Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maggie's a better agility trainer than I am.

Recently I've been reading my unread back issues of Front & Finish and Clean Run magazines, and have read a few articles about dogs learning from one another.  Certainly I've noticed that the dogs learn things from one another around the house (Maggie taught the boys that "comeonin" means come in from the outside, for instance).  I guess I've just never thought to much about the dogs learning agility or obedience from one another.

I am lucky enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year's off.  I'm also lucky enough to have "off-hours" access to our local kennel club building, so I've been taking advantage of these things to do some agility training during the break.  Maggie, Ziggy, and I have gone down to the club building to have some fun.  I'm mainly there to work with Ziggy, but I can't resist doing a bit of running with my agility "retiree" Maggie.

Since I had Maggie there, I thought I'd try the "learning from each other" training out on some agility obstacles.

I started by taking Maggie over the obstacles, through the weaves, and over a few jumps.  She was happy, quick, and enthusiastic!  I had Ziggy tied up so that he could see the whole thing.

Then I worked a bit with Z - mainly the channel weaves.

After Z had done a bit of work, I worked Maggie and Ziggy together.   Not a full course, but some obstacle training.  This worked WONDERS!!

Ziggy knows how to do the dog walk and A-Frame,working at lowered heights but he's very leisurely about the whole thing.  He has this cute little trot that he likes to maintain.  A great trot if you need to trot along after livestock all day.  Not so great for agility.  Maggie, on the other hand is fast on the obstacles - especially the dog walk (it's her favorite obstacle.  If she could have a whole course of dog walks she'd be one happy corgi).

First we tried the tunnel.  I lined Maggie up first, then put Z in a sit stay behind her.  I sent them both to the tunnel, and had a ball that I threw when they started to come out.  Both of them were fast through the tunnel, with no hesitation from Ziggy at all.

Next we did the dog walk.  Same set up - Maggie first, then Ziggy.  Maggie blasted over the dog walk and Ziggy galloped right along behind her.  This was the first time he'd actually run across the entire dog walk!  We did this a few more times - adding the ball as a reward at the end.  Ziggy ran almost every time.

We then did the lowered A-Frame, the chute, more tunnels, and the tire jump with Maggie as the leader. All went well, and all of us seemed to enjoy it.

We worked at the same things today.  I even let Z take the lead on some of the obstacles and he did great - the leisurely trot only made an appearance once.

I know that a few sessions won't take Ziggy from beginner to perfect overnight, but it does seem to be giving him more confidence on the obstacles.  My theory is that lack of confidence is what causes a lot of his slowness (as he's become more confident at the obedience exercises he's gotten quicker, anyway...) so I hope that the Maggie training will help.

If nothing else, it's alot of fun for all of us!

(I keep forgetting my camera, but I'll try to remember to bring it tomorrow so I can get some "tandem agility" pics)

2 comments:

  1. That's a great idea. I want to see photos of the pair. We have channel weaves at the house and some jumps, but no contacts, so I have to go to the club for the contacts. Inca is another dogwalk lover -- she'll veer off course to get in an extra dogwalk.

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  2. when Spence was a just a puppy, we were at our training place and there was tunnel out. We let the puppies off lead for some play and he headed straight to the tunnel and ran right thru. Later I called the breeder and told her how smart he was, and she said that he (along with his littermates) had been chasing their momma thru one since they were about 4 weeks old.

    So, when Scout was a puppy, one day when we had the place to ourselves, I started sending Spencer thru the tunnel and the chute and baby Scout loved chasing him thru them too.

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