One of the earliest things I will tell my students once they’ve started learning/teaching their dog how to wrap an object is to “go play with trees”. Usually I get a few odd looks at this point, but trust me on this. Using trees is a great agility-free way to practise agility.
This video shows Loki as a young puppy doing ‘simple’ tree exercises – just normal wraps, and me either doing ‘post turns’ (following his path around and keeping him on the same hand) or ‘front crosses’ (changing which hand he’s being guided by)
There’s no real agility obstacles and you can achieve so much. Let me see: improve handling, increase commitment, practise tight turns, increase independence, increase obstacle focus, increase handler focus, practise moves you find tricky, work on agility sequences with a more ‘low stress on the body’ option than jumping.
As you’ll see in the video below, I’m doing heaps of handling options with Loki – wraps and front crosses, blind crosses, lap-turns, threadles and probably more. I’m testing to see how far he’ll send (independence) and how soon I can move onto the next obstacle (commitment). I’m improving my handling after I make a mistake that causes him to pull off the tree – I try again and we succeed this time. If you’re new to agility and can’t really tell what’s going on, you can slow down the video to 25% – click the cog down the bottom right and select 25%. Then, even if you’re not 100% sure what’s happening, you can watch my body language and how Loki responds, see when I’m taking off, see the ways I’m using my body.
And no, my handling is not perfect – I wouldn’t ever claim it is! Especially in this scenario where I’m making the ‘course’ up as I go. But it’s a bit of fun and makes my brain have to think fast in order to direct him properly.