Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Training 12

Due to time constraints and the fact that Marge and I had a weekend that was nothing at all to brag about (we won't go there), I'm mostly going to focus on our agility class today.

Just have a couple of things I want to jot down..

Back on the Block
Walked Marge around the block two times over the weekend, both times at night. This is huge, because we haven't done so in about 3 months. She was nervous, but didn't panic. I fed her lots, clicked for just about everything, and ended each walk with a trip to go sniff the trees along the edge of the field. Looking forward to building on this in the future, especially as the weather gets cold and there is no one out on the side streets for us to be concerned about.

Due to some more research, I decided to buy a bottle of L-Theanine instead of 5-Hydroxytryptophan to try as our next nutraceutical. (For my fellow psych nerds, it supposedly boosts the levels of Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), the same neurotransmitter that benzodiazepines like Xanax work on, thus producing a relaxing effect.) L-Theanine is used in several pet calming products, including the well known Composure Liquid. It's also marketed specifically for animals as Anxitane, but because the "people" version of L-Theanine is a whole lot less expensive, that's what I decided to go with. She got her first doses today, 25 mg in the morning and at night. The suggested dose for a 40 lb dog of Anxitane is 50 mg twice a day, but I will continue at this lower dose for a while just to make sure everything goes okay with it.

On to the agility...
Thanks to my lovely boyfriend, Louie, I actually have two videos to share from the night of each half of the course we ran. We did put all 19 obstacles together at the very end, but since we were running late it was kind of rushed and Marge and I didn't do so well anyway.

Marge acted normal tonight waiting on the sidelines (though, I must admit, she hates staying in her crate while there), but she ran significantly slower than usual. It was nice to have a dog who wasn't running zoomies, but at the same time, she didn't look as enthused as she usually does.

It is more noticeable at certain obstacles. Even when we weren't running but were out on the field setting bars and such, she seemed to like prancing rather than actually driving forward. It looked, at some points, as if she was tip-toeing across the grass. She does this often in my backyard when the grass is high, too wet, or if she had just pottied there, so I'm not sure if we experienced something similar tonight. My suspicions of this were further enhanced by her extreme hesitance to get off the table (you'll see).

If you guys can keep this in mind while watching the videos and tell me if you see anything funky, I'd appreciate it!

First of all, what a FUN course. I originally walked it and thought, "oh crap," but it was actually pretty easy to run with just a couple of rough spots.

- She acted very funky over those first two jumps.. she pretty much refuses to sit-wait at the start line (think it's the grass thing), but since her stand-wait is solid, I don't have a problem with that. In addition, the jumps were facing the very enticing crowd, so I think that's partially why she looks a little spacey over them

- Tunnel to tire, I was impressed.. though, I think her success with this has a whole lot to do with the fact that speed was not much of a factor tonight.

- Weave pole entries were tough, especially for me, the handler. Marge bailed me out quite a few times and found the entry almost every time. I seemed to be going too far into that pocket between the jump and the weaves, which, in turn, pushed her farther out.

- Back crosses were the name of the game tonight, as you can see, which is why I didn't front cross the weaves and instead flipped her over the next jump (I think this was the only run where the tried to run off at that spot). I was also susprised with how well she back crossed from the jump to the table.

Next vid..

- She seems to really like the table. Only problem is, she didn't want to come off of it tonight. It was definitely her space-out point in the sequence.. she seemed to be looking off into the distance at something, but, it really it looks to me like she wanted to avoid the grass at all costs.

- We tried the jump-tire 180 a couple of different ways, first with a front cross before it and then with a back cross. I'm pleased to say she didn't go barrelling into the tunnel any of the times.

- She really picked up her speed at the triple. Her teeter is quite slow in this video, but, in our final run of the night, she performed it much more quickly. I always jackpot her after the teeter, and she really does seem to be getting more comfortable with it.

- SO happy she hit her A-Frame contact! She almost NEVER hits it on the first try. Her contacts have really come along in the past month or so.

- The final two jumps were relatively straightforward, but Marge decided to run right by the last one in our final run of the night. She also would NOT follow me over to pick up her leash, and when I lightly grabbed her collar to entice her to come with me, she dug in her heels and did NOT want to go any farther on to the grass!

Last week, at our run-throughs in place of class, she totally tore up the course, so I don't think she's having some sudden aversion to running agility, especially since she did pick up the pace at several points in the sequence. Dogs had pottied on the field tonight (it isn't supposed to happen, but does), and I'm thinking that combined with the rain we had over the past week made the field rather icky on Marge's paws. It wasn't that she was scared during the actual performance of the obstacles, it seemed to be more of a problem with walking on the grass. Let's hope it doesn't bleed over into next week.

The trial is 12 days away. I am still very unsure whether I'm going to run Marge or not. There's a significant chance that I might just bring her to the trial and feed her zillions of cookies and do nothing else. I'm also unsure if I'm taking her to the trial site for run-throughs next Friday - we aren't allowed to use treats, since the ring will be used for actual competition the following day. I can use toys, but Marge isn't particularly toy motivated. So we'll see.

