Agility Update!

by Melissa R. on December 4, 2014

Emme is ready for some FUNEmme and I headed to another AKC Agility trial this past weekend for just a day. We have not had any practice since our last trial about a month ago as Old Man Winter has blown in with quite the fury. We had a good 16″ of snow on the ground in just a couple days. I barely was able to scramble and pack up my practice equipment it came on so fast. So I was definitely not expecting much and hoping just for some good ring practice.

We got there a bit earlier than I anticipated, but I was able to settle in, take Emme for a nice long walk, and have plenty of time to get her measured. She just turned two, so she had to be measured again. We now need to get measured twice by an official in order to get our final height card. She again measured 18″. I don’t think there is any shrinking her so we will be jumping 20″ in AKC for good. Once all the Excellence level competitors cleared out, we found some crate space and settled in to watch the Open group run Standard. Next up was our Novice Standard run.

AgilityWhat I have found with Emme as we progress in agility is that any fumble on my part or confusion on her part, and she immediately gets frustrated and starts this thing where she jumps and mouths me. She also “growls” when she is doing this, so it looks a little bad. Sometimes I am able to ignore her enough and get commands out quick enough that she stops and focus on the agility equipment and we recover. Sometimes not. Our Standard runs was one of the “not” times. And unfortunately, our judge was less lenient than others we have had so far… We started out GREAT! It was a jump-jump-plank start, which was solid. But… She slipped off the end of the Agilityplank, and the judge came over to explain what we could do next: 1) Check her out to see she’s ok and re-do the plank and then leave the course, or 2) Check to see she was ok and continue on. I chose to continue on, but at this point Emme was confused and starting the jumping/mouthing. I was unable to get her to fully recover and although we made to obstacle 12 of 15 (the table, where I was hopeful she’d calm down and focus) – the judge called us off for inappropriate behavior. Bummer.

It took me awhile to recover from this but I did my best and squared my shoulders and put on a big smile to prepare for our next course, Jumpers with Weaves. I was very happy the course started with 4 jumps right in a row! This would be a great opportunity to keep Emme on track and focused. And sure enough, jump-jump-jump-jump she did! But… she was much faster than me! I was pleasantly surprised to have her Course Mapactually run out and do 2 of the jumps while I was back at #2! Way to go Emme! But this left me on our “weak” side for the weave poles by the time I caught up to her so we bobbled there. I wonder now if I had just told her to Weave from where I was if she would have? She did try a few bouts of jumping on me, but I quickly folded my arms and turned away telling her no, and then just as quickly directed to the next obstacle. It seemed to work, thankfully. We continued on really well although I did not get into the positions I wanted at the right times but we FINISHED so I was extremely happy. Unfortunately, we were so close to being under time that we didn’t Q due to knocking a bar on one of the jumps. BUT – this was probably the best run we ever had and really left me feeling very confident in our abilities out there.

I think I just need to have a little more faith in Emme’s abilities and perhaps work with a little more distance from her. Does anybody have any tips on how to dissuade the jumping/mouthing behavior? I am not going to be able to practice much now with winter her, so any competitions we go to will have to be our “practice”. Onward and upwards!


About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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