Saturday 15th August and an unexpected training session in Guildford, Surrey. This morning we had ago at hoopers. This is similar to agility except you direct your dog through a number of static hoops or short tunnels. There is no jumping involved by the dog so is suitable for puppies and senior dogs too.
Today I packed Marti’s training bag with the usual high value treats, toys and lead and off we set. The weather here in the south has been extremely hot this week, reaching the mid 30’s on several consecutive days, but I need not have worried because today the weather was overcast with drizzling rain - perfect for dog training.
We arrived in good time and I gave Marti time for a pee and to take in the surroundings. Todays training sessions were being organised by Nicky Holden at the Agility Without Limits venue and our instructor was Sarah Hamble.
Good Clear Instructions
Being a dog trainer myself I love to try out new dog sports where I can relax and enjoy time with my own dogs. Our training session was two hours long with 4 other dogs and their handlers. I had never met Sarah before but she was very good explaining each exercise and our handling and allowed us to video ourselves and each other too, which is always a bonus because it allows you look back and see exactly how your dog is reacting to your handling (or lack of it in my case :-)) I am experienced in handling dogs in dog dancing, domestically and in competition obedience but hoopers required my dog to work away from me and all of my previous training had been with Marti working close. Sarah was very encouraging and shared my sense of humour, which you HAVE to have when training dogs.
A Mixed Bag of Dogs.
Under current Government Covid-19 rules only 5 dogs and handlers were permitted to attend and my dog Marti, a Japanese Spitz, shared the training session with dogs which had either tried out hoopers before or had agility experience under their belt so some of the exercises were advanced for our raw beginner level, but it allowed me to see what we needed to work towards and allowed me to practice teaching Marti to work away from me on our own, even though Sarah was keeping a watchful eye on us!
Always Look for Training Opportunities
I also took Marti's raised bed with me so that we could practice our "hot zone" training. I have been working on my dogs relaxing on their raised beds whilst I train the other dogs, do housework or simply need them out of the way for a few minutes and at home training is going well, so I decided to expand on this training by transferring it to the training session which was outside with alot of distractions i.e. other dogs running around and playing with squeaky toys. He did really well and I am pleased I used this session for an added training opportunity. You can too, we are all busy but if we identify times when we can do what we need to do whilst also expanding on our dogs training in other areas then its a definite bonus.
Would I do it again?
Yes, it was a fun few hours, with my dog, learning something new and will bring an added layer to our learning and it is always good for us to socialise with other dog owners, especially during this pandemic which has restricted my socialisation dramatically and ceased all dog shows.
Nicky runs Hoopers Saturday mornings in 5 week sessions. She too would normally be running around the country attending dog shows but we both agree that we will be using this time for positive things rather than sit around feeling sorry for ourselves.
If you are interested in having a go with hoopers too please contact Nicky via her faccebook page "Nicky Holdens Agility Without Limits" or www.caninehoopersuk.co.uk