Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Agility is Hard

It's a silly thing to say after a class where my "advanced" group did an absolutely amazing job.

I've been doing agility for a long time.  Blaze started about 10 years ago.  We went to our first trial almost exactly nine years ago.   Luna went to agility class for years on end.  Blaze did quite a few as well.  I've watched a lot of agility, done a lot of agility, and read a lot about agility.

And it's only getting more difficult.

Initially it was about the obstacles and training my dog to do everything properly.  Then we realized the speed aspect and worked to get faster.   Soon after, I got more careful about handling and being able to do "all the crosses and turns."     And that was agility for a long time.

But now....with more practice, experience, and huge changes in the sport....

-Obstacle training to even higher fluency. Proofing activities with all the obstacles.
-Nit-picking training plans to avoid having to re-train or fix things later.
- Working on speed as an aspect before even starting obstacles.
- Looking at dog lines and handler lines.
- Counting strides, is my dog moving the way I expect.

Griffin is three and we aren't near ready to begin trialing.  He still needs to finish weave pole proofing and some pretty drastic repairs to his dogwalk.  His recall can be lacking, his focus immediately in a new environment (...like the agility ring) is even more lacking.   Crating all day in a new busy place?  Out of the question.

But on the other end, he's fast, he turns well, he jumps well. He goes where I ask him to. The behaviors/obstacles he has are fabulous.   His stay is quite nice.*

And I'm having to re-learn how to handle.  He's a lot more like Blaze than like Luna.   We run sequences after the advanced class on Mondays and I'm repeatedly finding myself, cautiously and unintentionally, holding him back. I'm doing more rear crosses, handling from behind and completely missing turns.  When I plan to be ahead and have a specific plan...it doesn't always happen. It's not that he's ridiculously fast, just much faster than Luna is during training.  Balancing my focus on my path, cueing my dog, where my dog is, my dog's path, his striding, his meeting criteria.... I end up loosing some pieces.

I intend to insert a video here....haven't fought with the camera to process the clips.  Trust me....he's improving, adorable, and working very nicely.  

*in this context!

1 comment:

Raegan said...

A good friend of mine is starting agility with her obedience dog. They're so cute, they think agility is about the obstacles. ;)