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This week’s class was pretty much an overview of what will be covered in the class and how
graduation works. We also reviewed some of the stuff we already knew.
About halfway through class, Risa stopped paying attention to me. She was very focused on the
door. She is usually very focused on me at class and can’t wait for me to show her something new.
But tonite she was very distracted. I took her outside to potty to see if that would help. She was
still focused on the door when we got back inside. I started to worry about her as she was panting
a bit heavy and didn’t seem to be herself. I couldn’t get her to do anything I asked. I ended up
taking her to the vet that night. Everything was fine, thank goodness.
I honestly don’t know what to do with Risa sometimes. She bounces around like a maniac in the car
while we’re waiting for our trainer to arrive. She acts like she loves class and can’t wait to go
inside. Until we get in there. Then her eyes are locked in on the door and she’s right at the end of
her leash trying to get out. I don’t get it. Even on our first day of the Head-Start classes she never
yanked at the end of the leash like that. I tried ignoring her hoping it’d stop. It didn’t. Her attention
was focused on the door all night. That made it really hard to get her attention to do anything.
Now I was thinking back to the previous week and I thought that she might have been feeling
anxious that night as well. I don’t know why she’d be anxious now when she was fine before. I
thought it could be that class is on a different night, that there are new people/dogs in the class,
lack of exercise before class. Who knows.
Aside from her focus on the door, class went okay. When I could get her attention she was spot on
with everything. She even did well with stuff that was new to her. Our trainer thinks that after 3
more classes, she should be ready to take the graduation exam. I agreed, though I was wondering
if I’d ever get her to stop focusing on the door. Next class, we’re going to stand in the spot farthest
from the door.
I’m so proud of my girl. Class went wonderfully tonite!
Since she’s been so focused on the door in classes lately, I decided to rev her up a bit before class
started. I talked all high-pitched to her in the car about how awesome and fun class is. And how
she was going to be a good girl tonite (right?). I’m not sure if it helped or not, but she was much
more attentive tonite. I set our stuff up in the corner farthest away from the door. Initially, she did
pull towards it, but not as much. Later in class when we were closer to it she did want to go towards
the door but was good about coming away from it when asked. I also grabbed some treats so that I’
d be ready to reward her when she looked at me. Pretty soon, she remembered how awesome it is
to look at me and started up with her ‘old trick’ of staring at me in class. Hooray!
We didn’t use the clicker much in class tonite. We did the ‘follow me’ game which involves us
making noises and stuff to get our dogs to keep up with us. The door distracted her a bit but not
too much. We also did the ‘emergency recall’ where we put some food out for the dogs to eat then
called our dogs, said “get me!” and ran off in the other direction. Risa did very well with this (we
had played a similar game before) and I got complimented for continuing to run until she caught up
to me fully instead of stopping when she got close.
The real fun began when our trainer brought out some agility equipment! We started off with the
tunnel which Risa was a bit afraid of at first. It took a lot of luring and coaxing to get her to go
through it. Eventually she did and it just got easier each time. It was shortened to make it less
intimidating for her but it still was a bit tough.
After the tunnel, we started on jumps. Risa did EXCELLENT. She could have been the poster dog
for jumps tonite. On the first run through she goofed up a bit but it didn’t take long for her to be
doing it perfectly. We even made it a bit harder for her by increasing the height of one of the
jumps. Then, Ris’ trainer held her in place at the beginning of the jumps and had me stand at the
end and call her to me (before we’d been running alongside the jumps luring with food). Risa came
over the jumps perfectly. Our trainer then asked me if Risa would stay put at the beginning of the
jump and then have me call her. I knew she would so I put her in a sit and wait while I walked to the
end of the jumps. I called her and she ran alongside the jumps instead of over them. It was my
mistake, as the trainer pointed out. I didn’t have Risa right in the middle of the jumps and I was
positioned off to the side of them too. After adjusting our positioning, Risa performed beautifully.
And, once we were done, she even trotted back to her spot right alongside me with minor
We started off with some review stuff. The ‘follow me’ game, sit/down/stand, and recalls with
distractions. After that, we broke out the agility equipment again! Yay! This is easily the most fun
part of class for the both of us.
First up was the tunnel. It didn’t take Risa long to go through it this time. So we stretched it out to
its full length. After a few more tries with me at the other end calling her through it, I started
sending her through it and running to the other end. She caught on FAST! Pretty soon, she was
zipping through the tunnel like a pro.
Then we introduced something new: the tire jump. It took a while and a lot of prompting and luring
with treats but I eventually got her to go through it. She had a bit of trouble getting the hang of it
but she eventually did. Then we set up the tire jump in the middle of a bunch of other jumps. I
lured Ris through this course the first couple times. Then I started calling her to me through all
these jumps. She was REALLY having a good time. In fact, when the other dog was running the
course, Ris kept watching him and looking back at me as if to say “Can I go again??” She really
just lights up when it’s time to work on the agility equipment. It’s a lot of fun for her. I’m enjoying it
Since both dogs were hoping to graduate tonite, we did their graduation exercises at the same
time. Risa did beautifully. I only had a couple problems with her, but they were minor. First was in
the space sharing exercise. It took her a bit to realize she was supposed to be paying attention to
me. She was doing the coming towards me portion well but spacing out and doing her own thing on
the walking back away from me. I got her to do it correctly once at least. I was also unable to
demonstrate that Risa will let go of a toy on command. She DOES let it go on command but she
still refuses to play with her toys in class. I even brought a couple toys hoping she might show
interest in one of them. But no. I was also fairly surprised at how well she did heeling as well. We
had to have them heel on both the left and the right. It is probably a good thing we had practiced
that over the weekend. We also got to show off any other tricks we had taught them. Risa obliged
by doing a wave, shook my left hand with her paw, and then shook my right hand with her left paw.
I tried to get her to stand on her hind legs and speak but she wouldn’t do it.
After both dogs graduated, we discussed what we will be working on in Level 2. Mainly building on
what we’ve done so far, adding in verbal commands as well as our hand signals, less frequent
treats as rewards, stays, recalls, working with distractions, etc. I also found out that at the end of
Level 2, you get to take the CGC test. That’s one of the things I’d really hoped Risa would get.