Training In the Rain
It’s been a pretty dreary day so far. It’s been raining for most of the day although not heavily. Definitely not the kind of weather that makes me feel like going outside and training agility, but there are valuable lessons to training in the rain. Today I decided to teach my young dog Heist an important lesson about agility; we train in bad weather. Now Heist doesn’t mind the rain one bit. He’d be quite happy to do agility in any weather. As usual he was very eager to go the agility field seeming to take no notice of the rain. He warmed up on one jump nicely, staying rounded and balanced while completing his turns. Then I added in some speed and he got his first lesson about rain…it makes the grass slippery. He didn’t rock back enough on his take off and slipped on the jump. I gave him another try and he was much more deliberate with his jumping. He learned very quickly that he had to be more thoughtful and had soon adjusted to the footing.
Agility in Canada is an all weather sport. We trial in the rain (sometimes hail and snow!), so why don’t we practice in the rain? I wouldn’t want my dog’s first experience with rain to be at a trial or a regional/national event where my dog takes out jumps in the first run before figuring out their footing. If our dogs never get a chance to practice in the rain, they don’t learn how to adjust for it and then have to run a full course to try and figure it out! In practice, you can modify the sequences to give the dog a chance to gradually get more confident with their footing. With Heist, I gave him some gentle turns without much speed in the form of a pinwheel so he could learn to adjust on an exercise he is very comfortable with.
When my sheltie Dice was a puppy, I took her out to play in a thunderstorm (there was no lightning) when she was 12 weeks old. She learned that playing in the rain was fun and that thunder wasn’t so scary afterall (an important lesson for a noise sensitive dog!). We practiced downs and sits on the wet driveway. We’ve all seen dogs that refuse to down on the table when there’s water sitting on it and I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be one of them!
The interesting part has been that the transfer of value I had meant for my dogs has worked on me as well, and I now associate training in the rain with fun instead of dreading it.
I hope you have some fun playing in the rain
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