Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Training 17

After a stretch of not a whole lot of training stuff going on, we've actually had a few new developments this past week.  I'll try to keep it brief since I have lots to talk about from yesterday's agility class, but, to sum up the big stuff:


Winning Back the Neighborhood - An Update
As many of you know, I've been walking Marge at night when it's quiet out with the hopes of expanding our list of places we can walk without Marge getting scared.  The walks have been great lately, for the most part.  Her recovery seems better after scary things, she's usually unbothered by people walking by. 

Sunday night, we took a pretty long walk down a route that Marge has not been on in at least six months or so, probably longer.  She was responsive and curious, but nervous - I don't know HOW nervous, because sometimes I don't know whether her drive forward (not that she really pulls) is due to trying to move away from an area or simply due to interest and exploration.  She perked up when we passed her good friend Buddy's house (I need to arrange a play date) and seemed really comfortable after that. 

I don't know if it was just my imagination, but she seemed to avoid walking in the direction of the location where a really loud noise scared her over the summer - the event that I think really helped precipitate the down turn she's experienced.  We avoided the area, and she was okay.

Door Breakthrough
Marge is still fearful of my father despite living in the same house as him since we adopted her in June 2008.  Her fears are worst when he comes in to the house through a door.  So, this usually leaves me scrambling to give her cookies once I hear he's walking in.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and I heard someone come in through the front door in the adjacent living room.  I thought it was my sister and did not call Marge to me to give her a treat like I usually do - instead, I just left her alone, letting her go in to the other room on her own terms to see who came in.  To my surprise, she stopped dead in the hallway, wagged her tail a little bit and turned around back to her favorite kitchen corner (next to me).  Because she didn't go running up to the entrant the way she would if it were my sister or mother who came in, I knew it was my dad.

I was SO happy that she didn't growl.  I jackpotted her as best I could, though my timing was probably too late.  I have been working on this for a long time with her, so I'm hoping what I saw is actual progress with the door situation.

My boyfriend suggested that perhaps the fact that I played it cool rather than got all hyped up trying to give her treats conveyed to her and that's why she wasn't alarmed by him coming in.  It's definitely something to think about.

Agility!
I predicted in a post last week that I wouldn't have fun at my indoor agility class.  While definitely more stressful in some ways from the outdoor classes, I actually really enjoyed it.

The hardest part about it is figuring out what to do with Marge while I set up equipment, walk the course, etc.  I always try to have someone tag along with me - either Louie or Jessica.  However, everyone seems to be relying on the crating room as a place to stay while the equipment is being brought out.  The problem with that is that Marge can't see where I am when she's in there and gets distressed.  She wasn't TOO bad, but I think I need to think up a better management plan next time.

She was not reactive - there were a quite a few people and dogs moving in and out around her, and the only time she voiced her concerns was when her little friend, Maddie, started running zoomies on the course.  

I think she sort of regarded the whole thing as just another ring rental, only with some people watching.  That's certainly how she acted - she strutted around like she owned the place, for the most part.

From an agility standpoint, she was excellent.  This course was originally adapted from one of the Standard courses at the AKC Invitational - I predicted this on Johann's blog just hours before class - but it looks pretty unrecognizable due to the size constraints of the room.  Here's the approximate course map (I'm going from memory):


She ran like a DREAM.  Here's part one.  I wasn't even expecting any videos, but my oh-so-sweet boyfriend decided to take a couple on his phone:

video
  • Led out two jumps to help her into the tunnel.  Absolutely no obstacle discrimination problem there.
  • Back cross to the teeter - we practice backs on the flat all the time, so this was no big deal at all.  Marisa emphasized that we cross after the dog gets it head out of the tunnel so as to not confuse the dog and cause them to look all over the place to see where they have to go when they come out.
  • The teeter itself - she did it, albeit cautiously.   I was expecting a MUCH more fearful response from her.  I'm actually excited for Marge and the teeter this winter, since I think it'll be available to us during private practices.
And, the second half:

video
  • Teeter to jump to A-Frame was self-exaplanatory.
  • A-Frame contact - looks like we're going with a running.  I told Marisa my concerns about Marge jamming herself on the A-Frame in attempt to get into the 2o2o position.  She said running will be fine, and that because she has some idea of the 2o2o, it shouldn't be too hard to teach her where she's got to go.
  • There were quite a few options on how to handle the jump-jump-weave.  During my first run, I tried a landing side front as she came over the first jump and back crossed into the weaves.  Not a problem.  This time, she told me to do a rear cross over the first jump.  Worked fine, too, though it kind of caused Marge to ask, "What? Where do I have to go next?"
  • Her weave poles were the best I've seen in quite some time.  I can't explain it - she had a stretch of pitiful weave poles and now it looks like they're shaping up again.  This is the set from our outdoor agility classes and not the set from our indoor practice runs, so it may be an issue of spacing.
  • Triple to tunnel - we did have one problem with this because I didn't turn enough to direct Marge into the tunnel.  I corrected it, though, as you can see in this run.
  • There were also multiple ways to handle the ending, but I did the landing side front seen in this video every single time because it worked well for me.  
I really enjoyed the course.  Marge was both fast and accurate, something I did not think would happen given the tight space and possible stressors.  I hope each subsequent class is as good as this one.

