Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Class is Lots of Fun

Jedi and I are now taking class twice a week. Because of the crappy weather last month, our Saturday morning classes were pushed back a few weeks. Graduation is next weekend. The instructor promises it'll be lots of fun. I have hubby coming to take pictures, so hopefully I can share next week.
Meanwhile, K-9 Obedience Club is offering a new Body Awareness and Targeting class on Thursdays and we were fortunate enough to get in. (There are two full classes plus a waiting list.) This class is being taught by an agility competitor -- instead of an obedience competitor -- and the atmosphere of the class is very different. Much like her border collie, the instructor is focused, animated and full of energy. Instructor believes in building confidence and giving lots a rewards -- to both canine and human students. In an hour and a half Jedi probably ate two cups of diced chicken and I had a handful of Tootsie Rolls!
My perfect perch!
We're doing some rear end exercises where Jedi pivots his back end with his front feet staying on a fixed marker called a perch. We've done something like this before and I always had a hard time finding the right perch. My Star Puppy instructor had us use a book. We did, but it was odd shaped and slippery, which made Jedi uncomfortable. I had another instructor who used round pavers. These were better. I liked the shape but they were low to the ground and awfully heavy to tote around. This instructor sent an email before class started and suggested using a hard plastic dog bowl. That was my eureka moment. For starters, I had one of those! I have no idea where it came from and I have almost thrown it out two or three times. I'm glad I didn't. It's perfect: it's the right height, it's lightweight yet strong enough to support Jedi, it's round, and it's portable.
Another thing we're doing in class is using ladders lying on the ground to help teach the dogs foot placement. I've got one of those too, so we're do this at home. Jedi's still a bit leery so we're walking across it the short way for now. Remember, it's all about confidence building! It's funny though, I put it on the ground and he'll run right up to it, tail wagging. He knows that if he walks through it he gets a treat.
It's ugly but it works!
Instructor also had this thing in class called a travel plank. Have you heard of this? It's just a flat board raised about 4 inches off the ground. Instructor says she's got about 20 different exercises we could do with it, but for now we're just teaching the dogs to walk across it. You wouldn't think the dogs would freak out over it -- and you would be wrong. Instructor said you can buy some fancy shmancy travel planks online ($80! I looked), or you can go the cheap route and build your own. I chose cheap. Hubby and I went to Home Depot and bought a 1' X 4' piece of shelving, a 2" X 4" post and a box of screws. Voila! We made our own travel plank for less than $10. (The shelf had a slippery finish. I lightly sanded it and stuck on those non-skid bathtub thingies. It's ugly, but it works.)
As you can see, we've been a bit busy. Wednesday night conformation classes started up a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to go, but . . . I've been so overwhelmed with work and the training classes we already have that I haven't been able to find a time. I hope to start back up soon though. But not this Wednesday, I have something fun going on. (I'll share later.)
Anyway, enough blogging! I have to get back to Jedi. We're supposed to have a special trick for graduation and it's not going as well as I would like. I'm trying to get him to do a full circle while standing on the bowl, but he seems to get hung up halfway round. *sigh* We have four days to figure this out. Wish us luck! -- K

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