Monday, November 2, 2009

More Trial Musings

Since my last post was an enormous block of text, I figured I'd show a couple of the proofs that are on the trial photographer's website. These are both from our Regular run - we only had pictures of the dog walk from our failed Touch n' Go run, and honestly, they're not flattering for either Marge or me.

I really like the Tunnel shot, though her face is not in perfect focus. I think I'm going to get an 8x10 print of it, along with a mousepad (I really need a new one, and who could pass this up, especially at such a good price?). 

I would have really liked jumping shots, but he didn't seem to take any of any dog in Novice Regular.

I have a lot more thoughts going through my head about my experience yesterday.  

The Zoomies
I admit, I've given a lot of thought to how botched the Touch n' Go run was.  (I'm still deciding if I should give in to Carolyn's interest and post the little bit of video I have of it!) 

Why did it happen?  As I said in my last post, my first thought was that it was from lack of exercise, since Halloween was the day before.  Couple that with the cool air, an agility course, and the freedom of being offleash, and it all seems to fit.  She looked like she was having fun!

Someone did tell me, though, that zoomies can be a stress reaction.  I didn't think that that was the case during this episode, since she play bowed to Louie as she approached him and continued her zoomies even after we had moved away from the ring.  Additionally, she has done the same sort of thing at class on a couple of occasions, and they always seemed to be on cold nights.

I guess I have no way of really knowing right now.  It is encouraging, at least, that even if it WAS a stress reaction, she was much better in the subsequent regular class, especially through the last few obstacles.  Perhaps her behavior at tomorrow's agility class will illuminate something for me.  (Let's just hope no one potties in the ring and she doesn't get all zonked out about having to walk on the grass.)

The People
I can't say enough good about the people there.  No one did anything to scare Marge, like reaching for her or talking directly to her the way the unsuspecting passers-by in a park or on a street might do.  This is part of the reason I think she does so well at trials - people are occupied in their own business, and people seem to know better than to assume that every dog is friendly and perfect.

In particular, my friends from the Fearful Dog e-mail list were so helpful and understanding.  I was totally bewildered when I was asked, "Is it okay if I approach you and your dog?"  At first, I didn't know what he meant, but then I realized - he is actually respecting the fact that my dog has special training needs!

Other than that, I spoke to several people who were so helpful on a myriad of subjects - everything from getting my scores, to sharing trial experiences, to discussing their own problems with fear or stress.  I was really surprised at the number of people there who seemed to have some sort of training problem or behavior issue to work on.  I felt like I wasn't alone.

The Dogs
The dogs were all under control and kept either on lead, in a crate, or out of the way when they weren't competing.  No dog there caused Marge any problems.  She eyed a few dogs when she first got there with a somewhat tense look, but learned quickly that no one was there to bother her. 

I did not do a whole lot of introducing her to other dogs, but she did meet a Beardie puppy who plopped on the ground as Marge sniffed her all over, and a senior Westie who Marge seemed to really like.

The future
Like I said, I'm going to continue to take it slow with Marge.  I do not anticipate doing any trials this winter, since I feel that the indoor scene is a totally different beast.  I am looking at some trials in March and April, and a series of trials that begins in June.  Obviously, I will pick and choose which will work best for us.  Ultimately,  I think our club's annual NADAC trial in late summer will be a big weekend for us, as I know we'll both be comfortable having all of our human and canine friends there and being in a familiar location.

We will continue to take classes, hopefully take private lessons as well.  Since I intend on sticking with NADAC, I really would like to work on Marge's hoop performance, since she really doesn't seem to think very highly of them.

I would like to do some run-throughs at new sites.  I would not rule out an indoor run-through as long as I inquire about it and ensure it is the correct environment for her, and, most importantly, as long as I can use treats.

Look out for Tuesday Training tomorrow, and then we'll switch gears and go back to hikes, hopefully, if the weather holds up at the end of the week.


KB November 3, 2009 at 8:42 AM  

The zoomies are odd. I always assumed, for years and years, that they were a sign of joy. They sure *look* joyful. But, then I read that they can be a stress sign. At that point, I noticed that occasionally my dog would start them at a high tension point in an interaction. My only conclusion is that I need to look at the context to try to know what they mean.

You might post that video to get analysis from knowledgeable people, like the Dog Geek. They might see something that will help you understand why they happened. However, regardless, my belief is that exercise is a key to being able to focus.

I'm so happy that Marge flourished in the trial environment. You two are going to have a lot of fun - and that's the point, right? :)

Kathy Mocharnuk November 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM  

Go to any trial and just sit and watch dogs and if you know how to look for stress signals it is amazing how many you will see. Liz does the zoomies and she always looks so fast and sooo happy that it took me a LONG time to figure out that hers really were brought on by stress-the movement seemed to calm her or get the stress out and she always looked like she was in heaven when she runs like that.....but I do think that most dogs have some stress when they are just starting to trial. So what I am saying is that even IF Marges zoomies were a stress reaction, it is just all a part of working through all those things with a new situation ;-), and look how quickly she worked through what ever caused the zoomies, if it was stress, excitement, wanting to play, what ever caused it, she very quickly got it out of her system and figured out that this was just like playing agility in class, that is pretty durn good!!!
There is something about a trial environment, even my guy that was pretty reactive was wonderful when I took him around trials, I guess he sensed it was almost all people that know about dogs and have a pretty good vibe.

Sue November 3, 2009 at 10:40 AM  

Zoomies are a part of our daily life and have been with all my PWDs. I don't believe they're stress related except for being a release of excess energy. Spinning seems to be more of a stress thing for my guys.

Carolyn November 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM  

Guess what we were inspired to do yesterday after your post? Agilities! And, I even pulled out the four hoops! Cooper likes hoops because all he has to do is go racing through them. Wheeeee!

I like the pix. Marge looks like she's having fun. Post the video if you want, but I was totally kidding. I just wanted to hear, "Are you HUNGRY??" Lol!

Have a good one!

The Army of Four November 3, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

Those are GREAT photos!!! We like them BOTH!
Play bows,

Martha November 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM  

We loved the photos - colours were really vibrant. Should make a good mousepad and enlargement!

Scout and Freyja November 3, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

All that you are doing with this wonderful dog certainly is a boost to her confidence.

♥God Bless You♥ for adopting a large, black dog. As a rescue worker, they are the ones so much in need. Marge is gorgeous!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart November 3, 2009 at 5:01 PM  

In my mind, the zoomies are just the other side of the nerves/shutdown coin. It's oh-so common in agility dogs. I loaned my copy out, but there is an In Focus book (from Clean Run, I think) on how to handle the two extremes -- dogs that don't have enough fun and dogs that have too much fun in the ring.

Marge did great. I wouldn't over think it.

Gus, Louie and Callie November 3, 2009 at 5:17 PM  

It sounds like you are going to be just fine. Mom has everything all figured out..
We did learn in herding class that when we get confused, me the Blueman pees. Of course the Red's eat sheep treats when they are nervous..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! November 3, 2009 at 7:25 PM  

We should all have moms that khare as much and work as hard as WOO do fur Marge!


Muttsandaklutz November 5, 2009 at 8:27 PM  

By the way, there is an agility dog in my neck of the woods who reminds me a fair bit of Marge. Not only in body type and colour, but also jumping style. His name is Parker and he's a rescue, so not sure what his breed mix is. In case you'd like to see him, here are the links to a few agility videos.

Here he is in a Jumpers run:

And a Gamblers run:


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