Why Beagles Shouldn’t Do Agility!

We’ve entered our two hooligans into a fun agility competition later in the year, and so we’re tuning up their skills so that we have a chance – however small – of them actually doing what they’re supposed to do on the day. Beanie of course can be pretty good when she feels like it, but Biggles has never really got into agility. To be fair it’s probably because he’s never had the depth of training that Beanie has, but whatever the reason, we got the feeling that while he likes the “scrambling” equipment (like the A-frame, dog walk and see-saw) he’s not keen on the jumps.

To help get him over this, we took him and Beanie for a session with Carol Rogers of Clear Run Agility. We spent a few minutes at the start of the session explaining Biggles’ apparent dislike of the jumps to Carol, and then she set up a few pieces of equipment to see our boy in action for herself. He seemed quite calm as I put him in a sit-wait and unclipped his lead, but then the little bugger took off on a sprint round the barn and leaped over every jump he could find, with a huge grin on his face the whole time. So much for the “problem” with jumps.

It seems that agility session unlocked something within him though. Yesterday I heard him “boinging” for something on the worktops in the kitchen. I was pretty sure there was nothing for him to get, other than a bit of salad packaging, so I didn’t respond immediately. The boinging sounds became a little more desperate, then abruptly they stopped, to be replaced by a rustling sound. The thing was, there was no intervening thud of something hitting the kitchen floor. That’s the normal pattern you see: boing, boing, boing, thud, scoff/rustle.

Curious, I headed into the kitchen and found Biggles standing on the worktop next to an empty pack of tomatoes. It must have taken one hell of a jump to make it up there. His elevated position had given him access to a number of previously forbidden areas, but he hadn’t used his time up there wisely; he seemed to be having trouble deciding whether he should nick something from the window sill or the sink. I didn’t give him time consider the matter further so I don’t think he got much of a reward for his efforts, but he’s been up there once and no doubt he’ll do it again. It’s a bit like we’re living a video game. Every so often Biggles gets a new “power-up”, and life gets more complicated!

Anyway, throughout all the chaos I did manage to get a couple of nice portraits of our two Beaglets this last week. I don’t how or why, but the camera always seems to make them look all innocent and angelic.

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Lure Coursing and Other Fun Stuff

A few dates from Beanie and Biggles calendar that others might be interested in.

Sue and Kevin Rose are holding a lure coursing meeting on Sunday 22nd August – all welcome. More info on their blog.

Paws in the Park is on at Rouken Glen Park on Saturday 4th September. Lots of activities to try including lure coursing, agility, agility dash (no skill needed, prize for the fastest dog) and flyball. More info on the Glasgow Dog Training Club website.

Then on Sunday 5th September Sue and Kevin are holding a special lure coursing meeting to raise money for charity. This will include fun races, fun dog shows etc. Again, more details on Sue and Kevn’s site.

First Attempt at an Agility Course

Now that we’ve got our own little set of contact equipment we’ve got everything we need to create propper agility courses. Several months ago Chief the Beagle’s owner, Luisa, sent me some of her course plans (she teaches and judges agility). At last we have the space and equipment to try them out!

We only have 5 jumps (although I’ve ordered another 6 and a tyre jump) so we had to adapt Luisa’s plan a little. Here’s the course that we came up with for yesterday’s practice:

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And here’s the video of Beanie and Biggles running the course for the very first time. I was very impressed!

Today I decided to design my own course. I wanted to give them a nice long straight at the start and finish so they could really stretch out and pick up speed, but a little bit of complexity in the middle. Here’s the plan.

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And the video of their first attempt at the course.

For the first time since we started doing agility I know what we can and can’t do and what we need to work on!

We’ve found that Beanie and Biggles do best if training sessions are very short (5 – 10 minutes max) and agility practice is very sporadic (perhaps once every three weeks). In between practice sessions we’ll occasionally pop out to work on a little drill for a minute or two. Any more than that seems to be couner-productive (although that might change in future). Yet they always amaze me with their progress from one practice session to the next. I guess a lot of skills from other activities are transferring to agility (and vise-versa).

So, that’s the equipment packed away for two or three weeks – after doing so well I think they deserve a bit of lure-coursing next!

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Butterfly stroke over the long jump!