Just crossposting this pic here as I am so proud of Jaspar who beat out all the big dogs to take first place in the open agility course we had at Pet Expo. It wasn;t a really serious competition at all but we all did our best after full afternoons each day of agility workshops, on view to any and all who wanted to come watch. Jaspar just flew around the course. I learned so much about giving the right signals and Carol the instructor's approach of keeping it as simple as possible -- eg not calling out individual commands for each different piece of equipment (she just uses 'go!' and directs by hand signals or body signals) and not usign the dog's name (which will normally get the dog to keep looking at you and not at where it is going) -- chimed perfectly with me and Jaspar and basically, my handling of him improved enormously which meant he could do what he already does well, much more accurately and faster. I could practically hear him saying ' well thank goodness you finally figured out how to talk to me in a language we can both understand!'.
I really encourage people to do agility just for fun as it creates such a great relationship with your dog, but be sure to get a rewards-based teacher -- some of them tell you to scold the dog for doing things wrong (and at competitons you actually see people smack their dogs for 'not doing things right' but as I have really learned to see after this weekend's many hours of training, it isn't the DOG doing things wrong, it is almost always US not giving clear signals to them and so shouting at them only totally confuses them -- they think they did what we asked (and they almost always do, once they know the equipment!) and now we are yelling at them...?!
Anyway here is Jaspar conked out with his rosette:
And here's a picture of all of them testing out their new wonderful bed I got at the show (merino wool fleece and faux suede cover that zips off and can be washed in the wool cycle). I set it on the floor and they were all on it about 3 nanoseconds later. Cavaliers sure love beds that are SOFT.