Friday, December 4, 2009

Maybe Next Time

(Please go over to visit Beagle Diary, as dear Cookie has gone on ahead of us as of today.  Our thoughts are with his human and canine family.  He was a beautiful and strong little dog, well loved by his people.)

Practice today was, by no means, bad or not worth it.  In fact, considering the massive distractions that I didn't forsee being present, I think Marge did very, very well.

That said, I've decided to pass on the February CPE trial.  Though I absolutely adore the security of competing indoors,  it is obvious that Marge does not yet share those same feelings.  While I have hope that, eventually and with more practice, Marge will be able to attend indoor trials, it would be absolutely foolish to do it now, when we've still got a whole lot of training and learning ahead of us.

She rode very well in the car. It was probably the longest continuous car ride that's she's been on. Long Island is notorious for traffic, and we hit a little bit in both directions.  She slept most of the time.  She wears a harness with a special seat belt connector in the car for safety, since a crate doesn't fit nor would it be well-received by Marge.  This picture was taken during Marge's first moments over the Verrazano Bridge and into Brooklyn.  


It turns out there was another class or lesson going on in the other section of the building.  It sounded like a puppy or beginner obedience class based on the squeaky voices and lavish praise.  If that wasn't enough, the entrance to this agility ring was right near the main entrance, so dogs and people were going by.  Oh, and the really loud LIRR train that roared by and blared its horn wasn't helpful, either.

Despite the noise, Marge really had no problem running.  We didn't really do any courses.  Although they told me I could move equipment around, I elected not to.  I felt that short sequences would be more than enough for a first time at a new place - oh, and contact training, too.

We did have one shut down-ish moment, where I tried to play the treat game with Marge to get her confidence back up, and she decided that she didn't want to eat the treats I was throwing for her to chase.  I'd say the beginning of the session and the end of the session were best.

A fair amount of peanut butter was doled out when the going got particularly tough.


Here's our video. You can hear some of the many sounds in the background:



Just some quick notes:
  • Marge's (green) dog walk was pitifully slow, but seemed to be old and rickety, and made a lot of noise.  I included it in the video because I liked her contact performance. She was lightning fast over the smaller, blue dog walk.
  • Marge's weaves were perfect tonight.  Slower than I'm used to, but totally accurate.  I think the speed issue was probably a combination of stress and being on mats instead of grass.  I wonder if the spacing was different compared to the set we use at our club, because I really found it strange that she nailed them every time after an admittedly not-so-hot performance the last time.
  • She was fine through the chute, actually pretty excited for it because the cloth was light (easy to push through) and she hasn't seen it in a while.
  • I avoided the teeter like the plague - it was the LOUDEST teeter I've ever heard.  I put her on it once and let it drop and it banged so loud that I'm really surprised she didn't run off it (she maintained her position perfectly).
Now, please, let's talk about the dang A-Frame. I am at a loss on what I want my contact criteria to be.  First, I wanted running contacts.  Then, it was changed to 2o2o.  Now, in this video, I'm thinking running again.. specifically, modified running, with a stop at the bottom (most likely a stand, though I know a down is traditional).  

I don't know if it's coincidence, if it was a bad A-Frame, or what, but she soooo didn't look comfortable getting in to contact position.  I feel bad, now, watching the runs where I put my hands on my waist and playfully asked her, "where's your contact?," because, after studying them, she really looks like she was trying to do it, but couldn't for what ever reason.  Then, she compensated by sliding down the obstacle into position.

Her stride seems to naturally hit the contact zone, so I'm wondering if a modified running contact might be the way to go.  The way she's performing her 2o2o now doesn't look like it could be good for the joints. 

I'm going to talk to my instructor about this and the weave issue.  (Class is starting back up next week, and there are only three other dogs!) It's so hard to gauge exactly how well she's performing right now because we're indoors and working with limited equipment, limited space, and different footing.  But, there is always the chance something else is going on that could be affecting her A-Frame or weave performance, and I am toying with the idea of finally getting her hips X-rayed and/or looking into something like massage or chiropractic adjustment for her.  I know she'd hate undergoing any of the above, though.

All in all, it was a good experience.  I do think that Marge would feel better about training there if we were to do it multiple times.  Despite the fact that competing here is off the table for this season, I don't think it would be a bad idea to go back sometime now that we both know what to expect.

19 comments:

Mango December 5, 2009 at 6:38 AM  

Looks like you hit the running contacts to me. Very nice practice. You clear your jumps so gracefully.


Kisses,
Dexter

Sara December 5, 2009 at 6:50 AM  

I know a lot of people aren't doing a 2o/2o with their dogs on the a-frame anymore, due to the stress it puts on their bodies - especially with larger dogs like Marge. Some do running. Others are using the "box method", which trains for muscle memory so their stride takes them thru the yellow. My teacher is training one of her dogs to go under a hoop (they sell those on clean run) at the end, with hopes that the dog will get some muscle memory and learn to go to the end.

I do running contacts with Oreo, because stopping provides him the opportunity to look for scary people! I'd rather have him keep moving.

I think Marge did wonderfully for her first time in a new, noisy place. She really seemed focused on you.

Diana December 5, 2009 at 7:24 AM  

I thought you all looked great. You may already do this but you might not want to always give the treats out of you hand. That will always keep the dog at your side and running with you. I havent read you blog enough to know if you use toys or throw a treat bag. You could also use targets at a new place on contacts to help with speed.
She didnt look nervous on the video at all and ran really well. Diana

Jules December 5, 2009 at 8:52 AM  

It sounds like it was time well spent with many more positives than negatives. Good for your for doing your homework and not putting Marge into a trial there without checking ou tthe situtaion first.

