Saturday, April 9, 2011

roxy's first night at agility training

Last night Roxy and I went to our first agility training class at Morris K9 Campus.  This class actually helps you train for agility competitions, so there is a lot more learning involved, and a lot less "run over the equipment as fast as humanly (doggedly?) possible!"

We walked in the door about 10 minutes early and the prior class was wrapping up.  Roxy and I stood there, sort of taking it all in.  The agility room was huge, in comparison to where we'd been before.  The equipment was newer, larger, and there was a lot more of it.  I was super stoked, and so was Roxy... she was so excited that she was talking up a storm and prancing her paws around while trying to sit.

Roxy wanted to be friends with literally every person that walked by us.  She approached everyone with excitement and tail wags and she was happy to be pet by several people, all without being offered any treats or soliciting treats from me.  This is seriously a big deal for her; she was in a new environment with new dogs, new people, and lots of exciting smells and she did amazing.  The fact that she went and did this all on her own was such a proud moment for us.

And then of course, came the Pit Bull bias.  Some woman darted across the room as soon as she saw us, and asked if Roxy was friendly with other dogs, and I guess I didn't respond fast enough for her, because she said, "I have a really friendly dog and I don't want your Pit Bull to bite him," and she walked away. I was really taken aback and by the time my brain caught up, the lady had already walked off.

On to training.... We did some exercises on the equipment, specifically the A-frame and the Dog Walk.  Roxy didn't blink at the equipment, even though it was definitely larger than what she was used to running on.  We worked on slowing down, focusing, and contact points, and Roxy seemed to do pretty well.  We also started training left and right turns, which Roxy did well with also.  I'm psyched to practice them for next class and get her using them while moving.

Everyone in class had a clicker on their wrist, and the instructor was great.  All humane, positive reinforcement training, just as expected.

The woman I met earlier approached me again, without her dog, and said abruptly, "I don't have anything against Pit Bulls, it's just their owners." And I didn't know how to respond, because, well, I'm a Pit Bull owner... But she continued, as she pet Roxy and just said she's had a lot of bad experiences, not just with Pit Bulls, but with American Eskimo Dogs and German Shepherds as well.  I politely explained I volunteer in rescue, and work primarily with Pit Bulls and other bully breeds, that I'm fully aware of their potential dog-dog issues, and I know my dog very well.  She seemed apologetic (minus the actual apology) and went on to tell me how her last dog was attacked by an off-leash American Eskimo Dog so she is just extra cautious.  She introduced herself at the end of the conversation, and she was nice the rest of the class, but her comments still turned me off a bit.

Then, half-way through class, Roxy and I were working on the A-frame and another girl came in with her dog, Katie.  They started working at the table and the girl took Katie's leash off and wouldn't you know that Katie immediately made a beeline for Roxy.  She charged her, full-speed and got right in her face, snarling, and within half a second, Roxy and Katie were battling it out.  There wasn't any contact and neither of them had a mark on them when it was over; it was all snarling, growling, and barking in each others faces, and it was easy to separate them because they really didn't want to be near one another to begin with... but wow.  Thirty minutes into a class with literally 5 dogs total, and this is what happens? Go figure!

But Roxy didn't seem phased by it.  Once it was over, it was over.  She moved on, and I followed suit.  She did wonderful during the rest of class, and was actually tired by the end of it, which made me happy.

All-in-all a good class, in the sense that the class itself was great, and I expect that we can avoid the almost-fight next week.

This morning, we spent some time relaxing in the sun, where she proceeded to be the laziest stick-chewer ever...

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