Our Second Class and Vlog #5

Belle and I had our second agility class. I’d love to say that it went smoothly but a certain furry four legged friend of was a giant pain in the rear. On the plus side, Belle didn’t poop or pee on the floor this week, so silver lining.

When I got to WonderDogs I immediately took Belle out to go to the bathroom. After last week when she decided to show her whole class what going inside means, I wanted to be on the safe non-stinky side. But Belle wouldn’t go! She just kept sniffing all the new smells! Walk her to the left away from smells, NEW SMELLS, walk back to the other smells that she already smelled, SAME SMELLS!

She managed to pee right before class but it didn’t dawn on her until another dog showed up.

001Then we went inside and we waited for class to start. Well, I waited for class to start Belle decided to sniff every butt that trotted past her, human and canine. And oh my dog paws! Is that a book shelf? Belle hasn’t sniffed a book shelf yet!

When class started we reviewed what we had started last week, making the dog turn tightly around us to get used to the tight turns. As each team went, Belle tried to pull me in any direction she felt like. After we went (and we actually did pretty well), I had to keep tugging her collar and waving treats in front of her face.

At one point I just led her around in a circle around me, but I had to stop because I got dizzy.

003Our second exercise was to switch directions and keep the dog on the same side. Meaning that Belle would start by following me on the right, then I would switch directions, and Belle would be on my left. She did well with the directional switch but not so great with the waiting until I gave her the treat. She decided to snap at my hand trying to get the treat when I took too long to give it to her.

But I learned something new about giving Belle treats, not only to move my hand faster should she decide to lunge at me, but to give her the treats on my side. I imagine this is to reward her for being at my side and not in front of me. I should check on that with my instructor. Till then I’ll make sure to give Belle the treat on my side. Hopefully, she won’t snatch at me any more. She’s normally very tender taking food from my hands.

002We were introduced to the weave poles in that class as well. You’ll see on the vlog that we didn’t weave through anything. We walked our dogs through the poles so that the dogs could get comfortable with the obstacles. One section of the weave poles, just two poles, was set up where we could walk through it. Once the dog had one paw on or through the obstacle, we threw a treat in front of them. That way they are rewarded for going through the poles.

After working with the weave poles we spent some time reinforcing the heel command. I had not worked with this command before, even though Belle has been in obedience classes before. To teach her to heel I got her attention with a cookie, guided her behind me, and then guided her back to my side. I said heel once she was in line with me.

Halfway through the course, we switched sides and instructors. The new instructor led us through the tunnel again. This time, the tunnel was completely out and not scrunched up like it was last week.

008And Belle did not enjoy that.

Just like last week, Belle had some issues with the tunnel. My instructors say that it’s common for larger dogs to have issues with the tunnel, because they have to crouch down in order to get through it. It makes a lot of them very nervous. My instructor shortened the tunnel for Belle, but later inched it out making it longer each time Belle went through.

010Belle’s performance on the dog walk was better than last week. She is, however, too fast and strong for me, which means she is not cleanly approaching this obstacle. This week we tried to get the dogs to stop at the end of the dog walk with two paws in the yellow contact zone and two paws out. This is so the dogs get used to making contact here and we are not penalized for the dog speeding through these zones.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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