I took Dhali to a drop in Puppy Agility class on Friday night. It was SO much fun! I hope we can go again. It's really nice that it is a drop in class, because I work every 3rd Friday, so a traditional 6 week class would not work for us. We would end up missing the 3rd and last class! Also, this place is 1 and 1/2 hours drive away and with the unpredictability of winter weather it's nice to not have to worry about missing a class if we can't get there.
There were 2 other puppies besides Dhali - a cavalier, 5 months, old named Lincoln and an aussie named Trip, who is about the same age as Dhali. Lincoln was such a fun puppy! Her people hadn't done any agility training before, but Lincoln was having a lot of fun, not scared of anything and did really well. Trip was kind of sad. He has been coming to class for a few months and obviously his person has done a lot of obedience training with him. He wasn't a very fun puppy, but he was very obedient (except when he ran away to see the other dogs). Sometimes I think Dhali reminds me of an Aussie - jumping, barking, nipping me in the butt - but Trip was not that kind of Aussie!
So how did Dhali do??? Awesome!!! He was fun, fun, fun to play with! I don't care what he does, but if he will play with me, that's all I want! He thought meatballs were - ok and chicken was - ok and peanut butter was - ok and hotdogs were - ok. But his mitten toy??? SO EXCITING! Let's play! He was chasing me and tugging. Jumping around and we were wrestling. Just like we do at home. Once I got the mitten toy out he was very focused and ready to play agility!
Going into the class I didn't have any expectations for him. Basically I just wanted him to get exposed to some new people, dogs and see a new place. If he would have sat in his crate for the 45 mins. I would have been happy. I did put him into the crate while we were waiting for the 2 other puppies to take their turns. I think it's important for him to be able to take a break. It also let me pay attention to what was going on. I learned that from having to manage Tibby through an hour long class. It can get VERY exhausting. Especially if you are playing vs. popping a treat. Playing = tired. Mental break and rest time in the crate is good. Dhali was fine with being crated. I walked away several times and was out of his sight - he was fine. I think at first he was relieved when I told him to take a break in the crate. It was a busy place. There was a Beginning agility class on the other half of the building. A noisy class! There were even 2 people with big cameras taking pictures of the other class. I also didn't want him to practice lunging toward the other puppies. He was interested in them - butt sniffing if they got close enough, but not crazy obsessive trying to get at them. He even was off leash a few times. He did go visit once, but the teacher brought him back and I don't think he wanted that to happen again. I made sure to keep everything fun and happy. I was probably annoying to listen to, but Dhali liked it.
Class started out with a few times through the tunnel and then we did some restrained recall type thing through some jump uprights. Dhali wasn't a fan about being held by a stranger OR running toward a stranger. When I ran with him he was a lot happier - like, "Duh Mom that's how you do agility."
Then there was a little teeter that the dogs walked over. Dhali didn't have any trouble with that at all. The teacher didn't know what the bang it game was. Then there were 'weaves'. 5 orange cones set up for the dogs to 'weave' through. I really didn't care how Dhali did them. :) Then we did a little sequence of tunnel, jump, jump, jump, turn a corner jump and then the little teeter. Whoa! big steps! The 3 jump,jump,jump were waaay too close together. So what did we end up doing?
Well, first I had Dhali wait in the crate. He did pretty well, but I asked for a tiny bit too much and he came out of the crate, so I put him back in and released him really fast. He shot out of the crate and I wasn't ready for him! But fortunately he has a good send to the tunnel (when did that happen???) and I said "GO TUNNEL!!!" He dove into the tunnel and I raced him to the first jump, he took it and came in to me. We haven't trained 2 jumps or a send ahead yet - totally understandable that he would come in to get his reward. Also, I was carrying THE MITTEN and his brain was all about the mitten. We skipped the next 2 jumps, turned the corner and he actually wrapped around the jump upright when I frantically pointed at it. He came into me and we did a little wrestling/tugging on the way to the teeter. I asked him to "waaaaiiiittt and ready?" He sat down and gave me his little bark. Sent him to the teeter - boingy, boingy he went onto and over the teeter and our turn was done. We tuggy wrestled back to the crate and then he got into the crate.
I was so, so, so happy that he played with me. The environment was not at all like home - noisy, other puppies standing a few feet away, strangers and noisy dogs banging teeters and barking behind a half wall. He was really into playing too! All I have ever wanted was a dog that would play with me and yay! I have one!
At one point he wanted to see what was behind the fence/wall making the funny sounds, so I picked him up and let him see all the dogs and people. I think that helped him know what was over there and not be worried about the sounds. I remember being really worried about Tibby looking at anything besides me when she was a puppy - No only look at me! Watch me!
At one point Dhali did his flat dog in the middle of everyone, while the teacher was talking. He just relaxes and stretches out, puts his head down and chills.
It was fun.
Dhali is awesome.
Crate we used in class. There was also a little tiny Toller puppy crated above Dhali. It was tiny and it screamed for a lot of our class. Tiny, but big lungs.