Bryson has now cruised through his first 2 weeks of agility class. All seemed well as the three of us were just having a ball- Bryson thrives with the challenge of learning new skills (and of course the treat at the end didn't hurt), Jacques and I just can't get enough watching those little legs work and that big smile at the end of each successful task.
So, in class the other day, we carried on our practice, and when we got to one of Bryson's less favorite activity- tugging- we just kinda wave the toy in front of his face and tempt him to tug, and when he just stood there and yawned, we thought, oh well, we'll move on to something more fun, like tunnel or something.
But at that point, the instructor gathered the class and said, "if you and your dog don't play tug seriously, you might as well not come to class."
Oops. Who knows, your dog has to want to tug to do agility? And thinking back, I now remember seeing all dogs at the agility trial tugging maniacally right before competition, I thought they all had ADHD.
Our instructor explained that you need to be able to command your dog's attention above all other distraction to succeed in agility, and tugging is one way to ensure that you have their undivided attention. I imagine it also rile up all that frantic energy you often see in the champs' eyes.
So when we got home, we began to think about Bryson's agility career a little more carefully. Are we just doing it for fun? Or are we in it seriously? I started looking into this agiility magazine, Clean Run, as suggested by our instructor to see if that's what we really want to do, and boy, did reality hit like a ton of bricks.
FIrst of all, there's no doubt tugging is the quintessential criteria in agility training as our instructor eluded to- there were at least 10 pages of articles and toys/tricks about how to get your dog to tug. Then there are all the equipments and space you'll eventually need to train your dog at home, just take a look at this ad:
And if that's not concerning enough, the rest of the magazine was as indecipherable as some ancient dead sea scroll. I don't even understand half the jargons and terminology used in it, it gets so technical you think you're reading a Boeing 747's operation manual. Here's an example:
So, we have some decisions to make. But before anything, as was clearly pointed out to us, we need to instill the desire to tug in Bryson if he were to have any chance to succeed in agility. And what motivates Bryson above anything else? Food, of course. And so we started experimenting with different toys/treat combo to entice Bryson to tug. Here's one of the experimental animal model:
Lovely organic-cotton-monkey-turned-tug-victim: notice the viciously mauled and partially severed left foot, a result of treat being stuffed into the leg to attract the predator. Still has a smile on his face, what a trooper.
We should have known agility isn't all fun and games, especially when our classmates start showing up in "Got Agility?" T-shirts. I guess we need to reassess our commitment as we go, but ultimately, I'm sure Bryson will tell us if he's ready to move forward or if he'd rather stay home and take a nap (only if I'm a Pet Psychic and can read his mind now... ha!).