Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Seven Heaven

Tonight was Week 7 of Beginner Agility. I think this video can do most of the speaking for itself:

Once again, do not mind my appearance or handling. :) Marge is the one that's progressing, not me! I tend to run like a duck with a stick up its butt. That needs to change.

Anyway, some notes. Since the video covers everything except a) some teeter work which went EHH, and b) a sequence which went EHH as well because we missed a jump, the big thing to talk about here is her behavior.

There were some positives and negatives to tonight at agility.

For one, Marge was SUPER hyper tonight. I thought that fetch games and training in my living room would have tired her some, and I didn't want to overdo it and have a fatigued dog for agility. Turns out that wasn't the case. The second we got on the field and I said "go tunnel!," Marge was off at the speed of light through the tunnel and ready to run some serious zoomies. Thank goodness she came back to me to get her treat.

That tells me that she likes what she's doing. So, I'm happy.

Now, probably in keeping with the fact that she was hyper, she was also aware of other dogs.. most notably, the JRT Rusty. I didn't let her play with him this time before class started and it seems like it helped. Her leave it was rock solid tonight, so even when she DID perk up and go to the end of the leash, she quickly cut it out and came back to hot-dog jackpots. She did it a few times, but they were all very minor in intensity and she was very responsive.

This whole chase thing Marge is doing is, undoubtedly, play and prey drives. This is not fear or fear reactivity and it is not dog aggression. This is, "Wee! You're going fast! It looks fun! It's a crisp 65 degrees out and I want to GO PLAY TOO!" So, we need to work on control. And we have been. And it's hopefully working.

When the JRT ran zoomies, I put Marge in a down in the corner and handed out goodies to her. Keep in mind that if I thought she was the least bit afraid of what was going on, I wouldn't ask for such a "submissive" (though I don't like that word) position. She astounded me with her attention. I mean, yeah, I was shoving food in her face, but she didn't care one bit about the dog who I know she so desperately wants to chase.

She is not the only one doing this, either.. honestly, it's almost every dog in the class. The Staffy yips when other dogs run, the JRT pulls a Marge and races to the end of the leash (though can get aggro with males) and a couple of the others perk up, too. So, we signed up for next session. It's the same dogs at the same time. The class might actually be smaller, but there shouldn't be any new faces, which was a major factor when I contemplated going to Adv. Beginner now. I was not going to continue if we wouldn't be with the same group.

I know how to manage it now. It takes a combination of being proactive, cutting up millions of hot dog pieces and not loitering on the field. When she's actively engaged in doing something, the other dogs do not matter. If she is to play with the other dogs, it will come at the END of class, not the beginning, as I so blatantly learned last time we were at class.

I'd continue rambling on, but I think you guys get the idea.

As for Rally on Sunday.. it couldn't have been more perfect. Marge had a great time and did not show one ounce of fear, reactivity, snark, anything. She ran both courses like a dream. I needed that from her. I so desperately needed a day like that. We've got three weeks left of that one, and then it's hasta-la-vista to indoor classes for a while.

Marge has been having fun, lately. I'm trying to enrich her life in as many ways as possible. Whether than means a new squeaky toy, a meal in a spaceship, left finishing or jump-tunnel-jumping, I want her to continue to learn and flourish and have a great time while she's at it.


NCmountainwoman June 17, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

Wow! Marge is doing just great. And she seems to be having such fun. Way to go!

StellaStar June 17, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

Wow. After watching that, I really want to get involved in agility! You and Marge make it look effortless (I know that it's really a lot of work, sweat, blood & tears)

Sue June 17, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

I think Marge has come a long way in the short time I've been watching. Keep up the good work. We have to get back into Rally. Fudge and I have been lazy recently.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart June 17, 2009 at 5:51 PM  

You guys look great. Congratulations!

Remember to keep your head and chest up. It's really common for green handlers (me too!) to lower our body posture too much.

Kimberly June 17, 2009 at 7:49 PM  


Life With Dogs June 18, 2009 at 9:46 AM  

How great to finally see her in action. I think you have made substantial progress since I started reading...

Anonymous June 18, 2009 at 1:20 PM  

Wow! You can tell she was having a blast! That's so great she's into agility, having the background she's had I would have thought she'd never really get into with a passion!

Donatello would be great at agility, but I don't have a house with a yard, or anywhere where I can try to practice with him...

So we'll just live the life of agility through you and Marge! : P

Pedro June 18, 2009 at 1:30 PM  


I think you are quite the athlete! What a great job you did with all those obstacles. I would most likely just sit down and say, "Give me the treat already!"


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