So we had our first private this morning. I was really proud of Forest, and it solidified my feelings that Laurie is the right trainer for us. She loves all dogs obviously as its her job, but she really likes Forest and in just an hour she had figured out and confirmed a lot of things I have wondered about, as well as pinpointed some things I never would have seen/known on my own. I also really liked that she referenced specific events or issues that happened in our first two classes, which means to me she is paying attention to each individual team. That means a lot to me.
She was glad that we have the mat work foundation and advised that we always have the mat with us at class for the foreseeable future, and that we use it to start and end training sessions at home as well. We started by encouraging him to root around in her toy bag (where he summarily found each and every stale piece of kibble that was rolling around in there underneath the mountain of toys) and got him fired up on eating the string cheese out of the wrapper and tugging on it. She even had me clicking him for using his teeth at first, to work up to getting him to tug first on the cheese, which eventually we’ll transition to tugging on toys.
She told me she thinks he is afraid of the jumps. I had never considered that before, but it makes sense. He overjumps everything by a mile, and it would make sense why he is so funny about jumps at home and the practice jump at trials. So she had me sitting next to the jump and getting him to go back and forth independently for a cheese reward. We started at 8 inches so there was little chance of him hitting or touching the bar. He got it quickly and was offering the behaviors on his own within five minutes. We then moved on to a 3 jump grid, where he was super-tentative at first, but quickly worked up to it. We’ll do that at home, first with the single jump maybe in the living room, then move that down to the patio, then work up to the grid.
We also did some weaves, with him on leash, pulling toward a reward on the floor at the end. We only did 4-5 sets, but by the last he was actually driving through on his own to get the cheese at the end.
She also wants me to work on getting him to relax at home, starting and ending with the mat. She recognized that he doesn’t really like to be touched unless its on his terms, so at least for now, the massage part of the mat work isn’t part of the equation. However, getting him to lay on his side when we are done working and to just chill for a bit is the goal.
So it was a lot of basic stuff, but I think it is exactly what we need. He was happy and stayed with us nearly the entire hour, and that was with dog day care chaos and noise on the other side of the wall as well as someone setting up all the agility equipment in the same room we were in. She said she was impressed with how well he did and how hard he worked. I may attribute a bit of that to the fact that we’ve pretty much taken the last week to ten days off, so he was probably ready to work.
I feel good about having a plan and having direction. And I am happy to slow down and have some specific goals, instead of just blundering my way through everything. We got our Novice Agility Title certificate in the mail yesterday, I think that is more than enough to hold us over for quite a while…