Recently Monique enrolled him in an agility school. Here's her account of his agility training:
I enrolled Tommy at a famous agility school here in the south of France, called 'L'Amicale du chien'.
The owner Myriam Laini won the French championships in 2012, and most instructors compete their dogs in regional and national competitions.
So last September we showed up for the advanced course.
Marianne, our Danish instructor who lives in France, liked Tommy from day one. It was very mutual as Tommy loves Marianne and can't wait to greet her when she comes to agility school.
She and her husband have been to India several times for work, and Marianne was always curious about the street dogs she saw in Mumbai.
The purpose of agility is to get through an obstacle-filled circuit as fast as you can without penalties.
Agility is based on speed, obedience and very clear commands to the dog. It's all off-leash and the obedience training for agility is off-leash based.
The key to this training is encouragement and treats.
To make a dog walk Heel without leash next to you is all about cheering him on and praising him as soon as he is next to you.
We also practice 'sit', 'down', 'stop' from a distance - that too is all about praise and being serious about your commands.
The 'stop' and 'sit' from a distance are also safety commands - to control your dog from a distance and prevent possible accidents.
We all train together, 20 dogs off-leash in a group. All 'sit', and then the owners have to walk away from them, leaving all the dogs to sit and not move until we return to them.
Another interesting exercise was 'down', and then we had to walk to someone else's dog and stand next to them without the dog moving. On top of that we had to walk over the dogs!!!
It was very good training to do this, it makes you very in tune with your dog, specially in a group with other dogs. No escape!!
Then the agility training starts.
There are hurdles; I always get the highest score for being the only human who has to jump hurdles while my dog runs around them!
The tunnel and 'sock' are hard at first, but as soon as the dog understands that you will be at the end of the tunnel they happily crawl through it, hoping for a treat!
The ramp is a high thin passageway where the dog walks next to you, kind of scary.
The A-frame is a fun obstacle; 'wait table' is where the dog has to wait, then jump up, sit or stand, while you keep running - quite tricky!
The most difficult thing though, in the beginning, is when you come at full speed and have to turn 180 degrees to a new obstacle, making sure that the dog follows you instead of running straight ahead to play with another dog!
Tommy's strength is obedience and Therapy Dog work, and agility is definitely not his thing.
It could be because it is a pretty stressful environment, with a lot of yelling and a lot of dogs running around, something that makes him nervous.
I do think that INDogs are suited for agility, as they are intelligent and quick. The only downside could be that being survivors and tough dogs, they would question it all, like Tommy does!
However I do think that the training and the confidence you get as a handler doing agility is very rewarding.
After class we went to the beach for a picnic, where Tommy was very happy to play with his best friend Orlando, chew on a pine and wait for me to give him my cheese!
Click here and here for earlier posts about Tommy.
Photos: Tara Vassilou
Text: Monique Nerman
Special thanks to Marianne, instructor at L'Amicale du chien, Roquebrune, France
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