Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Training 29

This post is going to be mostly bits 'n pieces of things. As many of you know, because of my school schedule and workload in conjunction with my newfound procrastination (I blame a certain someone's recent and numerous TV appearances for this -- and I NEVER watch TV), I am having some trouble getting stuff done.

Well, I was supposed to have a lesson yesterday, but my instructor forgot to put it on her calendar. So, I was by myself during my practice time. It was a bummer, but hey, what can you do? Marge and I didn't do much, since I really don't trust myself to set up good courses alone - I either make them too easy or too hard. We mostly worked individual obstacles..
  • Teeter - all of a sudden, Marge's teeter has gotten so much more iffy. It was at full height yesterday, and, in the middle of the plank, she decided to bail several times. So, I put the table under the end of it to make it lower, and she seemed better with that. Then, I removed the table and she was doing it full heigh once again. I can't really put my finger on why she's suddenly more unsure of it than ever before - she will literally run across the room to get to it (and then I have to keep my mouth shut and not correct her, even if she isn't listening to me), but then freezes up in the middle. Like I said, though, she seemed better at the end of the session, so I'll count that as progress.
  • Table - did some table sends. She's sticking to the table a whole lot more than before, waiting for me to give her the release word before she gets up.
  • A-Frame - we haven't worked it in a while. I dragged it out today, but it wasn't set up right and I was counting on Marisa to help me.. so, we didn't get to do it. Hopefully next week.
Once again, I find that I communicate so much better with Marge when we train in our backyard. I only have room for two (makeshift) jumps, but she pays so much more attention and my handling is so much more consistent. I still haven't figured out why this is.

On a positive note, I've basically quit worrying about our trial that's coming up in about a month and have decided to just take things as they come.

I touched on walks in the last post. It's gotten significantly busier outside since this weekend. Marge is doing okay. She hasn't shut down, but she's been doing a whole lot more lip licking and looking around at various things. Sometimes, she's better than others - for example, she was fine being out in the field among a group of people playing soccer Sunday evening, but was uneasy when she saw people walking around this morning. As usual, I'm trying to encourage her and find a balance between behavior modification on walks and let-Marge-do-whatever-the-hell-she-wants on walks. It's an ongoing process.

I plan on blogging about Marge's L-Theanine supplement and my thoughts on medications in the near future. I know several of you have asked about that.

I truly think that Marge's motivation walk - and therefore, to face her fears - goes out the window when the sun is out and the temperature is high. If two stressful situations are exactly identical except for the temperature, there is no doubt that Marge will do better behaviorally in the colder situation than in the hotter one. It's kind of an interesting problem to combat, because it's only in the 60s right now!

I feel as though Marge has gotten more aloof around people lately. We had a family friend over the house on Saturday for dinner. Marge hung out in her crate, since seven people in a tiny kitchen, in my opinion, would have been a lot for her (yet, she'd try to beg anyway). However, when she was actually around this family friend, she was neither scared nor particularly friendly - she just "was."

That's not to say she didn't wag her tail and sniff to say hello, but this is interesting, because Marge is usually more friendly than this to non-threatening people that are in her house. It might just be my imagination, though. She was in her crate a large part of the time this person was over - upwards of three hours, with breaks in between - so she simply might not have been around the person enough for me to draw reasonable conclusions on her behavior. The fact that she was able to settle in her crate with so many people in the house was definitely a positive.

One of her favorite people ever - my sister's math tutor - is coming over tonight, so we will see what the result of that is.

Other activities
  • Now that it's warm outside and the ground has dried, I plan on starting to work with the dumbbell again. I tossed it around for her a couple of times over the weekend, and, despite the fact that she hasn't used it in weeks, she remembered exactly what to do with it. Strangely, she seemed to mouth and chew on it less than before. That's a good thing - but I wonder what caused the change!
  • I'm still debating whether to enter two days of the April APDT Rally trial, or just one. We're supposed to be training with our Westie friend this weekend, but haven't really worked on Rally lately. Planning on renting the training hall to set up an APDT course one of these days.
And, that's about it for now. After these disorganized couple of weeks, I'm planning on getting back on track with just about everything - blogging, school work, training Marge, you name it!


The Army of Four March 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM  

You two have a LOT on your plate! Training on the individual obstacles sounds good!
Play bows,

Frankie Furter and Ernie March 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM  

Every journey begins with just one step.

Diana March 9, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

Sounds like things are going well. To bad about the lesson. Here's to the warm weather sticking around. Diana

Sam March 9, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

I'm actually hoping for another couple of cold-ish spells before winter's gone for good. Though I'm no fan of the cold, I really like having the exuberant and happy Marge around.

AC March 9, 2010 at 3:20 PM  

It's interesting how things impact our dogs. I wonder what is it about the warmth that gets to Marge. Does she anticipate more people being out, even if there aren't?

