Today was Dare's first agility funmatch! I knew it was going to be a really relaxed environment and so I decided to enter her in Pre-Novice. If it hadn't been with this group, I probably wouldn't have entered her yet, since we haven't even been running full courses at home, just sequences. There where some real highlights for us, and some not so great things too. The good news is that the good things waaaay outweighed anything else. At least in my mind.
THE GOOD: She held every startline! Yay! She did her 2o/2o on her Dogwalk in both runs. That might not seem huge, but a dog that ran after her on the first run was scared of the dogwalk, and so the handler had squeeze cheese and she put dobs of it on the dogwalk to coax her dog across. I almost didn't run Dare in the second run because of that. I didn't want her to get out there and then have her think that dogwalks were for sniffing. Several other dogs did the dogwalk without stopping though, so I decided to chance it. Dare never even paused. You can hear my friend videoing, saying "don't stop to sniff" LOL Maybe it helped.
THE BAD: The bad was all on my part. I just got back from a handling workshop with Stacy Peardot-Goudy on Tues., and she really emphasized to us, rewarding for pieces of things that go well, or that we want to reinforce. Seems simple, right? But like she pointed out, almost all of us stop and reward for contact performance, but when we struggle with jumping or weaving, or difficult handling sequences, we do them until we get it right, and usually instead of rewarding...we just keep running. She says it's probably because it's rewarding to us to continue, but is it really reinforcing to the dog? I had good intentions of stopping at certain points in the course to reward, but wehn I got out there, when it was going well, I just kept running. LOL When it didn't go smoothly, like when she'd refuse a jump or bail the contact on the A-frame, I would go back, fix it and then keep running. Ugh! That's bad. I really have to make a conscious effort to work on that one.
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN: Dare's first A-frame was far from ideal. I really don't think it's her fault though. The club had it lowered down so far that I think it took Dare a bit by suprise. She came over the top and never got a toe in the yellow before she bailed. On the second run, I told her to take it easy and she did fine.
Anyway, here's the video from both of Dare's standard runs today. It was a fun day!
SMART July Prunedale USDAA.
3 days ago