I haven’t posted in a while about Idgie’s training, so I figured I would catch up. She turned 11 months a couple of days ago (I know, I can’t really believe it either) and she is really coming along.  In August I wrote out a training plan for her, outlining what I planned to accomplish each month for the rest of the year, and so far we have done great.

Obstacle Training

Since Idgie is still young and obstacle training really is the easiest part of agility I am not doing much with this.  I have decided to teach her a two-on two-off contact for the dogwalk and teeter, and as soon as I made that choice I got to work teaching her a repeated nose-touch to a clear target on the ground.  She will now target the clear plastic disc, with her back feet on a board, repeatedly until released.  I need to proof the behavior and put it on a verbal cue, next step will be sending her down the board to that position and fading the target.  Then I will proof for handler movement and train the dogwalk, in full, before I add the teeter.  The only other obstacle work I have done is jump grids, still with 4″ bars, she does the straight line equal distance grid, and all three set point exercises (straight, bend, and slice).  That’s about it for jumping right now, keeping it simple because we can’t do the grids outside on grass or turf   due to weather.  I don’t want her to do too many grids indoors on the rubber because she tends to run a little too upright on it (which is typical of a lot of indoor flooring) and I don’t want her to only learn how to jump that way.  Springtime will be when we get serious about jumping and sequencing.  That’s it for obstacles, the near future will bring table games and I might teach her the chute just for fun.


This is the good stuff! We have been working so hard on handling, I know this girlie is going to be fast and she is really going to need some excellent training.  We have been working on building value for the reward zone (RZ–right at both of my sides, no crossing in front or behind) and testing that value for the RZ.  We have started some great anti-flickaway excercises too as I will be handling her within the Greg Derrett system.  She is working on driving ahead, focusing forward, and reading accel/decel cues.  We are doing great on all of those.  She will run right with me in the RZ in big and small circles, as long as she is on the outside.  Dog inside circles are still tough for her on the right, but great on the left, because I have been training her to heel for obedience and (baaaad dog trainer) didn’t teach her to heel on my right. We have also been working on the stationary rear cross training exercise we learned at the Susan Garrett seminar, and that’s going well.  Crate Games Squared are on the agenda for next month and I can’t wait to teach her that stuff! 


We haven’t focused too much on this, but her heeling is coming along fabulously anyway.  She also does gorgeous recalls (no front yet) and will retrieve the dumbbell to my hand, though without a front at this point.  Why no fronts? I have opted to wait to train her fronts until I have built up the value necessary for the RZ at my sides.  When I was trying to train them concurrently I found she was wrapping in to my front and flanking a lot more, both on the left and the right.  She does a nice finish left, and once again I have opted to wait on the finish right.  The reason for this is because she has to cross behind me for that finish, and that is a no-no in agility so it will have to wait.  The rest of obedience is on hold, I will probably get serious about that (my second favorite sport!) after she has begun competing in agility and I like what I see there.

Life Skills

Just as important as all that other business is life skills! Loose lead walking continues to be challenge, so I am getting more serious about it. I never had to work to hard in that area with Kelso so I wasn’t expecing Idgie to be such a puller (and she wasn’t, to be honest, it sort of popped up over night, since I was a bad bad dog trainer and didn’t reinforce the absence of pulling like I should have).  She has started to be a little snappy with strange dogs when we are out and about (damn border collies) which I perceive to be a resource-guarding issue (the mama is a HOT resource!) so at the agility trial last weekend I took her out and did clicks for “where’s the puppy?” and escorted her quickly back to her crate whenever she acted inappropriate.  Reason number one million we’re going back to wearing a Gentle Leader at all times!  Other than that she is pretty good.  She has improved regarding barking at the neighbor dogs. She still does it but it is much less frantic and I am usually successful at verbally interrupting her and having her come back inside. Overall I feel like our relationship is growing into a really strong one.  She loves working with me and wants to be around me at all times. When she and I are closing up work she follows me around checking doors and turning off lights, all the way through the building, no leash on.  She will even bring me her toys when I toss them, and I finally have my recipe for a great retrieve! Relationship=retrieve. A blog on that specifically will be written in the near future.

In general I am super happy with this little girl, and I’m sure she and I can go as far as the yellowbrick agility road goes.