Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I definitely think it's a good sign that Marge was ten times better at agility class last night than she was at the trial.  She certainly had no qualms about being at the agility field (except for the smell of pee near the start line - I hate when dogs go on the course - and the smell of 8 week old GSD puppies).

I wouldn't say she was 100%, but she was happy to work with me and seemed excited to be there.

The first time I ran, Marisa told me to break things down in to little tiny pieces - I think I ran 1 to 4 and then 5 to 8 (and the second half of the course was separate altogether).  I used a toy my first run to see if maybe that would amp her up some.  It initially did catch her interest, but after a couple of short play reward sessions she decided the toy wasn't worth it anymore (perfectly normal for her).

Marisa had me throw the toy after the dog walk and then again after the weaves.  When running the second half (8 to 19), I didn't have her do a start line stay, I just ran her up to the tunnel and started the course.

Our only problems were in the corner near the tire.  Dogs had peed over there and she wasn't happy about having to do those obstacles.  BUT, she did down on the table, which earned her an enormous jackpot.

I also am no longer going to run with food in my hand during class, and, although it's going to be in my pocket, I am going to give her her biggest rewards AFTER the run.  In other words, I am going to train the same way that I trial.

My classmates had a lot of constructive things to say, particularly the nice lady with the PWD (a dog who is usually Marge's friend, but last night Marge snarked at the poor girl - not sure if it was stress or resource guarding).   Marisa, too, said that yes, she's stressing, but she's a dog and it happens, and to just try not to worry about it too much because worrying will make it worse.

So I am going to make some changes for the upcoming trial.  I am not going to take any long lead outs - if I can, I don't want to lead out at all (for once, I am praying for tunnel openings!).  I am also going to cut down on the number of treats that she gets before she goes in to the ring and bring something super high value to show her and get her interested in and reward her with after the run (I'm thinking meatballs).

I am going to be more motivational (she seems to like when I clap my hands to get her to move toward me) and use her name less and use my usual agility commands (i.e. "here", "go" etc.) more. I feel like I over used both her name and her whiplash recall word ("come") WAY too much at this trial.

I am also going to try really hard to be the most interesting thing at the trial, which means I am not going to let any one besides me give her high-value food.  HOWEVER, I am going to let her say hello to all her favorite people (I did less of this at this trial than at other trials - perhaps she felt like she didn't know any one there).

Here's some pictures from the trial.  I'm not sure if I'm going to order any just because of my own feelings about the trial, but I think they came out great.

Oh, and my internet appears to be fixed, so you'll hear from me in the coming days (though I do have a HUGE test on Friday - ahhhh).


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! September 22, 2010 at 11:54 PM  

Those are some GREAT pics!

Here's to the better days ahead!

Sara September 23, 2010 at 6:05 AM  

I'm so glad you had a good class, and I think your plans for the trial are wonderful.

houndstooth September 23, 2010 at 7:04 AM  

I'm glad to hear that she's doing better!

Dawn September 23, 2010 at 7:06 AM  

I'm glad you had a good class! You both have more confidence now. Good plan for this weekend...and I love the pictures, go ahead and order, no matter what happened that day, here is evidence that she had fun!

KB September 23, 2010 at 8:20 AM  

Those are great photos.

I'm not surprised to see a tough woman like you bouncing right back with a plan to handle your hitches. It sounds like a good plan to me. Way to go!

I did take note of another comment about your body language. I don't want to pile on or insult you (please, please, don't be mad) but I agreed that your body language looked uncertain on the course during the trial. Perhaps you can really think about that when you do your dry runs pre-trial run with out Marge.

Way to bounce back Sam!

Cyndi and Stumpy September 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

Those are some great pictures of Marge! For what it's worth, I think you
re making some great choices for Marge and yourself!

Unknown September 23, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

Im glad things are headed in the right direction. Fred would be horrible - smelling the scent of other dogs and not paying attention lol.
Good Luck on your test!

