Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brownie Scout Agility Demo

8 Brownie Scouts, 6 moms, 3 dogs:
Maxie (left), Willow (hidden), Lucky (right) with me.
8 Brownie Scouts and 6 moms came over Saturday, from 2-4 p.m, to work on their Animal Care badge.  This came about because my friends' daughter is a Brownie scout, and their troop is always looking for ways to educate/inspire/entertain the girls.  I was a girl scout from elementary thru high school, I know a lot about the value of scouting, so I was glad to help.

This gave John and me the needed impetus to mow and rake our agility yard for the first time since winter, and that alone was worth the effort of volunteering.  It's so darn hard to find inspiration to sweat just for ourselves, but we couldn't have the Brownie Scouts sitting in ant piles or dog poop, piles of wet leaves or tall grass.

I talked to them about the responsibility of caring for a dog, different ways to get a dog, and how important it is to "educate" a dog and not merely feed and pet it.  I told them that dogs were like children -- they need to go to school or they become very mischevious.  I demoed the wabble board, the guessing game, and a bit of Clicker Training, put Maxie thru his parlor tricks, then I paired everyone up and had them play the Clicker Game.

Ms. Laura on wabble board, trying to please a
picky trainer.
Clicker Game:  Two people, one's the dog/one's the handler.  Teams spread around the yard, handler clicks when dog does something good, then continues to click that same behavior.  I set the timer for 3 minutes.  I saw Mom's hopping like bunnies, jumping over bars, kids scooping, leaping, scratching, bending over, etc.  Clickers were going off clickety clack, non-stop.  Then I scrambled up the pairs, all the "dogs" became handlers and vice versa, and we did it again.  Some handlers were too liberal with their clicks, a few were quite strict.  In this photo, the mom had to get on the wabble board and hold her hands "just so" to get a click.  All the girls went home with a PetSmart clicker of their own, provided by Ms Laura.

Brownies in the weaves
As a finale, I ran Maxie thru a rather difficult Standard Course.  When he raced through the weaves and over the A-frame, there were actual oohs and aahs.    When Lucky did the same, more oohs and aahs.   I was rather amazed myself, since the course was extremely difficult, I had just set it up, and we had not practiced in a week.  The weave poles were so popular that afterwards, the girls insisted on running the weaves themselves, and posing for this photo.

Lucky performs the tire jump for Portia from a
side-sitting position, something I've never tried with her.
A few girls got so excited about the dogs that when the troop disbanded for juice and cookies, two in particular began spontaneously training Lucky and kept it up for 20 minutes without the slightest encouragement. They used their arms and bodies to guide her thru the obstacles, and she miraculously complied with their every command as they lured her along with Goldfish for treats, or carrying her tug toy.

The day ended very well, with all the girls very happy, and 4 of the Moms took LCCOC brochures with an eye towards summer Puppy Camp.  In a few years these girls will make great bar setters at our trials.

Lucky goes thru the tunnel then runs alongside her junior trianer.

Wonders never cease. Upwards and onward!

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