It’s Linda here behind the keyboard again – back with an update on our ‘Train Your Dog Month Challenge‘. Oh my dog, did Alfie love his new agility class or what!
We’ve joined an existing group who’ve trained together for quite some time, and they are all on a slightly more advanced level than me and Alfie – but it was either that or going back to puppy agility and you can imagine what Alfie would say about that. They are using slightly different methods to teach agility than our old class and our trainer quickly concluded that Alfie is a real rockstar, but I need some special classes to learn their handling techniques – doh, how embarrassing.
Front Crosses – with a stand in suitcase
First up was front crosses, which I know we covered in our old class but I never really got the hang of it – all I could remember was tripping over my own feet which I assume wasn’t really the point.
To add to my embarrassment, the trainer bought out an old suitcase on wheels to demonstrate the technique. The suitcase represented the dog and I got to walk up and down dragging the bag behind me, turning towards the bag and changing hands every time I turned. Apparently its good to build up some muscle memory before adding the dog to the equation.
Luckily I got to practice with Alfie quickly enough and in true Alfie style, he ‘got it’ straight away. I videod our first training session in the park earlier today, and I think things went really well considering all the distractions around us – and no, don’t expect to see a suitcase in the video! I know it just looks like I’m walking up and down with him by my side – but believe it or not, this is progress. He is paying attention, staying by my side, watching my hands – and he is loving the treats!
Tricks to Build Alfie’s Core Muscles, Balance and Paw Awareness
You might remember that I said we’d start learning some tricks for building Alfie’s core muscles, and train his balance, co-ordination and body awareness to make agility classes safer and more fun?
Beg – Meerkat – Sit Pretty
First up is an old doggie classic that I never taught Alfie – and I might live to regret teaching him now. Its the old ‘beg’ pose, or sit pretty, meerkat, or whatever you want to call it. Alfie is not used to this movement at all so its very difficult for him to understand what I actually want him to do. Because of his long back, the trainer said I can only train this trick for short sessions so we don’t over do things. Once he ‘gets it’, we can move on to ‘doggie crunches’, which is essentially moving from a ‘beg’ into a back leg stand, and back into sitting position again.
It’ll look adorable – but the point is to work on his balance and core muscles!
Some dogs are not really aware that they have hind legs – they just at full speed and hope the hind legs will just tag along for the ride. Alfie is definitely one of those dogs. The next exercise is aimed at teaching him to pay attention to where his hind legs and paws are at and improve his rear awareness. Alfie already knows the commands ‘spin’ and twist’ – but doing it on a slightly raised platform is a different story!
In class, his back paws kept sliding off the low table, but according to our trainer once a dog knows this trick he should be able to turn around at the top of a fire hydrant! We improvised a little and used a wooden bench in the park to practice on – not ideal as its kind of big, but a good start.
All in all I think January’s Train Your Dog Month is off to a good start – what have you and your dog been up to?
PS. If you like hanging out with Alfie then why not join his pawsome pack and get every blogpost sent straight to your inbox?