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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Class Course - Sept 30 & Oct 1, 2009

For the record, I'm in denial that it's now officially October! The dogs are all loving the crisp days & evenings, but I'm not yet prepared to say good buy to summer.

Before I talk about this week's class course, I want to mention how proud I am of the puppies in my Agility Puppy Class. They are doing soooo good and it's really been so much fun to watch them come together and learn the basics. I've used a different format for this class and I have to say I just love it. It puts quite a bit of responsibility on the handlers, but also keeps them learning with new challenges while going back and self-reviewing other items. I have no doubt they're going to be superstars!

OK, on to this week's course as it relates to my competition folks. A few surprise lessons came out after I'd set the course and we started to get into the nitty-gritty details on some of the sequences. I'll admit, they were even a surprise to me.

First, everyone nailed #1-6 so I thought it would be a great time to shake things up a bit and challenged them to do a blind cross between #3 & #4. That meant folks needed to leave their dog at the teeter and be on the right side of #3. I chose to do this for a couple of reasons. First, people tend to hover around the teeter and in theory, their dogs should be able to do this obstacle independently at this stage in the game. Second, anybody can do either a front cross or a rear cross somewhere between #3-6 and I want my students to be more than just somebody!

I was frank and told them I didn't know how it was going to work, but in theory, if they did it 'this way' (and showed them), the results would be successful. I have to admit, watching them execute the challenge was far better than I could have expected and it was beautiful, especially for the very fast dogs and not so fast handlers.

The next sequence, #7-12 requires the handler to run the entire length of the arena while being ahead of the dog for as long as possible in order to get down to support a push to the weaves. Surprisingly, we used another blind cross on the take-off/landing side of the #7 jump. By foregoing the front cross, it saved handlers a few extra steps that were needed to get down the entire line of obstacles without the dog curling in.

Another benefit to the blind cross, it forced handlers to trust the training they've done with their dogs.

Next, handlers utilized a post turn for #13 &14 and a send from the landing side of #16 - #18.

I have to admit, this was a unique set of skills on this course and they worked great!

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