We took Isis to a “free” agility class this weekend. I didn’t care for it. The teacher was very keen on using treats as a lure, which is all well and good if you have a stupid dog who’d follow a treat off a cliff.

Our dog is much too clever for such bribery. She knows when accepting a treat directly leads to my leaving to go to work. You can’t reliably train a dog with food if she’s got the intellectual capacity to weigh one option against another.

Let’s see, freeze-dried chicken breast or chase my soccer ball for another 20 minutes…? Maybe I can get the chicken breast out of her hand and then run away real fast so I can have the treat and 20 more minutes of soccer ball chase.

Also, the teacher didn’t want us to use the pinch collar (pictured), and I’m sorry but it’s the only way to control Isis when she’s hyped up (which she frequently is in new situations involving other dogs). There’s no point putting a leash on her regular flat collar. She’s way too strong. If the collar doesn’t slide right off her head (which it did on Saturday, putting the whole class on hold while she ran around like crazy with other dog owners falling down trying to catch her. I just stood there and watched. No human is fast enough to catch her unless she wants to get caught), she’s likely to break the buckle or at the very least, pull the leash out of my hand.

I didn’t even get very many pictures of the excursion, because I also had to be her handler. When I tried to remove the camera strap from around my neck, to hand it to Rob, I whacked myself in the head with the camera. There’s a bump. Good thing I wear bangs.

Our real problem with the class was its philosophy or lack thereof. The teacher didn’t bother to tell us why we’d want to get our dog to jump over a hurdle or climb an A-frame or weave around some posts. Yes, it’s fun, but we would have liked to hear a little intro about Agility Competition and how it strengthens the dog’s mind-body connection, bringing balance and harmony. Guess we’re more cut out for Doggie Yoga.

Anyway, after struggling with the jump, weave and tunnel, we were surprised how quickly Isis caught on to the A-frame (climbing up a plank at a steep angle to a point and then climbing down). Again we were instructed to lure her with a treat, but doggone it if she didn’t like climbing up the thing for the pure fun of it. She raced up it right past my hand with the treat, ignoring the lure altogether.

We’re thinking about getting some agility equipment for the backyard, and playing with it on our own.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

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