I am so lucky! MY own backyard is a 12, 000 square foot agility field, and I also have another 4000 sf yard on the property where I can set up small courses. My real back yard though is not 150 feet away like the agility yard, it is right out my back door and is a nice little grass circle about 20 feet wide next to a big open cement patio. It is where I do much of my training. I don’t bother to go all the way to the big field. There are classes being held there mornings and evenings and there is no open space as it is all set for real agility training. I go to the closest spot where I can play with my dogs and do all the little work that is so important to my own agility training.
When the dogs are young we do retrieves and recalls and ground work, and as they grow up it is where I have single jumps, short sets of weaves, and short boards. We play and train far away from the real agility yard every day. Today in the back yard I trained my youngest border collie Pie on 2 and 4 poles which she just started learning this week.
I am lucky that I have the luxury of a full agility field as well as a nice private tiny yard where the real work gets done. In part of our agility field where we have contact drills we had a fun contact setup this week that my husband Jim Basic designed. During my classes this week some of my students struggled on the rear crosses I asked them to try. In a couple spots the rears were necessary because the handlers could not physically get to a front cross. In a couple other situations the rear cross helped cue a tight turn and also allow the handler to get away from the turn as soon as possible. During class I broke down the rear crosses and we practiced just those individual 2 or three jump elements to help with their understanding of not just executing that cross correctly, but to go over the homework I asked them to do to train the rear crosses this week in their own backyards. It is really important that you revisit the elements of a drill or course on which you or your dog struggled or did not feel entirely comfortable.
Sometimes my students draw out these elements of the course, or take photos or videos of the setup with their smart phones. That way it is easy to go home and position the obstacles exactly as they may have been placed in a training lesson or show. If you can’t recreate the setup, you can’t recreate the training needed on that element.
This post should have been done yesterday in participating with the other agility bloggers in sharing the theme of “backyard dogs” but there was a small operator error (ahem) in editing images on my new site. Better late than never? Here are the drills from my BIG backyard and I have indicated the obstacles on the drills that I asked my students to setup this week to train. If you want to read more backyard training blogs, go to http://dog-agility-blog-events.posterous.com/.