Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Formal Training - Week Four

Last night, Ellie attended her weekly training class. Though it's supposed to be geared towards the Bronze award for the Kennel Club Bronze Good Citizen award, which gives quite rigid objectives, the training is really quite varied. So much so, that it's sometimes hard to see the relevancy. However, it is an opportunity for Ellie to mix with other dogs in a controlled environment, learn new things, and just have some fun. After all, all training is relevant when you think about it.

As per usual, we started by practising some of the basics, such as sit/stay and down/stay.

Christina, the instructor, clearly gears towards obedience and this is reflected in both her style of teaching, and in what she teaches. She is strict, and to be honest, we wouldn't want it any other way.

After warm-ups, we performed some close heel work, having Ellie come through a narrow gap between my leg and the wall and finishing with her head at my hip. This way, Ellie doesn't have opportunity to drift outwards, as the wall and the leg prevents it, and also serves to guide her into position.

Christina commented how good Ellie was at the above and I had remembered that we did it last week, yet the other people didn't remember or didn't bother practising. We practise religiously. In fact, there's little point in attending training classes if you don't follow through at home. Classes can only teach you methods. You still have to go home and practise the methods taught.

For the first time, Ellie got to perform a full agility circuit. She did all of this with ease, even jumping through a hoop which she has never experienced before. She was so excited and loved the praise that she received from Christina for her efforts.

The Ridgeback that accosted her last week was bounding around all over the place, but Ellie didn't mind at all as she had received the brunt of the Ridgeback's enthusiasm last week.

We then did some walking on a loose lead, with Christina giving commands every so often. A bit like traffic lights. Green = walk, Red = Stop and sit, Amber = Stop and down etc. Christina varied this so you never knew what was coming next. Ellie did splendidly, as this is something we have done with her since the very first day she ever went out on a leash.

We asked Christina about Ellie's slight problem of backing away when it's time for the lead to be put on after play in the field. And Ellie's lapse in concentration over the last few days when we've tried to do training with her in the house. Christina's first words were... "she's 5 months old now, believe me I nearly got rid of my collie between the ages of 5 months to 9 months". Apparently this is the time when they start showing a bit of puppy power! "Bear with it and relax and she'll come through the other end fine and dandy as long as we remain consistent.", she added.

Regardless, she advised that we just walk away if she won't come knowing the leash is going back on. Ellie is still at the age where she will think "Oooh, better catch him up", and so we should capitalise on that before it runs out. I think she's just getting wise to the fact that the leash going on means the play stops. Maybe I should just start taking it off again and playing some more, and keep doing that, so she doesn't associate the leash going on with the fun ending.

Overall, a really good class, and one that Ellie really enjoyed. She does love her agility!

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