Walking the Plank

Today our new dog walk and a-frame arrived. It’s not full size, but a better fit for our garden and our Beaglets!

Beanie and Biggles gave it a quick try out when the rain stopped and gave it a big thumbs up.

The dog walk.

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And the A-frame. Having looked at these pictures all I can say is it’s a good thing my dogs don’t go in the direction I point!!!

Biggles has never seen an a-frame before and it looked quite high….

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But our intrepid little biglet was soon scrambling over the top.

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Finally, the double act.

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Ooeew – smelly!

I See a Seesaw

Inspired by Luisa and Chief the Beagle’s great performance at the Eglington Agility show at the weekend we decided to get some contact equipment for Beanie and Biggles – a dog walk, A-frame and a seesaw. The seesaw arrived this morning.

Beanie and Biggles were very excited and kindly helped us unpack all the pieces.

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It all went together very quickly and we soon had it assembled and located at the bottom of the garden. I went indoors to get some training treats and my clicker and had a think about how to go about teaching Beanie and Biggles. I figured the first step would be to build up their confidence – it’s bound to be scary for a little Beaglet when that seesaw starts to tip….

Then I looked down the garden and saw Beanie and Biggles taking it in turns to sprint over the seesaw at top speed – they didn’t even seem to notice the thing tipping!

That left me at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The dogs I’d seen at competitions all seemed to stop/slow half way along the seesaw so that it tipped slowly. How to get my two dare devils to do that? We played with the seesaw for a couple of minutes then decided to call it a day until I’d found out more about it.

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I’m beginning to think that the pups were doing it right without me!

Beanie and Biggles were keen to do more so we did a little bit of weaving. The method I used to teach Beanie to weave doesn’t work with Biggles but I think we’ve now found an approach that will suit him. I break the weave poles into three sets of two poles and stagger them. This allows him to go through a full set of weaves quite easily – he only has to learn to walk between two poles and keep repeating. Gradually we’ll move them closer and closer together until he’s doing it properly.

Beanie is starting to get very good. She’s getting quite fast and reliably enters the weaves correctly from pretty much any angle no matter where I am standing.

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You Jump – I’ll Just Sit Here.

Biggles had his first and only agility lesson almost a year ago and did so well that we thought he might be the agility star in the family. He’s certainly capable and judging by the speed his tail wags he seems keen. But when we try to teach him any skills he just doesn’t get it. It’s not that he can’t do what you’re asking of him – it’s just that he seems to look at you as if to say “OK, when are we getting started on the fun stuff then?”. It goes a bit like this:

  • Throw the ball over a jump – Biggles jumps after it tail wagging furiously. Reward him well.
  • Throw the ball over two jumps – Biggles jumps after it tail wagging furiously. Reward him well.
  • Do it again – Biggles sits by your side, tail wagging like a propeller but does nothing. Then he snuggles up close to your leg and makes himself comfy.

OK, he’s bored (although he doesn’t look bored). Move onto something else.

  • Call Biggles over a jump. Biggles jumps, tail wagging furiously. Reward him well.
  • Call Biggles over two jumps. Biggles jumps, tail wagging furiously. Reward him well.
  • Do it again. Biggles sits looking at you excitedly, tail wagging like a propeller but does nothing.

This isn’t completely out of character for Biggly Boy. During games of fetch he lets Beanie go get the ball. After she’s dropped it at your feet he picks it up and instantly drops it then looks at you as if to say “I did it too!”. At lure coursing he makes a beeline for the home straight and lies in wait for the lure so he can grab it on the way past.

It’s not as if he’s got a short attention span. At Heelwork to Music classes (which he loves) he’ll give me his undivided attention for a solid hour and he never seems to get bored.

We’ll give it a little bit longer – maybe we’ve just not figured out how to motivate him. But I’m beginning to think that Agility just isn’t his thing.

Beanie on the other hand is coming on in leaps and bounds in agility (literally) – despite next to no practice in the past year. Obviously skills from other activities are transferring to agility. I set this course up for her yesterday morning for the first time. She hadn’t practiced it – or anything similar yet she managed it first time. We still need to use a ball as a target to send her away from me, but not for much longer the way she’s going!