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July 9, 2015

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.
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!

Comments for Dog (Apartment) Agility

  1. Victoria says:

    wow thats pretty cool – thanks for sharing how that works -might try that on my own

  2. Great tip about the treats. I’ll have to try that with Kali. She is SO food motivated and ALL about the treats it will be interesting to see how many hours 🙂 it takes her to disengage. Also, thanks for the post about Dog Emotion on Coursera. I’ve signed up and will be checking it out.

  3. It’s great to learn with you… I’m curious what kind of video we will see on friday :o)

  4. Kismet says:

    Kali and Kaci don’t need agility training. They do need obedience training. The peeps aren’t obedient to them yet.

  5. Wendy says:

    Hmm. Teaching Penny to use reverse psychology has the kind of ominous overtones that are worthy of a Far Side comic. Good luck with the training!

    Google has just confirmed that “The Far Side” has been out of syndication for twenty years. Apologies for the obscure reference… Suddenly feeling very old!

  6. Thanks for sharing what you’re learning, Will! – Noodle’s Mom Samantha

  7. We love agility! At home we use a broom stick stuck through the low part of a couple saw horses, but I like your stool idea!
    In our agility class we start out shaping things with a clicker, since a shaping class is a pre-requisite for training Ziva has taken to trying behaviors out pretty quick when a new object is in place. For certain things we use luring but only a couple times and quickly remove it from the equation. For example, “dig, dig” our command for a tight turn – I began luring it with a treat and clicking when she’d make a complete circle, eventually using just the command, and click/rewarding her circle work. 🙂 You should check out our agility adventures, we are by no means an expert, just still learning and having a blast! I’m sure Penny will pick it up quick!
    http://www.dzdogs.com/p/agility-ziva.html

  8. Emmadog says:

    Have fun Penny! The beginning of learning a sport is the toughest part, but you will get it and be on your way in no time.

  9. Cupcake says:

    Good work, P. Mom has me jump through a hula hoop sometimes. And guess what. When I slither underneath, NO TREATS! Ugh. Picky!

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

  10. I love the way Eko looks a the broomstick. 😉

  11. coastingnz says:

    love that shot of Penny sitting waiting – so gracious. Good girl.

  12. great job Penny, way to be creative Will!

  13. Ogee says:

    Wait until she turns that reverse logic on Eko! Uh Oh.

  14. fredrieka says:

    that has to be hard to practice in an apawment, but I know you have one smart girl – Penny will learn fast. Woof and High paw

  15. Great job with a A+ student. Sam would look at me, give me the double blink (which means I have no clue what you’re talking about), turn around and find a spot to rest since there obviously is nothing in it for him. Sigh, that dog is retarded (but so am I when it comes to training him). 😉

  16. Jura says:

    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.

  17. 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!

  18. dogdaz says:

    Working for treats? That sounds terrible.

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