Sunday, May 4, 2008

Progress Report

Kathy from Gainesville (Blaze's mom) came to my side of Georgia on Saturday for some greyhound and agility fun. It was a lot of fun to see little Blaze at 4 months of age and it will be fun to see him grow. Generally, I train solo, but on Saturday I had Kathy available for some picture taking. I really have not been working Reagan that hard on anything in particular, but when I look back over our time together (just shy of 3 months), I'm really impressed with her progress. In my attempt to keep things interesting, I keep introducing her to new things all of the time, but it really is amazing how fast she is picking things up.

Here is Reagan jumping 2 little jumps and then a jump to a tunnel. She is just learning to follow my hand.

Here is Reagan learning to teeter. To start, I reduce the height of the pivot point so that it is lower to the ground and I have placed a block under the far end so the teeter does not pivot all the way to the ground. This allows the dog to build confidence on the teeter while it is closer to ground and without having a full pivot. Reagan isn't the least bit hesitant to slam it down which is what I like to see. Gradually, I will raise the teeter to full height, but for now there is simply no rush.

Currently, we are not practicing the A-Frame. I have introduced it, but later I will teach her to stop with her back feet on the A-frame (dog walk and teeter also) and her front feet on the ground. This will ensure that she moves through the required yellow contact zone and does not get into a habit of jumping off early.

Lastly, I have started to work on Reagan's jumping style using Linda Mecklenburg's jumping program. It is definitely designed for a dog with a border collie work ethic, but with some greyhound modification, Reagan made huge strides today. The goal is to teach the dog to collect and jump a nice round arc with tight front legs. Generally, agility encourages the dog to extend and to jump flat, so Linda suggests teaching the dog how to collect and to maximize the jumping effort before the dog has settled into a style. Step one is to take one jump and simply have the dog jump it with no running start. Reagan has been doing this exercise with a low jump height, but you need to move to full height for the dog to really have to jump. So today we moved up to about 20 inches (full height will eventually be 24 inches). Reagan jumped beautifully! Very round with her front legs folded neatly out of the way. I wish I had a picture!

All in all, Reagan is coming along very quickly despite there being no rush. I have not introduced weave poles. I'm not planning on doing very much weave pole training, full height jumping, or 2 feet-on-2-feet off contact training until she is 15 months old and all of the growth plates should be closed.

Happy training!