Agility

Ginger and I had the pleasure of testing out a beginning agility class through the company who is also running our obedience class. I thought we were going to the class to “watch”, instead we actually were allowed to participate in the training. It was….amazing! I didn’t know a lot about agility before going. I knew the basic concept of it, but that was about it.

When we showed up, there were about four other dogs there, all different personalities and stages of agility. The training was in a barn that also boarded horses, so whenever they made noise, Ginger went alert trying to determine what the hell it was coming from. She ended up baring once, I think because the horses made noise, but other than that, she did OK.

The class was learning coming down a board to the target plate, so that’s what we worked on first. At first, she would put her front feet on the board, but really did not want to get her back feet up, but she eventually got it. Next, they brought out weaving poles. I was terrified. Thankfully, they had guard “wires” that hooked onto the weaving poles that would basically guide the dog once they were in them. My thought was “there is no way in hell Ginger is going to do this”. The first time I tried to lure her in with food, she freaked out and jumped out of the wires. It took some coaxing to get her into the poles again, but once I did, she made her way through fairly quickly to get to the cookie at the end.

On the third time through, we were supposed to try getting them through without food, and Ginger went just fine. She went through multiple times without a food lure to the cookie at the end with no problems. I was so proud of her. Near the end though, she was getting quite…obstinate. I don’t know if she was tired or cranky or what, but she seemed to be done. So, I sat out the last couple of rounds.

To further expand on that, I have a problem when Ginger gets cranky like that. I tend to not quite know how to react, how to handle her when she acts that way. It’s a very “gray” area for me. I’m considering a private lesson or two to have the trainer analyze what her moods are and also teach me how to handle dog-to-dog behaviors. I know that sounds stupid, but I don’t quite know what other way to put it.

At the end of the class, the instructor told me that if we wanted to join the class, then Ginger would be welcome as she really thought she did well. I’m not sure I have ever been prouder in my life. She had impressed the instructor enough to pass! However, I did decline the invitation mostly because I’m not ready to tackle that training yet. I’m still trying to train normal obedience commands right now, and still find myself slipping. I want to make sure I’m ready to be a strong leader for her before starting agility.

That being said, I do think that after we finish basic obedience, agility will be something we go for after. Ginger is a smart girl and I think the mental and physical stimulation will be good for her. I know I probably underestimate her a lot and I wish I didn’t. Today I remembered that in our first training class, our teacher said “I’m going to ask you all to trust your dogs, even though some of you won’t want to.” and that is totally me. I always err on the side of distrust, and that is bleeding over into my dog-owner persona. I need to find a way to trust her but also know with confidence that I can handle her behavior and correct it as necessary.

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