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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shyla's Agility!

Shyla and I have been working on agility on our little homemade course since the snow melted in late May. She was a total novice at the start of the season. When we're not out of town, we spend about 10 minutes a day practicing.

She's mastered all of the obstacles pretty well at this point. We've worked all summer on the weave because it is conceptually the hardest to learn. I used a "shaping" technique pioneered by Susan Garrett (in her book Shaping Success), where I started by having Shyla learn to go through a "gate" of 2 weave poles. Gradually, I oriented those two weave poles so that Shyla essentially "weaved" through them.

Then, I added another pair of weave poles. I started with them set up like 2 sets of "gates" that Shyla ran through. Then, I again gradually rotated the "gates" so that they were oriented like a line of weave poles in agility. Since then, we've gradually increased to 12 weave poles! The set in the video is 12 although you can't see them all.

Shyla is not yet very fast but she completely understands what's expected. I suspect that speed will come with time. In fact, she's usually a bit faster than in this video but R was barking like crazy from inside the house which seemed to distract Shyla. Her reward for a good weave is that I throw a special squeaky ball out ahead of her as she exits the last weave poles.

The other very tough obstacle for Shyla was the teeter-totter. We started with it propped up so that it was horizontal (parallel to the ground). Shyla jumped on it and walked across. Then, I made the props slightly uneven so that it teetered by about an inch as she walked over the fulcrum. Very gradually, we increased the teetering until it now goes through its full range of motion! Shyla loves it! I am working on teaching her that she is only allowed to do the teeter-totter when I ask her to, not at any random time when we're on the course!

Here's the video. Sorry about my whooping encouragement to Shyla. It's a little embarrassing!

Shyla says "Give me Five"! I'm learning fast!
I'm so proud of my girl!
P.S. Some have asked if R does agility. Alas, he had elbow dysplasia surgery at 1 year old so he is not allowed to do it. It frustrates him so I usually try to practice with Shyla when he's distracted by other things, unlike today.


  1. Shyla's doing great! I think what is slowing her down is not her understanding, but the fact that the base of your poles is also a round PVC pipe. Competition weaves are set into a flat metal base so the dogs barely have to lift their feet off the ground to cross the center line. This allows them to develop a rhythm that gets faster and faster as the muscle memory sets in. She looks like she is having a grand time!

    Poor R, I am sure he feels cheated. I have the same issue with Wilson as he no longer trains and watches Jimmy have all the fun.

  2. wow! you are a fantastic trainer....(please come train my dogs!) :) beautiful pics of Shygirl!!

  3. A high 5 right back to you Shyla! You look fantastic going through your obstacles.

    Millie & Walter

  4. I'll add to that high-five, Shyla! Sage does agility every week and absolutely loves it! Have fun--that's what it's all about.

  5. Great video! We never did any agility training and often wish we had.

  6. Outstanding Shyla, Sasha sends high paw to you!! I love the high paw picture. Shyla is very proud of herself and she should be.

    Anne and Sasha

  7. That was sooooo awesome!!!!! Loooooved the video! And am in awe of her confidence on the teeter-what a good girl!!! It was nice to hear R's voice :) give them both monster BUGS for me! :)

  8. Shyla- look at you go! I cannot believe you can move that fast and know what your doing! High 5 to you Shyla- your so smart- and your fur just glows!

  9. Wooooooo Hooooooo High five right back ya ya. And woof woof to my pal R. I know what it is like buddy to be on the "other side" of fun.

  10. She's doing really well, but what totally made me smile and laugh was that picture of her after the video! "Really, it was nothing! Oh, do go on!" I don't know how you can ever scold her for anything, she's so stinking cute!

  11. She really is doing just fine! To me, the weave poles are such fun to watch and Shyla does a bang-up job.

    High five back at you and keep up the fine work!


  12. R, when I heard you bark, I had to go outside and look fir you! Shyla, you totally rock!


  13. Shyla looked like a rock star on those weaves!! That's something I haven't tried yet, but our dogs love doing agility too.

    Loved the video! And there's never too much whooping and hollering when it comes to praising our dogs. :)

  14. Well done! What a clever girl!

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  15. High five right back atcha, Shyla! You are doing a GREAT job ☺

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

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  17. Whoa . . . stop the presses . . . .Shyla rocked that weave!!! Congrats!!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  18. Oh, Shyla! Way to GO! You look so confident! I can tell how hard you've been working! I hope you got lots of time with that squeaky toy!

  19. Amazing work - both you and Shyla!

  20. WooHoo!!! OMD! Shyla, you really are fast at those weave polls at the end there! Nice work gurl!!
    Oh, and I'm givin' you a big 'High Paw' back at cha!!!
    (cutest pic EVER!!)
    Ruby ♥☺

  21. Shyla is excellent at the weave poles! She's also very good on the see saw. When Blueberry did the seesaw - she wouldn't pause to let it drop down on her side, she'd take a flying leap from up high. I was like "you know you have bad hips, right?".

    This was great - thanks for sharing!


  22. This was interesting to watch for someone who doesn't know anything about agility. I sure am finding dog training rewarding.

  23. Great job Shyla!!
    Ayla likes agility too. I trained the litter I had doing some stuff. I have tunnels and they ran through it and had a great time.

  24. On my lunch hour (which is really 30 minutes) working my way down your recent posts. Can I send my two girls to you for training? So impressed with what you train your dogs to do!

    Love all the great photos of Shyla and the mountain scenery and getting to hear your voice in your words, even if it's just for a half hour. Your seasons are changing fast!

    I know someone who lives where the flooding has been pretty bad. She and her husband have had to move. I sure hope the weather lets people recover again and the government pays all those people working so hard to help!


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