How I spent my Summer (A Member story)

Patch, Beverly Skilling
Patch, Beverly Skilling

Summer is off season for Florida agility except for the DACOF state team competition in July (indoors of course). I spent my summer giving lessons in the evening after it cools down and I took on a new dog.

Patch was offered for adoption because of health issues with his owners and because a 60 pound energetic dog is not what they expected when they bought a cute puppy 10 months ago. An AKC registered Australian Shepherd and a beautiful boy, he was offered by the breeder free to “active” home.

Patch came to my home a counter-surfing, home destroying, untrained doofus soon to turn a year old. I puppy-proofed (I thought) a room so that he would not have to live in his crate. I soon discovered that his idea of puppy proofing and mine differed greatly. Carpets were chewed, crates were chewed, window shades were shredded. I gave him a doggy door so that he could go outside at will and he chewed the doggy door.

I decided, on the encouragement of one of my agility students (who is a certified instructor for the Karen Pryer Academy), to try clicker training for the first time. What an eye opener!
He was learning how to learn! In just days, this dog was targeting from across the room, offering behaviors quicker than I could mark them. Whenever he would start getting into mischief around the house we would have a short training session and learn a new behavior. This helped keep him out of mischief by occupying his mind with the added benefit of some cool tricks to show off with.

We soon moved the targeting to a board 2o2o and then right on to a small teeter. In just a couple of weeks we moved the target outside and clicked our way over all of the contacts. Tunnels? no problem. He really was not paying enough attention to the jump bars so we went inside for some one-jump excercises from the book Developing Jumping Skills by Linda Mecklenburg. I clicked for a bar left up, just reset with no comment when the bar came down. The rate of bars left up has improved greatly.

After only two months of training I took him to his first public run-through and was very happy. He took all obstacles, left all bars up and stayed with me. I feel that my “off season” was well spent by learning a new training method and starting another dog on the road to the fun of agility play and competition.

Beverly Skilling

AnnaLuna (JRT) O-EJC, O-TN-E, ECC, S-TG-N, EAC, O-WV-E, HP-N
Kaikaina (BC), AX, AXJ, NF
Navrock’s Snuggle “Patch”(Aussie)

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