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WEEK 1:

(I don't know much about agililty and so I can only tell you about what happens at our training facility - so it may not be the same everywhere)

There were 3 puppies on the course - which is nice, I like courses with few attendees!

The session was delayed by about 10 minutes because the other two pups both had dew claws on their hind legs and so they had to go to the on-site vet to have them taped over. Hopefully they will remember to do that before they arrive next time.

Started with some basics on health & safety. Our pups should not eat less than 2 hours before or after the session. We need to let them have a little drink during and after but not let them guzzle. We need to give them a little warm up before the session (run up and down the car park). No advice was given about whether the humans should eat or drink or warm up! ;)

Then we were introduced to some of the equipment. The trainer showed us how to deal with it and then each puppy worked on one piece of equipment and the trainer kept an eye on each of them and helped out where needed. Then we all swapped onto a different piece of equipment.

We did the "dog walk" which is a plank which goes up a ramp to another plan which is about a foot off the ground and then a ramp down again. To get them used to this, she first placed the plank flat on the ground. The command is "walk on". Once the plank is lifted up to make a ramp, you must not try to guide your dog along with a treat - if they turn their head to look at the treat they may fall off. So you put treats along the planks at regular intervals and they can walk along snuffling up the treats. Gradually have less treats. At the end of each ramp is the coloured area that they must go into - so for now we have to give him the "wait" command as he gets to the end of the plank. Gisgo was a natural at this - he has had plenty of practice climbing onto and walking along our conservatory windowsill while stalking pigeons!

Next the little jumps - only about 10 inches off the ground for pups. We stand with one foot either side and tempt the puppy to jump across by holding a treat on the opposite side of the bar. The command is "jump". Then we have to bribe the puppy over with us standing on the same side of the bar as him and not moving. My daughter soon found out that if she threw the treat over the bar, then Gisgo would jump right over to get the treat!

Then the tunnel. Gisgo was not so keen as it was a little dark. So the trainer helped us out by "shoving him in" at one end while we called him at the other. We have been practising this at home with a kids play tunnel with a blanket over it and now he is very happy to go in. The command for this is "tunnel".

Then the "A-frame" - a small one for puppies, about 2 foot off the ground in the middle. No problem with this - just walking over and down again. Need to again say "wait" at the end to ensure he does not jump off before he has put his feet in the right place.

Next week we will try the "table" - I think Gisgo has to lie on this. Not sure which of the other pieces of equipment we get to try - there is a tyre to jump through but this may not be for puppies. We will also get to try a little "circuit".

At the moment, all pups are on the lead. They will be allowed off the lead "when the trainer thinks they are ready". So I am hoping that Gisgo gets to be allowed off the lead before the course is finished (and of course it would be ideal if he is the first to be allowed off lead too!!!).

It was quite different from our previous training (which had been at the same place and with the same trainer). That has been for obedience and has been quite "formal" with only one person allowed on the floor with the puppy (and rightly so). Now, for agility, most of the obstacles are better done with 2 handlers. For example the dog walk - my daughter holds the lead and my son puts the treats on the plank. For the tunnel, my daughter at one end and my son at the other. As they both said on the way home - they were working as a team with Gisgo. This is even better than I had hoped, and has saved me from the problem of remembering whose turn it is to do which bit of the session!

It was fun. Great fun. Gisgo and my children really enjoyed it and we are looking forward to week 2.

Meanwhile, my kids are coming up with lots of suggestions as to how we can make jumps for Gisgo to use in the garden, and they want to make a "dog walk" for him to practice on........and so it begins!

If anyone has any questions - I will try to help, or ask the trainer this week. I'll update again after week 2 - unless everyone begs me not to! :D
 
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