Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ghetto Agility 101

Since the dog walking thing has become a thing of the past, due to weather and killer dogs, I have begun looking for other means to exercise my dogs. Oreo has learned to jump, so I decided to try training him for agility.

For the past two days, I have set up what my students would call a "ghetto" agility course in my hallway. Instead of a fancy, retractable tunnel, I have an opened up cardboard box. Instead of a sturdy PVC jump, I have some cardboard boxes holding up a swiffer broom. Thank goodness we order everything on line, which provides an endless supply of cardboard in all shapes and sizes.

I set the jump up across the whole hallway, so that the dogs have no choice but to jump if they want to get down the hall. I have it low enough so they can't crawl under it. This seems to be working. Both Oreo and Misty have done countless "jumps". Whether they are doing it because I am telling them to is highly questionable. The fact that I have jerky in my pocket may also be a motivator. Regardless, I get excited when I say "jump" and they do.

The tunnel is a little trickier. I couldn't get a box as wide as the hallway, so I have to be a little more diligent about my commands. It took about ten times, and Oreo will now "tunnel" on command about 50% of the time. 100% of the time if I put a treat in the tunnel. I am so proud when I say "tunnel" and Oreo goes right to the box and walks through.

Misty, on the other hand, is terrified of the tunnel, and will only go through if I push her. Oreo waits on the other side of the box with his head peeking in, like "Come on Misty, it's fun, go through the box."

When Oreo jumps on command, and then follows with an immediate "tunnel", I get really excited. This is the dogs' favorite part. I jump up and down, and sing their praises in a really high voice (which I am sure would be highly annoying to all of you). They lavish in my love and jump all over me.

We may never be ready for competition, but it sure is fun. Can't wait to start on the weave poles...hmmm...maybe some ski poles would work.

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