The Agility Addiction Takes Hold

Given that I have been promising this video all week, it really needs no introduction. Because I am me, I feel like I need to say a few words anyway.

Last Sunday’s fun match was awesome. I went in with a plan: reward, reward, reward. Then reward some more. If we ever get to a real trial I won’t be able to do this so I need to create as much value for staying with me and following my directions while I can. Amazingly, it worked! For the first time I felt like we had real connection out there. We now have a formula for success! Gradually I hope to increase the number of completed obstacles between rewards but I think last weekend’s brilliance is a fantastic starting point.

For the first time, I didn’t feel as if we were the worst team on the field. Shiva got both her start-lines, she responded to verbal cues, and she only got the zoomies twice. Twice! Once per run. In my opinion, the first time doesn’t really count since the treat pouch slipped from my hand while she was tugging. In the video, I am not sure if you can hear my muttered “crap” as I felt Shiva pull it away.

I almost had a tantrum.

This time we both had a blast. I remembered why we got into this in the first place. As I walked with Shiva up to the start lines, I didn’t feel a bundle of nerves. Sure and I was a little tense, but my stomach didn’t feel like it was going to fall out. I felt calm. Confident. I knew that if things didn’t go as planned, the world wouldn’t end. I wasn’t worried about looking like an idiot. For me, this is pretty freaking huge.

Sadly, there isn’t another fun match until the end of September. My addiction will have to be satisfied with our usual Saturday classes. It surprises me how much I can’t wait to do it all again.

30 thoughts on “The Agility Addiction Takes Hold

  1. Wow, what an awesome improvement! Perfect song choice for the video:) Shiva is still Shiva but with a lot more control and focus and it was easy to see you were both having a blast out there. Way to go!!

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  2. I could tell that you were having just as much fun as Shiva.

    I feel like Shiva is thinking,”You’re running with me? That’s so awesome! I love to run too! This is great! Why don’t we do this all day? Oh, some tugging? I LOVE to tug! Oh, we’re running again, and I get to leap over these bar things! I’m having so much FUN!”

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    • Hahahahaha! That’s perfect. You’ve got Shiva down. Whenever I joke about what’s going on in her brain I imagine she talks a mile a minute. Like everything else, she probbably thinks at Mach 5.

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  3. Yay! Just look at that focus! Those jumps! You have done such an incredible job.

    hey, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! If you haven’t received it already, I hope you’ll find it fun 🙂

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  4. Awesome! You guys look like you are having a blast out there!! Funny how dog sports can be soo addictive! Before Sophie came along if you told me I would be spending my weekends either in agility classes or flyball tournaments which require me to wake up at 6am, I would have told you that you were crazy. 🙂

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    • I know, right? Me too. Before Shiva I wanted a laid-back dog. One I could walk and jog with but I never intended on a dog that would introduce me to new hobbies and a new way of life! It’s funny how it happens without you even noticing. 🙂

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  5. Looks like y’all were having a lot of fun.

    I think its great there are so many fun matches for y’all. The place I went rarely had them, then only for people who were actually competing already to hone their skills.

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    • These were the first two in our area. One of our trainers has a gigantic space in the country with her own indoor agility area. It’s pretty fantastic. We’ve gone to a few workshops at her place but this was one of the first time she put on fun matches. We’re pretty lucky to know and train with her.

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  6. I am really loving watcing Shiva leap over those hurdles. She is such a natural, graceful athlete. And you must get quite a workout doing those courses with her, huh? It’s a lot of running! I had never realized.

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    • It is a lot of running! I am hoping with more practice I can be a lazier handler, kind of stand in the middle and direct her around with arm signals. But my skills are pretty green, as you can see, which means I have to run pretty hard to keep up with her. If I move too slow she’ll be off taking whatever obstacle she pleases.

      Our next dog is going to be a slower dog. 😛

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  7. Awesome job! You guys looked so much more relaxed and confident, like you were just playing at home. So glad you are enjoying yourself. 🙂 Like others have said, it’s all about fun, the rest will come out of the fun.

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  8. Ha OMG she’s in turbo the entire time! It’s amazing you can keep up with her.

    WOOOO! High rate of reinforcement is so, so, so reliable in times like this. For Elli, it’s when people come over — she just gets so dang excited. Even if the person is a plumber or ya know, a guy looking for a signature on a petition of some sort.

    You’re so lucky she’ll tug for you in high drive. Elli won’t, unless it’s with her frisbee, which isn’t a tug toy lol.

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    • We don’t use a proper tug toy either. Shiva isn’t interested in her normal toys in such a highly distracting environment. I use a treat pouch stuffed with stinky food. For some reason she adores tugging on the pouch but she won’t tug on the tug toy that has a spot for treats. Don’t ask me. We’re now on our sixth or seventh treat pouch but it seems to work so I’ll ignore the expense!

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  9. I first saw this video on Facebook and smiled the whole way through. It looks like you two are making the transition into communicating with each other all over the course.

    You’re anticipating what Shiva will be looking for next and she’s looking to you for next steps. Just beautiful!

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  10. Oh Kristine! This was awesome! I could totally see how much more in-sync you guys were. Shiva’s excitement to be with you and doing agility was so evident. I think she could be quite a competitor some day. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

    BTW – Still think Shiva is one of the luckiest dogs ever. She has learned so much from you. What an awesome dog! Can I have some of her energy and enthusiasm?

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