Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things are looking up for the big brown boy in 2011!

Hardy's decided that things are looking up! This week classes started back up at our training hall so we have something going on most days (which is way better than just doing stuff at home). We missed obedience class this morning because Hardy and I were up 4 times during the night. We are still struggling with finding the right food that will agree with his digestive system well enough that we can also give him high value treats. I think the diarrhea last night was because he got various treats all weekend long and it was just too much for him. Although we have always tried to use premium food, I think we'll try the food he came to us on (Purina ProPlan). Since we were going up to Canada for the summer and I knew I could get it there, I left him on it. Unfortunately, we didn't start having bad breath, pudding poop, and gas until we switched off it. We'll try it again and see how it goes. 
Anyway, Hardy's digestive tract was recovered enough for him to attend the first class of the next session of agility foundations at 4:30. There were several new dogs there so Hardy was one of the "experienced dogs" and got to work at me sending him to the tunnel, going over a very low A-Frame and walking up and down a board to the table. He is in a fear period right now which we saw during the exercise with the board. While he was confident and happy doing the tunnel and the A-Frame, he was clearly concerned on the 12" wide board. We are using a clicker for his agility training which is working great! He clearly gained confidence on the board and we quit while it was good!
Laurel also had a private with Rob today. We're using a clicker to repair some problems that we've been having. When we started agility class, I had no intention of ever competing so we didn't work on some basics which have come back to bite us. But because Laurel is so clicker savvy, using it now is helping tremendously and she is gaining skills very quickly. Today we worked on the contact at the bottom of the A-Frame and the teeter, we worked on straight up weave poles, especially the entry and we also threw in some start line stays. For the first time, Laurel is stepping onto the pivot spot and confidently riding the teeter down which is a huge improvement. I think we got close to having the teeter at full height today! Both Rob (Laurel's instructor) and Ana (Rob's wife and Hardy's instructor) are great with the clicker and I think it is making all the difference with Laurel right now. I tend to run out of hands and fingers so having instructors willing to click for me is awesome. I'm hoping that Hardy will be much better at the foundations because I'm going into it knowing that I'd like to compete with him and because we will be using the clicker right from the start. I got the book, Agility Right From the Start, for Christmas and although it is a big book filled with information that can be pretty overwhelming, I'm trying to take out the stuff that will help us and use it.
It was pretty funny today when Hardy went into the tunnel from my send and both Ana and Rob clicked while I said "yes" almost simultaneously. Obviously I have done a good job training them both to click for my dogs! Thanks, guys!

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