sequencing and start-line stays.

In exchange for allowing me to lead out, walk around equipment, and return, Tempest gets games of tug and — on occasion — gets to do agility equipment.

For this week’s private lessons and class I had a layout in the building conducive to training a puppy.  Low a-frame, lots of low jumps and tunnels, nothing too difficult.

So Tempest and I worked on a simple sequence.  Jump-tunnel-jump-tunnel. (Sorry, I don’t have CRCD so can’t draw it for you — set 3 jumps in a straight line — take c-shaped tunnels and put them off to the side, facing in towards the dog’s path on the line of jumps.)

Sequencing on this layout provides the puppy with some interesting training opportunities:  1) jumps may be set up as a slice, to show that a “jump is a jump is a jump, whether facing you or set at an angle,”   2) tunnels won’t always be straight in line with your start-line position,  3) when you come out of a tunnel look to me for instructions,  4) the sequence may not end at a tunnel,  5) there’s tugging to be had if you do everything I ask!

He was a motivated student (working for his tug toy).  I felt relaxed and un-stressed (it was my day off).

We had a blast.  I hope to be able to fit more of this training into my daily routine, even on days I have to work.

I can either take him to the building between breakfast and heading out to work (between 9-10 a.m.) or take him to the building after work (8:30 p.m.).  Morning would probably work out better for me, as I’m more likely to have the energy then.

But, on the other hand, when Bud’s here I sometimes go swimming before work (still working on getting rid of the last 10-20 pounds slowing me down).  AND, Tempest might have a more relaxing evening if he gets a little work after dark. 

AND, Tempest would probably be more comfortable working several hours after his supper instead of several minutes after his breakfast — probably healthier to allow his meals to settle.

I’ll work sequencing into his schedule through the winter, though.

My goal is to get him into the agility workshops for mini-sequences (if the class is doing 9 obstacles Tempest and I will do 4 of those, for example) through the fall, build to bigger sequences through the winter, and be ready for advanced sequencing by his first birthday in March 2011.

In the meantime, his behavior in the house is pretty good considering his age.  He loves to chew on OAK, so he’s damaged some of my nice furniture when Daddy allowed him free run of the house and I’m away. 

Sight of chewed oak furniture was shocking enough that no further warnings were necessary about the need to crate the puppy when he can’t be watched closely.

In the meantime, I’m off to work today and the next 2 days (beatings will continue until morale improves <g>) — all the while Bud and Hazard are whooping it up at the TDAA Petit Prix in Auburn, WA.

Good luck at the Petit Prix to my sweeties !!!!

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