Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Training 18

Agility class didn't go as well this week as it did last week.  I had to go by myself, which set the stage for Marge having to be put in new situations - without any one to hold her leash and due to her aversion to going in crates while at the hall, she had to stay in the room with us during equipment set up.  I tried to get her to do a sit stay or a down stay in a corner somewhere, but she wouldn't have any of it and kept getting up.

The first offense was when she growled at one of the incoming handlers.  Not so good, considering she was off leash.  Thankfully that person knows Marge and has a grumbly dog herself, so it wasn't an issue.  Marge was fine with her the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, I guess Marge's anxiety about people coming through doors holds true in the training hall as well, though it was nothing compared to the reactions she's had towards my dad in the same situation at my house.

She also snapped at Maddie twice - I'm not exactly sure why, but she may have been resource guarding one of those times, seeing as she promptly and vigorously put her head down into her water bowl directly after, and lapped up all the water quickly.  She also gave a grumble/bark and got excited when Maddie ran zoomie laps, ironically following the play bow she gave to Marge.  Marge did give a half bow back a couple of times, and interacted with Maddie as usual for most of the night, so these slip ups are interesting, to say the least (except for the zoomie incident).

I guess the reason I was upset with these little events was because there were less dogs there to begin with - only two others as opposed to four others - so I was kind of expecting Marge to be more comfortable.

On the bright side, she was quite happy to greet our classmate, Susan, while we were waiting together in the other room for class to begin.  Susan doesn't try to pet Marge or anything like that, which I think is why Marge likes her.  Also, Marge saw one of her most favorite people from the club on the way out, one of our old instructors from Beginner Obedience and former agility classmate.  

She got nose-to-nose with a Golden girl as we were leaving, too, and did just fine.  She has engaged in play behaviors with this dog before, so I'm wondering if that has anything to do with it.  She got cookies for her politeness.

The agility itself actually went pretty well - sadly, I have no photos or video, nor do I have a course map because my free trial of Course Designer just ran out.  To summarize: 
  • dog walk contacts were good; no A-Frame out this week to worry about (we still haven't started working on our new contact criteria for the frame)
  • worked diagonal/far side tunnel entrances, and I think we did well
  • weaves were spectacular, I think she found her entry all but one time (and that time it was my fault due to my positioning)
  • teeter was okay; it's a VERY slippery and squeaky teeter, so for Marge to perform it fully was a big deal.  One of the other dogs had trouble with it.
  • we worked a threadle for the first time - it was very hard to handle, especially given the tight quarters!
  • we worked "soft backs," where the jumps are set up down a line but not in a straight line, and I had to switch sides two or three times in a row.  Her backs are really nice and solid - I attribute it to all the flatwork we did in the beginning.
And that was really it.  The courses were fun and challenging.  I feel like the design of the courses that we've had indoors are better for a novice class than the courses we had outdoors, because there's a good blend of easy parts and hard parts.


On one other note, it looks as though the snow is going to complicate our walking situation.  We've only gone out a couple of times since the storm, but our night walks haven't been great - not terrible, but not great. I walked her around the neighborhood Monday night, and to me, it seemed like the lack of things to sniff might have made her more hyper-vigilant about her surroundings. (I honestly do believe that if Marge's nose is on the floor, she feels better.)  Her head was up the entire time and she looked kind of like she was just walking to get it over with, though she never shut down or panicked and always took treats.

It improved somewhat as we trudged through the snow on the unpaved side of the road - something I didn't want to do, but felt like I owed it to her to end the walk on  a good note.  She was acting kind of strange - she looked like she wanted to continue, but kept looking at the enormous bank of snow to the side of her.  I'm not sure if it was a reflex reaction of sorts, as if she was just seeing it in the corner of her eye and wanted to check it out (she was SO confused by a big chunk of snow jutting out - she approached it as if it were a dog), or was longing for a way to plunge in to it and sniff the trees and telephone poles buried underneath it.

