The Runaround

Gwynn and I have been taking agility classes for the past few months.  Shocking, right?  I bet, based on my absenteeism in dog-post-land, you assumed I’d gotten rid of my furry buddy.  Considering how remiss I’ve been in posting at all, you could also make the judgement that I’ve also gone away.  Perhaps we both went ‘to the farm’.

We have been doing agility, though, and, if I do say so myself, we’ve been improving at it.  If any of you in the Toronto area are interested in doing some classes yourself, I highly recommend All About Dogs.  They also have doggy first aid classes, rally-o, disc-dog, flyball and other classes, which I’d bet are just as good as the agility.  They are all about training in steps, so that the final performance is how it should be.  They are also all about making sure the dogs are enjoying themselves.   Gwynn is in love with Renee.  She is a fluent speaker of Dog-ish, and can do amazing things when she takes one of the dogs in the class for a demo of an exercise.  I completely believe that the levels of training in dog agility are mostly for the owner.

Agility is a great way of continuing your dog’s obedience training in a fun way.  You might not be practicing anything very obviously command-like, but it’s in there.  I’m finding that our agility training is improving things so much outside of class for Gwynn and I.  He pays a lot more attention to me when he’s off-leash, his recall has improved drastically, and we are overall working better as a team.

I’m learning a lot about what my body language is telling Gwynn.  Very little of what I’m saying as we go through the course has any impact on what Gwynn is doing.  It’s my own fault in guiding him when, despite my enthusiastic shout of “Tunnel!”, he follows me along the outside of the tunnel.  In the same way, when I shout “Table” while directing him (properly)towards the tunnel, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he does the tunnel anyways.

Having a weekly class has also encouraged me to do more training at home (sorely lacking at times).  We’ve been working on our tricks as well, and Gwynn, I must say, is very enthusiastic in playing dead.  Not terribly good at acting… but definitely enthusiastic.  You’ve never seen someone fake-get-shot and fake-die with such a huge grin on his face until you’ve seen Gwynn do it.

My sister came with me to last week’s class, and videotaped some of our runs.  And then, with the magic of her Mac laptop, she fancied up her videos for your enjoyment.  I now have a Youtube channel.  Just understand that it might be under my email, but it was set up by my sister, who took the video, laughed most of her way through the filming of it, formatted the video and posted it on Youtube for me.  Pretty much the only thing I did was come up with an alternate name when it turned out the channel name “Gone for a Walk” was taken!

Check it out:

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  1. FUN! Agility is so team-building for dogs and their people. I’m so happy to see that you’re not luring Gwynn thru the course – that’s pretty untypical for classes that jump right into obstacle handling without any previous flatwork.

    Blind crosses can be bitchessss. Mary Ellen Barry (and probably Linda Mecklenberg) teach the dog never to cross behind handler at a very early stage of training. This, of course, only applies when working on agility, never, like, during free-running.

    • We did a lot of flatwork before getting to this point – we’ve been working on our agility since the fall, as well as an intro-to-agility class last spring, and winter, in which no actual jumps, etc were used. They really want to teach you and your dog how to do it right, rather than just starting off with anything, and trying to fix it later.
      I definitely wasn’t supposed to be doing a blind cross – that is my current problem while doing runs, that I keep forgetting which side to turn to. it works alright, but definitely better doing a proper cross.

  2. LOL fun. Great video! Are you planning to enter a match?

    • maybe eventually, but unlikely to be anything really competitive – we’re enjoying the training, and I think a match would be fun, but I can’t see us becoming at all professional about it.

  3. Fun! We are planning to get a puppy this summer and I am already researching training. Would love any advice you can give me!

    • I’m so excited for you 🙂 and, if your recent blog post was right, a golden retriever? such pretty dogs! In terms of advice, I’d say try positive training (if you google clicker training, or positive training, you can find some good information on it), but also that, whatever class you take, make sure you and your puppy are happy/comfortable with what’s going on – go with your gut. – this site has a lot of good information on training, and she’s got a few posts about bringing a puppy home for the first time as well.
      I’m looking forward to hearing your adventures in dog-ownership 🙂

  4. loved this!

  5. Cool! I’ve never tried agility, but I think Alma would have a blast. Sure looks like Gwynn is! (No comment on the fanny pack – lol)

    Welcome back! I too am returning from a hiatus, and trying to catch up at least a little in what everyone else has been up to.

    • It’s a lot of fun, and the dogs definitely love it. The fanny pack… well… it’s stylish somewhere, I’m sure 😛 It does the trick at any rate, and otherwise my washing machine ends up full of pieces of treats when I wash my pants!

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