Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chutes and Ladders

Baloo had her first agility lesson last Wednesday. Maybe I should say I had my first lesson, I think this class is going to be more for my training than hers. For Baloo, it is going to be all about building confidence. She is not very confident, and is generally at high alert for new things, moving things, looming things, crashing things.

The class is pretty big, about 25 dogs with their people. There's another Rhodesian Ridgeback who happens to be quite calm and does whatever she's told. Hopefully Baloo will learn a few things by being in the presence of greatness. Anyhow, we split into subgroups to work more closely with an instructor and get individual time on the equipment. The first equipment for Baloo to try out was the tunnel. Baloo is afraid of tunnels. She wants nothing to do with them whatsoever. Of course, the other 3 dogs in our little group all loved the tunnel. For Baloo, we worked on just taking treats from the mouth of the tunnel and reaching in a little bit. In the meantime, I need to find a tunnel to get her used to running through. I have to help her fall in love with tunnels. After the tunnel was the weave poles. Again, not real fond of walking among all those sticks. But we managed to walk through. We didn't weave, just passed through the poles. Weave poles would be easy to build. Practicing Sit/Stay and Release was next followed by walking on a plank. Baloo did excellent on the plank, which will eventually be raised to a see-saw. The final exercise was a ladder, lying on the ground. The dogs were to walk inbetween the rungs, to help them become aware of their back feet (pick them up). Baloo refused to step into the ladder..."why walk in that thing when I can so clearly and easily jump over, mom?"

We've got our work cut out for us, and I am really looking forward to it! I think I am going to learn a lot about patience, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Agility Baloo

On Valentine's Day Baloo went to her first agility class. We are now members of the GoodDogAgility Club. First day is just class rules and what to expect and how to start training. Plus it was windy and began to rain. Also I was about 15 minutes late because of Valentine dinner at the Havana Cafe (delicious!). So we are looking forward to our next class, when we'll really have a chance to see Baloo in action.

I've already gotten some of the gear we'll need - a new clicker and a treat bag. I think we'll begin to work with the clicker this afternoon at the dog park. Our first goal will be to associate the click with a treat, no commands just clicking and treating. We also have to start working with our "target" a cottage cheese lid (I've got to finish off that cottage cheese - or better yet, maybe I'll just throw it out, it's very tangy - Nancy's brand, old fashioned tart and tangy cottage cheese. Got it by mistake, my taste buds aren't ready for tangy cottage cheese). I'll have Baloo practice taking treats off the lid so she will eventually learn to touch her nose to the lid.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Adolescence here we come...

Baloo is 10 1/2 months, an adolescent. She eats adult food now and is beginning to fill out and look more dog-like. She has only a hint of puppy in her face, but all her friends at the dog park have noticed her recent growth spurt and her body is beginning to grow out rather than up for a change. She is so tall that Jazz dog can walk under her. She and Jazz are getting along very well, Baloo won't even eat from a food bowl until Jazz eats first, she continues to be completely respectful. At the park she is beginning to stand her ground a bit more firmly. Last week, she growled and snapped over a piece of tennis ball she had grown fond of. But mostly she continues to be happy go lucky Baloo, doing her best to play with any well-mannered dog. Luckily she generally steers clear of the agressive ones, and tends not to run toward dog scuffles. When she meets a shy dog, she gets down the butt in the air in a "downward dog" position, and invites them to play. She is patient enough to try to get the shy dogs to play, and always up to the challenge.