I definitely think it's a good sign that Marge was ten times better at agility class last night than she was at the trial. She certainly had no qualms about being at the agility field (except for the smell of pee near the start line - I hate when dogs go on the course - and the smell of 8 week old GSD puppies).
I wouldn't say she was 100%, but she was happy to work with me and seemed excited to be there.
The first time I ran, Marisa told me to break things down in to little tiny pieces - I think I ran 1 to 4 and then 5 to 8 (and the second half of the course was separate altogether). I used a toy my first run to see if maybe that would amp her up some. It initially did catch her interest, but after a couple of short play reward sessions she decided the toy wasn't worth it anymore (perfectly normal for her).
Marisa had me throw the toy after the dog walk and then again after the weaves. When running the second half (8 to 19), I didn't have her do a start line stay, I just ran her up to the tunnel and started the course.
Our only problems were in the corner near the tire. Dogs had peed over there and she wasn't happy about having to do those obstacles. BUT, she did down on the table, which earned her an enormous jackpot.
I also am no longer going to run with food in my hand during class, and, although it's going to be in my pocket, I am going to give her her biggest rewards AFTER the run. In other words, I am going to train the same way that I trial.
My classmates had a lot of constructive things to say, particularly the nice lady with the PWD (a dog who is usually Marge's friend, but last night Marge snarked at the poor girl - not sure if it was stress or resource guarding). Marisa, too, said that yes, she's stressing, but she's a dog and it happens, and to just try not to worry about it too much because worrying will make it worse.
So I am going to make some changes for the upcoming trial. I am not going to take any long lead outs - if I can, I don't want to lead out at all (for once, I am praying for tunnel openings!). I am also going to cut down on the number of treats that she gets before she goes in to the ring and bring something super high value to show her and get her interested in and reward her with after the run (I'm thinking meatballs).
I am going to be more motivational (she seems to like when I clap my hands to get her to move toward me) and use her name less and use my usual agility commands (i.e. "here", "go" etc.) more. I feel like I over used both her name and her whiplash recall word ("come") WAY too much at this trial.
I am also going to try really hard to be the most interesting thing at the trial, which means I am not going to let any one besides me give her high-value food. HOWEVER, I am going to let her say hello to all her favorite people (I did less of this at this trial than at other trials - perhaps she felt like she didn't know any one there).
Here's some pictures from the trial. I'm not sure if I'm going to order any just because of my own feelings about the trial, but I think they came out great.
Oh, and my internet appears to be fixed, so you'll hear from me in the coming days (though I do have a HUGE test on Friday - ahhhh).