So... Here is the plan. As agility is easier to show as to explain, you'll be getting your homeworks in video form. You'll always get some new assignments, but you need to keep practicing the old ones too - we'll be checking back on those here and there, so don't forget to keep working on those!
This class program is very extensive and after discussing it with 1st class students, I decided to give you some more time for last three lessons: first three you'll get every 2 weeks and last three every 3 weeks and we'll also make a 2-week break somewhere in between to let you catch up. As always, taking things slowly is always better and takes you to the goal faster as rushing things up, that's why I'm giving you more time for your homeworks.
1. restrained send to cik/cap - the purpose of this exercise is to play a nice chasing game, while teaching great sends, distance work and commitment - see how early I can start running in the other direction when sending Le to the jump.
Things to pay attention to:
- height: If you only did cik&cap on other objects so far, start with a jump stanchion now, but without the bar first: and then put the bar VERY low - max. 5cm (2 inches) for smaller dogs, 10cm (4 inches) for BC size and bigger. You can then add some height every 5 sessions: 3cm up for small dogs, 5cm for bigger dogs - SLOWER with young dogs! If you already did cik&cap with more height, do this exercise on your normal height, send a video and I will tell you if it's o.k. or you need to make it lower.
- distance: Start the dog very close to the jump first and then further&further every next try to slowly add distance. If the dog turns back to you (as Le does once in my video) or waits for you, start closer again and add distance more gradually.
- angle: Note from which angle I bring Le to the jump and in which direction I run away to reward. The purpose is to teach them to jump close to the stanchion, NOT in the middle of the bar! That's why I always do this side approach FIRST and do lots of it before trying any straight approaches. Check the angle again as it's not the best angle to see and many people do it coming to the jump facing it and then running parallel to it away and then the dogs are back-jumping the jump. You want to come to the jump from the side (nearing the stanchion/wing first) and then run away perpendicular to it.
- speed: You can't expect much speed with multi-warps, but you definitely want it now. Restrain the dog, wait for a good pull, let him go and run away for them to chase you&the toy. Make sure the dog is rewarded when still moving - don't stop and reward: run and reward! 🙂
2. If the first part goes well, you can also do some figure 8s + chase it game: it's the same game, only that you use two jumps now and run from one to another, sometimes still rewarding the first wrap, sometimes 4th, sometimes 2nd, sometimes 5th, sometimes 3rd... Note the angle of the jumps (side approach again!) and the distance between them: you want BIG distance to get good speed - something like 10m/33'. Again, you want the jumps under this angle to make sure the dog is jumping close to the stanchion, not in the middle of the bar. DON'T do figure 8s on one jump, it teaches the dog to jump in the middle!
3. restrained send to a tunnel (obstacle discrimination!) + come to hand vs. go game
Restrain the dog very close to the tunnel, as he is pulling towards it, say "tunnel, tunnel" to them: pulling in the direction of that thing is what you want when you say "tunnel" - and then let them go. Slowly add distance. Later on, you can add more obstacles (jumps&contact) close to the tunnel to make the discrimination harder: only say "tunnel" when the dog is pulling in the right direction, you can feel it if you hold him. You do the same with jumps: call cik&cap and release to the jump that is first the only thing around and then add tunnels closer&closer. The goal is teaching obstacle discrimination AND actively pulling towards obstacles you call (as opposed to hanging with you, waiting for you to take them all the way to each obstacle).
To train even more things at the time, when the dog is out of the tunnel, either call to hand and when he is at your side, either do a front cross or a shoulder pull (see the video) and reward for closeness - OR say your magic "run FAST" word and throw a toy ahead when the dog is catching up with you - meaning that you're moving in both situations, do NOT stand still when you send!
To make it even more challenging and train three things at the time 🙂 you can also add more tunnels and jumps around, like this:
Try to change it some every time, like bringing the other tunnel closer, or curving it sometimes, or using a jump instead, and also try running by it (to the other entry maybe) while calling to hand so that the dog needs to stay with you even when you’re actually moving towards the tunnel/jump and similar.
4. independent weaves
If you haven't started weaves yet, set 12 poles in two rows (left row must always be 60cm/24inches closer to you when you stand in front of the channel in order to teach them correct entries), at least 1m apart, restrain the dog at least 3m before the channel, throw the toy through and release. As the dog is running to his toy, sometimes just stand back, sometimes run after him, on both sides, sometimes far, sometimes close, sometimes run and stop, sometimes run and turn etc. The purpose is to teach the dog to ignore your body language when in the weaves and complete the task. Slowly switch to a static toy 4m after the channel, bringing the two rows closer&closer as you practise independent performance (I'm using bowls with treats with Le as she isn't too excited about dead toys... - but I quickly switched to a toy, thrown after she is out then to get more speed). See the video for some ideas on what to do when the dog is in a channel. If the dog already knows the weaves, send the video of how independent it is. If it's not, go back to the channel. With puppies, you can start the channel work, but only play with it max. twice a week, to not progress too fast as you don't want to close it to the point that requires real weaving before the dog is fully grown. But you can do a lot of work on independence and entries without doing any real weaving.