As my friend Megan could tell you, I was extremely nervous going into this seminar - I had no idea how Stout would do. Or what havoc he would cause...
But he did great! We were the very first dog to run, first thing that morning. I may have muttered "this is our first time doing agility in public" as I took off his leash. But he stayed with me, ran past all kinds of people, and even took a jump or 2! I was astonished!
Stout chilling in his crate before his debut.
See the big bag of toys & cooler?
He rocked the first 2 courses, but was pretty tired for the final 2.
I was surprised that he worked for toys during those last 2 courses anyway. Or any of the courses, really :) I had brought a full bag of toys for the seminar. Then I thought maybe he'd be too distracted for his toys, so I also brought a full cooler of food :) I was very prepared.
It wasn't pretty, but better than I expected!
So like I said in my last blog post, I learned a lot from this seminar. I'm kind of a seminar junkie and I consider it good if I can come home with one new idea or insight. I came home with a lot from Dawn:
- All handling should take place between the obstacles. Work the "gaps" as well as the obstacles.
- Pre-Cue your turns! The earlier you give the info, the better! If it seems way too early, you're probably on time :)
- Shape the path/line (I liked this for corgis). Sometimes the tightest turn over every jump can work against you. Look through the course and set it up for speed.
- When you do make a tight turn, have your dog brake before take-off so they can accelerate out of the turn. She compared this to race cars. The best drivers brake going into a turn & accelerate out, creating a tight line at the bottom of the track. The lesser drivers will continue to cruise into the turn, driving higher into the bank and then braking to straighten back out. This makes for a much wider turn and puts them behind the pack.
- Never reward for stopping or stalling - always reward in movement! (you'll see she busted me for this many times in the video...)
- The closer you are to your dog when handling, the tighter your turns will be. (which makes sense when I think about doing distance handling for NADAC)
- And finally: Don't rehearse what you don't want! This was in regards to speed. If your dog is particularly slow sometimes, just stop & come back when they are fresher.
There was so much more - weaves, teeter performances, 2on/2off stuff... Really a great seminar!