Thursday, November 11, 2010

Early Training

After adopting Katie in February 2001, she presented me with some challenges I had never dealt with before. Number one, she was aloof and unaffectionate... a perfect example of a dog that does NOT work for any praise. She was constantly on the hunt for squirrels, cats, and crumbs (note the prong collar in the photo above, it was a shoulder saver). Katie had no use for human beings. She was busy.

Katie quickly discovered that I was a cookie source. I used to have my agility equipment in my backyard and the squirrels would taunt us. Katie would break away from training to pursue an unattainable squirrel high in a tree or safely on the other side of the fence. I never tried to stop her. I always let her go because I did not want to chance having her ignore one of my calls. One day, she just looked over at the squirrels and then picked me instead. Katie was intensely focused from that point on and ridiculously easy to train.

Distractions were never an issue. I was truly spoiled with Katie. I never had to worry about people, noises, or other dogs. I was Katie's everything and she became immune to the environment.Katie was an excellent demonstration dog for the greyhound obedience classes I teach. She would walk in and all the other greyhounds would surround and sniff her, but Katie paid them no attention. She was working and did not want to miss any cues from me. She was so cool and confident ignoring any posturing or exuberant behavior. Most of the time she laid out of the way while I helped students individually. Once, I was helping someone with sitting their greyhound and I looked over at Katie sitting on her bed (instead of lying down).

Agility training progressed quickly. Katie did not have any problems with any of the obstacles and quickly mastered the weave poles. She was confident and fearless. She competed for the first time eight months after I adopted her (Travis took almost two years, Riley took a year and a half).

This is Katie's very first agility trial run on October 7, 2001.