Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heffner's agility class

Every Tue. night is Heffner's agility class. We've been with the same instructor for about a year and a half now and I absolutely LOVE her. It's a little bit of a drive to get to her, but definitely worth it! Heffner has some reactivity issues that we've been working through. We've taken private lessons with her focussing on this as well as a few general obedience classes (focussing on the reacitivity issue), and of course agility classes all through her. This along with other classes has gotten us to a point where I'm confident competing with Heffner in agility trials. He's not a dog that I will let off leash in a dog park, but then again, I don't usually go to dog parks anyhow! At any rate, it has been great working with an instructor who knows his background and will simultaneously work with us on those issues at the same time also getting us to move forward in agility.

Tonight's class was about working on general sequencing and starting to push the distance work. Distance work is essentially giving the dog an instruction to do 1 or more obstacles moving away from you or remaining a certain distance from you. On simple distance challenges we do great. More complicated ones, especially ones that include a tunnel, are more difficult. [I would also like to just briefly mention here that we do a limited number of tunnels each week with Heffner to how physically difficult it is for the big dogs. He only practices tunnels in class and only a few of them.] We worked on that for a bit.

One thing for us that is a an ongoing thing, is getting me to trust my dog more. Because of his behavior in the past, I am very reluctant to let him to get close to another dog that I'm not 100% sure he's okay with. However, he needs to be able to run a course with all sorts of distractions going on around him, including many other strange dogs. He has done wonderful with this at trials, but I'm still leary in class. The past two weeks we've purposefully had the other two students remain by a jump that I had to send Heffner to. Normally we would have them move so that the temptation to act wasn't even available to him. Basically not setting him up for failure. And it also helps to relieve my nerves! However, he has been REALLY great in class for the past few months and basically doesn't even take note of the other dogs in class while he's working. So now we're pushing the envelope (with the instructor standing by to intervene if necessary) a bit. Last week and this week he has had people and their dogs sitting in chairs within two feet of the final jump in a sequence. This would be prime time to act out. I will wholeheartedly admit that I was pretty nervous, but we have to work through this! And you know what? He did FABULOUS! He didn't even acknowledge the people and dogs!!! He went sailing right on by them without even a glance! He was totally focussed on me and what he was doing!:O) Everyone was very proud of my little man!

Now, I just need that total focus in the ring! He tends to get distracted by the sites and smells when we go out. I think I've figured out a few things that will help me get better focus with him but I'll have to try them out at the next trial.

1 comment:

Shana said...

Yay Heffner! It really is the best feeling when your reactive dog shows you he can handle the situation just find thank you very much! I'm at this point with Mars, well I've been there a while now, where I completely underestimate his ability to cope with his triggers. In fact, they are barely triggers anymore!

Congrats to you both!