KB December 5, 2009 at 10:14 AM  

I'm glad that you took the time to check out the place and figure out that Marge wouldn't like to do a trial there yet.

As I watch her stride, I don't see anything at all obvious that indicates an orthopedic issue. (I used to be a researcher who focused on gait, including dog gait - but I haven't mentioned that on my blog because I'm trying to stay anonymous).

But, lots of dogs are really really tough and can hide things until they become very bad. I saw that with my search and rescue lab, who lived to work, and hid major elbow and hip dysplasia. That being said, it looks to me like Marge is going to 'get' the A-frame contacts and weaves with more practice... For example, if she remembers to slow ahead of time for the A-frame contact, she'll likely get it. But, I'm no expert - you and your other readers know more than I do.

giantspeckledchihuahua December 5, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

I always think, when I read your training blogs, how great it is that you do the blogging thing. When you have a really bad day or aren't happy with your progress you can go back in time and see how really far both you and Marge have traveled.

You tow are consistently AMAZING!!!

Muttsandaklutz December 5, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

First, nice job that Marge did so well with all of the distractions. Yay!

About your a-frame contact dilemma... I totally relate. Both my dogs started with 2o2o on the frame, but when I saw video of Walter going into 2o2o on the frame I decided to switch him to a running frame. It just didn't look like the stop was doing any favours for his shoulders or elbows. I never actually trained his running contact, just started releasing him earlier and earlier and now he knows he isn't supposed to slow down or stop, and fortunately he happens to hit the yellow most of the time. That said, I briefly experimented with a running frame for Lucy but went back to 2o2o for her. I'm still not crazy about her doing 2o2o because her performance of it does look somewhat uncomfortable, but the criteria is so easy for her to understand, which she loves, so it's a tradeoff. My rationale is that I'll limit how many frames I ask her to do, either in practice or in trials.

Also, at the Chris Zink seminar I went to recently, she showed video of lots of dogs sliding down the a-frame before going into 2o2o and jamming their toes against the slats. One theory for the reason a lot of dogs slide down, slide down, then jump off just above the yellow is that all that sliding and toe-jamming is just so uncomfortable that they say "to heck with this" and leap off. She didn't show video of a running frame but I would think there would be less toe-jamming. Hmmm, makes me want to take some closeup video of my dogs doing their frames...

Anwyay I don't have an answer for you but talking to others about it like you're doing is a great way to start formulating a plan for Marge.

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom December 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM  

Once again, woo two are simply pawesome!

Tank woo fur sharing all of this!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra
PeeEssWoo: Off to visit your pal's blog - too much sadness this week -

tula December 5, 2009 at 2:32 PM  

Marge,
i don't know much about agility.luved seeing your practice- a bit jelly ovah herah. looks like fun!

happy weekend,
tula

Lorenza December 5, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

I enjoy a lot your training posts!
I hope you are having a great weekend!
Kisses and hugs
Lorenza

Deborah December 5, 2009 at 9:13 PM  

Marge looks great to me! If I were a judge, she would win first prize!!!

The Army of Four December 5, 2009 at 9:40 PM  

Ditto what that Deborah babe said above!
I love car rides. I got to go for a ride today - Mom says I'm a real good rider. I think it's high time I progress to driving!
Play bows,
Zim

Kathy December 5, 2009 at 9:43 PM  

If you want to do a running type contact on the Aframe what about putting out a treat tray on the floor a few feet in front of the obstacle every once in awhile to encourage a lower head with her looking forward, that would help her to not start any type of leaping when she gets excited. I might try that and just see how it looked. I do the modified running with Breeze with a down and I am pretty happy with it but it was a lot of work to teach because when she gets excited it is not as clear I think as something like a 2020, but it works.

Hey, I think you guys did marvelous and I think it sounds like you did an excellent job of giving Marge enough new experiences but not too much, good job!!!!

BRUTUS December 5, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

I think you guys looked great, certainly from a behavior standpoint. New environment, other sounds nearby - can't say Brutus would have been as calm. I have no idea what to tell you about the a-frame; Marge looks as confused as you do! Running a little dog is so different for the contacts, no clue how to help you!
The APDT trial was a bit of a mess today, very reactive Brutus for the first half of the day, have no idea why. Had a ranging Frenchie temper tantrum, not pretty. Thankfully he relaxed by the time we had our 2nd go, and managed a decent score there. Keeping our fingers crossed that tomorrow the "good" Brutus comes along instead of who was with me today!!

Michelle

Gus, Louie and Callie December 6, 2009 at 8:35 AM  

Marge you did an awesome job.. New places are always scary but you handled it well..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Bijou December 6, 2009 at 6:26 PM  

Hi Marge,

Terrific job! I'd give you an A+!
I wish my mom would let me do that agility stuff. It looks like fun and you get treats!!

Waggles,
Bijou

Samantha December 7, 2009 at 10:08 AM  

Wow Marge! You are definitely a pro's far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, I have no idea what contacts or 20/20 is (sounds like a vision thing heheh!), so I just can't comment. But your obed. comments on my blog were very nice. Great instructors are a big help and mom needs a lot of guidance for us to work as a team. I'm perfect of course hahahahah!!! You look just AMAZING!!! Love all the incredible things you do - I could never do that stuff - so impressive!
Hugs xo
Sammie

Kari in WeHo December 7, 2009 at 12:31 PM  

It looks like she did well in the new location! And her contacts are awesome! My dogs just jump off

Scout 'n Freyja December 7, 2009 at 2:36 PM  

Our momma thinks that Marge is a darned genius dog, yes, she does. Wanna know why? Cuz Freyja, at 5, still wants to twirl at the end of the leash every now and then and both of us run when we see the camera...sigh.

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