Belle and I had our first class last night at WonderDogs, in Berlin, NJ. The class has mixed levels, meaning some people have taken agility classes before and some have not. I thought Belle might stand out and be the only large dog but she wasn’t.
One thing that surprised me was that we were not allowed to let our dogs socialize while we were there. It makes sense though, because as my teacher said, “You don’t want to be at a competition and then have your dog hop the fence in order to go say ‘hi’ to a friend.” And considering Belle is already so easily distracted, I spent a lot of time getting her attention back from dog butts to focus on me.
And with all the bacon treats in my pockets you would think I’d be the better choice.
Shortly after being told that if your dog goes potty inside you have to clean it up, Belle decided to demonstrate to our classmates what that meant. Thanks Belle. But we were not in trouble, WonderDogs trains many dogs, it’s not like it’s the first time it’s ever happened.
Our first exercise was to help get the dog to work on both sides. We walked them on our left and right sides while leading them with a treat. This exercise also helps to get the dogs used to turning tightly.
Our next exercise was on the dog walk. Normally, the dog walk is raised, but while we are learning something new we put the dog flat on the floor so the dog can get used it. It will be raised steadily. In order to guide the dog across the dog walk our teacher placed treats in front of the dog. Belle, however, is afraid of our teacher, so I guided her and put the treats down. It took her a few times to actually stay on the walk without trying to walk behind me, but she did make it all the way across by the end.
The last exercise we did was with the tunnel. I thought Belle would be great with the tunnel! She’s constantly under my bed, under the sofa, under the chair… so I was surprised when she took one look at the tunnel and put her brakes on. I had to climb into the tunnel and lure her through it with some treats.
I kept making the mistake of showing Belle the treat before she went through the tunnel. My teacher says this is why she continued to back out of the tunnel and follow me for the treat. Given the choice between a creepy dark tunnel and a treat, wouldn’t you choose the treat?
My first impression of WonderDogs can be summed up in one word: athleticism. As an athlete and competitor myself (having played/competed in soccer, tennis, track and field, color guard, ballroom dancing, and archery), I easily recognized the spectate and learn set up. The floor are cushioned to support landings, whenever obstacles were moved they were moved with two people, and the training area was blocked off to clearly indicate where the action happened and where the waiting happened.
I can’t wait to go next week!