I'm going to do a private lesson at the field after class next week, hopefully, so we'll just continue to play the whole darn thing by ear.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! October 21, 2009 at 12:45 AM  

Tank woo fur sharing all of this!

Mom is shaking her head at the thought of me EVFUR doing anything like that!

I so wonder why she thinks that?!?

Keep up the good work all of woo!


Dexter October 21, 2009 at 6:45 AM  

Just an off-night I think. Hey at least she didn't pee on the equipment like some pee-wee's I know.

Marge's weaves are amazing! She did that whole long line while you were out front waiting for her. She understands!


Deborah October 21, 2009 at 8:17 AM  

Marge, that is great! I think it is amazing, awesome and your real smart! My parents use to have Field Trials at our farm when I was young and I remember the dogs doing something like this! It looks like fun and a lot of work for your Mom!

Frankie Furter and Ernie October 21, 2009 at 8:52 AM  

When Marge is into it... she is really into it. Isn't this agility thing supposed to be FUN for the runners? Maybe Marge has a different idea of fun.

Martha October 21, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

As always we are so impressed with your efforts and dedication - we think sometimes Marge has her own ideas about agility!!!

Scout and Freyja October 21, 2009 at 9:26 AM  

Marge is doing VERY WELL. It's imPAWtant to remember that she is learning and that, as a living being, she will react differently with each run. I've seen champions mess up every now and then. There is no such thing as perfection in life. To look at her - well, to look at her you'd never know that she has already scaled mountains.

Ruby and Penny October 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM  

I think that Marge is doing great with the agility. I have been taking private lessons with Penny and am no where near your level.
Penny had alot of problems walking around our neighbourhood too. She would lung at anydog she saw. She still does sometimes, but practice and lots of positive praise have worked wonders.
Keep up the good work.
Love Ruby & Penny's mom

KB October 21, 2009 at 9:49 AM  

I thought that Marge looked great although I agreed that she looked slower, less intense, than in previous videos. A dog was barking almost continuously in the background - could that have anything to do with it?

I'm no agility expert (much less than you are) but I agree with others who said that Marge probably just had a tired and off day (or didn't like the grass). We all have them. When my dog K has one on our agility course, I just call it quits right away so she doesn't get used to going super slow. But, I have no idea what the right thing is to do!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart October 21, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

A small warning from the been-there girl, keep an eye on the slowness. After learning fast and blasting through courses early on, what ended up with total shutdown and refusal for Lilly began as getting slower and slower.

As my writer pals love to say, Your Mileage May Vary, but since Lilly and Marge do have some of the same tendencies, I wanted to share.

I agree with others though. You guys are doing great for having trained in agility for such a short time.

Cinnamon and Mint October 21, 2009 at 4:23 PM  

I am so glad that Marge is doing so well in agility! However slow she might have been, she still was focused. Well done!

The Army of Four October 21, 2009 at 8:36 PM  

Way to nail that agility stuff, Sam!
Play bows,

Lorenza October 21, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

I don't know too much about agility but sure Marge does it very well!
Kisses and hugs

Kathy Mocharnuk October 22, 2009 at 2:37 AM  

Is there another class or a fun match you can take Marge to before the trial? That way you could have food and see how she does and work through it if she does have problems.

That is funny about the grass-I had a little doxie in my class when I was teaching the agility class for the summer and she hated the grass and she did the same thing-she LOVED the table because it was a place off the grass, LOL, I had thought she did it because the grass where we were doing the class was long and it looked like it tickled her belly, but I think Marges belly is higher then the grass by a mile. The good thing is that I bet your grass is wetter at night so hopefully on the day of the trial it will be day light and the grass will not be wet after the dew evaporates?

As for Marge seeming slower to you, it might be worth stopping sometimes when you feel her slowing down or if you think she is starting to be worried and doing some tricks, something that makes her use her head and forget stressing about things-get a few rewards into her for the tricks and get her attention on working again, get her all ramped up and then going on-I had to do that with my sheltie Chloe when she was having a lot of stress during class and going slow, it was a bummer sometimes when I just wanted to practice the course because I wanted to do it, but I do think it helped her to associate agility with being fun and fast, anyway, just a thought since you know Marge so well so I bet you know when she is shifting from being excited and happy to being a little worried. I did not have to do that for a long time but it really helped us, and Chloe who could not make time in a trial ended up always making time with a lot of time to spare. You can also reward when she does go really fast even if it is only for a jump or two, or a fast weave poles, anything. As far as not wanting to leave the table I would try to stay for a few min after class or get an old end table for working on at home (make sure to paint it with sanded paint if you get an old end table, or put some non slip something on it) and treat for going on the table and then throw a treat and give her goodies for the release off the table too. My trainer says I always have to watch and adjust so I know whether to treat more on the obstacle or for releasing off the obstacle when the dogs get the release word so they are both strong.

Kathy Mocharnuk October 22, 2009 at 2:38 AM  

whoops I meant to say too, that you guys are really looking nice, it is amazing how far you guys have come the last few months....I am very impressed with that.

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