Never Say Never Greyhounds September 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

Glad she is doing better. Feel free to ignore if you are tired of suggestions... I would stop using the toy before she does. Say she likes it typically 4 times. I would use it twice and put it away. Don't exahaust it. Or use it once, do food, use it another time, food again.

And treats... rotate a huge variety. I'm using some meatballs that are precooked, but also steak fajita strips and grilled chicken. All in freezer section that just need to be thawed. Also different kinds of cheese. Creme cheese, peanut butter, and canned dog food. I also will grill beef, salmon, and turkey burgers.

Lastly, I would still do surprise jackpots on course in practice at times. It might be too soon to only reward at the end... at least be flexible about it.

Lots of luck to you.

Kathy Mocharnuk September 23, 2010 at 11:09 AM  

The trialing thing is hard because no matter how you train the trial is not just like training, it is hard to mimic all that excitement, so ....sounds like you have a lot of good plans. You guys are doing way better then you think ;-), and trialing is new to Marge and she is a baby dog in this whole agility thing. You both are going to have it all come together, I HAVE NO DOUBT! One thing I learned in this course I am taking is that if you want to make yourself more central to rewards and you want to let Marge see other people you can practice having her do a little something, even a hand touch, then releasing her to see who ever....that transfers part of the value of seeing them to you and makes you part of the whole thing. Another thing from our course is I would also look at arousal levels, if Marge seems distracted, is sniffing all over the place, noticing everything at the trial I would do some fun stimulating games to get her really into you and playing, if she seems over aroused, then just doing focus exercises with big chunks of food will calm her, I TOTALLY agree with the idea of not leading out any more then you have to and not talking a lot more or less then you do in training, you do not want to make Marge worried wondering why you are different. You guys ROCK!!! You have progressed so fast and come to this point way faster then most, so enjoy the journey- look back at your first training videos or any training notes if you have any and be amazed at how far you guys have come ;-)! If you can learn all that...... you know you are going to work this all out.

Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

Yay, Marge and Miss Sam! I'm ever so glad you're feeling better and that you have a plan in place! I luvs those pictures of Marge and I pawsonally think you should order one or two. I don't think you'd ever regret having pictures of Marge in action!

Wiggles & Wags,

Golden Samantha September 23, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

Your plans sound SOLID!!! Love em and think I'll adapt some of them for ourselves! The pix are great too - I totally understand about good photos at trials I don't feel good about! Marge is just so talented! Good luck on your Friday test, the trial and congrats on the puter/internet working!
Sammie, Avalon and mom

Corbin September 24, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

I read your sweet story about Taco. Not everyone understands that bond that forms between you and a horse. In 2006, we lost our "Man" due to colic. He was retired due to kissing spine and about 18 years old. He wasn't my "taco," but that was one of the hardest things I had to experience. I hope you find comfort knowing how lovely you made the years you spent with him! I've been around all sorts of animals my whole life, but have found that there is not bond like that between horse and human. Friends think I'm crazy for my psychotic love for Kahlua, but she's my life... and not everyone gets that! I hope a some point in your life, you meet another horse that brings you joy.

Thanks for sharing your story.
Corbin's mom, Jenn

ps. I actually rode a horse named Taco growing up, he was a sweet fisty old man, too!

Kari in Alaska September 24, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

Glad she is doing better and that you both are working together to get the kinks ironed out


The Army of Four September 24, 2010 at 5:37 PM  

AWESOME photos!!!
Go, Marge & Sam, GO!!!
Play bows,

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart September 24, 2010 at 6:31 PM  

See, in those photos, she looks terrific. :o)

I'm sure people have told you this, but don't forget the gum/mint trick. When we are nervous, our breath smells different, and dogs can tell. I supposed they could also learn that the smell of mint means you're nervous too, but it's worth a shot, if you feel yourself getting amped up.

BRUTUS September 24, 2010 at 7:58 PM  

Yes! Glad to hear you are both feeling better! I bet there are many good things to come for both of you. Just relax and enjoy what you know you both love!


Diana September 26, 2010 at 9:19 PM  

Im so glad things got better. I love the agility pictures, they turned out fantastic. Diana

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