I hope you're able to get back on track with everything. I always feel out of sorts when things get unorganized. And then unorganized when things get out of sorts =)

Great picture of Marge. She's one dignified girl.

Sam March 9, 2010 at 3:27 PM  

In addition to the extra stressors that are present in the summer, I think she just genuinely doesn't like the heat. Well, I should rephrase. She thinks the heat is good for lounging around in the yard and doing nothing else. It's like reverse hibernation or something. It makes training her, walking her, and everything else somewhat complicated.

She hasn't really given me the impression that she anticipates things before they come, since the generally starts the walk out enthusiastic and happy, then either gets hot, gets nervous, etc and starts to walk slower.

Sara March 9, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

Great news about Marge coping so well with a lot of guests in the house. That is surely a sign of progress.

I have mixed feelings about the weather improving too. I'm looking forward to having more opportunities to work on "desensitizing", but worry about the overall exposure level to stressors. How much is too much?

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! March 9, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

Frankie Furter is khorrekht -

One step -

Khyra & Khousin Merdie

houndstooth March 9, 2010 at 7:39 PM  

Is it possible that Marge is beginning to feel your stress with more people around? If you tense up on the other end of the leash, she'll feel it and expect something to be wrong. As far as not being crazy about the person over at the house, let's face it, sometimes some people are just more interesting, and some days we're all more interested than others. Maybe she was just having an I-don't-particularly-care day! :P

Sam March 9, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

No, this time, I can honestly say I don't think it's me. I've been down that road before, and I've tried REALLY hard to stop tensing up or make a big deal out of things.

Unknown March 9, 2010 at 8:31 PM  

Don't worry too much about the teeter. Tempie does the same thing! She'll be doing great at something, then she takes a few steps backwards. Even something as simple as rolling over. She learned it and was doing it so well, then she suddenly didn't know what it meant and wouldn't even really try. Just take a deep breath, go back a step or two in the training, and remember to keep it fun for her! Great pic. You sure have a lot on your plate. Don't forget to make a little time to relax.

Two French Bulldogs March 9, 2010 at 9:02 PM  

Don't forget to take a deep breath and stop to pee on the flowers. Mom said to smell the roses
Benny & Lily

Kathy Mocharnuk March 9, 2010 at 9:31 PM  

So sorry about the mix up with your lesson, that had to be disappointting. Gosh you are so in tune to Miss Marge, how neat for Marge, interesting about the difference in temperatures, will be interesting to see how this summer compairs with last summer. With the dumb bell I wonder since you were not practicing for awhile maybe there was some learning that went on in the break and now Marge feels more confident and grabs it further in her mouth now instead of grabbing it in the front of her mouth? I love when you leave something alone and come back and it is working even better ;-D, that is a happy thing for sure. good girl Marge

LauraK March 9, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

Every time I look at a photo of Marge (especially the photo at the top of today's post), I picture my black lab Homer crossed with Riley, and that's what the dog would look like :) She's got the cute Riley ears that don't know quite what to do, and the long lanky Homer legs. Such a pretty girl she is!

Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! I really admire your patience and how you handle struggles with training a reactive dog. Keep up the good work- it's tough, but Marge is definitely in your life to teach you something :) You're doing such a great job with her, she's one lucky girl!

Anonymous March 9, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

Miss Sam, my mom and me are Most Impressed with how dedicated you are to all the things in your life and especially Marge! She is Most Lucky to have you!

I'm like Marge. I like to keep my mom guessing from day to day. Sometimes I'll be afraid of something that I never was before. Or I decide that I'm not worried about something that mom was SURE would scare the dickens outta me. Mom always says that all-in-all we're goin' in the right direction - we're just taking the scenic route!

Wiggles & Wags,

KB March 9, 2010 at 11:20 PM  

I wonder about Marge's aloofness around people. My trainer and I have pretty much concluded that K gives all strangers the hero's welcome (full wiggles, hopping round, whining) *because she's afraid of them*.

As counterintuitive as that might seem, it really does seem true. The days that K can just "be" around non-family members are banner days for her. They're usually her relaxed and happy days, when I can see the true K shine through.

All of this story is just to make the point that perhaps just *being* around non-family members is actually a good sign. I have no idea how it applies to Marge since I don't know her like you do... but I thought that I'd toss that idea out there.

Cinnamon and Mint March 10, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

I think that Marge's behaviour when your family friend was in your house was a good one, or at least nothing you should worry about. You wouldn't want a dog jumping at your visitors. You would rather want a dog that can find a way to settle itself. So, well done, Marge.

Anonymous March 10, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart March 10, 2010 at 5:41 PM  

I'm trying to catch up. I had NO idea you were such a Tom Hanks fan. Too funny.

kissa-bull March 10, 2010 at 11:17 PM  

we just love how all the colors of your collars and leashes stand out wiff your shiny coat

pibblesugars and wee wags
the houston pittie pack

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