Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning to Trust

Tonight we had our second agility lesson outside in a non-fenced ring. And there were sheep on the premises. Yes, you read that right. Sheep and no fence, well the sheep were in a fence but the agility equipment is not.

Last week we started by taking a little walk in a field off leash and then moved back to the agility yard. Then Reese saw the sheep and as she started to run up to the fence she was turned away by my trainer. A few more of those and I was able to call her off the fence away from the sheep. 

All by using pressure. Timing is critical and I am still learning the timing. But the pressure definitely works. Works like magic in fact. Worked at home to teach Reese to stay out of the litter box. Works to get her to lie down or to come to me, when she would rather not. Apply the pressure and release and wa'la you have your dog. It really is quite amazing.

After calling her away from the sheep we went to the other side of the yard and did some agility. I was dumbfounded. I really thought it would be the end of June or July before we would be able to work agility off leash with no fence. 

So we arrived for today's lesson and I didn't know what was in store for us. Today we just started right in on the agility equipment. No walk in the field first just went right to work. Reese did lovely, really worked hard, I couldn't be more proud of her. She knew the sheep were there but she stayed on task. She did some really nice sequences with 7-8 obstacles. Bobbled the dogwalk a bit to put it mildly once or twice but got right back on and did it again.

I am still learning to relax. Last summer I learned how my tension effects us when we work stock and the difference it makes if I relax. I had to learn to relax when we worked agility in the barn. Now I am learning to relax in the great outdoors.

At some point you have to trust your dog. Trust that you have built a strong relationship with your dog and trust that your dog will do the right thing. At some point you have to give your dog a chance to try. You might be amazed at the results.