Black Hole Night at Class

I had a little fun with class last night. I didn’t do that exercise with the sublime technical undercurrent that I chatted about in my blog a couple days ago. No, like I said, we did something fun, instead.

The premise of “Black Hole Night” is basically this… the dog on the floor is never allowed to go into a pipe tunnel. That’s the basic rule. Okay, if you’re an absolute purist the way the rule is supposed to work is that if the dog goes into a pipe tunnel it’s like being sucked into a black hole (and lost, don’t you know). So the handler is instructed to gather his dog and leave the floor. Okay, so that’s not all that much fun. So I gave everybody a choice. If the dog gets into a tunnel the handler has two choices: 1) End of exercise, go back and sit down and wait until your next turn, or 2) The handler can put a finger on the top of his head and spin around once while saying “Oh my God! A two-headed cow!” I relented on that second rule and allowed my student Beverly to say instead “Oh my Garsh!” (sic) “A two headed-cow!”

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This was the basic set of the floor. The way the evening went, we started with very simple sequences which got longer and more varied until the end of class. And it was quite a lot of fun. Needless to say there was a lot of spinning and chanting about two-headed cows going on.

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For my Beginner class (week 7 of 8 mind you)… I changed the equipment on the floor slightly. All of these dogs are too novice to deal with a contact obstacle with a tunnel stuffed under it.

By the end of the hour we were doing sequences of about 8 obstacles (weaving our way through the tunnel slalom out to the A-frame and all the way back to the front of the floor. It was fun. It was interesting to note, and completely predictable, that the obstacles for which these novice dogs showed the least focus, were the jumps.

I know there are a lot of places you can go teach your dog agility where they nit pick “foundation” stuff and it’ll be upward of a year before the dog actually gets to start doing agility (sequencing). But I’m not of that ilk. And I say phooey to those boring-assed training regimens.

As a side note, a couple of my Beginner students are true beginners. You know what that means… it means they’ve never trained a dog to do anything and have no concept of the road in front of them. These are also folks who are least likely to do any homework and so they get bound up in the ego-boo of comparing themselves performance-wise to others in class with them who have considerable more experience and are more likely to do their homework. That’s a terrible thing to do to your ego.

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Okay… got a busy month in front of me. TTYL

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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