Tai’s first “official” agility run happened this past weekend at a small, one ring show. For most of us, our young dogs are coming to shows since puppy hood. I love that moment when the dog walks in the ring, leash is taken off and handler steps away to release them. I get to play too? The wonder of it all!
And for the handler…there are those moments of questioning…what’s going to actually happen out there? Will the dog stay focused? Lose his head? Get distracted? Will all the training stick or will you wonder whose dog that is running the course with you.
So, here is the play-by-play for Tai and me. I entered him in jumpers only since contacts aren’t quite ready for showtime; I also entered him at 20 inches. He measured a flat 21″ that day so 20″ is his official jump height but I plan to move him up to 24″ at the next show. I had him all warmed up before the walk-through since he was the second dog in the ring. The course was novice but did require 2 changes of sides – I had planned one rear cross and one front cross but wondered – with only 6 weave poles – if I would have time to get into position for the front, plan B was to do a rear cross. The ring conditions were a little mucky – was hoping we would both stay on our feet. As for the start line, the judge was favoring starts with tunnels all weekend, so no lead out was required.
Getting to the ring was a little dicey as Tai gets over-stimulated watching other dogs run. But we hung back a bit and walked to the ring while the first dog was running. I took my time and was patient – asking for a loose leash as we walked in despite the urging of the gate steward to hurry to the line. Really? There were 8 dogs in the class and this was novice!
I sat Tai in front of the tunnel, took off his leash, he looked up at me, then focused on the tunnel and off we went! 18.1 seconds later we finished – both crosses executed reasonably well, nice clean lines, except where he slipped in the mud. To say I was happy with the run, would be an understatement. It was a great beginning! On the other hand, it felt really normal…the kind of run we would have in the backyard…although he’s only done that many obstacles 1 or 2 times before.
The next day, he ran again in JWW. He seemed to know the drill already and it was a little harder to get the loose leash on the way in the ring. The course was nice and he did well (although I was slightly late on both my crosses) until I dug in and accelerated on the closing line, then my baby dog got distracted by my motion and knocked the 2nd to last bar. We’ve added that to our training list.
Home again now and back to training our running contacts (and stop on teeter)….much more to do before we make our debut in standard! Happy training!