Wow, has it been 3 weeks since I posted? Way to catch up hehe :)
I've been meaning to write a bit about Philip's Agility training and progress for a while now, so it seems like a perfect topic to start with!
We started training in February and it's been absolutely fabulous. At first we attended a 5-week beginner Agility class not far from home, with the same trainer that we did Obedience with before. This class was meant mostly just for the fun of it - something different to do with your dog, so it was a perfect place to start. Philip wasn't too sure about it the first couple of classes, but then just just picked up on it and was absolutely loving it! We did different regular and panel jumps, tire jumps, open tunnel, teeter-totter, A-frame, dog walk, pause table, and weave poles. Philip was especially in love with the tunnel once he understood that he needs to run through it, and also the A-frame, he just has a blast running up and down the thing :) By the end of the classes he could do all of those obstacle, though had some trouble with the weaves and didn't always want to get up on the teeter.
Seeing how good he was at it, how fast he was learning, and how much fun he was having, I decided that I will let him have a go at a competition later this year, and we are still planning on it. Of course before he can do competition he needed more practice, as well as a more serious competition-focused class.
Our trainer recommended another lady a bit further from home who teaches competitive Agility classes, but while I was puttering around trying to get signed up for her class, I went ahead and built a couple of jumps and a set of 6 weave poles from PVC piping and set it up in my garage. It's been really helpful having something to practice with at home, and especially great at teaching Philip weaves better. He actually looks forward to our trip to the garage because he knows he'll get to do some fun things and get lots of yummy treats :)
3 weeks ago we finally signed up and had our first competitive class. This class is very different from what we had in the previous one. There is no playing allowed, there are strict rules, and each dog gets to do slightly different things in order to stay challenged. For example, when we do the jumps, a less experienced dog will be asked to just go a single jump and come back over it, next level would be doing 2, 3, or 4 jumps in a row, and for even more challenge the jumps will be set up so that it's not straight forward which one should be jumped when - this takes a lot of attention to detail from the handler. Another cool thing is that we get to mix up equipment, so when doing the tunnel or the shoot, first the dog get to go through the tunnel alone, then so a jump into a tunnel and/or right out of the tunnel.
I was a little hesitant about the seriousness of the class at first, but even after only 3 sessions it's growing on me and I can totally see the benefits of this kind of training. After all, a competition venue is not a playground, but a serious place with lots of thought and work put into it on the part of both - the dog and the owner.