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Friday, March 20, 2015

Agility Part IV

Agility Terminology
We Use With Ziva
Part IV

In Case You Missed it!
Agility Part I - Tunnels & Circles
Agility Part II - Patience
Agility Part III - Practice at Home
Agility Part V - Poisoned Words

Whew!! We're back! So for an update, if you remember Dante and Ziva managed to pick up kennel cough from daycare despite the fact that they are vaccinated. Sadly it kept Ziva out of agility for 2 weeks! And we couldn't do much practicing because exercise made her cough. Well even though she was sick hubby and I went to practice to continue learning and to take home homework.

Finally as of last week Ziva was able to go back to agility and we rocked! I rocked? She rocked? Our trainer is always saying its the human's who need the training but i'm going to just give kudos to our awesome teamwork!

The course was tunnel, tight turn around a jump, and then tunnel again.

We did it perfectly!

The next course was tunnel, jump, tunnel, jump, tunnel... It took us two tries because of me. I stepped right in her path coming back for the jump and she veered. But on the second shot I managed to stay out of her way while directing her back over the jump and back through the blue tunnel.

She did great! She was so excited about the tunnels that she wouldn't give me a good sit stay, but that was ok because we wanted her to remain enthusiastic. We solved the waiting by having my trainer hold Ziva back and then release her when I called.

While Ziva and Dante were sick we did as much practicing as we could both indoors and out, depending on how she was feeling. We've been working on things like our circle work, "target", sit stays, "wait", "touch", perching on objects, and "dig, dig" all of which are agility related. We use some different words from my trainer but that's fine to do as long as you are consistent with your dog and your commands.

I'd like to explain a bit more in detail what we're doing and the terminology we use.
I'm no expert though, we are definitely beginners and just starting but hopefully this will make sense to you. We're having tons of fun!

Circle Work -  Our instructor is obsesses about this one...but i'm ok with that! The goal is to be able to run a very large circle with your dog off-leash. You should ultimately be able to run this circle both clock, and counter-clockwise, dog on the inside and dog on the outside in both directions. This is important for agility work because your dog needs to pay attention and stay with you without crossing in front or behind your back, and not changing sides unless you (the handler) change sides or ask them to switch.
This has been a hard one for Ziva, she likes to "blind cross" me (cross behind me) while i'm running and being on my left side is a challenge for her. But we've been working hard!
Our way of practicing is to go out to the field near our house, I put her in position (whichever side I choose) and we run. So long as she can do a circle with me I reward her by tossing the ball down my "line" this is an invisible line that she's not supposed to cross. When you first begin you want to break it up into tiny pieces for your dog, but at this point Ziva knows what I want her to do, she just occasionally gets distracted. If she doesn't do the circle with me or if I have to stop, then we start over and she doesn't get the ball. No leashes, no frustration, we have a lot of fun!

Target -  Our instructor uses the word "touch" but we already have "touch" designated for a different behavior. "Target" in this case means I want her back paws on the object and her front paws in the dirt. This is important for making sure that certain "marks" are made on obstacles in an agility arena. 

Sit Stays - Rather than use the word "stay" our instructor prefers that if we ask for a "sit" then our dog's butt should remain in that position until the release word is given. Ziva's release word is "ok". I should be able to put her in a sit in front of an obstacle, "lead out" and then release her to catch up to me.

Wait -  This is something we do at home but it works for our training too! When I ask for a wait it is less formal than a "stay" but the idea remains the same. We usually use "wait" when I want her in a standing position for a start. She has to "wait" there for me to release her. Again our practice takes place in the field, I put her on whatever side I want, as for a "wait" chuck her tennis ball as far as possible, and then release her when she is giving me strong eye contact.

Touch - I put out my hand and ask her to "touch" her nose to it. This command works great for getting her attention back when it strays, like with squirrels for example. "Touch" is only associated with rewards so she knows something awesome is going to happen when she does!

Dig, Dig - Tight turn around a jump, Ziva's a champ at this! Still working on her turning counter-clockwise but she can go clockwise perfectly.

This last week at agility was another success! We practiced tight turns, tunnels, and the chute!
The chute is a collapsible tunnel that the dog must push their way through. She did so great at taking the chute from whatever angle I put her at that we were allowed to begin using the word, "chute". We aren't allowed to use the command until the dog can show that they understand the concept.

Not our chute but a great example!
Can't wait until next week! We have two makeup days to go play in the arena since Ziva was sick for two weeks in a row. We're hoping to get in there this weekend!

I'm very proud of my little girl. We started this for her and i'm having fun too! As long as she keeps enjoying herself we'll keep it up!

FitDog Friday


  1. Sounds awesome. Sometimes a week or two break is actually a good thing and we come back recharged and ready to work harder than ever! Glad everyone is feeling better now.

    1. Thanks! Keeping these two under house arrest was driving them crazy! :-)

  2. Awesome! Dot is enjoying agility too! It sounds like your class is giving you a great foundation!!

  3. Such a great way of connecting stronger & bonding with your dogs! I have 4 dogs, and only 1 I know of would be good with agility. Love your blogs. You inspire us

    1. Aww thanks!
      We are loving agility, it is definitely a great way to bond. I'd like to get Dante into it too - i'm not sure whether he'll be as into it as Ziva but the training would at least improve his attention.
      Maybe you should consider trying it with your pup! If your pup enjoys it then maybe you'll have a fun new activity. :-)

  4. Glad they are feeling better - Kennel Cough is a tough one to get rid of. Thanks for the insight into your training - we don't do agility, but it's always fun to learn.

  5. Sounds like fun. We know from experience that drill work really does pay off in the end!

  6. Wow, you're doing great! I we agree agility is definitely a team sport. It's all about you and your pup working together! You each definitely can't succeed without each other!

  7. Major bummer that Ziva got kennel cough! A friend's Aussie contracted it as well, although he was also vaccinated against it.
    Thank you for all of your explanations! I love the idea of the circle work ~ I will start practicing that! Thanks for the new idea :-)

    1. The circle work is a lot of fun! I'd love to hear how your circles go! :-)

  8. I used to do Agility training with my German Shepherd, Star, when she was younger and before she got sick. (We lost her last fall to cancer at 13 years of age.) I think one of the things I enjoyed about it the most was that it was such a good workout for me as well. The dogs seems to really enjoy it, and it's just a good activity all the way around. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

    1. Oh yes! I noticed real quick I was sweating and had to remove my jacket. I have to run fast to keep up with her. :-)

  9. You guys are doing so good! I'm sure Ziva will be a pro in no time!

  10. Some great training! Doggies love agility! You are doing really well!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  11. That looks like so much fun! I will have to borrow a dog and give it a go!

    1. You totally should! It's a blast! :-) Some dogs run just fine for different handlers, Ziva is too much of a mommy's girl but i've seen some people swap out with border collies and aussies!


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