My Agility Garden – Backyard Training

100_3942Today is Backyard Training blogging day and it got me thinking….What would I do without my Agility Garden?  It has adequate space, shade in summer, drains quickly in wet weather, it has grown a full slate of agility equipment over the years and most of all… it’s available whenever I feel the need or desire to train for that 10 minute stretch before dinner or breakfast.  Well, except when the snow flies.  Even then, I’ve been known to work on drills in the snow.

Added to those benefits, I am free to work on skills my own dogs need in short sessions.  I do coursework occasionally, work drills from Clean Run or other sources, or use simple setups to build skills.  It would be easy to just walk outside and fiddle around but I have learned to go out with a plan.  This week’s goals for Tai are to create a more exciting environment to practice contacts, to work weave entries with speed and to work on tough serpentines at 26″ height.

I set up a contact circle as in the diagram below, gathered up good treats, toys, Tai and Breeze.  Breeze was my helper to get Tai into a trial like arousal state.  Even though there are plenty of distractions in the form of neighbor dogs and wildlife in my yard, it’s not like a trial.  This is one disadvantage of backyard training…it can be too familiar for some dogs.  You know the one…my dog is perfect at home.  So, Breeze executed the contact circle in white letters at full speed with Tai watching from his bed.  Then, Tai came out and did the same circle.  Quick release on a couple of contacts and the speed was too much for him and he made a mistake by coming off early. Oops,  lose your turn and Breeze gets to go again. Then Tai is back out and this time he maintained his self-control and we had a party to celebrate and took a break so I could catch my breath!

In another session, I used the black circles to add some jump drills to the contact circle and get some work at a distance from the dogwalk.    This setup has morphed over the week, with the weave poles where the teeter is on the diagram to practice speed into the weaves from the straight tunnel and a line of three jumps between the A-frame and the dogwalk to practice serpentines and 180 degree front crosses after a contact.  The wing jumps have been used to practice “walking into serps” to take out some speed and help Tai master this difficult jumping skill.

I bet you can’t guess where Tai’s errors occurred in our last trial? LOL.  Looking for other approaches to backyard training?  Take a look at the other blog posts on this topic here.  Happy training in your own backyard!

Backyard training blog example