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MerlinsMum
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15-06-2012, 11:29 PM

Agility with Merlin

Today I took Merlin for our second 1:1 agility lesson.

I've found a lovely place a few miles away, accessible by bus, which has am enclosed sand school which is partly undercover boasting full agility equipment.

Our trainer Christina is lovely, and thinks Merlin is very bright - borne out by how he is taking to it... he has needed so little training to get him used to the equipment so far.

On our first lesson she taught me how to hold him in a wait, give a release then a command to take him over jumps, using the right arm movements (that's going to take me a bit more learning!). We also did the tunnel, which he seems to really enjoy, and decided to pop through it a few times on his own while Christina was talking to me.

Today we tackled the A-Frame which was scary and daunting, as he slid off initially but we coaxed him back on, only for him to stop at the top and try to turn round. I carefully talked him into changing position while still up there, and he went down the other side no problem. Just a couple of of nervous but successful tries, and in no time he was going up & down off-lead with confidence. As with the tunnel, he also tried to have a go on his own during a down time.

We did the Tyre jump - no problems there, and had a stab at weaves, which I know will take a lot of practice, so I am looking to buy some for home training.

The half hour flew by... I worked hard as well... the trainer is delighted with him as he is clearly so bright and willing, and also has good basic obedience as well which makes her job easier!

Enjoying it sooo much... perfect workout for both me and my dog and some special time for us.

We had a try at some group lessons a few years ago, but as Merlin isn't keen on other dogs it was very hard and possibly not the most positive of introductions to agility, but he is taking to this now like the proverbial duck.

1:1 lessons aren't cheap of course, but I would definitely recommend them as you learn so much and the dog gets so much out of it as well. A half-hour is plenty.

Tonight, just like he did last week, he is tired but staring at me constantly... I'm not sure if that's in the hope I'll ask him to do some more work, or perhaps the opposite! Or just from a new respect that these classes are giving him. Any ways, it's great for both of us alike!
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bijou
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16-06-2012, 05:30 AM
Awww - I'm glad you and Merlin are having fun with Agility - it's a great hobby and Belgians are fantastic at it !
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Wysiwyg
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16-06-2012, 09:08 AM
I'm really pleased you got to have some special time with Merlin, and of course he would be a bright boy

Any chance of some photos at a later date?

I agree one to ones are fab and well worth the money usually.
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MerlinsMum
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16-06-2012, 08:34 PM
Originally Posted by bijou View Post
Awww - I'm glad you and Merlin are having fun with Agility - it's a great hobby and Belgians are fantastic at it !
Originally Posted by Wysiwyg View Post
I'm really pleased you got to have some special time with Merlin, and of course he would be a bright boy
Sorry to let the Belgian side down guys, but Christina asked me during the first lesson if he is Belgian x Border Collie, or BSD cross Working Sheepdog. He's the latter, and she said she thought so, she recognised a WSD brain!

Having said that, she also said he is a very sensitive dog [true]. After doing several jumps, or the A-Frame, he tends to head off towards the door, as if he is overwhelmed by what he's doing and wanting to go home now, please. I've always had trouble keeping him focussed for long, he does a lot of faffing about which I guess is part of that.

Mind you, until now Agility has been a life-skill for him, not a sport - knowing how to go through and under fences & gates when required, jumping walls and ditches, crossing narrow plank footbridges; even jumping stiles if there's no way through.

I agree one to ones are fab and well worth the money usually.
Hoping in time they will also help his attention span! Trainer seems confident that he will improve with time. It's a great environment, very calm and peaceful and Christina is calm and confident herself, which always helps

Any chance of some photos at a later date?
I'd love to take some, but I'm worked too hard! And I don't have anyone to come along with me to take any.

Have wondered about the 'mini sports cams' that you can get on Ebay, one of those strapped to my head should make for some interesting video footage... Maybe I could invest in one of those Eyenimal videocams for pets, so Merlin can make his own Agility videos?
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Wysiwyg
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17-06-2012, 07:50 AM
Originally Posted by MerlinsMum View Post
......

Have wondered about the 'mini sports cams' that you can get on Ebay, one of those strapped to my head should make for some interesting video footage... Maybe I could invest in one of those Eyenimal videocams for pets, so Merlin can make his own Agility videos?
Oh now that would be good!

Wys
x
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Vicki
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17-06-2012, 09:26 AM
Sounds like exactly what you BOTH needed - enjoy, Sue x

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Moobli
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17-06-2012, 05:21 PM
It sounds great Sue, and I am not surprised that Merlin is a natural

All my dogs have enjoyed agility in one form or another over the years, although Yogi did prove too sensitive for some of the equipment and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't want to carry on and so we stopped.

I have Zak's name down to start in September, which is when a new class starts - they are always so popular. I hope he enjoys it as much as Merlin.

Oh - and the tunnel always seems to be a big hit with all the dogs

Could you perhaps ask Christina to take some photos of the pair of you once you know what you are doing?
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katygeorge
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17-06-2012, 06:55 PM
wow sounds fun
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MerlinsMum
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17-06-2012, 08:59 PM
Originally Posted by Moobli View Post
All my dogs have enjoyed agility in one form or another over the years, although Yogi did prove too sensitive for some of the equipment and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't want to carry on and so we stopped.
That sounds very like Merlin!
I've done some "urban agility" with him on & off for a while, mostly jumping park benches etc when we lived in the city, although we had access to the beach for swimming.

He gets more life-skill agility now we're rural, as mentioned before, but old habits die hard, and this village/town has a lot of wide, low flat-topped stone walls in front of some properties. I lived here when I trained my first dog at 16, and she was always taught to jump up and walk along the walls!

I mentioned we did group agility a few times but that wasn't right for him - the stress levels were high, it was on-lead, and the training was less gentle than Christina. He refused to go on the see-saw and started growling and snarling in protest, which I can imagine is what you meant Yogi was doing? He has also done this when I want him to go along a wall, and I tended to give in to him.

Fast forward to our lessons now. They are off-lead as the sand-school is enclosed; no other dogs; plenty of time and Christina knows her stuff. The very first thing I was trained to do with him on the first day, was to put him in a sit and wait; hold my left arm over the jump; give a release word; then Over! using my arm as a lure and treat after the jump.

We have done this a lot, and he knows what's expected of him now. We did the same thing when getting him on the A-Frame except he was on lead between both of us (one lead each, either side) and although he looked like he was going to protest, we both encouraged him and it worked.

Guess what, his wall-jumping is now great, simply because I took him through the same protocol and that gave him more confidence. He will now go onto a wall without that and with NO protests at all.

Such a difference, and for a sensitive dog I now feel 1:1 is the way to go, if possible. Once the dog knows what he's doing and what's expected of him then it might be easier to bring in other distractions gradually like other dogs around etc.

Oh - and the tunnel always seems to be a big hit with all the dogs
You'd be surprised. At the group lessons Merlin was convinced they had monsters inside them [or perhaps, other dogs?] and were to be avoided or run through in fear.

Could you perhaps ask Christina to take some photos of the pair of you once you know what you are doing?
Now there's a plan.....
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Moobli
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17-06-2012, 09:16 PM
Yogi didn't snarl and growl, but started quivering and shaking when asked to go on the see-saw and then just froze. I really thought he was going to wet himself We tried gentle coaxing but it just didn't work, so I decided enough was enough for him.

Now if I could find a 1:1 trainer like yours, then I would probably try him again - although he loves his tracking, so that is his work outlet.

I have asked OH to build me some agility equipment to use at home with Zak, and perhaps Yogi might be tempted to use it too if he sees Zak enjoying it.
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