Okay, so I admit we wimped out on the final 'down stay' of class last week; not much to be said about that, except Polly had a stubborn look in her eye that I have come to recognise says, 'not a hope Mum'! (I know, I know ... who's the boss eh Paula?!)
Despite her stubborn Goldie streak, the rest of session 14 was very positive. Polly was winded by a large dog racing towards her during the group 'off lead' play, but soon found her feet and then recalled beautifully whenever called. She also stayed by me in the sit and down position without her lead which quite surprised me! Maybe she felt a bit less sure of herself after being winded, I'm not sure, but either way, that collision seemed to have a calming effect on her for the rest of the session.
We actually managed to complete an entire agility course for the first time too ... hey, I must be getting fitter! I decided to abandon the long training lead for agility as I always make such a knot of it, so instead kept Polly on her 'Happy at Heel' harness and lead. In fact, we even braved 'off lead' for most of the individual elements, only relying on the lead to walk neatly from group to group. Polly is starting to enjoy this element of training and with a few treats to hand, will now happily jump through hoops and over low hurdles, run through tunnels and walk across the baby seesaw, returning directly to me when she has completed her activities ... a big step forward from the early days! We still haven't quite got to grips with weaving poles, but for the first time, walked tentatively across the high A-frame under Kevin's guidance; Polly isn't what you'd call graceful, she's more thundering baby bulldozer than ballet in truth, but she only slipped once and thankfully Kevin caught her - she's quite a lump these days!
Walking to heel incorporating 'sits, downs and stands and recalls' shows huge improvement. Our new side fastening 'Happy at heel' harness (suggested by our woodland walking friends Sue and Jane - thanks ladies!) seems to have a magic touch! Polly now walks politely most of the time, both in school and on our daily walks; I rarely need to correct her firmly; it seems her 'sled pulling' days are over, thank heavens! Also, our off lead practice around the living room rug finally seems to be filtering through to school heel walking sessions. I dropped Polly's lead briefly (deliberately!) a couple of times as we marched around the poles this week and she trotted along beside me with no threat of leaving my side to join the other dogs ... yep, training is definitely paying dividends!
Next goal: to learn how to teach Polly not to always race away to play with other dogs on our walks. I am now confident she will return to me once she's introduced herself to new dogs, but it would be useful for her to learn that 'go play' is only for when mum says its okay and that not all off lead walks are about finding dogs to romp with. I think we could do with working on a 'stay close' command or similar ...
There's no doubt about it, no matter how much we improve, we'll always be a work in progress!