He got the nod from the instructor of his puppy class to advance to a beginning agility class—she said that he had a “solid foundation.” (preen, preen)
Yesterday, the last day of our spring break, there was just enough sun in the afternoon to take Archie’s training session outside. I had mowed the backyard on Friday so there was a relatively smooth surface for us to run around on. It’s been a battle with the grass: the non-stop rain makes it grow quickly, but there’s so much standing water that I often can’t mow in between rainstorms.
I’ve been working with him in the living room on the skill of going out around a cone. The determination of whether he goes to the left or right side of the cone depends on his position relative to me when I send him to the cone. That is, if he starts heading for the cone from my right side, he goes to the right side of the cone and turns back to me. I’ve been increasing the distance but that is pretty limited in the house!
So during our allotted five minutes of sun that day, I set up two cones and my tiny table with no legs. He’d never seen two cones at one time and he’d certainly not seen the tiny table. But his mat training is pretty solid so he picked up the concept of the table in just a few clicks: get on it, sit, and wait to be released. I gradually moved farther and farther from the table before releasing him and that seemed pretty solid. I then played some “ready, ready, go” games to send him to the table with speed and that seemed pretty solid.
Then I asked Archie to make a huge conceptual leap: sequencing. Cone-cone-table. Table-cone-table-other cone. I started slipping in front and rear crosses. Rate of reward was high but there was always a treat after he completed at least two obstacles in a row.
Archie didn’t even blink. No missteps. No hesitations. He even figured out on his own that instead of wrapping the cone in a tight 180 like he does in the living room, if I was heading to the table or the next cone, he needed to change the angle of his exit from the cone to also head in that direction.
I made absolutely sure to stop while he was high and happy. I can’t wait until the weather starts to dry out so we can play outside more regularly.