Her success working around other people and dogs in the training building actually opens up the possibility for an unjudged Rally match here in January.  We do a lot of Rally exercises, but haven't done a whole course in a long time.  It's only $5, so it might be a good thing to try just for the experience.  We'll see!

19 comments:

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom December 15, 2009 at 2:52 AM  

Once again, I must paw, BOTH of woo are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO furry lukhky!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra

Diana December 15, 2009 at 5:37 AM  

You guys looked great! Diana

Mango December 15, 2009 at 6:28 AM  

Your boyfriend person might be on to something. I tend to get more nervous sometimes when momma is around because no matter how hard she tries, sometimes she sends off her nervous vibes and I pick up on them.

Jump to weave was most challenging, but you did it! Your mom is an awesome handler.

Slobbers,
Mango

Sara December 15, 2009 at 7:14 AM  

That weave pole entry was really impressive!

You guys did great! And you were worried about how she would be in the indoor class.

Frankie Furter December 15, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

You two were grrrreat. I really liked it. Fluid.
Hey, I think your boyfurend has been watching... and learning from Ceasar M.. I believe you have been rewarding the behavior you wanted to avoid. Smart guy. Sounds like a keeper. hehehe

Jules December 15, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

Way to go - lots of progress in this post!

KB December 15, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

First, about Marge's fear of your dad, I think that your boyfriend might be right. With my dog K, I've found that the key to her eventually getting over something is me acting like it's absolutely nothing. I truly mean acting like it doesn't exist.

Could you leave a container of treats outside the door for your dad to toss one to Marge as he comes through the door? That way, your nerves aren't even part of the scenario.

As for the agility, both you and Marge handled that course like pros! I first noticed how decisive and confident your movements looked. In the videos, there was no doubt what you wanted Marge to do at each decision point.

Marge also watched you super closely, and moved both fast and with control. I agree about the weaves - no problem there!

With K, when we needed to get over her last little fear of the 'bang' of the teeter, I taped some foam under the end of it. Not bouncy foam but dense foam that dampened the noise a little. We only needed it briefly but it seemed to solve it for K.

I can't remember how long I've been reading your blog but you and Marge look like a different team from the first video that I saw. Wow!

Kathy December 15, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

HEY GOOD WORK, maybe too with your fear of your dad now it is working so Marge looks to you to see what to do, when she saw your dad she turned and came to look for you, all those cookies probably have paid off, good work.

WHOOOOHOOOOO you guys looked terrific and it sounds like a very positive class.

RILEY AND STAR December 15, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

You go girl!

Happy Holidays!

Luv ya,
Riley and Star.

Sue December 15, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

That dog can sure jump! She looks so happy running the course. Glad to hear you may get back into Rally. It's give her some variety in her outings. I think sometimes they get bored if we always ask the same thing of them over and over.

Gus, Louie and Callie December 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

Great videos.. Baby steps with Dad is great...


Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

BRUTUS December 15, 2009 at 7:18 PM  

Hey Sam! Marge looks fantastic in that video!!! And what a tough weave entry - she did it like a pro! I dream of the day I can get Brutus to move away from me like that. He keeps getting faster (which is good), but this presents a problem - I'm in decent shape, but can only run so fast!!

I think your boyfriend is right. Marge certainly is tuned into you (as Brutus is to me), and can't help but pick up your vibes when something happens that you worry about. Maybe it's time that you can start to trust her a little - I bet she won't let you down!!

An we think you should definitely go for the rally event. Run-thrus like that are priceless; you can practice all day long at home, but most dogs respond differently in a more active environment, plus you act differently too under stress. Don't pass up the opportunity!!

No new agility videos yet, hopefully later this week :)

Michelle & Brutus

Bijou December 15, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

Hi Marge,

It's plain to see you and your mom make a great team. Keep up the good work!

Waggles,
Bijou

Muttsandaklutz December 15, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

Nice job, especially loved the weave entry. Marge looks really comfortable!

Benny and Lily December 15, 2009 at 8:11 PM  

Wow..good job. We don't like that pole stuff!
Benny & Lily

Scout 'n Freyja December 16, 2009 at 4:24 AM  

Marge is our hero as she changes and faces each challenge with the grace of an angel. We ♥ Marge, mucho!

Dog_geek December 16, 2009 at 9:13 PM  

You guys look great! I say, go for that rally match! (BTW - thanks for the compliment on L's weaves, but I'll tell you - he took way longer to get the weaves than any of my other dogs. Yet now - he almost never misses, and weavers is one of his best classes.)

Nat December 16, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

Thanks for the nice comments on my blog :) I admire your determination with Marge!! She's so lucky to have found a person like you who is taking the time to do what is right for her.

~Nat

Life With Dogs December 17, 2009 at 8:41 AM  

I was just at Johan's blog last night. It's fascinating learning about the complexity of agility training, which makes me fairly certain that I completely incapable of pulling it off! :)

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