Dog (Apartment) Agility

Penny and I had our first agility class last week. It was an incredible experience, but like all things educational, the most crucial component is practicing what you’ve learned in class back at home.

Normally, Penny’s agility around the apartment takes one of two forms.

There’s “Naptime Agility” where Penny sneaks, slithers and scampers for the most comfortable position in the dog pile

And there’s “Brawling Agility” where Penny does her best to avoid the maw of her older brother

For our agility work, we’ll need to blend both of Penny’s natural agility proclivities into a a single, focused and working mindset. Great deeds have humble beginnings, so before Penny can whip through a full agility course we have to start at square one.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

A broomstick stuck between two stools. Very humble indeed

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

Of course Eko had to come help Penny check out my work of modern art. As we learned in class, I didn’t encourage Penny to jump or lure her with a treat

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

I let the pups get comfortable and sniff things out on their own

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“Oh Eko, I remember these jump-things now. It’s easy, watch me.”

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“You just walk around and get free treats!”

Not so fast Penny girl. Treats are only rewarded for interacting and moving towards/through the jump.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“Okay, now can I have a treat?”

At this point I put down my camera and fully engaged in the exercise. Before long Penny was zooming back and forth across the broomstick on her own without any commands from me. We made some nice progress so I moved to our second exercise.

For this part of training I held treats out in my hand. Any time Penny went to eat them I would close my fist.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“If you would just leave your hand open this would be a lot easier…”

Only when Penny completely disengaged with the treats on her own accord would she earn any. Penny quickly picked up on the reverse logic

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“Yeah, sure Will. I definitely don’t want those treats….*wink*”

I’ll give it to you, broomsticks and self-control exercises aren’t quite the exciting experience you might imagine from dog agility, but that’s what makes fundamentals so important.

We’ve hand a number of opportunities to work on these drills this week, so now it’s time to head back to the classroom and see what we’ve learned. Back to school we go!

21 thoughts on “Dog (Apartment) Agility”

  1. You’re right about not luring her, although you may want to add a command and point to the jump. This is because when you do a big course, you need her to go fast and do exactly as you say. And also make sure when you do the long courses (later on) that you keep reminding her to slow down! It’s hard to tell them where to go if they’re in front of you!

  2. Love that you are doing agility. I’ve always wanted to do it but my Irish wolfhound when I was young could only do the jumping as she was too big for the other obstacles! Finally I had a suitable dog but as we were stuck in hanoi with no agility we used to do agility style training in the flat all the time. Although we rather naughtily used the furniture and even an antique brass drum which she would have to jump on and practise waiting before the next command! Quito, ecuador, where we are moving next apparently has an agility course set up in the park so I am looking forwrad to using it with Tala.


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