The temps are supposed to go up this week, so maybe we'll have some melting and our usual routes will be available to us again soon.  In the meantime, I'll continue to monitor the situation and see how it goes.

To make up for my lack of photos today, enjoy some more pictures of Marge out in the snow from our adventures yesterday.


Dexter December 22, 2009 at 5:44 AM  

Oh Marge, just having a bad day. It happens. I have to go in the slammer at agilities when momma walks the course and I don't like it a bit. Sometimes I make sad sounds.

I agree that the snow is quite disorienting. They did not plow our sidewalks yet and momma does not like to walk in the bus street so we have had to curtail things for a bit. Plus all my favorite yard toys are buried!

Hope you have a better day today. Chin up.


KB December 22, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

Although Marge had a few bad moments with other dogs, it sounds like she pulled it together and did great on the agility part of class. So, those small incidents didn't make her unable to focus or work - that's good news!

I bet that the snow, in general, is throwing her off, since you rarely get huge snows. And, not having your boyfriend to 'hold her paw' during class probably seemed like a huge change to her. I hope that she relaxes again next week. As Dexter said, 'we all have bad days'.

I love the snow photos. Marge is a very photogenic girl!

Natasha December 22, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

You're doing such a great job with Marge, keep it up! :) I love that photo of her bounding through the snow, look at that big leap!


Ice Pony Girl December 22, 2009 at 11:03 AM  

Too much fun in the snow!

Kathy Mocharnuk December 22, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

You and Marge are doing great together and you are a great team. I think with how much work you have done there are always going to be ebbs and flows and progress does not go in a straight line and those actually sound like pretty minor setbacks, so all in all given she was able to learn all the new complicated things you are working on (treadles especially can be really stressful for dogs because to dogs they can feel like call offs or like they were doing something wrong when they are not used to those cues), and she was able to do the new scary teeter, it sounds like a pretty durn positive class. I bet that would have been way too much for Marge six months ago and she was able to go through the whole class, you guys should be proud!

Bijou December 22, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

Hi Marge,

Yep. Everydoggy has good and bad days. I'm sure you will do better next time. Besides, some dogs just have a way of getting on your nerves. We don't like the dirty fur ball that lives behind us. BOL


Sara December 22, 2009 at 5:46 PM  

I think that overall Marge had a great class. Minor changes can really effect sensitive dogs. That is why agility is so great. Once they get out on the course, it gives them something familiar to focus on that relieves that stress.

Same with the snow! It just turned her world upside down! My neighbor, 4 houses away, had put a chair out at the curb on garbage morning. On our morning walk, I had 2 crazy dogs barking uncontrollably at a chair! "It was never there before mom!"

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! December 22, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

Sorry 'bout the grumpy night...

We all have 'em!

I want my snow to stay around! It is soooo much fun walking over it on it against it!


Dog_geek December 22, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

Well, we all have our bad days - I wouldn't worry too much.

Is it possible for you to leave Marge in the car while you set up, if you don't have anyone who can hold her? I have a few students with dogs who are not comfortable being crated or tethered while we set up, and I have most of them leave dogs in the car rather than have them get stressy before class starts. All except for one dog, who would destroy the car if left alone, so no system is ever perfect, I guess!

Gus, Louie and Callie December 23, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Oh fun in the snow. We sure wish we could be there...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Two French Bulldogs December 23, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

Marge don't worry, tomorrow is another day. We like the pictures of the white stuff. Have fun
Benny & Lily
PS. Our friend Annie is abandoned as a puppy. Mom said she might be lab, pit bull, chow all mixed up together.

BRUTUS December 23, 2009 at 9:04 PM  

You gotta have bad days every once in a while to appreciate all the good ones!! Do you keep a training journal (I suppose your blog is sort of that...) - I just went to a free shaping seminar last night, and they talked about the importance of journals to help you monitor & keep perspective on your progress. A good idea, I think!


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