Well, the zebra martingale brought out the wild side of Marge tonight.
OK, not really. More like the combination of a happy dog, an underexercised dog (I've been sick all week), a dog enjoying the brisk fall temperatures, and a dog who loves to run producing an absolute nutcase tonight at Week 3 of Advanced Beginner agility.
When I got to the field, my eyes lit up when I saw a Jumpers course out. I was happy to have a break from contact training and the teeter and I thought it'd be awesome (and relatively easy) to run this successfully.
She started out superbly. The first four jumps were relatively straight away and the first challange was our entrance to the weaves. I don't know whether I didn't support her enough (I think that's the case in this run), whether she's not experienced enough (she skipped poles on a couple of occasions), or if we were just "off" tonight.
I'm lucky she ran the next few jumps cleanly, because her stride was HUGE and she was changing direction at the last minute.
That was the first part of the sequence.. then came a back cross to a straight tunnel and a relatively hard turn to a triple. Well, Marge thought barrelling out of the tunnel and not listening to me calling her name was much more fun than paying attention (she actually turned toward the triple and then ran the other way), and she proceeded to run zoomies around the entire agility field, go off to visit people, and the like. She did this several times.
I was instructed to put her in the car by herself for a few minutes after that.. although I don't think it bothered her, it's certainly not the type of punishment I want to use so I probably won't do that again. Though she DID run better after her time-out, I think it was just from being tired after doing so much zooming around before hand. How she could have connected her zoomies with having to stay in the car by herself (after first coming to me and walking with me for several seconds) is beyond me!
We never did finish the sequence, but the jumps she did go over were controlled so I guess it's a victory in that sense.
Next time, I guess I'll have to take a more pro-active approach and really work Marge before class. Now that the weather is cold, she is definitely more free spirited, and I'm going to have to deal with this for a while. (Beats fireworks, though!)
I also think I'm going to bring Marge's crate to agility, once she gets used to it, so I don't have to feed her constantly on the sidelines, and although I will not be using the crate for any type of punishment or time out, perhaps chilling out in her crate before her run will help produce a dog who actually wants to see me and work with me.
I don't think my treats cut it AGAIN this week.. this time, it was steak! I'm really not sure what to do, because I'd love to cut up a whole bunch of hot dogs for her, but I have a feeling it'll give her the runs. I'm thinking about using bland stuff for when we're sitting on the sidelines (I feed her almost constantly.. rewarding her for interaction with dogs/people, distracting her from dogs running zoomies, and a whole host of other things) and maybe use cheese on the field.
I think I might see about doing a private lesson next week after class. My teacher is going to be away the following week, so if we learn a little something extra, maybe we can use our class-free time for a private rental to work on some skills. Based on the last few classes, weave pole entries are DEFINITELY a priority right now.
In other training news, Marge's walks have been relatively good ones lately. This morning, I walked her in the field during garbage pickup in my neighborhood. I thought for sure that the sounds of the trucks would freak her out, but she didn't show anything other than a mild awareness of them.
I'm kind of doing two types of walks with her. I'm doing outright counterconditioning on some of my walks, where I'm literally clicking and treating the whole time. I did this a few times in the busy field, and would like to reincorporate sitting out on my porch and just clicking her for watching the world go by.
On other walks, walks where there are less stimuli, I'm pretty much just refraining from overanalyzing my environment and just going with the flow. The 20' leash helps a lot with this.. if Marge stops to listen to a noise or watch something go by, but isn't outright panicked by it, I can continue walking without reaction but no tension will be sent down the leash, nor will she be negatively "tugged" along. Marge seems to read my unchanged motion as a cue for "there's nothing to worry about here." If something truly scares her, there's nothing I can do except move away from it. While I still treat her for passing people, sitting at the curb before crossing, etc., these walks are just meant for her to sniff around, take in everything at her own pace and perhaps most importantly, get some exercise. So far, I have seen good results from both.
Still waiting on the bloodwork. I checked the USPS website, but they didn't have any information about the package except that it had been cleared for shipping. I thought it'd ship over the weekend, but now I'm not sure. I also don't know how long the analysis will take once it gets there.
Medication still is an option, but I won't do anything until I get the bloodwork back.
This weekend, now that I'm finally over my cold, I really want to get back out into the woods. Not sure of other plans, but it would be nice to have a play-date with Buddy, too.